Stop the Growth and Development of the Equine Hoof Early in Life: The Best Way to Screw Up Your Well Bred Superstar

RB Rich didn't win the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (the richest race in the history of Arabian racing), but a bigger battle was won at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on November 8th, 2015.  Rich's invitation to race on the biggest stage in Arabian racing and the chance at the 1.2 million euro purse was the highlight of his young career and also a huge milestone for the EasyShoe Compete.  

RB Rich raced the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons in a glue-on racing shoe that was once prohibited by our local track in Colorado.  It's not unusual for a young horse to use the same type of hoof protection each year but what is unusual is for a young horse to start his career in a flexible form of hoof protection.  RB Rich is the first horse that we are aware of to start his race career in the flexible glue-on EasyShoe Compete that not only conforms to track traction rules, but allows the hoof and internal structures of the hoof to develop and strengthen after application. Most young track horses are shod in a non flexible form of hoof protection early in life which in turn slows and hampers some of the critical development of the hoof.

RB Rich's left fore after pulling his flexible shoes. Trimmed and ready to train barefoot over the winter months.  Not the hoof on most horses after a successful 2015 season.  

Many readers are nodding their heads with agreement at this point while many others are calling me a tree hugger.  I ask all the non-believers to think about what the athletic fate of their young daughters and sons would be if their feet were cast to a rigid 2x4 board from ages four to eight.  The casted young foot was not allowed to flex when it hit the ground and the arch never developed, expansion was limited and the heel never developed to support the load of the body, feeling was lost and proprioception compromised.  We would never do it to our children but the majority of the equestrian industry does it to their most promising young prospects. Many equine industries rush to get steel and aluminum shoes on the two and three year old superstars so training can begin, races can be won and trophies can be collected.

In my opinion, the rush to fill the trophy case compromises the development of the equine hoof and as a result changes the lives of many horses.  As a result, many unsound three and four year olds head home because the horse is not winning and can't pay the bills.  The owners are frustrated and they wonder what to do next with the hopped up race bred horse.  The challenge is the horse now has the feet and internal structures of an 18-month old but the body and mind of four year-old. The engine and torque that the three and four year-old has developed is too advanced for the wimpy feet that were not allowed to develop with the other structures of the horse.  Yes, many horses race successfully with the current tools and protocol, but could their careers have been better and longer?  

Can a flexible shoe really make a difference?  I believe it can.  I believe young horses can start their careers early, have hoof protection applied and still develop a strong hoof and strong internal hoof structures.  

RB Rich is insignificant in the big world of horse racing, but he's a great example of how a horse can be managed with early trimming, conditioning barefoot and training/racing in a flexible form of hoof protection.  Rich has developed incredible feet, great digital cushion, and to date has been very sound.  He has all the ingredients to retire sound and start a second career.  He's a great example of what is possible.  

RB Rich before the Arabian Crown Jewel in Abu Dhabi: the richest race in the history of Arabian racing.  

Rich's EasyShoe Compete hoof protection before flying to Abu Dhabi.  Rich has great feet, massive frogs and an impressive digital cushion.  

Rich's feet in Abu Dhabi.  Not the feet you see on most track horses.  

I have a good friend that is an endurance rider and farrier.  He made a comment to me a couple years ago that has stuck with me and also made me think, "You're lucky because most all your horses have good feet" (not all my horses have good feet but most have much better than average feet).  My comment to him was, do you believe it's Nature or Nurture?  Do my horses have good feet because I've been better at selecting horses with good feet or do my horses have good feet because I've been better at providing and environment and trimming cycle to develop good feet?  He looked at me like I was a jackass but one of the two has to be true.  

I've personally seen the development of Rich's feet over the last four years, and I believe the following can improve a young horses feet and their long term soundness:

1.  Early balanced trimming.  Many people spend a great deal of time and money on breeding and then neglect hoof trimming the first 24 months.  Nurture the nature you have created, give them the platform to perform.  

2.  Do as much of the early training and conditioning barefoot.  Help the feet develop and build the internal structures of the hoof.  

3.  When hoof protection is needed early use a flexible form.  It may be more expensive, but you just spent a fortune on breeding.  The majority of lameness is in the hoof or a result of poor feet.  Protect your investment.  

4.  Pull hoof protection during rest periods or the off season.  Continue to develop the hoof mechanism.  For all of you that say you can't due to a sore horse, you didn't do #1, #2 and #3.  

