New Hoof Protection Products in the R&D Phase at EasyCare
Best Practice: What Glue Work Works?
2016 Didn't Suck!
Clouds in the Rain
Mark, Mustangs, EasyShoes and Winning
Take a Chance and Flippin Run With It
This is Merlin the mini. He came to me for some hoof rehab with severe laminitis. He currently lives on our track system with the big horses but has to wear a grazing muzzle to keep his weight down. As we all know the fastest way to recovery for these little guys is movement (among other things of course), however when you have sore feet you don't feel much like moving. Enter EasyCare Mini Hoof Boots! Merlin had never worn anything like them and as I had to order them from Oz I was a little worried they wouldn't be the perfect fit. Thankfully EasyCare Down Under made the whole thing easy and stress free. I really can't thank them enough. As soon as Merlin had them on it was like they were made fore him! He pranced up the road with the happiest look on his face. He just absolutely loves wearing them! He's now excited to go out and about knowing he will have comfy toes. Thanks EasyCare for making the Merlinators life that much more enjoyable.
Country: New Zealand
Equine Discipline: Other
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Mini
Yes, I truly believe that each Hoof Care Professional should attend the yearly International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio at least one time in their life. It is an event packed to the brim with lectures and seminars. Organized by the AFJ, this year attendance was in the thousands. Farriers from all over the world attended and it is a great opportunity to meet them and exchange experiences.
EasyCare Inc and Polyflex Horseshoes had partnered up and shared a booth side by side at the Summit. Great experience to work with Curtis Burns, in my opinion, the most experienced and best Hoof Care Professional in terms of gluing synthetic and polyurethane horse shoes.
EasyCare and Polyflex booth at the trade show.
The Bootmeister explaining the advantages of the EasyCare products to visitors from all over the world.
Curtis Burns demonstrated quarter crack repair in front of many trade show attendees.
Garrett Ford had some airline problems, so unfortunately he did not make it to the Trade Show. Some of the newest products developed by EasyCare, and meant to be showcased in Cincinnati, also fell victim to flight cancellations. Therefore the EasyCare Booth did not have all the new products at hand. Nevertheless, we had some of the newest and exciting EasyCare products on display and in cooperation with Curtis, I made it a go.
One of my all time favorite boots, the EasyBoot Flip-Flop, on display on the blacksmith buddy.
A joint production with Polyflex Horseshoes, the EasyShoe Flex is scheduled to get released onto the market in March. Watch this video here that explains the benefits of the Flex. The EasyShoe Flex will first be released in four sizes: 0, 1, 2 and 3. With a springsteel core, this shoe will flex just about like a hoof, like nature intended. The Flex is meant to be nailed on. Options are a dorsal clip or side clips. Another option is open heel or closed heel for frog support. Garrett Ford talked a little bit more about this in last weeks blog.
Not only was the Trade show a huge success with products on display from companies all over the world, the lecture series was filled with capable and iconic speakers like Mike Wildenstein, Simon Curtis, Dave Farley and my all time favorite: Brian Hampson. Brian has done extensive research on the Australian Brumbies and the Mongolian Takh horses like no other scientist in the world. His research has influenced the way we are looking and judging horse hooves in recent times.
In Brian's lectures, you can learn a lot about the wild horses of the world. For example, did you know that 46% of all wild horses with hooves that we often consider ideal suffer from laminitis?
Photo from Brian Hampson's lecture.
Looking at these hooves of wild mustangs in the image below, one might think of these being the ideal hooves everybody is striving to achieve.
What Brian Hampson found out in his numerous studies puts a damper on this illusion: these hooves might look appealing from the outside, yet inside these hooves have the highest percentage of pathologies. Specifically founder, laminitis, white line disease, navicular etc.
In the slide below, Brian is detailing the percentages of the pathologies found in his studies of the wild horse hooves in Australia:
Compare the wild horse hooves in the image above to this one below, taken from a horse in a wetter environment and representing hooves we see more commonly among our domesticated herds:
On first sight, we all would probably agree that this hoof is somewhat neglected and unhealthy.
