SNEAK PEAK: Options and adjustability are the theme of EasyCare's next line of hoof boots

By Garrett Ford, President of EasyCare Inc.

I had a friend reach out and ask if we have anything in the works for new hoof boots. He was impressed with the new EasyShoe Flex line but is a barefoot hoof boot guy at heart.  With the EasyShoe Flex complete, I let him know that we are now focusing on new hoof boot concepts and our goal is to bring two very competitive designs to our dealers and horse owners by early 2019. Building on EasyCare's longevity and experience in the horse boot business - over 47 years! - we have two boot prototypes undergoing strenuous endurance tests.

Performance Boot Sneak Peak

The first boot will be part of our performance line. It will be ideal for 50- and 100- mile endurance riders who ride fast, over long distances and through difficult terrain. And it will also be a great trail and recreational boot. The prototype has already placed first in two very rugged 50-mile endurance tests.

A Saturday prototype test. 32 miles to 12,700 feet elevation in 4 hours. The peaks in the background are over 14,000 feet tall.  

Tie for 1st and Best Condition at the SoCo Endurance event. The new design was flawless.  

You can look forward to options, adjustability and heel pivot from this new performance product line. The boot will be sold in 5 different configuration options and all parts will be interchangeable.

Some of the design features:

1. Hoof length and heel height will be adjustable. 

2. Heat fitting can be performed on all parts for exaggerated fit applications.

3. Several of the designs will pivot in the heel area.  

4.  One of the 5 configuration options will be a Glue-On shell. You can not only adjust the length, but also the density of heel cushioning, making this a very unique model.

The Glue-On Shell will have a rubber insert to help cushion the heel.  Shell is molded long and can be adjusted in length.  

5.  Add a gaiter and it's very similar to the Easyboot Glove with one exciting exception - it's a pivoting gaiter.

6. Take a look at the blue heel insert below. You'll be able to fully adjust the heel density with different inserts.

A gaiter that pivots with the heel.  Different density heel inserts.

7.  Easily adjust hoof length and heel height through a Heel Sling and Heel Counter. The two work in tandem to achieve a better fit on more hoof shapes. They're protected by a slip-on EVA cover, which can be replaced as needed.

The "Heel Counter" slides in the sole of the boot to accommodate different hoof lengths. The "Heel Sling" adjusts up and down to accommodate different heel heights. No velcro or cables.

8.  One of the new EasyCare boots will have a rear arching heel bulb to adjust both heel length and heel height. The Australian company Scoot Boot has a similar style and it has some nice features, but lacks the adjustment option.

 

Pleasure Boot Sneak Peak

In addition to the new performance line we are also close to launching a new boot in our pleasure category. It will be a great trail riding boot that's soft, flexible and adjustable. Here's a recent photo just before taking it out on a test ride.

 

We recognize that horses feet come in many shapes and sizes, so our new designs are focused on options and adjustability. Watch for more test results in 2018 and the full line to be available in early 2019. I think we're making great advances in our product innovations and both of these designs offer groundbreaking improvements to the hoof care and protection marketplace.

 

Garrett Ford

President 

I have been President 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 protection for the barefoot horse.

 

 

 

What Happens When an Abscess Goes Untreated

By Nancy Frishkorn BA, CHCP (reposted from
 
If you own horses, chances are good that at some point either you or someone you know spent many hours tending to an abscess. An abscess is collection of pus in an area of the body (in this case the hoof capsule) that causes severe pain and swelling due to the body’s immune system’s attempt to fight off the infection. This pus is actually excess white blood cells and tissue (living and dead), fluid, bacteria and other foreign substances. The white cells are the body’s natural defense to infection that release destructive components after identifying and binding with bacteria. Their purpose is to “kill” the harmful bacteria, but in the process healthy tissues are also damaged. In the hoof, this damage most often occurs in the laminae and bony structure within; in other words, if not treated, the coffin bone itself begins to degenerate and weaken, causing small pieces to break away. As part of the inflammation response, more white cells are sent to the site to remove the damaged tissue (the clean-up crew) which actually creates even more inflammation and subsequently more pain. The pieces of broken and damaged tissue are not distinguished by the body and the natural immune system subsequently treats them as foreign objects; hence, the system treats the bone pieces as “foreign objects” - these are what are known as sequestrum.
 
This is the story of Colt, a beautiful gelding purchased by Carla (Pittsburgh Pet Connections CEO) who had poor hoof care before she found him. There are some individuals who believe the hooves can go months without trimming, and others who feel they can trim themselves despite the fact that they have had no training or poor training at best. Colt was one such victim of circumstance, and he came into Carla’s love and devotion in need of immediate attention. His hooves were long and imbalanced, and after two trims he was still experiencing intermittent lameness. Local vets were called and his abscessing was opened, but they continued to fester despite many hours of soaking, draining and treatments with drawing salve. After seeing no improvement, it was decided he needed to seek clinical attention for a second opinion and x-rays. 
 
