New Hoof Protection Products in the R&D Phase at EasyCare

I was recently looking at the last seven years of statistics from the Tevis Cup 100 mile horse race.  Although I'm a big believer in hoof protection products that give the hoof the ability to move as nature intended it's nice to see real numbers from the most difficult and demanding horse event in the world that support my beliefs. Results for the Tevis Cup show that EasyCare's products not only work but they outperform other types of hoof protection.  

Here are some interesting numbers from the last seven years of the Tevis Cup.   

1.  53.07% of starting riders finished the event, 61.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event, 50.36% of starting riders not using Easyboots finished the event. In 2011, 75.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event!

2.  6 of the last 7 Haggin Cup (Best Condition) winners used Easyboots.

3.  5 of the last 7 Tevis Cup (race winner) winners used Easyboots.

4.  In 2016 the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers used Easyboots.  

2016 Haggin Cup Winners.  Lisa Ford and GE Cyclone.

I'm not a statistician but those numbers tell me that flexible, urethane hoof protection excels at the most demanding 100 mile horse race in the world.  You are more likely to finish if your horse starts in Easyboots, you are more likely to win the Haggin Cup and you and more likely to win the Tevis Cup if your horse is fitted with Easyboots.  Yes, there are many that still want to argue that hoof boots don't work, are a fad, are for tree huggers, etc. but just looking at numbers from the last seven years, it's a hard argument to win.

So what's next?  We believe in our products, we believe we have a nice range that covers many types of disciplines and EasyCare can accommodate Mini horses up to some of the smaller draft breeds.  Although we are happy with our line there is always room for new products that can help horses, are easier to apply or are more economical. Below is a short list of what we have in the works and some quick thoughts on each.

1.  EasyShoe Flex.  A flexible steel core over molded in urethane.  Intended to be nailed on the hoof.  Yes, many people do not like nails but at the same time complain of the costs associated with glue.  We believe this shoe will be a healthier alternative to many of the nail-on products in the market.  Open heel, full heel with frog support and different clip options.  The open ended nailing slots are very unique and make the product much easier to apply.  Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the EasyShoe Flex.  

EasyShoe Flex Ground Surface.

2.  Easyboot Slipper, Easyboot Love Child or BFM.  A cross between the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and the EasyShoe Performance.  It allows more movement in the heels than the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and is easier than the EasyShoe Performance to apply.  In the future we plan to integrate a gaiter on this shell. Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the product.  In 48 hours we received 200+ applications to help test the new design.  

Easyboot Slipper/Love Child/BMF

3.  Easyboot Sneaker.  A new multidimensional boot for riding, turnout and therapy.  The boot has a unique strap system that hugs the heel bulbs and prevents boot rotation when tightened.  The sole is a rubber/urethane blend and is more flexible than a total urethane product.  We will be looking for riders to help test this product in a new BETA release program.  More information to follow.

4.  The Old Mac's G2 is back.  We have brought back the G2 for 2017.  In addition we are testing a wide version that is wider than long. 

Old Mac's G2 Wide in testing.

5.  Easyboot Fly.  Features a shell that accepts three different gaiter types.  The design allows for adjustment in length, heel height and allows for heel pivot.  It's testing well and we will be reaching out to include testers soon.  

Easyboot Fly from the back.

We look forward to getting these products tested and to market.  In the near future we will be reaching out to horse owners, vets and hoof care professionals that would like to be involved in BETA releases and product testing.

We are excited about these products and feel they work in conjunction with the "Smart Structure" of the hoof.  What product do you believe will be the most helpful in the horse industry?

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

Positive Changes

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo, Wild Hearts Hoof Care

I was recently asked by EasyCare to write up a few words about our trimming theory and approach. This always ends up being quite difficult to be succinct with, as there are so many ways depending on the horse. But, at our foundation we believe that the hoof is a highly adaptable “smart structure” as said by Dr. Taylor of Auburn University. The hoof is capable of positive change given the opportunity with supportive trims, diet and lifestyle. We have seen it over and over and over again in our hoof care practice.

