Abundance!

Whoever has the most knowledge is always a step ahead.

An exciting spring season is upon us. There are abundant opportunities to learn about hoof trimming, breaking research, hoof protection possibilities, and fitting hoof boots of all kinds. There are many clinics available this spring being held with the support of EasyCare, Vettec, Global Endurance Training Center, Remuda Run, Endurancenet, and The Bootmeister. All are working together to provide educational clinics for you. Some of them are basic, while others go deeper and explore subjects including: factors that influence a horse's movement, cause and effect of pathologies, the connection between conformation and hoof development, and how to perfect the gluing procedure for Easyboot Glue-Ons.

Conformation and hoof development, where is the connection?

The first clinic will be held by myself, aka the Bootmeister and GETC. This is a short free clinic at the Antelope Island 25/50/100 ride that will take place on the afternoon before the race on the 12th of April. We will offer a demo on fitting various Easyboot hoof boots.

Next, at the Mt Carmel XP Ride from May 1st through May 5th, I will be available every afternoon for a free one hour session for trimming advice. Please RSVP by emailing at info@globalendurance, time will be limited as I will be riding every day as well. On the afternoon of the 30th of April, I can assist with hoof boot gluing.

At the Owyhee Fandango Pioneer Ride on the 24th of May, I will conduct a free 3 hour clinic with gluing demos. This clinic is sponsored by Vettec, who is inviting the attendees to a wine and cheese party after the clinic. Free giveaway prizes are also being handed out, donated by EasyCare, GETC, and Vettec.

Clinic participants enjoying culinary delights.

Checking for lateral cartilage development.

A more advanced weekend clinic is being organized by Tennessee Mahoney from Remuda Run on May 11th and 12th. The Performance of the Barefoot Hoof clinic will give insights into topics including: the four main hoof trimming theories, how shoeing and booting are influencing hoof development, caudal foot problems, and exploring the connection between dental pathologies and hoof development. I'm really happy to work with Remuda Run on these topics and share them participants. Sign-ups for this clinic can be done by either contacting GETC at info@globalendurance.com or Tennessee Mahoney at ten@remudarun.com.

For the pros among you, we will discuss problem hooves such as those shown in the image below.

What is the plan of action when encountering these hooves?

On a more pleasant note below: SBD (the horse) is happy that his rider Carla Laken (here seen tailing), attended a hoof care clinic at GETC.

Easyboot Glue-Ons protecting hooves from the sharp rocks in Mill Creek Canyon near Moab, UT.

Looking forward towards the summer, the big event in the west is going to be the National Championships at the City of the Rocks in Idaho in September. Details will be forthcoming in a timely fashion. We are organizing another great educational hoof care clinic during this event.

Group photo with clinic participants in Switzerland last year.

Check frequently for updates at:
GETC: www.facebook.com/globalendurance , www.globalendurance.com/blog/
EasyCare, Inc: www.facebook.com/Easyboot , www.easycareinc.com/blog/

Hope to see you all at least one of all the upcoming events.

So long

Your Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

The Best Of Both Worlds - A Hoof Protection Device That Still Allows The Hoof To Function As A Bare Hoof

I personally believe in the barefoot horse and marvel at what the equine hoof can do.  The equine hoof is an amazing structure that expands and contracts under load, dissipates energy, and aids in blood flow.  Although I believe that a horse should be barefoot whenever possible, I also believe that horses need hoof protection as distance traveled increases, terrain becomes more abrasive, and the loads carried become greater.  We ask unnatural things from our equine partners, far beyond what the bare unprotected hoof can endure. 

Hoof boots are a wonderful invention that can be used on a temporary basis when the hoof needs protection.  The beauty of hoof boots is that the hoof is bare and functioning as nature intended the large majority of the time.  But what about a protection device that can be left on the horse for longer periods of time that still allows natural function? Can a hoof be fitted with a protection device that still allows the hoof to expand and contract, allows the heel to spread, allows the heel to move up and down independently, and also provides support to the frog and heel? 

