Basic Tips for Natural Hoof Care

Here is some good knowledge about natural hoof care for horse owners from farrier/trimmer Keith Seeley. Every horse owner should have a basic idea of hoof care so that he/she can be aware of issues that may or may not be serious. Catch them early and they won't be serious. You will be able to assess the hooves and have a good idea of what is going on.
 

Basic Hoof Care Tips for Basic Owners
by Keith Seeley 

Hello. Is this Ms. Henrietta Horseowner? Hi, this is Franky Farrier.
Mr. Farrier, thanks for calling me back so quick. I got your name from Susie Q. We work together. She’s been using you for a while and speaks highly of you. I have X horse and I think I have a problem. My horse’s feet are all split and chipped up. He doesn’t seem to be limping or anything, but I think there is a problem. I admit I don’t know much about horse’s feet, but can you help me?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the story you have just read is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent…. This is a common scenario for many farriers. The range of hoof problems described to us over the phone varies widely, but most of them seem to fit at least one of several categories: split / chipped feet, foundered feet, horse seems lame but don’t know why, or can’t get the current farrier back out. There are others, but for me, these seem to be the more common.

I’d like to provide you with some hints and tips that will hopefully help you keep your horse’s feet healthy and ol’ Skippy happy. After all, it doesn’t matter if you own a pasture pet or a Triple Crown winner, if your horse’s feet are deteriorating and in pain, your horse isn’t worth the hide his old bones are wrapped up in. To be more precise, No Hoof, No Horse!
 

Basic hoof care is one of those things that many people overlook, but is vital to keeping your horse healthy. By performing routine cleaning and care procedures, you will be able to spot changes much more quickly and you will more easily recognize when your horse has a problem or is just developing a problem. Most people know when their car has a problem because they drive it daily. They know when something doesn’t sound right, or when it’s pulling one direction or another or if the brakes don’t seem to stop smoothly and efficiently. The reason for this is they are at least somewhat observant, but mostly because they are in it and around it continuously. Some people practically ‘sleep’ with their cars! The same theory works for horses and their feet, too. The more time you spend with your horse and handling it’s feet, the more aware you will become about what’s normal and what’s not. No, I’m not suggesting you be like those fanatical people who sleep with their cars and sleep with your horse, though I’ve known a few folks who have. I’m merely suggesting you be more aware about your horse’s condition. There are many books, videos and Internet sites devoted to horse care and hoof care. But this article should be a good start for you.

I will discuss a number of common hoof problems that I’ve encountered in the past, how to identify them and what YOU, as horse owners, can do to help your farrier in the care and maintenance of your horse’s feet. Remember this, YOU are responsible for your horse’s feet, NOT your farrier. Your farrier is a service provider, not a miracle worker. You see your horse daily, your farrier sees him once every six weeks at best. The problems I’m about to discuss CAN NOT be fixed by your farrier alone. You have to follow your farrier’s instructions and tend to your horse’s feet between visits.

Thrush:

This is a nasty, smelling, greasy black gunk that affects your horse’s frog and usually embeds itself in the trenches (known as commissars or collateral grooves) beside the frog. Virtually all horses who are left in unkept stalls for any amount of time, who walk though muck and mire for any amount of time, or who’s feet are not tended to regularly, will likely get some amount of thrush. Thrush is a maintenance issue. It’s not life threatening, but it can become a serious problem for your horse if not tended to. Thrush, if left unchecked, will deteriorate the frog and commissures. It can completely eat away at the rubbery frog until there is virtually nothing left, leaving the coffin bone susceptible to bruises, punctures, or worse. The horse’s frogs may bleed freely if the condition gets bad enough. If the frog is eaten away and is not able to perform it’s function, the hoof is very likely to become contracted, blood flow in and out of the foot will likely be lessened and the horse will not perform at it’s optimum.
Prevention: Clean you horses feet at least every two to three days. Daily is better when treating problems like this, but a regular routine will help insure that this condition never gets a good foothold. Use a good hoof pick and clean / brush all dirt, manure, and any other foreign matter from the bottom of your horses foot. Don’t be bashful about it, get in there and clean! Now, you’re not trying to dig to China, but you do want to thoroughly clean the commissures and the toe area. These areas are the most susceptible to problems.
Treatment: My number one recommendation is always good, sound, proper trimming. A balanced body and balanced feet will be better able to ward off problems. But, should your horse have thrush, there are several things you can do to treat it. First, clean the foot regularly as described above. Second, you may need to fight the thrush with chemicals. The idea here is to dry the bottom of the foot out and disinfect it. So, Iodine, Betadine, 10 to 1 solution of Clorox (10 parts water, 1 part Clorox) or Coppertox are all some of the more preferred methods. Personally, I like Apple Cider Vinegar or something like Listerine. They are cheap and easy to come by and are not overly harsh to your horse. Apply any of the above liberally to the affected areas. You may want to use a shallow pan (such as a tin pan, the bowl / plate of a frozen dinner or any of the hoof soaking products on the market) to soak the foot in for a few days. About 20 minutes a day should help you get a handle on the problem. Should you have specific questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a farrier. They can assist you with specific problems.

