Hoof Snob

The worst thing about taking your horses barefoot is that you become a hoof snob when it comes to looking at other horses' feet - so many hooves like baked-bean cans, frogs an inch off the ground, ridiculously long toes, or hoof-walls flared to dinner plate dimensions.
 
A friend was recently telling me about her horse going lame during an endurance ride and how the vet had diagnosed unbalanced shoeing as the problem. She confided to me that her horse was now in "special shoeing" (she never explained what this "special shoeing" was - just that the horse was unbalanced but that "you could only see it on x-rays"). From her description, it sounded suspiciously like the horse had been allowed to grow too long a toe, had underslung heels, and was perhaps a bit unbalanced laterally - all things that your average attentive barefoot trimmer would be watching for and trying to correct every time they rasped their horse. 
 
I asked how often the horse would be shod and she said "oh, every 4-5 weeks". I suggested that she veer towards the 4 week option as know from experience that at four weeks my horses feet are already "too long" and out of whack. If that was her horse's problem, the "special shoeing" wasn't going to achieve much if its hooves were allowed to grow back to their formerly long proportions.
 
Her argument was that "well, the horse is going to be on 'light' work [he's on a walking-only regime for a month], so likely his feet won't grow much". In my mind's eye I thought of Uno's currently too-long feet  - Uno who's been standing around in his paddock of duff-footing, doing absolutely nothing for the last 4 weeks, getting time off after Virginia City 100. Hmm.

Uno's right rear foot this weekend, during
 a 15+ mile barefoot ride on the Pacific Crest Trail in amongst volcanic rock and granite outcroppings. He was last lightly-trimmed when I took his Glue-Ons off after VC100, 25 days ago. The flare you see on the outside is the reason I was having difficulties keeping Gloves on his rear feet back in August - duck-footed R us - a problem I have to keep on top off. You can also see how his bars tend to overlay and his heels get underslung. How would he fare on a 5-6 week shoeing schedule? Not pretty, methinks.

But I understand that the average person can't afford to have new shoes slapped on their horse(s) every 3-4 weeks. Indeed, you get into nail-hole problems if you do shoe too often and there's not enough solid hoof to nail to. But the quandary is, by the time the horse has grown out sufficient fresh hoof to nail to, he's too long to be at optimum hoof length.
 
When I used to shoe Roo for competition, I was in a constant struggle to balance his shoeing cycle with his endurance ride schedule. Ideally, Roo needed shoeing every 4-5 weeks (by 5 weeks he was too long and his toed-in front feet would start to look ugly). The perfect scenario was for his feet to be at 2½-3 weeks for a distance ride, but of course if we did a ride once a month it never quite worked out.
 
Nowadays, with a bunch of barefoot horses, I try and keep them where they need to be all the time - no scheduling necessary, unless you count the: "ack, we're going to a ride next weekend, so I really need to trim this weekend" (sort of like realising you've still got homework to do on a Sunday night after a fun weekend). 
 
Of course, real life gets in the way (I'm gone for work 12-13 hours a day, five days a week) and I don't always trim everyone as often as they should be trimmed - the two non-working horses sometimes go a couple of months before guilt gets me back to them, vowing each time that "I won't let them get that long again" (just don't look too carefully at them if you visit, OK?). 
 
But for the most-part, the worker's feet stay under control. In the same way you'd file off a split nail on your own finger when it occurs, I keep an eye on their feet and will rasp off any chips as they happen. Uno's long toes get regular attention - mostly because I hate the way his feet look and they make me crazy when they start to splay out. 
 
Formerly, could I have afforded to keep my horses shod as often as they needed? Nope. 
 
Did I used to sometimes shoe someone, only for them to go lame or get sidetracked on a different horse and realise that I'd spent $125 for the shod horse to stand around in the paddock, eating hay? Yup. 
 
Is keeping six horses' feet under control hard work? Yup. But then so is stacking a truck-load of 100+ lb bales of hay, or having to leap blearily out of bed at 7 am on a Sunday because you get woken up by unexpected pouring rain outside and remember that your hay isn't covered. So is mucking stalls all winter long because your horses can't possibly step out into the rain to poop. 
 
But in the long-run, the satisfaction I glean from having my horses feet where I want them (and if they aren't, it's my problem) is worth it to me. Sure, it's easier to just schedule the farrier, but I seldom have to avert my eyes from a set of baked-bean can hooves in my paddock.

Barefoot and Booted In Australia

I received some great pictures from one of our Hoof Boot Contest competitors. Lyn Summerfield and her daughter Kym are entered in our Easycare Hoof Boot Contest. They do a lot of competitive miles on their barefoot and booted horses. They compete at some of their events completely barefoot.


 
"We successfully completed our State Championship 160 km ride last weekend with my daughter. It was interesting that there were only 16 starters over the full ride. Of those only 6 finished; 3 wore boots (2 glue ons and 1 gaitered) and 1 went completely barefoot and 2 had metal shoes."

         

 

Thanks for sharing with us and our readers, Lyn. Riders around the world are utilizing natural barefoot and using hoof boots to keep their barefoot equine partners healthy. 

Nancy Fredrick

easycare-office-manager-nancy-fredrick

EasyCare Office Manager

As the office manager, I make sure the general operations of the organization run smoothly and seamlessly from A to Z. I have been on the EasyCare team since 2001 and have first hand product knowledge as my horses are barefoot and booted.

Canyonlands- Back on Track

A family photo- Replika, myself and my husband. Thanks for the picture Leonard! 

I promised in last week's post that I would return to the topic at hand - hoof boots and natural hoof care. So here we go! But first I just have to say that this ride marks a year with my mare. Last year's Canyonlands experience was much different than this years, not necessarily better or worse, just different. Last year we were only four weeks into Replika's barefoot transition. She was new to me and I didn't know how much bottom she had, what she liked to eat, or how she liked to be ridden. While she was sound, I took it very slowly as I was very conscientious about rocks and hard footing, given the fact she was newly barefoot. I worried and fretted, was probably over-cautious and hoped I had done right by her at the end. With the protection of Easyboot Glue-Ons and Goober Glue, we did four days. While the results were the same this year (200 miles in 4 days), the "getting there" was much, much different.

Me and Elly, both ponies in Easyboot Glue-Ons, riding the same ride. 

I used the same conconction of Goober Glue on the sole and around the bottom of the boot, and Adhere around the top. Again, my boots performed fabulously, but this time Replika strode out across the trail, never shortening or slowing through some of the stuff she slowed through last year, like gravel roads and jeep roads with embedded rock. She continued to amaze me, every single day. 

A long, rocky hill climb on day 5. Oh yay!

It's funny, but I guess I never thought so many Northwest riders would be riding booted this quickly. It seems like yesterday, we were one of two or three booted riders, and now it seems to be nearing half. And it's certainly not just the slower riders, either. While I know going barefoot and booted has been proven at speed in other regions, the riders here still have the false perception that barefoot horses can't be ridden fast, and that boots don't stay on. Riiiiiiiiiiight. I think both those beliefs HAVE been proven otherwise! 