This left front hoof made the visual changes above, as well as an internal coffin bone angle change from negative to positive angles (-2.45 degrees to positive 3.25 degrees) in 6 months

We have found that if you help the hoof a little bit with your trim, by setting it up to grow better between cycles, making sure the horse is comfortable to move properly with minimal or no compensative movement, and then get out of their way, they can develop a pretty awesome hoof. It may not be the picture in some people’s mind of The Perfect Hoof, but it can be a pretty awesome, functional, sound and improving hoof for that horse.

This right hind hoof made a positive change (literally) to the angle of his coffin bone, which we can see by observing the angle of the hoof wall and the hairline. In the October image, the hairline is much steeper, the heel is lower and forward and the dorsal wall is bulging in a bull nosed shape. By January, his hairline is more shallow and relaxed down, the heel is in a more supportive position under the bulbs and his dorsal wall is straight. (Please note that this was not straightened with the hoof buffer, which we used to only very lightly scuff the walls.) 

 The yellow and green line overlays were copied and pasted unchanged from each of the images to show the shape changes that took place over 11 weeks.

The owner may have to make some changes for the horse’s sake, and in fact, it is pretty much guaranteed.Often this involves things like changing the footing in the horse’s pen to be cleaner or more dry, perhaps treating for thrush, changing from sweet feeds to a lower carb vitamin/mineral supplement and almost always learning how and when to use hoof boots

It also often involves educating owners as to what a healthy hoof looks like. When an owner learns to recognize signs of hoof distortion they can, for the rest of their horse owning life, step in and know when to make necessary changes before things get too out of whack.    

You could say that the frog’s change in width, in this right hind hoof, over 11 weeks was simply due to a style change of trimming less from the sides, but how to explain the change in the heel bulb shape? This cannot be cut to shape, the horse makes this change.  

We tell our clients that it takes around eight months to one year to grow a whole new hoof. Some horses need to grow two or more hoof cycles to really develop into more like what we like to see, but I think it is important to be aware that the horse, and his feet, are always in motion. They are always growing, and they can be growing for the better every moment. Sometimes we are gifted with quick visual changes, the heels open up, or maybe the wall quality improves right away.  But even if we don’t see huge changes externally, we can know that the horse is moving better, perhaps a longer stride, more confident loading their heels. This tells us that internally, things are improving, realigning, developing and strengthening.

Finally, we feel strongly that you need to look holistically at the situation. The horse’s feet may be better aligned with some modifications to their trim, and that is wonderful, but that’s not all. That change then impacts the way he stands and moves, which impacts the angles of his joints and the way he uses his soft tissues.  It is a whole horse change.

Left front, 11 weeks between images.

What does your horse have going on that could be improved upon?  Could he benefit from a change?  How much more could you see from your beloved partner in terms of comfort and performance? 

Sossity and Mario of Wild Hearts Hoof Care.

 

Berri and the Clouds

Submitted by Tami Hinkle, EasyCare Customer

I LOVE my Cloud boots! I have bought six pair and I am so thankful that this design has been made.

My Gypsy/Haflinger cross, Berri, was suffering white line, and we just could not seem to get her feet back into shape with just the farrier. So after learning about the Cloud boots, we bought our first pair.

What a huge difference! Even our farrier is impressed, big time. He takes pictures of her feet to share with his other customers. He is now a believer in boots as well. My horse Berri can now freely run without issues, her feet have stopped the separation and she is enjoying life again. She can even lay down or roll with no issues. They stay on great. We never have any issues, and as she wears out a pair, we have learned how to sew them up and keep her new ones and old ones in rotation. I can not say enough good about them and how it has changed the life of our horse. I tell everyone about the boots. All of them have a great purpose depending on the needs. Thank you so much EasyCare!  

Frog Talk, Part II

In Frog Talk, Part I last month, we discussed frog trimming and looked at various frog pictures of all kinds of shape and form. In this second part of Frog Talk, we are going to discuss the following:

- Crooked frogs

- Frog pathologies/diseases

- Treatment options

Crooked frogs:

This frog of a left front hoof had moved to the lateral side, the right side from the bottom seen here. The question is, why did it do that? In many cases where a side movement of the frog can be observed, it moves to the higher side of the hoof, in this case the higher side is lateral, where the green arrow points. Comparing heel height by means of the red horizontal line, we can see that the lateral heel has moved forward and needs to get trimmed shorter. Notice that little crack in the heel (blue arrow). That is one of the markers the hoof tries to tell us that the heel is too high in this area. In my blog from July 2014 I talked about Daniel Anz and the F Balance. These markers help us decide how far we can or should trim the heels down. A very interesting concept.