                                 
 

Seedy Toe:

This is a condition that affects the white line at the toe of the hoof. USUALLY, your farrier will be able to spot this condition without ever picking the foot up. There will be a crack visible at the toe while looking at the foot on the ground. NOTE: Not all cracks in the toe, or the hoof, indicate seedy toe. There are numerous reasons for cracks and splits in the hoof. This is simply a common occurrence, especially in the southeastern region of the U.S. Seedy Toe is largely an anaerobic bacteria / fungus combination that affects the white line (the normally thin, tan line that separates the outer hoof wall from the sole of the foot when observed from the ground surface of the foot.) Oddly enough, structurally speaking, the toe is the weakest point of the foot. In a normal, supple, healthy hoof, the toe will flex as weight is born and released on the foot. If the foot is out of balance, too dry or too wet, the toe area looses suppleness and becomes prone to this condition. Seedy toe is not life threatening, but can become so bad as to cause the horse to loose its outer hoof wall.
Prevention: Sound trimming principles, always. Also employ qualified, certified farriers to work on your horse. By doing so, you are better assured that your horse’s hoof health will remain in check, or it will begin to improve with regular maintenance. Your horse is less likely to be affected by seedy toe if its feet are trimmed and balanced on a regular basis. Most farriers recommend that interval to be every 6 to 8 weeks. More sever cases, regardless of the ailment, may require a shorter frequency. You can help by keeping the feet regularly picked and cleaned or even touched up between farrier visits. Regular maintenance is the key to this one. It also doesn’t hurt if you move to a less tropical region of the country. But, if that’s not in your plans, you may have do deal with it from time to time.
Treatment: There are several methods for treating this seedy toe. They each depend on the severity. In moderate to extreme cases, resecting the hoof, totally eliminating the affected tissue (such as when surgeons remove tissue for treating cancer patients), treating the remaining area with a strong antiseptic, and rebuilding the missing hoof with any one of several epoxy or acrylic compounds available to farriers may be in order. Other methods my involve digging out as much of the ‘cheesy’ material that is packed in the hole that is beginning to work it’s way up the hoofwall and packing it with strong chemicals such as iodine crystals. The idea is to clean, disinfect and dry out the affected spot. Your farrier should be able to identify this condition and recommend the appropriate treatment. Follow your farrier’s instructions. This condition will very likely require you to perform regular maintenance until it’s gone. How long with that be? That will depend on the severity of the case, how fast your horse grows new hoof and how diligent you are with the recommended treatment.

Founder:

Folks, this is a huge topic, too much to go into thoroughly in this article alone. But I will try to hit some highlights. There are several degrees of severity to this condition and each horse needs to be dealt with on an individual basis. There are perhaps as many opinions of and treatments for founder as there are farriers, vets and owners. If your horse has never foundered, be grateful and do what ever it takes to keep your horse from foundering. Don’t over feed, don’t give all vaccinations in one shot, break them up over several weeks, and keep an eye out for any signs of sever stress to the horses system. Be careful not to ‘kill him with kindness’. If he has founded, please contact me. This has become my area of specialization. Founder and lameness cases now make up just about half of my business, but it's growing more day by day.
Prevention: Since there are so many things that can bring on a case of founder, the best thing I can say is make dietary changes slowly and in moderation. The single largest reason for horses to founder is an abrupt change in the horses system. People tend to believe it’s from fresh spring grass. That’s usually just the last straw. The horse’s body coming out of winter is very likely only use to having hay and grain. People tend to feed too much or don’t back off as winter is waning. Therefore the horse is likely still too heavy, carrying too much fat stored up before winter. His body hasn’t had the chance to shed weight and get ready for the new year. So, an abundance of fresh green grass, often combined with spring vaccinations and wormings, is too much for their bodies to handle. This causes a build up of stress and toxins in their system, which the body is forces to do the best it can to prevent the internal organs from being affected. So, the toxins are sent to the lowest points of the body; i.e., the feet. This starts the chain of events for founder into motion. There are dozens of other reasons for a horse to founder, some of which are colic, stress, overfeeding, feeding too rich for the horses use and exercise, and even something as simple as taking away it’s pasture buddy or bringing one in. The research group BOGHS has many years of experience with founder and lameness issues. Look them up and seek out their help if you can.

