The sport of endurance riding is only a small segment of all equestrian sports nationally and worldwide. Maybe 5% of all equestrians engage in endurance. Attending the AERC Annual Convention, one gets the feeling that endurance riders are the center of the horse world. This year's AERC Convention was held in Dallas, Texas.
New AERC officers are being sworn in during the general session at the convention.
Endurance riders from the country and abroad came together for two days of seminars, various board and committee meetings and a trade show that gave participants a glimpse of new products on the market and also the opportunity to buy equestrian products, from EasyCare hoof boots to Vettec glues and various saddles. Specialized Saddles was well represented. EasyCare, Inc. is a Platinum Sponsor of AERC and the Official Hoof Boot Company of AERC.
In the photo above, Larkin Greene from Vettec Company is explaining gluing Easyboot shells on a model hoof during the trade show.
David Kaden and Tracy Webb, owners of Specialized Saddles, are presenting the Rookie Award to the Rookie of the Year. Specialized Saddles made and donated the saddle to the Rookie with the highest achieved mileage in 2016.
After the awards banquet, national awards achieved during the 2016 season were presented for the winners of various categories. I had a very successful year competing mostly on mares of Global Endurance Training Center. Among the most coveted awards is the War Mare National Award. The three mares I was riding placed 1st, 2nd and 9th among the top ten mares in the country. The War Mare Award is bestowed to the mare with most points accumulated throughout the ride season.
These mares also were in 2nd and 3rd place in the National Best Condition Championship standings. The most prestigious award, the National 100 Mile Championship Award, I achieved with GE Pistol Annie. She also won the AHA Half Arabian 100 Mile Championship title. In addition, these three mares took the top three spots in the Mountain Region Point and Best Condition Championships, respectively.
As the winner, we received a new Freeform Saddle, donated by Paulita Neff from the Treeless Saddle Company.
Receiving the National Championship Award by Susan Garlinghouse.
Why is this all significant? And what do all these mares I rode in 2016 have in common?
These winning mares were ridden all season long with EasyCare hoof shoes and hoof boots. To be successful in these national competitions, a rider has to pay meticulous attention to every detail all year long: from nutrition to training and conditioning, from chiropractic work to dental care, from saddle fit to hoof trimming and hoof protection selection. The hoof protection of choice were EasyCare Glue-ons for GE Pistol Annie, Flip Flops for Medinah MHF and a combination of EasyShoes and Glue-ons for GE CCDRUS Star. I do not believe that we would have had that level of success, would it not been for the use of the EasyCare hoof protection. These superior products protect the soles, dampen the concussion for the joints and are lightweight. The horses can travel with more ease and comfort over rocks and hard ground. As we have seen so many times in the past, EasyCare is leading the charge again and can always be found at the forefront of research, development and success in the world.
Here is another example for the spirit of innovation that has been demonstrated by EasyCare over the years: this new EasyShoe Flex pictured below will be released soon! I wrote in my blog last month about this exciting EasyCare product. I have been testing this new shoe for a while now and I am thrilled about it.
From the National AERC Convention
By Christoph Schork
Yes, I truly believe that each Hoof Care Professional should attend the yearly International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio at least one time in their life. It is an event packed to the brim with lectures and seminars. Organized by the AFJ, this year attendance was in the thousands. Farriers from all over the world attended and it is a great opportunity to meet them and exchange experiences.
EasyCare Inc and Polyflex Horseshoes had partnered up and shared a booth side by side at the Summit. Great experience to work with Curtis Burns, in my opinion, the most experienced and best Hoof Care Professional in terms of gluing synthetic and polyurethane horse shoes.
EasyCare and Polyflex booth at the trade show.
The Bootmeister explaining the advantages of the EasyCare products to visitors from all over the world.
Curtis Burns demonstrated quarter crack repair in front of many trade show attendees.
Garrett Ford had some airline problems, so unfortunately he did not make it to the Trade Show. Some of the newest products developed by EasyCare, and meant to be showcased in Cincinnati, also fell victim to flight cancellations. Therefore the EasyCare Booth did not have all the new products at hand. Nevertheless, we had some of the newest and exciting EasyCare products on display and in cooperation with Curtis, I made it a go.
One of my all time favorite boots, the EasyBoot Flip-Flop, on display on the blacksmith buddy.
A joint production with Polyflex Horseshoes, the EasyShoe Flex is scheduled to get released onto the market in March. Watch this video here that explains the benefits of the Flex. The EasyShoe Flex will first be released in four sizes: 0, 1, 2 and 3. With a springsteel core, this shoe will flex just about like a hoof, like nature intended. The Flex is meant to be nailed on. Options are a dorsal clip or side clips. Another option is open heel or closed heel for frog support. Garrett Ford talked a little bit more about this in last weeks blog.