Here as well, the frog tip moved to the higher side of the heels. This hoof being front left, the higher side is the medial side. The red arrow at the heel shows how far that heel has moved forward compared the the lateral heel (blue arrow). Even the heel bulb was pulled forward with it, meaning that this imbalance had existed for a while. 

In both cases the higher heels need to get shortened and the hooves balanced. I would not trim anything off the frog and artificially realign it with the hoof's center line, just for optical reasons so it would look 'pretty'. By doing so, I would rob the frog of its protective callused skin and make it vulnerable for pathogens to invade. If the hoof is balanced, these frogs will realign themselves again without any trimming.  

This one throws us a curve ball, telling us that it will not play by these rules. Indeed, the frog tip moved to the lower side of the heel. The green horizontal line indicates level heel height, clearly the blue arrow shows the higher heel, while the red arrow the movement of the frog tip. 

What gives? Looking at the high and long bar on the higher (left) hoof side within the red arch could give us the clue: the bar could have pushed the frog to the side. 

The outer shape of the frog matches the inner shape of the frog's corium. Looking at these cadaver hoof capsules with huge bars, one can easily imagine how these overgrown bars (below the red semicircle) can create havoc inside the hoof capsule. 

Here the bar had grown so large and long, that it created a dorsal hoof wall crack (red arrow tip). Again, easy to imagine how much damage this bar did to the frog corium and subsequently the actual visible frog.

This neglected hoof and frog does not want to play ball either. Here the frog tips point in two different directions, the older frog, ready to shed, in one direction, the newer frog in the other. With these way overgrown heels it is even hard to decide which one is higher or if both are similar height.

Where does that leave us? Well, the famous answer: it depends. Heel imbalance can be a reason, long bars can be a reason, the way a horse moves, lands, breaks over, all can be reasons. I like to look at the frog deviations as indicators that something is amiss and that I need to get exploring and finding out what it is and what to do about it. But I leave the frog itself mostly untouched. Then I also can get confirmation at the next trim, if I balanced the hoof correctly so the frog was able to self correct. 

Frog pathologies and diseases:

We can differentiate between frog yeast, the white powdery or smeary substance, fungus, a black layer of frog decay, and thrush, which combines fungus and anaerobic bacteria to really attack the frogs substance. Thrush is the most destructive form and if untreated, can migrate deep into the corium, laming up a horse in a big way. 

This frog certainly harbors all all three. There are holes everywhere, the frog is literally falling apart. Double sole, long bars, long heels and hoof wall. The frog is trying desperately to get some kind of ground contact, and although it is very sick, it does not want to shed anything. Now it is time to cut the decayed matter, find out how bad the damage is, treat it accordingly and give that hoof some relief.

After a preliminary trim of the neglected hoof, the frog damage becomes visible: red arrow points to yeast, blue arrow to fungus.

On this frog tell tale signs:

Typical 'butt crack' indicating thrush infestation. 

Recessed, thrush infected frog. Very often frogs that do not receive enough ground stimulation recede and suffer from thrush and other infections. Notice also the contracted heels and negative hoof wall angles. A totally dysfunctional frog, crying out for help.

Another prime example of a recessed frog, contracted heel, thrush infestations. This frog is dysfunctional and sick, cannot handle any load bearing. Bell shaped hoof capsule (Glockenform). The steel shoes he was wearing did not allow the heels to spread and be load bearing. 

Treatment Options:

There are many thrush treatments available, from Thrushbuster to White Lightning, Kopertox, Iodine, bleach, vinegar, sugar betadine solutions, copper sulfate solutions and paste etc.  Some of these mentioned above are toxic and kill healthy tissue as well. Others are complicated to apply, you have to soak the hooves for a time period in solutions. For all these options, the EasySoaker works excellently. Not a better boot can be found on the market. It will take time and effort, though,  to treat thrush with liquids. 

A quicker and more effective way to treat thrush are pastes. Specifically I like these two formulas:

-  Hypozin, an effective paste developed in the Netherlands

- Antibiotic and antifungal cream mixed 50/50.