Dry / Cracked hooves:

There are numerous reasons why a horse may have dry and / or cracked hooves. Some reasons are arid, sandy terrain, damp nights and mornings in the pasture then parched conditions by afternoon (this one is great for loosing shoes. The feet swell at night from the moisture, and then shrink by afternoon. Repeatedly done, this loosens the nails of the shoe, causing it to no longer fit properly. This is very aggravating for farriers!). Other reasons include improperly balanced feet, or changes taking place within the inner hoof capsule. Note: it is possible to have perfectly supple hooves and still have cracks. Cracks could be due to old hoof or coronary band (the area of the hoof right at the hairline) injuries. Consult a farrier for these type problems.
Prevention: If you’re in the southern region of the U.S., this may be tough in the summer time. The best prevention is maintenance. Keep your farrier coming every 6 to 8 weeks. Try not to let your horses feet get overly wet then overly dry in a given day. Most of the time, this will not cause any problems for your horse. It’s more of a cosmetic problem. But if allowed to go unchecked, problems can develop. By applying hoof moisturizers to the coronary band on a regular basis, you can help lessen this condition. Applying conditioner to the hoof wall rarely does any good for the horse. Mostly, it makes you feel good. The wall is too thick for any of the chemicals and oils to penetrate deep enough to be effective.
So that you don’t misunderstand this condition, let me make this statement. Dry hooves are not a problem. Generally speaking, your horse is designed to handle dry conditions. But repeatedly going from wet to dry to wet to dry, etc., etc., is what allows problems to occur. BUT, just because your horse is in this type of environment doesn’t mean your horse will develop problems. It’s merely opening the door for problems, such as seedy toe. Again, consult a qualified farrier should you have questions or concerns.

In case you’ve not seen the pattern that has developed in this article, the key to having a healthy, happy horse is for you to perform regular, diligent maintenance on your horse’s feet AND to employ a qualified, certified farrier to work on your horses feet on a regular basis. If you already have a good farrier that sets your next appointment before he leaves and shows up close to the time he’s given you and is keeping your horses feet healthy, great! Do what you can to keep him or her safe and happy! If you don’t have a qualified farrier, I’ll supply you with the number of the BWFA where you can call and get the name of a certified farrier nearest to you. Should you have problems that you can’t identify or feel you need additional information about a specific condition or problem, please contact the BOGHS research group or me.

I mentioned one scenario at the beginning of this article that probably affects the health of your horse, but has nothing to do with a specific ailment. This situation tends to be more prevalent with new horse owners or uninformed horse owners. Folks, if you are going through farrier after farrier to come out and work on ol’ Thunder, your problem may be with the ‘ground manners’ of your horse. No farrier wants to, or can afford to, work on a horse that has poor ground manners. This condition is a matter of discipline, training and respect. Your horse is likely short on all count. Little or no discipline, little or no training will almost guarantee a horse that has little or no respect the a human. I’ve personally worked on dozens of horses that the owners have said ‘I can ride him and do anything I want to with him. I don’t understand why he’s giving you such a hard time.’ The answer to this is, I do. Your horse has been trained well enough to ride, but not to stand for the farrier. You see, a horse doesn’t stand on three feet for an extended period of time naturally. It has to be taught to do that. A horse is afraid of falling, and therefore doesn’t like to have to pick up and hold one of its feet. To him, he’s about to fall, therefore he has to get that fourth foot back on the ground. You may be thinking to yourself that Thunder will let you pick his feet up and clean them out when you ask him to. If that’s true, he’s been taught to be comfortable with lifting a foot and allowing you to clean it. That takes less than a minute usually. But if you handle the foot in the same manner as the farrier does and you handle it longer than a minute, you’ll likely get a completely different reaction from your horse. So if you are going through farriers faster that you can use up that carton of milk in fridge, then your problem may be due to your horse’s behavior. If this is the case, talk to you farrier about what you can do to train your horse to stand better or to pick up his feet easier. I’m sure he’ll be happy to discuss it with you. Because if you don’t, you may be looking for another farrier, again… For you it’s a headache, for us it’s a matter of health.

I’ve only touched on the problems your horse can develop and the treatments for them. Always seek professional guidance and assistance. And remember, horses are people too. Happy trails,
Keith Seeley

Nancy Fredrick

easycare-office-manager-nancy-fredrick

EasyCare Office Manager

As the office manager, I make sure the general operations of the organization run smoothly and seamlessly from A to Z. I have been on the EasyCare team since 2001 and have first hand product knowledge as my horses are barefoot and booted.

Looking for Cheap Horse Boots?


Everyone loves a bargain so be sure to check out EasyCare's Bargain Bin. Although the inventory changes daily you can find some discontinued styles of the Easyboot Glove, Easyboot Epic and Easyboot Bare at 50% off the retail price as well as some boot accessories and EZ Ride stirrups.

All the items in the Bargain Bin are brand new but are not returnable or exchangeable. If you are purchasing boots please make sure you have measured the hooves accurately.

Bargain Bin orders are for orders placed through our on-line store only, no phone orders please. Inventory and sizes are limited so hurry and place your order now.  If you don't find what you need in the Bargain Bin, check out our on-line store for all your natural hoof care needs from our Save Edge hoof rasp to our HiTie system.