Not only was the Trade show a huge success with products on display from companies all over the world, the lecture series was filled with capable and iconic speakers like Mike Wildenstein, Simon Curtis, Dave Farley and my all time favorite: Brian Hampson. Brian has done extensive research on the Australian Brumbies and the Mongolian Takh horses like no other scientist in the world. His research has influenced the way we are looking and judging horse hooves in recent times.
In Brian's lectures, you can learn a lot about the wild horses of the world. For example, did you know that 46% of all wild horses with hooves that we often consider ideal suffer from laminitis?
Photo from Brian Hampson's lecture.
Looking at these hooves of wild mustangs in the image below, one might think of these being the ideal hooves everybody is striving to achieve.
What Brian Hampson found out in his numerous studies puts a damper on this illusion: these hooves might look appealing from the outside, yet inside these hooves have the highest percentage of pathologies. Specifically founder, laminitis, white line disease, navicular etc.
In the slide below, Brian is detailing the percentages of the pathologies found in his studies of the wild horse hooves in Australia:
Compare the wild horse hooves in the image above to this one below, taken from a horse in a wetter environment and representing hooves we see more commonly among our domesticated herds:
On first sight, we all would probably agree that this hoof is somewhat neglected and unhealthy.
Yet, when checking more closely with digital radiology, nuclear scintigraphy and ultrasound the inside of hooves looking like this, one is astonished to find out that these hooves were among the healthiest in Hampson's studies. So the first impression is not telling us the whole truth or might actually totally fool us. Take home message is that the external looks of a hoof will not allow us to draw conclusions and pass judgement on how "healthy" the actual hoof, its internal structures and the digit inside really are. Interesting, isn't it? It sure taught me a lesson. That is the kind of invaluable stuff you learn at the Summit.
The learning experience all around was just amazing and, quite frankly, there is no better way to learn about Hoof Care, the newest scientific findings, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones but by attending the "Summit". See you there next year!
From the desk of The Bootmeister
In Frog Talk, Part I last month, we discussed frog trimming and looked at various frog pictures of all kinds of shape and form. In this second part of Frog Talk, we are going to discuss the following:
- Crooked frogs
- Frog pathologies/diseases
- Treatment options
This frog of a left front hoof had moved to the lateral side, the right side from the bottom seen here. The question is, why did it do that? In many cases where a side movement of the frog can be observed, it moves to the higher side of the hoof, in this case the higher side is lateral, where the green arrow points. Comparing heel height by means of the red horizontal line, we can see that the lateral heel has moved forward and needs to get trimmed shorter. Notice that little crack in the heel (blue arrow). That is one of the markers the hoof tries to tell us that the heel is too high in this area. In my blog from July 2014 I talked about Daniel Anz and the F Balance. These markers help us decide how far we can or should trim the heels down. A very interesting concept.
Here as well, the frog tip moved to the higher side of the heels. This hoof being front left, the higher side is the medial side. The red arrow at the heel shows how far that heel has moved forward compared the the lateral heel (blue arrow). Even the heel bulb was pulled forward with it, meaning that this imbalance had existed for a while.
In both cases the higher heels need to get shortened and the hooves balanced. I would not trim anything off the frog and artificially realign it with the hoof's center line, just for optical reasons so it would look 'pretty'. By doing so, I would rob the frog of its protective callused skin and make it vulnerable for pathogens to invade. If the hoof is balanced, these frogs will realign themselves again without any trimming.
This one throws us a curve ball, telling us that it will not play by these rules. Indeed, the frog tip moved to the lower side of the heel. The green horizontal line indicates level heel height, clearly the blue arrow shows the higher heel, while the red arrow the movement of the frog tip.
What gives? Looking at the high and long bar on the higher (left) hoof side within the red arch could give us the clue: the bar could have pushed the frog to the side.
The outer shape of the frog matches the inner shape of the frog's corium. Looking at these cadaver hoof capsules with huge bars, one can easily imagine how these overgrown bars (below the red semicircle) can create havoc inside the hoof capsule.
Here the bar had grown so large and long, that it created a dorsal hoof wall crack (red arrow tip). Again, easy to imagine how much damage this bar did to the frog corium and subsequently the actual visible frog.
This neglected hoof and frog does not want to play ball either. Here the frog tips point in two different directions, the older frog, ready to shed, in one direction, the newer frog in the other. With these way overgrown heels it is even hard to decide which one is higher or if both are similar height.
Where does that leave us? Well, the famous answer: it depends. Heel imbalance can be a reason, long bars can be a reason, the way a horse moves, lands, breaks over, all can be reasons. I like to look at the frog deviations as indicators that something is amiss and that I need to get exploring and finding out what it is and what to do about it. But I leave the frog itself mostly untouched. Then I also can get confirmation at the next trim, if I balanced the hoof correctly so the frog was able to self correct.
