Uninterrupted Conversation

I am fortunate enough to have a great group of friends to ride with, particularly Jenni Smith. We haven’t been out much together this year since Tevis, and I've missed our weekly rides. We have great conversations and I always learn something new. Riding together creates a great opportunity to exchange information.

Jenni and me arriving at the Foresthill vet check in 2013. We went on to get 2nd & 3rd place together at Tevis that year in Easyboot Glue-Ons

During a recent ride, Jenni and I launched into one of our conversations about horse care. I said to her that I thought by virtue of my horses being barefoot that I take better care of them overall.  When my horses were shod, I would meet with my farrier once every five or six weeks and we would talk about how a horse has been moving since his last visit, we would look at wear marks on the steel shoes and sometimes he would watch them trot out if I commented on something out of the ordinary. Then he would replace the shoes and say “See you in six.” In between his visits, I would clean out the hooves but that was about it. Looking back on those days, I want to pop myself in the head. It was practically neglect.

Now I am fussing over their feet just about every day. I’m rasping them regularly, keeping an eagle eye on how they are wearing and taking close notes on any irregularities. And it’s not just their feet: my attention has moved up the legs to the whole body. I am paying more attention to how my horses are moving and feeling overall. And I attribute this to them being barefoot. Jenni nods in agreement. Shoes limit the amount of feedback you get from your horse, she said. You really can’t see significant wear patterns on the shoes, and you don’t get feedback from the hoof itself. It’s like the shoes interrupt the conversation with your horse. "Brilliant!" I exclaim.

Jenni trotting out Stoner at Robinson Flat, Tevis 2014.<

Another thing I’ve noticed is that my Easyboots fit a lot better than they used to. When I first started using them, I sometimes had a hard time keeping them on. I think it’s because my horse’s feet were shaped like the steel shoes they were wearing. Over time, they returned to their natural shape and so the boots fit better and now they stay on.

Also, how the horse moves determines how well the boots stay in place. Our new horse, DeLaCruz, wears 1.5 Easyboot Gloves on all four feet. He travels straight as an arrow and has never lost a boot. Tyler, on the other hand, travels with a slight rotation to his front feet. As a result, his boots can rotate about 10 to 15 degrees inward and then stop. When this happens, I will re-center them during a ride and they will go back to being offset rather quickly. Jenni suggested wrapping Mueller tape around the center of the hoof where it dishes in slightly. I’m going to try that.

Tyler also tries to sprint up steep hills, which results in him peeling out of his hind boots, what I like to call “burning rubber.”  The proper way to avoid losing a boot going uphill is to start out slowly and gradually build up speed. I also quit fixing everyone else’s boots. Now the rule is, if you peel out up a hill and lose a boot, then you have to fix it yourself. My husband isn’t particularly fond of that rule, but it does get him to slow down.

Jenni and Stoner crossing the finish line at Tevis this year in fifth place.

As we trotted down the trail in unison, we agreed that having barefoot horses has definitely led to overall better care for them. 

"The Way I Do It" by Tennessee Lane

Submitted by Tennessee Lane, Team Easyboot 2014 Member

Thank you, EasyCare for protecting Shazam's feet all the way to a 2nd Place Finish at Tevis this year. Over the past month I have received more than the normal few inquiries from people wanting to know how I train, how I feed, and of course, what my hoof care regimen is. The truth is that not much has changed around my barn, I still stick to the basics. The best advice I can give is: race like you train, train like you race. With that lead-in, you might expect I'm about to write a book, but alas, I haven't the time.  

I will, however, tell you about my hoof care regimen here at Remuda Run. There is no quick way for me to answer when someone asks what I do for hoof care on a daily basis. My daily routine has a ton of variability, from roundpen work to Tevis, and more than everywhere in between. There are also multiple aspects to consider: I'll break it down a few ways so you can decide how to make a choice in hoof protection on a daily basis. These are not rules to live by, just how I tend to do things.  

There are over 30 horses under my care here at Remuda Run, all of them are barefoot. About ten of them are in the stallion/broodmare/baby category, about ten are youngsters somewhere between groundwork and saddle-breaking to preparing for their first LD's, and about ten of them are currently competing in 50+ mile rides. Of that top ten, there are 4-5 that I could choose from on any given day to smoke a 50 or 100 miler.