As always please call EasyCare customer service at 1-800-447-8836 if you have any questions.

Shari Murray

easycare-customer-service-shari-murray

Customer Service

If you call the customer service help desk, you’ll probably get me on the phone! I process repairs, returns, credits and exchanges that come into EasyCare.

Trimming Tools and the Art of Maintenance

There are many reasons for that development, but the fact is that more and more riders and horse owners are now trimming their horses hooves without the help of professional hoof technicians and farriers. Protective horse boots are replacing traditional horse shoes in ever increasing numbers. The Glue-On horse hoof boots and Easyboot Gloves are being used more and more in all equestrian disciplines.

Besides acquiring the necessary knowledge and training for hoof trimming, the horse owner also needs to know what tools to get for starters. Looking through tool catalogs, a newcomer might get quickly overwhelmed.

Out of all the available tools, I've selected five that I consider essential for successful hoof trimming:



These five are a must. Without having all five available, do not even start trimming your horses hooves.

Hoof rasps come in a range of prices from $5.00 to $25.00; hoof knives from $3.00 to $75.00; nippers from $35.00 to $225.00. Like in many areas of the tool market, you get what you pay for. Do not buy any cheap tools: you are wasting your money. They will not work well, make life hard and sooner or later you will throw them out to get something that works. Believe me, I have been there and learned the hard, or I might say, the expensive way.

Get some good tools, GE nippers are arguably the best, depending on your hand size, get nippers between 12 and 14 in. 15 in are also available, but I would only recommend them if you have very large hands and long arms. SaveEdge rasps are a good value. Get a handle with it. Purchase a hoof knife that fits your hand: middle to upper price range will suffice here; there are a lot of good knives around. Before buying a hoof knife, spend several minutes holding it, feeling it. Carry it around the store for a while, mimic trimming movements to get a feel for it. It has to feel right in your hand.

The hoof jack is a one time investment, yes, somewhat pricey, but you have to have a hoof stand. The hoof jack is one of the best. It comes with a cradle as well, so it saves your back. You would be wise to get one right away, not after you suffered already for a year and your back is out. By then, you already will have spent more money than the hoof jack costs on body work, massage and chiropractic. The big advantage the Hoof Jack has over other hoof stands is the stability. It won't tip over if you have an unruly horse or one that constantly tries to pull the hoof away from you. Furthermore, you can stabilize it even more by placing your feet over the base. It is really solid then, no other hoof stand lets you do that.


These five tools are necessary to do good and effective hoof trimming. At the Global Endurance Training Center in Moab, we have been using and testing these tools for years and found them to be very useful and also sufficient for most hoof trims. They all have quality and they all last well. Let's say you invested $400 to $500. Now you need to take care of them to increase their life expectancy and usefulness.

Below are some maintenance tools that are inexpensive to acquire but will save you lots in the long run.


We have sharpening tools for your hoof knives, the Swissistor tool works the easiest. Chainsaw sharpening files are also popular, work really well to sharpen the curve of the hoof knife. Stones and metal files do not work as well for the curved tip.

Your rasp should always get stored in a piece of cloth or a protective sleeve. I like to use piece of irrigation pipe. It works great and doesn't cost more than a dime at the most.


A new rasp should last you for about 20 horses; let's say about 80 to 100 hooves. Provided you are following a few tips and tricks to extend the life of a rasp:

1. Always clean the hoof before rasping. The hoof below is in no shape to put your expensive rasp to work.


First use your hoof pick to clean as much as possible, then the wire brush to remove all sand and grit.


Now the hoof is ready for using the nippers or the rasp.


2. Use your nippers more than your rasp. It is easier and time saving.

3. Use the whole rasp. Too many people have a tendency making short strokes, make long and smooth strokes.

4. Use the rasp in a singe direction. No back and forth scrubbing, but instead in the forward cutting way, the way the rasp pattern is designed to cut. Look at the rasp so you understand the way it cuts.

5.When switching from using the nippers to the rasps, don't just toss your tools around on the ground. Place them carefully on a soft towel or board. You can also use the magnets of your hoof jack to lean the tools against when not using them.

6. After finishing your trim, brush your rasp clean with a non metal brush. Wire brushes will dull the rasp. Then store them in a dry environment. Rust will shorten their life.

7. Have all your tools protected when in transport. Don't let them bounce around in a box.


A word on the nippers: good nippers can last you many years. The same rules apply for protection as with the rasps. Don't use them on a dirty hoof, treat them with great care and use some oil or WD 40 to keep them protected from moisture. Rasps should not be oiled, however, it compromises the cutting and makes them collect dirt. Even when you take good care of your nippers, eventually they will dull. You can send it in to have it refurbished. Do not attempt to sharpen the nippers yourself. You will end up ruining them. Guaranteed. It takes great skill and knowledge to sharpen nippers. There are also mail-to services available to sharpen your rasp, but to make it cost effective with shipping, you should mail in several rasps together.