Looking at the horse world objectively, I believe the majority of people on both sides of the argument agree that horses should spend time barefoot.  In addition, both sides believe horses need protection for many of the activities that their human partners put them through.  Most owners stall horses in man-made environments; many feed them two meals per day, and the majority of us ask our horses to carry 25% of their body weight in grueling events.  We ask unnatural things of our equine partners.  As events become longer, speeds become greater and the footing becomes rougher we can't expect our equine partners to perform without man made protection? - See more at: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/hoof-boot-news#sthash.AGIFoSIJ.dpuf

We have been testing a new glue-on device that can be used for 3-6 week cycles that allows a protected hoof to receive many of the same benefits as a barefoot hoof. 

Heels can move independently up and down.

Heels can expand and contract after the shoe in glued in place. 

The test model EasyShoe provides frog and heel support.  The wide web of the shoe aids in loading the hoof.  The sole is open to air in the center for extended use. 

Open at the toe so breakover can be adjusted

Glue channels and holes are added in several areas of the shoe to better accept adhesives and speed the application process.

Initial testing of the new device for endurance conditioning has been very positive. It should prove a valuable tool for farriers and hoof care professionals and have many uses. 

Uses may include:

  1. I can see it used as a transition device to stimulate the hoof toward a stronger hoof before pulling shoes. 
  2. It may be used by owners who believe the barefoot hoof is the most healthy but want the convenience of long term protection. 
  3. It could also be used in disciplines that don't allow hoof boots.

I'm very excited about the new test shoe and the results I'm seeing on my horses.  I've had many prototypes on my horses over the years and this one is up there with the best I've tested. 

What do you think?  Does the new device have a place in the horse industry? 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

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

 

The Other Barefoot Wine Company

My husband Barry and I are in the wine business, and our horses play a prominent role in our company. For the record, we are NOT Barefoot Wines and Bubbly, which is the brand that has the bare human footprint on the label. Our winery, Tamber Bey, is named after Barry’s first two endurance horses, Tamborina and Beyamo. A visit to our property includes a tour of the barn and stables. Guests meet our very-friendly endurance horses and listen intently as we recount their accomplishments. I enjoy pointing out that the horses are barefoot, and I show them an Easyboot, which I describe as a horse’s cross-country running shoe. The guests think this is really cool.

Visitors are awed by our sport—most have never heard of endurance riding and their jaws drop when we tell them about it. We get all the usual questions: “How fast/far do you go? How long does it take? Does your butt hurt? Do you get to rest?” Inevitably, someone will ask what we win. I answer, well, nothing, really. I like to tell guests that I once rode 100 miles and got a jar of beans for a completion award, although I usually get practical prizes, like buckets and mini flashlights. Sometime I’ll get an embroidered horse blanket or a belt buckle. The guest looks dumbfounded, unable to comprehend that we expend so much grueling energy for no significant material reward at the finish.

Barry then launches into his speech about the welfare of the horse and why prize money isn’t awarded. We get a few nods of understanding. I add comments about the “the ride is the prize.” Some guests get it, while others continue to struggle the concept of doing so much for no extrinsic reward. In general, our guests are not horse people and what they know of horse competitions is limited to the lavish Kentucky Derby parties they attend—whether they actually watch the race or not. Say Kentucky Derby and the ladies think hats, not horses. That’s when we pour them another taste of wine and all is good. We’re back on the same page again.

The few horse people we get are interested in the boots. They ask intelligent questions. They understand my explanation about the benefits. We discuss the barefoot movement in other sports. Once in a great while, someone will ask me if barefooting and booting saves me money. To this I answer yes and no. Trimming is obviously much less expensive than shoeing. I was paying $5,200 a year to shoe four horses every six weeks. This does not include the occasional additional charge for pads and clips for a rocky race. I spend $1,500 per year to trim those same four horses. In 2012, I spent approximately $1,500 on Easyboots and gluing products. That’s quite a savings. Also, long after a boot’s tread is worn down too much to use for training, it goes into EuroXcizer duty, where it is useful until holes are worn in the toe—which can be takes months. Can’t do that with old horseshoes.

The “no” part of saving me money pertains to time, which is a form of currency. Neither shoeing nor trimming requires much of my personal time. Professionals do that for me. But the booting is another story. I’ve spent hundreds of hours (or so it seems), chasing lost boots down the trail, repairing broken gators and filing hooves to perfection between trims. I’ve spent many more hours in the barn before a race, covered in glue, with tears of frustration building up. I’m proud of myself for not giving up.