The EasyShoe Compete is not a first for flexible hoof protection.  And although the EasyShoe has made a small impact in the sport of Arabian flat track racing and some smaller splashes on the thoroughbred tracks, it's bigger brother has won some of the biggest races in the world.  The Polyflex shoe has won races like the 2013 Breeder's Cup Classic on Mucho Macho Man, had a successful career with the highest North American money earner in Curlin and has won stakes races on most of the tracks in the USA.  The Polyflex and the EasyShoe Compete are similar products, share the same patent and have both been highly influenced by farrier Curtis Burns.  

Mucho Macho Man winning the 2013 Breeder's Cup Classic in the flexible Polyflex horse shoe.

The race in Abu Dhabi was the finish line for a product line that we have worked very hard on and believe in.  Rich has been a living research dummy that has come out the other side smelling like roses and has feet like iron.  It's not the road for everyone but it's a consideration for owners and breeders who want to develop the horse first and value second careers.  I'm personally excited to take Rich off the track and start a long and successful endurance career.

What are your thoughts?  Is this a bunch of hogwash or does shoeing a young horse in non flexible materials compromise hoof health, athletic longevity and successful second careers?


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.

On Tour Abroad

My hoof care clinics abroad have become a yearly, sometimes semi-yearly, happening. Most of the time my travels lead me to Europe, but occasionally also to Australia and Canada. This month I'm just returning from a series of seminars in Spain, Catalunya and Germany.

To fill you in, in case you did not follow European News lately: Catalunya, or translated into English, Catalonia, is an autonomous region in the most eastern part of the Iberian peninsula, close to the Pyrenees and bordering France. The population is 7.5 million. The Capital is Barcelona, home of the soccer club FCB that has won the European Soccer League Championship Title many times. Catalunya is now  trying to achieve independence from Spain within the next couple of years. National sentiments and feelings are wide spread among the people, about half of the population favors an independent new country. So to be politically correct and not hurt anybody's feelings, I will refer to the location of my visit as Catalunya instead of Spain.

The new Catalonian National Flag can be seen everywhere.

Barcelona, viewed from the Castello, a vibrant beautiful city with a fascinating history.

Why travel to Europe to conduct hoof care clinics? After all, it is not that the Europeans do not know much about hoof trimming and shoeing. Horses have been used and ridden in Europe for thousands of years, I mean, compared to the USA, these folks there have been around horses and known horses literally forever. But EasyCare happens to be a company based in the USA, is very innovative and a leader in the industry. And although I'm not traveling and conducting these clinics on behalf of EasyCare, but rather on my own accord and under my company's umbrella, Global Endurance Training Center, these clinics focus very much on Natural Hoof Care, Barefoot Trimming and the application of all the EasyCare products and boots. After all, these boots and shoes are the future. Besides EasyCare boots and shoes, I also apply and demonstrate other innovative hoof protections on the market like Duplos and EQUIFLEX, a USA company that imports the Cera Shoes made in Germany. (Disclosing here that EQUIFLEX is also my own company, a subsidiary of Global Endurance Center). For these stated reasons, European stables, equine organizations and clubs are looking for USA based clinicians that know and teach progressive and innovative hoof protections and their applications.

Besides the hoofboots like the GlovesTrail, EpicsOriginal Easyboots, Glove Back Country, and Clouds that require neither nails nor glue, I teach nailing and gluing EasyShoes and Glue-Ons using various glues, but mostly the over and over proven VETTEC glues. An all time favorite for many participants is the molding of a hoof shoe using the Vettec Superfast. And when I receive a phone call 6 weeks later telling me that the Superfast shoe is still on the hoof and fully intact after being ridden many miles through rocks and endless hours standing and walking in muddy pastures and stalls, even I can be a little proud of my work and the quality of the products I'm putting my faith into.

The  equestrian community of the Iberian Peninsula as a whole has not embraced the new hoof protection boots and shoes from EasyCare and other manufactures like the rest of Europe or the Americas have. Most horses there are still shod with iron shoes like they have been for over 2000 years.  A few Duplos and Equiflex Shoes could be seen, but hardly any Easyboots of any kind. Contrary to lots of horses in the rest of Europe, most horses had also fairly long, undubbed toes.

A very common sight: steel shoes with long toes.

The two day seminar this fall was open to farriers, horse owners and riders of all disciplines who were interested in learning about hoof boots and the application of them. 15 participants (among them 4 farriers) wanted to hear all about EasyCare's products.  After introduction and initial PP presentation about anatomy of the lower legs, the group watched and analyzed gaits of various horses, studied toe and heel landings and examined pathologies and hoof imbalances.

