EasyCare Goes Cavalry at the Old Dominion

Submitted by Karen Neuenschwander, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

The Old Dominion 100 is a bucket list ride for many. Rocks, big climbs, heat, humidity, and more rocks make “the Beast of the East” a fitting nickname for this ride. To add to the challenge, there is an option to ride “Cavalry.” The rider must carry with them everything for the horse and rider (except for water) for the entire ride. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of attempting this challenge since I learned about it several years ago. When it came time to take my mare, Brooke, on her first 100 miler, I knew she’d be a good candidate to give it a try. She’s strong on mountain trails, tolerates heat and humidity well, and takes great care of herself without being too high maintenance.

Hoof protection was a big consideration since any gear for lost shoes or boots had to be carried. Easyboot Glue-Ons were the obvious choice for us. The key to Glue-On success is proper application to DRY hooves. In our damp, swampy Southeast Virginia climate, getting those hooves dry can take a little extra effort. Brooke and her buddy, Legalas, had a sleepover in my barn’s stalls the night before we applied the boots for some extra drying time. “Legs” will be doing Tevis next month in Glue-Ons applied by the EasyCare gluing team, so he did the 50 miler at Old Dominion to try them out. The next morning, I glued everyone’s boots (with lots of extra hands to help things go smoothly), and we headed to the ride.

A night in the stalls keeps everyone's hooves nice and dry before gluing.

Although I tried to minimize the amount of stuff that I carried, some necessities needed to be packed along. I used the EasyCare Deluxe Stowaway Pack to carry some grain, two spare Easyboot Gloves, and electrolytes. I had planned to use the Deluxe Pommel Pack for more storage in front, but upon trying it out, discovered that I actually preferred something a little smaller. One quick call to EasyCare, and the standard size pack arrived a couple of days later. It carried my drink bottles and Brooke’s all-important carrots! I carried my food in a small backpack designed for ultra-runners, and we were all set to tackle the ride!

Sporting our Glue-Ons and all of our gear.  Photo by Becky Pearman Photography
 
Our goal was simply to get a completion. We made time where the footing was good, trusting that the Glue-Ons would absorb concussion on the miles of forest service roads. Brooke was able to do her awesome power walk over the crazy rocks and up and down the steepest climbs, her boots providing great traction and protection on the uneven footing. In the end, we completed the ride in fifth place, making us eligible to compete not only for the Cavalry Trophy, but also the Old Dominion Trophy, which is judged similarly to Best Conditioned.
 

During the judging the next morning, Brooke trotted out sound and looked great for the vet exam. I was shocked and honored at the awards ceremony to learn we had won both the Cavalry and Old Dominion Trophies! I am so grateful to EasyCare for offering products that helped make our ride such a success!

 

Bowker Master Class in Australia

Traveling to the other side of the world to Australia is a surreal experience, 24 hours of air travel to land in a beautiful place full of completely different flora and fauna, let alone tremendously entertaining accents.

I recently had the opportunity to go to the Melbourne area of 'Straya, as it's often locally called (try saying this with an Australian accent), and attend Dr. Robert Bowker's master class at the Equine College of Podiotherapy.  The College is located at a fantastic facility, Mayfield, in Yarck, Victoria, and is a nationally accredited educational program run by "The Barefoot Blacksmith", Andrew Bowe.  

The master class is an advanced hoof course offered to students at the school. And while Dr. Bowker is from the USA, nothing like this 3-day master class with him is currently offered here in the US. It was an incredible opportunity to attend this class as it is not usually open to those not enrolled in the school. I was traveling to Australia to teach a Daisy Haven Farm Hoof Distortion and Glue/Composite Shoe Workshop and was invited to guest lecture on glue and composite shoe work at the Masterclass. Of course, I extended my trip to attend the entire program.  

