Farrier Curtis Burns Describes How Horse Taxis Led to a New Kind of Horseshoe

By Curtis Burns, AFP - I

To truly understand the significance of the Easyshoe Flex you should become familiar first with the origin of its roots. As is the way with all of Easycare’s products, this one has its own interesting backstory.

Not many years ago, a trip to Mexico and Columbia with the IFA (International Farrier Academy) revealed the harsh reality of horse taxis across South America. Garrett Ford and I saw how these horses are exposed to elements on a daily basis that the majority of our horses will never set foot against. With very little farrier education to be had, both the horses and their families whose livelihoods depend on them were suffering.

I believe the purpose of possessing knowledge is to share it. Because of this mutual belief, Garrett and I were inspired to seek out and develop a shoe to help.  We felt we had the knowledge to offer these horses, their families and many in similar situations a feasible solution. That solution turned out to become the EasyShoe Flex.

To be candid, the expectations Garrett and I had for this shoe were (for lack of a better descriptive word) exceptional. Our goal was to create a composite shoe with nail on capabilities that would require minimal training or finances to utilize successfully. This goal resulted in a long list of high expectations. To start, we needed the Flex to effectively absorb concussion and withstand daily exposure to formidable surfaces. We needed the Flex to be as simple as possible to apply while also having the capacity for multiple resets. In addition to offering the structural support of a metal shoe, we also wanted the Flex to provide the forgiving therapeutics of composite material. All of these requirements were essential - and to add to the list of non-negotiables, we needed to create it in such a way that we could offer them at an affordable price.

For anyone less inspired than Garrett and me, this project might have been deemed impossible from the start and ultimately abandoned. But, Garret’s perseverance and drive to provide the best product possible helped us to face each trial as a valuable opportunity to go back to the drawing table. The insights we gained from taking the time to get it right ultimately allowed us to create a better product than we imagined. Three years after we started, the EasyShoe Flex was ready for distribution.

With this in mind, it’s easier to understand that there’s more to the shoe than meets the eye. Below you’ll find an outline of what I refer to as four core “Flex Features” that I hope will leave you more educated and more capable of using the shoe to its full potential.  Speaking from experience, the knowledge you’ll acquire from the utilization of this shoe will not only broaden your horizons as an effective farrier but as a horseman.

4 Core EasyShoe Flex Features

  1. Smooth Transitions: The EasyShoe Flex Open Heel most closely resembles a traditional metal shoe and has a become a natural transitional shoe for farriers to gravitate towards as they begin into the world of alternative shoeing. Not only is it transitional from the viewpoint of user education, but the EasyShoe Flex also serves as a transitional shoe in a physical sense for the horse. We’ve seen this shoe used successfully in a broad spectrum of cases where the horse has needed a crossover shoe as an interim between traditional shoeing and therapeutics.
  2. They’re Hybrids: The EasyShoe Flex is a marriage between a traditional metal nail on shoe and a glue on composite shoe. Most notably, if you were to compare the EasyShoe Flex to previous products and designs the first thing you would notice is the availability of an open heel version. The majority of shoes of similar design were only able to be offered as heart bars. Because the EasyShoe Flex offers a spring steel core, we are able to offer the shoe in a traditional open heel that makes it more compatible for many horses. This option works phenomenally for horses who benefit from natural frog pressure and hoof capsule function. If you examine the design, other hybrid features you’ll notice are its wide web, clear nail slots for easy visualization and distinct tread for traction.
  3. Word of the Day - Diversity: When it comes to selecting a diverse shoe - this hits the nail on the head in its most literal sense. Open heel, heart bar, full heart bar, light, toe clip, side clip…the options list is a long one. While not shaped with a hammer, the EasyShoe Flex has been used successfully amongst a variety of English and Western disciplines, endurance horses, mounted units and trail horses. With as much success as the shoe has had in the performance arena, another point worth noting is the positive impact the Flex has had among horses requiring therapeutics - such as recovering laminitic cases. You can really be creative with the application of these shoes because you have so many styles to choose from to meet the needs of the horse. One of the features that I particularly enjoy having are the toe or side clips. When done properly, clips are highly effective at alleviating pressure on the nails by stabilizing the shoe. If I feel the horse needs them, I can use them, if not they are easy to remove. This one small feature, combined with all of the design benefits of the EasyShoe Flex technology can be a game changer for a horse.
  4. Reset, Reuse, Repeat: Depending on the horse, the EasyShoe Flex can have as many as three resets in its life span. To save its integrity, a tip I like to share is using a punch to back out your nails during resets. This avoids any unnecessary damage to the shoe and& helps to maintain healthy nail holes.

