Nailing EasyShoes: It's a Clinch

This blog is not intended to teach you how to nail without hands-on instruction and is intended for hoof care practiotioners who wish to expand their practice into nailing composite shoes. Unless you are a trained professional, please do not attempt nailing on composite shoes. In nine years of working with composite shoes, I’ve learned to appreciate a couple of well-placed nails, especially when used in combination with some glue, the nails aren’t hard on the foot, and when needed, have more advantages than disadvantages. 

For a healthy foot I also like the simplicity of straight-nailing shoes as well: less expense for the owner and a less complicated application for the farrier. My most common application is with clips removed, acrylic glue and two nails. The nails add just a bit of extra security in case of glue failure (doesn't happen often, but can), or an act of God (the horse spooks and steps on himself so hard he rips a shoe off).

If you don’t currently know how to nail, it can feel very intimidating to learn. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:

Nails have four main components:

  • Head: seats the nail into the shoe for security.
  • Blade: can vary in thickness and length depending on use.
  • Maker’s Mark: not only identifies who made the nail but also helps the user know which way to turn the nail before driving into the foot.  
  • Taper: turns the nail as it's going through the foot

The maker's mark should be turned towards the interior of the foot, which ensures the taper turns the nail the correct direction:  Out of the foot.

The best nail for composite shoeing is some kind of combo nail, meaning the nail will have a larger more square head with a slim blade. The larger head of the combo nail is beneficial because it will seat down into the tread of the composite shoe. The EasyShoe Performance N/G specifically has an integrated metal plate in the shoe designed to aid in nail stability and shoe retention. You can see the silver metal plate in the EasyShoe Performance N/G here:  

Notice the nail holes in the metal plate are quite large. Because the nailing area in most composite shoes cannot be shaped to fit the exact contour of the white line/inner wall, the larger area for the nail allows the farrier to position the nail ideally for that foot. Nails can be set to the inside or outside of the hole, and can easily be pitched or angled for best placement.
 
As far as nail selection, I like the Mustad MX-60 for size 0-2 EasyShoe N/G, and an E-6 for size 3 and larger. 
 

Best practice would be to check each nail you plan on using before driving into the foot. You’ll want to check for straightness of the nail, and confirm that the taper is turning the nail away from the internal structures of the foot. Don’t assume that the maker’s mark is stamped on the correct side of the nail.   

Nails should ideally be driven into the white line/inner wall region of the foot. One of the benefits of glue-on shoes is that they are very forgiving of different trim styles. Therefore, one consideration in trimming the foot for a shoe with nails is possibly leaving more wall on the ground, which allows the nail more wall to grab into.  

There are many different techniques for nailing shoes on horses. If you talk to ten different farriers, you'll get ten different techniques. While this blog cannot explain all the nuances of all the different techniques, I can share with you what I use day to day. Click here for a previous blog that shows my composite nailing technique. Here are the tools I like to use:

When you're ready to start driving nails, I'd definitely recommend you start with something inanimate. I’ve taught a lot of people how to nail, and one of the best ways to get practice is either on cadaver hooves or a piece of 2' x 4' x 3/4" plywood. Plywood is great because you can drive a lot of nails to get the feel for swinging the hammer, how the nail turns, and the force needed. Try drawing dots on the top and side of the board as shown here and aim for those dots when nailing to help with accuracy. Some find placing their middle or ring finger where you want the nail to go helps with accuracy as well due to the propioception. Just don't prick your finger when the nail comes through.

A few last tips:

  • When driving nails; the harder you hit the nail, the faster it turns, coming out lower compared to a nail set at the same pitch hit more softly.
  • When gluing with nails, keep a map in your head where you want your nails before the shoe is glued on. That way, when the shoe is applied, and the glue covers the white line, you still know where you want your nails to go.
  • Your nails only need to be as high as they need to be. A good guideline is 3/4"-1" above the bottom of the wall, especially when gluing.
  • When you feel ready to nail on a live horse, choose a horse with more angle to their wall. Straighter-walled horses are harder to nail.

If you decide to use nails in your shoeing work, I hope the above tips and tricks will prove helpful. With the right tools, some practice, and a coach to keep you safe in the beginning, you'll find nailing adds versatility to your work in helping the horse. 

