NEATO Ride Report

Submitted by Gene Limlaw

This past weekend I went to the NEATO Ride in Escoheag, Rhode Island. They offered a 30 and 50 mile ride with the Region 16 distance championship. Last year this ride was a two day ride in August. It was in the 90s with very high humidity.

 
Little did I know that Rhode Island has a lot of rocks. But guess what: they do. The trails, though lacking in elevation, are very technical: lots of signal track ditches and washed out roadways. Earlier in the season they had 16 inches of rain in two days.
 
Base camp is a nice series of meadows surrounded by trees. There is plenty of room for rigs and paddocks and lots of nice grass. The NEATO club is a real nice group of people that are working hard to put on a nice ride.  They had a welcome barbecue the night before as well as one the night after the ride.

 
This year the trails were changed some from last year to make it a more friendly course to navigate. It wasn't an easy ride but a lot less difficult than before. I took my Arab mare Grace and planned to ride this ride with a bit more speed than last year if trails allowed.
 
I glued her boots on Thursday afternoon as I  had to leave earlier on Friday. I've been mainly riding only in boots in front but decided to use four as I knew it would be rocky. This was also my first time reusing boots that I had ground the glue out of. I used a wire brush on a power drill and that worked very well, as I don't have a drill press. People have been asking if you can reuse the boots and I say you can, but I haven't. Now I have and it worked real well.

We had a 7:30 ride start as it is Turkey season and the park people asked we start later. That was super: I got to sleep in a little. Our first loop was 20 miles. I spent the day riding with friends from Vermont knowing they would be riding at a good pace. We were averaging ten miles an hour all day on the rocky loose footing. I was very pleased with Grace's performance in her four boots. She seemed to have good traction and I didn't worry about stone bruises or rocks getting stuck in shoes, which happened to my friends horse last year and we had to have it beaten out with another rock.
 
The first loop was a lollipop and when we got back to the stick we took a wrong turn and got a little lost for a mile or and had to turn around and get back on track. We got in and pulsed down and went back to the trailer for everyone to eat. The next to loops were each 15 miles and we had gotten back in the pack and worked on covering ground where we could.

We came in from the second loop and vetted right through to make a up a little "line time"  waiting in the vetting line. We went out on our last loop in about 16th place, and away we went.

It was getting warmer from the afternoon sun. About five miles into our last loop we came to a brook crossing and Grace wanted a drink and my riding companions went on. I figured I would let her drink her fill and catch up. Ha, she did and we went right along and never caught back up.

This is the time is a endurance ride when things can get interesting. We went along, Grace wanted to catch up with her friends. We passed several horses and she just kept going, she felt just great!  We finally caught up to her buddies at the finish, go figure they were a couple minutes ahead and in tenth place. We were 11th.  The finish line was not at camp so I had to go up to the finish from 11 on. I jogged in the last half mile pulled her tack put some water on her and went in and got my completion. What a great day!
 

I had entered Grace in the AHA division so we were able to go back up for BC. Her metabolics were great and she looked wonderful and got 9 for her gait. Even though we missed BC by a point and a half I was just thrilled and had a wonderful ride. I was so lucky to find this nice mare. I also really enjoy watching her develop into a true athlete.

So all in all the NEATO ride was a nice ride and worth trying if you would like to see some new trails and meet some great people.
 
Gene Limlaw
Weathersfield, Vermont

Natural Hoofcare or Barefoot Hoofcare

There are generic terms being used to describe the care and use of barefooted horses in all disciplines known as "natural hoofcare" or "barefoot hoofcare." They are not only a horse hoof trimming method/barefoot trimming method designed specifically for barefoot horses, but include a daily care system that allow a horse to remain barefoot throughout its entire working life. The same system can be used to rehabilitate horses from lameness eliminating horse hoof problems.

From a blending of Jaime Jackson, pioneer of barefoot hoofcare in America basing his studies of the wild horse hoof, and German Veterinarian, Dr. Hildred Strasser, who researched causes and cures of lameness and developed the first holistic hoofcare clinic, came very different approaches that have created the barefoot hoofcare movement as we know it today.