Let's consider these populations of horses A, B and C as listed. The horses in group A are pasture horses, growing babies, nursing mothers, and aging stallions. None of them are being worked, but they cover some ground in their 35-acre pasture grazing. Group B is 2 year olds up to 5 year olds, living a leisurely pasture life as well but they come up for feed twice a day, remain in a dry lot overnight, and they should get worked once or twice a week. That work can vary from very light to very strenuous, depending on how much of a fight they want to put up that day, and how far along they are in their training. Group C is 5 to 12 year olds who have been around the block, they do hard training rides at a fast pace, flats or mountain trails, and they get put on the walker 2-3 times a week barefoot on top of that, usually about 4 hours of work at a time. They spend their days cruising a 25 acre grass pasture and their nights in their own runs, they get their custom beet pulp slurry am and pm, and they expect everything on time.

Group A gets a pasture trim every 6 weeks. This trim leaves enough hoof to protect itself, a fair amount of hoofwall (at least a couple of nickels) will precede the sole and frog when touching down. I want to leave enough hoof to give them grip and natural protection but I don't want it long enough where they are breaking their own quarters out (although it sometimes happens - they survive.) Group B gets trimmed at least every 4 weeks and touch-ups if they're going to wear boots. This trim is tighter than a pasture trim, so they can fit into a boot without flares getting in the way. They can be ridden barefoot in most terrain if necessary without being painful. They can even handle a rocky trail ride barefoot with no problems at a walk but it would be painful at a trot. Group C gets trimmed every time they get ridden, which is at least weekly. These horses' hooves are kept tight, a very close shave, the toes are brought all the way back to the white line for speedy and efficient break-over. The hoofwall and sole make a seamless, concave connection. These hooves will slide very snugly into Gloves and Glue-Ons a half-size smaller than the same hoof with a less tight trim. I trim and boot these horses every time I ride them.

Now let's consider other factors. There are generally three types of rides I do: Booze Cruises: almost all walking but usually on technical mountain trails with lots of rocks; Training Rides, mostly trotting at faster pace with some stretches of cantering, and time is made for the technical spots like muddy creek crossings or technical rock ledges; and Bombers, mostly cantering, covering the ground as quickly as possible, including keeping a good pace through the technical bits. These three types of rides should have you considering three variables: speed/gait, distance, and terrain/footing, and all of these should be considered when choosing hoof protection.

For a Booze Cruise on a healthy barefoot horse that has been kept the way I keep them, I take them out barefoot or I will use Easyboot Trails, depending on the footing, either just on the fronts or all the way around. The Easyboot Trails fit the hooves whether they were just trimmed or even if they are 4 weeks out. For a training ride, I use Easyboot Gloves on the fronts or all the way around. I will likely touch up the trim for the Gloves to fit correctly and function properly. For a bomber ride, I will trim my horses hooves tight, and tape the hooves with athletic tape and put the tightest fitting Easyboot Gloves on all-around, or I will glue something on.

For endurance riding and racing, again, it depends on the terrain. There are a lot of things to consider: is it rocky, is it muddy? Are there a lot of bogs or creek crossings? I use Easyboot Gloves for most of my racing, over a fresh clean trim, sometimes with tape on the hoof wall, sometimes with Sikaflex in the sole. For multi days or anything over 50 miles I will "Goober Boot" (which I still do very frequently, in fact, my boots were "ghetto style" at the NAETC,) or I will Glue-On, and any of the Easy Shoes or Glue-Ons that EasyCare offers will work, but if it's super rocky then I will definitely choose a model that will protect the entire hoof/sole/frog. The Glue-On is my favorite, but I've been having a lot of fun in the EasyShoe Sport lately too. When I glue, I follow the protocol that EasyCare recommends, and I use Adhere on the walls and Sikaflex in the sole.

All this said, it's not very complicated for me to decide how to trim a hoof or what hoof boot to use but there are a lot of factors that I consider before making the decision. What is the horse's lifestyle? What level of work is it doing? What speed will it be maintaining? What kind of terrain will it be covering? What distance? Will I touch up the trim before booting?

Scenario 1: my friend wants me to teach her how to ride. I will take two older horses to the mountain trails for an easy pleasure ride. Hoofcare? Pull the horses our of the pasture and throw Easyboot Trails on them, then have a blast.

Scenario 2: I want to go to Moab to do two 50 milers on the same horse. Moab has lots of deep sand and rock. Hoofcare? Trim them tight and tape on Gloves or Glue-Ons.

Scenario 3: my friend asks if he can take one of my horses on an elk hunt. Hoofcare? Hmmmm, he will likely walk the entire time, plus he's not that knowledgeable about booting so I want booting to be easy for him, I'll send him along with a full set of Easyboot Trails.

Scenario 4: I want to go do an LD at Barefoot in New Mexico. Hoofcare: Afraid to go barefoot? Wear Gloves.