Colt was sent to Fox Run Equine Center where Dr. Brian Burks DVM diagnosed a lateral sequestrum on Colt’s left front hoof. This first picture shows Colt’s tract on film; you can see some lines coming from the side of the hoof draining down by the back of the heel. 
 
 
This is the site that had been opened from the outside bar (hoof wall beside the frog) but never drained out completely. Inside, there is a piece of broken bone that was damaged due the accumulation of pus for a long period of time. Dr. Burks used a dremel tool to drill a small hole into the quarter (side of the hoof wall) to remove this sequestrum. The second picture shows the piece of bone being removed and just how small the piece of bone was; its removal was imperative for Colt’s recovery.
 
 
The third picture is a shot of this same area after surgery, the quarter area grew out within three months with daily packing with betadine and Sliver Sulfadiazine.  
 
 
Before the surgery, Dr. Burks scraped out all the hard laminae from the bottom of the hoof to ensure there would be no residual bacteria’s invading the capsule that could potentially cause reinfection of the hoof. His intuitions served him well when it was discovered that the very tip of P3 (coffin bone) was extremely brittle. He concluded that this was damaged a long time ago from old abscessing that had caused this area to weaken and nearly break away. By making another “window” in the hoof wall, Dr. Burks was able to preserve most of the wall structure and remove this weakened area as well. He commented to me that the tip “fell away” when he merely touched it with his forceps, so it too was removed and needed packing until it grew out. This fourth picture shows the actual procedure during surgery when the forceps were inserted into the toe wall to remove the sequestrum. 
 
 
I’ve worked with many vets over the years, but I’ve never met one quite as thorough and open minded as Dr. Burks. The traditional protocol for any respective procedure is hospital plates (wide aluminum shoes) that stay on for many months to support the hoof during healing. Because Burks took such care to make minimally invasive openings for removal, Colt was left with adequate hoof wall for support. Carla was adamant in keeping Colt as natural as possible, meaning she wanted him to remain barefoot, and he respected her wishes. I was called to meet with Burks about follow up hoof care and we mutually agreed he could remain in a hoof boot that would not only support his hoof, but also provide better coverage for the opened areas that needed daily treatments. This last picture shows Colt’s open toe area five days after surgery when he was taken out of wraps and placed in a hoof boot. 
 
 
Treating a hoof injury is difficult on the owner as well as the horse. Carla was going to need a boot that would not only cover the entire hoof wall, but also one that could be easily removed and strong enough to withstand several months of continuous wear. Colt was rather stubborn about lifting the hoof for his daily treatment, so ease of application was an absolute necessity. I am familiar with several boots, but the best choice for this situation called for durability, full support and easy removal as well so that no further damage would occur. I could think of only one boot that would serve her purpose, and one that she would be able to keep for years to come in case she ever needed them again - the Easyboot Rx
 
From March to mid-May Colt wore his boots day and night. He was sound at a walk almost immediately after the surgery and because he had a boot he was able to get turnout in the arena and a small paddock every day. We actually booted both front hooves to make sure he wasn’t off balance on the front and this kept him sound while simultaneously avoiding any shoulder pressure or further injury. Carla made sure that his hooves were kept as dry as possible to avoid any rubbing due to excess moisture or sweat by removing them daily for treatments and drying the back of the hoof before replacing it. This movement helped facilitate the healing process and by the end of May the entire wall had grown out completely with no further problems. Within a month Colt was even able to do short rides wearing hoof boots and today he is doing very well. He has not had an abscess in nearly a year and his soles are tough because he has relocated to a facility that enables full turnout and natural wear. Carla has since purchased a pair of Easyboot Trail boots for long rides, and we are grateful to not only EasyCare for their supreme products, but also to Dr. Burks for his open-minded approach to natural horse keeping. Thanks to Carla, Colt has a wonderful life and his hoof issues are no longer…he is happy, healthy, and sound. 
 
- Nancy Frishkorn BA, CHCP

 

Here's an Easy Way to Install an EasyCare Comfort Pad

By EasyCare Product Specialist, Jean Welch

An EasyCare Comfort Pad is a great way to provide added comfort, support and protection for your horse. It comes in a one size fits all, and is a quick trace and trim in most cases. But if you don't have a template, try this handy tip that I picked up from Chris Mason at a Hoof Care Conference in the beautiful state of Washington. Not only does it make it simple to custom fit your Comfort Pad, but it also prevents any waste. There's a very good chance you'll be able to squeeze more than one pad out of just one Comfort Pad!

Comfort Pad Installation

1. Get some tin foil that's about two times the size of the outer sole. In this example, I'm using a Size 1 Easyboot Glove.