Frog pathologies and diseases:
We can differentiate between frog yeast, the white powdery or smeary substance, fungus, a black layer of frog decay, and thrush, which combines fungus and anaerobic bacteria to really attack the frogs substance. Thrush is the most destructive form and if untreated, can migrate deep into the corium, laming up a horse in a big way.
This frog certainly harbors all all three. There are holes everywhere, the frog is literally falling apart. Double sole, long bars, long heels and hoof wall. The frog is trying desperately to get some kind of ground contact, and although it is very sick, it does not want to shed anything. Now it is time to cut the decayed matter, find out how bad the damage is, treat it accordingly and give that hoof some relief.
After a preliminary trim of the neglected hoof, the frog damage becomes visible: red arrow points to yeast, blue arrow to fungus.
On this frog tell tale signs:
Typical 'butt crack' indicating thrush infestation.
Recessed, thrush infected frog. Very often frogs that do not receive enough ground stimulation recede and suffer from thrush and other infections. Notice also the contracted heels and negative hoof wall angles. A totally dysfunctional frog, crying out for help.
Another prime example of a recessed frog, contracted heel, thrush infestations. This frog is dysfunctional and sick, cannot handle any load bearing. Bell shaped hoof capsule (Glockenform). The steel shoes he was wearing did not allow the heels to spread and be load bearing.
There are many thrush treatments available, from Thrushbuster to White Lightning, Kopertox, Iodine, bleach, vinegar, sugar betadine solutions, copper sulfate solutions and paste etc. Some of these mentioned above are toxic and kill healthy tissue as well. Others are complicated to apply, you have to soak the hooves for a time period in solutions. For all these options, the EasySoaker works excellently. Not a better boot can be found on the market. It will take time and effort, though, to treat thrush with liquids.
A quicker and more effective way to treat thrush are pastes. Specifically I like these two formulas:
- Hypozin, an effective paste developed in the Netherlands
- Antibiotic and antifungal cream mixed 50/50.
(This can be Neosporin, triple antibiotic, mixed with with Athletes Foot Cream)
Either one of these two pastes will do an excellent job of killing thrush within a few days. Monoject curved syringes work best for the application.
Arguments have been made that thrush is caused by bacteria that thrive in an anaerobic environment. True enough. Conclusions have been drawn that it is therefore better to cut the frog clean, so air or oxygen can reach the frog and thus kill the bacteria. The reality is that oxygen seldom, if ever, reaches the frog in the best of cases. Most of the time the horse stands in soft ground, the sole and frog filled with soil, mud and manure. No oxygen is able to penetrate there. So, unless a horse is moving fast over gravel, sand or other abrasive terrain, there just is no oxygen reaching infected soles and killing any thrush bacteria. I would much rather keep the callused frog with all its little pockets and niches. These will allow me to fill these with anti thrush cream. There the cream will stay and keep working 24/7 without getting worn off or worked out.
Back to our contracted heels. Daisy Bicking wrote a very informative blog over a year ago about heel slippering. I found it to be a great way to aid with rehabilitating contracted heels and recessed frogs. A very worthy read.
After slippering heels and treating thrush with paste mentioned above, what is left to accomplish is frog stimulation. If the frog is pressure sensitive, we need to proceed slowly and with baby steps. Sand and pea gravel are preferred ground cover for healthy frogs to move over. Lacking any of these grounds, we then can look into the usage of Vettec products like Equipak or Equipak CS.
This frog pictured above was sensitive to pressure and only marginally functional. It actually appears stronger than it was. After cleaning and drying thoroughly, I supported it with Equipak CS. This soft cushion (Strahl Polster, frog support, pour in, caudal support) allows the frog to accept more load bearing while at the same time guarding against thrush with the CS (copper-sulfate) addition. The small recessed frog in the photo above would also greatly benefit from an Equipak cushion.
Of course, none of this will work in the long run, unless we use a holistic approach in our horsemanship and hoof care. Only then can we guarantee long lasting success. The elements of this holistic system are:
But that last part we all know anyway. Am I not correct with this assumption?
From the desk of the Bootmeister
What do frogs and bars have in common? Answer: they are both most controversial among hoof professionals.
Bars and frogs of the equine hoof are the most discussed tissues and there are about as many opinions out there as there are hoof care professionals. Bars and frogs are always a hot discussion topic. (I had written a blog about bar trimming a couple of years ago.)
Personally, when trimming the frogs, I am a minimalist. I remove as little as possible from any frog, unless special considerations require it. But more on that later.
The frogs of the equine hoof have many functions, one of them being shock absorption. Generally speaking, a large, wide and thick frog is better suited for that task. A frog that contacts the ground upon landing of the hoof is a healthier frog compared to a recessed frog or one that is not able to contact the ground because the hoof is shod with a horse shoe that loads the hoof wall only peripherally.
Not sure what it is, but many hoof trimmers just have an urge to trim something of the frog. Even if it just a tiny little piece. I mean, what good is a hoof knife when one cannot use it. And frogs just cut so nicely and soft, quite contrary to most soles and bars. They just cannot help it, something has to be cut of the frog, even if it is not necessary.