During the indoor presentation.

Toe landing or heel landing? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

M/L imbalances were noted together with anatomical abnormalities.

After evaluating hooves, we practiced and discussed hoof trims and compared trimming philosophies between various countries. Any group member who wanted to do so, could show and explain his trimming procedures.

Trimming was followed by various hoof boot applications. Participants had again the opportunity to select boots, apply them and check the fit.

Gluing Easyboot Glue-Ons was first demonstrated by me, then could be practiced by the attendees.

Here we are using Vettec Equipak CS as sole packing in the Easyboot Glue on. For that purpose, small holes were drilled in the bottom of the boots and the CS then injected through those holes.

Catalonians never miss an opportunity to have siesta and eat well. A great opportunity to celebrate the end of the clinic with a traditional Catalonian dinner.

After leaving Catalunya I traveled to Germany for more clinics and workshops, then to Belgium and finally finished my travels in France. There, and also before that in Catalunya, I had to opportunity to enter two endurance races. From these events I will report my experiences in next months blog.

From the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork, Global Endurance Training Center


My Season with Easyboots

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therapy Click System: Commonly Asked Questions

Questions about the new Click Therapy System? Below is a list of 12 commonly asked questions.

1. Why do I need a veterinarians recommendation?

This policy is in place so the veterinarian and owner can discuss the situation and work together to determine the best protocol. This policy increases the likelihood that the Therapy Click System will be used properly based on veterinarian counsel addressing the specific needs of each individual case. 

2. Can these be purchased directly through EasyCare, or do I have to get them from my veterinarian?

Yes, the horse owner can purchase the Therapy Click system directly through EasyCare. You will just need to have your veterinarian contact EasyCare with the recommendation before purchasing. 

3. What EasyCare boots work with the Click system?

Many EasyCare boot models work with the Therapy Click

i. Easyboot Rx

ii. Easyboot Transition 

iii. Original Easyboot

iv. Easyboot Epic

v. Easyboot Glove

vi. Easyboot Glove Back Country

vii. Easyboot Glue-On

viii. Easyboot Cloud

4. Can the Therapy Click System be used with EasyShoes?

The Click System does not work with the any of the EasyShoe models at this time. 

5. How do I know which size to purchase?

Here is a simple chart to help insure you will be purchasing the correct size for your boots 

6. Can my horse be turned out with the Therapy Click System?

We only recommend light turn-out in a small paddock when using the Therapy Click System. 

7. Can my horse be ridden in the Therapy Click System?

We do not recommend riding with the Therapy Click System. Consult with your Veterinarian for any movement or exercise protocol. 

8. Do I have to use glue to apply the click to my boots?

No, the Therapy Click System is applied with screws. Replacement screw sets are available as an accessory

9. Can I reapply the Therapy Click System to pre-existing holes?

Yes, just make sure the holes are clean and free of any dirt or debris.

10. How much do they weigh?

The 10 degree weighs 11 ounces for the smallest size and 20 ounces for the largest size. The 5 degree weighs 9 ounces for the smallest and 16 ounces for the largest size. 

11. Can the angle be modified?

Yes, the Therapy Click System can be modified using a grinder to your horse’s specific needs according to your Veterinarian.

12. Can the Therapy Click System be used on just one foot?

Yes, the Therapy Click System can be used on just one foot, depending on the guidance from your Veterinarian.

(The Clog and Heel Extension shown in this video are currently not available. Only the 5 Degree and 10 are available at this time.)

If there is anything else you would like to know about the Click Therapy System please do not hesitate to send in an email with questions to or call any of our Customer Service Representatives at (800) 447-8837.

Breaking into the Mainstream: Hoof Boots in Competition

The horsey media has been all abuzz about hoofwear as of late. David Wilson of Flying High Stables recently submitted a request for a USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) rule change that would allow for hoof boots in USEA (United States Eventing Association) dressage phases. The current rule is written in ambiguous language that prohibits the use of boots of any kind. No distinction has been made between boots as leg protection and boots as hoofwear or hoof protection. This kind of ambiguity is consistent across disciplines.

Thanks to Sally Hugg for this photo of Carolyn Salas' own Alltair sporting EasyShoe NG's at Brookside Equestrian Park. There are no restrictions on our EasyShoes in any discipline at this time.