2. Fold it in half to make it stronger.

3. Insert it into the boot, and scrunch the edges of the foil up against the inside of the boot.

4. Carefully remove the foil from boot, and voilà, you have a perfect template of the boot's inside foot bed.

5. Lay out your pad and trace your foil template.

6. Use heavy duty shears to cut the pads out. Remember to keep your cut to the INSIDE of the line.

If you have Easyboot Mini's, just think of all the pads you can get out of one Comfort Pad.  I tried this tip on a Size 2 Mini and got 11 pads!

Save the scraps and you can even make your own frog supports as well.

If you'd like more product tips, we have a lot of helpful articles on our Hoof Care Blog and videos on our YouTube channel.

Shoeing The Hoof Or Shoeing The Horse?

By Christoph Schork of Global Endurance Training Center

Horses hooves do have "big shoes to fill," pun intended. Not so much because of previous great shoeing experiences but more so because of their responsibility to carry a heavy body through life's travels. Whether it's just hanging out as a backyard horse, competing on the track, dressage, versatility, trail riding, endurance racing or competing on demanding 100 mile races like Big Horn, Old Dominion, Biltmore or Tevis.

GE Blizzard of Oz, wearing the new EasyShoe Flex during the Old Pueblo Ride in Arizona, finishing in First Place and winning Best Condition

When talking about shoeing or booting horses, are we shoeing a hoof or are we shoeing the horse? Now, what does that question entail? In the definition of a farrier's job description, he or she is engaging in 'horse shoeing.' Nobody refers to a farrier as a 'hoof shoer.' For the sake of an argument, let's look at the term 'hoof shoeing' first.

Shoeing a hoof means that we are looking specifically at a hoof, trimming it according to our parameters and then booting or shoeing that particular hoof. We might be looking at live sole, medial and lateral balance, point of rotation and midpoint balance. We are evaluating and trimming and shoeing a hoof!

When trimming and shoeing a horse, I follow an holistic approach to hoof care. First I evaluate the conformation and posture of the horse, then I consider the weight and the alignment.

As an example of how we trim and shoe to provide support for the whole horse, not just a single hoof, we'll look at the horse below.

This image shows an untrimmed hoof. We can observe that the hoof is pretty symmetrical in appearance from the dorsal view point. If we draw a red line through the center of the fetlock we can see that both halves of the hoof are equal in width.

Here's a similar observation on a horse with a trimmed hoof.

In both cases the horse's body is supported by the hoof. The whole hoof is equally loaded and receiving equal ground pressure.

In the next case, however, the hoof cannot fulfill its job of properly supporting the horses weight. The plum line drawn from the center of the canon bone does not divide the hoof capsule in equal halves. Notice how it's offset to one side. The lateral half of this front right hoof is quite a bit wider compared to the medial half. (Blue horizontal line vs green line.)

My next question is how can I mitigate that conformation fault and center that hoof better under his leg? For starters, when trimming, I'll rasp the lateral wall a little more and the medial wall somewhat less, to try and move the hoof more underneath the bone column. 

Look at the two blue vertical guide lines coming up from the supporting area of the sole. The leg is now more centered over the sole. I shifted the support area medially.

When shoeing or applying hoof protection to this hoof EasyCare provides the tools to center the hoofs ground bearing surface even more under the leg. The new EasyShoe Flex is the perfect shoe to help horses with asymmetrical hooves.

Here's how the Flex can be used to help center the hoof under the limb.

In this photo, I moved the Flex more to the medial side (see the red arrow), to center the bone column over the supporting surface.

The weight baring surface of the Flex is now centered under the red plum line, and both lateral and medial (yellow lines), are equidistant between the two blue vertical guide lines again. 

The protruding edge, red arrow, can easily get beveled off so a horse would be less likely to step on it and pull the shoe off.

With a grinder or even a rasp the shoe can get easily modified. The spring steel insert can also get rasped without any problems. 

Stay tuned, because I'll be sharing more information on the Flex. You'll learn how easy it is to nail on the Flex, get some DOs and DONT's, and see my test results on their performance during long and hard endurance races up to 100 miles in length. I'll also be including the Flex Light, the version without the spring steel core.

In the photo below, the Flex Light, in a size 3, is shown on top. It comes with the heart bar for frog support. Below the Light is the Flex Open Heel with spring steel core, also in a size 3. The steel inside gives it enough rigidity so that a heart bar isn't necessary. It's also available in a heart bar version.

The Flex is opening a lot of new doors for the riders, farriers and trimmers alike. 

From the Bootmeister
Christoph Schork

www.globalendurance.com

5 Reasons Why the Easyboot Glove Soft is Outperforming Expectations

By Garrett Ford, President of EasyCare Inc.

The Glove Soft has been a challenge to keep in stock!

The Easyboot Glove Soft was added into the EasyCare line up of hoof boots in early 2018.  It's been selling very well and exceeding our forecasts.  Several sizes have sold out and we are working hard to get more in stock for the busy summer months.  