I’m now well past the blood, sweat and tears phase of the shoe-to-boot- transition learning curve and my time burn is minimized. Plus, the wine helps.

And all that cash I’m saving…

Footnote: Last month I introduced you to Mustang trainer Alyssa Radtke. Alyssa is now one month into her training program with her new Mustang Sweet Pea, which she adopted for the Extreme Mustang Challenge in May. Sweet Pea is now completely gentled and desensitized to the many sights and sounds that are part of domestic life. She trailers willingly and Alyssa is starting to ride her. As I write this, the two are participating in a two-day clinic with trainer Wylene Wilson. If you don’t know who she is, check out the award-winning documentary “Wild Horse, Wild Ride.” Have tissues handy.

Jennifer Waitte

Hoof Education IHCS Style

As a hoof care professional, I am always seeking to improve my knowledge and skills to better help the horses I work on.  One of the best venues I have found is The International Hoof Care Summit (IHCS), held annually in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The IHCS is one of the leading conferences for equine hoof-care professionals. Farriers and veterinarians come together to learn techniques and share ideas to address trimming and shoeing horses.  If you look closely at the following video you will catch me and a few others from the Daisy Haven Farm crew in attendance.

I have attended the IHCS each year since 2005, each year benefiting from the experience of the speakers, wide variety of content covered, networking opportunities and the extensive trade show.  This year over 950 farriers attended. 

Some of the broad range of topics covered at the IHCS included:

  • Hoof Morphology
  • Hoof Function
  • Hoof Trimming
  • Shoe Making and Placement
  • Using Glue and Plastics
  • Pathologies: Laminitis, Navicular, Ringbone, P3 Fractures, Flexural Deformities, etc.
  • Business Topics
  • Client Management
  • Body/Hoof Connection
  • Case Study Presentation
  • Locomotion/Gait Analysis
  • Conformation
  • Nutrition

I was honored to be a moderator and speaker at the 2013 IHCS.  I moderated a roundtable discussion on “When to use Barefoot Rehabilitation in Your Practice”, which turned out to be a lively discussion well-attended by a diverse crowd.  While the conversation became heated at times, everyone's opinions were heard and respected.  A lot of good information was exchanged.

I also presented a Hoof Care Classroom on “Maintenance vs. Rehabilitation Trimming and Shoeing and Gaining Your Clients Confidence” which was also well attended with a great Q & A session at the end.  I presented several case studies demonstrating the process by which we make our decisions when to safely apply maintenance work vs. rehabilitation work at Daisy Haven Farm.  Thank you to the American Farrier’s Journal for asking me to speak.  A wonderful group of our students and Team Members helped me rehearse my presentation the day before.

The International Hoof Care Summit has always challenged and expanded my thinking.  I highly encourage you to attend next year!   You may not always agree with every speaker, but there’s always something to take out of the experience to help the horse!  

Just a few among many of the amazing people and groups I’ve had the privilege to connect with by attending the International Hoof Care Summit:


For more information on the International Hoof Care Summit, please see: http://www.americanfarriers.com/pages/International-Hoof-Care-Summit-Homepage.php.

 

Easyboot and EasyCare Top Ten of 2012

Another year has passed and the barefoot, booted horse is several steps closer to the mainstream. Take a quick look at several of EasyCare's 2012 highlights.  Counting down in order from #10 to #1. 

10. The booted passion continues even stronger in 2012.  Although politics and religion are the hot buttons in society, EasyCare has seen an increase in the amount of firey debate in the EasyCare Newsletter, EasyCare Blogs and Easyboot Facebook pages.

9.  Easyboot Star Sightings.  Easyboots are seen with Shania Twain, Martha Stewart, and are often seen on CBS during 2 Broke Girls

Shania Twain in Old Mac's in Vegas

8. The Easyboot and Easyboot Epic get a facelift in 2012.  A new buckle design and a more aggressive tread pattern.

The new 2012 Easyboot Epic

7.  EasyCare partners with Curtis and Diane Burns at Polyflex

EasyCare and Polyflex are putting are ideas together for new forms of urethane hoof protection.