During my recent hoof care clinics in Europe, one of my group of hoof care professionals discussed trimming and preparing hooves for gluing various hoof protections like the EasyCare Glue-Ons, Flip Flops, EasyShoes and Equiflex horse shoes. Every year for the last ten years I have been traveling to Europe to conduct these clinics and workshops. Most of the time by myself, but occasionally also with EasyCare Staff and Garrett Ford.
A participant had asked me a question and just in that moment I had turned around to answer, one of the others who held up the hoof could not resist the urge to slice a little piece of a very healthy and nicely callused frog. Nothing needed to be taken off here, but it is just so typical of us trimmers. Something needs to be cut, even if only a tiny little bit.
Now, this will not do much harm, however, that little piece taken off robbed unnecessarily the sensitive frog tip from its callused skin.
The calluses are a front line shield and defense against fungi, bacteria and parasites. Remove it and the frog is weakened and harmed. Before cutting any tissue off a horses hoof, I always ask myself the two questions:
- Is the removal of that tissue helpful to the horse or will it be harmful?
- Will the horse travel better or worse afterwards?
These are two quite different questions, the second question building upon the first. What decision I ultimately make in terms of hoof trimming depends a lot on whether or not the horse is being ridden, over what terrain, for how long, and is it bare footed or with hoof protection.
For me, the ultimate test is riding a horse over varied terrain bare footed. Below I am sharing a few photos of different frogs and my trimming thoughts on them.
Let's start with an easy one: This Tinker frog is perfect for its job of landing and shock absorption. I think we can all agree that any trimming of this frog would harm the horse.
Another healthy frog that should not encounter a hoof knife at all.
A desert hoof: thick sole and thick frog. Hardened by the elements and terrain. The outer layers are showing signs of cracks and shedding. I won't help that process, but leave it alone and let nature do its job. There is no thrush anywhere, so I do not see any reason to start cutting anything off.
Thick callus with a deep central sulcus. Thrush? Unlikely, no smell, no sensitivity, just a deep sulcus because of summer dryness. I am leaving it as is.
Looks like the outer callused layer of the frog was just shed. Whether by terrain or with help of a trimmer, I do not know. Obviously the hoof trimmer followed the principle of trimming the heels to the widest part of the frog. That hoof now is compromised and probably not a good candidate to be ridden without hoof protection, frog and sole will be sensitive for a while now.
Good one above. Analysis: thick sole, probably a double sole. Frog tip connected to sole. Frog flaps with thick callus. Horse travels sound over rocks without any hoof protection for many many miles. Admittedly, that frog does not look "nice". But it certainly is functional, tough and thick. Cutting anything off that frog would compromise his bare footed travel. I leave it as it is, even that connection with the sole on the tip is not harming the hoof, but protecting it even further.
That hoof needs some trimming, some of the overgrown bars already were shortened. But let us just look at the frog now: cracked, thick callused frog with dry central sulcus. I do not trim anything off here. At red arrow tip: flap material is growing laterally to hold soil and to increase heel support area. These flaps are useful, I will leave them in place as they have been growing.
Frog tip is starting the renewal process and peeling. Do I help and cut it off or let nature do its job? Obviously it is not quite ready to peel itself, if I cut it, the frog tip will be sensitive and I will have potentially harmed the hoof.
On the opposing hoof of the same horse, the tip has shed itself of already, next part is also trying to come off. I do nothing and leave it alone.
Now to an interesting question:
What to do about flaps and fold overs that are often observable on the frog? Generally these flaps are there to hold dirt which in turn again stimulates the tissue. Often they grow there where the hoof considers them most useful. I am always amazed on how nature takes care of the areas in need. Building materials are expediently sent there.
Lets have a look at these frog flaps:
Same hoof with slightly different photo angles for better understanding. That hoof shows very low heels, in fact the heel bulbs are so low that they are running the risk of getting bruised and injured when encountering rocks. These flaps grew at the right place to protect the bulbs. In the second frame the red arrow shows a slight abrasion from the movement of the flap against the heel bulb. Possibly also from soil or sand rubbing against the skin. Removal of these flaps would endanger the bulbs. These frog flap extensions also increase the load bearing surface area of the whole foot.
But, these flaps also can harbor bacteria and fungi, one might object. True enough. How to safeguard against this and more about frog pathology, crooked frogs, recessed ones and how to deal with them and correct them all I will cover in next months blog, Frog Talk - Part II.
From The Bootmeister
What a privilege it has been for me being able to join Tennessee Lane, ride manager and dear friend, together with other well known riders for the inaugural Spanish Peaks 100 mile endurance ride last week. The location was very close to La Veta, Colorado; in fact, just a few miles outside of this marvel of a small town in southern Colorado. After the National Championship Ride in Utah three weeks ago, (I wrote a Blog about it last month) this ride was another highlight of the season.