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

www.DHFSchool.com

New Products for Hoof Packing and Solar Support

Have you been thinking about using hoof packing or what options there are for additional solar support when using the any of the EasyShoe products? Perhaps you are looking for hoof packing to go along with your steel shoes? If so, this video featuring some of the EasyCare customer service staff might be of interest to you. We recently added a series of Glue-U Shufill products to our inventory line and the video compares setting times and each densities of each of the new products at our Durango, Colorado office location.

EasyCare now carries the entire range of Shufill silicones, as well as the two-part dental impression material (putty) and application guns.

There are four different durometer (or densities) of Shufill silicones available, as well as a two-part dental impression material. We also compare setting times and densities of Vettec Equi-Pak Soft and Vettec Sole-Guard. Each of the application guns used are also available on the EasyCare website.

 

At the end of the video, we use a durometer tester to show how hard each of the products sets up. We also try combining some of the silicones to see how well they bond together. We were pleased with the results.

If you would like more information on any of the new products, feel free to call us at 1-800-447-8836 or visit the Quick Shop tab on our website and search for Glue-U.

Kevin Myers

easycare-marketing-director-kevin-myers

Director of Marketing

I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your equine partner.

Demystifying Glue Options for EasyShoes and Easyboot Glue-Ons

I greet you today to demystify your choices of glue for applying the EasyShoe and Easyboot Glue-On.

EasyShoe Compete Applied with EasyShoe Bond Fast Set by Derick Vaughn

1. EasyShoe Bond Fast Set

Designed for use with any of the four styles of EasyShoes, the EasyShoe Bond Fast Set adhesive allows for ample time to mix the glue (and add copper sulfate granules if required), before applying the shoe. When using the Fast Set, the user has between four and six minutes from the onset of mixing the glue in the cup before it is cured.


2. EasyShoe Bond Slow Set

Slow Set allows for ample time to prepare the shoe. The EasyShoe Slow set will take approximately six to eight minutes to cure depending on the environmental temperatures.

 


Sikaflex Adhesive

Providing that couch-full-of-puppies feeling to your horse's sole.

At EasyCare, we use Sikaflex to cushion the sole of our Glue-On boots. This added cushion to the sole has been time tested and proven by novice and expert users alike. It takes up to 12 hours to fully cure but provides added comfort to your horse in even the most arduous terrain such as the annual Tevis 100-mile event. Sika, as it is affectionately known, is always paired with the faster-setting Adhere. The slow-setting Sika is applied to the sole and reduces concussion. The faster-setting Adhere is applied to the hoof wall to keep the boot shell in place almost immediately. 

Adhere

The cheetah in set up time, Adhere sets up quickly and allows the foot to go weight-bearing almost immediately.

For those that are fashion forward and would like the hoof color to match the glue; Adhere does come in both black and tan options. Adhere has been proven in strength and adhesive durability through its use as the primary adhesive when applying the Glue On. It is also frequently used for applying the EasyShoes allowing the applicator the ability to have fully cured and set shoes or Glue-Ons in less than two minutes, depending on environmental temperatures. 

I hope that this has helped to make an educated decision on choosing the best glue for your needs. Now that you have a guide, get out their and get your glue on.

For application tips and tricks on any of the hoof protection devices in the EasyCare lineup, visit the Videos Page on our website. If you have any questions on best practices for applying glue-on EasyShoes or hoof boots, please call our customer service team at 800-447-8836.

Josh, EasyCare Customer Service Representative.
 

When Your Frog is Down: Repairing Prolapsed Frogs

A prolapsed frog is where the frog, sensitive frog, and digital cushion have fallen below the height of the wall in the heels, basically the heel arch collapses. This is more than just a low heeled horse or overgrown frog that needs trimming. It is an actual displacement of the soft tissue in the back of the foot.

This horse's left front frog is touching the ground, even though his shoe has a two degree wedge built into it:

There are many reasons why I believe a frog might prolapse:

  • Trimming heels to the back of the frog regardless of Palmar P3 Angle, then concurrently trimming to a long distorted toe.
  • Wet environment making the horn more deformable and susceptible to excessive load in the back of the foot.
  • Disease in the frog.
  • Wedging to correct low heels without also supporting the frog and caudal structures at the same time .