Upon reflection, I found it funny that most of my rides this year have been in the company of other booted buddies. Although one of my most favorite riding buddies uses steel shoes (I'm working on her!), my other partners have been booted. I certainly don't set out NOT to ride with those in shoes, but I find riding with other booted horses is easier as the decisions regarding where to slow down or speed up are generally the same. Like I said last week, the three of us in boots were able to motor down the paved section of trail where I have slowed to walk in the past with my shod friends. 

Headed down the miles of pavement. Day 2. 

Replika had her boots on for a total of eight days. After taking them off, I once again found that a) she still had feet, and b) they weren't about to fall off. Just like with shoes and pads, there is obviously moisture in the boot and yes the sole does exfoiliate. However, having shod horses with pads in the past, the level of moisture in the hoof doesn't even compare to the hoof after having a pad in place for eight weeks. I also like to take advantage of certain situations, and find that a quick trim is much easier after pulling boots than after the foot has had a few hours to dry out and morph back into a steel mallet. 

Replika's front foot immediately after removing her boot and trimming up a bit. 

Another aspect of booting my horse that I value and love is the fact I can see exactly where she is wearing her boots during certain time periods, meaning how she is wearing her boots during a ride. As she had just come off an injury to the right hind, I was extremely cognizant of how she *felt* throughout the miles. I felt like she wasn't as fluid on the left diagnal on the first day, but she felt smooth and even after the intitial 50 miles. It was interesting to see that she had worn a thin spot in her right hind boot, which I found while taking off that boot. Considering the fact she wore holes clean through either one or both (sheesh it sucks getting old- I just can't remember!) of her hind boots last year, and the fact that we are able to gauge things like that is a handy tool. 

Right hind foot. I am fairly certain I wouldn't have noticed the extra wear should she have been shod. I am thankful for the extra information, any way we can get it. 

I trimmed up the mare after pulling her boots, and just a few days ago we had a nighttime rain. I pulled her out the next morning and finished up my trim finding her feet much softer after a night of rain than after a week in boots. I am always amazed at the amount of growth they have after riding so many miles. For now, she is completely trimmed up and enjoying the rest of her vacation. 

Looking amazing just a short week after riding 200 miles. Nice heel first landing, too. No hidden thrush there! 

The current question is- who do I take to the last ride of the season?!?! 

Happy Riding Y'all!!

Amanda Washington
~SW Idaho

Owyhee Canyonlands - Opportunities Abound

There is something magical about riding across the desert, in and out of canyons, through the washes and over the bluffs, to come home at night to a lively and welcoming ranch. Now times that by five- pure heaven.  I said this before, but the annual five day Owyhee Canyonlands ride has been my absolute favorite endurance ride since I first started the sport. I have been fortunate to ride many miles throughout the Owyhee desert, and never tire of it. John and Steph Teeter provide an amazing atmosphere to ride to your heart's content, and then come back to catered meals, ample wine and amazing opportunities for lifelong friendships. We were lucky to enjoy all of the above for the week and upon arriving back to reality, I have been able to reflect upon all things learned. 

Replika and I on day one. Every day was "the best day!" Steve Bradley Photography

The opportunity to soak up your experiences and learn from them is abundant throughout a multiday ride. Just six short weeks ago, I was unsure that I would be able to take my mare, whom I love riding above all others. You see she had an accident. She was in the hospital for over a week. I was terrified that she wouldn't fully recover. I put everything I had into treating my mare, trying to stay positive and not obsessing over the calendar and my upcoming most favorite ride. She healed at a faster rate then expected, but I was still worried about the surrounding soft tissue, the possibility for hoof sensitivity due to the massive amounts of antibiotics and her physical capacity after being off work for an extended amount of time as well as in a stall for a portion of that time. She was released for full work a couple weeks prior to the five day, and I started her back slowly. I knew it would be up to her in regards to the five day, and I was prepared to ride slow and cut it short if she only had a couple days in her. 

My poor mare's leg. The picture on the right was ten days past the initial injury, and the picture on the left was ten days after the first. It is now completely closed, with a small scar. 

We got one long training ride in about 10 days prior to the start of the ride, and she felt wonderful. I used my Goober Glue/Adhere method to apply her boots on the Sunday prior to the Tuesday start and felt pretty good about things. Her feet looked great and she hadn't shown any signs of being sensitive despite the upset to her system. The growth rings should tell the tale, and it will be interesting to see. We got to ridecamp Monday afternoon, and immediately set about finding old friends and making new ones! I was a bit nervous for the ride, which is completely unlike me, because it is always scary on that first ride back after an injury or extended lay-off. I needn't have worried, she was amazing as always! 

Elly and I leaving a vetcheck. It is so much fun riding with a good friend, on a good horse. 

The first day is always a nice, easy trail to get your feet wet. We rode along ridges, flew through the washes and cruised around on familiar trail. What a great day! Despite the unseasonal heat, she looked great and we were cleared for day two. Now I have to laugh because I had nightmares about this day's trail the nights leading up to the ride. Last year I rode Replika through our transition period from shoes to boots, and I was ridiculously cognizant of every.single.rock on the trail. As this ride is pretty dang rocky, it had stuck in my mind. I needn't have worried this year! Not only did Steph route us around a particularly horrid section of trail, Replika felt amazing in her Glue-Ons cushioned with my beloved Goober Glue! We headed into the vet check after 25 miles an exact hour faster than I had predicted, and made our way home in the heat of the afternoon. We rode with a super-cool dude named Jerry who happened to be from Reno. He had ridden both Tevis and the Virginia City 100 numerous times, and compared the VC 100 with the first loop of this trail. Regardless, it was gorgeous and one of my absolute favorites! On the way back home, we came to a paved road. It is a short section of a couple miles but always seems to drag on and on. After a short pow-wow with my riding buddies, who were all in Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons, we decided we would keep up a slow 6-7MPH jog down the road, so as not to lose to much time. We got into our grove and soon overtook six riders in steel shoes who had to slow down because of the pavement. Not us oh no! We kept up our job and guiltlessly glided down the road, all twelve of our boots quietly padding down the pavement. 

Karen and Thunder in their Glue-Ons, and Tamara and Consolation in their Gloves riding down the pavement. The only riders we didn't pass on that road were on booted horses as well!!


Riding through Castle Creek, on the way to vetcheck 1- day two. 


Karen leading Thunder on a rocky downhill. About ten miles of the first loop was like this. 

Despite the rock and road, Replika continued to feel as strong as she had on day one. We decided to go for day three, which I was super excited about as this trail and out vetcheck are my favorite! I know, I know, they are ALL my favorite! Is that a bad thing?!?! I took off again bright and early with my pal and her silly horse, Jasper, who was also outfitted in Easyboot Glue-Ons and Goober Glue. I tell ya, this boot thing is starting to really take off up here in the Northwest! We hit the trail and were soon at the Sierra Del Rio ranch, where I have spent many holds. This ranch is amazing- hospitable, green and just gorgeous nestled in the canyon near the Snake River. We had a fun quick loop out of the ranch, and were soon headed from the ranch to home. There was a very special moment for me on this trail when I realized how much this mare has done for me. The trail was the same that Replika and I flew along by ourselves as the last loop of the 80 mile ride we did in the spring and it wasn't any less magical on this particular day. She never ceases to amaze me and I was having the time of my life with a good friend. It just doesn't get much better than this, folks. 

Elly's super classy solution to the gnats. Nice work, El. 