Scenario 5:  North American Championships / FEI 3* 100 mile race. Hoofcare? It doesn't matter what the terrain is, the point is you'll be galloping everything regardless. Glue-Ons.

Scenario: Tevis. Hoofcare? Are you kidding? The obvious choice is Easyboot Glue-Ons. There is no alternative.

There are a million scenarios and a lot of factors to consider. Here's the trick: make sure you consider all the factors. If you do, the choices are easy. Easyboot.

EasyShoe Clinics: Travel Time Again

Like always this time of year, when the leaves are turning and the ride season winds down in the Mountain Region, Europe is calling. 

I shall again travel to Europe in the middle of the month to conduct several hoof care clinics, demonstrating hoof trimming techniques and showing folks the most proficient way to apply various models of Easyboots and EasyShoes. We will glue, nail, tape, adjust, fit all the different shoes and boots of EasyCare  product list. Specifically, I will travel to Germany, who won this years Soccer World Championship in Brazil and Switzerland. 

What is this sole thickening in front of the tip of the frog? Leave it or remove it? Why is it there in the first place? We will discuss this and much more during these clinics.

Nailing the EasyShoe Performance N/G is part of all the clinics now. There is a strong desire out there to learn nailing these shoes.

Do not get me wrong, I will promote and demonstrate EasyCare products, but I'm also very open to all kind of hoof protection on the market. After all, we are always after the most suitable products under any given circumstances and needs for our horses. During these clinics, I have used and applied all kind of hoof protection of all kind of companies. After all, if you do not try them all, how will you know who is the best and which product will fit a particular horse the best?

Explaining to the audience before demonstrations begin.

Participants always get ample opportunities to trim hooves and apply various hoof protection products themselves. That is indeed the preferred way to learn.

In the middle of October, I will hold the first seminar close to Muenchen, or Munich, how many Anglos like to spell the name of this jewel of the Bavarian Capital. The seminar is organized by Bianca Schiffer, a NHC Trimmer in Bavaria. If interested, you may visit her website at: http://www.keep-it-natural.org/ 

The weekend after I will travel to Zurich, Switzerland. There, Franziska Bauman is the onsite organizer of the second Seminar, where we will focus mainly on application of the various EasyShoes. You may still be able to join in on that one, there might be a couple of spots available. Contact Franziska Bauman via Facebook or by clicking on her name. Rounding out the program at the end is a private follow-up clinic close to Munich on the first weekend in November.

Any of my European blog followers, if you are interested in these learning opportunities, you may email me privately or message me on Facebook. You could possibly still attend.

At the end of November, the F-Balance clinic will be taking place at Global Endurance Training Center in Moab, Utah. I had written a blog about this upcoming F-Balance Clinic in my August blog. You can read up on this by clicking on the highlighted link. This Clinic will happen on November 28th - 30th at GETC in Moab, Utah. The investment fee of $1,500 includes 4 nights of lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as F-Balance Certification. Class description available at F-Balance website. It is very worthwhile to also visit F-Balance website to learn more about this trimming method, developed and taught by Daniel Anz.

This clinic will expand your horizons tremendously. Daniel has taught his trimming methods all over Europe and South America. He is a real authority and icon in his native Argentina. The Clinic is hosted by Global Endurance Center in Moab, Utah. We are all looking forward having Daniel here in North America for the very first time to teach us about his research and findings.

Please sign up as soon as possible, we have to limit the participants numbers to 10. You may also email me privately at christophschork@gmail.com or through a Facebook message.

Hope to see many of you at these events.

From the Bootmeister, Christoph Schork

www.globalendurance.com

Tools To Avoid Peripheral Loading and Extend Horse Longevity In Hoof Boots and EasyShoes

EasyCare is now selling Vettec Equipak Soft and Glue-U Shufill.  Why are these products important for the equine hoof and your equine partner's longevity?

Imagine walking or running in a shoe where only your toes and heels made contact with the insole of your shoe.  Your arch didn't touch, your arch wasn't given any support, and with every footfall only your toes and heel supported your weight. How long would you be comfortable without giving your arch and the main structure of your foot the ability to share the load?  Now visualize the similarities of a horse in steel shoes on hard ground. 

Every time I take my horses from a soft pasture I remove a dirt/grass plug from each hoof.  This plug helps load the entire hoof and help load the hoof like the arch support in most human shoes. 


Nature's hoof packing.  Does this happen by chance? 

One of my best conditioning rides in Durango is a dirt road that gets hard packed during many times during the year.  Although hoof boots offer protection from the rocks and concussion the addition of a soft packing helps load the entire hoof,  I personally notice a big difference in my horses when a packing is used.  The horses move better, they are more forward and they seem to finish with more bounce in their step.  The following day legs are tight and without heat.