Other signs that go with a foot with a prolapsed frog:

  • Landing toe first.
  • Positive to hoof testers on the frog.
  • Weak digital cushion that does not fill the space between the lateral cartilage so lateral cartilages will appear more upright.
  • From the sole view: laid over, weak bars and heels that fold over. The horse is often standing on the rolled over outer wall, and not the actual heel purchase.  When trimmed the horse will also typically have corns under the folded heels.
  • When viewing the foot from the side: folding of the horn tubules at the heels, quarter bulge, then a dip in the wall going towards the toe.
  • Low dorsal wall angle.
  • Broken back hoof pastern axis.
  • Chronic heel abscesses.
  • Negative plane Palmar P3 Angle.

Here are some examples of horses with prolapsed frogs. The feet are untrimmed, any rasping was done to clean off glue for before-trim photographs. Notice the heels of these horses do not touch the ground. The frog is taller than the heels so is therefore hitting the ground before the heel purchase. Each of these horses were also very sore to pressure on the frog and quite lame when walking:  

Notice the corn revealed in this foot:

Notice the bulge in the heel quarter on this foot combined with the dip in the wall going toward the toe: 

When I help a horse with a prolapsed frog, I aim to establish my hoof guidelines, ideally through the trim:

  • 3-8 degree palmar P3 angle: the angle of the bottom of the coffin bone in relation to the ground.
  • 50/50 base of support from toe to heel around the center of rotation of the hoof capsule.
  • Capsular and phalangeal alignment, with a straight hoof-pastern axis.
  • Minimizing flare and distortion in the hoof capsule.

After establishing hoof guidelines, we need time for the heels to grow straighter and in the correct position, and the frog and soft tissue to shift back into place. It is important to build prosthetic heel of some kind until the wall grows back into place. Here is an example of another horse I've worked on recently.

Before trim:

Before and after the trim, sole view. Notice the improvement in the frog at the heel bulbs and toe closer to 50/50 around the center of rotation proportions. The horse was trimmed and the foot disinfected with Clean Trax:

After trim, notice the foot is much closer to my hoof guidelines. All of my rehabilitative trimming on horses with prolapsed frogs is done using radiographs as a measurement guide so I can be accurate in achieving my goals and do no harm:

Because this horse's heel wall was so short, and his frog sore, we ended up building him prosthetic heel with a composite heartbar shoe, dental impression material (DIM) and glue, very similar to the technique demonstrated in this previous blog:  

 

The EasyShoe Performance and EasyShoe Performance N/G provide excellent caudal support to help these horses. Because of the sore frogs, it is not in the horse's best interest to leave them barefoot for rehabilitation. If for some reason a composite heart bar shoe with glue and DIM is not an option, I will build prosthetic heel with DIM in a boot instead. The DIM will form to the back of the foot, adding in the missing wall and protecting the frog. 

Whichever method I use, typically horses only need prosthetic wall extension for the first couple of trims. The keys to quickly helping horses with prolapsed frogs are:

  1. Rebalance the foot in the trim, ideally using radiographs as your guide.
  2. Disinfect any frog or heel infection.
  3. Protect the frog by adding prosthetic heel until the horse can grow the wall back.

Daisy Haven Farm and The School of Integrative Hoofcare

November Dealer of the Month: Well-Shod.com

Congratulations to EasyCare Dealer of the Month, Well-Shod.com. Well-Shod is the internet home of Ranchers & Farmers Supply Co. in Amarillo, Texas. They not only sell farrier supplies, they also carry a full line of feed, hay, livestock panels, pet food, animal health products, feed supplements, lawn & garden supplies and much more. However, Well-Shod is your home for quality farrier products, great prices and the very best service - And, Well-Shod prides themselves on customer service!

Well-Shod is a very new EasyCare Dealer with their very first order in August of this year. They carry all of the EasyShoe styles as well as EasyCare hoof boots; the Transition, Rx, the Trail and Epics. And, their sales have exploded in this short period of time!