As you begin to explore the possibilities the EasyShoe Flex provides, keep in mind these four core features. While every case is different, the EasyShoe Flex is a product that truly opens doors for the horse.

With the shoe complete, Garrett and I are making plans to revisit the drivers and families we met in Mexico and South America. It will be great to come full circle and share the Flex with the people who inspired our innovation.

- Curtis Burns

100-Mile Tevis Cup: One of the Top Ten Endurance Competitions in the World!

The 2018 Tevis Cup is in the books. Of the 149 horses who started the event, there were only 64 finishers. That 42% finish rate tells us how grueling this 100-mile trail is and why the Tevis Cup ranks as the most difficult horse race in the world.  

Time Magazine compiled a list of the Top Ten Endurance Competitions in the World.  The list contains the 24 Hours of Le Mans, The Tour De France, Dakar Rally, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Cannon Ball Run, Four Deserts, The Tevis Cup, Marathon des Sables, La Ruta de los Conquistadores and the Vendee Globe.  

The Lead Pack at the 2012 Tevis Cup.

As you look through the list of ten competitions there are several that stick out and peak my interest.  The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has always fascinated me because of the difficulty and the bond that the humans have with their dogs.  To travel 1,150 remote miles through difficult winter conditions as a team is hard to fathom.  The Tour De France is another mind bender.  Over 2,000 miles on a bike lasting roughly 20 days.  And on the Marathon des Sables six-day, 150-mile run across the blazing hot southern Moroccan Sahara, runners must carry they own food and water for the entire run. 

The 100-Mile Tevis Cup is the only equine event on the list and is the start of endurance events around the world.  Have you ever wondered why you receive a belt buckle for finishing a 100-mile run or a 100-mile mountain bike race?  The belt buckle awarded at the Tevis Cup has been adopted by events like the Western States 100 Mile Run and the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.   The Tevis Cup helped kick-start many of the events the endurance junkies dream to one day conquer.

My inner legs after the Tevis Cup.

Here's what Time Magazine had to say about the Tevis Cup:

A 24-hour, 100-mile horse ride from Lake Tahoe to Auburn, California, the Tevis Cup was first held in 1955. The important thing to know about this race is found on the Tevis Cup FAQ: "The weather conditions from year to year are mostly the same: HOT and DUSTY." One of the major difficulties here is not just getting your horse to the finish line, but making sure your horse is still "fit to continue" when it reaches the finish line. If you do so, no matter what place you come in, you get a silver belt buckle. That's right: 100 miles in 24 hours. For a belt buckle.

 

Lisa Ford climbs Cougar Rock.  Note the difficult footing.

For EasyCare the Tevis Cup has a special place.  The Tevis Cup is where we go to test our products.  The rocks, dust, distance, climbs and descents put extreme demands on the equine hoof and the hoof protection used.  It's just a matter of time before your horse steps on the perfect sharp rock and your ride is over.  Over the past 63 years roughly 50% of the riders that have started the race have finished.  The majority of the non finishes are because of lameness and the challenges caused by the rough trail.  

EasyCare started placing emphasis on the event in 2009 and used the event to test our urethane hoof protection.  My goal was to have our products excel at the toughest equine competition in the world. It's an event where you can't fake results, and where results trump marketing - it really tells you if something works. 

Easyboot Tread after the difficult 100-mile Tevis Trail.