(This can be Neosporin, triple antibiotic, mixed with with Athletes Foot Cream)

   

Either one of these two pastes will do an excellent job of killing thrush within a few days. Monoject curved syringes work best for the application.

Arguments have been made that thrush is caused by bacteria that thrive in an anaerobic environment. True enough. Conclusions have been drawn that it is therefore better to cut the frog clean, so air or oxygen can reach the frog and thus kill the bacteria. The reality is that oxygen seldom, if ever, reaches the frog in the best of cases. Most of the time the horse stands in soft ground, the sole and frog filled with soil, mud and manure. No oxygen is able to penetrate there. So, unless a horse is moving fast over gravel, sand or other abrasive terrain, there just is no oxygen reaching infected soles and killing any thrush bacteria. I would much rather keep the callused frog with all its little pockets and niches. These will allow me to fill these with anti thrush cream. There the cream will stay and keep working 24/7 without getting worn off or worked out. 

Back to our contracted heels. Daisy Bicking wrote a very informative blog over a year ago about heel slippering. I found it to be a great way to aid with rehabilitating contracted heels and recessed frogs. A very worthy read. 

After slippering heels and treating thrush with paste mentioned above, what is left to accomplish is frog stimulation. If the frog is pressure sensitive, we need to proceed slowly and with baby steps. Sand and pea gravel are preferred ground cover for healthy frogs to move over. Lacking any of these grounds, we then can look into the usage of Vettec products like Equipak or Equipak CS. 

 

This frog pictured above was sensitive to pressure and only marginally functional. It actually appears stronger than it was. After cleaning and drying thoroughly, I supported it with Equipak CS. This soft cushion (Strahl Polster, frog support, pour in, caudal support) allows the frog to accept more load bearing while at the same time guarding against thrush with the CS (copper-sulfate) addition. The small recessed frog in the photo above would also greatly benefit from an Equipak cushion.

Of course, none of this will work in the long run, unless we use a holistic approach in our horsemanship and hoof care. Only then can we guarantee long lasting success. The elements of this holistic system are:

  • Nutrition (up to par)
  • Strong immune system
  • Proper footing/stratum
  • Movement and plenty turnout
  • Barefoot as much as possible.

But that last part we all know anyway. Am I not correct with this assumption?

 

From the desk of the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

Clouds in the Rain: The Water Wicking Properties of a Thick, Concave Sole

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

When I was a landscape designer/contractor I loved the rain. I prayed that it would come and water my newly created landscapes because the water from the hose never had the same effect as a good rain. The plants would grow a few more inches, foliage filled in and greened up, and the dust was washed off of the boulders and stones in a way that softened the look of the landscape and heightened the subtle colors of the desert. The rain would freshen everything it touched. My love for rain quickly went away when I started trying to rehab horses feet. 

In the beginning, just when I felt like I was making progress with a horse, the rains would come and I'd have horse owner's calling me worried about their horse being sore. I'd do my best to convince the owner that their horse was just temporarily rain sore and to help them keep their horses as comfortable as possible until it dried out, often driving out to see if there was something else I could do. Many times the drive wasn't wasted and all I needed to do was clean the hard packed mud clod off of their soles. This usually provided immediate relief, however mud would accumulate again and the owner would have to keep their feet clean. Over the years I tried everything to prevent rain soreness:

  • Leaving the walls a little longer
  • Boots and pads
  • Creating positive drainage
  • Adding pea gravel

I did everything I could think of, including warning the owner up front that they would likely experience soreness during the rains for the first year or two.

After about 10 years of dreading the rains, and just when I was starting to get used to warning the owners before we started the rehabilitation process, I started having much better results. At first I attributed that to being prepared with boots and managing the environment, but some horses were still having trouble even when their owners were being proactive. After a long time of trying to figure out how to predict and prevent this problem I realized that some of the horses were getting along fine with big old mud clods on their soles while others were lame and the horses that were getting along fine had better feet at the end of the rainy season while the lame horses feet looked worse. I really wanted to understand what the difference was.