John Harshbarger, Owner of Well-Shod, started with the company when he was 17 years old and here he is, twenty years later. John and his Website Manager, Elizabeth Kozak, feel their most successful marketing strategy is their very successful website.

                                                                       

John indicates that they also have a lot of traffic and a very loyal customer base. He feels that another reason for their success is their commitment to customer service and superior production selection. One of their favorite farrier events is the Hoof Care Summit.

John said his favorite EasyCare Product is the EasyShoe Performance N/G. “This EasyShoe has many options and functions that make it applicable to many different disciplines and for many different reasons.”

                

“In the last decade, we have seen a tremendous growth in the demand for and the availability of hoof boots and alternatives to traditional steel shoes. The variety of styles of hoof boots and shoes has increased and has become more specific to different disciplines.”  John continues, “I believe that hoof care has expanded to include many non-conventional methods. Glue-On Shoes, synthetic, and hoof boots are very important tools that can be used to better help the horse.”

John and his wife own seven horses that his wife trains and shows in Reining. They use Easyboot Transitions when trailering or stalling at shows.

Well-Shod is stocking everything that you need when it comes to EasyCare Products. But, they are running out of room and are stacking things higher and higher. Visit them at 8048 River Road in Amarillo, Texas or on their website at www.wellshod.com.

What Are Easy Shoes and Why Would I Want Them?

Submitted by Ashley Gasky, Team Easyboot 2014 Member

I have been lucky enough to provide several demonstrations to the public regarding EasyShoes. Some common questions are "How, what and why?"

EasyShoes are composite polyurethane horse shoes designed to be glued or nailed to the hoof capsule. Why would you want to use them?

1. In order for glue-on shoes to be successful, the hoof preparation must be meticulous. Who doesn't want meticulous hoof care for their horse? Glue bonds best to clean and dry surfaces. White line separations, chipped hoof walls, and excess moisture will be meticulously managed. Every surface will be cleaned and dried for optimal stickability. 

Crevices and cracks will be cleaned and filled, preventing them from spreading and allowing them to heal. The drying process involves the use of a small torch which can also be used in eliminating thrush infections. See minute 12:30 of this video from the Association of American Professional Farriers: americanfarriers.com/pages/Online-Hoof-Care-Classrooms-How-To-Make-Mentoring-Pay-Off.php  for an explanation of why to use a micro torch.

2. Protection with expansion. Sometimes horses require hoof protection, be it hoof boots or shoes. By applying protection, you prevent a horse from being concerned about the comfort of her feet, leaving her able to focus on her job. In this instance, an EasyShoe will enhance her comfort and ability to utilize her hooves in the most correct manner all the time, not just when a boot is applied. 

Frustoconical.

3. EasyShoe models can be applied to the hoof and go weight bearing instantly: a real boon when working on sore, or fidgeting horses.

4. Reduce or eliminate nail holes. If you are not great with glue, use the EasyShoe Performance N/G and tack in a couple of nails. If your not confident in nails, use glue.

EasyShoe Performance N/G with 3 nails and glue.

5. Because proper glue technique is a skill best honed when the pressure is off. Try it today, before you need it.

 6. Because they work. Eventing, Racing, Endurance, Dressage, Hunters, Western Pleasure, Cutting, Rehabilitation. You name it, EasyShoes are out there doing it.

Lyndsay Poole and her horse Garwin. Photo by Anthony Celona

 

RB So Rich has won multiple races in EasyShoes

 

Some Girls Like Jimmy Choo, We Like EasyShoe!

You may remember my blog on hoof mapping on my own horse. Several months later those flat pancakey Percheron/TB  feet are finally tight enough to fit into the size 5 EasyShoe Performance with a 14mm spacer. What a transition my girl has made! I had the opportunity to glue shoes on all four feet with Garrett Ford and Derick Vaughn-I learned so much and had such a blast! And best of all, Rosie is LOVING her new shoes, moving well, and enjoying her work as a jumper.

First Garrett and Derick tag teamed Rosie’s trim while I looked on and did my best to absorb every bit of information. They let me prep the hooves using a rotating hoof buffer attachment with 50 grit sandpaper and a Dremel tool. I buffed and rasped the hoof wall and made sure to remove all the periople on the heel. Then we used a butane torch and wire brush to put the finishing touches on the hooves-we torched each hoof 3 times! Those feet were CLEAN and DRY and good thing too because with Rosie tipping the scale at 1476 pounds there is NO room for error.