6.  Little girls and horses.  Alyxx gets a pony in 2012.

The bond between a young girl and her first horse.  A refreshing reminder of how lucky we are at EasyCare to work with horses and the people who share their lives with them.

5.  EasyCare owned horses race in Colorado, Texas and Delaware in a new prototype, urethane, flexible glue on horse shoe. 

The Easyboot prototype race shoe hits the flat track in Delaware, Colorado and Texas.  EasyCare is making progress on a flexible, urethane option for the flat track industry. 

4.  Heather and Jeremy Reynolds compete and finish the 160K World Endurance Championship in England.  Both of the Reynolds mounts were barefoot and fitted with Easyboots.

Heather Reynolds on Marvel and Jeremy Reynolds on Kutt.  The Reynolds were two of the five person team representing the USA at the World Endurance Championship in England.

3.  The Tevis Cup is won for the second year in a row in Easyboots.  Tevis is considered the toughest 100 mile horse event in the world!

Lisa and Garrett Ford cross the finish line 1st and 2nd in the 2012 100 mile Tevis Cup.  Both are riding barefoot Easybooted horses.

2.  The Haggin Cup is won for the third year in a row in Easyboots.

Rusty Toth and Stoner win the Haggin Cup at the 2012 100 Mile Tevis Cup.  The third year in a row the Haggin Cup has been won by a barefoot booted horse. 

1.  Shannon and Steffen Peters have success with the barefoot horse and hoof boots at the highest levels of dressage.  The Peters have transitioned many of their top level dressage horses to barefoot and hoof boots in 2012.  Look for an article in the 2013 February Dressage Today that talks about the journey. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sossity Gargiulo, Shannon Peters, Garrett Ford pause for a quick photo after watching a barefoot Ravel work in EasyCare hoof protection.  I usually rub horse slobber off, I rubbed Ravel's slobber in!  What an amazing horse and unforgettable opportunity to work with people the caliber of the Peters.  

To an amazing 2012!  Looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

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

 

Having a Barefoot Clinic is as Easy as 1 2 3

Submitted by Charmain Q De Hart, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Having a barefoot clinic is not an easy task. Although we have done numerous presentations and several clinics, I still had that anxious feeling I get when I really don’t want to forget anything. That would include every type of boot you have to display (thanks to EasyCare for providing single boots for display purposes), brochures on different types of boots and boot accessories, brochures on barefoot services, handouts on what your lecture is covering, banners and posters of anatomy and a white board to draw on.

You never know exactly what people expect when they attend a Barefoot Clinic. Starting out with nutrition always seems like a good idea; get people while they are fresh and can take as much as they can in before we move on to what they really think they came for. Next would be the anatomy of the hoof and trimming and last but not least boots.

Six years ago when we first ventured out spreading the barefoot word, utilizing boots for barefoot horses was pretty much unheard of here in our part of the world. Sure people pulled their horses shoes off during the winter, but in a true barefoot person’s mind we don’t consider this truly going barefoot. Barefoot to us is no metal shoes, completely barefoot 24/7, 365 days out of the year and booting when needed. The only boot that anyone really heard of was the Original Easyboot. Oh yes, the infamous Easyboot, the boot that people still say didn’t stay on if ridden on tough uneven terrain.  

Fast forward to 2012 where boots have come a long way. The options are greater and the quality of the products has changed two fold. There are many types of boots for different types of disciplines.  There are low profile boots like the Glove, the Glue-On or the Epic for people that put 25+ miles a week on their horse. If they are the casual trail rider their boot of preference could be the Trail or maybe the Old Mac's.  And of course for rehab purposes the Rx. Easycare is on the cutting edge of new, improved boot selection.

The turnout was great and we received a lot of positive feedback which makes all the work of putting a clinic together worth it! If one person can be convinced “to come to the dark side”, I feel we have accomplished something good. After a 3 hour lecture, one person pulled shoes off of her gelding and another person left exclaiming she was going to try and go barefoot with her horse. The consensus was that most people got most out of nutrition lecture. 