The Glove history goes back to 2009 with the launch of the Easyboot Glove. We've made a number of improvements over the years, and while people have been very happy with it, the rubber gaiter on the 2016 model makes it a bit more challenging to install. This feedback, along with other comments from our valued customers, resulted in the design and launch of the Glove Soft. 

The Glove line has always been a favorite. You can see why in the video below. It shows the original Glove in action during a very difficult 50-mile race. Even in terrible, muddy conditions down slipper terrain, the boots stayed on with no problems. Notice the Glove's low profile and snug fit that allows the horse to be the athlete it is. The horse went on to finish 1st and receive Best Condition. (If you watch the video to the end, you'll notice I took a tumble, but kept on filming!)

 

Here's a quick list of what we were trying to achieve with the Easyboot Glove Soft and the reasons horse owners like the boot so much.  

1.  The Easyboot Glove line is the closest fitting hoof boot line. It doesn't add bulk and width to the hoof, allowing the horse to be athletic and nimble.  

2.  The ability to fold the gaiter back all the way. This achieves a very easy installation of the hoof boot. When the gaiter is folded backward it's quick and easy to slip over a hoof and get a tight fit.  The gaiter is then rotated up and fits around the pastern.  

3.  Wider hook and loop make for a better hold and closure. We have beefed up the hoof and loop for a more secure fit. Now it's 1.5 inches wide.  

4.  Longer straps allow the boot to fit more pastern circumferences.   The overlap system and longer straps allow the gaiter to fit both large bone and finer bone pasterns.  

5.  The Glove Soft comes in both regular and wide sizes.  The range has 20 different sizes to fit most horses.

We appreciate your feedback on the Glove line and are excited that the Easyboot Glove Soft is part of our 2018 product range.  We are working hard to prevent back orders, so please be patient.

Enjoy your summer riding.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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 protection for the barefoot horse.

 

 

Tips on Applying a Power Strap to the Easyboot Glove

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Jordan Junkermann

Our Easyboot Gloves are a form fitting, versatile boot that allow high performance riders to perform at the level they want without adding weight or bulkiness to the barefoot hoof. The Glove has the capacity to be used for long distances and frequent riding, which means they also do well with weekend riders, parades, and with driving horses.

To truly benefit horse and rider, this boot requires a snug fit, and while some hooves glide into the boot like Cinderella into her glass slippers, others have a shape that makes for a challenging fit. For a more rounded hoof shape, you’ll find that the Glove comes in larger widths.This may give you the perfect fit. But, if the hoof is narrow for its length, there’s a solution to snug up the fit - the Easyboot Power Strap. It cinches the boot like a belt.

Here are some tips on applying the Power Strap

The two best methods for inserting holes where the Strap will connect to the boot are a leather punch or a wood burning tool. Keep in mind that the holes need to big enough to accommodate a T-nut, screw and washer.  

1. Leather Hole Punch

One option is to use a leather hole punch and punch on the indicated areas of the front of the boot and power strap. In the method below, we used a different kind of punch that works best when it’s sharp. The tools you will need for this method include: a wooden block, a nail to start the puncture, a punch, and a hammer. First, make a small hole on the boot with the nail and hammer, using the wooden block as a brace on the inside to give you something solid to steady the punch. Next, hammer a hole on the other size of the boot with the punch and hammer, again using the wooden block as a brace. 

Using a nail can start a hole in the desired area

 

Using this type of punch requires a hammer.

2. Wood Burning Tool

Another method suggested by one of our Product Specialists is to use a wood burning tool. It can be purchased for around $16, and it’s quick, requires less strength and creates a perfect hole for the hardware to sit in.

Start by heating up the wood burning tool. It’s a good idea to have a rag handy, because you’ll want to periodically clean the melted rubber off of the tip of the tool to reduce excess smoke.

 

We tried a couple different tips but found a wide one to be useful. Make sure to screw it in before you heat up the tool. 

 

Start with the base of the boot. Make your holes where indicated on the front of the boot. Don't be afraid to make it a little bit bigger than the tip.

 

Clean up any excess rubber at the back end or any that builds up in the front. This excess could get in the way of threading the screw onto the T-nut.

 

Create the same holes on the Power Strap using the markings on the back of the Strap as guides.

 

Make sure to check that your screw will fit into the holes you have made.


 

 

Trim the ends of the Power Strap by cutting the line above the correct number on the Power Strap that matches the size boot you have.

 

Once the T-nut is seated in the back of the boot, it only takes a minute to line up the Power Strap hole and tighten it down with the screw and washer. 

 

To make it easier to line up the second hole, use a pair of locking pliers as a clamp to hold the boot, Power Strap and hardware in place.

 

Placing the second side screw is easy with the locking pliers.

 

The Power Strap in place!

 

Attaching the Power Strap to the Glove can be simple and should provide the snug fit needed to enjoy this popular boot.