Jackson has emphasized a practical approach, allowing nature to help slowly improve hoof form, with gentle and gradual guidelines for natural hoof trimming. Strasser developed a powerful trimming technique, using surgically precise trimming to drastically alter hoof form for the pathological horses in her clinic. From Jackson, we have learned to appreciate the significance of the wild horse model and it application in the lives of domestic horses. From Strasser, we have learned the direct link between horse's living conditions and the health of their hoofs. Nearly all natural trimming and barefoot trimming techniques have originated from these two key figures, with the points they both agree on: 

1. Heels are kept low with bulbs nearly on the ground, hairline is straight, quarters are arched, bars are straight and tapered, hooves are wide and round in shape and the entire hoof expands slightly upon weight-bearing, also called hoof mechanism.

2. Horses with founder, navicular, ringbone and other chronic illnesses and lamenesses are finding improved health and genuine return to soundness with natural hoof care. With this new approach, it now extends to the complete lifestyle of the horse. The barefoot hooves become strong, healthy and fully functioning and the entire immune system of the horse is strengthened naturally. Diet plays a major role in rehabilitation so natural horse products should be used. This is all part of natural horse care.

3. Horses that were previously unable to perform barefooted using traditional trimming/shoeing methods are now able to fully function. When in need of protection on rough terrain or during rehabilitation, flexible, removable protective horse boots that compliment hoof form and function are appropriate, such as the Easyboot Glove or Glue on Boots using hoof glue. Hoof pads can be used inside some boots for added comfort. In high performance applications such as endurance racing, rocky trail riding, competitive driving, jumping, roping, barrel racing, dressage, polo and more, EasyCare offers a boot for every horse and every discipline.

Dee Hoime

easycare-customer-service-dee-hoime

Customer Service

When you call EasyCare, I’m one of the folks that will answer. I’m also one of the cowgirls in the group. (Heck no, I don’t show, I Rodeo!) When it comes to life’s adventures – never pull back on the reins, and remember: the world is best-viewed through the ears of a horse!


Horse B - When In Doubt, Use Glue

** Disclaimer: For those of you just showing up to this thread, this Blob Entry chronicles my experiences last year.
This is by no means a correct protocol as to how to successfully glue boots onto horses' feet.
Indeed, this demonstrates some of the things you probably would do better avoiding.**


If Roo was going to wear Easyboot Glue-ons for Tevis, we were going to have to try them out first. As previously mentioned, pre-Tevis mania had gripped me good and tight and everything had to be experimented with beforehand to avoid any nasty surprises on the day (I was pretty sure I was going to have enough nasty surprises foisted upon me without generating any of my own).

Luckily, I live quite close to the Western States Trail (WST) so know the type of terrain and can practice on it. Unluckily, this also means I know how tough that kind of footing can be on boots. In short - if they could come off, they would.

The second thing I wanted to do was try out glue-ons on a Proper Endurance Ride. We were due to go to the two-day Cooley Ranch Ride in Sonoma Co. in the coastal range of California in June. I'd ridden Cooley Ranch once before and knew that there was a lot of straight up and straight down trail so I figured it would be a good try out.




The weekend before the ride found me sitting picking bits of dremelled boot out of my eyes (safety glasses would have been a smart idea, eh?). Roo is slightly toe-in and tends to forge and I was worried that the normal breakover for the boots was in the wrong place for him. So in a fit of OCD, I dremelled more bevel into the front boots to speed up the breakover. This was probably a waste of time seeing as Roo'd wear the boots into the shape they needed to be as he went along, but like I say, pre-Tevis mania is strong.


In retrospect this really was OCD: although my extra bevelling was probably not detrimental, I never bothered with it again for future installations.



Gluing

Patrick was enlisted as Chief Gluer, while I would be in charge of hoof prep and application. Later that afternoon armed with everything we could possibly need, we adjourned to the barn to commence gluing (note, it is always best to glue in the late afternoon, thereby guaranteeing that you will be finishing up in the dark).

Our glue of choice was Goober Glue, necessitating only a standard caulking gun. We also had some denatured alcohol, a box of latex gloves, paper towel, a Stanley knife, a rasp, and were sure not to wear our best clothes.

It didn't go quite as advertised on TV... I'm not even sure why I bother mentioning that at this stage, since we all knew it wouldn't. :)

Tip #1 is to forget anything you ever learned about preserving the Old Growth Latex Forest. Don't try and skimp when it comes to using the latex gloves. Put them on, apply the glue to the boot and then, before going anywhere near the horse, peel them off and put on a fresh pair. Do not go near the horse with gluey gloves on. Once you get clever and skilled and expert then you can be less wasteful, but for now, trust me, it will minimize how much glue you have to remove from said horse's legs afterwards.