Scenic overlook of the Snake River just off the REAL OREGON TRAIL ;-) It was gorgeous.

Although Replika was cleared for the next day, I decided we both could use a day off. No shame, and I was able to help P&R at the out vetcheck, and then help crew for my pals as they came in off the trail at basecamp. It had been hot all week and we were ridiculously fortunate to have access to cold water from a real hose! The horses and riders all appreciated the thorough cool-down prior to finishing the ride. Towards the end of the day, I brought Replika out of her pen and trotted her out cold for the vets to make sure she was truly ok for day five. She got the thumbs up from two different vets and I was thrilled to be sharing another day with her on the trail. 

"You want me to go WHERE?!?!" This is Rep looking into the canyon that we would be going into.. all you could hear was the crashing of other horses down below. Or was it cougars? Or Bears? Or???




 

Phew we made it alive!!
Day five was no disappointment, as we were once again extremely fortunate to ride through MORE amazing trail! Sheesh does it ever get old out there?!?! We rode through several canyons and old homesteads on the last day, ending the first loop after a huge rocky climb with an AMAZING trail through a magnificent canyon. We are so freaking lucky! We cruised through the first loop and kept our momentum through the second loop. I was again riding with my girlfriend who I rode days one, three and five with. It was on the second loop that both of us hit a wall, thankfully at different times! Between the silliness and the abrupt "I'm done." statements, we made it through nearly top tenning the day. What a rush to hear the final "You're completed" after traveling so many miles with your best friend, human or horse. Such a feeling!
 
Leonard Liesens, from Belgium, riding Z Blue Lightning who is outfitted in Easyboot Gloves. Blue went on to complete two days in his Gloves. His pose says it all!

There is such an opportunity for learning at a ride such as this. I continue learning, and hope it will never stop. A few things I learned:

1) Easyboot Glue-Ons truly are an amazing option for so many different horses, riders and events. There were tons of horses outfitted in Glue-Ons, and I only know of one lost boot. Fortunately the rider and horse didn't realize the boot was gone until after the ride. It was all good in their case. 

2) Easyboot Gloves can be used at a multiday, although I would definitely want to make sure I had done plenty of miles in my boots to ensure rubbing wouldn't be a problem. It is also important to thoroughly check and clean gaiters and pasterns at every vetcheck to monitor and curb possible rubbing. There were a few horses who were rubbed by the gaiters at this ride, although I believe the rubbed horses were all in the old gaiters. Add powerstraps and athletic tape for a sure fit!

3) Christoph Shork, The Bootmeister, never stops. He rides, he trims, he glues, he rides, he advises, he run run runs. It was exhausting to watch. Just sayin'. 

Christoph and his groupies haulin' the mail into the ranch. What a great looking group of horses! The riders looked a little rough, but those horses were rockin' it! (Literally- they finished the rocky trails each day in lightning fast time. One could say Easyboots made that possible!

4) People who ride in shoes still use Easyboots! I saw a couple of people riding last week with original Easyboots over their horse's steel shoes. At least two of them (that I noticed) went on to ride all five days on the same horse. Easycare truly offers something for everyone!! Good job to everyone!

5) Pay attention to your horse. Every stumble, every nose crinkle, every flinch means something. I think it's better to play it safe then sorry. Unfortunately there were a few horses treated last week. Thankfully they were all sent home looking good, but in this sport it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Pay attention to your ponies and you may be able to prevent something catastrophic, that will not resolve with treatment. 

Since this post has turned into a novel and I have probably lost all my readers with the exception of the editor and my mother, I am going to end it here for now. Next week I will have more boot and foot stuff, which is truly what this blog is about. I hope you'll forgive my rambling and I promise to get back on topic next week! Something about being in the desert for five days makes one kinda silly. 

'Till next time! 

Amanda Washington
SW Idaho

A Year With Boots

Submitted by Gene Limlaw

Well, it has been a little over a year since I decided to stop having steel shoes put on my horses. A lot of people make the transition because they are having trouble keeping shoes on their horses. I guess I was lucky that my horses have nice hooves that grow pretty fast and they were getting out of balance inbetween shoeings. Even my sensitive footed stallion is doing well, I did a 10 mile hunter pace a couple weeks ago and he felt wonderful. I put Easyboot Gloves on him in front and left him barefoot behind.


We have had a real dry summer here in the Northeast and people that have shod horses that I ride have had a lot of lost shoes this summer. I really do not miss that part of shoes.
 
In the past year I have met a lot of new people interested in what I have on my horses feet. They will come up and say "What are on her feet?" When I say Glue-Ons they say "Really? I have never seen them," and we have a nice conversation about the process. 

Glue-ons still are not as common here, so people get very intergued by them. Gluing takes a little practice, but then really so do most things worth doing. I even have gone as far as to help people interested in trying Glue-ons by doing it for them. And they have gone on to have very good rides in them.

I really do feel it is a lifestyle change that takes time to adjust to and become comfortable with. I have spent the summer practicing my trimming skills on our broodmares and have become much more able in this department also. I still have a trimmer regularly come and make sure things are on track.
 
I have done a little over 600 miles this year with increasing success as the season has gone on. My mare is still young and I am having a great time with her. I am excited about the rest of this season and have my sights set on some big things for next year. The last month I did a few clinics and some dressage and jumping lessons.


So I have my work cut out to improve the overall horse as well as my horsemanship and riding skills. A fun fall it will be.
 
Gene Limlaw
Weathersfield, VT

The Top Ten Reasons to Use Easyboot Glue-Ons

There's a lot of talk these days about which boot is better. Not surprisingly, most of the value judgments are very subjective, such as ease of getting said boot on foot; whether or not tools are needed; whether or not athletic tape is required; whether or not glue is used, etc. My opinion is that the optimum boot is the boot that works best for your horse in your conditions for your planned activity. For some of us, that means we use different boots for different days.

The people at EasyCare believe putting the boots through the toughest, most challenging conditions known to horse is the best way to show how Easyboots might work for you. Although many of the EasyCare peeps are focused on endurance riding, it doesn't mean that's the only thing our boots are good for. But it does mean they're good for practically anything you can throw at them.

Using Las Cienega 100
What better test than a 100-mile endurance race? And I don't just mean a middle of the pack performance. Of the top 11 placing horses of 25 starters in the Las Cienega 100 last weekend near Sonoita, Arizona, 8 of them were sporting Easyboot Glue-Ons. Im just sayin'.

1. Christoph Schork - 1st place 100
It was also Christoph's 200th win, of which more than 25% have been in barefoot with Easyboots. Boasting more than 20,000 competition miles, Christoph is the most winning rider in the history of endurance riding.

2. Tarnia Kittel - 2nd place and Best Condition 100

Known by her friends as Tarni, she is one of the most talented riders I've ever met. Based in Australia, she spent the summer in Moab and can currently be found supporting the Australian team at the World Equestiran Games. She also had a great summer of competing in boots with horses from the Global Endurance Training Center at various events across the country.


Tarnie has the unfortunate ailment of falling in love with every horse she rides.

3. Jennifer Shirley - 3rd place 100
Jennifer is newer to endurance than her horse is, but hers is a great story of instant transition. Jennifer pulled her horse's shoes the day before the ride and applied Glue-On Easyboots with Goober Glue in the sole and Adhere on the shell walls. The team looked great all day (I know because I saw her on the common trail - hours ahead of me). It was also their first 100.

