EasyCare and AERC

It is a yearly occurrence for EasyCare to display their newest products at the yearly AERC Convention and Tradeshow. So again it happened last weekend in Reno, Nevada.

Kevin Myers and Garrett Ford at the EasyCare booth working with customers.

The visitors at the Convention this year were especially intrigued by the new Easyboot FlipFlop, a very innovative hoof protection device that only hit the market a couple of weeks ago.

 

 

Displayed here on the left is the Easyboot FlipFlop, together with the Easyboot Glue-On. The FlipFlop has the new Therapy Click System attached.

This new glue-on boot is a flip-flop design with a conventional upper that extends to the widest point of the hoof. This part of the hoof has the least amount of movement in both the vertical and horizontal planes. Because of this lack of movement, the bonds between the shoe and the hoof hold much tighter and are less likely to fail than at the heel.

The result is a hoof protection device that is more durable than composite shoes bonded along the entire sides of the hoof wall. The absence of an upper in the rear half of the shoe ensures that the heel and the entire back portion of the shoe are not connected to the hoof. The heel is afforded greater movement in all directions, which increases durability of the bond between the upper and the front portion of the hoof. The long-term effect of increased hoof flexion is a highly developed vascular system and a healthier hoof.

This product is the easiest of the glue-on boots and shoes to apply, and stays on the hoof better than any glue-on product. The product has won several 50-mile distance races.

  • Easy to apply and it stays on well.
  • The back of the foot is protected but still functions as a bare hoof, allowing the hoof to function better than in full shell products.
  • Debris goes in and comes out easily. For those with concerns, it's easy to add a pour in packing in the toe area.
  • May be used in conjunction with the EasyCare Therapy Click System.

Here is an applied FlipFlop. Notice how free the heel area is and how much heel support the FlipFlop can provide.

Below a FlipFlop glued on from the front and side:

Another hot new item to be viewed was the new Easyboot Mini Horse Boot. Everybody loved this new boot. Garrett Ford wrote a nice blog about this new boot, very worth reading up on it.

This boot really is filling  a void in the market. Prior to now,  there just wasn't a small enough boot available for the mini horses used a lot for driving.

The EasyCare Therapy Click System, a very innovative system for rehabbing foundered hooves, found a lot of interest by visitors. This simple, yet very effective system can be easily applied to a lot of EasyCare boots. For a complete list of the boots and a detailed description of this product, you can read up on the EasyCare website here.

Visitors also had a chance to practice gluing boots on the Blacksmith Buddy. The Blacksmith Buddy is a close replica to a horse leg and hoof and allows easy practice for trimming and gluing. EasyCare takes this useful tool to many trade shows.

The "Buddy" together with useful hoof prep and gluing tools.

Nice gluing job performed by a visitor applying an Easyboot Glue-On for the first time.

When not busy with AERC BOD and Committee meetings, I was able to support Garrett and Kevin in the booth and answer questions by the many interested customers visiting the booth during the two days of the AERC Convention. As always, this trade show was a first class act with first class products brought to the horse world by Garrett Ford and the EasyCare Company.

Garrett Ford, Kevin Myers and Christoph Schork

 

From the Bootmeister at the AERC Convention

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

The Illusion of Heel Height

Submitted by David Landreville, Guest HCP

Many people don't know this, but horses aren't "stuck with the feet they have". Over time, their feet can be restored and can reach a state where continual development is possible. Don't say "That's just what they have." Hoof development is not necessarily limited by age, conformation, or even tissue damage. I believe it's mostly limited by knowledge and perception. For instance, someone can have a lot of success keeping horses sound with their trimming and booting protocol, but when they teach someone else that student has their own experience and interprets it a little differently than the teacher. When that student teaches someone else, the same thing happens and this goes on and on until the details of the original protocol get lost in translation. It becomes very unreliable, like the telephone game. If the founder of the original method is unfortunate enough to have their name attached to it, they will most certainly get as much blame as praise. The success rate may become uncontrollable and a new method will eventually arise.

Photo credit: Daisy Bicking.