The base camp is situated at over 8000 ft with the magnificent Spanish Peaks as a background. I am using the present tense, because this base camp has been permanently installed with buildings, water wells and electricity by the Lane family and will serve as base camp for all future rides there. All pertinent info for present and future events there can be found on the SoCo Facebook page.
The Ride Manager and Team Easyboot Member Tennessee Lane at Base Camp
As to be expected, the management and organization were first class, trails perfectly marked. Exquisite catered dinners for riders and crew were the reward for everybody's efforts and labor.
An LD, a 50 miler and a 100 miler were offered. Trails were tough, no doubt. Many vertical feet had to be climbed and descended to reach the finish line. Lots of rocks on the trails forced riders to really go slow and take good care of their horses. Many got off and walked the really steep and rocky sections. Truly an endurance adventure, somewhat opposite to the just recent WEC in Slovakia.
Slow going during the third leg of the course.
The scenery is truly unique, even for the spoiled Colorado crowd.
Where do you get to see a sight like this? An old lava formation that has pushed up through some cracks in the ground millions of years ago to build this great wall we can see today.
A Mini arch or hole within that lava wall.
The geology is just fascinating:
"The Great Dikes were formed during the same period of volcanic activity as the Spanish Peaks, Mt. Mestas and Silver Mountain.
At the time these vertical granite formations were formed by molten rock, they were located several thousand feet underground, below and among many layers of sedimentary rock. Over time, as the ground rose and the softer rock was eroded away, these igneous intrusions were exposed.There are essentially three different sets of dikes in the area. One set emanates radially from the West Spanish Peak. The second set emanates radially from Silver Mountain. The third set crosses the landscape in a roughly N80E direction. The dikes in this third set are roughly parallel to one another and are the longest and oldest of the dikes. This third set of dikes was formed about the same time as the Sangre de Cristo Uplift, the event that pushed up the Sangre de Cristo Mountains." (Excerpt from the Geology Formation Site).
Completion rates were average for the distances, 90% for the LD, 80% for the 50 and 55% for the 100 miler. Personally I elected to withdraw after 60 miles from the 100 miler because of a slight inconsistency in my mare's gait, but this decision did not take anything away from the fact that this ride is a 'must do' in my book. What really made it so special is the fact that the first place award for the 100 miler was the Wahatoya Cup, donated by Nelson and Neecee Lane, and the Best Condition Award was the Kevin Myers Memorial Cup, named after our dear friend Kevin Myers, who left us all way too early. We miss you, Kevin and will always remember you now with this Trophy named after you.
The BC winner this year and in the future years will have their names engraved into the cup. Kerry Redente, riding Bluff, received these honors.
First Place Winner again here with the Wahatoya Cup:
In the end, only 5 riders finished the 100. Four out of the 5 were equipped with Easyboot Glue-On hoof boots. With the abrasive terrain and footing, these boots were the hoof protection of choice. These results were another testimony in favor of the Easyboot Glue-Ons. Kevin would have been proud.
Tina Gottwald from Germany and visiting Global Endurance Training Center in Moab, receiving her Completion Buckle from Tennessee. She was riding TC Mounshine, a veteran 100 Mile horse from the GETC stable. TC Mounshine was also equipped with EasyCare Glue-On boots, just like the overall winner and BC Award winner.
A group photo with all the finishers of the 100 mile ride.
A memorable endurance event came to a happy ending. We are looking forward to next year, where Tennessee Lane will again be organizing three endurance races, one in each month of June, July and August. I, for sure, will attend all three again. Hope many of you will as well.
From the desk of the Bootmeister
Last weekend the AERC National Championships were held at Antelope Island in Utah. Every year, endurance riders compete for national honors in 50 and 100 mile endurance events. The locations rotate from the eastern half of the USA to the western half. So during odd calendar years the Nationals are held in the East, during even years in the West.
Antelope Island, a Utah State Park within the Great Salt Lake, had the honors to be the host of this years Nationals. Some riders prepare all year for this event. It might not draw the numbers that Biltmore or Tevis can showcase, but it is a prestigious event, no doubt.
Jeff Stuart was the Ride Manager and with a wonderful support group, he put on a first class event. Top notch veterinarians helped horses and riders to get through. As a result the completion rate was high and there were absolutely no treatments necessary.
At the vet in: Suzy Hayes and Atlas and Christoph with GE Pistol Annie.*
The trails were a mix of flat and rocky stretches with some substantial climbs. A lot of riders chose hoof protection to safe guard against stone bruises. As always at important events, EasyCare boots were seen on many horses. And among the various EasyCare hoof protection, the Glue-Ons were the most used boot among the riders.
Some of the more rocky uphill sections of the trail.*
Antelope Island is a relatively small island, but home to 600 buffalo and hundreds of antelopes.*
When the buffalo came to close to the Vet check to snatch some hay or feed, the ride managers job included keeping them at a safe distance from the horses.