4. Kevin Waters - 6th place 100

Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Kevin keeps promising he'll retire from competing, but we're still waiting and we're starting to doubt his intentions. Golden Ali's 860 competition miles so far this year comprise four 100-mile races including one at Tevis and one at Old Dominion. Kevin is another 20,000 miler (21,610 miles, to be precise).


Kevin and Golden Ali during the Tevis Cup 100 this year.

5. Clydea Hastie -  8th place 100
Clydea has logged more than 9,600 competition miles, including 30 100-mile completions (six of them at Tevis). Clydea has been using Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons for almost 12 months now.


Clydea and Kim at the finish line of the Las Cienega 100.

6. Kim Abbott -  9th place 100
Kim is the matriarch of endurance riders in southwestern Arizona. With more than 7,600 miles in endurance, 17 100-mile completions, including five Tevis Cup completions, Kim is one of a surprizingly large wave of barefoot/booted riders enjoying Easyboot success in the southwest. Her horse, Sea Spot Run, reached his 2,000 mile mark at the event. He has been barefoot for 12 months and this was his second 100-miler in boots.

7. Kevin Myers - 10th place
My horses have been booted for 16 months now. This will be my highest mileage year since I started endurance in 1995, logging 1,080 miles in Glue-Ons and Gloves so far this year.

8. Rusty Toth - 11th Place
As well as the 100 at Sonoita, Rusty completed the Tevis 100 and Big Horn 100 this year with horses in Easyboot Glue-Ons. Let him rip!


Rusty and Ripper/Rocky doing what they do best.

9. Julia Elias - Turtle Award 100

Not 12 months ago, Julia told me she would never have the patience nor the time to take her herd of 11 horses barefoot. Today, thanks to the gentle encouragement of Kevin Waters, there is not a steel shoe on her ranch. Julia is one of the most focused and most generous mileage junkies I know, with more than 11,630 lifetime competition miles.


Julia: the ultimate mileage junkie.

10. Cathy Peterson - Almost Last Place 50
Actually, Cathy rode her mule, Soldier, in Easyboot Gloves. But she warrants mention because she has found the boot that works for her: yes, a mule in Easyboot Gloves. Look for Cathy and Soldier at Tevis in 2012.
 

Cathy and Soldier approaching the finish line of the 50 at Las Cienega.

83,860 Miles of Wisdom
The riders listed above have a combined lifetime mileage total of 83,860 AERC competition miles, give or take a few. And their collective wisdom speaks volumes. So if you're thinking of trying out this booting thing, or if you have questions about how to make the boots work for you, just ask one of us. We'll be glad you did.

Keep up the bootlegging!

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.


Uno Does Virginia City 100

Walking along in the pitch dark at 3:30 a.m., trying to focus on something - anything - I actually dropped off to sleep in the saddle for a nanosecond and hallucinated a huge flock of black birds against the mountains on the horizon. That woke me up and I called up to Tami ahead: "Talk to me - about anything - I'm falling asleep here!". Not that Tami was in any better shape, and our fellow rider, Sally, had gone quiet half an hour earlier. We were 95 miles into the Virginia City 100 and the moon had set an hour or so ago.

It was around this point that I decided maybe I'd rather just be a 75 mile rider. When we'd come in off the 76 mile loop at 10 p.m. I'd been happy and bouncing. Uno had been happy and bouncing. We'd survived the 2000'+ climb up to the top of the ridge and the subsequent descent in the dark - thanking the endurance gods who guided us wrong two weeks previously during our pre-riding, causing us to cover more miles than intended. At the time it was a bit sad, but now as soon as we hit trail he recognised, Uno perked up and off we went.
 
Loop 1, Part 1
VC100 wasn't like Tevis - I actually got to sleep the night before and didn't feel totally nauseous all night. When the alarm went off at 3:15 a.m. I was relatively relaxed and didn't feel like killing myself. We had to be on the horses by 4:30 a.m. to walk the couple of miles from camp to the 5 a.m. start in front of the Delta Saloon. It's one of the more bizarre starts to an endurance ride I've ever done.


The Delta Saloon in the center of Virginia City, Sunday afternoon.

Once past the cemetery on the outskirts of town and onto the trail, I realised just how dark it was. It's one thing to be out there as dusk drops onto you, to be gradually immersed in it - but it didn't work that way. As soon as we left the lights of Virginia City behind us, bam, dark. Luckily fellow rider Tami Rougeau had a headlight on, so she and Fancy guided us through the first few miles of turns.


The sun starting to peek up over the mountains.

Asking Tami before the ride what she thought the hardest thing about VC100 was, she replied with very little hesitation: "the rocks". They are a fact of life and something you have to learn to work around. Obviously, foot protection is super-important under these conditions.

35 riders started VC100 and of those I counted eleven horses that were wearing either
Glue-Ons (7), Gloves (1), or Original Easy Boots over shoes (3). At the end of the ride, 26 horses completed - including ten of our booted horses. The only booted horse who got pulled (that I know about) made it 92 miles. Not bad.

The first 20 miles were among the fastest I've ever done - we got it done in 3 hours - needing to move out where we could and this was trail you could trot. ...Actually you can trot most of the VC100 trail - so long as you only want to trot for 10 ft before slowing to prance through rocks.

When Uno gets going, he trots BIG. I seldom allow him to do it (just because he can, doesn't mean he should), but this time around I let him have some fun and he trotted so big that the SPOT GPS locator clipped to my pommel pack went flying off (can you say "BIG action"?) and had to be retrieved by Dave (thanks Dave!). It got firmly tied on at the next stop.


At the road crossing, Uno had to stop to poop (he's still learning) and got left behind when we couldn't get across in time with the others - this explains his rather wide-eyed expression in this picture.
Quite by chance, we ended up riding the first 30 miles or so with fellow booters: AERC Hall of Famer Dave Rabe on White Cloud in Gloves; Carolyn Meier on Rushcreek Okay (great big feet - he wears a 3 on the front and 2.5s on the backs); and Tami and I, all in Glue-Ons.

My booting experience hadn't gone quite as planned the previous week (so what else is new?) and I was enviously watching Fancy's tidy little compact feet in her tidy little compact Glue-Ons, comparing them to Uno's dinner plates.

Having struggled at Bridgeport last month to get Uno's rear feet fitting nicely, this time around it only took me about 20 minutes to tidy up his back toes and glue. Ta-da! By contrast, I spent about an hour and half poking and rasping and squinting at his fronts and still wasn't happy with the fit. <sigh>

Hindsight being everything, I've concluded that perhaps Uno's feet have expanded enough that instead of trying to squoosh him into a 1.5 Glove, he probably needs a 2. Post-VC, he gets a month off and I'm going to leave his feet alone, then tidy them up, and refit him and see where we're at.

Anyway - I was less than happy about the gluing job on the fronts, but you have to obsess about something, right? :)


After the road crossing, we dropped down the Old Geiger Grade - the old Toll Road - to the outskirts of Reno. I'd like to say I ran the whole 2.5 miles, but cimcumstances being what they were, I wasn't in as good shape as I'd promised myself I would be (why are we not surprised by this?), so had to content myself with walking as fast as I could, interspersed with running for as long as my bad ankle would allow. But I took pictures! And I fed Uno some hay that mysteriously appeared by the side of the road mid-way down! Ambidextrous, I am.