There have been plenty of good trimming methods developed by good practitioners, and the best ones are constantly evolving (methods and practitioners). What you don't hear so much about is hoof development. I believe this is because everyone is too busy arguing about trimming methods to realize the incredible regenerative qualities of the horse's hoof. Almost any hoof, whether the horse is young, old, or debilitated. The challenge is methodology. There is a certain relationship that the hoof structures have to be in for the hoof to reach growth equilibrium and for the structures to reach a state of continual development: a relationship that must be maintained constantly. This is one of the lessons of the Mustang Model. It's nothing new. Horses have been doing it for themselves for eons.

Many hoof care practitioners realize the advantage of self wear for establishing individual physiologically correct hoof conformation. For some, including myself, it is a source of great frustration. I'll admit that when I first heard claims of achieving barefoot soundness from acres and acres with 24/7 movement on varied terrain my reaction was "What about the rest of us who only have small acreage or just a rented stall?" After I brooded on this for a while, the thought crossed my mind, "Why not simulate the wear?" The only thing I had to change was the frequency of my trim. I had noticed on my own seven horses that within one week of beveling the wall in order to load the peripheral border of the sole, they had already grown enough wall to transfer the weight from the peripheral border of the sole back to the wall. 

All the photos of wild hooves and the self trimming domestic hooves that I had seen looked more like my horses directly after a trim, so I decided to increase the trim frequency to once a week. This isn't an original idea. There are plenty of horse owners that ride regularly, do their own trimming, and dress their horses feet up a little just before or after a ride to keep the chipping and cracking down or to keep their boots fitting optimally.

I just decided to do it on seven of my own horses for as long as I saw favorable results. That turned out to be about seven years. Most of my horses were rescues with hoof/body issues and less than favorable conformation. I found that when I kept their feet perfectly balanced, the structures began to develop and take on a shape of their own. This contributed to the overall unique shape of each foot and transferred into the improvement of the horse's conformation. They were all standing more square and this, in turn, transferred into their hooves, maintaining their balance. The longer I kept at it, the less I had to do at each trim interval and the better their feet and bodies looked. And the better they were moving. They all fit nicely into Easyboot Gloves, and though they could be ridden bare foot, they went even better when booted. It's been about ten years since I started my simulated self wear experiment. A few years ago, I completed my track system and imported tons of sand. The extra movement and forgiving footing has allowed me to reduce the trim frequency to 2-3 week intervals with out compromising hoof development. 

Caudal hoof development can be measured by assessing the ratio of vertical heel depth compared to vertical heel wall length. A well developed heel has more heel depth than heel wall length. Here are three examples of of heel development.

I've measured the vertical heel depth from the pink line at the hairline to the blue line at the termination of the collateral grooves and the heel wall length from the blue line to the green line at the ground bearing surface of the heel wall. 

David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

Coal's Founder Rehab

On October 8, 2015 I was given a horse that was down on his luck. Knowing that I am a professional trimmer, this friend of a friend gave Coal to me in the hopes that I could help him.

Coal was very badly foundered. Both soles in the front had penetrated, gone untreated, and become infected. His rear hooves were quite bad as well, just not as bad as the front. Upon x-ray examination by my vet the day he came home with me, I was told me that he had rotated distally 32 degrees on the left and 25 degrees on the right. After his examination, the work to get his hooves treated began. Trim, soak, dress, wrap......and a frantic call to EasyCare for some Easyboot Clouds.

Enter the EasyCare team: They are, and have continued to be, THE best experience from a consumer standpoint that I have ever had. On my initial call they were friendly, knowledgeable, and after explaining my predicament, made sure that I got the boots the very next day, even though that next day was a Saturday. They were on my doorstep at 10 am.

I chose the Clouds because of the removable/replaceable EVA foam pads that are not only easy to replace, but are affordable and they work. Poor Coal could barely walk, and could not stand on 3 legs for more than a couple seconds without collapsing. The Clouds are very easy to take off and put on, they open up wide and the Velcro closures stay closed.

Coal wore his Clouds for six weeks 24/7, having them removed twice daily for treatment for the first three weeks, then daily for the next three weeks. They are still in great condition, even though they were worn by a horse on 24/7 turnout for six weeks straight, and occasionally after that. They have never come off before I take them off, which is really nice. The last thing I need to worry about with such an extreme rehab case is him losing a boot at some point during the day and him being in discomfort and potentially losing the boot to the pasture.

