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.

 

 

Your Glue-On Shopping List

By EasyCare Product Specialist, Regan Roman

As an EasyCare Product Specialist, people ask me all the time what items they need to get started in the world of Glue-Ons. I decided to compile a list with everything you will need to get started, why you need them and a few helpful tips. Keep in mind that the best tool of all is a qualified Hoof Care Practitioner who is experienced in gluing. Although not necessary in every case, a glue-on expert is the best way to go.

First off, we always recommend ordering an Easycare Fit Kit before getting started. It will help you to determine the proper size EasyShoe for your horse. You'll receive three different sized shoes in the EasyShoe of your choice - one in the size you specify, one a size larger, and one a size smaller. And it works like a rental program! You can make sure the shoe fits before making a purchase!

 

When you're finally ready to order your pair of EasyShoes, here's a list of the additional items you'll want to include in your shopping cart:

Items Needed

*Note: Items without links are not sold by EasyCare.

 

Optional Items

  • Moisture meter
    For checking the moisture in the hoof. You want it to be at 0%.
  • Hoof Buffy
    The hoof buffy cleans up the hoof to prepare it for the gluing, just like exfoliating before shaving your legs.
  • Buffy sleeves 10 pack
    The buffy is made with a 60, 80 or 100 grit sand paper which should be replaced after every few uses.
  • Buffy Bladder
    This piece gives shape to the Buffy sleeve allowing the sand paper to scuff up the hoof wall.
  • Easyboot Zip
    The Zip is designed to keep your horse hoof clean before gluing or bandaging.
  • Spacer
    For applying the EasyShoe Performance.

For more information about glue-ons and gluing, watch our YouTube videos. And to find a Hoof Care Practitioner near you, check out our website Dealer Locator.

 


 

Glue-On Composite Shoes Help the Horse & Build Bridges

By Daisy Bicking of Daisy Haven Farm

In the past, I’ve written about the importance of finding common ground with each other. Whether you call yourself a farrier, barefoot trimmer, equine podiatrist or hoof care provider, it doesn't matter because we're all responsible for the same thing:

The care and soundness of the horse’s foot.

I’ve written about how we all have beliefs about what we do with the horse’s foot along the lines of religious conviction. (See blog "One Hoof Church, All Religions") We tend to think in terms of Good and Bad, Right and Wrong. However, I believe we are more than that. I believe that what we can learn from each other about helping a horse overcomes anything that could divide us.

I get to travel all over the world teaching and helping others be successful using glue-on composite shoes like the EasyShoe (Performance, NG, Sport, Compete, and new Flex) Easyboot Glue-On, Easyboot LC, and Easyboot Flip Flop. The diversity of practitioners attending these clinics amazes me: farrier, trimmer, podiatrist and hoof care provider.  The glue-on composite shoe clinics attract individuals from a variety of backgrounds and training styles who come together in one place to learn how to help the horse. There are very few places where such a strongly opinionated group of people can come learn together and dare I say, even learn from each other!

Glue-on composite shoes create a common ground that bridges the differences between us, and opens the door to opportunities to help each other help horses more effectively. They're a tool that accommodates not only differences in trim style, and differences in believe about shoe placement and fit, but they cross international differences of language and culture. Regardless of a person's background or location, glue-ons are a tool that anyone can successfully use to help the horse.

I recently traveled to Norway and was excited to see many diverse practitioners come together again.  We had participants who called themselves farriers, blacksmiths, and natural balance farriers.  We also had barefoot trimmers from multiple schools of training, and several veterinarians.   Everyone was open-minded to new ideas and respected each other.

We had fun, learned from each other, and helped a number of horses in the process. 

At this clinic in particular we talked a lot about the Four Stages of Learning.

Many of us operate in the first stage of learning, Unconscious Incompetence, meaning you don't know what you don't know.  When you realize you need to learn more, you get to the second stage of learning, Conscious Incompetence, which is a very uncomfortable place to be but often motivates you to obtain more education, like coming to a hoof clinic.  Then you learn more, and get to Stage 3, Conscious Competence, meaning you can use a new skill but with concentration and effort.  Then finally when you've practiced enough, and have proficiency at the task you get to the fourth stage of learning, Unconscious Competence, meaning you can do something competently without conscious thought.  

In order for such a diverse group of practitioners to get together, often the participants have to be willing to live in Stage 2, a place of Conscious Incompetence, in front of their peers, many from opposing philosophies.  It takes a great deal of mental and emotional toughness to put yourself in that place.  The group from Norway excelled at being open-minded and supported each other by sharing new ideas without judgment.  They each took away new information and skills to practice, which moved them to Stage 3, Conscious Competence.

I am amazingly proud to share a tool that can create common ground among diverse practitioners. There is so much to gain from coming together and learning from each other, I am grateful that glue-on composite shoes can create a platform for sharing as well as be a valuable tool to help the horse.  

 

For more information on Daisy Haven Farm and Glue-on Composite Shoe clinics please see:
www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com
 

 

The EasyShoe Flex is shipping now. What do you need to know?

The EasyShoe Flex horse shoe line is finally here! In the warehouse and shipping now.  

Curtis Burns and I have worked many hours on this shoe and are very happy with the final result. It has a long wearing, shock absorbing urethane tread with a flexible spring steel core. Both Curtis and I believe the EasyShoe Flex line will help many horses and fills a niche in the industry. Another arrow in the quiver. 

What's different about this urethane shoe? 

The biggest challenge with other urethane shoes is stability. Urethane shoes without an internal nail plate have a tendency to both "cup" and have nail clinches loosen with time. Adding a solid steel core solves the nail issue but does not allow hoof mechanism. We believe we have solved both of the urethane challenges by adding a spring steel core. The spring steel core promotes hoof mechanism and allows a solid anchor for nail clinching. In addition, the shape of the spring steel core solves the cupping and sole pressure problems that plague many other urethane shoe designs.  