Old Toll Road, looking down to Reno.

On the way down the grade, Tami and I picked up our third rider - Sally Hugdal - who's riding partner had unfortunately pulled at the highway crossing. We were happy to have her and her mare, Ellie, who were going for their fifth consecutive VC100 completion.

Fancy led us in the last section through residential streets likity-split and we got to the first 24-mile vet check in 3 hours 40 minutes for our 45 minute break. My friends Renee and Russell Robinson had come all the way down from Eureka to crew for me, and they, together with local friend Crysta Turnage did a most excellent job catering to our every need - hand-feeding Uno slop and pretending to enjoy it when he covered them and everything within a few feet (including Crysta's dog, Molly) with mush.

Please form an orderly line to sign up to crew for Uno in the future.


Dave Rabe coming into the 24-mile vet check.
 

Leaving the 24-mile vet check - Uno is replete.
Loop 1, Part 2
The next 15 mile section included the four mile foray through Bailey Canyon. I'd been hearing about this canyon for years - tales of woe about the awfulness of it, and indeed it was pretty gnarly - but, gah, it was fun. There is a sort of trail to follow... ish. We put Fancy in front, Ellie next, Okay, White Cloud and then Uno bringing up the rear, and blitzed through it - too much fun. I love this kind of trail - it's a bit like a snow-boarders' half-pipe, only with lots and lots and lots of rocks to clamber over before you scoot up the opposite side, duck under a bunch of tree branches, and then drop back down, clambering back over the creek bed rocks and up the other side.



At one point, all the riders got bunched up together and there were 14 of us going down the trail. A parade! Considering that 35 riders started, we had about half the field there for a while. Too funny.

After an hour of rock clambering, we finally hit Jumbo Grade and Fancy took off, with Uno in hot pursuit - they were wound a little tight from the slow pace in Bailey Canyon - so we flew down, Tami cursing Fancy for yanking on her bad knee (lots of surgeries in those knees) and trying to explain to her that having a bit of horse left later in the ride would be desirable. We stopped a couple of times to try and persuade them to drink and I even managed to sponge Uno in an inch deep creek. He was miffed - wanting to run after all the horses passing on by.

The last section crossed Washoe Lake State Rec Area to the 15-minute hold and a trot-by at 39 miles. This is every local rider's favorite trail - a twisty singletrack that winds its way through the sagebrush. Fancy did her wide trot (she squats and goes wide in the back in order to lengthen her stride) and Uno cantered, and poor Sally and Ellie hung on in the back, as the tail of the dog. I know we were supposed to make time where we could, but this was ridiculous.

Excellent Crew were again at this stop, waiting to have slop dropped on them, to be itched on, and generally abused. Trot-bys completed, we scuttled around getting everything done - 15-minute holds are never long enough. Endurance riding being the glamorous sport it is, I dropped my tights to re-butter the insides of my knees and calves that were developing some hot-spots.

Loop 1, Part 3
After Washoe Lake State Rec, there is a loooonnnggg, hoooootttt, climb. All the previous enthusiasm waned and we trudged to the top. Some of this lack of enthusiasm from Fancy might have been because she knew that the SOBs were coming up - Tami and Fancy completed VC100 in 2007, so she certainly knew the trail. Uno had done this trail section before during Washoe Valley in the spring but in the reverse direction, so I'm not sure he remembered what was approaching.


Looking down on Washoe Lake at where we've come from.


Nevada is the land of long climbs.


Still climbing. The rabbit brush was all in bloom.

And here we are, at the top of the first of three, worst, steep V-shaped canyons, fondly known as the SOBs. They aren't long, but they are wickedly steep (I think I worked out they are a 25% grade) and go up about 200 ft - and worst, have really loose, shaley footing which means it's very hard to stay upright.

As we approached, I was weighing up:

Ride them = Use up too much horse (it's Uno's first 100 <bite nails>)
Walk them = Use up too much rider

But who's doing most of the work, we ask? So I got off, and Tami and I slithered and slipped our way down. Tami took the lead on the way up the other side and I was grateful for every break that Fancy took (she was snacking all the way up), as I clung to Uno's tail, watching his back feet about level with my thighs as we went up, wondering if I was going to get a rock flicked in my face.

There are few things more educational in order to learn about boot fit than tailing your horse up a steep climb. I was able to notice how the backs of Uno's front boots were separating from his feet, but that the rears seemed relatively snug still. If your horse is wearing Gloves, you can watch how he digs his toes in, and what that does to the boots as he pushes off. It gives you an idea of how good your fit is.

Hyperventilating, we made it to the top and trudged on to the next descent - SOB #2. They get gradually less steep as they progress, so when we reached the bottom of this one, I scrambled back on and Uno felt pretty good from his short break - a lot better than I felt, at least, which was the desired effect.


Sally and Ellie trudging up SOB # 2.

We made SOB #3 with no difficulty and could finally enjoy the lovely view looking down on the lake and the mountains beyond.

Hands up who can guess what happened next? Remember me whining about the front boot fit? Yup, the right front came off. Sally noticed, so I hopped off and replaced it with a Glove from my pack (I always carry a full set of boots, just in case). Uno still had a lot of Glue left on his foot, so I had to use one of those handy NV rocks to give the Glove a couple of whacks to seat it back in place, and off we went again.

Finally, after more than two hours climbing, we reached the water stop at the cross roads at the top of Jumbo Grade, manned by volunteers Dave and Judy Jewkes. Let's see? 24 miles in 3 hours 40 mins at the beginning of the ride when it was cool, while in the heat of the afternoon: 8 miles in 2 hours and 10 mins... I see how this goes.

The Jewkeses offered lemonade (that hit the spot!) and cookies, but we only stayed a few minutes before setting off down Ophir Grade for the 4 miles or so into Virginia City.

A quarter mile down, Uno's left front flew off and hit the underside of my right foot (that was confusing) <grrr>. This wasn't what I wanted, but oh well. Off I hopped again with my second sparsie Glove and on it went with the help of yet another handy rock (who knew they would be so helpful?) and off we went again.

40 minutes later we were back at camp in Virginia City, hot, tired, and crumpled - but half-way through.

For me this was probably the lowest point of the ride. I'd made the classic mistake of consciously thinking "Ack, we're only 52 miles in and we still have another 48 to go - and I'm already at the pooped-out stage... not good". This is a BIG no-no for 100-mile riding. How does the old saying about "How do you eat an elephant?" go? One bite at a time. I should have been focusing on my hour hold, instead of the next 12 hours.

My friend Ann Blankenship took one look at me and started trying to get me to eat something. I am hopeless at eating on rides - and the tireder and hotter I get, the worse I get. However, Ann was in charge of Lucy-Intake during Tevis, so is familiar with my habits. She fetched me some baby wipes (ah, bliss), some lotion ("Age Defying" - perfect!), and a bowl of canteloupe melon.
 

While Uno scoffed slop next to me, I got to play queen - listing all the stuff I wanted done as I sat there like a wet rag.