Over time I became aware of a pattern. After things dried out, the improved feet had a tremendous amount of crumbly sole that easily exfoliated, revealing even more concavity than they went into the wet season with, while the the horses that went in with flatter feet had even flatter feet by the end of the season. This realization caused me to try to help horses build as much sole as possible during the dry seasons. Convincing the owners to do their part was a challenge but I had a much better success rate with the ones that cooperated. 

First I had to get the owners to see and understand when the feet were improving and when they were declining instead of just riding their horse until they broke down, and then freaking out. Next I had to get them involved in the process so they felt more like it was a collaboration. After they knew what progress looked like and they realized that the changes were happening after they improved the footing and/or started using boots and pads they began to take even more ownership of the rehab process. Once it started feeling like team work, their horse's feet started getting even better.

I know 2016 was a bad year for a lot of folks but I had some of the toughest founder cases with the quickest and best turnarounds that I've ever seen. One of the biggest reasons for this was the arrival of the EasyCare Cloud boot. I used this boot extensively to get foundered and rain sore horses through the wet weather. I went through more than one pair in a few months time with several horses. In many of the extreme cases the boots were left on until the sun was shining. Sometimes they only had them off for an hour or two for the feet and the boots to dry out. I was able to trim frequently enough to keep the dead tissue to a minimum. This kept the feet from getting infected and allowed extra comfort after a trim. I taught the owners to use the boots as much as needed, but as little as possible, and to gently graduate their horses out of them until their horses were moving around comfortably totally bare. 

Over the last few years I've learned to love the rain again. I've also learned some interesting things about horse's feet. In wet weather the mud that collects in a concave sole works somewhat like a sponge. When a healthy concave hoof with thick live sole gets packed with mud, the weight of the horse squeezes the moisture out of the mud and keeps the sole dry. An old fashioned orange juice squeezer might be a better analogy. The mud ball elevates the foot off of the  ground just enough to let the weight of the horse squeeze the water out. They can go for weeks and maybe months like this if they have adequate concavity in the beginning. Once a horse is acclimated to their weight bearing being distributed between their heels and the peripheral edge of their sole at the toe, the sole will thicken and form a bowl (concavity). Achieving this is possible for most horses if they have the right owner/trimmer team. These horses are the ones that benefit from the rain. For the horses that go into the wet season with thin, flat, or even prolapsed soles, Easyboot Clouds used responsibly in conjunction with well timed and properly balanced trimming, should at the very least get a horse comfortably through the wet weather.

 An added benefit is that the rocker effect of the mud clod on a properly balanced, thick, concave sole helps to develop the digital cushion and lateral cartilages because the weight bearing is over the back of the foot where it belongs. This puts the center of the mud ball directly under the soft regenerative tissue in the back half of the foot, and increases flexion in the hoof capsule, while the rocker effect on a thin flat sole caused by excessive weight bearing on the toe puts the center of the mud ball directly under the coffin bone in the front half of the foot. This causes excruciating pain and magnifies the strain on the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon along with the ligaments and joints in the leg. Flexion of the hoof capsule is increased this way too, but in a harmful way.

I believe some of the founder cases from this year (pictured above) may not have been as successful without the Easyboot Cloud

2016 Didn't Suck!

We are still here after 46 years! 23 years under the direction of Dr. Neel Glass and 23 years under my direction. 

96% of businesses fail in the first ten years! EasyCare has been making hoof boots and hoof protection for 46 years! It's been a great year but has come with some learning experiences.  The death of Kevin Myers has helped the entire EasyCare staff put things into perspective and look at things a bit differently. EasyCare continues to make an impact in the equine industry, help horses and have some fun in the process. It's been a great year!

Here is a quick summary of how 2016 looked: We lost Kevin Myers; farriers now stop at our booth while at the Hoof Care Summit; our hoof protection products dominate at the toughest 100 mile race in the world; we successfully launched many new unique products and we have some great products in the works for 2017. EasyCare and our urethane hoof protection products were once on the fringe of the equine industry. Our products are now carried by most equine retailers, mail order companies, farriers and veterinarians. In short the Easyboot and EasyShoe products continue to develop and improve the lives of our equine partners.  

1.  In February EasyCare returned to the International Hoof Care Summit in Cincinnati Ohio. EasyCare and Polyflex share a booth at the Summit and display alternative urethane hoof care solutions. The booth is often packed with farriers looking at our non traditional hoof protection solutions. Non traditional seems to be turning traditional.  