He has not worn his boots regularly for more than two months. Now at the end of January, it's the dead of winter in Ohio, and he greatly appreciates having his boots on when the paddock mud freezes into clumpy concrete.
I just can't thank EasyCare enough for creating this innovative product. These people really know their stuff, and make my job as a horse owner and professional trimmer a whole lot easier. Once Coal grows all of the abnormalities out of his hoof wall, I will be ordering him a pair of riding boots.
So, from Coal and myself: THANKS, EasyCare!

Name: Charlotte 
State: Ohio
Country: United States
Equine Discipline: Trail
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Cloud

Gearing Up For A New Season

Submitted by Karen Neuenschwander, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

It's a new year, and after a nearly three month vacation from riding, it was time to start getting my mare, Brooke, ready for another fun season of endurance. She’s been running around the pasture, barefoot and fancy free.  Aside from the occasional rasping, I haven’t done anything with hooves or boots during her time off.

When the call went out among my tribe of riding buddies for a 19 mile ride in the mountains, I knew it was time to start gearing up. I’ve ridden this particular trail several times, and hoof protection is a must. I dove into my (now overflowing) bin of boots to gather a set of Gloves. Last season’s riding took its toll, and my stash consists of boots in various states of repair. The first two out of the bin were in good condition – plenty of tread and gaiters intact.

 The next one out was ready for the graveyard – big hole in the toe. Why do I still have it? Maybe I can plunder it for parts? The gaiter is still in decent shape and could be scavenged in an emergency. Maybe I’m just holding onto it for sentimental reasons. It was one of the first Gloves we used, and it stayed on for many a mile!

Another boot out of the bin had damage to the gaiter from some race brain antics. It’ll be fine after a gaiter replacement, but it won’t work for today. I’m starting to feel like Goldilocks!

A little more digging yielded two more boots in good shape, and I was ready to go…after I trimmed Brooke. All of that recent hoof growth is great, but the Gloves fit snugly and won’t go on without a fresh trim.

We had a terrific ride with old and new friends. Brooke was full of energy and moved out confidently. I love that I can jump right back into riding with our Easyboot Gloves. I don’t need to worry about scheduling a farrier to apply shoes, or avoiding certain trails because the footing is too rough on bare feet. Just throw them on and we’re off to get ready for a sweet ’16!

 

2016 - The Year of New EasyCare Hoof Protection Products and The Monkey!

2016 is here and EasyCare is working on our longest list of new product launches in our 46 years in business.  Many are brand new concepts that we believe will improve the lives of horses and make the jobs of hoof care professionals more proficient. I'll start announcing the new products in our monthly newsletter blogs and will give all our customers and dealers a heads-up on whats coming. I hope to share a new product for each month of 2016. Yes, we have been busy.  

The Easyboot Glue-On Flip Flop will be available in sizes #1, #1.5, #2 and #2.5 before the end of January 2016.  The Flip Flop was one of those hunches that I thought would work but you never know until you try. In essence, the idea amounts to a flip-flop design with a conventional upper that extends backward only roughly to the widest point of the hoof. The widest point of the hoof has the least amount of movement in both the vertical and horizontal planes. Because of this lack of movement, the bonds between the shoe and the hoof hold much tighter and are much less likely to fail than at the heel. As a result, it is surprisingly more durable than shoes bonded along the entire sides of the hoof. The absence of an upper in the rear half of the shoe ensures that the heel and the entire back portion of the shoe is not connected to the hoof. The heel is afforded greater movement in all directions, which, in addition to improving the durability of the bond between the upper and the front portion of the hoof, also allows more movement of the hoof, which in the long run results in a healthier hoof.

I've glued a large number of hoof protection devices on horses feet in the last ten years and this product is not only the easiest to apply, but stays on the better than any glue-on product I've ever used. The product works better than expected, has won several 50-mile distance races.  

An early slow motion video of a Flip Flop in action. Check out how the sole flexes at the mid-point. 

One of the first prototypes on Fury.