Renee rasped off the excess glue on Uno's fronts, so we'd get a closer fit for his Gloves; we replenished my sparsie Gloves on the saddle; Uno's front pasterns were snugged into neoprene wraps (made from a weight-loss belt, of all things) to prevent any under-gaiter rubs; Crysta inspected a new loin rub* and got out the baby powder ready for saddling up; it was decided which clothing would be needed for the next leg - we'd be starting at 4:20 in the warm afternoon sunshine - and coming off the trail at 10 pm in the dark; more snacks (which I wouldn't eat) were added to the pommel bag; the rump rug was rolled tightly and clipped on ready for action; and of course, I retired to the privacy of my trailer to re-butter those delicate areas that needed attention.

* I had opted to ride in Patrick's treeless Sensation saddle for this ride. It is almost exactly the same as mine except for having a longer seat. Although I'd ridden 70 miles in it over the previous three weeks, apparently it wasn't enough to show up this problem. Thankfully, Uno wasn't sore from the rub during the ride, but I'm not sure bald, pink loins is a look I'm thrilled with. Back to my saddle from now on.
 
Loop 2
None of the three of us were thrilled to get going again on the 52-76 mile section. All our muscles had seized up and everything felt lumpy and stiff, so we walked for the first mile or so. Tami was a little concerned about Fancy, so she hand-walked her for a while to make sure everything was well. Fancy snacked the whole way, and was absolutely fine, so she needn't have worried.

This trail was the portion I knew least about, so it was hard to aim for that "bite-sized" piece. Luckily it was beginning to cool off and as we got going again and began to trot, everything fell back into place again and we were off again.

We crossed the V&T railroad tracks a few times (Uno has decided that perhaps a troll doesn't live under them, after all); passed a peculiar derelict set of buildings out in the middle of the desert - they looked like something out of a set for an "apocalypse film" - kind of creepy. Tami spotted someone's lost vest on the ground, so scored big in being able to wear it for the rest of the leg and keep warm.

And after a few miles, we began to climb again. This would be our last major climb of the day - but it was a doozy - climbing for 7.5 miles, past the Jewkes at the Jumbo Grade water stop (stopped to snack and water the horses), continuing up to the very top at ~7,500 ft where you could look out across Washoe Valley as the sun finally set behind the mountains.


As we dropped down the other side, the twinkling lights of Reno came into view and Uno began to pick it up again. For the first time that day, he had shown signs of actually being tired towards the top of the climb - at about 65 miles - and I was a little worried about him. But now he was on trail he recognised and by chance we once again caught up with Dave and Carolyn so Uno was back with his main Herd du Jour and happy to have the company of familiar buddies. Instead of the trudging we'd been doing for the past hour, we were popping along, trotting the flats, jogging some of the downhills, and in no time came to the road crossing at Geiger Summit.

Excellent Crew were ready - they had buckets and pans and everything a horse could want - and Uno wanted it all, including the next door neighbour's leftovers. It's amazing how much stuff a horse can suck down in seven minutes before we were off again - we had a little more than 6 miles to go before getting back to camp for the next hour hold.

Back at camp at 76 miles, I almost felt like celebrating - Uno's vet scores were far better than they had been at 52 miles - owing much to the fact that he was at last eating and drinking like an endurance horse should. He was cheerful and I was cheerful. Renee got me a pot-noodle which went down well, although the peanuts I attempted triggered the gag reflex, big time.

The hour hold flew by and in no time we were off again on our final loop, fitted with headlights, sweaters, wind-breakers and with the rump rug down.
 
Loop 3
The horses were quite cheerful leaving camp, which surprised me. I expected maybe a little baulking at having to repeat-in-reverse the route we'd just come in on through town. The two miles went without incident until we got to the cemetery at the outskirts and Uno suddenly realised what was going on. I think he thought maybe we'd go that far (as we had on our little pre-ride jaunt the day before) and then turn and head back to camp, so he seemed a little shocked that, no, we were actually going out on the trail again.

Even though we were all good to go leaving on the final leg, once we'd passed through town and started down on the trail, we all got a case of the paranoias. Having made it this far we really didn't want to trip on a rock and have one of the horses go lame, so we turned into ninnies ultra-cautious riders - opting to walk almost everything. We had 24 miles to go and six hours to get it done in. How hard could this be?

Tami and Sally, having both been in this position before, explained to me that once the horses got out there on the dirt road leading down the valley, they'd go into Power Walk mode and we'd just motor on through the loop.

This news was met with some sadness on my part. Uno doesn't have a Power Walk. He has a shuffle. He has a trudge. But his idea of keeping up involves jogging. So I concluded that they'd Power Walk and we'd jog along behind.

To begin with, I was all enthusiastic. My knees were feeling a little crunchy from the walking, so I asked Tami if she would be happy trotting the odd section just to loosen them up. What we managed in the "trotting" department was pretty pathetic - we'd make it maybe 20 ft before walking again. But after a bit, that seemed just fine.

We had a bright, almost-full moon. The mountains rose up either side of us along the valley and we saw a small herd of wild mustang grazing quietly in the moonlight. It was quite magical. Sally had some glowsticks attached to her breast collar and a dim headlight, but they weren't needed and Tami and I went with no lights (even though we carried headlights with us just in case).

This section of trail is an "out-n-back" with a lollipop at the far end with a vet-check. This is where we'd gotten chronically lost two weeks before, missing a turn, so even in the dark on a marked trail, we were vigilantly looking for that left turn.

There's a section that crosses a chalk outcropping for a short distance and the chalk was so bright in the moonlight it looked like snow. At the back end of the lollipop we dropped into the rockiest part of that trail - and of course the moon was hidden behind the thick juniper trees. Soon enough we were back out in the moonlight, but sadly it was starting to set behind the mountains, so we were either plunged into pitch black, or had it shining directly in our eyes when it would peek out the last few times.

Just before the Cottonwoods vet check, there's a peculiar spring where the water overflows onto the rutted road and we had to wade through it in one place. I remember worrying that Uno's Gloves would get wet and pop off in the dark and that I was too far gone to be able to do anything about it. But of course they didn't. At 2:20 a.m. when you're reaching the last of your reserves, your brain does its best to cover all bases.

At Cottonwoods they greeted us with soup and hot drinks. Uno was ravenous and just wanted to eat and eat. Once again, there was one of those annoyingly useless 15 minute holds - no time to do anything except try to slurp down that soup - which made me queasy. There was a roaring fire and all *I* wanted to do was curl up in front of it. Instead, I was stuck holding the ravenous horse, blearily trying to scrutinise him to see if I could spot anything amiss. We were joined by a fourth rider at this point and I was last to vet through, so as soon as we were done, it was time to leave again. <sob>

My visions of spending ten minutes - that's all I wanted - curled in front of the fire while someone else held Uno evaporated in a cold blast as I sadly climbed up the step-stool thoughtfully provided for the purpose of pathetic-rider mounting.

Uno wasn't thrilled to be leaving behind the bucket of carrots that he'd wolfed his way through, or the piles of hay, but I finally got him going after his buddies and we set off for the final 8 miles. That's all! And four of those would be trail that Uno had already done three times that day, so knew like the back of his hoof.

And here was the lowest point of the day - the four mile trudge back along the dirt road. The moon was gone. Any earlier energy and desire of "Let's TROT!" was gone. And I was left with the uneasy feeling that I get driving home after a long day - that I was going to fall asleep at the wheel and there was nothing I could do about it.