EasyCare has found that not only have our unique urethane hoof protection products worked, but they have helped horses excel. Since we started recording the stats at the Tevis Cup on horses wearing Easyboots back in the 2009 we have found the following:

1. From 2009 to 2017, horses wearing Easyboots finished 63.64% of the time. Horses not wearing Easyboots finished 50.77% of the time. (We're still finalizing 2018 stats)

2. 6 out of the last 9 Tevis winning horses wore Easyboots.

3. 8 of the last 9 Haggin Cup winning horses used Easyboots.  The Haggin Cup is the horse that is deemed the most fit to continue and able to do the 100 miles again. 

4.  Although we don't have full stats, 2018 was no different. Six of the top 10 horses to cross the finish line were in EasyCare products. Four were in Easyboot Glue-Ons and another 2 were in EasyShoe Performance N/G urethane shoes. And this year's Haggin Cup winner, owned by Mark Montgomery, was in EasyShoe Performance shoes. The Haggin Cup winners in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were all outfitted in EasyCare products. Not a bad run!

 

The 2018 Haggin Cup winner in EasyShoes, owned by Mark Montgomery.
Congratulations to MM Cody ridden by Mykaela Corgnell.

 

EasyCare is very proud to have our products tested and trusted by the Tevis competitors in the US and around the world. Thank you for believing in our urethane hoof protection products.   

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Glue-On Shopping List

By EasyCare Product Specialist, Regan Roman

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

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

 

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

Items Needed

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

 

Optional Items

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

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

 


 

Glue-On Composite Shoes Help the Horse & Build Bridges

By Daisy Bicking of Daisy Haven Farm

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

The care and soundness of the horse’s foot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

How Barefoot and Booting is Being Used in the Dressage Arena

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo of Wild Hearts Hoof Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoof Boots And Horse Shoes That Promote Hoof Mechanism

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

Hoof mechanism definition from Wikipedia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

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

 

 

What You Can Expect in the Next Hoof Boot from EasyCare and the EasyShoe Flex

It's easy to make a car when you have the opportunity to copy a car that has already been built. EasyCare was the first company to manufacture a hoof boot in 1970 and we have been going strong for 48 years now. Many of our designs have been used and studied by other hoof boot manufacturers to make their hoof boot solutions. Boots continue to evolve and competition gets you up in the morning.

So what is next in the EasyCare hoof boot line? It's difficult to find a performance hoof boot on the market that fits every hoof. We have been working hard on a new boot style that has the ability to adjust in length, heel height and accepts several different gaiter/securing options. The goal is to give horse owners more options under one chassis. We have a great concept in the works that is testing very well.  

1.  Glue-on option with different heel cushion densities.

2.  A pivoting gaiter option similar to the Easyboot Glove but with a pivoting gaiter. Gaiter can also be adjusted for different length feet.  

3.  We have a heel lock version that adjusts in heel length and heel height. Elongate for a longer foot, shorten for rounder hoof. 

4.  We have a version that locks down the heel but is adjustable in heel length and height.

5.  All versions will be interchangeable. What works on one horse may not work on another. This concept provides many options and many adjustments in each version.    

We currently have 4 sizes in testing. Still in the prototype and patent phase but working hard to add to the EasyCare line during 2018. I'm excited about this one!   

The EasyShoe Flex is almost here. The Flex is in production and will be the next product in the EasyShoe product line. We ended up with several different options in the flexible, urethane shoe. Check out the video of Curtis Burns and I discussing the EasyShoe Flex and what makes the product unique.

Here is what you can expect in the EasyShoe Flex line.  

1.  Open Heel, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.

2.  Heart Bar, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.

3.  Full Heart Bar, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.  

4.  Flex Light: Heart Bar, no metal inside. 

Excited about these products and working hard to get them to our dealers and customers. 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

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

 

 

UC Davis 32nd Heumphreus Lecture and the EasyShoe Flex

Submitted by Daisy Bicking of Daisy Haven Farm Inc.

