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
It is a yearly occurrence for EasyCare to display their newest products at the yearly AERC Convention and Tradeshow. So again it happened last weekend in Reno, Nevada.
Kevin Myers and Garrett Ford at the EasyCare booth working with customers.
The visitors at the Convention this year were especially intrigued by the new Easyboot FlipFlop, a very innovative hoof protection device that only hit the market a couple of weeks ago.
This new glue-on boot is a flip-flop design with a conventional upper that extends to the widest point of the hoof. This part of the hoof has the least amount of movement in both the vertical and horizontal planes. Because of this lack of movement, the bonds between the shoe and the hoof hold much tighter and are less likely to fail than at the heel.
The result is a hoof protection device that is more durable than composite shoes bonded along the entire sides of the hoof wall. The absence of an upper in the rear half of the shoe ensures that the heel and the entire back portion of the shoe are not connected to the hoof. The heel is afforded greater movement in all directions, which increases durability of the bond between the upper and the front portion of the hoof. The long-term effect of increased hoof flexion is a highly developed vascular system and a healthier hoof.
This product is the easiest of the glue-on boots and shoes to apply, and stays on the hoof better than any glue-on product. The product has won several 50-mile distance races.
Here is an applied FlipFlop. Notice how free the heel area is and how much heel support the FlipFlop can provide.
Below a FlipFlop glued on from the front and side:
Another hot new item to be viewed was the new Easyboot Mini Horse Boot. Everybody loved this new boot. Garrett Ford wrote a nice blog about this new boot, very worth reading up on it.
This boot really is filling a void in the market. Prior to now, there just wasn't a small enough boot available for the mini horses used a lot for driving.
The EasyCare Therapy Click System, a very innovative system for rehabbing foundered hooves, found a lot of interest by visitors. This simple, yet very effective system can be easily applied to a lot of EasyCare boots. For a complete list of the boots and a detailed description of this product, you can read up on the EasyCare website here.
Visitors also had a chance to practice gluing boots on the Blacksmith Buddy. The Blacksmith Buddy is a close replica to a horse leg and hoof and allows easy practice for trimming and gluing. EasyCare takes this useful tool to many trade shows.
The "Buddy" together with useful hoof prep and gluing tools.
Nice gluing job performed by a visitor applying an Easyboot Glue-On for the first time.
When not busy with AERC BOD and Committee meetings, I was able to support Garrett and Kevin in the booth and answer questions by the many interested customers visiting the booth during the two days of the AERC Convention. As always, this trade show was a first class act with first class products brought to the horse world by Garrett Ford and the EasyCare Company.
Garrett Ford, Kevin Myers and Christoph Schork
From the Bootmeister at the AERC Convention
They can be seen everywhere, the most unbalanced hooves, long toes, underrun heels, high heels, flares, you name it. It is truly amazing that horses with neglected hooves can sometimes bring superior performances to the table, while I would not even have given them credit for being able in taking one sound step. While many farriers and trimmers are making it an art to trim and shoe horses correctly and with utmost care, horses can act amazingly tolerant towards hoof imbalances. Many just do not seem to care how well their hooves are being taken care of. Professor Bowker, most renowned for his scientific equine hoof and anatomy studies, has seen horses that can handle a ten degree hoof angle variation and considerable medial/lateral imbalances without missing a beat during long endurance races. Others are lame when there is just a small hoof angle variation. How can there be such discrepancies how horses deal with the status of their hooves? Could it be that a proper hoof trim for a lot of equines is nothing more but the last little detail in a series of events that start with their birth as a foal?
In my blog from February last year: High And Low From Above I discussed the importance of proper training and horse husbandry for proper hoof growth and health and how we can achieve healthy and balanced hooves through a holistic approach. If interested, one can read up on it again to learn how body massages and manipulations can help fix hoof problems. Let us expand a little more on this line of thought, but move a little deeper into the subject, literally and anatomically.
Let's have a good look at this horse. (GE Whispurr from GETC) What kind of information can we gather by just spending a few moments looking at him as a whole?