After you are done with your trim, wrap your nippers in a sleeve or protective cloth piece.


Hope these tips will help you getting most out of your investment.

Till the next time,

Your Bootmeister


DIY - Maintaining Your Trim

Sprung from the recent Easycare Webinars are discussions left and right regarding trimming and maintaining the trim, as well as the status of Duncan's bachelorhood (he is a hottie-patottie and could probably find 864 dates in 0.2 seconds given the comments on the webinars). I have heard things such as "Trimming should be left to a professional" and others such as "I want to learn as much as I can about this." Some people want to learn and fully take over the trimming duties, and others want to gain knowledge to know what is going on with their horses' feet, despite not being the main trimmer. Others, like myself, are submerged in Cowboy Country or rural areas and lack competent barefoot professionals. While things are progressing around here, several years ago, there weren't many options in barefoot trimmers unless you wanted the dreaded "pasture trim" from a farrier. 


I started trimming about six years ago, under the guidance of a good friend, who had been doing her own trimming for several years prior. She went through a barefoot trimming course and was truly one of the very first barefoot endurance riders in our area. Although I listened intently, and read/watched all the literature I could find, I didn't truly *GET* it. I was terrified to mess up, scared to really rasp and wouldn't touch nippers or a hoof knife. I don't know when exactly things changed, but once they did, I was hooked. I think it was about the time I purchased a horse with naturally good feet. You see I had been learning to trim on my sweet gelding, who had horrible feet. Not only did he carry a classic case of high/low syndrome, he was borderline clubby on the right front, and eventually was diagnosed with navicular syndrome, backed up by radiographic changes with the navicular bones of both front feet. Not an easy set of feet to work with. Coupled with the dramatic difference in hooves, my gelding was never truly comfortable barefoot, which was not good for my confidence. 

When I started really trimming my big National Show Horse gelding, my confidence grew by leaps and bounds. Not only did he have large, gorgeous feet, he was never footsore and went beautifully barefoot or in boots. Although he was generally a pain in my *$@, his feet taught me so much. Because he has amazing feet, I knew I didn't want to put shoes on him. And as I didn't have many options for barefoot hoof professionals, I had to get in there and do it myself. Luckily I had my friend to check my work, even though the only thing she really told me was that I could take more off. I learned that you really have to be aggressive to cause harm to your horse, and that you can generally always take off more toe!! 

Eddy the day after his shoes were pulled. The farrier did his trim. We had lots to work on but the overall shape of his hoof was good, and we naturally maintained a very balanced trim. 


Three years after the above picture. His feet were gorgeous.. 

A few things are imperative when trimming or even maintaining your own ponies trim. The number one thing I can think of is having good quality tools. As a fairly small woman, I have to giggle when other girls say they aren't physically strong enough to trim feet. While, yes, it may be more difficult than it would be for a stronger man, it is possible!! Most of the problems stem from an old rasp, a dull knife and a cheap pair of nippers. While I am nowhere near qualified to offer trimming advice, I feel like I can offer insight to technique. As stated above, get good tools! I use my rasps for far too long, and every time I get a new one, I ask everyone in sight, giddy, why I didn't replace this rasp a long time ago? A sharp hoof knife is also a necessity, and I have the scars on my wrists to prove that. My hoof knife has since been prohibited from use, and I am a bit spooked to purchase a sharp one, and have resorted to using my nippers during the "hard hoof season." Nippers are another tool that you will eventually need. My husband gave me a pair of GE Forge 14 inch racetrack nippers which are completely appropriate for my small hands, and my ponies hoof growth, as I never let a month go by without doing some trimming. 


Aside from some gloves, those are really the necessities for trimming your own pony. Of course there are some luxuries that really make things easier. Now I don't own a Hoof Jack, but sure wish I did! I got to use my friend's Hoof Jack the other day and realized how much easier it made things! Dang!! I *really* need one of those! The other optional tools include a dremel, which you can use to maintain the bars, and an angle grinder, which takes the back-break out of rasping. I haven't purchased any power tools for trimming as I only trim three head and am constantly keeping up on their feet so an overhaul is rarely needed. 

Right now our horses feet are rock hard from living in the arid desert. I have found that the best time to trim my mare is right after pulling her glued-on boots, or after a rare summer rain.

Khopy looking miserable in an August rain. Not only did it rain, it was 56 degrees out!! The ponies were freezing, but it made for good trimming weather.

Regarding trimming after pulling off boots, of course if you wait longer than an hour or so, her feet are as hard as they would have been if she hadn't had boots glued on! This time I waited a few days after pulling her boots from the Pink Flamingo Classic due to time constraints. I was surprised to find her exfoliating her sole, again! My youngster (who has never been booted) was ALSO exfoliating again, so it was not due to having boots glued on for five days. 