Knowing when the best time for their horse to be on pasture to how to test their hay for any lacking minerals and sugar levels. Another person that had been going barefoot for quite some time spoke with us after the clinic in regards to boots. She felt she had gotten a ton of info in regards to diet, pasture management and trimming but at the point of us talking about boots she said the “light” went on and she said that was the piece of the puzzle she was missing to be able to ride her horse comfortably on the trail.

Basically what it all boils down to is proper trimming on a regular schedule, movement and a good environment build good hooves. These things combined with proper nutrition build great hooves.

Charmain Q De Hart

 

Report from Europe

Another European Hoof Care Clinic Tour came to a close last week. This brings the number of these workshops and seminars in Europe up to 12 since starting this program over three years ago. During these trips I have seen remarkable horses, visited great places and met so many interesting people, with most of them I have been in contact ever since.

Although I'm conducting the seminars, teaching and demonstrating various barefoot trimming methods and protective horse boot applications, I feel like it is me who is learning the most. To be able to see and work on a wide variety of horses of all kind of  breeds and to learn new ways to address hoof problems and pathologies in other parts of the world has been an incredible experience.

During these clinics I often start with PowerPoint presentations on anatomy, followed by conformation evaluations and how conformation influences hoof growth. I'm also discussing various pathologies, causes and consequences.

Hoofcare does not stand alone and by itself.  I always emphasize the fact that healthy hooves grow from a healthy environment which encompasses proper nutrition, movement, turnout, exercise, adequate substrate and timely trimming. A hoof, as it presents itself to our eyes, mirrors the horse for better or for worse. The holistic principle is essential and central to all Natural Hoof Care and must never be left out of the equation.

Following the theoretical indoor session, we then move outside to work with horses. Before we  even pick up a hoof, we evaluate the whole horse, teeth, hair coat, muscle development, conformation, overall health and how the horse is standing while being observed. Is it standing quietly and square (a rarity), or with one foot forward or camped under, post legged, shifting constantly from one leg to the other? We then can draw conclusions and  already know how the hooves are going to look like. We understand easier why a hoof grows a certain way and displays certain characteristics. When looking at the actual hooves afterwards, we are then merely confirming our conclusions from our observations.

Participants often bring their own horses to learn with them. Many have been trimming their own horses already and want their job being evaluated and possibly improved. Others want to learn how to trim their horses hooves and will then be given opportunity to practice.

I avoid passing judgment. Instead I try to guide them to look at their trimming from different angles and to open new avenues to help their horses. There are very few absolutes, if any. Every hoof is different, therefore we should treat each hoof as an individual.

Day two starts again with theory and  a detailed presentation about various hoof protection applications. I introduce the different EasyCare Hoof boots together with all the Vettec Glues and their respective application. We then practice together to fit Easyboot Gloves, Trail, Backcountry Gloves, and others like Epic and Glue ons. A presentation of  gluing Glue on shells follows.  Participants often have the opportunity to glue their first boots themselves and even learn how to build a hoof shoe with Vettec Superfast.

This past tour was especially interesting.  Zuerich, Switzerland, was the first stop. Nina Good and Marina Huber, who had just completed a 3 months internship at Global Endurance Training Center in Moab organized the seminar with about 20 participants.  The group consisted of professional trimmers and farriers, beginning trimmers, drivers and riders  in various equestrian disciplines. A great mixture of prior knowledge and skills and horses of all kind of statue and shape. 

Zuerich Group.

 The Bootmeister is demonstrating the application of Easyboot Gloves.

The enthusiasm and participation  was amazing. Everybody was learning and also sharing.

Onward to the Bretagne (or Brittany), the most western part of France. This time I was guest of Christophe and Carole Bogrand, who own and operate Chateau du Launay near Ploerdut. www.chateaudulaunay.com.

This 300 year old castle was our place for the clinic. Again, like in Zuerich,  the organization was superb, Christophe and Carole  were the most wonderful hosts one can wish for.

The group was smaller, which gave everybody more opportunity to practice trimming and gluing Easyboot Glue on horse shoes. We even had two American participants, friends and clients of GETC, who flew in from NY to participate in the clinic and enjoy the castle and the outstanding cuisine by Carole Bogrand.

It is awkward to take a Hoof Jack by airplane. So when no hoof stand could be found anywhere, we had to be creative.