Solar view. Same sole as the Easyboot Glove and will accept the EasyCare Therapy Click System.

The base flexes and pivots.

The final molds have an extended length sole. This allows the sole to be cut to length.

So what does the Easyboot Flip Flip do better than others and why does it have a place in the equine market?

  1. It's very easy to apply and it stays on very well.  
  2. Aside from abrasion, the back of the foot is protected but still functions as a bare hoof.  It allows the hoof to function better than full shell products.  
  3. Debris goes in and comes out easily. In testing we have seen no issues with debris getting in and packing in the toe area. For those with concerns, it's easy to add a pour in packing in the toe area.

It works very well with the EasyCare Therapy Click System. The perfect combination for a pregnant mare having hoof problems while carrying a foal to term.

We are rushing to get four sizes done before the end of the month. I hope you will give them a try. I plan to share another new product next month that I believe will change hoof boot designs going forward. 

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.

Top 10 Best Read EasyCare Blogs of 2015

Here at EasyCare, we work hard to provide our customers with as much information as possible when it comes to our products, as well as hoof education. We believe that knowledge is power and our blog is an excellent resource, filled with tips for success.

2015 was full of new products, lots of information on hoof health, and product experiences shared by hoof care practioners, customers, Team Easyboot members and the EasyCare staff team. We have paid attention to what you like, and here is a list of our top ten blogs for the year.

1. Laminitis And The Laminar Wedge: Take It Or Leave It - "Laminitis is one of the biggest hoof problems we can encounter." Take a look at the debate about the laminar wedge and what to do with it.

2.  Six Things You Should Know About the Easyboot Cloud - "This robust boot exceeds the needs of therapeutic support and protection, whether it be a long trailer ride to an event, prolonged stalling situations on hard ground at horse shows, thin-soled horses, laminitic stages, abscesses, founder or recovery after tough work-outs. It can also be used to aid movement and reduce recovery time after injury or surgery." This boot is changing the lives of many horses.

3.  The Truth About Equine Abscesses - "Hoof abscesses can be much more serious than most of us realize. Abscesses usually are misunderstood, misdiagnosed, mistreated and cause our horses unnecessary suffering, loss of use and too often loss of life. The following is a brief explanation of white line abscesses of the hoof wall."  This was a two part blog and is filled with invaluable information.  Be sure to check out Part Two as well.

4.  How To Develop a Healthy Foot: Circulation It Is - "The circulation of the horse's foot is critical to nourishing the tissues as well as being an integral part of the energy, shock and heat management system of the foot." This is a facinating read.

5.  The EasyShoe Sport Maxed Out - "The only way to know how strong you are is to keep testing your limits." See just how much you can get out of this popular EasyShoe.

6.  Retained Soles: Stop Polishing a Turd - "Next time you are looking at your bare hooves and see “nice, thick, healthy walls” but no connectivity to the sole, check and make sure you are not, in fact, dealing with a flare and a false sole." This blog has great photos and lots of information.

7.  DHF Addressing Hoof Distortion: Slippering Heels - "There are many ideas surrounding how to address the back of the foot with our trim. Heels, bars, frog; some trimming techniques are more aggressive than others, recommending more or less removal of material." Critical information here on different methods of heel trimming.

8.  Conditioning From the Ground Up - "Every step a horse takes can either build them up or break them down. Every serious rider is aware of the benefits of conditioning their horses bodies through regular work and play. Fewer are aware of the benefits of conditioning their hooves. Every time a horse takes a step there is also the potential for development or breakdown." This is one of my personal favorites from the year.  A must-read for any horse owner.

9.  The Courage to Change - An equine massage therapist and hoof care practitioner shares her experience with change in this industry. "...it seemed so cruel to me that so many generations of horses had lived, and died on crippled feet. It seemed so unfair that they had a lesser quality of life simply because they were locked 24/7 onto steel shoes."

10.  Slow Change Is Better Than No Change For the Equine Industry- There is nothing more consistent than change, and as Garrett Ford explains, it can be painful to watch the lack of change in this industry at times. Thank goodness he keeps pushing through with innovation and passion for our horsey friends.

