Perfect Practice Makes Perfect: Gluing on Stuff

While there are some things in life that can be done spur of the moment, gluing stuff on our horses feet is not one of them. One of my favorite quotes is from Olympic eventer Denny Emerson, who states; "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." If you're looking for success, this is a worthwhile sentiment to live by. There are few things that make less sense to me than attempting to glue on boots or shoes in less than ideal circumstances, with less than ideal tools, products or procedures. EasyCare has developed protocols for a reason- they work I will never understand why people don't use them. 

Majik in his Easyboot Glue-Ons in front and Easyboot Gloves behind at the 2014 Seneca Stampede 50. Steve Bradley Photography. 

Recently, with the advent and availability of the awesome EasyShoe, I've seen applications that literally make me cringe. While the instruction videos are pretty dang straightforward, it seems that people are quick to come up with their own protocol, often skipping important steps and then vocally proclaiming the failure of the product. While I've seen the same shortcomings in gluing the Easyboot Glue-On, the EasyShoe is a bit less forgiving to less-than-ideal applications. Because there are awesome instructional videos outlining the application of both the Easyboot Glue-On and EasyShoe, there is no reason to come up with a DIY. Throughout the last several years of gluing on boots, and now gluing on shoes, I've utilized these to tailor the process to work for me, my horses and my place. 

Step One: Glue Station- A set of DIY cross-ties and a stall mat close to an outlet for my heat gun works for me! Clean, quiet, flat and accessible are things you should consider when making your "glue station." I like to hang a hay net and keep another horse close by. Having a comfortable area for your horse is one of the most important aspects of successful gluing. A wiggly, herd-bound pony is going to squirm and twist before the glue is set. Try to mitigate this for successful gluing. 

Greta Grenade patiently standing in our "glue stall" after her second set of EasyShoes.

Step Two: Trim n' Prep- A proper trim is imperative for not only glue-on success but plain old booting success as well. Knowing your horse and when he should be trimmed before an important event is key. I've found that my new pasture situation has changed things as far as how soon before an event I can trim and how aggressively I can do so. But key for any successful glue is preparation. You must prep the hoof wall. You must scrape off the weird skin stuff at the heels and you must utilize your wire brush (seriously, peeps, they are like $4) and your heat gun. For my EasyShoes, I use the heat gun three or four times throughout my prep process as I don't use a torch. I have no doubt the torch is a better tool but I have had great luck using my heat gun. Your mileage may vary. 

Greta's feet after prep and before gluing. Note the very roughed up hoof wall. A new rasp makes a world of difference in this step of preparation. 

Majik's hooves awaiting boots.

Step Three: All the Things- Have your stuff out, peeps. Before you even bring your horse up, gather everything you might need. I keep all my gluing supplies in a box which includes a box of gloves, a new rasp, wire brush, glue tips, glue gun, screwdrivers, nippers, etc. There is nothing worse than getting ready to put a boot on your horse and realizing you've forgotten something imperative. Double checking this this step will pay twofold. Don't skip it!

Step Four: Patience- This is not the time to realize you should have been in the shower 15 minutes ago to get ready for your dinner date. While I find the actual gluing goes quicker than the prep, this is not the time to skimp on patience. While your glue setting up depends on things like temperature, amount of glue and the Glue Gods, this is a step you take as long as necessary. It just is. 

Doesn't have to be fancy, just complete.

Step Five: The After- I tend to be over it by this point, as are my horses, and it's hard for me to commit to the standing still portion which really is important. I like to keep them standing stillish for about an hour, of which I eat about 15 minutes cleaning up, another 15 grooming the horse, the next five fussing over the Sikaflex still coming out of the back of my boots and the next five arguing with myself about whether or not I can just put the horse up. I generally last about 45 minutes before caving and putting the horse in their paddock all the while sure that they have somehow compromised the glue bond and are going to lose their boots/shoes before the vet check on the first loop. I am surely jinxing myself now by saying I haven't lost a boot in years, but obviously it's coming now. 

Step Six: The Ride- Enjoy it! If you've prepped properly, used the recommended products and equipment, hopefully you can enjoy a worry-free event with your Easyboot Glue-Ons or EasyShoes. If your boots or shoes pop off within days or even weeks, you likely need to revisit your application. If you find yourself under your horse sweating and swearing while truing to pry the suckers off, you've done well! Don't waste your time, money, effort or sanity by not following the protocol exactly. This is one instance where perfect practice really is worth it.


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