We ended up gluing 4 boots.

I have to admit that their first glued boot did not quite look like that, but somewhat close.

On a cultural note, after the clinic we went riding for a day through some magnificent country and rode by a 7,000 year old Druid tomb. I'm always fascinated by history and their remnants. So much we can learn from it.

Last stop was Duesseldorf, Germany. Claudia Bockerman, who undertook a two week hoof trimming and hoof protection internship with me at GETC's facility in Moab a couple of years ago did the onsite organization. Again, we had a mixed group with various background levels and experience in hoof care and trimming. This made it again a learning and sharing experience for everyone.

The riders of the world are very eager to learn about Natural Hoof Trimming and EasyCare boots. And this is just the beginning, I'm convinced of it. More clinics are already being set up in Europe for next year. I will keep you posted.

Your Bootmeister,

Christoph Schork

Horse Hoof Boots Through the Years

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Go back through the endurance time tunnel, way back, to 1977: my first year of endurance riding. I was fresh off the racetrack, Thoroughbreds and ponyhorses. And it was my Appaloosa outride and ponyhorse that I hauled to Vale, OR for my very first AERC ride, the Oregon Trail Endurance Ride. Most of the time my ponyhorses were barefoot and I trimmed my own. But for an endurance ride I found a plater to put on a set of steel training plates and leather pads on Sunny. There were no "cowboy" shoers available as we called them. 

That ride was a big 50 mile loop and at 40 miles I cut out the the ragged remains of my leather pads with a pocket knife. At the finish Sunny's plates were so thin a guy could have shaved with them. This ride was my first introduction to Easyboots. A few people used them over shoes. Hmmmm, have to check into that. I also needed to learn a better way to carry water, that water tank stuff didn't taste very good. But it was better than nothing. We lived without a lot of frills back then, but that's another story.

Sunny Spots R and myself at Mt Burney ride, 1978, in California with his Easyboots. Hughes photo.

At one of the rides I met Neil and Lucille Glass and I got myself some Easyboots. We had a lot to talk about because Neil rode a big Appaloosa gelding too. Good times, as I look back on the many people I met in the early days of the sport.

I used the old style Easyboot on the front of Zapped+/ over his shoes on the multi-day rides for added rock protection. I always carried one for a "spare tire" and often loaned my boots out to others in need. 

Andi and me riding Fort Schellbourne in 2000. Andi rode SH Frisky Affair who lost a shoe in the hind and we booted her bare hoof to finish. Zap had them on his fronts over shoes.

I wasn't always the fastest rider but we often went a lot of miles. Sunny Spots R completed 4,410 AERC miles, Moka's Pat-A-Dott 5,515 miles, Zapped+/ 6,480 miles. Often with Easyboots over shoes. As I look back, I think I should have used them over shoes a lot more often than I did.

Fast forward to just a the 90s when Garrett Ford purchased Easycare, Inc and improved upon Neil's design of Easyboots, with Bares and the Epics, then the Edge. And then what I think is the greatest of all, the Glove. I had tried to use the other models full time when riding, but for various reasons they just didn't quite work out. 

But the Glove. Ah, love the Glove. Easy to apply, easy to fit, easy for me to become even more independent. I love indpendence

Z Summer Thunder getting his 3,000 miles at Owyhee Canyonlands, Steve Bradley photo.

The horses that I have today have completed most of their rides in Gloves or Glue-Ons. The problems encountered with the Gloves have been few and far between, and it seems as though Easycare or a Team Easyboot member is always there to help us think it through. A huge thanks for that.

Z Blue Lightening, getting his 1,000 miles at Owyhee Halloweenies, another Steve Bradley photo.

Could we have done the miles without Easyboots of any kind over the years? Maybe yes maybe no. I do know that with using boots that my horses have less leg filling after the rides because the frog can still circulate blood through the hoof. The hoof can also flex, contract and expand just as it does when barefoot without a boot. I am very happy to tell you that my horses have healthy happy hooves and no problems, and I have no intention of returning to shoes. You just can't beat a recipe that helps keep a good horse sound for the miles.