Sitting and listening to Dr. Bowker at such a concentrated level helped me further understand the theories and anatomy he has been sharing with us for years. Dr. Bowker has always been a great influence in my approach to my work with the horse's foot and this master class just reinforced and enhanced my understanding of the function of the foot. Here are a few key thoughts that stood out to me from the course:

1. Most of the blood flow to the foot is going to the back part of the foot. 

It is commonly thought that the digital cushion does not have significant blood supply as the large vessels of the foot lead to the front of the foot, and the sensitive frog and digital cushion are pale in a dead foot. However the digital cushion is made up of mixoid tissue which has bazillions of micro vessels: like watering your garden, using a fire hose would eliminate top soil, however if you use the fire hose to feed many small sprinklers it will work to water the garden without damage. So the digital cushion actually has immense blood supply.  

This previous blog highlights some of Dr. Bowker's research on the circulation of the back of the horse's foot: How to Develop a Healthy Foot: Circulation Is It!.

2. Navicular syndrome is a whole foot problem, as opposed to being contained to just the back half of the foot.  

In comparison to a healthy foot, a horse with navicular syndrome will have:

  1. Lateral cartilages with greater size micro vessels indicating chronic inflammation.
  2. Digital cushion with less fibrocartilage and mass, the fibrocartilage is a key component in energy dissipation.
  3. Impar ligament and deep digital flexor tendon lesions associated with "navicular disease".
  4. Coffin Bone will have 1/3 less bone than all other horses age 2-31 when navicular syndrome is present, i.e. osteoporotic.
  5. Primary Epidermal Laminae are closer together indicating increased stress.

The newest information Dr. Bowker presented at the class was on fascia. Dr. Bowker has been doing dissections from the carpus down the distal limb examining the fascial sheets. So far no two horses are the same.

He has been able to draw preliminary conclusions from the dissections that indicate horses are not born with developed fascial bands. They develop over time in response to how the foot interacts with the ground and manages vibration.  

Key points:

  1. Fascia is an integrated binding fabric between and around muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments.  
  2. These structures “float” or are meshed within fascial layers and bands and develop and change over time.
  3. Many structures are connected through fascia where no other apparent connection exists. For example, the common digital extensor tendon connects all the way to the frog through fascia.  
  4. Dr. Bowker has observed that managing vibrations, especially at high frequencies has a negative impact on the fascia.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg of valuable information presented. My book of handouts is 3" thick and my notes are pages and pages long.

My favorite quote of the whole course:

"The unanswered questions aren't nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers."  Dr. Bob Bowker.

​Huge thanks to Sarah Kuyken of Innovative Hoofcare Australia for hosting me in Melbourne and Andrew Bowe of the Australian College of Podiotherapy for allowing me to present some of my work with composite shoes and attend the master class.

For more information: www.DaisyHavenFarm.com and www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com.

Stories of the Heart

Submitted by Mari Ural, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

Today I thought I'd share stories of the heart, Heart the horse that is, who is a 17 year old Arab.  He was found in a Colorado pasture that had no grass, so as you can imagine, he was pretty emaciated.  His shoes had been left on him so long that some had simply fallen off.  This was back in 2009.  Poor Mr. Heart vowed he would never go hungry again!  Eating is now his MOST favorite thing to do.

At first, he was trimmed and shod.  In 2010 he moved on to barefoot and booted.  The trick was lowering those heels so his Easyboot Gloves were comfortable.  He is not a heel first landing type of fellow.  He lands quite flat.  I'm guessing that is why it took awhile to get away from the heel contraction even after going barefoot.  Six years later, the frogs are better but not the full frog we like to see.

He is always turned out, though the ground is fairly soft, and he has always stayed sound, though trotting on a gravelly hard pack road is not comfortable for him even when in boots.  He lets you know by shortening his stride until he hits nicer footing.  This winter his front feet started to really flare.

My pictures of the "before" unfortunately didn't turn out, but believe me, the front feet were paddles.  St George trimmer, J.B. Rex, worked on them, bringing them back to the point that they looked like horse feet.  He removed a good deal of old sole that had built up.  The plan is to keep the toe rolled enough that we'll get away from the slight flare that still exists and maybe it will grow out.  He's always had a slight flare on his front feet, so boots aren't as flush at the top as desired.  Power Straps and Mueller's tape have handled that problem for Gloves and a little extra time holding down the "V" with Adhere has worked for the Glue-Ons.  It would be really nice to be able to get rid of the flare and see a better frog, so any other ideas would be great.