Under Pressure – Dealing with an Abscess (Part Two)

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Kelsey Lobato

After discovering an abscess and finding out the cause, start treatment and possibly a prevention program. The treatment program will depend on the type of abscess your horse has and what your vet and farrier have determined. It's important to remember that each approach to treating an abscess is unique and varies from others.

Here is my experience.

My first step in treating a hoof abscess is to gather supplies and medications. This way it's handy in the barn aisle or stall. 

  1. A bucket
  2. An Easyboot Soaker
  3. Epsom salt and Betadine
  4. Epsom salt poultice (if you cannot soak)
  5. Hydrogen peroxide
  6. A syringe
  7. Hoof pick
  8. Duct tape
  9. Gauze
  10. Vet wrap
  11. Easyboot Trail or Easyboot Cloud
  12. Gold Bond Powder

Note: If your vet has prescribed antibiotics and Bute, follow your doctor's instructions as long as the abscess has blown and you are seeing drainage. 

After gathering all your supplies, clean the hoof gently using a hoof pick and squirt hydrogen peroxide in the infected area. Make sure the pus and debris is cleaned out thoroughly for soaking. Next, place the Soaker boot on your horse and fill the boot with Epsom salt, betadine and hot water. Soak the hoof for about 10-15 minutes once a day for 3-4 days. If you can't soak the horses foot, use an Epsom salt poultice. Put a generous amount around the abscess/hoof, wrap and then leave on for 24 hours. Repeat for 3-4 days.

Once you have soaked the hoof, keep the hoof dry and clean. For my horse Summer Flame, I also packed the hoof with betadine/Epsom salt soaked gauze. I wrapped it with duct tape and vet wrap for 3 days until I could put her out with the other horses in boots.

Photo: Summer Flame in her makeshift boot

Keep the hoof clean, packed, and bandaged for several days, depending on how long it takes for the lameness to disappear. If the infection is deep in the hoof, the process of eliminating the infection and relieving the horse of pain will take longer.

In Summer Flame’s case, because the abscess was slow to heal and she still had swelling, I stopped wrapping her hoof and put her in the Easyboot Trails with medicated padding. I also continued with her prescribed antibiotics. She did very well turned out 24/7 in the boots. I checked them once a day to make sure they were staying on and not causing additional issues. She wore them for another week until the vet gave the "okay" for them to come off.

Note: if you leave the boots on for long periods of time, add Gold Bond Powder or a copper sulfate mix to prevent bacteria growth.

Photo: Summer Flame in the Trail boot

Here are the preventative measures I follow:

  • Maintain a regular farrier schedule
  • Feed a quality hoof supplement
  • Clean the hoof daily (If I can't get to the barn, I clean the hoof every two days)

In addition, keeping your pastures and paddocks clean as well as not over bathing your horse should reduce the risk of abscess development. If you have rocks in your paddock, removing them can help keep your horse from a stone bruise, which can lead to an abscess.

No matter how much you take preemptive steps to ensure no abscesses, there still might be a day when one does appear. Stay calm and act promptly in consulting your veterinarian and farrier. Be prepared and have the provisions you will need on hand to treat the problem.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Solutions For A Hoof Abscess

Treating an Abscess Using the Easyboot Rx

Tale of Two Icelandic Ponies

Submitted by: Chris Kreuger, an EasyCare Dealer and Hoof Care Practitioner.

Adam and Frothie are 2 unrelated Icelandic ponies who live together in Eastern New York State. They live in a nearly perfect environment for their breed! Their owners have them on a large dry lot 24/7 where they control the amount of hay they get and they supplement their forage with a small amount of timothy pellets with Vermont Blend which is a mineral and amino acid supplement that is formulated specifically for our area. They are trail ridden during the warmer months and love to "tolt" their little hearts out!

They look extremely similar body wise but their feet could not be more different. Adam has very healthy and robust feet that can crunch rocks! He has a great strong heel buttress, thick frog over a well-developed digital cushion, a thick and concave sole and a uniform and well-connected hoof wall. 

Then there is Frothie. Same environment, same diet, same breed, only slightly older... And his feet are not as ideal. His hoof walls tend to be flared and not as well connected, a thin sole and his one redeeming feature is a relatively well-developed frog. He was comfortable in his paddock environment but had trouble when being ridden over rocks. Since adding the VT Blend supplement about 4 months ago, his feet have actually improved but he still needs extra support when ridden. For this, he LOVES his old-style Back Country Gloves! 

Many people think that gaited horses won't be able to gait in boots but if they are trained to accept them and have a good natural gait, it should enhance this already exciting movement. It took Frothie a few rides to get used to his boots but once he realized how much faster he could go with them, there was no stopping him. My point in comparing these 2 ponies is to show that some horses may achieve a completely perfect looking hoof even if all of the factors are in place. There are only so many factors you can control and that's where boots can help a horse like this. 