Team Easyboot member, Kevin Waters giving his horse Rio a break during one of the uphill sections.*
Kevin and I leaving vet check two during the 100 Mile race. Both horses wearing Easyboot Glue-Ons.*
For the readers who keep stats, here are the numbers of the finishing riders wearing Easyboots:
Now these are stats that no one can argue with. Numbers speak!
The jewel award, the National 100 Mile Champion title, was earned by Team Easyboot Member Leah Cain, riding OT Dyamonte Santo.
Leah Cain with the National Championship trophy and her crew. Congratulations to an awesome job done.
Jill Haunold accepting her winning trophy from AERC president Michael Campell and RM Jeff Stuart (left).
Kevin Waters won the Heavy Weight Championship title in the 100 miler, myself the Middle Weight, Anya Leverman the Junior title; all wearing the Easyboot Glue-Ons. In the 50, similar picture: Jill Haunold was the overall and Featherweight champion, Barry Waitte the Heavy Weight champion, myself the Middle Weight Champion, so all the weight division winners were also wearing Easyboot Glue-Ons.
Any more questions?
From the desk of the Bootmeister
*Photo credit for photos 1,2,3,4,6,7,8 goes to Merri Melde from endurance.net
Tevis is arguably the most prestigious and toughest endurance race in the world. Even people who have never heard of the sport endurance riding have heard of the Tevis. The ride is being followed all over the world. This year marks the seventh year that EasyCare has provided a free gluing service for interested riders at the Tevis. In December 2008 Garrett Ford and I rode the Easyboot Glue-Ons at the Las Cienega Ride in Arizona for the first time ever in an endurance race. Garrett and I finished first and second that day and GE Cyclone, this years Haggin Cup winner, received the BC honors.
From then on, we never looked back. We knew that the Glue-Ons would have a future. Starting in 2009 EasyCare organized and provided the Tevis gluing service. The numbers of interested riders are increasing every year and it became harder and harder for Garrett and I to glue boots on dozens of horses before Tevis and then ride the next day. Often we both were so tired and suffered of aching backs before the ride even started that I was surprised we even made it through and finished at all.
Last year, Garrett had the great idea of forming an Easyboot Elite Team for Tevis, consisting of qualified farriers and hoof trimmers who would not enter the Tevis themselves. Interested individuals filled out applications, these were then screened and after interviews, the Elite Team members were selected.
Kevin Myers wrote a blog last year after Tevis with some stats on how Easyboot Glue-On riders fared compared with riders using various other hoof protection methods. You can read up on this by clicking on this blog. Just a short statistic here, last year the completion rate for non Easyboot riders was 42%, Easyboot riders finished at 55%.
So, how does it compare to this year? This year, the completion rate was an astonishing 76% for Easyboot riders! The highest percentage ever! Haggin Cup winner was again in Easyboots. You can see the full history of results in Garrett's Tevis recap.
The Easyboot Glue-On is certainly an outstanding product. But without the proper application of these boots, the numbers would certainly not be that good. Only the professional and meticulous glue on procedure guaranteed this success. There is no better group of hoof care professionals in this country than the Easyboot Elite Team, with this years members being listed alphabetically here:
Pete Van Rossum
These individuals did such an outstanding job gluing boots on, it was a pleasure for me to watch. If my memory serves me right, not one single Glue-On boot applied by this team was lost during Tevis.
Elite Team members worked at three stations, gluing three horses at the same time.
The hoof is structured with the rasp to increase the adhesion of the glue.
An Elite Team member is checking the size for proper fit.
After the glue is applied and the boot attached, the borders are sealed and smoothed out. With a hoof buffy, the boot is then finished for a crisp and clean look.
Tevis has come and gone. We are all looking forward now to the National Championship in September this year at Antelope Island. Will riders with Easyboots again take home top honors?
From the desk of the Bootmeister
It is very hard for me now to pick up a pen and write a new blog after the tragic event that occurred within our EasyCare Family. It just hit too close to home. I am still extremely sad and in pain to the deepest level in my soul.
And now what? We are all supposed to pick up the pieces and keep going. I guess we have to. Life is going on and we cannot keep staying in a state of sorrow forever. It is unhealthy and also not fair to others close to us who might not have had the privilege of knowing Kevin Myers. But make no mistake about it, it is hard, very hard. Tevis is happening this week, then the Nationals and other rides. EasyCare will develop new products and life will continue. But Kevin's memories will stay with us and that is a good thing. Sooner or later we all shall be united again with him. Hope it will be quite a bit later.
To learn more about what Kevin meant to all of us within the EasyCare Family, you can read up on the last couple of blogs: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/horse-boots-customer-help/postcards-to-kevin, and here: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/easycare-admin/wish-you-were-here.