The hardest thing to balance is how long to let the Goober Glue cure in relation to how thick a layer you have used. You need to let it sit long enough to get really tacky (when it's thick like that, it stays goobery forever), so instead of acting like glue it acts like a lubricant. Fun times. In addition, Goober Glue man, Chris Martin, always stresses the importance of giving the shells a good quarter turn twist and back once you've got the boot on. I think this serves to smear the layer of glue evenly and spread it better, ensuring better setting. Easier said than done, however, when you've finally achieved that elusive snug-fit.

Before we were done, Roo had twisted the front boots off-center a few times and completely stepped out of the right front boot. He also wanted to continually cock his back foot, so the heel-part of the shell kept sliding off. And when I pushed on his hip to make him stand square, he'd twist the front boots. <grrr>

<Click thumbnails to see larger photos>

Glue-on0.jpg (84492 bytes) Pretty prep-work.

I rasped him diligently beforehand, so he'd have a lovely trim job. Then I "dry fitted" the boot and drew around the top with a felt-tip to show which area I had to rough up.

At that point, I discovered he had too much flare to be able to rough the hoof, so I gave him an even more diligent touch up so he was perfect.

Knowing what I know now, I didn't rough up his hoof walls aggressively enough. I was thinking "rough up the hoof wall to create a clean surface onto which the glue will adhere", where I should have been thinking more along the lines of "rasp some grooves into the hoof wall for the glue to grab hold of".
Glue-on1.jpg (85303 bytes) Pretty prep on all four feet...
Glue-on2.jpg (124068 bytes) First we glooped the Goober Glue on all four boots. I wanted a really thick layer so it would fill in any gaps. Great idea, Lucy... note comment above about using too much glue and it not setting properly or quickly as a result. More is not always better.
Glue-on3.jpg (89403 bytes) We paid special attention to the heels, glopping in as much stuff as we could so it would seal any gap in the back.

In retrospect, it's probably easier to squirt glue into the gap once the boots are applied to the feet.
 
Glue-on4.jpg (41832 bytes) This one's a little blurry, but this is the bead we put all around the inside of the boot, then added more in the toe area.
Goober Glue is really sticky and hard to smear. When you try, all that happens is it sticks to your finger and you smear it all over the outside of the boot and yourself by mistake.
Glue-on5.jpg (86458 bytes) Three boots on. Lots of goop on Roo's leg from him stepping out of the boot and me having to dash in and do an emergency reapply.
Notice how he's got his rear foot cocked. He did this a lot and each time he did it, the not-yet-glued boot heel would slip off the the foot.

The main thing I've discovered while dealing with boots is that the right rear foot on a horse does all the work. The other three legs are really just there for show, to look attractive and to make the horse look more balanced. That right rear tromps about the countryside pushing up the hills, while the other three legs just trail along behind looking ornamental.

After we'd finished gluing, Roo's right rear boot would make air-slurping noises when he walked on it suggesting that he probably wasn't properly attached to it. This suggestion proved correct, but I didn't find that out for sure until the Ride.
Glue-on6.jpg (56380 bytes) Right front - this was the boot he stepped completely out of. There was an air space you could prod in the front of the boot, so I wasn't convinced this one was very well attached. Lots of glue was stuffed in the back since it was his smaller foot so there was more lip sticking out the back - and therefore more for his back foot to grab hold of and pull off.

Note - all of the above should have shown me blatantly obviously that this boot was too big.

But if something doesn't work first time, it's best to keep trying the same thing and being surprised that you get the identical result, no? <slap forehead>

Remember Roo's smaller right front? Yup, I was still trying to put the larger size shell on it with the same result - the boot still doesn't stay on.

 
Glue-on7.jpg (51773 bytes) Right rear boot. I had to twist it back to center after about 30 minutes.
The left one (that we let cure longer) seemed relatively solid.
Glue-on8.jpg (90421 bytes) Goopy front boots from the side. They weren't perfectly centered... but then again, neither are Roo's feet.
Glue-on9.jpg (81048 bytes) I tried to smear the top glue around to make a bead with mixed results.
Part of my clever plan was that by gluing the boots on the weekend before the ride, it meant that I'd have plenty of time to:


a) ride up Dead Truck Hill on Tuesday (my personal litmus test on boots - if they'll stay on for that, there's a good chance they'll stay on for anything)
and
b) if they didn't stay on, I still had a few more days to glue them back on again...