The Challenges of Spring Grass: Laminitis and Founder

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Dawn Willoughby

Original Post June 2, 2011

In most cases, owners can prevent the ravages of laminitis (inflammation of the laminae between hoof wall and coffin bone) and founder (pulling away of wall from coffin bone due to a broken laminae). During my six years as a professional trimmer, I tried to educate owners about preventing this painful situation. Here is a review of what I shared with them every spring.

I live in Delaware where we have a spring that challenges most horses. Beginning in late March, early April, our sugary spring grass starts to grow. Our worst days are cool and sunny. This combination has the effect of creating a surge of sugar in the grass. When the sun goes down, the spring night temperatures are cool, keeping the sugar in the grass, not allowing it to return to the roots. That's a double whammy for the natural herd that is out 24/7. It isn't until July that we reliably dry out and warm up every day and night. When this happens the sugar returns to the roots. I learned about forage growth and pasture management from studying materials and attending clinics by Katy Watts, www.safergrass.org, an agricultural expert and owner of founder-prone horses. She offers wonderful lectures on her site as well.
 

Sunny & Doc

Sunny and Doc, “the bay thoroughbred twins” at Tory Hill Farm in Glen Mills, Pa. Up to their eyeballs in spring grass, these former athletics are not markedly affected.

When I had a trimming practice, I encouraged owners to mark April 1st to July 1st on their calendars and prepare for spring grass for their easy keepers.
  1. First and foremost, adjust the diet. Lower dietary sugar anyway you can. You will need to be especially aggressive if you have a horse prone to laminitis and founder, usually known as an “easy keeper”. Examples: draft horses, native horses and ponies and donkeys. Eliminate grain, molasses, most treats and, if necessary, add a muzzle or put the horse in a dirt pasture or on a dirt path system such as Paddock Paradise. Hay should have 10% or less sugar. Correctly soaking hay can reduce sugar by 30%; leave the sugar water on the bottom of the tub. Most horses do very well on forage diets.
  2. Maintain or increase exercise. I have a friend who ponys her mini off her warmblood mare! This year she is teaching the mini to drive.
  3. A distant third, the trim. Apply a steeper bevel to outer and inner wall in order to avoid any wall pressure on the laminae of a normally well trimmed horse. In other words, apply the “rehab” trim (more info below).
  4. Involve the veterinarian as needed.
In the spring, the grass is nourishing seeds in order to survive. Even if you have an over-grazed area, you can assume it's high in sugar if there is grass. Stressed grass is high in sugar. I use Equi Analytical Laboratories to test hay and pasture. The test costs $26. Then I know the exact sugar content as well as the amount and proportion of minerals in my horse's diet. I have learned to supplement my horse's meals by balancing the minerals in his diet. Dr. Eleanor Kellon, www.drkellon.com, will help you create a plan for your horse or you can take her basic course on-line and learn to balance the diet yourself. Dr. Kellon is an expert in this area, especially working with foundered horses and will help owners with medicinal supplements, as well. She is well educated in homeopathy and herbal treatments.

As for the trim, I put a steeper angle (55 degrees) on the walls and switch from a “maintenance” trim to a “rehabilitation” trim in April, on all horses, founder-prone or not. That means I apply the mustang roll to the outer and inner wall, right to the laminae. I return to the maintenance trim in July when the sugar reliably declines, just beveling the outer wall. By relieving any pressure on the laminae (aka white line) via the wall, I am able to minimize wall flare due to laminitis. I have noticed that in May, my OTTB, Sunny. becomes a bit ouchy on the gravel driveway so clearly he has lamintis. There are other telltale symptoms. He may lose a little bit of concavity, about a half inch from the laminae. If he experiences any wall flare, it is limited to about an inch from the ground. In our 6 years together, he has never gone lame. Another telltale sign is one or more horizontal rings on the outer wall, laminitic rings where the laminae detached, and reattached. When I ride out in rocky areas, I simply boot the front. Padded Epics, Gloves and Generation 2 Old Mac all do a nice job.

Example 1
Tessa is an 8 year old, warmblood mare. She has been barefoot her entire life and has had what I consider a good trim for the past 4 years. Her owner trims her every week or two. She is turned out with a babysitter, Frisco the mini, on 3 acres that wrap around the house. Their diet is mostly low sugar hay. The pair moves a lot, checking on their people. This year Tessa's owner reduced her grain from a couple quarts to a handful. This is the first spring Tessa has not needed boots for cross country rides. I have seen her walk over rocky paths with no problem, just as she does the rest of the year. Tessa maintained full concavity on the bottom of her feet. Her weight has gone down to a healthier level too: you can feel but not see her ribs. Before hand she looked like a “typical” chunky warmblood. She is ridden daily.
 
Tessa & Frisco

Tessa and Frisco, both easy keepers, look great this spring. More importantly, they feel great.