We decided to go with a two part gluing process and then filled in the sole with the Shore 40 Glue-U Shufill.  

First we applied Vettec Adhere to the sole portion of the shoe and put those on. I held the foot up for 2 minutes and then set it down carefully so Rosie could do the rest of the work. Applying the Adhere to the shoe and the shoe to the hoof for the first time was quite the rush. The clock was ticking and let’s just say that my dexterity with this process has some way to go. I was grateful for the knowledge and encouragement around me and especially for the nail that Garrett drove through the toe of the shoe to help guide placement and to minimize the chance of Rosie’s toe slipping forward after setting the foot down.

Next we glued the cuffs with EasyShoe Bond Fast Set. Since we wanted Rosie’s shoes to look slick, we mixed some cement dye into the Bond to match the black of the shoes. Next time I might have to add a little glitter! Using a hoof pick to pry the glue cuff away from the wall and a fat popsicle stick to slather the Bond in proved a little awkward but effective and Bond was oozing out of the holes in the cuffs.

After allowing the Bond to set up we went to town with the buffy and buffed the glue, the wall, and the cuffs to a perfectly smooth transition. We then filled the sole with the yellow Shufill-this is the firmest of the four durometer silicones EasyCare offers-taking care to inject some up under the web of the shoe so it would stay put. The Shufill was then covered with a layer of duct tape to hold it in place while it set up-only a few minutes. As if Rosie’s feet weren’t looking slick enough, Garrett busted out his super glue stash and slathered a layer over the top of everything to seal it off and provide one uniform outer layer. We pulled the duct tape off the bottom and were done. WOW! PERFECTION!

 

The shoes have now been on fourteen days including two big days of jumping schooling over 4' and another two days at a jumping clinic and the shoes are holding up great! I have been enjoying the ease of tacking up with shoes instead of our Old Mac’s G2’s and Rosie has been enjoying the comfort and protection around the clock. I expect to see some good quality hoof growth by the time we are ready to remove the EasyShoes and trim again.

Photo Credit: Caroline Miller

Since my ankle is finally healed enough for me to be riding seriously again, Rosie and I have been back to work on the cross country course and in the jumping arena putting our shoes to the test. So far they are getting an A+++!

Success with the EasyShoe Sport, More Than a CrossOver

Submitted by Tennessee Lane, Team Easyboot 2014 Member

Let it be known: the EasyShoe Sport has proven itself.

Tennessee Lane on Moxy take 1st and Best Condition at the Black Hills 100 wearing the EasyShoe Sport.

This shoe just protected Moxy's feet through another 100 miles of tough mountain terrain. No, its is not the first product that I would have chosen for the job (endurance riding/racing,) but I just had to try it and it surprised the heck out of me.

 

I was a skeptic about the EasyShoes. In my mind they were a "crossover": Chevy's Equinox, Ford's Edge, Volvo's XC60. The EasyShoe was EasyCare's answer to people on the edge of steel shoes and booting. But I was wrong. Yes, it may help people make the transition from steel to booted; sometimes people need their hands held even when the solution is obvious. But the EasyShoes can hold their own. As a skeptic, when the various models came out, I chose the most basic, the EasyShoe Sport. I figured if I really wanted frog and sole protection, I would go with my favorite product; the original Easyboot Glue-On. So if I was going to use a "Shoe," it would be for the benefits of actually wearing something less. I slapped on the EasyShoe Sport in no time, it seemed way too easy.  First thoughts?  "No way. Nope. Not gonna work. Not enough to it. It's gonna come off. And once riding in them, suddenly, after all these years in Gloves and Glue-Ons, I feel naked on the rocks. They can see my froggin' sole!" 

When it comes to riding equipment, I'm a minimalist. This is actually what attracted me to the EasyShoe Sport over the other models of EasyShoes: it's the simplicity. They are extremely light, provide bare minimal protection (almost as minimal as a steel shoe would, but with the EasyShoes the heels can still expand and contract) and they are extremely easy and fast to apply. It's funny, when I think about nailing a steel shoe to an animal's feet, the corn-fed half of me says "Yeah it's worked for thousands of years and literally helped shape the world we live in, obviously functional," and the other half of me is giggling like "LOL that $#!t is Midlevel! Goodness it's time to move on!"  