Tina Ooley

easycare-customer-service-representative-tina-ooley

CustomerService Representative

As a member of the EasyCare Customer Service Team, I am here to assist you in fitting and choosing the best hoof protection foryour horse. I believe in natural, holistic hoof care and its contribution to sound horses and happy riders.

It's a Matter of Perspective

Submitted by Elaine McPherson, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

Have you ever noticed that the more you ride in certain places, if your horse has no issue with the footing and terrain, that you cease to realize that someone else might not care for it? I'm a Back Country Horseman and avid trail rider and I take quite a bit of pride in our Southern Nevada trails that I help maintain, so when I take someone out and they don't like the trail we're on I take it a bit personally.

A few weeks back a friend who had never ridden in Mt Charleston asked me to take her and show her a trail and I gladly complied. She told me the distance and speed she wanted to do and inquired about the footing and terrain. I described them the best I could and let her know that hoof protection was recommended. She said her horse currently has shoes so shouldn't be a problem, right? Chief as usual would go out with Easyboot Gloves on his fronts and bare behind. 

Thirty seven ridge lines to get where I was headed and my friends horse kept getting slower and slower, she said his feet were tender which was slowing him down. My friend didn't agree with my claim of decent footing, heck this trail has downright great footing compared to some I ride, there's that different perspective we all have. Needless to say Chief in his boots handled the rocks and granite boulders we came across like a trooper, ready to ride another day.

 

My Season with Easyboots

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

I wanted to share what a typical year looks like for me and my horses' feet. We are competitive trail riders competing at the 25 mile distance this year and we start "spring training" as soon as the weather allows us to be outside without freezing (that date can vary greatly here in Alberta!).

This past year was exceptionally mild and as early as February we were out running down the gravel roads and across the bare crop fields. The ground is frozen this time of year and can be punishingly lumpy, rocky and uneven. If we're out for a slow ride we can get it done barefoot but of course my horses are more comfortable with something between them and the ground. Often times, at this time of year, it's our Easyboot Epics that fit the bill. 

I have used these boots for over a decade now and just love them. They are easily adjusted and therefore easy to fit to your horse throughout their trim cycle. Two days post trim to six weeks out, these boots will insure a snug, secure fit and I don't ever worry about losing one thanks to the handy gaiter.

This past spring we had lots of chinook winds that would blow very warm air across the snow covered ground turning the top of the snow to wind whipped melting puddles that would freeze into sheets of ice overnight. We had ice everywhere. Lots of open, bare tracts which made it quite possible to condition if you could just make it to those spots. 


Enter my Easyboot Gloves with Quick Studs. I wrote about how to apply the Quick Studs here. My oh my what a difference these little studs make to traction. Nary a slip on the dodgy sections, my horse strode out with confidence on our way to our training grounds. I love the Gloves for their ease of application, snug fit and no hardware to fiddle with. There are a bit trickier to ensure correct fit as my horse has to be trimmed more often to "get it right" but that just means her hooves are always in great shape. 

Once the snow and ice cleared and we headed more into our true spring and early summer, I removed the Quick Studs (so I can use them again next year) and continued using the Easyboot Epics and Gloves to condition my horse up and down the gravel road, through the hills, across the rocky river beds and into the Alberta foothills (small mountains).

Then FINALLY, after what seemed like forever, competition season was upon us! I broke out my gluing gear and this rookie made a one woman show of gluing a set of four EasyShoe Performance on my mare. I had learned the how-to's from a local professional last year and set to work making it happen for myself (I wrote about my experience gluing in this previous blog). There was lots of trial and error, glue everywhere and some frustration but that first set I put on myself looked not too bad and definitely did the trick in landing us a first place at that CTR. 

Several weeks of conditioning later I removed that set and applied a new set of four with greater ease and improved skills (see - trial and error at work!). For me I realized the best way for my slow self to apply the adhesive was to only put the Adhere around the bottom where it would contact the sole, hold it to the hoof until set then use a hoof pick to hold the wings open while I applied the Adhere to the quarters with enough quantity that it spilled out the holes. Wait for the appropriate set time again, clean it up with a rasp and voila. 