But here was the surprise: Fancy and Ellie, now headed for home, got into their Power Walk and there was Uno, keeping up with them. ??Uno?? He does have a Power Walk, he just only uses it for very special occasions.

Uno even led us in the last few miles through the canyon like a grown-up. I couldn't really see what the trail was doing and would find myself peering at a dark bush thinking it was a shaded tree tunnel we were going to go into, only to have Uno sweep us by - me teetering on top doing my best to stay with him.

Climbing the last short grade to the cemetery finish line, there was my Patrick waiting to greet us - and then we were done - it was 4:30 a.m.. We'd finished!!

Renee and Russell were there with more pone food and water and we allowed the horses a short snack before making the last pass back through town to camp and the final nail-biting vet check (which, thankfully, all three horses passed without incident).

Uno did so good he made me cry through much of that last journey through town. He had kept bopping along all day, staying cheerful almost the entire 100 miles. Itchy face and drooling aside, he had been the mellowest, easiest partner to share the day with and took my breath away with how strong he had felt throughout the ride.

At 5 a.m. we finally climbed down off the horses for the last time that day and set to work getting them ready for bed. Well, Excellent Crew did. I just sat there in a chair, looking pathetic.

And so goes the final chapter in the story of how Uno and Fancy won joint 5th place in the NASTR Triple Crown 2010 - by completing NV Derby 50 in April, NASTR 75 in June, and VC100 in September. We weren't fast, but we were consistent. After the first 50, there were 20 horses signed up. By virtue of attrition, that number was down to 8 by the time we started VC100.

And Sally and Ellie got their fifth consecutive finish! Ellie gets a new halter and Sally gets to be as proud as a proud thing.


Christoph Schork's World Record

Christoph Schork is the world record holder for the number of first place finishes at endurance events. Christoph won his 200th race on Saturday, September 18, 2010, at the Las Cienega 100 mile event. More than 25% of those wins were achieved since December 2008 using Easyboot Glue-Ons.
 

The ride awards at the 2010 Las Cienega 100: belt buckles. Photo by Tarnia Kittel.

Christoph boasts an astonishing 92% completion rate across more than 21,000 competition miles with more than 80 Best Condition awards and beats the next most-winning rider by more than 50 wins.

Born in Germany in 1953, Christoph was raised on a dairy farm and rode his first horse at the age of three as part of the annual town parade. Each year the horses in the parade would wind their way through town to a spring in the woods where the Catholic Priest would bless the horses before the riders set off into the countryside to ride. What an image.

To say that Christoph is competitive would be an understatement. Growing up as a gymnast from the age of six, he also took up running, track and field (3,000 – 5,000 meters), cross country skiing, triathlon, archery, biathlon, rowing, mountain bike racing and downhill ski racing. He also participated in other extreme sports such rock climbing, white-water kayaking and mountaineering. He has climbed to the 24,590-foot summit of Peak Somoni (formerly Peak Communism) in the Pamir mountains in northwest Tajikistan.
   
His interest in horses has never waned. He competed in some dressage as a juvenile: he enjoyed the discipline, the precision, being one with the horse and the need to pay attention to detail. But he did not particularly like to be confined – something he says he dislikes to this day. Even when he was competing as a gymnast, he was envious of his friends who were cross-country running because they were outdoors.

Christoph was in his 30s when he first heard about endurance riding through Ride & Tie events in the Salt Lake City area. He particularly enjoyed working in partnership with the horse: the combination of riding and running.

His first endurance race was in 1986 as a non-AERC member. His first official recorded start was in 1988 with a horse named Dahn Hallany. “My knowledge of horses was very limited back then. I knew a little bit about breeding, but Bob and Arlene Morris were of great help as early mentors.”  He still keeps in touch with them today. “You should take time to learn,” he says, “because if you don’t learn, you stay stagnant which is akin to going backwards.”


Christoph and Double Zell at the 2010 Tevis 100-mile race. They would go on to win 12th place. Photo by Gabriel Luethje.

Christoph’s strategy has always been to dedicate a great deal of time to training a horse for an event. “I am not a fan of using races as a way to train or condition a horse: I can do that at home.” When asked if he ever grows tired of riding, he laughs, “I just get tired physically, but I will never tire of the ride.”

He would compete for more than ten years before enduring his first pull in 1998. His horse, Mr. Triumph, rode the entire course of the 100-mile race at Big Horn near Shell, Wyoming, but he had sore feet and did not get a completion.


Christoph on DWA Powerball at the 2009 Moab Canyons Pioneer event. They would go on to win the 55-mile race that day. Photo by Gabriel Luethje.

Today, Christoph has more time to devote to riding than he did in the 80s and 90s when he was running a business and a ski school. He and his partner, Dian Woodward, run the Global Endurance Training Center. Together they spend a great deal of time assessing breeding and conformation. “The most important element is the spirit of the horse – he or she has to have fire and to love the job at hand – to enjoy competition and to have the will to exceed. As for the rider, you have to believe in yourself and believe you can succeed.” As he looks back at the winning horses, Christoph observes that it is often the mind of the horse more than the conformation that seems to assure success. “Spend some time looking at the eye of the horse – is there a brightness? Does the horse want to show off?” he asks.

Christoph remains a passionate runner: on a mountainous ride like Tevis or Big Horn, he might tail as much as 15 miles. “I obviously never tail on the flat or going downhill."

His current favorite mounts are Stars Aflame, Double Zell and DWA Powerball. “Mandy is just coming into the sport, but I have a lot of confidence in her.” His horses come from a wide variety of sources: about half of them are from the track. Others are from the GETC breeding program, which favors Polish lines. He and Dian like the Polish lines for their good minds: they are easy to be around and they are very competitive and strong.


Christoph is a
lso a barefoot hoof care practitioner. Here, he discusses trimming strategy with A.D. Williams. Photo by Tarnia Kittel.

Dian and Christoph both ride exclusively in Easyboot products. He believes them to be a revolutionary new product in the hoof care market. “This is the first time we can truly use hoof protection without nails. It is a reliable way to keep them on the horse’s hoof. They are lightweight – they are half the weight of a steel shoe, they are easy to apply, healthy for the hoof and give unprecedented protection from trail hazards. I applaud Garrett Ford and EasyCare for their futuristic vision on the hoof boot market to finally come out with a product that is more in line with 21st century thinking. We have been using shoes on horses for 2,000 years – the same technology. Horse shoeing really has not changed much since the Romans.” He doesn’t like talk of fads: “What about computers, new pick-up trucks and hi-tech footwear? Are they fads, too?” he asks.

He used his first Easyboot in the early 80s as a spare tire and always had his horses barefoot in the winter for several months. He competed in some of the early endurance rides in foamed on Easyboots.  He used Easyboot Glue-Ons for the first time in 2008 at a three-day ride in Sonoita, Arizona. He got a first place and a Best Condition award and was ready to pull the steel shoes on all his horses right then and there.

Christoph believes that in the future, the traditional farrier's job will turn into a hoof care consultant and practitioner, and that horse owners will take more and more responsibility for their own horses.