We are seeing great results from both the Vettec Equipak Soft and the Glue-U Shufill pour in materials.  Both products set up quickly and can be used in both hoof boots and under EasyShoes.  One of the unique things about the Glue-U Shufill products is the ability to choose different densities.  The Glue-U also gives you the ability to use different densities in different parts of the hoof.

Ernest Woodward applied this EasyShoe using Shufill 10 density and Shufill 20 density in the heel. 

A horse with decent concavity is peripherally loaded in hoof boots.  A quick and easy way to give the hoof the opportunity to support the load as nature intended is adding a pour in after the boot is applied to the hoof.  Drill two holes in the bottom of the hoof boot before applying the boot.

Applying Vettec Equipak soft before a hard conditioning ride.

Flexible pour-in pads make an exact mold of the hoof's concavity: a great way to help the sole share the load.

Glue-U Shufill 40 hardness used to support the hoof in another EasyShoe application. 

Give a pour in packing a try for your equine partner.  Let us know if your horse improved at his respective discipline. Find these products and more on the Accessories page of the EasyCare website. We currently have them included under the Glue-On boots and EasyShoes section.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

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

Testing Hoof Wear in the North Cascades

Submitted by Ruthie Thompson-Klein​, Equine Balance Hoof Care 

After conditioning rides around our Washington San Juan Islands’ gentle road and forest trails, three of my clients and adventure-mates and I set out for some serious riding in the North Cascades. It was our “last blast of
summer,” and a great test for a variety of EasyCare hoof wear. The four of us spent several days riding steep and rugged wilderness trails as well as easy riverside meanders in the Methow Valley of Washington State.

Here’s our multi-breed lineup: Monique’s Chincoteague gelding sported a pair of EasyShoe Performances on front feet, bare behind. At home he is ridden bare or with front Gloves; on mountain rocks he needed protection. Since Monique would be riding intensely for a month, we decided  EasyShoes were the best application. Jet is a solid black horse with solid black feet, that made my Easyshoe Performance glue work look pretty decent. The shoes were applied with Adhere, five days before our trip, and ride-tested.

Jet's EasyShoes- before

Jet and Monique

Jan’s Arabian gelding, Farli, sported Easyboot Glove Back Country boots on front, bare behind the first day. When this endurance horse among us began lagging, short-striding and avoiding center trail, I suggested booting behind. I swapped boots, with a pair of firm-padded Glove Back Country behind and Power-Strapped Easyboot Gloves in front. Farli became his sound and comfortable self on the trail the rest of the trip. No vet call necessary. 

Jan and Farli

Alice’s Dutch Warmblood mare (a very large and intrepid trail horse!) trekked in Easyboot Gloves all around; size 4.5 Wide in front and size 4 Wide behind, no accessories necessary. An attentive owner/trimmer, Alice spent considerable time making sure Amira’s Easyboot Gloves fit her trim perfectly. My very-green Appaloosa gelding worked in our usual Power-Strapped Gloves in front and I added Easyboot Glove Back Country boots behind.

Our first few days were low elevation trails with water and rocky river crossings, bridges and forest paths. We then trailered to elevation where the terrain got much more technical. Headed to Cutthroat Peak, we traversed a landslide, encountered sharp rocks, a steep, rocky water crossing scramble, and boggy lakeshore when we reached Cutthroat Lake to rest and water the horses at about 5,000 feet. This is where we decided we’d rather hang out and experience the scenery than forge further up the trail.

Amira and Alice

Dancer, my Appy trail partner

The most demanding boot test may have been when I had to dismount to send my gelding ahead of me across a steep water crossing and up a rocky bank. It was too dangerous to ride at his level, and I was worried I might have to pick up boots in his thrashing, dashing wake, but Monique snagged him—still booted—on the other side. At the high elevation lake we took a break to assess our nerves, enjoy the scenery, have lunch and check our hoof protection. All boots and Easyshoes in place.

Steep water crossing

Jet's EasyShoes after miles and mud

Happy with our big adventure, we spent the rest of our time on more casual rides to give the horses a break. With so many details involved in this sort of trip, a large part of our success was carefree hoof protection, and we put it to the test to my satisfaction. This type of multi-day group ride used to require multiple shoe and tool preparation headaches, now those days are over. Thank you, EasyCare!