We had a great competitive season and in total my mare spent 14 weeks in the EasyShoe Performance hoof protection. They definitely offer convenience over the boots as there is no applying/removing before and after each ride and my mare felt superb in them. I called them her little "Rocket shoes" because she was faster and more confident in our conditioning rides than ever before. 

I just pulled them off last weekend and we are back to heading into the colder weather. I will shake the dust off my hoofboots that have been sitting in the corner of the tack shed all summer and we will continue on our merry way, booted and bundled up in the colder weather, waiting for springtime and warm summer days to return.

I do believe EasyCare offers a hoof protection solution for most all situations and if you're not sure, just get a hold of EasyCare Customer Service and they can direct you to what may work best for your situation. We are able to ride outside year round thanks to the protection the EasyCare Hoof Boot line up offers and I am so thankful for all the options. 
 

Transitioning From Shod To Barefoot

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

I brought home a new horse home at the end of July. Yeah I know, I didn't need one, but he's here and I love the big guy - all 16 hands of him and with pretty good sized hooves to match. When I brought him home, his hooves were shod and very long. 

Further inspection showed that what should have been the sole of his hoof was actually covered with overgrown bar, giving him a flat hoof. He had a nice large frog and the corner of the shoe was digging into the edge of the frog. 

My goal was to transition him to barefoot and use boots on him as needed. I knew that if I trimmed him up all at once so it looked correct and pretty, the chances of making him sore were quite good. So I opted for the slow and natural approach. We pulled the shoes, then I trimmed him a bit. Just taking off about 1/2 " of wall, which still left a half inch. His frog was big and fleshy and I only trimmed the tags off and barely touched any of the over grown bar. My plan was the reject sand in the round pen, which is very course, would exfoliate the bar at a natural rate. Plus riding him in the sand on the hills would further exfoliate and wear some hoof down. This would allow nature to do the job and in the long run create a tougher hoof, all the while keeping the horse happy. 

The first couple weeks I kept Rio in the pen by himself where he ran the fence on the course reject sand, wearing his hooves down and getting a nice slow "trim". This was the easy way to do it in hot and dry August when hooves can be hard to trim in this country. After a month, a lot of the bar had sloughed out. His hoof was still somewhat flat as the sole had been buried by bar. I would just take a bit off the edges and round him up every 10 days. After a month, and in need of a bit of touch up trimming, his hooves looked like this:

Now I know I could have rasped this down short, gotten rid of the separation, cleaned up the flare, pulled out more bar, but I was liking the results of "trim thy self". It was slower but he wasn't sore. And in the beginning his hooves weren't loading flat, as can be seen by bar and the tell tale tip of the frog pointing one way. But even this was slowly improving. I told myself not to get in a hurry, and stick to the plan. 

We ride in a lot of sand so I don't always need to boot. But I picked up some used size 2 Gloves, my favorite boot, and fit them to him. 

Since they were just a bit big, I ordered Power Straps to help the fit. I knew in transitioning that his hoof was going to change more and I wasn't sure what size boot I would need for him later. But some places where we ride there are rocks, and I wanted to be prepared with boots that fit.

Our transitioning has been coming along slow but sure with only a slight bit of occasional soreness. As the hoof develops and balances, so the sole becomes thicker and more concave. Now the hoof is getting more uniform, still thin walled in the quarters, but that will come in time. It takes a full year to grow the hoof out.

In 2 months he was pooching out the sides of the 2s so bad that I was afraid they'd tear. Now he wears a 2.5 Glove with a power strap. We still have a long way to go but oh, we have come so far.

Three months of transitioning without lameness, and still being ridden as we continue the process. To me, that spells success. 

Hole In The Boot

The Easyboot Glue-Ons are certainly a marvelous invention. From the beginning we had a great product, but we had to learn how to use them properly and how to apply them correctly so they stayed on even under the most extreme conditions. Meanwhile, Easyboot Practitioners have refined the gluing process to an art and getting the boots off the hooves even after they been 'on' for a few weeks can be quite a chore. Which is, of course, a good thing, because it proves to everybody that the gluing application has matured.

A couple of months ago I wrote about Reading The Boot, a blog with photos to evaluate the gluing application after the fact, meaning after we take the boots off. A learning after the fact, so to speak, but also a studying and learning opportunity for future applications.