Monday Inspection

dry-glue-on-1.jpg (98469 bytes) From afar, you could barely see he had anything on his feet (which means there's no way you'll be able to tell if these things were still on or not while you're riding along). 

Hard to tell how much of the apparent toe-in of the boots in this picture is Roo's actual toed-in-ness and how much from twisted boots, but upon rechecking, his left front was nicely centered, while the right front was slightly off.

dry-glue-on-2.jpg (134481 bytes) His back feet actually looked pretty solid - more so than I thought they would. They are such a nice tight fit to start with, this probably helps. 

<fingers crossed> that these would work out, otherwise he'd be wearing shoes in the back for Tevis.

dry-glue-on-7.jpg (106693 bytes) Right rear - this was one of the ones I was concerned about, since we had difficulty keeping him seated in the boot (he kept wanting to cock his foot), but it actually seemed quite solid. Hah.
dry-glue-on-6.jpg (86056 bytes) The fit was really nice and snug around the back on his rear feet and the glue is rubbery enough that it wasn't causing any hard lump in the bulb area.
dry-glue-on-3.jpg (108808 bytes) Left front - this is his bigger foot and seemed good and solid also.
dry-glue-on-5.jpg (88580 bytes) Right front - this was the boot I was least happy with. 


Having taken off a bunch of flare just before fitting the boot, I'd made the hoof even smaller (nice trim job, though). 

dry-glue-on-4.jpg (106719 bytes) Ignoring any thoughts about how well the boot may or may not be attached, the boot was also slightly twisted.

After this inspection, I started to think that this one would have to come off and be re-glued before the weekend.

 




Tuesday Ride

Took Roo for a spin on Tuesday evening to try the boots out. As I was tacking him up, I noticed that he wasn't even wearing the left rear one any more. Initially thought he'd lost it in the trailer ride, but no, apparently it didn't make it out of the paddock.

This was the boot we let sit and cure the longest, but when I found it and inspected it, it really didn't look like it had much glue in it which was puzzling, so I'm not sure what the problem was. It's hard to put the shell on the foot without wiping off a lot of the glue at the quarters and pushing the glue you have on the sides down into the bottom.

Slapped a Glove on the left rear for our ride and off we went. Dead Truck Hill didn't claim any of the remaining three Glue-ons, even the right front which felt loose and was a bit rotated.




Wednesday - Regluing

Got home from work at 8:30 pm and started re-gluing the left rear back on again, paying special attention to LOTS of glue application and careful cleaning of hoof with rasp, sand-paper and alcohol (which I hadn't done first time around, just rasped). Got the left rear seated nicely and decided "what the heck, if I was re-gluing, I might as well redo that right front since it was 'loose' and a tad twisted".

Started to prise it off. The back part of the boot came off relatively easily ...good that I opted to do this... but I couldn't get the front part off since it was welded to his foot. Lots of tugging and grunting and squeaking, finally got it off. That glue has a great seal and just because part of it may not be secure, it'll definitely hold the rest of the boot to foot very nicely. It was good to see how well it holds, even if I was pulling it off.

Re-glued the right front shell on, adding [post-curing and post-installation] some pumps of the schnozzle through the V in the front to fill the air void in the toe area...

(At this point it was about 10 pm and my brain had evidently stopped working so I didn't really think about the air void... or the blatant signs that this shell didn't fit... or about how I said I was going to glue on the next smaller size shell...? Repeat after me: "Roo's right front is his small foot".)

Went out at 11:30 pm to release Roo from his stall-prison and was confronted with a single front boot sitting lonely in the middle of the stall with Roo standing next to it. Apparently adding vast amounts of wet glue to the toe area isn't a great idea, along with gluing a boot on that is too big... twice...

Went to bed a bit sad, but glad I'd started the gluing process so early, so I could work through it and still have time for operator error [read: "stupidity"].




Thursday Regluing

In the morning I dug out the next size smaller Glove that I'd used earlier in the year on Roo's back feet (which were too big for his back feet) and removed the gaiter and accompanying hardware and dry fitted it to Roo's (smaller) right front foot and it looked like we had a winner!
 



Later Thursday Evening

Got home from work late Thursday and glued on the smaller shell. Success! It worked much better and he didn't move in it from the time I put it on, despite all the other horses escaping out of the paddock 20 minutes before the end of the curing process - meaning Roo had to jump up and down, paw the ground, shriek and generally make a fuss. Boot still in place and not twisted. It looked promising.
 



So, to recap, what did I learn?