There are some moments in your life when you know you’re part of a very special, very unique opportunity. Some of those moments are personal, like graduating from high school, your wedding day, or even the birth of your child. Professionally, these moments are a little different but, in many ways, equally as special. For me, one of the most special opportunities I’ve been given is gluing for Team Easyboot at Tevis in 2016. I am fortunate to have many occasions like these so far in my life.

Recently I was given another incredible opportunity, when I was asked to present the 32nd Annual Heumphreus Memorial Lecture at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine alongside Dr. Nick Frank of Tufts University in MA.

The Heumphreus Memorial Lecture honors Charlies Heumphreus, a farrier at UC Davis for 19 years. Charlie’s legacy was the importance of the veterinarian-farrier relationship. The memorial lecture honors that legacy by choosing veterinarians and farriers to present on topics that follow that theme.

I was asked to do two lectures, followed by a live horse demo and hands-on for participants. The lectures were: “Hoof Mapping for Laminitis” and “Laminitis and Synthetics: Solving Old World Problems Using Modern Materials.” It was an honor to share my ideas and experience with veterinarians, students, and a broad range of hoof care providers.

I am always grateful to Garrett Ford and EasyCare Inc. for their support of educational events around the world. Providing free or discounted products like EasyShoesGlue-On boots, glue, tips, and more has helped me share the benefits of glue-on composite EasyShoes, Easyboots, etc with many over the years. And now, with the Heumphreus Memorial Lecture, EasyCare supported education again and generously provided the new EasyShoe Flex for my demo and hands-on for participants for this event, as well!  

This shoe, the EasyShoe Flex, is exciting to me for many reasons - maybe not the same reasons as other hoof care providers. Clearly, it is an easy choice as a nail-on application to help a lot of horses. I also see the wide web with heart bar frog support option and metal plate incredibly beneficial to horses in rehabilitation applications especially when glued with hoof packing and a hoof cast applied on top. While I use many EasyShoe Performance and Performance N/Gs, I see the Flex as another integral tool in my toolbox to help horses.

I was excited to get my hands on the Flex and see how it helps me help horses. I was not disappointed. 

By giving this 32nd Annual Heumphreus Memorial Lecture and the accompanying demo, I join a very short list of amazing farriers and veterinarians who have presented at this prestigious event. It truly is one of those incredible life moments when you realize the honor being given to you and the responsibility that goes with it. The live horse demo featured a foundered horse who had significantly distorted hoof capsules. The University was very supportive of our educational endeavors and provided progressive radiographs of the horse’s feet before trim, after trim, and after shoeing. There was fabulous discussion and everyone had an opportunity to examine and explore the EasyShoe Flex and the ideas I shared with the group. 

Thank you EasyCare Inc. for your continued support of education around the world! 

For more information about Daisy and the Continuing Education courses available about glue-on composite shoes please see:

www.daisyhavenfarm.com

www.integrativehoofschool.com

Glue-On Without Glue: Part One

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Jordan Junkermann

I am sure each Easyboot user out there has endless stories, good and bad, about booting. Applying boots each time you go out to ride can be troublesome, especially if you have some of the tight-fitting boot styles such as the Easyboot Glove or Easyboot Epic. Many of us have just adapted to it, making it part of our saddling routine. Others go barefoot as much as possible and only use the boots on rare occasions. For those who want a longer hoof protection, gluing on products is a great option. We have a wide variety of EasyShoes to serve multiple hoof shapes and purposes as well as the Easyboot Glue-On and Love Child. However, if you don’t have access to a hoof care practitioner or if you don’t have experience with preparing the hoof for glue, using this method can be more hassle then temporarily booting. There are customers out there who have learned to modify our products to fulfill their specific needs. In this blog, I am going to talk about my experiences with modifying the Easyboot Glue-On using Mueller tape.

As the manufacturer, we prefer to stick to strict guidelines on how boots and shoes are used in order to get the best results. But as customers provide feed back on personal experiences, we are able to pass that information along. One of these modifications I have decided to try on my horses. I wanted to be able to say I have seen this method work successfully with my own eyes. Of course, this isn’t an EasyCare recommended modification but it is something that has been successful in a few cases with our customers and I have personally seen success up to this point.