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford demonstrate application methods.

2.  California Chrome relaxes in Easyboot Clouds. The Easyboot Cloud created a big challenge for EasyCare as it's sales were much better than anticipated. The Cloud caused us a couple grey hairs and put us in catch up mode after release. It's taken some work and forecasting but our inventory levels are much stronger for 2017.   

California Chrome chilling in Easyboot Clouds.

3.  The Easyboot Mini makes an impact on the smaller breeds and foals. The mini boot has made a massive impact with the small breeds and horses.  These smaller feet are often very hard to protect and the Easyboot Mini has provided an economical solution.  

Easyboot Mini's and Easyboot Epics in competition.

Easyboot Mini fits a hoof only 44mm in width.

4.  Easyboot Elite storms the 2016 Tevis Cup. Nine total team members booted 50 of the horses starting the most difficult 100 mile race in the world. No reported boots were lost during the race and completion statistics were impressive. 30.3% of all starting horses were in Easyboots. 41.3% of all finishing horses were in Easyboots. This is the most difficult 100 miles in equine sport, not only do Easyboots work, they dominate.  

-1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, 4th place and 6th place finishers at the 2016 100 mile Tevis Cup were in Easyboots on all four feet.

-Ten of the top 20 finishers were in Easyboots.

-Easyboot completion rate: 72%  (50 Easyboot riders started, 36 Easyboot riders finished).  Historical finish rate at the event is less than 50%.

-Non-Easybooted completion rate: 44.35%  (115 Non-Easybooted riders started, 51 Non-Easybooted finished). 

2016 Easyboot Elite from left to right.  

Pete Van Rossum, Daisy Bicking, Christoph Schork, Garrett Ford, Deanna Stoppler, Steve Foxworth, Derick Vaughn, Jeremy Ortega and Josh Bowles.

5.  Karen Donley and Royal Patron win the 2016 Tevis Cup. Easyboots have now won the Tevis Cup in years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

7.  Lisa Ford wins the 2016 Haggin Cup. Easyboots have now won the Haggin Cup in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

8.  Easyboots excel in many equine disciplines. From dressage, flat track, endurance, to trotters. Easyboot products do more than the other brands! 

New models are hard to detect!

Easyboot Glue-On shells in a fawn color.  Hard to tell they are even there.  

Easyboot Gloves trotting fast!

EasyShoe Competes can be seen on many of the racetracks around the world.

9. The Easyboot Flip Flop also makes a huge impact. Easy to apply, stays in place very well and allows the back half of the hoof protection and complete hoof mechanism. Most said it would not work but it's winning endurance races and helping save foundered horses.  

Easyboot Flip Flop application.

10.  EasyCare said goodbye to one of our own. "I've had some difficult moments in my life but Kevin's passing has ripped my heart out. Kevin had amazing friends and was loved by everyone he touched. It's ironic that Kevin took his life because he didn't want to go forward lonely. Those close to Kevin have been through a bunch of emotions since Wednesday June 29th, 2016. Disbelief, sorrow, guilt, hours of tears, anger and numbness. I've personally had a very difficult time trying to accept his passing and know we will never be able to replace him." Rest in peace my friend. I plan to go forward in 2017 with more smiles, laughs, will practice more patience, will listen more, will give better hugs/hand shakes and be more generous.

Rest in peace Kevin Myers!

To 2017 we go. Expect a new EasyShoe model, the Easyboot Slipper, the Easyboot Sneaker, a boot shell that accepts two or three gaiter solutions and the Old Mac's G2 will come back. EasyCare and the Easyboot/EasyShoe lines will continue to help many different breeds in numerous disciplines. Thanks for your business and continued support.   

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

Mark, Mustangs, EasyShoes and Winning!

Mark Montgomery is known for adopting, breaking, training and racing BLM Mustangs in the sport of endurance. Mark is a gifted horseman and is usually seen winning and receiving best condition at most endurance events!

Mark and Woody on the way to first place. Photo courtesy of Steve Bradley.

Mark took several of his mustangs to this years XP Death Valley Encounter. The 200 mile event is known for abrasive footing, fast speeds and changes in elevation. Mark has recently switched to the EasyShoe Performance N/G on his horses and is tickled with the results. Mark and Woody came home with the overall 200 mile fastest time and overall best condition at this years event.  