We Couldn't Have Done it Without Easycare

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2014 Member

My red headed beast, Z Summer Thunder, cruised through the Old Selam 50 to finish up his AERC 4000 miles. While Thunder hasn't worn Easyboot Gloves the entire 4000 miles, I have used them on him since 2010. In that time he has completed 3200+ miles in either Gloves or Glue on Boots

Thunder's first set of boots required that I learn more about balancing the hoof and getting a good fit. I refined my trimming techniques, rounding the hoof up, setting the toe back and really making the boots work on his hooves. I know that a good fit is a must to booting success. Booting success really requires a person to make a commitment to the horse, the hooves and the boots to make it right. But some people question why I went to boots in the first place.

Steve Bradley took this of Thunder and I at City of Rocks 2014

Thunder has a crooked foot, the left front turns out and requires constant trimming to maintain the balance. Plus, he forges if allowed to go any length of time between trims and shoes. Therefore shoeing wasn't the best for him as we'd have to show him every 4 weeks to maintain the hooves, that created a lot of nail holes. I've trimmed horses for years and Al shod all our horses back in the day, I know how numerous nail holes can break down hoof wall integrity. It was always our practice to allow horses to go barefoot in between rides and all winter long. So transitioning to barefoot wasn't a big stretch for my horses. 

I knew after our first ride in the Gloves that these were going to work. He moved well and was much happier. We put on the Gloves and never looked back, racking up 865 miles in 2010 doing two 100's and a multi-day. The Easyboots offer excellent rock protection and I was sure that I couldn't have done the Fandango 100 or 5 days at Canyonlands without boots! Plus I believe they help absorb concussion and protect my horse's legs and joints from harm. 

And Thunder just keeps going, so far this year we have 620 miles. We also got our dream trip this year through the Oregon Cascades and westward to the Oregon Coast. Ten wonderful days of riding and camping! Our Easyboots have certainly taken us many places and if they could talk they'd tell of many adventures!

Thank you Easycare for a great product. I'm fairly sure that Thunder wouldn't have reached 4000 miles in steel shoes. 

Team Easyboot Tackles the Wild Timber CTR

Submitted by TeamEasyboot member Stacey Maloney

The WildTimber CTR is an annual event held in the foothills of Alberta's Rocky Mountains in Western Canada. The terrain is challenging and technical with lots of hills, root and rock double track, footing changes from grass to gravel and everything in between. I had prepared by conditioning my horses three to four times a week over similar terrain and lots on the gravel roads close to home as well. I had entered two of my horses: Marina to ride the Novice division on the Saturday and KC to ride the intermediate division on the Sunday.

As mentioned in a previous post, all my conditioning miles are done in our Easyboot Epics. They have been my go-to boot for years and these boots have seen many many miles.

Before the ride I was super excited to finally be able to try out the new EasyShoe Performance. I enlisted the help of our local expert barefoot/glue guru and hauled Marina up to his place one week prior to the ride. Using the EasyShoe Bond glue, we applied the EasyShoe Performance with relative ease and we were sent on our way. I was excited to watch and learn how this is done and left feeling confident I could apply them on my own next time around. Video instruction for application can be found on the website by clicking on easycareinc.com/Our_shoes/easyshoe_performance/easyshoe_performance_fitting.aspx

Ride day with Marina in her Easyshoes went off without a hitch. The shoes gripped, flexed, provided excellent protection over the varied terrain and helped us achieve an excellent score of 296/300 and place second in our division.

Post ride, Marina's EasyShoes looked great and it was obvious they had many many more miles in them. The EasyShoes are a product I am excited about and I'm already planning my ride season for next year with them incorporated.

Sunday was day two of the WildTimber CTR and I saddled up KC and put on his trusty Easyboot Epics of his. The Intermediate class is paced faster than the Novice but KC had no issues keeping up as he roared up the gravel, over the hills and down the old logging roads. 

The Epics performed the same as they always do for us - flawlessly. They stayed put and provided traction and protection. KC moves great in his Epics and we had lots of compliments and questions about them. The gal in front of me kept looking behind all day to see if I was still there because we were so silent she said, no traditional shoes banging on the rocks. We indeed were always right there, keeping time with the best of them and finishing with a score equal to the day before even though the pace was faster. We earned 3rd place in our division! 

It is safe to say this Team Easyboot member had an awesome weekend.

Summer Success in Endurance Events and Questions to Ponder

A successful summer so far?

2014 Vermont 100 Endurance Ride.  Meg Sleeper and Syrocco Cadence win the Vermont 100 using the EasyShoe Performance.  "The best part about them was on the road. We had several fairly long stretches of black top road and she didn't shorten her stride at all. In fact, I generally always pulled her back to a trot when we were approaching roads (just to be safe), but after a couple strides she almost always went right back into her relaxed canter, whether I asked for it or not. I think she just felt that confident in them." 