The pictures attached are of his current trim.

 

SOS May 2016-Stuck? Pro Tips for Removing Glue-Ons

We have quite a bit of content about how to glue like a rock star. Everything from hoof prep to using different materials to modifying glue-ons for any situation. We even address aesthetics in our quest for gluing perfection. By now, you probably have gluing down. Keeping the shoes and boots on is no issue-the trouble is getting those things off.

EasyCare Elite Gluer and all around great guy Pete Van Rossum of Ramona, CA helped us out with some pictures of a quick and simple method for removing glue-ons. Thanks for the great photos, Pete! 

Rasp through the cuffs and around the edges of the EasyShoe then rim or score the edge of the shoe with the edge of your rasp.

Using your pull-offs, start at the rear of the shoe and carefully roll it forward. Inching it along will ensure it's just the shoe that comes off. Go slowly. Better leave that hoof wall on the horse where it belongs.

Once the shoe or boot is off, all you need to do is clean up the remaining adhesive and cuff material with your rasp and hoof buffer.

So there you have it. One pro's method for getting unstuck without a fuss. Of course there is always more than one way to skin a cat. If you'd like to see more you might like Christoph Schork's blog about removing the Easyboot Glue-Ons or Garrett Ford's video showing two ways to remove EasyShoes.  

If you've come up with a different way that works for you we want to know about it!

Debbie Schwiebert 800-447-8836 ext. 2224 or dschwiebert@easycareinc.com

Rebecca Balboni 800-447-8836 ext. 2232 or rbalboni@easycareinc.com

Secrets of the Savvy

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

Flip Flop Suitability

The Flip Flops have been tested now in several endurance races. Absolutely no failures whatsoever! They have been working better than expected. Garrett Ford, owner and CEO of EasyCare Inc, posted on his FB page how the Flip Flops were on one of his horses hooves for over 8 weeks now and are still totally intact. On my blog from last month, Flip Flop In Action, I outlined the success I have had with them during the last few months, in training and in endurance races.  Since then, another one of Global Endurance Training Center's horses, Medinah MHF, won the Antelope Island 50 Mile Endurance event and also was awarded Best Condition, wearing the Flip Flops.

Trotting out Medinah MHF wearing Flip Flops for the BC showing.

So we now know and have proven that the Flip Flops work well. But why would we want to select a Flip Flop, and how do we choose from all the excellent EasyCare products which hoof protection to use for any particular horse? Why select a Glove over a Glue On, an EasyShoe over a boot, a Performance N/G over a Compete or a Sport, just to name a few? What criteria are we using for this selection?

To compare the suitability of all the EasyCare hoof protection products would cover too many pages to make it feasible for a single blog. So I will restrain myself to explore the suitability of the Flip Flops for today's blog.

What kind of hooves and what kind of hoof characteristics would benefit the most from the application of the Flip Flops? Before making an educated guess, let's quickly review the advantages of the Flip Flops:

- Only the dorsal part of the hoof wall will get glued. Therefore, at least half of the hoof wall is exposed to air.

- The Flip Flops come with a healthy amount of heel extension. This is supportive for the tendons.

- The Flip Flops are easier and faster to apply compared to the Glue-Ons.

Hooves that are soft and would strengthen and benefit from increased exposure to air could be good candidates. Horses with soft and long pasterns will receive additional heel support and prevent the over flexing of the pasterns and tendons.

When drawing the plum line through the center of the coffin bone, we see that the (red) plum line falls behind the heel support. Not an ideal situation. 

With the Flip Flop, the center of the canon bone is supported now. The pasterns are less likely to over flex and risk tendon injury.

Here is a different example of a hoof that could greatly benefit from a Flip Flop:

Hardly any heel growth observable here and the bulbs are almost flat with the heels. A Glue-On boot would be less favorable, while a Flip Flop will give not only support, but might also foster heel growth.

On the other side of the spectrum, let's look at this hoof and fetlock:

When drawing the plum line through the center of the canon bone, it comes out well ahead of the heel. Hooves like this, with more upright and short pasterns don't necessarily 'need' the heel support of the Flip Flops. They will do really well with Glue-Ons or Gloves or, like in this case, with EasyShoe Performance N/G.