You can see the cracks and fissures in the false sole of Replika's foot. She was also mildly imbalanced, which for her means high on the medial side, very slightly. 


I very gently use my nippers to dislodge the false sole. What doesn't flake off willingly doesn't get forced! 


I then bring back her heels. This picture does not show the final foot, I increased her break-over more than this, but forgot to get a picture.Taking pictures with one hand, while holding the foot and your tools with the other is difficult!! 

While a more experienced trimmer might have taken out more false sole, or may have been more aggressive with the bars, I have been doing my trimming much like the trim above for the past few years. It works for me, and the longer I keep working at it, the more comfortable I feel in doing it. While I wouldn't recommend everyone to randomly start doing all of their horse's trimming without some guidance, I think it is empowering and wise to start doing some of the maintaining. Not only will it keep your boots fitting better, but it will stretch the amount of time between trimming appointments and will allow you to start understanding what you might hear when listening or reading about barefoot trimming. Aside from all that, it will give you ownership and pride in just another area of natural hoof care! 

Happy Trimming!
~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho

Getting Ready for Bridgeport

Uno n' me get to go to Bridgeport this coming weekend - something I'm very cheerful about because as far as I'm concerned, the Eastern High Sierra Classic endurance ride is probably the most beautiful ride in the West Region. I've been lucky enough to complete the ride twice in the past, on Roop and on Zini (a fun mare I rode during the 2005 season, who sadly had to be retired after a pasture injury), and last year I got to crew for Patrick and Fergus on their first 50 there (in Gloves, no less).


Lake level on the first part of the first loop at Bridgeport:


Looking down on Twin Lakes after you climb up the second ridge:



The 12,000+ ft Sawtooths which back onto the NE side of Yosemite:


Riding on Hunewill Ranch, Loop 2 in the afternoon:


 
My biggest challenge this month has been catching up. I had to go to England for my younger brother's wedding and once we got back and got settled down again I realised how horrendous the horses' feet looked. A couple of them had been due for trims before we left but there just wasn't time. Now they had reached the Embarrassingly Awful stage. Having horses who grow a lot of foot is a blessing and a bane - on the one hand, it means that any mistakes you make rasping are quickly corrected by the horse's body going "tut... what was she thinking?" - but on the flip side, if you leave a horse like Uno for slightly over five weeks, you're going to be plenty sorry when you have to clean up the mess.

Apparently, this time of year is also when horses decide to grow false sole. So suddenly I was faced with not just long hoof-walls, but also wodges of "stuff" that I was leery to remove - I try to leave the callousy sole alone as much as possible - but at this point I desperately needed to remove it. So I took a deep breath and took the feet back to where they belonged - knowing that by doing so, they were probably going to be sore for a few days.

Surprisingly, they weren't as bad as expected - which was just as well since we ended up riding about 14 miles barefoot in back on Sunday. With friend Leslie and Eagle, we took Uno and Fergus for a spin around a loop that includes the Larimer Trail. The Larimer Trail mirrors Tevis' California Loop on the opposite bank of the river, but towards the top of the canyon, not the bottom - ack. Luckily, it has more bushes than CA Loop - bushes that lull you into a false sense of security, even though in reality they would do little to slow your fall.

Since I needed two hands on Sunday, I'm having to use some photos I took from Roop last November, when Leslie and I did our last foray onto the Larimer Trail. Leslie and Eagle will also be at Bridgeport in their boots:



Looking down at the California Loop far below on the other side of the canyon:





Part of the trail that wraps around the cliff by an old mine entrance:


I'm starting to conclude that the likelihood of your boots staying on the right rear foot has a direct correlation as to how stupid your horse is acting during that particular ride - and Uno was acting very, very stupid on Sunday. At one point I even had to get off and lead for a while - not enough riding on a fit horse does not a good pony make. Sure enough, his right rear Glove went flying off - luckily before we got to the narrow part - and I opted to take off both rears for safety's sake, figuring I could always slap them back on again once we were past the worst.

Really, however, I wasn't that surprised - I'd had some fit problems on the rears at NV Moonshine necessitating some last minute (like, 20 minutes before the ride started) rasping to try and seat the boots better. That ride his Gloves all stayed on, but whatever was going on with his back feet was exacerbated by me letting him go five weeks with no trimming. He was starting to develop a weird flare on the outside toe... my pone, cow-hocked? surely not??

To recap, this year Uno has done a bunch of rides in a bunch of different footwear options:

Death Valley 50 - Gloves x 4
NV Derby 50 - Gloves x 4
Washoe Valley 50-50 - Glue-ons (lost right rear at ~15 miles, completed the next 85 miles in a Glove)
NASTR 75 - Glue-ons (lost left front at ~10 miles, completed the next 65 miles in a Glove)
NV Moonshine 50 - Gloves x 4

Despite the Gloves working well for him earlier in the year, it evidently wasn't going to be the best choice given how his feet are currently growing. If there's one thing I've learned (albeit against my will), it's that to do endurance you have to be flexible, so now I was faced with deciding what to put on Uno's feet for Bridgeport.