If you have ever met Christoph, you will know him to be a gifted teacher and communicator. You will also know him to be a most generous human being. When asked for some parting thoughts, Christoph shared the following: “Focus on your situational awareness – not just your own competitiveness. Never leave anything to chance. Always be aware of what is going on around you, your horse’s limitations and your horse’s potential. If you perceive a problem building, take remedial action right away. I don’t do a lot of small talk while I am riding – my focus is on the horse and on my body position. How does the horse feel, what do I need to do? Listen to your instinct: does it feel right or does it not feel right? Don’t fall victim to wishful thinking.”


If you haven't met him yet, just look for his red trailer at an endurance event and pay him a visit. He'll be glad you did. If you'd like to invite Christoph to give a hoof trimming, boot fitting and boot gluing seminar at your event, drop us a line at marketing@easycareinc.com.

Keep up the bootlegging!

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.


Bryce Canyon XP - Hooves Define a New Paradigm

The horse's hooves spoke clearly at the recently completed Bryce Canyon 5 day XP ride. Many lessons were learned thanks to Garrett Ford and Duncan McLaughlin thermo-imaging before and during the event. What an interesting eye-opener. Read that latest blog and findings at EasyCare's Main Blog Central.

Base Camp at Bryce.

But equally as defining were the results at Bryce Canyon: all Best Condition awards were won by horses with Easyboot Gloves and Glue-On boots:
  • Garrett Ford and The Fury with Gloves
  • Kevin Myers and Stoner with Gloves
  • Dian Woodward and Stavire with Glue-Ons
  • Dian Woodward and Halyva Night with Glue-Ons
  • Christoph Schork and Mandy with Glue-Ons

All first places were won by Easyboot Glue-On booted horses as well. Furthermore, most of the days, there were 5 or more booted horses  among the top 10. Day 2 saw even placings one through six in Easyboot Glue-Ons and Gloves.

Although most riders still using traditional steel shoes, we are seeing again and again horses with protective horse boots in the winner's circle of top ten placings and BC winnings.
What are the reasons for the continuing success story?

First, it is the research and design placed in the boot by the EasyCare Staff. The new Glue-Ons and Gloves are half the weight of traditional steel shoes, facilitating the work of our horses tremendously. They provide unprecedented cushioning and sole protection. They are easy to apply. They are healthy for the hooves.

Dian Woodward and Tania Kittel riding under the Pink Cliffs on day 4.

The Pink Cliffs.

Because of excessive July and August rains, this year's trails were rockier than usual. Horses without good hoof protection were risking bruising of the soles. None of our booted horses  had any issues with that. The horses moved effortlessly and easily through the often rough trails.

Loosing a boot, however, could have put a damper on your day. As we approach fall and cooler and wetter conditions in many locations, this is a good time for some reminders in application of your boots.

To have success with your Glue-Ons, it is of great importance to apply utmost diligence in your gluing process:
  • Select the proper size boot
  • Trim away any flares in the hoof wall
  • Eliminate any forging by facilitating quick breakover of the front hooves. (Long toes on  front and hind hooves could cause forging and potentially pull off front boots)
  • Structure the hoof wall with the rasp
  • Wire brush hoof wall and sole thoroughly
  • Dry the hoof wall with a heat gun or hair dryer
  • Avoid touching the inside of the boots with your bare hands (hands are always somewhat moist or oily and will prevent the glue from adhering properly to the boot)
  • Always carry a spare Easyboot Glove with you.
When using Easyboot Gloves, check the 3 screws that hold the cuffs in place frequently. Through vibration these screws can loosen and can fall out. You may also use some lock tite to keep them in place at all times.


Double Zell, Van Helsing and Halyva Night enjoying their feed during the Vet check on Powell Point, Day 4 at Bryce Canyon XP.

It is easy to get complacent and sometimes take shortcuts in your application of the boots. I hope these reminders will let you get the most out of your boots and enjoy your partnership with your horse.

Your Bootmeister


Barefoot Transition at 31

Barefoot horse, Timothy, at 31 years of age can attest that one is never too old to go barefoot and booted.

Timothy wore horseshoes all his life until last year. Diana Thompson tried taking him barefoot several times, but he became sore and she was forced to re-shoe him. In horse shoes, he had significant reverse palmer angles on his hinds; his soles were flat and walls were thin.

Last year Diana asked Linda Cowles to pull his shoes. Because his paddock terrain is extremely abrasive and his hind end was very sensitive (a result of the imbalance caused by his reverse palmer angles), they tried an assortment of protective hoof boots (Easyboot Rx, Old Macs and Easyboot Gloves) to keep him comfortable in his paddock. He was frequently barefoot in pasture. His walls and soles thickened up and grew dense in his first 3 months barefoot, and they were able to rebalanced the negative palmer angles so they are normal now for the first time in 20+ years).

This spring, while Diana erected her new covered arena over Tim’s usual day-time turn-out area, and he was restricted to his abrasive turnout paddock full time. He moved best in the Easyboot Gloves, but using them full time chaffed his heels, so Linda and Diana decided to try using Goober Glue to apply the Easyboot Glue-Ons to all four feet. He wore these glue-Ons almost non-stop for the 3+ month period of arena construction. Linda felt casting would have perhaps been best, but Diana was so impressed with how he moved in the Gloves, that they agreed to try full time Glue-On booting. It worked beautifully.

Timothy isn’t a typical 31 year old horse; he was notoriously athletic in his prime, and he still looks like a champion ready for the track or three day event course when he has a major frolic. He rips around the pasture at top speed, throwing in a bucking spree or roll-back on the fence for emphasis. In spite of his buoyant attitude, Tim’s Easyboot Glue-Ons stayed tight for 4 to 5 weeks at a time. Using Goober Glue they were able to easily clean up his shells and re-use them for the whole period. Needless to say the Glue-Ons are worn out at this point.

When the shells were pulled for a re-trim, his hoof condition was great. The wall and sole was a bit softer than normal until it dried out (3 or 4 hours), so occasionally the horse's boots were left off for a few days before re-gluing them. There were no problems resulting from having full time Glue-On boots on. His wall growth continued to be dense and thick, as it had been since pulling his shoes, and we never had a problem with thrush. When the shells came off, his frogs and sole were covered by a thick film of shedding keratin. Linda used a wire brush, hoof knife and pick to clean up the frog and sole, and he was ready for rebooting. There was no need to use any sole pack or thrush treatment and had great results.

Linda doesn't encourage this sort of long term booting with Glue-Ons under normal conditions, but for this sort of rehab situation, she was delighted with the results. This was a great temporary solution that was economical, and easy to apply.

Linda Cowles is a natural hoof care provider and EasyCare dealer in Santa Rosa, CA.  Linda was also recently featured as EasyCare' dealer of the month for August. Thank you Linda for the feedback and this great story!

EasyCare recommends that Easyboot Glue-Ons used for a time period greater than 10 consecutive days be done at your own discretion or the discretion of your natural hoof care provider. 

Watch 31 year old, barefoot horse Timothy show us what's he's got.

Debbie Schwiebert

easycare-vet-hcp-deaaler-accounts-manager-debbie-schwiebert

Vet Dealer & Hoof Care Practitioner Accounts

I manage the hoof care practitioner and veterinarian dealer accounts at EasyCare. An integral part of my job is to stay current in all areas of barefoot hoof care, which enables me to serve this vital group of EasyCare dealers at the next level.