The proposed rule change reads EV115 (Saddlery) section 2E: “Any type of horse footwear (hoofwear) is permitted, provided all components of the hoofwear are either permanently attached to the hoof or are integral to a covering of the bottom of the hoof and the holding of that covering in place.”

The proposal will be up for review and go before the Board of Directors at the USEF Annual Meeting which takes place in January 2016. Members of USEF may login to their account and make comments about the proposed rule change under the rule changes page.

All that buzz inspired me to reach out to our governing bodies to compile a list of where hoof boots are legal in competition and where they aren't. It is by no means comprehensive and exhibitors should check with show management to be safe, but here is what I found:

The fine line between permissible and prohibited boils down to semantics. It's not that these organizations are against the use of hoof boots such as the Easyboot Glove in competition, rather that hoofwear was never considered when the rules were written.

EasyCare has changed the game when it comes to hoof protection and continues to actively develop novel approaches to hoof care. Our Glue On Boots and EasyShoes are currently permitted for competition in any discipline and our new Cloud boots can be seen outside the ring at shows all over the country. It is an exciting time to be in the horse industry and see our products breaking into the mainstream. I for one would love to see hoof boots allowed in all show rings across disciplines. Let's work together to keep our competition horses sound and performing their best for years to come!


Rebecca Balboni


Customer Service Representative

A lifetime of riding and showing sport horses has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of soundness and comfort on performance. Let me help elevate your equine experience by finding the right boot for your horse and unique situation.

Who Knew?

Submitted by Susan Summers, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

Very few people who know us well know that endurance riding has really been a second horse hobby for us. From our first married days way back when, we were hard-core hunters and packers. Our horses were picked out solely to be able to carry our equipment in and our bounty out of the mountains safely. In fact, it was on one of our high hunt expeditions that I became familiar with endurance riding. I had thrown in a Western Horseman magazine and not until I was sitting on top of a mountain with nothing else to do, did I open the pages and see two intriguing articles, one on the Tevis and another on adopting BLM mustangs. Well anyone that knows me wouldn’t be surprised what my immediate thought was: “I’m going to adopt a mustang and ride it in this thing called Tevis.” So long story short I eventually did just that and got hooked on the crazy sport of endurance with my husband following suite a few years after me. 

Fast-forward about 25 years and the whole hunting/packing thing seems like a whole other lifetime. We’ve been riding Arabians bred for long distance and not always known to be bombproof, so imagine my surprise (fear) when Dennis started talking about going in packing on an elk hunt. I evaluated each one of our horses in my mind thinking of their strong points and weak points. I decided to just not talk about it and maybe the idea would go away but pretty soon Dennis was starting to be nice to Hummer, my retired tank of an endurance horse, who he never liked in the first place. Next thing I know, he’s putting a packsaddle on him. The rest is history. 

OK so what does this have to do with EasyCare? Well back in our packing days, all horses wore steel shoes. A lot of the trail we packed on was pretty technical with lots of washouts, roots, water crossings and slick rock. I can remember being behind one of the pack horses years ago and seeing his feet slip right out from under him. With dead weight it would be hard to get their balance, sometimes going down. Hummer competed most of his 13 seasons in plastic shoes and the later years glue on boots so I was really excited that the progression of footwear for horses was going to make it a lot safer for my novice pack pony. Also having used the Glue-Ons for many years I had great confidence in them staying on.

So off we went for what turned out to be a fabulous trip. Unfortunately for us, the elk were pretty scarce, but the horses did amazingly well. Hummer had really good grip on the slippery rock and perfect protection on the sharp rock. It was really cool seeing my retired endurance horse become a pack horse. I think he has a new career and a new admirer. Who knew?


Secrets of the Savvy - October 2015

The changing of seasons and wide temperature variances throughout the day are prime reminders to make sure adhesives and other gluing materials are handled with care. Glue and horses are a lot alike-take care of them, and they’ll take care of you.  Let’s go over a few general guidelines to keep you gluing like a boss all year long.

Manufacturer’s guidelines for set and cure times for adhesives and pour in materials are usually based on a 70 degree ambient temperature. Optimum temperature range for gluing is between 65 and 85 degrees. These timeframes will speed up in the heat and slow down when it is cold. Take the guesswork out of how much by keeping cartridges, tips, shoes and shells in a climate controlled environment.

As always, hoof prep is critical to gluing success-no matter the temps. Remember to organize your materials (don't forget your Zips), prep feet thoroughly, and take your time. Fluctuations in temperature can wreak havoc on your adhesives and packing materials. Store these items in a cool dark place and use within a month once opened. Stay aware of expiration dates and rotate stock using FIFO: first in/first out.