Without even looking at his hooves, we do get a first impression of this horse. What can be observed:
From this first impression, we can draw conclusions in regards to the status of the hooves. I now expect his hooves to show me:
Maybe something like these two images of fairly strong and healthy hooves:
These are all signs of a healthy hoof, and in nine out of ten cases, the first impression a horse gives us reflects directly to the status of the hooves. How can everybody then contribute easily and without much training to achieving strong and healthy hooves?
Hippocrates, the great Greek physician (460 -370 BC) has an answer for us when he said this: "All diseases begin in the stomach".
And indeed, for humans and animals alike, a healthy gut is the prerequisite for a healthy body, mind and spirit and, of course, hooves. The healthier we can keep our gut and intestinal organs, the healthier our whole body and our DNA will be. While we could go on and on and look at the effects of modern nutrition and the exposure to toxins and how these poisons and toxins literally destroy human and horses bodies and health, I want to just give a short list of supplements that can make a difference in your horses hoof health.
Start with a well-balanced diet to stimulate hoof growth and maintain strength and flexibility of the hoof. Organically grown hay will be mostly toxin free and gives horses a head start. Same for grains and commercial feed. Nutrient deficient and toxin loaded hooves are weakest in the heels and quarters. Low levels of zinc and copper will make horses much more susceptible to hoof pathologies like white line disease, thrush and poor horn quality.
The nutritional hoof building blocks in order of importance are:
Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein for keratin synthesis, important for strength and flexibility of hoof material. This synthesis is not really possible without the sulfur containing aminos, such as methionine and cysteine. Of all the minerals out there, zinc, copper and selenium are the most important trace minerals for hoof growth and health. Especially for the strength of the hoof wall. Zinc is probably THE most important one. While zinc is actually strengthening the cell, copper and sulfur are responsible for building the bridges between the proteins, thus giving the hooves their density and strength. Selenium, on the other hand, is not a building block, but a shield against oxidizing damage. It works best in conjunction with Vitamin E. However, too much selenium can be toxic (mane and tail hairs can fall out or break off, hoof walls can crack). Biotin will help foster hoof growth by assisting the cell cornification process. One might say, it is the cement for holding the cells together.
Important is the zinc to copper ratio when supplementing these minerals. This ratio should be 3:1. A horse needs 450 mg of zinc and 150 mg of copper daily. Iron, however, is competing with zinc and copper for absorption in the cells. Lots of horses in general are taking in way too much iron in their diet; should that be the case, then the zinc and copper administration needs to get increased. Natalie Herman wrote a very informative blog three years ago, Got Iron?, where she described the poisonous effect of iron overload in the horses diet. While a horse needs only 40ppm of iron a day, most daily hay portions have almost twice to three times that much iron. When riders then supplement additionally with the popular Red Cell, a product high in iron, one can quickly poison a horse and the result could be hoof soles that look like this (Photo by Natalie Herman):
Irregular cracks inside the hoof wall (not within the actual white line) are a sure tell sign of iron overload.
Iron in excess is certainly toxic. But there are numerous other toxins which we, riders and equines alike, are burdened with everyday. While this topic in itself is well deserving of its own blog, I just want to briefly give a short list on how we can minimize their poisoning effects on the body:
When it all comes down to it, nutrition trumps trimming. The most sophisticated and accurate hoof balance will not mean much if the horse is not properly fed, lacks aminos and minerals, has an unhealthy gut, is overburdened with toxins, carries a damaged DNA and looks unthrifty. Even the best EasyCare shoes and products cannot perform miracles if there is no solid foundation to build a performance horse upon. So, the bottom line could very well be:
Making sure that our equine friends have a healthy gut is the very best hoof service we can provide.
Form the Bootmeister
Moab, my home town, lies at an elevation of 4000 ft. When leaving from Moab in any direction, one has to climb over 7000 ft mountain passes. In the deep of winter, between Christmas and New Year, this undertaking can be a big gamble with the weather, and sometimes you just do not get out of the valley with horse rigs. So when the weather forecaster gave a green light regarding clear road conditions the day after Christmas, I was in for the lengthy 12 hour drive to the Death Valley XP. But why do it? I have compiled five reasons for engaging in this adventure and for trading a cozy fireplace for working in the cold and traveling long hours. I let you decide if these are good or foolish reasons:
1. The decision to go gave me the opportunity to glue on Easyboots in wintery weather and apply my best application methods.