Bridgeport has some big climbs early on in the ride when the horses are still very fresh, so with that in mind (and thinking just how "fresh" Uno has been recently <grin>) I think it will be safest to glue shells on the back. Although I could also do his fronts, I don't have any clean shells to use and I'm too lazy, so he'll just wear Gloves with PowerStraps on the front.

Previously I've always glued using Goober Glue. I like its rubbery properties and I like that I can clean up and reuse the shells (cheap? moi?). But there's definitely a learning curve on gluing technique and it wasn't until NASTR that I really felt like I understood how to get the job done properly. Having this knowledge meant that I was pretty sure I hadn't done a good job on his left front - and sure enough that was the one I lost early in the ride. :)  (Knowledge is power?)

This time around for Bridgeport, I'm contemplating using Adhere for the whole gluing process. We shall see - gluing shall be done after work on Thursday evening, so I'll see how I feel by then. I still have some last-minute packing to do ("last minute" because I don't get home from work until 7 pm, usually, so run out of spare time quickly) and think that Muggins will probably need a bath at some stage, since he has been delighting in rolling in the manure pile. Does the glamorous equestrian life ever end?

A Horsie Wedding

One of our customers, Sally Green from Fort Pierce, Florida sent us these beautiful pictures of her horse Foxy on her wedding day!
Foxy and Dusty
Sally just ordered some Easyboots for horses and just can't wait to get them! Foxy is her little princess so she needed to make sure that she wasn't buying cheap horse boots, so that's why she decided to get her boots from us at Easycare! To bad she didn't have her horses shoes in time for the wedding!
Sally and Foxy

Congratulations to our newlywed Easyboot horses!

Posted by Miriam Rezine

Tips From an Amateur Trimmer - "Boot Maine-ia"

A few weeks ago I received a set of Grips and a set of studded Gloves to test in snow and ice here in the frozen Northeast.  Since that first successful test, we've had an odd combination of near-50's rainy weather and near-0° windstorms!  Not only that, I sold my saddle and don't have another one yet.  Zephyr is so full of energy right now that I don't dare ride bareback... he bucked me off on our last ride WITH a saddle!

So today, since I have nothing to add regarding hoof boots, I would like to speak to the "I don't have the facilities / time / equipment / skills to trim my own horse's hooves" argument.  Hogwash!  I'm an amateur, for sure, but I'm holding my own with minimal equipment, and without any facilities, time, or formal instruction.  (I do admit it's a lot easier with only one horse!)

For equipment, I just use a $10 rasp, a $25 hoof knife I was given by an old farrier (as his blessing to do my own trims), a round chainsaw file to sharpen the knife, and a basic $25 iron hoof stand... nothing else.  Anytime my back starts to hurt I stand up and stretch, and maybe walk Zephyr around for a moment. 

I live in Maine, as you may have gathered, where there is snow on the ground for half the year.  I do not have a barn to trim hooves in, I'm SUPPOSED to have half of the garage for a grooming / tack / feed room but for the last year it's been out of service because my husband was rewiring / insulating / sheetrocking / painting it in preparation for using his half as a workshop.  Instead I tie to the trailer.

This summer/fall, it was fine, I was trimming about once a week so it only took about 20-30 minutes to do a thorough job.  I could fit it in after work, or even before a weekend ride.  But this time of year is harder.  During the week I get home at 6pm, which right now is about 1.5 hours after dark, so hoof trimming waits until the weekend.  If a particular weekend is too cold, too snowy, too rainy, or too windy, hoof trimming doesn't get done.  That's OK, it can wait, I'm not riding in those conditions anyway!

Keep in mind that last summer I was re-learning to trim, and I accidentally allowed quite a bit of excess length and some hoof wall flares to develop.  My goal is, over time, to shorten Zephyr's hooves overall and to eliminate those flares.  So my methods are specific to that, but you may find some helpful tips too, who knows.  I just do what works for my body and my horse, in my facilities (such as they are), and with my tools.

After cleaning out the hoof with a hoof pick and brush, and using the hoof knife to clean out the seat of corn, I start by putting the hoof on the hoof stand and "trimming from the top", or making a vertical cut in the hoof wall.  Until recently I was going all the way to the white line with this, but now that the flares are under control I'm starting to be less drastic and only go to the water line.  If you're confused what I mean, go here, click on "Do Trim", and scroll down to "Back up the Toe".  I've stolen a picture from that site to show what it looks like from the bottom, when half done.  The dark brown line is the "white line", which in this case has stretched and attracted dirt, and the cream-colored line to the outside of that is the "water line". 