EasyCare recommends to pull the Glue-On boots after ten days to two weeks.  I have to admit, I often do not adhere to these these time recommendations and keep them on somewhat longer than that. Maybe I shouldn't, but when the seals are still intact and the boot well attached with no water having entered the boots, I stretch this time line. And yet, I'm always amazed how hard the hooves still are after I pull these Glue-On Boots off my horses hooves. I have not noticed any thrush developing under the boots and most of the time they are a 'mother' to get them off, even after hundreds of miles ridden and several weeks having passed. Yes, they are softer compared to the bare footed horses running around in dry sand. But certainly are not any softer than a bare hoof that travels and lives more in a wetter climate and muddier soil than we have in the desert southwest.

Notwithstanding those observed facts, I cannot help to wonder sometimes if it would be better to have the sole exposed to more natural soil, sand, rocks and air to keep it dryer and tougher.

Time to experiment and play.

Tools needed:

- power drill

- circular hole saws of various sizes

I pre-drilled a small hole in the center of the Glue-On so that the hole drill can stay centered:

While drilling the hole, the boot has to be fixed, otherwise it will spin around and the circular saw won't be able to cut. The best way for me to stabilize the boot was to hold it between my feet.

The sole of the Glue-On boot is rather thick, so it will take a little time. Too much pressure on the drill and it will not cut anymore but get bound up and stuck and jerk your arm. So better use light pressure to allow the tool to do the work.

The modified Glue on Boot with a hole in the bottom.

The sole thickness of the boot is indeed impressive, here is the cut out piece. The Gloves and Glue-Ons certainly have a thick sole, that's the reason they last so long and protect the soles so well.

Hoof preparation is being done identically the way we glue a boot without holes.

For gluing the boot I used Sikaflex the same way as I normally would for a complete boot. I just need a lot less of it this time.

Vettec Adhere is being applied afterwards to the inside wall of the boot and the boot then being glued on according to protocol published on the EasyCare website.

In the sole area I use the excess Sikaflex to seal the cut borders.

Most of the frog and sole is now exposed, keeping the sole and frog tough and hardened.

The foremost question in my mind was: did I rob that boot of essential stability and compromise the integrity so much that it will fall apart and get ripped off in no time? Only time and frequent riding over mixed terrain will tell me.

In my first try I cut the hole too big and, sure enough, the toe part of the boot sole was pushed over the dorsal hoof wall within 20 miles ridden.  The boot pictured above is a size 2 and I used a 3.5 inch diameter hole saw. That hole seemed the appropriate size, leaving a wide enough sole margin.  I therefore came up with the following hole sizing chart (this is what has worked for me):

-2.5 inches saw diameter for boot sizes 00 and 00.5

-3 inches saw for boot sizes 0, 0.5 and 1

-3.5 inches for sizes 1.5, 2, 2.5

-4 inches for sizes  3 and 3.5 and 4

With these sizes the boots have stayed strong enough to withstand heavy and fast riding over mixed terrain.

After 4 weeks of riding this horse, the margins and borders are all intact and the horse is moving happily and freely.

Next photo from the bottom side:

The frog and sole did toughen up more, more dead sole visible compared to the frame above 4 weeks ago. The horse walked before the Sikaflex had completely been dry, that is why some of it had pushed out from under the sole, but that did not create any issues.

Summarizing why such a foolish undertaking could benefit the hooves:

- Continuous sole and frog stimulation and toughening through contact with ground

- Longer time intervals before pulling the boots, possibly up to 6 weeks

- Better grip in mud and wet grass

I might not elect to use this modification for endurance rides or riding a lot over sharp and hard rocks. The risk of stone bruising is certainly greater. For moderate terrain and training rides it seems to me to be a viable alteration.

To give credit where credit is due: this 'Hole in the Boot' idea did not originate with me. I saw it first while attending one of the Pete Ramey Clinics in Durango and considered it worth a try and to experiment with. Pete had a couple of the boots with holes cut out on display.

So far, I must say,  I'm happy with the results.

 

From the Bootmeister's desk

 

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center