Karen Bumgarner

Reflections On Booting Lessons Learned

Submitted by Leslie Spitzer, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

It's hard to believe that yet another ride season is wrapping up. It seems like it just started. Also along with the end of ride season another year of participating in Team Easyboot is coming to a close. It was a great year and for me, I feel like my knowledge of hoofcare and booting increased immensely. I feel like I've come to a point where I can truly help out others with confidence and share that knowledge all while realizing I am still a student and always will be. There is always something new to learn or something that can be made better.

This was my third year with barefoot/booted horses. I found myself coming into the season still struggling with booting challenges with my main horse, Eagle. I've always been fully open about the fact that I consider him to be the worlds most difficult horse to boot due to his extreme movement, power and his hoof shape. I fully believe in the choice I've made for him to be barefoot/booted so even though I've been tempted, I've stuck with the boots always trying to find solutions to make it work better for us.

Glue-Ons - our standard boot for endurance rides.

I'll always prefer Glue-Ons for 100's but I won't lie, I was tiring of having to use them for 50's. I was quite envious of those who could just slap boots on and go and fantasized about how lovely that would be. Stubborn streak in full operation, I decided I was going to work on that problem and try and solve it. First of all, I made sure I was working with a properly trimmed hoof. I then took Mueller Athletic Tape and wrapped it around the hoof 4 times in the front and 5 times in the rear. I applied Sikaflex to the sole of the hoof with a spatula. I then worked and got the boots on and seated correctly. I then took a hoofpick and pried the boot open at the quarters just enough to get a tip from the Adhere gun in there and I squeezed a bit in. I then did a top bead of Adhere around the boot.  So, it wasn't exactly as easy as slapping on a boot and going, but it was easier than gluing shells - kind of a happy medium. I was extremely happy with the result as my boots stayed on.

Easyboot Gloves on the evening before the ride. Unfortunately, there were no pics of the process.

At the next ride we went to I decided to go this route again, only I decided to use Glove Back Country Boots in the front and Gloves in the rear. I'd been having pretty good luck with the Back Country in training and I thought it would be fun to see how they did. I wasn't even sure if anybody else had actually done a 50 mile ride in them. The procedure I used for the fronts and Back Country was just Sika Flex in the sole and 4 wraps of Mueller Athletic Tape. I used Sika on the soles in the rear and 5 wraps of tape. I then quickly realized my half empty tube of Adhere was not mixing properly so I ditched it and just squeezed some Sika in the quarters and did a top bead around the boot. It worked fabulously - no lost boots.

I have to say I am quite impressed with the Glove Back Country boots. I think it is going to be more of an endurance boot than previously thought. It never budged and I am sized up half a size from our normal Glove size. We traveled at all gaits and at competitive speeds. I had not previously used the Back Country in deep footing or lots of sand (both of which there was a lot) so I did wrap some duct tape around the boot to make sure I would not have to worry about sand affecting the velcro. One thing to note, if riding in deep sand, check at the stops for any accumulation in the gaiters we did have some. At home we do not have really deep footing and I've never had anything accumulate in them. 

Cantering along in our Back Country/Glove combo (Baylor/Gore photo).

Eagle showing off his big trot in the Back Country/Glove combo. (Baylor/Gore photo)

Post ride. The duct tape is a nice touch, don't you think?

In reflecting back on the year in general, I am pleased to say I am noticing a real paradigm shift to boot usage in my local area. I have traveled to rides in different regions over the past few years and had been really surprised at how many boot users I saw compared to my own area. I don't know why this was the case, it just was. I can only assume it's shifting because people cannot ignore the statistics and the successes. It is a very valid option and becoming quite mainstream. I like to think maybe, possibly I have had a small influence in this shift on my local level. I am an advocate of barefoot/booted and I do believe it to be best. My most important lesson has been to approach softly, use few words, lead by example and success and be available to help and answer questions. Plant the seed, nurture it and wow - suddenly people are calling and asking for the help to transition to barefoot/booted. 

I'm really excited and proud to say there are quite a few horses transitioning local right now that I've had a hand in helping out. It's a huge responsibility but I credit being a member of Team Easyboot as an excellent resource. I've made the connections I need so I can get help or ask a question or opinion on my work.

A horse we are helping transition with Navicular Syndrome. This was about 6 weeks ago the day these shoes were pulled.