Yet, when checking more closely with digital radiology, nuclear scintigraphy and ultrasound the inside of hooves looking like this, one is astonished to find out that these hooves were among the healthiest in Hampson's studies. So the first impression is not telling us the whole truth or might actually totally fool us. Take home message is that the external looks of a hoof will not allow us to draw conclusions and pass judgement on how "healthy" the actual hoof, its internal structures and the digit inside really are. Interesting, isn't it? It sure taught me a lesson. That is the kind of invaluable stuff you learn at the Summit.
The learning experience all around was just amazing and, quite frankly, there is no better way to learn about Hoof Care, the newest scientific findings, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones but by attending the "Summit". See you there next year!
From the desk of The Bootmeister
In the horse world there are “ways to do things”. Some of of these things we do because it is grounded in science and based on research and objective information. Other things we do, maybe even most things, we do because “that’s the way it’s always been done”. This even applies to glue-on shoes. If you ask 10 farriers how to prepare the foot and apply a glue-on shoe, you’ll get 20 different answers. Many of them claiming this is the “way to do things”. Not only are there different kinds of glue, but difference kinds of shoes, and many variations on application methods! So how do you know what to do to be successful? What is the "best practice" when it comes to your glue-on shoe application? There are several ways to set yourself up for success.
Start with following manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. If you pick a certain brand of shoe and they have recommendations for glue application, the best place to start is the foot preparation and glue method that they recommend. The manufacturer wants you to be successful so it’s a great place to learn best practices.
Many of you know I LOVE acrylic glue, EasyShoe Bond/Equilox, yet in applying shoes like the the Flip Flop and product testing the new “Love Child” I’m following manufacturer instructions and using urethane glue, Vettec Adhere, with the application.
Next idea for learning best practices with your glue work: contact a practitioner who uses the shoe/glue and intended application method you’re looking to utilize. Many farriers are glad to share the tips and tricks of their successful glue work with other practitioners who want to learn. Best is to do a ride along and watch them work if possible. But many will be glad to answer questions over the phone, via email, or on social media.
Another great way to learn is to attend a clinic. There are many learning opportunities out there for those who want to learn different glue and shoe methods. A clinic situation is often a stress free way to learn different glues and shoe applications and gain hands on practice with supervision from a trained professional.
Lastly, be meticulous in your own work. Write down the steps you’re using and keep your work space neat and clean. Practice your process in your mind and consider walking through the steps with each foot before applying the actual glue to the shoe…that’s GO time! Additionally, take photos of your work, and track objectively how the horse's foot responds to the application you're using.
Glue work is 99% preparation and only 1% actually doing it. The more thorough your preparations, the easier your applications will go, with less chance of failure. And that way, on the small chance you do have a failure at one point or another, you’ll be able to pin down why and resolve it very easily.
I was recently looking at the last seven years of statistics from the Tevis Cup 100 mile horse race. Although I'm a big believer in hoof protection products that give the hoof the ability to move as nature intended it's nice to see real numbers from the most difficult and demanding horse event in the world that support my beliefs. Results for the Tevis Cup show that EasyCare's products not only work but they outperform other types of hoof protection.
Here are some interesting numbers from the last seven years of the Tevis Cup.
1. 53.07% of starting riders finished the event, 61.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event, 50.36% of starting riders not using Easyboots finished the event. In 2011, 75.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event!
2. 6 of the last 7 Haggin Cup (Best Condition) winners used Easyboots.
3. 5 of the last 7 Tevis Cup (race winner) winners used Easyboots.
4. In 2016 the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers used Easyboots.
2016 Haggin Cup Winners. Lisa Ford and GE Cyclone.
I'm not a statistician but those numbers tell me that flexible, urethane hoof protection excels at the most demanding 100 mile horse race in the world. You are more likely to finish if your horse starts in Easyboots, you are more likely to win the Haggin Cup and you and more likely to win the Tevis Cup if your horse is fitted with Easyboots. Yes, there are many that still want to argue that hoof boots don't work, are a fad, are for tree huggers, etc. but just looking at numbers from the last seven years, it's a hard argument to win.