When applying the Flip Flops, there are several options in regards to the sole. The fastest and easiest way is to just leave the sole as it is, not applying any sole glue whatsoever. I did use the Flip Flops without adding any padding, glue or other fillers to the sole. It worked very well. I never had a rock or any debris get stuck between the boot and the sole. I believe that the constant movement of the Flip Flop is helping to keep the sole clean. Furthermore, the sole is getting exposed to air and will stay hard and conditioned. Although I never had anything get stuck there, for endurance races I personally prefer to fill the bottom of the sole with some fillers, just to guard against the odd occurrence that a rock could get wedged in there and cause me some headache. I have a 'zero tolerance' policy in place for endurance rides. Nothing left to chance, I will safeguard against anything that I know could possibly happen.  I tried the Sikaflex and it worked okay, but it is a little cumbersome to deal with the Sikaflex squishing out from under the boot for a few hours and having to confine your horse for that reason. A better solution is the use of Vettec Equipak, Equipak CS or Equipak Soft. The Soft is designed for really sensitive hooves. It does not adhere quite as well to the sole compared to the other two Equipaks. For most horses, the Equipak and CS work really well. I like the Copper Sulfate added to keep the bacteria at bay. Because of the copper sulfate added,  the CS stays softer after being cured when comparing to the regular Equipak.

After the application of the Flip Flops with the Vettec Adhere, the Equipak can get injected. Most of the time you can just bend the Flip Flops back and inject the Equipak. Again, the EasyCare Educational Videos on the website show that very well. Should the space between Flip Flop and sole be too tight, one can drill a small hole into the bottom of the Flip Flop and inject the Equipak through this hole.

Below an example on how a Flip Flop will look with the Equipak CS applied to the sole.

These boots are still in place now after about four weeks of application and two endurance races.  No separation or seam breakage visible at any place. No real reason to take them off, would it not be for the fact that the hooves need trimming again soon. 

From the Bootmeister 

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

www.globalendurance.com

 

A Tool for Everything

Submitted by Rusty Toth 

Meet Delilah, she is a 16.1 h former race horse I was introduced to to help her become sound again. She is a sweet and kind mare with some issues from less than stellar shoeing practices in her past. She has a low heel, long toe and very flat thin soles.

After a discussion with the owner, we decided to try the EasyShoe Performance. The frog stimulation, I believe, will help grow sole while getting her off the rough hard decomposed granite that is our ground in the Phoenix area. She was so tender standing on a mat she could not load one foot long enough to either directly or indirectly glue on the shoes. Poor girl gave it an honest try, but she just couldn't do it. Now what?

In trying to problem solve the situation, I remembered a blog from Christoph some time ago about modifying a shell into a shoe. Bingo! With the Adhere being so quick to set, the shell encompassing her hoof wall, she could set the bugger down quickly and with gusto, and I knew the boot would remain in place.

We truly have an excellent group of people collected with EasyCare. A quick call to Christoph to ascertain the size of hole required for the size of shell and we were off and running. I used a three and a half inch hole in a size #2 Glue-On shell. She needed the support of the base and frog.

Knowing how sore she was, I did not apply any glue to the sole surface, and applied Adhere to the wall of the shell only. Using a duct tape damn, I applied Vettec Soft to make her immediately comfortable. Knowing this product has zero sticking quality we will remove the packing in two weeks time to allow the sole to breath.

The owner reported the next day that Delilah was walking sound, landing flat and even heel first for the first time in a long time.  Problem solving at its best. I am grateful to be part of such an incredible team of people collected, using amazing products with an infinite ability to be used to solve any problem. Thank you EasyCare.

 

EasyCare Boots Bring Us Together

Submitted by Leah Cain, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

Have you ever thought about how boots have brought us all closer together?  I am talking about the human and the equine kind. Getting hands on with your horses hooves and the protection of them can make for a whole other level of intimacy.  From their exercise programs to their diet, to their trims and watching them move every time you are with them.  It is so exciting to see horses change for the better and see their owners take great pride in being a part of the positive change.  I have had the pleasure of helping many navigate the world of booting but the most recent boot inductees have been especially exciting.  