Dave Augustine applied the EasyShoes a couple days before the event.  Do you believe horses should train in what they compete in?  Do you think horses need time to adapt to urethane forms of hoof protection?

Meg and Cadence early in the race.

2014 Tevis Cup 100 Mile Endurance Race.  First Place, Second Place, Best Condition (The Haggin Cup) and 10 of the top 15 horses in Easyboots.  The Tevis Cup is the most difficult 100 miles in the world and Easyboots continue to excel.  A couple interesting facts to note.  Both the first place and Haggin Cup horses were in steel shoes days before the event.  Steel shoes were pulled and both horses completed the difficult 100 miles in Easyboots.  Many people would argue that a horse's travel different in boots?  I have my own thoughts, what do you think?  Do you think the horses would have performed the same without Easyboots?  What would cause you to pull iron shoes and switch to Easyboots days before the biggest endurance event in the world?

Barrak Blakely and MCM Last Dance showing for the Haggin Cup.

2014 World Equestrian Games.  Three of the six horses representing the USA at the WEG will be in EasyCare hoof protection products.  Two in the Easyboot Glue-On and one in the EasyShoe. Jeremy Reynolds, Heather Reynolds and Jeremy Olson have spent hundreds of hours conditioning horses for the event and will race in flexible forms of hoof protection.  Do you think you can train harder in urethane forms of hoof protection?  Do the hours spent barefoot contribute? 

Heather and Jeremy Reynolds are two of the three USA riders using EasyCare hoof protection at the World Equestrian Games endurance event. 

The Vermont 100, the Tevis Cup and the World Equestrian Games are three of the most prestigious events on the USA endurance calendar for 2014.  Urethane forms of hoof protection are not only performing well but winning at these venues.  There are still many critics arguing against hoof boots and urethane shoes but most would say they are here to stay and will continue to grow in popularity?  What are you thoughts?

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

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

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect: Gluing on Stuff

While there are some things in life that can be done spur of the moment, gluing stuff on our horses feet is not one of them. One of my favorite quotes is from Olympic eventer Denny Emerson, who states; "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." If you're looking for success, this is a worthwhile sentiment to live by. There are few things that make less sense to me than attempting to glue on boots or shoes in less than ideal circumstances, with less than ideal tools, products or procedures. EasyCare has developed protocols for a reason- they work I will never understand why people don't use them. 

Majik in his Easyboot Glue-Ons in front and Easyboot Gloves behind at the 2014 Seneca Stampede 50. Steve Bradley Photography. 

Recently, with the advent and availability of the awesome EasyShoe, I've seen applications that literally make me cringe. While the instruction videos are pretty dang straightforward, it seems that people are quick to come up with their own protocol, often skipping important steps and then vocally proclaiming the failure of the product. While I've seen the same shortcomings in gluing the Easyboot Glue-On, the EasyShoe is a bit less forgiving to less-than-ideal applications. Because there are awesome instructional videos outlining the application of both the Easyboot Glue-On and EasyShoe, there is no reason to come up with a DIY. Throughout the last several years of gluing on boots, and now gluing on shoes, I've utilized these to tailor the process to work for me, my horses and my place. 

Step One: Glue Station- A set of DIY cross-ties and a stall mat close to an outlet for my heat gun works for me! Clean, quiet, flat and accessible are things you should consider when making your "glue station." I like to hang a hay net and keep another horse close by. Having a comfortable area for your horse is one of the most important aspects of successful gluing. A wiggly, herd-bound pony is going to squirm and twist before the glue is set. Try to mitigate this for successful gluing. 

Greta Grenade patiently standing in our "glue stall" after her second set of EasyShoes.

Step Two: Trim n' Prep- A proper trim is imperative for not only glue-on success but plain old booting success as well. Knowing your horse and when he should be trimmed before an important event is key. I've found that my new pasture situation has changed things as far as how soon before an event I can trim and how aggressively I can do so. But key for any successful glue is preparation. You must prep the hoof wall. You must scrape off the weird skin stuff at the heels and you must utilize your wire brush (seriously, peeps, they are like $4) and your heat gun. For my EasyShoes, I use the heat gun three or four times throughout my prep process as I don't use a torch. I have no doubt the torch is a better tool but I have had great luck using my heat gun. Your mileage may vary. 

Greta's feet after prep and before gluing. Note the very roughed up hoof wall. A new rasp makes a world of difference in this step of preparation. 

Majik's hooves awaiting boots.