So what's next? We believe in our products, we believe we have a nice range that covers many types of disciplines and EasyCare can accommodate Mini horses up to some of the smaller draft breeds. Although we are happy with our line there is always room for new products that can help horses, are easier to apply or are more economical. Below is a short list of what we have in the works and some quick thoughts on each.
1. EasyShoe Flex. A flexible steel core over molded in urethane. Intended to be nailed on the hoof. Yes, many people do not like nails but at the same time complain of the costs associated with glue. We believe this shoe will be a healthier alternative to many of the nail-on products in the market. Open heel, full heel with frog support and different clip options. The open ended nailing slots are very unique and make the product much easier to apply. Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the EasyShoe Flex.
EasyShoe Flex Ground Surface.
2. Easyboot Slipper, Easyboot Love Child or BFM. A cross between the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and the EasyShoe Performance. It allows more movement in the heels than the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and is easier than the EasyShoe Performance to apply. In the future we plan to integrate a gaiter on this shell. Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the product. In 48 hours we received 200+ applications to help test the new design.
Easyboot Slipper/Love Child/BMF
3. Easyboot Sneaker. A new multidimensional boot for riding, turnout and therapy. The boot has a unique strap system that hugs the heel bulbs and prevents boot rotation when tightened. The sole is a rubber/urethane blend and is more flexible than a total urethane product. We will be looking for riders to help test this product in a new BETA release program. More information to follow.
4. The Old Mac's G2 is back. We have brought back the G2 for 2017. In addition we are testing a wide version that is wider than long.
Old Mac's G2 Wide in testing.
5. Easyboot Fly. Features a shell that accepts three different gaiter types. The design allows for adjustment in length, heel height and allows for heel pivot. It's testing well and we will be reaching out to include testers soon.
Easyboot Fly from the back.
We look forward to getting these products tested and to market. In the near future we will be reaching out to horse owners, vets and hoof care professionals that would like to be involved in BETA releases and product testing.
We are excited about these products and feel they work in conjunction with the "Smart Structure" of the hoof. What product do you believe will be the most helpful in the horse industry?
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.
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Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care
Someone recently asked me how to convince their clients to schedule their horse(s) on a shorter trim cycle. One of my clients had this horse's leg bone and I haven't been able to get the shape and function of the fetlock joint out of my head. Talk about no margin of error. There is no room for error. Trimming is meant to be done daily in nature. Horse's feet grow 1/16th of an inch every four to five days (3/8" - 1/2" per month). If they are naturally a little crooked due to conformation flaws (which every horse has to some degree) then the longer their walls get, and the more crooked the foot gets. Their feet are their foundation. If they are crooked the horse must compensate in their body. This is typically where leg, shoulder, neck, back, hip, hock, stifle, knee and jaw pain comes from. The horse is a living kinetic structure. Any imbalance in any joint affects every other joint.
I think the biggest thing that is overlooked in horse's hooves is how much the horse is affected by minute imbalances in the hoof. Here is an example: take a four foot builders level. Fix it vertically to the jamb of a door. Check it for plumb. The bubble should be centered between the lines at the center of the level. Slide a penny between the bottom of the level and the floor, on the jamb side of the level. You should notice the top of the level come away from the jamb about an inch and half.
A penny is about 1/16 of an inch thick. That's how much the hoof walls grow in about five days. If the leg of a horse isn't plumb then one side of the hoof gets longer than the other from lack of wear. The weight of the horse gets distributed more to the short side of the hoof. The longer this condition persists the more the short side of the hoof gets excessive wear and crushed, the more crushing, the less circulation, the less circulation the less growth, etc. Horses can compensate for years, silently, until their lameness becomes obvious. Most often this appears as a "mystery" lameness or gets diagnosed as a neurological issue, or even disease. The cure is the same as the prevention; keep the heels level, don't just eye ball it. Use a gauge. Remember that a 1/16 inch off at the ground equals an inch and a half at the shoulder. This is pretty significant to the horse when they are trying to keep 300 lbs (per leg) balanced four feet above a four inch diameter circle. Problems are compounded with the addition of a rider.