One of the best blogs about Kevin was written by Garrett Ford. A magnificent tribute to him. I just love Garrett's thoughts about Kevin.
Kevin was very interested in the success of his friends. He was always supportive of me and helped me achieve my goals. He was so looking forward to me reaching the 300 mark of wins in the endurance sport which he himself loved so much. It is sad that he missed that day and event, which happened during the Doubloon Ride, managed by Tennessee Lane of Remuda Run.
Riding GE Pistol Annie at day 2 of the Doubloon ride to achieve the 300 win mark.
While the spirits were dampened by the passing of Kevin, and we all were not really in celebration or partying mood, it was nevertheless a big event that had not been reached by any endurance rider in the the world.
Merri Melde from Endurancenet wrote a very nice article about it, to be read up here.
Trotting out for Completion after the finish of the Doubloon on day 2.
Okay, so far so good, but what does EasyCare have to do with it all, one might ask. Quite a bit, I will answer.
A lot of these wins were actually accomplished using various EasyCare hoof protection products:
By far the most used boot was the Glue-On. In over 100 wins the Glue-on boot were used. Simply a reliable hoof boot that gets the job done. Love that boot. Easy to apply and lasting.
Ria McCarthy from Heber City, Utah, just rode with her dad the whole length of the state of Utah from the border of Arizona to the border of Idaho, 605 miles with countless vertical feet over many mountains during her 28 day trip. She and her horse used only one pair of Glue-On boots for the whole trip, and there are still some miles left on the tread. Just incredible performance. No iron shoe would have lasted that long. Ria shared these two photos of the bottom of the Glue-On boots with me:
What a testimony for the Easyboot Glue-Ons. No need to say anything more. These photos say it all.
So we all move on, with a heavy heart, no doubt. I hope time will heal us all and make us better people because of Kevin. We all shall look out more for each other. This will be his legacy he left for us.
From The Bootmeister
The Flip Flops have been tested now in several endurance races. Absolutely no failures whatsoever! They have been working better than expected. Garrett Ford, owner and CEO of EasyCare Inc, posted on his FB page how the Flip Flops were on one of his horses hooves for over 8 weeks now and are still totally intact. On my blog from last month, Flip Flop In Action, I outlined the success I have had with them during the last few months, in training and in endurance races. Since then, another one of Global Endurance Training Center's horses, Medinah MHF, won the Antelope Island 50 Mile Endurance event and also was awarded Best Condition, wearing the Flip Flops.
Trotting out Medinah MHF wearing Flip Flops for the BC showing.
So we now know and have proven that the Flip Flops work well. But why would we want to select a Flip Flop, and how do we choose from all the excellent EasyCare products which hoof protection to use for any particular horse? Why select a Glove over a Glue On, an EasyShoe over a boot, a Performance N/G over a Compete or a Sport, just to name a few? What criteria are we using for this selection?
To compare the suitability of all the EasyCare hoof protection products would cover too many pages to make it feasible for a single blog. So I will restrain myself to explore the suitability of the Flip Flops for today's blog.
What kind of hooves and what kind of hoof characteristics would benefit the most from the application of the Flip Flops? Before making an educated guess, let's quickly review the advantages of the Flip Flops:
- Only the dorsal part of the hoof wall will get glued. Therefore, at least half of the hoof wall is exposed to air.
- The Flip Flops come with a healthy amount of heel extension. This is supportive for the tendons.
- The Flip Flops are easier and faster to apply compared to the Glue-Ons.
Hooves that are soft and would strengthen and benefit from increased exposure to air could be good candidates. Horses with soft and long pasterns will receive additional heel support and prevent the over flexing of the pasterns and tendons.
When drawing the plum line through the center of the coffin bone, we see that the (red) plum line falls behind the heel support. Not an ideal situation.
With the Flip Flop, the center of the canon bone is supported now. The pasterns are less likely to over flex and risk tendon injury.
Here is a different example of a hoof that could greatly benefit from a Flip Flop:
Hardly any heel growth observable here and the bulbs are almost flat with the heels. A Glue-On boot would be less favorable, while a Flip Flop will give not only support, but might also foster heel growth.
On the other side of the spectrum, let's look at this hoof and fetlock:
When drawing the plum line through the center of the canon bone, it comes out well ahead of the heel. Hooves like this, with more upright and short pasterns don't necessarily 'need' the heel support of the Flip Flops. They will do really well with Glue-Ons or Gloves or, like in this case, with EasyShoe Performance N/G.