Once I've finished the Trimming from the Top part, I start working from the bottom.  I don't tend to put the hoof between my legs (the classic farrier stance) because it feels awkward... I hold each front hoof with the inside hand, and rasp with the outside hand. 

I rasp the quarters before I do the heels; it makes doing the heels easier because there's less surface area to rasp.  I rasp the heels one side at a time, doing my best to avoid rasping toe callous or sole.  The best way to do this, I've found, is to rasp each heel individually with the rasp pointing from the middle of the heel to the outside of the hoof.

Many times, with front hooves, I will kneel on one knee, and place the hoof upside down on the other knee while I work on the heel.  For hind feet, I recently discovered that it works great to hold the hoof in the inside hand, turn the rasp handle-end away, grap the point/handle in my hand, and use my forearm to press the rasp against the hoof.  This gives great leverage and keeps the rasp level against the hoof.

Of course to check the balance I need to stand up and sight along the sole.  (Did you know the best way to check heel balance is to sight along the sole and compare the distance from the hairline to the heel?  As much as I've read about hoof trimming in the last few years, I had forgotten that tip until a farrier I recently had check my work reminded me of it.)  

Then I finish the hoof with a strong "mustang roll" all the way around to discourage cracking and flares.

I do one hoof at a time until it looks finished, then go back and double check them all in the same order so any differences between the first hoof and the last hoof become more obvious.

I can't wait until I have use of the garage again... for now, all of my tack and supplies are still in the trailer, which is about 200' from the house, parked alongside a very icy paved driveway.  So before I trim Zephyr's hooves, I have to liberally sand the driveway between the paddock gate and the area I'll be working.  Even so, the hoof stand tends to scoot away if Zephyr puts much weight on his leg.

I did finally manage to trim Zephyr's hooves last weekend, at about the 4-week mark, but unfortunately my camera wasn't available.  It was interesting to work with that much growth.  His bars and heels were quite long compared to when I've been trimming every week, which made it very easy to see the medial-lateral imbalance that he tends to develop.  I was super careful to get that as balanced as I could, and was gratified that he was standing more under himself and with his legs more straight than before the trim.

I was thrilled with the lack of hoof flares, both on the sides of all four hooves (the white lines had stretched quite a bit), and on the fronts of his front hooves.  The side flares are just about gone, the white line is tight and dirt free!  The toe flares are almost gone, the white line has always been tight and dirt free but there was a scoop to the toe that is now very minimal and I was able to almost entirely eliminate it by rasping the bottom inch of the outsides of the hoof walls.  I do wish the frogs on his front feet were in better shape, but I doubt he'll ever have the flat/hard frogs of a Western horse.  It's just too wet here.

Again, I am an amateur who only has to learn how to trim one particular horse, and only needs to be effective in trimming style... there are no owners looking at me and thinking "I've never seen a farrier stand that way to trim a horse".  I have horrible conditions to trim in, hardly any time to do it, basic/cheap equipment.  My saving grace is a willingness to admit when I'm in over my head, and to ask any and all farriers for input.  Occasionally I find one that I decide has less business trimming a horse than *I* do, but most of the time I find that the feedback is positive with just a few improvements or pointers.

If I can do it, I bet you can too.

Yours truly,
The Boot Maine-iac

A picture is worth a thousand words!




EasyCare products are always evolving and being updated... we don't make cheap horse boots.  Our protective horse boots are the best in the world and we take pride in making sure the material used is the best available.  This being said, our consumers are very educated on natural hoof care and barefoot trimming.  Our consumers know if the images and text your have posted for EasyCare boots is up to date.  Make sure you take the time to review  your website and or catalog for the latest and greatest images.  Here are a couple links that contain all of our latest information and images...

New Boots

Existing Line




Bargain Bin shopping!

Looking for a bargain?  EasyCare, Inc. has a Bargain Bin available for online shoppers!

EasyCare will list discontinued Easy Boots for Horses (Cheap horse boots!!) here at reduced prices. All product will be listed at 1/2 price and will not be covered by the standard EasyCare warranty.  So, if your horse has hoof problems, and you are looking for the Easyboot Bare, check it out!  You may find your size in our Bargain Bin!

All sales are final, no returns. All bargain bin items have a permanent marking. Please note, all items are in new unused condition. Bargain bin items are available through the website only.

Posted by Chris Freeman

Hoof Boot Train

Check out the lastest eposide of the "Hoof Boot Train".  Mr. Steel and Mr. Hoof Boot discuss the pros and cons of natural hoof care and hoof boots.  The approach is intended to be humorous and poke fun at both sides.

In this eposide Mr. Steel calls Mr. Hoof Boot a "wacky green guy who practices natural hoof care".  We hope to have some fun with the arguements that many people take way to serious.  Topics like Hoof boots, cheap horse boots, hoof glue, horse hoof trimming, natural horse care, how to shoe a horse and barefoot trimming are all game.