Woody's EasyShoe Performance N/G before the event.

Woody's EasyShoe Performance N/G after 200 fast and abrasive miles.

Thank you Mark for putting the EasyShoes to the test! They obviously work for some of the toughest trails in the USA and at the same time allow hoof mechanism.  

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

Magnus, The Icelandic Pony

Submitted by Sabine Uschmann Maurer, EasyCare Customer

In January we bought our first Icelandic horse, as we really missed our ponies that have left us to canter on the evergreen pasture. We also own three Shagya Arabs, but we missed something. To have ponies is so much fun and the riding is sometimes different than the ride on the horse. So one day I found an advertisement with a very nice picture of a black Icelandic horse with the sweetest expression I have seen. We went for a visit. It was cold and rainy and there was this tiny pony, his name, Magnus. I was immediately in love.

After some days of thinking we decided that Magnus was our Pony. As all our horses were and are barefoot I asked to have his shoes pulled before he came to our place. So many people told me to not do it; those horses needs shoes, he will never show you his different gaits, he will not be able to walk etc. But, I wanted to give it a try at least. The first weeks were hard, the integration was difficult and he was sensitive outside. My horses were not very amused about this new pony and the pony himself was very angry. But after a few weeks on our big pasture they settled down, finally, and today we have a lot of harmony in the group.

When it comes to riding, we were looking for the right boot. Finally, the all ‘simple’ (for me still the best!) Original Easyboot were the choice.  We had some size #0 and #00 left from our endurance pony (which by the way made over 2000 miles of races in Easyboots). They fit great on his hoofs. After some moments he accepted the boots very well and was nice to ride on the trails.

Today, after almost one year, he can go on trails without boots and we do have rocky trails. He can show all his gaits with boots (he has five gaits!). And so many ‘specialists’ told us, he would never show the ‘Toelt’ or the ‘Pass’ with hoof boots, he could only show this with shoes. Look at the picture. Best proof.

My 12-yr old son is riding Magnus and they have a lot of fun together. I am more than happy that he can walk and run so easily with his Easyboots. That proves again, do not listen to what some else tells you, try first and see if it works or not. Next year we plan some tiny endurance rides, kids rides and will see if they will have even more fun together.

I could write so much more, about all our successful horses, running with Easyboots, but this time, it is just about Magnus, and our Happiness with the Original Easyboot. Thank you, EasyCare!

Patience is a Virtue

Submitted by Tanya Robertson, EasyCare Customer

With the purchase of a new horse in June 2016, I set out with a purpose. In my mind my aim was simple, transition my new gelding from metal shoes to boots. I am not the most patient person in the world and I never will be. When I get something in my mind I want it done right away, now, if not yesterday. Instant success is addicting! This partnership with my horse is a journey that I continue to learn from and teaches me patience.

I have tried other boots on other horses. Everything from boots that when the wire broke you had to make sure you were carrying spare zap straps with you, to big clompy boots that flew off into the bush when cantering. I read the reviews, searched the forums and decided on the Easyboot Gloves. Only one local tack store had them and they were over priced. I was already getting impatient. I didn't bother ordering the sizing kit and instead traced my horses feet on cardboard, measured, re-measured and jumped on buying a set of four size #1.5's online at a reasonable price. I found a farrier willing to work with me and who understood my purpose. When the hauler arrived and my new horse came off the shipping trailer he was barefoot in the hind and had metal shoes with clips in the front. I have no idea why. First things first, off with the metal shoes! 

After a few trail rides in the wet West Coast over bridges, on rocks and through rivers I was very happy with my new Easyboot Gloves. They stayed on, didn't rub or fill up with rocks and debris. We could walk, trot, canter and the boots didn't go flying off into the bush! Success, or so I thought. Another visit from my farrier and he pointed out some stone bruises. I questioned if I should put metal shoes back on. Was I doing the right thing? Was my horse uncomfortable? I cringed every time I watched him walk barefoot across rocks like he was walking on egg shells. My horse came to me with a thin hoof wall and feet that barely grew between the eight week visits with my farrier. I knew I had to get his feet stronger so I changed up his diet and started adding Biotin.