Moxy is a very heavily-muscled mare, she is one of the most difficult creatures on earth to keep a boot on because that big, beautiful badonkadonk of hers can apply more force (or torque rather) on a boot than a tractor can we she drives up a hill. She wore the EasyShoe Sport for 100 miles of trail at the Mt Carmel XP, which is a rough, technical ride. The fact that they survived 100 miles of Carmel on Moxy gave me significant confidence in the product and I started using it more often. I have been very impressed.

The Black Hills 100 mile ride was beautiful and extremely technical, to the point of being tedious and time consuming. Lots of rocks, tones of boggy creek crossings (literally there was a stretch where you crossed the same creek back and forth about 15 times, and you repeated that stretch of trail four times). I cantered wherever possible, which was not a lot, and that includes maybe four total miles of hard county road. Lots of rise and fall, and some super steep stretches, the perfect proving grounds for a new product. Moxy took 1st and Best Condition wearing the EasyShoe Sport.

Thoughts: They are extremely easy to apply.  Half the work because you prep half the amount of hoof wall and you aren't prepping the sole or frog, no Sikaflex under there. Just trim the hoof and prep the wings. They provide excellent grip in mud (or turf or snow,) better in those conditions (in my humble opinion) than the Glove or Glue-On or any other boot that covers/protects the entire sole/frog (given you haven't added studs to those products). You give up protection, but gain grip. What a great option to have with Winter (mud and snow) coming.

Tip: after applying the EasyShoe, I recommend taking a blob of Adhere on the end of your finger (like you would put toothpaste on it) and smearing it on the very back heel of the shoe (on both sides) so it closes any possible gap between the horse's heel and the end of the shoe. If the horse ever over reaches, that back hoof will start to try to make a flip-flop out of the shoe over time. This will prevent that back hoof from having a shelf to catch on. This will also reinforce the connection back there to prevent the shoe from starting to break away at the heel. That's where it is most likely to start breaking away because the heel is expanding and contracting with every stride. As you know, that's how we remove Glue-Ons, by breaking that seal and working our way around the hoof wall. 

Tip #2: If your horse is a toe-tapper (some horses drag their toes, fronts  or backs, there are a lot of reasons this can happen and I'm not diagnosing those in this blog, just telling you how to avoid shoe-loss as a result of toe-tapping or toe-dragging,) put another blob of adhere on your finger and paint a thick layer over the seam between the hoof and the shoe where they meet at the breakover. Over 100 miles, a toe dragger could start to break that connection so that the shoe starts to catch (like if the sole of your shoe came off starting from the front but it was still connected at the back, every stride would make it worse once it starts catching.)  So again, painting some adhere over that connection will prevent the earth from having anything to catch on. I was out of latex gloves, so I literally just squirted a line of adhere directly over the seam and it worked perfect (ugly but functional) but it would be better smeared with a finger.

Here is another picture from the trail. Rocks, mud, you name it.

Give EasyShoes a try. I did, and I love them. I plan to use lots of them for all the winter training rides I have coming up.

Facebook.com/RemudaRun

EasyShoe Performance N/G

I chose the EasyShoes over the traditional shoes because I feel it is an awesome midway point between barefoot and shod. I usually keep my horse barefoot, but this year we were running extra hard and he needed the extra support. My vet suggested wide webbed natural balance shoes, but I went a step further and got the EasyShoe Performance N/G's. Absolutely wonderful product! We ended up nailing ours, since my horse is turned out 24/7 on pastures, and I didn't feel like glue ons would be an option for him. He likes to roughhouse! He is moving well, and finally has that nice relaxed stride with a swing in his back! Also gravel is no longer a problem! Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating such a wonderful product! Believe me when I say this is going to be the only type of shoes I'll ever buy!

Name: Mariya
City: Chester
State: New York
Country: United States
Equine Discipline: WesternArenaSports
Favorite Boot/Shoes: EasyShoe Performance N/G



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.