Medinah MHF in reminiscence of warmer weather conditions.
Gluing in cold and wet weather, makes one work with extra care and diligence, provided one has the goal of not loosing any boots in the near future. First comes the trimming and roughing the hoof wall with the Buffy.
The horses have been living in snow now for a while, so the hooves are fully hydrated. I spend extra time drying the hoof wall. My favorite tool for this job: the gas torch. Last year in April I wrote It Is Getting Hot, a blog about the pros and cons of these gas torches.
I used the torch five to six times, 20 seconds or so each time, to thoroughly dry the hoof wall. With a moisture meter, one can verify if the hoof walls are dry enough for gluing.
Now comes the opportunity to use that great new Easyboot Zip.
The ZIP is a new boot, developed by EasyCare for a variety of uses, here it is ideal for protecting the prepared and dried hoof from the elements and any contamination.
The glues and boots, I had placed a few hours before in a warm and dry room so as not to compromise adhesion. I take extra care to really warm up the boots to make them hand warm and pliable. The rest of the application then goes smoothly. The proper preparation of hooves, glues and boots are 99% of the success.
These boots are now ready for action. After the glue has dried, literally nothing can diminish their adhesion to the hoof wall and boot shell.
2. Riding great horses with great boots in great country over very rocky and difficult terrain.
Loosing a Glue-On boot in this kind of terrain and not having a spare Easyboot Glove with you will certainly ruin your ride.
Riding towards Panamint Valley.
Searles Springs, a unique place in the desert, with intermittent water running down the rocks.
Sunset in Searles Valley. Photo by Merri Melde.
Merri Melde also wrote a nice Vagabond Report on her experiences at Death Valley, to be viewed here.
3. Riding with great friends
Death Valley XP is a great place to meet up with friends you have not seen for a while. Everybody is relaxed, the vast expanse of the land, and the difficulties of the trail just foster camaraderie.
Meeting up with Mark Montgomery and his Mustang at the water trough. Mark is a future user of EasyShoes and Easyboots.
4. Receiving three BCs during the four day ride.
The horses I rode, GE Seastar, GE Pistol Annie and Medinah MHF showed very well at the end of the difficult days and received a well deserved BC Award each. Could this have anything to do with the fact that their hooves were well protected with Easyboot Glue-Ons?
Riding GE Pistol Annie to a 4th place finish day one.
5. Celebrating New Years Eve with other endurance riders and friends.
The Trona Golf Course Clubhouse is a great place to welcome the New Year. Steph Teeter, Merri Melde and Gretchen Montgomery provided live entertainment for the evening.
Traveling to Death Valley in the middle of winter is a worthwhile undertaking. But let us not forget to apply the Easyboot Glue-Ons or Gloves. Your horses hooves will thank you for it and your experience will rate higher on the fun meter.
At the end of my blog from last month, On Tour Abroad, I promised a follow up blog covering my experience with endurance racing in Europe. So here it is. I had previously participated in endurance events in Germany, Australia and the Middle East, but had not entered any races in France and Spain. In October of 2015 I had the opportunity to ride at two FEI sanctioned events. I could combine these races this time with my Hoof Care Clinics which I conduct every year in Europe.
My first start was at the VIC** in Catalunya, just a few miles north of Barcelona. I had the pleasure of riding a horse of Jaume Punti Dachs, or short, Juma from the Juma Stable, a 14 year old bay gelding, Malik Kerrous.
On the way to the Vetting in the day before the start.
The 120km, (75 Mile) race had 70+ entries, Juma Stable alone entered a total of 15 horses. The trail was a mix of hills, rocky trails, concrete and paved roads with stretches of softer footing. But for the most part the ground was hard. The pace is generally faster compared to endurance races in the USA. Typically the horses canter much more, trotting only when terrain demands it. Surprising is the fact that most horses are shod with steel shoes, and just about everybody uses clips as well.