The most recent was a gelding whom had been neglected for quite some time.  The horse rescue never thought he would be able to be put to any real work.  He had hooves that didn't grow much, with thin hoof walls and every kind of distortion you could think of.  He was very short-strided and looked ouchy just about everywhere.  With a good trim, good fitting boots and an exercise program in place, he was making progress.  I was able to get a real, normal trim done on him today and his hooves are growing and coming back to what they should be.  His owner has high hopes of getting out to do some endurance and I am positive she will get them there!  They did the Intro Ride at the Antelope Island Endurance ride and with just a little more conditioning time, they will be out there!

The next new booter came with trepidation about being able to do boots on her own and if she was protecting them enough.  She has learned how to apply the boots in no time flat and has got down the taping technique too.  She has been able to get out in all types of terrain and conditions and learn as we go.  She too has taken charge of her horses whole body health which includes hooves.  She did the Intro ride as well and then went on to do the LD at Antelope Island.   Next we play with glue-on boots, glue-on hybrids and shoes!

Oh yeah, and they want me to mention that they are old and could be my Mother, so no excuses!  Get out there and make a difference in your horses life for the better! 

Flip Flops In Action

It has only been a few weeks now since the Flip Flops were released to the horse world. At the AERC Convention last month in Reno, the Flip Flops were the center of attention with the trade show visitors. Lots of questions were asked and lots of answers given by Garrett Ford, Kevin Myers and myself at the EasyCare booth.  During my last month's blog, EasyCare and AERC, I described the usage and application methods of the new Flip Flops. The EasyCare website also has a great educational video on how to apply the Flip Flops to the horses hooves. You can click on the link to watch it. It is over 18 minutes long, but very worthwhile watching. And it is much more detailed and better than I could ever describe it to you here. Therefore I will not describe the application method, but rather give you a report on how the Flip Flops performed in the field test.

A new Flip Flop, ready to be applied.

Flip Flops applied, ready for action.

Everyone is always interested to know how they wear and what kind of experience we had with them in real life, like equestrian events, trail riding or endurance racing. Garrett Ford had used them in some 50 milers last year, then this spring, I had the opportunity to apply them on two of GETC's endurance horses, Medinah MHF and GE Seastar. I competed over 200 miles in them, two 50 Mile races on each horse. The images below show the  Flip Flops that have been on the horses hooves now for over four weeks.

These are a few aspects of the Flip Flops, applied to GE Seastar, after completing two 50 mile endurance races, one at 20 Mule Team in California, the second one at the Old Pueblo in Arizona. These Flip Flops have now been applied for 4 weeks. Notice how well the borders are still intact. There is no separation of the seams whatsoever.

Now, I could leave these boots on for another two or three weeks and enter the Antelope Island 50 in a couple of weeks. But it is spring time, the horses hooves grow very fast and the hooves are growing faster  already anyway when using EasyCare products, be it the EasyShoes or the boots that are permanently attached, like the Glue-Ons or these Flip Flops. Through the constant stimulation of frog and sole, hoof growth is accelerated. That is a good thing. So, I decided to pull them already now and apply new ones for the new events in the future.

The wear of the soles of the boots is very minimal, just like we are accustomed to from all the other EasyCare boots and shoes. The trails on both races were a mixture of sand, gravel roads and rocks, so relatively abrasive.

I'm very happy with the wear of these soles. Are you?

The EasyCare Flip Flops are designed to also be used with the Therapy Click System.

The Flip Flop (with the Therapy Click System) and a Glue-On displayed together at the AERC Convention Trade Show.

At some point in the future we will discuss this system as well. It has worked very well for rehabbing foundered horses.