After less than a month of riding in size #1.5's the gaiter stitching ripped from the boot while cantering on the road. EasyCare was fantastic to deal with and I received a replacement under their 90 day replacement warranty. I started venturing out on rides with friends and kept having a boot come off. I would have to ask everyone to stop and wait while I put the offending boot back on, usually while teetering on a small winding mountain trail with a drop off. I was getting frustrated.  The gaiter was staying on but the shell of the boot was coming off, dangling around my horses leg. So while the boot didn't go flying off into the bush it was still coming off. 

I questioned the process the whole way. Always asking myself if I was doing what was best for my horse. I posted on forums asking others for insight on how long this transition would take and if I should just give up and go back to metal shoes. Questioning my farrier and the process, hovering over his every move. Contacting EasyCare looking for answers. You always get a plethora of opinions from horse people but the majority encouraged me to continue on. All the support I had helped me go from one failure to the next without giving up. 

Another visit with my farrier and he told me I was using the wrong size. The same day I ordered half a size smaller and put my existing boots up for sale. When the new size arrived I continued to strap them on like I had the larger size. Another mistake. The Velcro gaiter was now overly tight and started to rub and cause blisters. I had to give my horse time off the trails to heal and could only go barefoot in the hog fuel arena. I was itching to ride the trails again. A couple emails with EasyCare and I decided to try doing up the Velcro gaiter much looser. Success! No more rubbing! I really learned the difference of a correct fitted boot and in hindsight should have ordered the sizing kit

Six months after the start of our Easyboot, journey I am a happy customer with a happy horse with healthy feet. Many said it would take longer. I almost gave up.  At first they will ask you why you are doing it. Later they will ask how you did it. 

 

 

Retracted Soles: A Broader Perspective

In 2012 I wrote a blog about retracted soles, describing an appearance of the sole with seemingly "good concavity and sole callus" that in reality can be quite dysfunctional, and lead to lameness:

"Retracted soles are when the sole retracts, or 'sucks up' into the arch of the coffin bone. Usually this happens to horses when they are in a wet or muddy environment. The external appearance of the foot will have good concavity (usually excessively good), and even sole/toe callusing. However the horse is often footsore with low grade pulses, sensitive to hoof testers and even manual palpation. These horses often get diagnosed with low grade laminitis and/or sub solar abscesses."

 

Since then, we've learned a lot about retracted soles: 

  • Not all horses with retracted soles are lame
  • Retracted soles can be observed on horses in wet and also dry environments
  • With horses of similar type, breeding, and management in the same living situation some individuals develop retracted soles and some don't.  

It's interesting to see retracted soles all over the world.  I've observed retracted soles in all environments and many different continents: North America, Europe, Africa and Australia.  Here is an example of a foundered pony whose rehabilitation was complicated by a retracted sole in Melbourne Australia under the care of farrier Sarah Kuyken of Innovative Hoof Care Australia:

We still have more questions than answers about retracted soles: Why are some horses sore with retracted soles and some aren't?  Maybe something to do with the quality or the density of the sole, as we see that in non-retracted soles as well: a thin sole doesn't necessarily mean a sore horse!  So even if the sole is retracted if it is dense or hard enough the horse may be able to resist getting tender.  

Also, why some animals in the same herd develop retracted soles and not others, even when variables for breed, type, discipline, nutrition and management are controlled?  Could retracted soles have an immune component where the affected horses have a compromised immune system for some reason?  Could there be underlying inflammatory illness in these animals?  

We'll just have to keep gathering data and making observations!    

Until we have more definitive information, retracted soles are important to recognize because it is a reason to think cautiously about the trim you are applying to the horse's foot.  When you see the characteristic concavity, with large toe callus, where the concavity meets the callus at a sharp almost 90 degree turn, recognize that the horse's sole is thin and may become quite sore with an aggressive trim.  

In order to minimize the risk of lameness from the trim, consider leaving more vertical height in the foot, as well as not rolling the toe back too far into the callus.  And if the horse is lame, and you suspect from a retracted sole, please consider hoof protection, either a boot with a soft pad, like the Easyboot Cloud, or a glue on shoe with frog support, like the EasyShoe Performance or NG for these horses as well. 

For more information about Daisy Haven Farm please see:
www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com