In some instances, you want below the hair line contact you get out of a Glue-On product but you don’t want to actually glue it on. An example could be a two or three-day event, a barrel race, a trail ride, or an event that requires hoof protection below the hairline (dressage/jumping). The design will prevent any rubbing from occurring since it sits below the hair line. A boot would provide protection in this service but let’s just say you don’t want to use a boot in this situation.

If your horse’s hoof fits within the measurement of the Easyboot Glue-On you may want to give this experiment a shot. What you will need are a few items: two Easyboot Glue-On shells, Mueller tape, a hoof pick, and a mallet.

I started by cleaning out my horse’s hoof.

I then applied Mueller tape as shown in this Application of Mueller tape video.

This tape has been proven successful to create a suction with the Easyboot Glove which is the Glue-On with a Gaiter allowing it to become a boot.

Here I took the Glue-On shell and placed her toe into the shell and make sure to line it up straight. I pulled and wiggled the shell on as much as I could.

Next, I took the mallet and tapped the shell on at the toe and again on the sole to make sure the foot was seated squarely in the shell. I set the foot down to make sure the “V” was spread correctly and the boot looked snug.

With the colored shells in the pictures above you are able to see the process clearly. It turned out that those were a half size too small for Pistol at this point in her trimming cycle. There is clearly bulging at the sides of the shells. I did end up taking her out on the trail and I experienced no problems with the shells coming off. However, I ended up ordering the next half size up and have posted those pictures below. You can see a much more comfortable fit in the proper fitting shell. With those shells I applied them the night before the trail ride and didn’t worry about them coming off even once during my trail ride.

Although it is only February, it is already time for the barrel racing season to begin. Southern Colorado has had dry weather up to this point so it made it an easy choice for me to decide if I wanted to run in this first race. In the first full week in February there was still hardly any snow anywhere. This made conditioning and preparing my barrel horse Billie the week before more enjoyable. She is barefoot for the winter but she has been experiencing some tenderness. I had been keeping her in the Easyboot Clouds so that she could comfortably move around the paddock. I rode her the week prior barefoot in the pasture so she wouldn’t have to move out on hard ground. But I did want to make sure she had protection for the barrel race as the area outside the arena is all gravel.

The day of the race came and, luckily, my Easyboot Glue-On shells and Mueller tape arrived the day before. Before loading her up I applied the shells to her front feet with Mueller tape using the method described above. My original plan was to boot all four feet, but in all best laid plans not all follow through to completion. The size shells I was going to use on her hind feet ended up fitting better on her front feet. Sizing is definitely trial and error with this snug fitting boot. I ended up only booting the front feet. I loaded her up and away we went.

Both front feet.

Side view.

Frontal view. The above three pictures were taken by EasyCare Product Specialist, Devan Mills (iPhone 8).

Before getting on after tacking up I made sure to take a mallet to the toe area one more time for good measure. I walked and trotted her for a while to allow her to warm up slowly and in hopes of heating the foot up to allow for better traction between tape and boot before my run.

My run was a success. She felt like she had good traction in the arena and the Glue-Ons stayed on no problem! It was probably the smoothest run I have had on her, especially at the start of a season. It was a great start to the year! Don't be afraid to get creative and make modifications to make the boots work for you. We would love to hear your stories about how your boots are working for you, whether you try this method or another. You can click here to tell us your booting story!

Sister, the Mule, and her Boots.

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer and Hoof Care Practitioner, Eric Knapp.

A journey of 130 miles starts with the first step and a good pair of hoof boots. Each year I take a horseback journey, with a group of friends, from Central Illinois to a rodeo in Fort Madison, Iowa. The trek usually takes us about five and a half days to complete and includes crossing the Mississippi river. Needless to say, whatever animal I’m riding, takes a whole lot of steps from start to finish. For the past two years I’ve taken my wife’s mule, Sister. Yes, that’s the name she came with. You know what they say, “bad luck to change the name.”