A couple of pointers for the application that might come in useful when you are applying the Flip Flop for the first time. As mentioned above, take the time to learn about the application method by watching Garrett Ford's video. Then, when placing the FlipFlop with the glue applied onto the hoof, hold it for a few seconds before placing it gently onto the ground. It helps if the tip of the hoof is placed onto the ground first so the dorsal hoof wall stays well inside the boot. Because there is no rear support, with some horses the hoof might slide backwards out of the shell. Also, because the hoof is only surrounded by the shell in the dorsal half, the horse can twist the hoof much easier inside the boot and loose the alignment. Keep the horse's leg very quiet till the glue sets and avoid any kind of twisting.

So, what is next on the agenda for me? I now want to enter a 100 miler with them and see what results I might get then. I will keep you all posted.

These Flip Flops are really growing on me. I have always been a great fan of the Glue-Ons, but I just might have to move the Flip Flops to the top of the list.

 

From the desk of the Bootmeister:

Christoph Schork

Member TE 2016

Global Endurance Training Center

PHCP Conference 2016: Packed Full of Gold

Several months ago I saw an event post on Facebook regarding the 2016 Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners Conference in San Diego, CA. When the event information came across my news feed, I felt compelled to attend. The lineup of speakers looked phenomenal featuring Dr. Deb Taylor, Dr. Hilary Clayton, nutritionist Carol Layton, Garrett Ford of EasyCare, and more.  The venue was set to be top notch, in sunny San Diego and located in large part at the beautiful Arroyo Del Mar, training facility of Shannon and Steffen Peters.  

Top that off with the opportunity to visit with friends and colleagues, this conference was too good to pass up.

This educational event was a hoof care provider's dream. I was incredibly impressed with how smoothly the conference ran, and how lovely San Diego is this time of year.

I was also impressed with the diversity of attendees. Veterinarians, barefoot trimmers, farriers, body workers and more. The information presented was diverse in subject matter, and valuable not only for my own personal knowledge, but also gave me a broader understanding on several topics that will directly help me help my clients' horses as well. Here are a few of the gold nuggets I took home.

Among many wonderful topics, Dr. Deb Taylor discussed negative palmar P3 angles and brought with her 3D-printed digital cushions. Note the difference between the digital cushion on the left, lacking mass and substance, and the digital cushion on the right, which is more robust. It was a fantastic way to fully visualize how important the mass of the digital cushion is to the foot of the horse. If my horse's foot had the digital cushion of the model on the left I'd have a lot to worry about. A robust digital cushion is critical to a healthy palmar P3 angle and straight hoof pastern axis.

Dr. Hilary Clayton discussed several interesting topics, one of which was "Biomechanics of the Hoof-Ground Interaction". There were two statements she made that stood out to me in particular.

If the Reaction Force vector does not pass through the center of rotation of the joint it creates a torque around the joint that the soft tissue has to oppose'. Dr Hillary Clayton, PHCP Conference 2016.

This statement brings home the importance of a balanced trim and how a thorough understanding of anatomy and locomotion for the hoof care provider is critical to the health and soundness of the horse. 

'The Distal Interphalangeal Joint is largely responsible for accommodating irregularities in terrain or farriery but not day after day, step after step'. Dr. Hillary Clayton, PHCP Conference 2016. 

This statement by Dr. Clayton highlights our responsibility as hoof care providers to respect the living tissue of the horse, and to remember how our work significantly impacts not only the soundness of our animals today, but long into the future.

Garrett Ford's demonstration of some of the latest and greatest glue-on composite shoe options for horses was enlightening. Any one of us can take a boot or shoe and apply it with success to the foot, but the benefit of watching an expert like Garrett apply a specific product can take a good application by any one of us and make it great. It's the small details that make the difference. I appreciated watching his shoe selection when applying the new Flip Flop, especially how he adjusted the back of the shoe for appropriate fit with a buffy. It was also helpful to watch how he applied the Glu-U Shufill packing to the front half of the foot, leaving the back half open so dirt and debris wouldn't get under the front of the shoe, but could still easily fall out of the back.  

Carol Layton discussed nutrition for the horse and diet, especially as it relates to Insulin Resistance and PPID.  

'Horses are designed to be trickle feeders, the worst thing we can do is feed them sporadically' Carol Layton, PHCP Conference 2016.