Thanks for joining us for the October edition of Secrets of the Savvy! Feel free to contact us to find out more about our wide variety of adhesive and packing materials or to place an order:

Debbie: 800-447-8836 ext 2224

Rebecca: 800-447-8836 ext 2232

As always, we welcome your comments and want to know what you've learned from your experiences in the field!

Secrets of the Savvy

Secrets of the Savvy: your source for inside information on all things EasyCare. See you next month!

Inspired by Innovation and Perserverance

Before coming to work for EasyCare, I knew nothing much about horses, and even less about their feet and how they function. Now here we are, more than a year later, and I cannot say enough about how much I have learned or how inspired I am by Garrett's ability to press forward in this industry.  He always puts the horse first, often times going against the grain, to provide options for all types of horse and rider situations, as well as options to help improve the quality of life for lots of horses that may otherwise be looking at a different fate.  

In Garrett's most recent blog, he says, "One of the things that keeps me going is innovation and bringing new products to the equine industry."  In the past year, I have personally seen him out-do himself time and time again with his creations, working with people like Curtis Burns, Rick Redden, and Pete Ramey, just to name a few.

We hear success stories from all types of riders, including this one from Heather Reynolds about the EasyShoe Ultra Prototype: "The EasyCare hoof protection held their own once again! The EasyShoe Ultra Prototype was worn on Bound For Honor's front feet with Glue-Ons behind. The AHA Championship was at the Big South Fork ride in TN. It was a very challenging hill course through sand, mud and rock with multiple deep river crossings. There was a very competitive field. 

Without the EasyCare products I don't think it would have been possible for Honor to train for and compete in this event. Honor was 14 minutes behind, leaving the last check in 4th place. He went on to win by a healthy margin in a ride time of 5:10. Thank you EasyCare and Garrett Ford for producing amazing products that help our horses have that extra advantage."

6th and 7th graders pushing forward in the face of challenges. 

To look into the face of challenges and find ways to grow and advance is something that I can absolutely get behind.  When I am not working at EasyCare, my other job is coaching kids and adults on mountain bikes.  Every day I witness them being faced with challenges and finding ways to use those challenges as a vehicle of change.  They persevere and push forward with bravery and courage, going against the grain of what they have told themselves is capable.  Without pushing those limits, there is no evolution, as a rider, or as an inventor, or as a community.  For me, it is admirable and inspiring to watch people like Garrett, and the athletes I coach to keep on pushing forward.  When we create change, within ourselves and within our communities, we become the helpers in the world.  With each new product EasyCare creates, we help another horse and rider. I am grateful to be a part of that.   

Tina Ooley


Customer Service Representative

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

Holdin' Ground With Glue-On's

Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

The equine world is very diverse, as you all know. It amazing and humbling the tasks our four legged friends are capable of. At EasyCare we get to talk with owners and help horses involved in all types of events and many times we get asked, “Will this boot or shoe work for this or has anyone had success using a boot or glue on this way?” I enjoy being able to provide accurate information with everyone I speak with which leads me to wanting to test the products on my own horse in different situations, which I have also done with the Clouds and the FLIR camera.

I have most recently been experimenting with the Glue-On’s. I enjoy the benefits of running (barrel racing) my horse barefoot but unfortunately the quality of footing outside of the arena at most of the venues I attend is very rocky and many times has shards of glass, auto body parts, tools, pieces of metal, you name it, it is most likely sitting out there waiting to get your horse. I was concerned she was going to get injured by something running in and out of the arena. Us rookies took it upon ourselves to glue on shells using the same protocol that is shown in our gluing video, that is available on the web page for the Glue-On. It was not quite as pretty as what we would have hoped for but by the end of the night my horse had four shells glued on and she felt great.

I had four days to exercise and work her in the Glue-On’s before I was going to run her at our next event, since I am typically a Glove user I knew that my horse would have no issue adjusting to the Glue-On’s. My main concern was how well they were glued on. We had also been talking about if there was going to be enough traction with the standard Glue-On Shell. When Pete Ramey came to town he had shown me some modified shells that were being used for speed events to allow for more grab but I wanted to try it with an unmodified Glue-On. I have never had a problem with traction in my Gloves when working her but I would be lying if I told you I was not worried one bit about making a run in the Glue-On’s. I was apprehensive when running to first but after she inhaled that barrel all worries were gone.