These types of hoof protection are very common and can be seen on over 90% of all entered horses. Also notice the relative long toes. Among all of the entered horses I did not see even one horse wearing EasyShoes or Easyboots. There is a lot of potential for future EasyCare Workshops and Clinics.
Cooling Malik during one of the Crew Spots.
Cooling is big here, the amount of water being poured over the horses to lower the heart rate quickly is fascinating.
All these water buckets and canisters are for cooling horses.
Completion rates here are typically low compared to completion rates in the USA. A 50% completion rate is average. Pretty much all endurance races in Europe are FEI races. Control judges are tough and a rider gets pulled for even the slightest irregularity in gaits. Needless to say, I was happy to complete in the low thirties.
Self crewing, widespread in the USA, is very uncommon. The knowledge and support of my crew and hosts, Salvador Magriny and Pol Magrinya Roca was contributing a great deal to my success.
Onward to France!. "Les Deux Jours de Montcuq" is the oldest endurance race in France. The first Montcuq race started 39 years ago, so not quite as old as Tevis, but still remarkable. It is also one of the most prestigious race in France. As a CEI*** race it consists of two days or riding the same horse, 100km each day, or 62,5 miles. So for a total of 125 miles in two days it is a step above our Two Day 100 Mile event.
Located close to the foothills of the Pyrenees, Montcuq is a quaint small town with lots of charming old architecture, palm trees and a somewhat Mediterranean climate. The folks there are very friendly and horse oriented. This two day race is the highlight of the year for the village and spectators are everywhere. The race starts in the middle of town and finishes there as well with hundreds of villagers applauding.
Typical Montcuq streets.
Southern flair, love these palm trees.
Montcuq is also situated in the middle of the Foie Gras country, famous for goose liver patee.
Of course, we had to try it, here at lunch with my crew, Leonard Liesens, Caroll Gatelier and Annik Roex.
Basecamp and pre-ride check are right in town.
CC Blanco was my horse for the race, courtesy of Leonard Liesens of Belgium.
Start and Finish happen in the middle of town among many villagers and spectators.
The trail is technically difficult, lots of vertical as well as very rocky stretches and, as common in Europe, with a fair amount of pavement. The scenery is quite stunning, though.
Vineyards in fall colors.
Half way through with CC Blanco going strong.
After all the the impressions of the trail, the finish was next to a statue of Jeanne D'Arc back in Montcuq.
With a completion rate of about 40%, I was very happy again to have completed a classic and memorable endurance race. Montcuq was an experience that I would not want to have missed. I would return anytime to this gem of a town in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Departing shot from Montcuq.
So what are the differences between endurance races in Europe compared to North America?
In general endurance is more mainstream in Europe, folks are more excited about the sport, more young riders are participating, more enthusiasm can be felt. Trail marking is certainly superior, technological support in timing and vet gates are more advanced. All in all, the sport is on a higher level in Europe. The notable exception to this statement is hoof care. The horses are still mostly shod with iron and steel. I certainly will come back for more Hoof Care and EasyCare Clinics
As a parting shot, there also is a philosophical difference how the sport is perceived in the USA vs Europe:
USA view of endurance.
French view of endurance.
With this lighthearted comparison, I say 'Good Bye' for this year with this report and last blog.
I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, lots of success in 2016 and may all your wishes get fulfilled.
Till next year-
Christoph Schork (The Bootmeister)
My hoof care clinics abroad have become a yearly, sometimes semi-yearly, happening. Most of the time my travels lead me to Europe, but occasionally also to Australia and Canada. This month I'm just returning from a series of seminars in Spain, Catalunya and Germany.
To fill you in, in case you did not follow European News lately: Catalunya, or translated into English, Catalonia, is an autonomous region in the most eastern part of the Iberian peninsula, close to the Pyrenees and bordering France. The population is 7.5 million. The Capital is Barcelona, home of the soccer club FCB that has won the European Soccer League Championship Title many times. Catalunya is now trying to achieve independence from Spain within the next couple of years. National sentiments and feelings are wide spread among the people, about half of the population favors an independent new country. So to be politically correct and not hurt anybody's feelings, I will refer to the location of my visit as Catalunya instead of Spain.