She showed us photos and video of the micro-organisms with their anatomical parts, searching and eating, living their life in the horse's gut. It was fascinating, and highlighted the importance of having the right micro-organisms in the digestive tract of the horse. Especially as it relates to the insulin resistant horse being on a "diet". Commonly, these horses are on calorie-restricted diets, which means they don't eat all day long. She emphasized the importance of using an appropriately low ESC + starch forage fed at a rate of 1.5% of the horse's body weight per day in a slow feeder net so they nibble constantly. 

There are too many gold nuggets of information to highlight them all here. I encourage you to consider attending the next PHCP Conference in 2018. 

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

That's My Story and I'm Stickin' To It: The Learning Curve

Submitted by David Landreville

That's My Story by Collin Raye was a popular song in the 90's. I don't know how many times back then I would hear someone finish their sentence with the line, "That's my story and I'm stickin' to it." I feel sorry for Collin Raye as I'm sure he never escaped his fans shouting this line at him. What I find interesting though, is how a hit country song aimed at self deprecating humor quickly became a national anthem that seemed to "stick." This method of "tweaking the truth" has become very prevalent in our society and has become an every day part of my personal experience with horse people: Veterinarians, farrier/trimmers, trainers, and horse owners. It's easy to judge the success of a concept, or product, by your own experience, but not very productive to just stop there. Here's a self deprecating story about my learning curve with EasyShoes.

I've spent many years developing a predictably successful trimming protocol. The trouble is that success is like money, and it seems that you can never have enough. When the EasyShoe first came out, I have to admit, my first thought was negative because it looked too much like the demon I'd been fighting for years. A funny thing happened, though. Over time, the closer I looked at it, the more interested I became until I was modifying Glue-On shells to mimic the design (because they weren't available to the public yet). I started gluing them on my own horses and immediately had some positive results. They improved the movement and the integrity of the soft tissue in the back of their feet.  I was excited about this and couldn't wait for the EasyShoe to become available. As usual, when trying something new, there will be a learning curve. My problem was being able to make them last for a full trim cycle. I was getting anywhere from a day to a month. I still saw hoof improvement as long as they would stay in place. I was afraid that I wouldn't be very successful using them on my client's horses if I couldn't reasonably predict how long they would stay on.

After a few brave souls offered to be experiments, I slowly broadened my experience and learned to improve my success rate. I achieved good changes in the hoof but only moderate success with them staying on the feet. To be honest, it was very close to a matter of doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Something finally changed but it wasn't for the better. A new client asked me if I would apply them to her horse as she was going on a 50 mile endurance ride in the upcoming weekend. She seemed thrilled at the chance to be getting to try this new product. After applying them she took photos and proudly posted them on Facebook. One of the comments read, "not enough glue"... from Garrett Ford. A nagging feeling crept in and I couldn't get rid of the sense of foreboding. I was terrified that they were going to come off during her ride. My internal dialogue took over from there. I couldn't wait until the weekend was over. I called her on Monday hoping to hear that she had a great time and all my fears were over nothing. Instead, they were confirmed. She had a horrible ride, losing all but one shoe by the forty mile mark. She had no way to remove the last shoe and for fear of hurting her horse she got off and walked him to the finish line. I'm sure my name came up more than once in that stretch of the trail. I apologized but wasn't sure that would be enough.

After a futile attempt at justifying the failure with rationalizations such as, "these shoes just don't work on a well trimmed hoof" and "if the horse had better conformation there wouldn't have been so much torque on the shoe", but I knew other people were having more success than I was. I decided to reply to Garrett's comment, "I would appreciate any tips that you might have." Garrett graciously offered to show me first hand the protocol that he had developed for predictable adhesion (the same protocol that is available on the EasyCare website). After spending a day gluing shoes on his horses, I realized that what he was showing me and what I had been doing were a universe apart. Garrett advised me that, if you don't develop a strict protocol, you'll never be able to look back and see why you were successful or where you failed. This made perfect sense to me because I felt the same way about trimming. I'm grateful for the lesson and now I am very proud of my shoeing results. As a matter of fact, I've had to develop my own protocol to remove them in a timely fashion. If you're not having good results with something that other people are, you may just be the variable.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking' to it...for now.