The cadaver leg in the photo below is crooked and shows uneven wear. The live foot is properly balanced.
Horses feet can't be left to go to hell for several weeks and then brought back for a few days. They're designed to be perfectly balanced, always.
People still don't want to admit that this is supposed to be done daily by nature. Domesticated horses rely on humans for this and the real problem is that too many people set trim schedules according to their pocket book instead of the rate of growth, or empathy for the horse.
Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo, Wild Hearts Hoof Care
I was recently asked by EasyCare to write up a few words about our trimming theory and approach. This always ends up being quite difficult to be succinct with, as there are so many ways depending on the horse. But, at our foundation we believe that the hoof is a highly adaptable “smart structure” as said by Dr. Taylor of Auburn University. The hoof is capable of positive change given the opportunity with supportive trims, diet and lifestyle. We have seen it over and over and over again in our hoof care practice.
This left front hoof made the visual changes above, as well as an internal coffin bone angle change from negative to positive angles (-2.45 degrees to positive 3.25 degrees) in 6 months.
We have found that if you help the hoof a little bit with your trim, by setting it up to grow better between cycles, making sure the horse is comfortable to move properly with minimal or no compensative movement, and then get out of their way, they can develop a pretty awesome hoof. It may not be the picture in some people’s mind of The Perfect Hoof, but it can be a pretty awesome, functional, sound and improving hoof for that horse.
This right hind hoof made a positive change (literally) to the angle of his coffin bone, which we can see by observing the angle of the hoof wall and the hairline. In the October image, the hairline is much steeper, the heel is lower and forward and the dorsal wall is bulging in a bull nosed shape. By January, his hairline is more shallow and relaxed down, the heel is in a more supportive position under the bulbs and his dorsal wall is straight. (Please note that this was not straightened with the hoof buffer, which we used to only very lightly scuff the walls.)
The yellow and green line overlays were copied and pasted unchanged from each of the images to show the shape changes that took place over 11 weeks.
The owner may have to make some changes for the horse’s sake, and in fact, it is pretty much guaranteed.Often this involves things like changing the footing in the horse’s pen to be cleaner or more dry, perhaps treating for thrush, changing from sweet feeds to a lower carb vitamin/mineral supplement and almost always learning how and when to use hoof boots.
It also often involves educating owners as to what a healthy hoof looks like. When an owner learns to recognize signs of hoof distortion they can, for the rest of their horse owning life, step in and know when to make necessary changes before things get too out of whack.
You could say that the frog’s change in width, in this right hind hoof, over 11 weeks was simply due to a style change of trimming less from the sides, but how to explain the change in the heel bulb shape? This cannot be cut to shape, the horse makes this change.
We tell our clients that it takes around eight months to one year to grow a whole new hoof. Some horses need to grow two or more hoof cycles to really develop into more like what we like to see, but I think it is important to be aware that the horse, and his feet, are always in motion. They are always growing, and they can be growing for the better every moment. Sometimes we are gifted with quick visual changes, the heels open up, or maybe the wall quality improves right away. But even if we don’t see huge changes externally, we can know that the horse is moving better, perhaps a longer stride, more confident loading their heels. This tells us that internally, things are improving, realigning, developing and strengthening.
Finally, we feel strongly that you need to look holistically at the situation. The horse’s feet may be better aligned with some modifications to their trim, and that is wonderful, but that’s not all. That change then impacts the way he stands and moves, which impacts the angles of his joints and the way he uses his soft tissues. It is a whole horse change.
Left front, 11 weeks between images.
What does your horse have going on that could be improved upon? Could he benefit from a change? How much more could you see from your beloved partner in terms of comfort and performance?
Sossity and Mario of Wild Hearts Hoof Care.