Example 2
Martha learned to trim her two Percheron crosses a few years ago. This is the first spring at her own farm and she can finally control their environment. The horses are on a pasture with no grass. They eat nothing with grain or molasses and have low sugar hay strewn about the pasture. They are ridden most days. Here is the note I received from Martha this past April, 2011:

In that we are trying to save the pasture and have them on only a third of it (with no grass, just hay), we are also doing the boys a huge favor...they have absolutely NO laminitic rings, NO sore feet, NO hardish neck on Squire, etc. wow, all those times you said to keep them OFF the grass in spring and fall and other high sugar times, this really proves that point. Tell all those sorts of non believers who think their laminitic prone horses who are eating little bits of "stressed" grass, aren't getting enough to matter, that they are DEAD wrong and can get in touch with me it they want proof!!!  Bravo Dawn!!!
 
Shawn & Squire

Percheron Crosses, Shawn and Squire, have happy, working feet this spring.

Example 3
Early in my career, I worked on a chronically foundered Friesan who lived on a pasture with short, sad-looking vegetation (I hesitate to call it grass), growing in sandy soil. I couldn't believe it could make any horse sick but I was wrong. The only solution for a sensitive horse like that is to get him off the grass and feed the correct amount, by weight, of low sugar hay (Dr. Kellon can help you with the amount of hay). Although his owner didn't agree, I still believe the horse had been chronically foundered for most of his life. This explained his reluctance to work under saddle at the trot or canter. When I saw him, it was the first time he had gone lame. But I am sure he didn't “suddenly” get sore; he simply couldn't hide it anymore. His body had the telltale fat pad pattern of a lamintic horse: convex, filled in area above the eyes, cresty neck and fat pads on his shoulders and on either side of the tail.
 
Fat pad distribution After

Common fat pad distribution on founder-prone horse, a pure Friesan, and several months later after his diet had been corrected.

It's easy to tell on most horses if the wall is well connected to the coffin bone. Just put your fingers on the hairline of the coronary band and run them down the wall. Begin on one side and work your way around the entire foot. If you feel a flare, the wall isn't connected. This has been the case with almost every horse I have worked on. By correcting the diet, exercise and trim, I routinely grew out well connected feet. The only exception is a horse who has been chronically foundered and the laminae became scarred. There is nothing for the wall to attach to. Typically the wall is well connected for about half the foot and then flares out, even after a year of good care. Some horses do flare right out of the hairline but as you apply the correct trim, you will see the well connected foot at the top of the hoof capsule.
 
Bugsy After

Right off the track, Bugsy, shows off his original shod foot and four months later, half of the great foot he grew in 4 months. His is an example of flaring right out of the hairline, all around. He remained sound throughout. Long toes and underrun heels may be common on racehorses but don't confuse that with the excellent feet we can grow on thoroughbreds!

On sensitive, easy-keepers, owners must go into over drive in the spring and any time the weather is sunny in the day and cool at night, with adequate rain to grow grass. For some horses, I suspect Cushings Disease if they present with founder in the fall. The vet can test for this disease; long body hair is a late stage symptom.

Charlie, a Holsteiner gelding, came to the farm where I boarded in 2010. He had not been at the farm long enough to have well trimmed feet and the owner didn't have any “spring grass” experience with him. She was told he “rotated” in the previous spring. In May 2010, he developed massive abscesses along the hairline and in late May the wall pulled away from the coffin bone, founder. In a typical founder stance, Charlie “sat back” on his haunches to relieve pressure on his front feet where the coffin bone was threatening to push through the sole. When we could pick up a foot, we put him in padded Old Mac's G2. I showed the owner how to “peel” away part of the outer wall on the ground with nippers. We took the toe back to where it should be, giving him some relief. It took 12 months for his owner-trimmer to grow out a good foot.
 
Charlie

Charlie has almost grown out one of the large abscess, the horizontal line near the bottom of the foot from last years bout with founder.

Going into the spring of 2011, the owner decided to see how Charlie tolerated the grass, now with good feet. He did not (it really is about the diet). Abscesses appeared in April. He was put on a sacrifice lot with a friend, full time, with access to two stalls. In mid May, after the abscesses popped, (no one touched him with a knife of course), the owner experiment with muzzled turnout because Charlie moves so much more when he is with the herd of eight retired racehorses. She finally settled on a routine of muzzled turnout by day and sacrifice lot and two open stalls with a friend at night.

Don't tell me you can't keep a muzzle on your horse! Figure it out. Add a leather halter over the muzzle. Vet tape the two together. Add a brow band to the halter. Braid the crown piece into the mane at the pole. Add halter fuzzies everywhere to avoid rubs. I recommend removing the muzzle twice a day to check for rubs. If the horse has “an accomplice”, put that horse in a muzzle too; if he doesn't need it, just make the hole bigger so he can eat grass but not pull off the muzzle.