I know that mules have gotten a bad wrap over the years about not being able to keep their boots on. I’ve never had any problems with mine staying put. In fact, this year I put her EasyCare Glue-On boots on a week before we left and they stayed on for about six weeks. You know what they say about cobbler’s kids not having shoes to wear? Well farrier’s horses are the last to be trimmed. I don’t typically leave them on that long, but I just didn’t have the time to remove them. When I did take them off, they were still on good and tight.

Being a mule and having a mule hoof, doesn’t mean that they can’t wear boots. Nor does it mean that those boots can’t be glued on and stay put. I really think the magic lies in the prep work. Whether you’re painting a car or painting glue on a mule’s foot, it all starts with the prep work. I believe in prep work so much so that I don’t use (or let my clients use) fly spray for 24 hours before I glue on a boot. The oils from that spray will run down onto the hoof and it won’t allow for a proper seal. I also need to have a clean, dry hoof. If an animal has been standing in mud and slop, that glue will not stick. But with a dry, clean, properly trimmed hoof even a mule can walk over 100 miles in an Easyboot Glue-On.

I rough up the hoof with my rasp and put a little Sikaflex in the bottom for a bit of cushion. I also run a line of Vettec glue around the outer edge for a good tight seal. I wouldn’t take that Iowa ride if I didn’t have a boot on my animal. The blacktop road is just too slick with a traditional metal shoe. Throw in some rainy days and it’s a recipe for disaster. The boots also keep road debris out of Sister’s feet. You would be amazed at what people will throw in a ditch and you don’t want to walk over that barefoot, no matter how hard the sole. Before you say it, I can hear what you’re thinking. “Well, sure. You only traveled on a flat road. You didn’t have any rugged terrain.” Got you covered.

We have also taken Sister to Shawnee National Park for several week long riding vacations. If you’ve never been to Shawnee, it’s one of the most scenic rides in the world. Sister has been there in both hot, humid summer weather and in brisk fall weather. Her boots do fine either way. She’s worn both the EasyCare Glove boots and the EasyCare Glue-On boots there. She’s also gone barefoot. She has good, strong feet and she does just fine on the rocks. Shawnee has very rugged, steep, rocky terrain. We were also there after several days of rain so it had some incredibly boggy areas. I was a little nervous about going through some of the bogs because I was afraid the animals could pull a muscle. But, in some spots, there was just no other way around. We had to go through and the boots did just fine. We took a couple of seven hour rides and several shorter ones while we were in Shawnee and we left with those glue on boots still in place. On one particular day, we were temporarily misplaced. Otherwise known as lost. We ended up walking in some non-horse areas that were nothing but large rocks and boulders. Through all of those twists and turns, she did just fine. Like I said, I don’t think Sister being a mule makes a difference with boots. The difference comes in the proper trim, fit, and prep work. If you don’t have that, don’t use boots because you aren’t giving them a fair shake. You’re just setting them up to fail.

But it’s not all about the boot. Sister walked a lot of miles through Shawnee and many other state parks barefoot. We have a paddock paradise at home and she does a lot of walking on small rocks, lime, and dirt. In addition to providing better digestion of her food, I think this really helps to toughen up her feet and get her physically conditioned. With proper nutrition, environment and trimming, I think nearly any horse can go barefoot. However not all horse hooves will have the same toughness and durability as a good ol’ mule hoof. So, I wouldn’t recommend going to Shawnee or anywhere else without carrying some “just in case” boots. I never leave home without a back-up pair of boots. I have a bag that ties on to my saddle that I use to store them in. EasyCare also has the Hoof Boot Stowaway that works well for carrying boots. You just never know what’s going to happen on a trail and you need to be responsible for your animal. Whether on the road or on a trail, Sister has walked all over Illinois and Iowa. She’s done it barefoot, in EasyCare Gloves and with EasyCare Glue-On boots. She’s never given us a misstep and I would love to ride that mule in her boots from Texas to Canada. For some reason, my wife doesn’t want to do that. I can’t imagine why. But if that day ever comes, I have no doubt that the mule and the boots will do just fine not matter what the terrain.