She had absolutely no problem holding her ground around the barrels and leaving the barrels she did not struggle with traction what so ever. Needless to say I will have complete confidence the next time I make a run in Glue-On’s and will have confidence when someone asks me about running barrels in the Glue-On’s.

I also believe this will be a great option for those barrel horses that do not hold shoes well, or for owners that are looking for other types of hoof protection for their barrel horses. There are so many ways to modify these shells. The possibilities are endless. Depending on how your horse works around the barrels, you can modify the boot to exactly what is needed. Have a horse that is recovering from a hoof wall injury or needs a way to keep an abscess completely covered while still being able to compete? The Glue-On is your ticket!

Do You Need Boots When You Ride?

Submitted by Asa Stephens, Hoof Care Practitioner

Here are a few hints that will tell you that you do.

In desert environments and in places where horses are stalled in small enclosures, you rarely get a horse that can handle sharp gravel on a trail ride.

A healthy hoof is short and has most of the bulk in the back part of the foot. It has a flat, dry, large frog. This frog rarely sheds and has no bacteria pockets.

A frog that gets paired away or is shedding at every trim or almost every trim, or has bacteria pockets in it, is not healthy and you should ride in boots.

A healthy sole will callous nicely. Dead shedding sole material does not accumulate in a healthy hoof. If this happens between each trim, the foot is not healthy. Ride in boots.

The bars are hoof wall that turns in alongside the frog and collateral grooves. They help stabilize the back of the foot. They are short and grow only halfway down the frog. If they grow out over the entire bottom of the foot between each trim, then the foot is not healthy. Ride in boots.

When you pick the foot up and look out over the heels and the hairline, you want to see thick hoof wall forming the heels and bars. They do not taper out and get thinner. The hairline should be pretty straight over the heels. If the hairline and heel bulbs form a W, the hoof is not healthy. Ride in boots.

A healthy foot will have air-tight seams between hoof wall and sole. An unhealthy hoof does not. It has separation where little gravel and dirt gets in. Because of the dry environment, the dead sole will often dry up and curl inward, making the separation worse. In the desert area, the sole has the same color as the sand and dirt so most people do not know this separation exists. The dirt is so packed in between hoof wall and sole, so you can’t see it. You will have to take a very sharp hoof pick and dig in the white line area to find it. If your horse has this separation, ride in boots. If your horse is not tender on gravel just before he is due for a trim but always after, then ride in boots.

A healthy foot should not feel a maintenance trim. When using boots while riding you ensure a healthy heel first landing which will help the horse grow the healthiest foot he can get in his situation. Adding a pad to the boot is even better as it stimulates the frog each step. 

Does your horse land heel first or at least flat at a walk? This can be hard to see and if it is difficult, look for a forward motion with no hesitation, with very little dust in front of the hoof when landing. Check that the fetlock is at its lowest before landing (not coming down after hoof is on the ground). If he doesn’t land flat or heel first, ride in boots.

A little misleading. The picture on the left is a toe first landing at a walk. The picture on the right is a heel first at a trot. 

A farrier does not trim or sculpt a healthy foot. The correct diet, exercise and the right environment build healthy hooves, and a good farrier maintains them. There are many variations of unhealthy feet.

Some are unfortunately permanent, if internal structures are too damaged. Some can rehab quite nicely. Some are inherently stronger (some breed of horses have an advantage because of thick hoof wall and massive frogs). They can sometimes go completely barefooted even with lack of sound “housekeeping”.

Remember, it is the internal structures that need strengthening, not so much the outer shell. By making your horse run around landing toe first battling the gravel in order to “toughen up his feet”, you most likely will never get the healthy feet you and your horse were hoping for. You are only hurting your horse. 

There are many boots on the market, and if you have patience you will find the right one. Try to be there when the farrier comes to trim if and when you need boot help. The farrier would love to help you find the right boots. If you are in any of the situations mentioned above and don’t want to use the boots, you can either try glue on shoes or shells, or go back to traditional shoeing.

So if you can’t fulfill all the necessary requirements for healthy feet (most boarding facilities in Nevada have few options for 24/7 turnout), the boots are an excellent way of protecting your horse’s hooves while riding. The boots will not cause damage. They let the hooves work the way nature intended. They can be taken off after the ride when the horse goes back to his stall.

If you think boots on a horse is a sign of failure, then I have truly failed you as a hoof care provider. Try to see boots as today's hoof protection in a sometimes imperfect situation: a way to have the cake and eat it too. Your horse’s hooves will continue improving while you ride and have fun.