The new Catalonian National Flag can be seen everywhere.
Barcelona, viewed from the Castello, a vibrant beautiful city with a fascinating history.
Why travel to Europe to conduct hoof care clinics? After all, it is not that the Europeans do not know much about hoof trimming and shoeing. Horses have been used and ridden in Europe for thousands of years, I mean, compared to the USA, these folks there have been around horses and known horses literally forever. But EasyCare happens to be a company based in the USA, is very innovative and a leader in the industry. And although I'm not traveling and conducting these clinics on behalf of EasyCare, but rather on my own accord and under my company's umbrella, Global Endurance Training Center, these clinics focus very much on Natural Hoof Care, Barefoot Trimming and the application of all the EasyCare products and boots. After all, these boots and shoes are the future. Besides EasyCare boots and shoes, I also apply and demonstrate other innovative hoof protections on the market like Duplos and EQUIFLEX, a USA company that imports the Cera Shoes made in Germany. (Disclosing here that EQUIFLEX is also my own company, a subsidiary of Global Endurance Center). For these stated reasons, European stables, equine organizations and clubs are looking for USA based clinicians that know and teach progressive and innovative hoof protections and their applications.
Besides the hoofboots like the Gloves, Trail, Epics, Original Easyboots, Glove Back Country, and Clouds that require neither nails nor glue, I teach nailing and gluing EasyShoes and Glue-Ons using various glues, but mostly the over and over proven VETTEC glues. An all time favorite for many participants is the molding of a hoof shoe using the Vettec Superfast. And when I receive a phone call 6 weeks later telling me that the Superfast shoe is still on the hoof and fully intact after being ridden many miles through rocks and endless hours standing and walking in muddy pastures and stalls, even I can be a little proud of my work and the quality of the products I'm putting my faith into.
The equestrian community of the Iberian Peninsula as a whole has not embraced the new hoof protection boots and shoes from EasyCare and other manufactures like the rest of Europe or the Americas have. Most horses there are still shod with iron shoes like they have been for over 2000 years. A few Duplos and Equiflex Shoes could be seen, but hardly any Easyboots of any kind. Contrary to lots of horses in the rest of Europe, most horses had also fairly long, undubbed toes.
A very common sight: steel shoes with long toes.
The two day seminar this fall was open to farriers, horse owners and riders of all disciplines who were interested in learning about hoof boots and the application of them. 15 participants (among them 4 farriers) wanted to hear all about EasyCare's products. After introduction and initial PP presentation about anatomy of the lower legs, the group watched and analyzed gaits of various horses, studied toe and heel landings and examined pathologies and hoof imbalances.
During the indoor presentation.
Toe landing or heel landing? Sometimes it is hard to tell.
M/L imbalances were noted together with anatomical abnormalities.
After evaluating hooves, we practiced and discussed hoof trims and compared trimming philosophies between various countries. Any group member who wanted to do so, could show and explain his trimming procedures.
Trimming was followed by various hoof boot applications. Participants had again the opportunity to select boots, apply them and check the fit.
Gluing Easyboot Glue-Ons was first demonstrated by me, then could be practiced by the attendees.
Here we are using Vettec Equipak CS as sole packing in the Easyboot Glue on. For that purpose, small holes were drilled in the bottom of the boots and the CS then injected through those holes.
Catalonians never miss an opportunity to have siesta and eat well. A great opportunity to celebrate the end of the clinic with a traditional Catalonian dinner.
After leaving Catalunya I traveled to Germany for more clinics and workshops, then to Belgium and finally finished my travels in France. There, and also before that in Catalunya, I had to opportunity to enter two endurance races. From these events I will report my experiences in next months blog.
From the Bootmeister
Christoph Schork, Global Endurance Training Center
The Easyboot Glue-Ons are certainly a marvelous invention. From the beginning we had a great product, but we had to learn how to use them properly and how to apply them correctly so they stayed on even under the most extreme conditions. Meanwhile, Easyboot Practitioners have refined the gluing process to an art and getting the boots off the hooves even after they been 'on' for a few weeks can be quite a chore. Which is, of course, a good thing, because it proves to everybody that the gluing application has matured.