Same foot six weeks later.  He's got a long way to go but we are seeing some changes.

It's exciting and fulfilling to me to be helping in change and progress. I don't know that I'd have the confidence, the knowledge or the feeling of challenging myself to learn more if it were not for my involvement with Team Easyboot and the resources and folks I've met through Easycare. I'm thankful for that and I can't wait to see what's in store for next year.

What I am looking forward to next year. This is four year old Finney, my first home-bred, never shod horse. 

Leslie Spitzer

Team Easyboot at Shahzada, Australia

Submitted by Susan Gill, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I've enjoyed my time as a Team Easyboot member over the past few years and my favourite tee-shirt is a visual testament that TE people (and barefooters generally) probably don't switch off - ever.

Barefoot and booting are a lifestyle for us and our horses. My tee-shirt is worn as a banner, a personal motivator, a comfortable best friend, and preferred clothing to get caught in for those unexpected midnight awakenings when camping at horse events. It's been run ragged literally but I am sure it will be around one way or another for some time yet, even if it gets multi-coloured cuffs and neckband repairs.

Joby modelling my favourite TEB tee-shirt, being far more photogenic than me :)

Joby is much more photogenic than me so she got the modelling job showing my special tee-shirt.

This year has been a fairly high learning curve, generally through experience, reflection and discussion. The experiences have generally been wonderful, the reflections have ranged from light-globes to bricks and the discussions often highlight or reinforce individual opinions.

My gluing protocol has developed according to the hooves being booted. I have learned that styles need to be as individual as the horse - this was never more apparent than during my attempt at the Shahzada Memorial 400km Test in August this year.

TEB Jen and TEB Susan, Tammy, Di (TEB Tarryn's Mum) + photographer/Booter Janine.

Relaxing at our campsite seriously discussing rides strategies - right.

4 riders (2 x TEB, 1 x booter, 1 who shoes) + our Camp Rouseabout (mum of another TE12 member) all of which meant we had 3 horses to have shells glued on. Success rate? 2 horses = 100%. One horse - my Joby = 25% by day 3. By the end of our ride people were commenting on Joby's colourful footwear - a different colour power strap for each boot as we lost a glue-on and put on a spare three different times.

What was the difference?  Her gait - she paddles?  Her hoof shape - possibly very slight flares?  The shells - fingerprints on the inside from attaching power straps? All these points have been discussed before and likely it will continue to happen if I can't be 100% diligent in all areas I have control over.

Past experience had already demonstrated that Joby was likely to lose boots so I carried a spare front and a spare hind for every ride loop. And each day I got use one while out on track. I had learned that taping around her hooves with Mueller's adhesive tape worked well. Glueing was the obvious choice for a 5-day marathon but taping the spare boots each day actually proved the more successful option in keeping the boots on. We never lost a taped boot and never developed any rubs either. Jenny Moncur my TE12 partner did an amazing joby booting Joby each day, taking care to follow all the documented tips regarding rub prevention with nappy-rash powder, taping fetlocks with vet-wrap etc.  

I ended up withdrawing on track Day 4 when Joby "hit her limit" mentally. It was a personal best for both Joby and myself, successfully completing 3 consecutive days of 80km of what I consider the most challenging, amazing and enjoyable track in Australia. Already I am planning for Shahzada 2013, knowing we have had a great experience this year to provide the base for our next attempt.

4am start every morning meant a lot of kms achieved before sunrise.

Some last minute adjustments before starting at 4 am. Check out the fancy footwear of the strappers (crew)!

Now Jenny, Joby and I have just returned from our state championships where Joby and I completed the 160km event. Did we glue?  No...and Yes!  Our preferred method was a combination of Mueller's tape around her hooves for adhesion, with sikaflex underneath for shock absorption rather than glueing power. Chosen boots were Gloves with gaiters rather than shells - for this ride I was leaving nothing to chance. The Gloves didn't budge except from our choice when we felt the desire to check them. No rubs, no losses, no concussion, no worries.

This photo provided by Main Event Photography. Shahzada Day 1 in clean gear with matching footwear all round.

Our hybrid glueing methods for 2013 are yet to be determined but I know one thing for sure:  we'll be back and bootin' like always.