Step Three: All the Things- Have your stuff out, peeps. Before you even bring your horse up, gather everything you might need. I keep all my gluing supplies in a box which includes a box of gloves, a new rasp, wire brush, glue tips, glue gun, screwdrivers, nippers, etc. There is nothing worse than getting ready to put a boot on your horse and realizing you've forgotten something imperative. Double checking this this step will pay twofold. Don't skip it!

Step Four: Patience- This is not the time to realize you should have been in the shower 15 minutes ago to get ready for your dinner date. While I find the actual gluing goes quicker than the prep, this is not the time to skimp on patience. While your glue setting up depends on things like temperature, amount of glue and the Glue Gods, this is a step you take as long as necessary. It just is. 

Doesn't have to be fancy, just complete.

Step Five: The After- I tend to be over it by this point, as are my horses, and it's hard for me to commit to the standing still portion which really is important. I like to keep them standing stillish for about an hour, of which I eat about 15 minutes cleaning up, another 15 grooming the horse, the next five fussing over the Sikaflex still coming out of the back of my boots and the next five arguing with myself about whether or not I can just put the horse up. I generally last about 45 minutes before caving and putting the horse in their paddock all the while sure that they have somehow compromised the glue bond and are going to lose their boots/shoes before the vet check on the first loop. I am surely jinxing myself now by saying I haven't lost a boot in years, but obviously it's coming now. 

Step Six: The Ride- Enjoy it! If you've prepped properly, used the recommended products and equipment, hopefully you can enjoy a worry-free event with your Easyboot Glue-Ons or EasyShoes. If your boots or shoes pop off within days or even weeks, you likely need to revisit your application. If you find yourself under your horse sweating and swearing while truing to pry the suckers off, you've done well! Don't waste your time, money, effort or sanity by not following the protocol exactly. This is one instance where perfect practice really is worth it.

Gaiters (And I Don't Mean The Ones in the Swamps)

I wanted to take a moment to talk about sizing and fit of boots.

In my own shoes, I have hiking boots, riding boots, flip flops, flats and running shoes. I wouldn’t wear my hiking boots running and I wouldn’t wear flip flops hiking. My flats are ok for dancing and everyday stuff, but aren’t that great for any distance of running. You get the idea. There are fit and purpose issues here.

Let’s look at a family of boots that have the same sole: the Glue On, Glove and Glove Back Country.

As a simple Glue On, this boot reminds me of flats.

If you slid a Glue On onto a hoof, with no glue, you would have as much security of that boot staying on during riding as I would have in keeping a flat on while jogging trails. If there was mud, rocks, twists and angles, my flat would slip off of my foot. For the record, I am not volunteering to glue on my flats and see how they manage.

But the first fit of the Glue On, Glove and Back Country have something in common with my flats, so I will keep the comparison.

A hoof is measured in 2 dimensions: length and width. Yet there is a third dimension that gives the hoof its overall shape and height. Same with my feet. This is why I can’t buy shoes on ebay! I can’t tell if a size 9 will actually fit me or not. For our boots, we offer a fit-kit so that you can start with the L & W, but also  get the “fit” from the shape of the hoof and its height.

Back to my flats. The more contact with my foot, the better that puppy is staying on. If the flat is too “short” compared to my foot, it will fall off readily.

You can see the ratio between skin contact and non-contact in the heels image. What I’ve marked in green shows only a sliver of skin connection. The red shows how much of her foot is “out” of her heel. When I have less contact, I get gaps when the shoe flexes and if I am doing anything faster than walking, that causes the heel to slide off. You have to work your toes to keep barely-there flats on.

Horses don’t have toes. They can’t “work” to keep their boots on either. So you have to ensure that you have enough hoof-to-boot contact to start with. Let’s see how my horse’s boots are fitting.

First step, when we are looking at our third dimension: how tall is your hoof, when in the shell? On the left we can see possibly a ½” to ¾” gap between the top of the shell and the hairline. That’s a great ratio of covered hoof to uncovered hoof. You have “most” of the hoof in contact with the inside of that shell. On the right, we can see a horse with a hoof that is too long to fit into the shell (regardless of his length and width measurements being right). We can clearly see an inch of hoof above the shell and it looks more like 1/3 of the hoof is “out” of the boot and 2/3s of it is “in”. Additionally, just like my flats that pucker and don’t fit right, you can see the shell was waves in it, where it is puckering and gapping and not clinging to the hoof.

Here we can see a shell that has the right “height” but the one on the left, the slit has almost no gap showing  no tension between the walls of the shell and the hoof. The one on the right has a “V” in the gap, showing that the hoofwall is sufficiently snug up against the inside of the boot. You want to see a spread in that cut-out so that it looks more like a “V”.