A couple of months ago I wrote about Reading The Boot, a blog with photos to evaluate the gluing application after the fact, meaning after we take the boots off. A learning after the fact, so to speak, but also a studying and learning opportunity for future applications.
EasyCare recommends to pull the Glue-On boots after ten days to two weeks. I have to admit, I often do not adhere to these these time recommendations and keep them on somewhat longer than that. Maybe I shouldn't, but when the seals are still intact and the boot well attached with no water having entered the boots, I stretch this time line. And yet, I'm always amazed how hard the hooves still are after I pull these Glue-On Boots off my horses hooves. I have not noticed any thrush developing under the boots and most of the time they are a 'mother' to get them off, even after hundreds of miles ridden and several weeks having passed. Yes, they are softer compared to the bare footed horses running around in dry sand. But certainly are not any softer than a bare hoof that travels and lives more in a wetter climate and muddier soil than we have in the desert southwest.
Notwithstanding those observed facts, I cannot help to wonder sometimes if it would be better to have the sole exposed to more natural soil, sand, rocks and air to keep it dryer and tougher.
Time to experiment and play.
- power drill
- circular hole saws of various sizes
I pre-drilled a small hole in the center of the Glue-On so that the hole drill can stay centered:
While drilling the hole, the boot has to be fixed, otherwise it will spin around and the circular saw won't be able to cut. The best way for me to stabilize the boot was to hold it between my feet.
The sole of the Glue-On boot is rather thick, so it will take a little time. Too much pressure on the drill and it will not cut anymore but get bound up and stuck and jerk your arm. So better use light pressure to allow the tool to do the work.
The modified Glue on Boot with a hole in the bottom.
The sole thickness of the boot is indeed impressive, here is the cut out piece. The Gloves and Glue-Ons certainly have a thick sole, that's the reason they last so long and protect the soles so well.
Hoof preparation is being done identically the way we glue a boot without holes.
For gluing the boot I used Sikaflex the same way as I normally would for a complete boot. I just need a lot less of it this time.
Vettec Adhere is being applied afterwards to the inside wall of the boot and the boot then being glued on according to protocol published on the EasyCare website.
In the sole area I use the excess Sikaflex to seal the cut borders.
Most of the frog and sole is now exposed, keeping the sole and frog tough and hardened.
The foremost question in my mind was: did I rob that boot of essential stability and compromise the integrity so much that it will fall apart and get ripped off in no time? Only time and frequent riding over mixed terrain will tell me.
In my first try I cut the hole too big and, sure enough, the toe part of the boot sole was pushed over the dorsal hoof wall within 20 miles ridden. The boot pictured above is a size 2 and I used a 3.5 inch diameter hole saw. That hole seemed the appropriate size, leaving a wide enough sole margin. I therefore came up with the following hole sizing chart (this is what has worked for me):
-2.5 inches saw diameter for boot sizes 00 and 00.5
-3 inches saw for boot sizes 0, 0.5 and 1
-3.5 inches for sizes 1.5, 2, 2.5
-4 inches for sizes 3 and 3.5 and 4
With these sizes the boots have stayed strong enough to withstand heavy and fast riding over mixed terrain.
After 4 weeks of riding this horse, the margins and borders are all intact and the horse is moving happily and freely.
Next photo from the bottom side:
The frog and sole did toughen up more, more dead sole visible compared to the frame above 4 weeks ago. The horse walked before the Sikaflex had completely been dry, that is why some of it had pushed out from under the sole, but that did not create any issues.
Summarizing why such a foolish undertaking could benefit the hooves:
- Continuous sole and frog stimulation and toughening through contact with ground
- Longer time intervals before pulling the boots, possibly up to 6 weeks
- Better grip in mud and wet grass
I might not elect to use this modification for endurance rides or riding a lot over sharp and hard rocks. The risk of stone bruising is certainly greater. For moderate terrain and training rides it seems to me to be a viable alteration.