When applying the Flip Flops, there are several options in regards to the sole. The fastest and easiest way is to just leave the sole as it is, not applying any sole glue whatsoever. I did use the Flip Flops without adding any padding, glue or other fillers to the sole. It worked very well. I never had a rock or any debris get stuck between the boot and the sole. I believe that the constant movement of the Flip Flop is helping to keep the sole clean. Furthermore, the sole is getting exposed to air and will stay hard and conditioned. Although I never had anything get stuck there, for endurance races I personally prefer to fill the bottom of the sole with some fillers, just to guard against the odd occurrence that a rock could get wedged in there and cause me some headache. I have a 'zero tolerance' policy in place for endurance rides. Nothing left to chance, I will safeguard against anything that I know could possibly happen. I tried the Sikaflex and it worked okay, but it is a little cumbersome to deal with the Sikaflex squishing out from under the boot for a few hours and having to confine your horse for that reason. A better solution is the use of Vettec Equipak, Equipak CS or Equipak Soft. The Soft is designed for really sensitive hooves. It does not adhere quite as well to the sole compared to the other two Equipaks. For most horses, the Equipak and CS work really well. I like the Copper Sulfate added to keep the bacteria at bay. Because of the copper sulfate added, the CS stays softer after being cured when comparing to the regular Equipak.
After the application of the Flip Flops with the Vettec Adhere, the Equipak can get injected. Most of the time you can just bend the Flip Flops back and inject the Equipak. Again, the EasyCare Educational Videos on the website show that very well. Should the space between Flip Flop and sole be too tight, one can drill a small hole into the bottom of the Flip Flop and inject the Equipak through this hole.
Below an example on how a Flip Flop will look with the Equipak CS applied to the sole.
These boots are still in place now after about four weeks of application and two endurance races. No separation or seam breakage visible at any place. No real reason to take them off, would it not be for the fact that the hooves need trimming again soon.
From the Bootmeister
It has only been a few weeks now since the Flip Flops were released to the horse world. At the AERC Convention last month in Reno, the Flip Flops were the center of attention with the trade show visitors. Lots of questions were asked and lots of answers given by Garrett Ford, Kevin Myers and myself at the EasyCare booth. During my last month's blog, EasyCare and AERC, I described the usage and application methods of the new Flip Flops. The EasyCare website also has a great educational video on how to apply the Flip Flops to the horses hooves. You can click on the link to watch it. It is over 18 minutes long, but very worthwhile watching. And it is much more detailed and better than I could ever describe it to you here. Therefore I will not describe the application method, but rather give you a report on how the Flip Flops performed in the field test.
A new Flip Flop, ready to be applied.
Flip Flops applied, ready for action.
Everyone is always interested to know how they wear and what kind of experience we had with them in real life, like equestrian events, trail riding or endurance racing. Garrett Ford had used them in some 50 milers last year, then this spring, I had the opportunity to apply them on two of GETC's endurance horses, Medinah MHF and GE Seastar. I competed over 200 miles in them, two 50 Mile races on each horse. The images below show the Flip Flops that have been on the horses hooves now for over four weeks.
These are a few aspects of the Flip Flops, applied to GE Seastar, after completing two 50 mile endurance races, one at 20 Mule Team in California, the second one at the Old Pueblo in Arizona. These Flip Flops have now been applied for 4 weeks. Notice how well the borders are still intact. There is no separation of the seams whatsoever.
Now, I could leave these boots on for another two or three weeks and enter the Antelope Island 50 in a couple of weeks. But it is spring time, the horses hooves grow very fast and the hooves are growing faster already anyway when using EasyCare products, be it the EasyShoes or the boots that are permanently attached, like the Glue-Ons or these Flip Flops. Through the constant stimulation of frog and sole, hoof growth is accelerated. That is a good thing. So, I decided to pull them already now and apply new ones for the new events in the future.
The wear of the soles of the boots is very minimal, just like we are accustomed to from all the other EasyCare boots and shoes. The trails on both races were a mixture of sand, gravel roads and rocks, so relatively abrasive.
I'm very happy with the wear of these soles. Are you?
The EasyCare Flip Flops are designed to also be used with the Therapy Click System.
The Flip Flop (with the Therapy Click System) and a Glue-On displayed together at the AERC Convention Trade Show.
At some point in the future we will discuss this system as well. It has worked very well for rehabbing foundered horses.
A couple of pointers for the application that might come in useful when you are applying the Flip Flop for the first time. As mentioned above, take the time to learn about the application method by watching Garrett Ford's video. Then, when placing the FlipFlop with the glue applied onto the hoof, hold it for a few seconds before placing it gently onto the ground. It helps if the tip of the hoof is placed onto the ground first so the dorsal hoof wall stays well inside the boot. Because there is no rear support, with some horses the hoof might slide backwards out of the shell. Also, because the hoof is only surrounded by the shell in the dorsal half, the horse can twist the hoof much easier inside the boot and loose the alignment. Keep the horse's leg very quiet till the glue sets and avoid any kind of twisting.
So, what is next on the agenda for me? I now want to enter a 100 miler with them and see what results I might get then. I will keep you all posted.
These Flip Flops are really growing on me. I have always been a great fan of the Glue-Ons, but I just might have to move the Flip Flops to the top of the list.
From the desk of the Bootmeister:
Member TE 2016