Another part we want to look at is, is the shell too small?

Ooohh baby, you and I got the same issue. Our shoes are too small and our foot “runneth over”. When you get a “muffin top” look to your shell, the hoof is clearly too wide for the size you selected. We can also see a gap between the hoofwall and the shell and clearly, there is more hoofwall OUT of the shell than IN.

Once we get the right size shell and glue it on, we’re good to go.

What if you don’t want to glue? How do they get flats to stay on? They add gaiters.

Don’t think horse people have the exclusivity on gaiter use. Humans know their little shoes can’t stay on and they add straps to them too! They do add an additional point of fit though. If your horse’s heels are quite tall, the gaiter height won’t reach the anatomical position it was designed for.

You can see the height of the shell in relation to the hairline. At the toe, it’s relatively close. But this horse has taller heels. You can see the shell’s topline falling away from the hairline as it heads back towards the heels. This leaves our gaiter “reaching” to be velcroed.

If you put the stress on the gaiter alone, it will strain and likely pull off of the boot. This gal isn’t going to last long in her strappy sandals either. Her gaiter is also running “uphill” and showing the tension she is putting on it. With a correct fit, her strap wouldn’t be the primary pressure point on her shoe.

So if we have Glue On shell fit, and Glove gaiter fit, we just have to look at the Back Country Upper and see how IT fits.

If the Back Country were a shoe, it would be the most secure gaiter they could design.

Or possibly more like a Tom’s, because they are flats that are pretty hard to “accidentally” have coming off.

Just like the Glove gaiter, you want the heel height of the horse to mimic the shape of the boot. If your toes are a good height and the boot gets further away from the hairline as it hits the heels, your horse’s hoof shape is not ideal for this shell family.

Two things that don’t fit in this photo: Although the angle IS parallel to the shell’s topline, there is almost a 50-50 between hoofwall that is in the boot and hoofwall that is above the boot. Not a lot of hoofwall contact in that ratio. We can also see a bulge (muffin top) to the boot at the heel. This horse would go up a size.

 

Just like the gaiter of the Glove, the upper of the Glove Back Country should be as level with the boot as possible. We don’t want it pulling “up”. If you can feel around the bottom of the gaiter and touch Velcro, your gaiter is not wrapped parallel to the shell. Try again!

The Back Country has a Comfort Cup Gaiter inside the wrapping flaps of the upper. In the green example on the left, the upper is wrapped parallel to the shell. You can see the symmetry of the wrap and that the Comfort Cup Gaiter is situated in the center of the back of the boot. When the upper is wrapped incorrectly, it raises too high for the Comfort Cup Gaiter. You can see it’s off-center and listing. The harsh Velcro of the upper is now exposed and can come in contact with the pastern. NO GOOD!

If you are wrapping the upper and it “won’t reach” it’s a sizing issue. Don’t try and wrap it uphill just to get it to reach. Not only will it be too tight, but you will also be exposing the Velcro to your horse’s pastern. Tight, rough Velcro on pasterns is no fun!

Lastly, when you wrap “uphill” the anatomically designed opening of the boot gets distorted. It leaves less room for the pastern, front to back. It widens the boot into pokey corners. This leaves less range of moment in the stride for the boot to contact the pastern and can introduce rubbing.

I hate when my heels get rubbed.

Ultimately, we want the Back Country to fit well and we want to run our hands along them to ensure the upper was wrapped levelly. We want to see that the upper isn’t pinching the pastern or bunching or pulling. We will want to introduce our buddies to their boots over several rides. Like a hiking boot, the rigid upper needs to soften and break in.

All of these have the same sole, but the fit is 3 dimensional and very exact. Get a fit kit so you can try them out on the flesh.

  • Be mindful of the shape of your horse’s hoof so you can see if there is more hoof IN the boot than OUT. Consider that if you want to add comfort pads, it will lift your hoof even higher and cause less hoofwall contact. Stick to thinner or no pads.
  • See if it “V”s at the front. You need that hoofwall contact and tension there for a good fit.
  • Check your hair line and see if it mimics the topline of the shell. Are your heels too tall for this boot? If the shell of the fit kit shows less and less contact as it goes back near the heels, then you KNOW once you put the Glove gaiter on, it will pull “up” and not level around the pastern and will likely wear out faster than the boot. You will also know that the Back Country upper will not wrap levelly around that high heeled horse and will rub or not fasten all the way around.

See our website and blogs for more tips on using Glue Ons, Gloves and Glove Back Country boots.

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!