To give credit where credit is due: this 'Hole in the Boot' idea did not originate with me. I saw it first while attending one of the Pete Ramey Clinics in Durango and considered it worth a try and to experiment with. Pete had a couple of the boots with holes cut out on display.
So far, I must say, I'm happy with the results.
From the Bootmeister's desk
Medicinal leech use dates back over 3000 years. In Egypt, India, Ancient Greece and Ancient Persia the Hirudo Medicinalis, what the medicinal leech is called, was used extensively for healing and therapeutic treatments. Hippocrates writes about them in his works. These little creatures have a very long history.
There are over 650 species of leeches known today, but only 15 of them are blood sucking. These are the ones we are interested in. They are anywhere from one to 10 inches long, have 32 brains, 3 jaws and millions of mini teeth. Their central nervous system is similar to the human one. In the 19th century the European countries imported 100 million leeches every year for medicinal purpose. It was not till the middle of last century that leeches kind of disappeared for about 30 years from the medical field. Since the 80's they have become very popular in medicine again and are being widely used in hospitals all over the world for the following treatments:
-muscle pain and cramps
Myself, I have been using leeches on my tennis elbow, thumb capsule inflammation, broken toe, just to name a few. In all cases, the relief of pain and the healing experienced have been very noticeable and long lasting.
I have made the same observations while treating various horse injuries and pathologies. Over the last 15 years, I have successfully used leeches on bowed tendons, muscle cramps, suspensory injuries, chronic joint pain, arthritis, ring and side bone and laminitis. Horses do very well with leech treatment and enjoy the whole experience. In Africa, biologist have observed that buffalos and cattle seek out ponds with high leech populations, stand in the water for 30 to 45 minutes, get a leech treatment and then leave the pond when the leeches are full and have fallen off.
Before treating a horse, it is advised to shave the area down to the bare skin. Although leeches can bite through the skin of a hippo and also through hair, they prefer clean skins. Wash the area with clean water, no soap. Leeches detest soap and any artificial smell.
Clean your own hands with water only, take a little mini cup, fetch a leech from your container and hold it with the container to the horses skin.
Leeches can bite on both ends, so just hold that cup to the area to let them bite. If they are not in the mood, then a little prick of the horses skin with the needle will draw a drop of blood and will help stimulate their appetite.
Once they are attached, they often use their other end to hold themselves in place, but not always. Stay with your horse, because if the horse would stomp the leg because of flies, for example, the leech could fall off and then will loose interest. They are very sensitive creatures, one should always have love and respect for them and be kind.
This one is holding on with the other end, but will only bite with one end at a time.
Typically a leech will stay attached from 30 to 45 minutes. During this time, they can grow to 5 times their original size. Then they just fall off and do not feel like feeding again for 6 months or a year.
This one just hangs loose from the biting end.
The saliva of a leech contains 13 effective components, one of them being the protein Hirudin, a strong thrombin inhibitor. Hirudin has anti coagulant and anti inflammatory characteristics. The effectiveness and the healing power comes through these ingredients and the subsequent bleeding. The longer the bleeding lasts, the better the effects of healing. 40 ml or so would be nice. The ongoing bleeding stimulates local circulation and carries damaging toxins and waste products from the affected area.
When treating acute laminitis, place four leeches low on the affected leg for best results.
What do these leeches have in common with hoof boots or EasyCare products?
"The new Easyboot Cloud is a therapeutic hoof boot system to give comfort and support to horses with thin soles, abscesses, founder, laminitic stages, stresses of shipping, recovery after workouts or stalling on hard surfaces. The Easyboot Cloud also provides instant and ongoing relief for horses suffering from chronic lameness and general lower limb or hoof problems by aiding movement and reducing recovery time after injury or surgery."
After a treatment with the leeches for any of these pathologies mentioned above, the Easyboot Cloud is almost a must to give the horse ongoing relief and support. Both the Cloud and the Leech can work very well together for the welfare of our horses.
To learn more about these amazing little creatures, you can visit this website.
From the Bootmeister