A Nail-on urethane/steel hybrid that promotes hoof mechanism.

 

Watch the shoe flex under load. Hoof mechanism with each foot fall.  

What our EasyCare dealers and horse owners need to know:

1.  We have inventory in our warehouse of all styles and are shipping now. Dealers and consumers can place orders here.

2.  There are 4 styles. EasyShoe Flex Open Heel, EasyShoe Flex Heart Bar, EasyShoe Flex Full Heart Bar and EasyShoe Flex Light. The open heel, heart bar and full heart bar are available with toe clips or side clips.

3.  All sizes and styles are the same price except for the EasyShoe Flex Light. The Flex Light is a lower price point.  

Open nail slots and clear urethane provide accurate nail placement.

 

The four biggest take home messages for the farrier:

1.  The EasyShoe is very easy to apply. Any farrier can do it. The EasyShoe Flex line is not shaped with an anvil, the shoe is shaped by removing material with a belt sander or band saw. Watch Tim Cable apply the shoe in the video below.  

 

2.  Nails can be driven through the clear urethane window or holes can be pre-drilled. If the holes are pre-drilled, nailing is very accurate and no different that other nail on applications. The clear urethane material make the white line easy to see.  

3.  Wear is very great! Most people can expect a reset. The urethane is very hard wearing and the wide web makes for extended longevity.  

4.  It's easy to fit both front and back feet with the same pattern. Simply trace and remove material to match the shape of the hoof. The open nail slots provide plenty of adjustment after material is removed for accurate nail placement.

 

We hope your horses enjoy the new design. It's been a fun project that both Curtis and myself believe fills a niche in the equestrian industry.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

How Barefoot and Booting is Being Used in the Dressage Arena

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo of Wild Hearts Hoof Care

When Shannon Peters contacted me over 6 years ago about one of her Warmbloods in her dressage stables, she knew that a barefoot or booted approach could help. She introduced me to her 3-year-old Dutch Warmblood,with the amazing name of Disco Inferno. Disco had just been imported from Europe and Shannon was concerned that he was already displaying a toe first landing. After discussing his situation and watching him trot back and forth on hard ground, we noted that overall, he wasn’t using his heel properly.

We agreed to pull his shoes and try our best to get a better landing with Comfort Pads and Easyboot Glove boots. That first day we really only got a flatter landing, but our approach is always to strive for positive change and any improvement is improvement. As each step he took became more comfortable he began to load his foot correctly. It was a positive change for him and over time he developed a beautiful and confident stride.

Left photo taken immediately after shoe removal. Right photo demonstrates improvements after only 4 months.

For the first few years Shannon showed Disco barefoot while continuing to train him either barefoot or in Easyboot Gloves. For dressage fans, you may remember a photo of Disco in the February 2013 article in Dressage Today about Shannon taking her horses barefoot. She takes her horses on the trails weekly to keep their minds and bodies fresh and uses Gloves for protection from the hard ground of Del Mar, California. In the last year Shannon felt that Disco was ready to begin showing in the Concours de Dressage International (CDI), an international dressage event recognized by the world governing body of equestrian sports, the Federation Equestrian International (FEI). CDI events require that you present your horse in a veterinary soundness check, aka “the jog.”  The horse is trotted on hard ground on straight lines and hoof boots are not permitted.  They are also not permitted for any dressage competition.   

Disco was shown a couple of times in modified Easyboot Glue-Ons but, he seemed to really find his groove in the Easyboot Love Child. Disco has gorgeous frogs and his feet are a nice overall shape, but he has never grown much sole. Shannon and I were so excited to see the positive changes he made with a couple of cycles in the flexible Love Child showing that beautiful confidence in his landings and improved sole depth! 

In April, Shannon showed him in his first Intermediare I CDI at the prestigious Del Mar National Horse Show. They did beautifully, scoring in the upper 60’s.  Disco even showed off his Grand Prix skills, which unfortunately don’t earn any extra points. Shannon is looking forward to making their official Grand Prix debut this fall.

We are so excited to be a little part of the team for this dancing duo! 

Sharing EasyCare Products at a Local Clinic Helped Grow My Business Network

Submitted by Jon Smedley of Trim and Train

About six months ago, our local farrier supply store asked me to do a clinic for glue on shoes. In the past when the shop owner held Saturday clinics usually only five to seven people showed up. On that particular Saturday, we ended up having 57 attendees. 

In an effort to build on that success, Canoga Farrier Supply planned an Open House for vendors and product distributors to show off their products and perform demonstrations. They’re located in the North East Corner of Los Angeles County. It’s considered the local shop for farriers from LA Equestrian Center, Santa Anita Race Track, Endurance teams in the Valley and Malibu, Jumping and Dressage barns in LA and Ventura as well as many other farriers in the Southern California Area.

Of course, they wanted EasyCare there to demonstrate gluing techniques!

The morning of the Open House was a rare drizzly day in Southern California.

We set up and answered tons of questions on a couple of EasyCare’s newest products, including the Stratus, with its customizable urethane pad, and the EasyShoe Flex urethane shoe. Many of the folks that were interested were from other tables. They were there to show off their products but wanted to learn about the new EasyCare products!

I did a demonstration for gluing on the Easyboot Glue-On shell and the EasyShoe. This is always a lot of fun for me. I often say to myself when I’m done with the demo, “Wow, that was easy,” and then I look at the crowd and I see the same thought in their eyes, “Wow, that’s easy!” The attendance surpassed the initial clinic with over 75 hoof care professionals present.

Events at your local farrier supply store, tack store, or even veterinary clinic can be a great way to learn, share and build your network. 

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.