There is a misconception that once the horse has “rotated”, he can't go sound. This is untrue. In the vastly over-simplified version, the wall disconnects from the coffin bone when the laminae breaks due to a sugar overdose. If anything “rotates”, it's the wall away from the horse. The coffin bone is right where it should be, under the horse. According to Dr. Tomas Teskey, many horses feel better within days of a dietary correction. On most horses you can grow out a good foot in 7-12 months depending on how bad the situation is. Dead lame horses may recover more slowly. Please check Pete Ramey's site, www.hoofrehab.com, for many useful articles written by this well known “founder junkie”. His DVD series, Under the Horse, is excellent. Within that series are a couple of DVDs focusing on laminitis and founder. Shoes and stalling are never a good idea in my view.

The ultimate test? I was able to keep two miniature donkeys healthy in a grassy, 35 acre Pennsylvania pasture by putting Best Friend muzzles on them in mid-March and leaving them on until the first freeze, in December. They never even developed fat pads on their necks, shoulders and rumps. I did take off their muzzles for a half hour at breakfast and dinner to check for rubs. They shared a half cup of “safe” food. They were not fed apples or carrots because the glycemic index, although low for humans, is too high for super easy-keepers like donkeys. This advice came from Dr. Eleanor Kellon, my favorite equine nutritionist.

Clearly it is possible for owners to manage diet and lifestyle for their founder prone horses. I hope this introductory article is just the beginning of your research into learning all you can about preventing laminitis and founder for your best friend.

Good Luck and Happy Trails!

Dawn

My Favorite Resources
  • Equi Analytical Laboratories http://www.equi-analytical.com. The sister laboratory, Dairy One, has additional educational information.
  • Dr. Eleanor Kellon's www.drkellon.com offers reasonably priced consults and great on-line courses. The first course to take is “National Research Foundation (NRC) Plus”. The NRC 2007 recommendations books is available on-line.
  • Pete Ramey's www.hoofrehab.com has articles, DVD's and current research.
  • Katy Watt's http://www.safergrass.org/ offers consults, articles and excellent Power Point lectures on CDs and clinic schedule.

Dawn Willoughby lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, Drew Knox, Annie the Rottweiler and Sunny, OTTB. During her professional trimming career (2004-2010) she focused on teaching owners to trim their horses. She will work with owners online who have no access to trimmers and will conduct owner-focused trimming clinics internationally. She now focuses on equine bodywork along with in-hand and mounted training as physical therapy for the horse. Dawn maintains an educational site, http://4sweetfeet.com/, where you can find free trimming videos and articles on all aspects of natural horse care. The videos and more are also on http://youtube.com/4sweetfeet.

Hoof Boots And Horse Shoes That Promote Hoof Mechanism

EasyCare has built our hoof protection line around the theory of hoof mechanism. Products that encourage mechanism while protecting the equine hoof.

Hoof mechanism definition from Wikipedia:

"The horse hoof is not at all a rigid structure. It is elastic and flexible. Just squeezing the heels by hand will demonstrate that. When loaded, the hoof physiologically changes its shape. In part, this is a result of solar concavity, which has a variable depth, in the region of 1–1.5 cm. In part, it is a result of the arched shape of the lateral lower profile of the walls and sole, so that when an unloaded hoof touches a firm ground surface, there is only contact at toe and heels (active contact). A loaded hoof has a much greater area of ground contact (passive contact), covering the lower wall edge, most of the sole, bars and frog. Active contact areas can be seen as slightly protruding spots in the walls and in the callused sole.

The shape changes in a loaded hoof are complex. The plantar arch flattens, the solar concavity decreases in depth and heels spread. The hoof diameter increases to a 'dilated' configuration and P3 drops marginally into the hoof capsule. There is some recent evidence that a depression takes place in this phase, with blood pooling ('diastolic phase') mainly into the wall corium. When unloaded, the hoof restores its 'contracted' configuration, the pressure rises and the blood is squeezed out ('systolic phase'). There is a secondary pumping action, with the flexion of the foot, as it is raised.

The hoof mechanism ensures an effective blood circulation into the hoof, and it aids general circulation, too."

EasyCare was the first in the industry to identify this market and manufacture products that both allow for and encourage hoof mechanism. The EasyCare hoof protection line continues to grow and covers most applications and disciplines.  

The EasyCare performance line features strap on and glue on protection built for speed. EasyCare products have won the 100 mile Tevis Cup the last 7 of 8 years.  

The EasyCare pleasure riding line is perfect for the trail and recreational rider. Lot's of choices to fit each horse and style of riding.

When you or your vet need a therapy boot we have you covered. Several options to get your partner comfortable and happy.

The EasyShoe line. The race track, endurance, trail, therapy, police and carriage horses. Horses wanting more of a traditional shoe that promotes hoof mechanism. Glue, nail or cast them in place. Regardless of discipline, EasyCare has your hoof protection covered while keeping hoof mechanism in mind.

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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 protection for the barefoot horse.