  • Roo's right front foot is still smaller. Put a smaller shell on it, dummy
  • Use lots of latex gloves
  • More is not always better when it comes to Goober Glue
  • Do not let the boot cure too long before putting it on the foot
  • Roo is a Fidget Bottom and not a great candidate for basic GG application. In the future, I plan to experiment with leaving the gaiters on the Gloves and using the gaiters to hold the boot in place during the curing process. Once set, I can unscrew the gaiters, leaving the brass doodads inside the boot for later retrieval. I'll be sure to chronicle this when I get around to trying it.
  •  
Next Time: How we got on at the Cooley Ranch Ride



Being Realistic

Submitted by Gene Limlaw



My next horse to transition is a 14 year old Paint stallion we have named Amigos Summer Breeze, aka Clyde. I have done around 1,000 miles with him between CTR and endurance. By nature, or by my creation, he has gotten more foot sensitive in the last few years. I always pull his shoes in the fall and shoe him in the spring with just shoes and as the season goes on we add pads, and usually silicone shortly after. We tend to be very wet here in the spring and fall and summer can be dry and we ride on lots of dirt roads which mid summer can be like concrete.

I started our shoeless transition last fall with my mare Grace and it is working well for her and seemed to make sense to keep the rest of the horses barefoot as well. I have changed everyone's diet to low carbs which has seemed to help. And I have started to ride Clyde barefoot as much as possible. He is going well for the most part but certainly shows sensitivity on the real hard footing.
 
Last week I took him on a fifteen mile CTR clinic as a babysitter for a customer. I used Glue-Ons as I can't use gaiters on these rides and figured it would be good for people to see as it is not as common a site here in our area. I had my Adhere this time and packed his soles good with Goober Glue. I had ridden another horse the day before so I glued him on a few days in advance. I also figured it would be good to  let him wear them a few days. He liked them and had a nice spring in his step. Being spring and him a stallion, he does not always give me a true reading on how he is feeling. You know, when he sees a cute grey Arab mare he could have no legs and he would feel like a million bucks. It has been a bit dry here and the ride was all on roads that had been freshly graded. So they had plenty of little rocks to deal with.
 
We had a good ride although in some spots he would want to get to a different spot in the road as if the footing was bothering him. At the finish vetting they had him a little off but he seemed fine when we got home. I pulled his boots when we got home and interestingly enough almost all the adhere peeled right off. That doesn't normally happen for me with my other horse. I did use a sanding block on his feet instead of a rasp, and they smoothed out pretty well. I used the kind you get at a hardware store, they look like a sponge. I also made sure I really filled his heels with Goober Glue so nothing got in out in the field.
 
I was going to do a 25 this weekend with him but decided it was to early and I might make him real sore, so I will take someone else. He seems to be that much more sensitive to the hard footing and this coming up ride will be a rocky one. I figure I will give him the time he needs now and it will pay off later because it will be so much better for him in the long run. I will aim for a ride next month with him but will let him tell me when he is ready. In the meantime I can do lots of conditioning with him.

Gene Limlaw
Weathersfield, Vt

Endurance Horses Are Idiots. Seriously.

If I have learned anything throughout the years I have done endurance, it is that endurance horses tend to have a specialized sixth sense to determine when an endurance ride is nearing, and even more so if it is an important ride. Actually, I am pretty sure ALL horses have this gift, only it is customized to the rider's preferred discipline and that discipline's competition calendar. Of course one could just chalk it to the fact that fit endurance ponies are idiots. I am not yet decided on which it is..

My little mare was rockin' and rollin' and ready for the 60 at Owyhee Spring, which was to be a prep ride for the 100 later on this month. We had a fantastic few conditioning rides the weeks prior, and set to work gluing on Easyboot Glue-Ons with Goober Glue, taking care to use my NORMAL protocol, which I didn't use here. Replika was wired from the get-go, it was extremely windy and I had plucked her from the herd and brought her in, where she was surely the Last.Horse.Alive. We got the boots glued on all four feet, got glue all over her high whites and even managed to glue my hair to my hat. 

I pulled in my baby horse and put them together in a small pen overnight to allow the glue to set. Didn't I JUST write a post about gut instinct? Why, why, WHY did I not listen to my feelings that something just wasn't right. I waffled all evening about calling to have the two horses turned out around ten that night, but instead told myself that she really needed to be in a small pen overnight to prevent any boot losses. Sigh. 

So I head to bed a bit uneasy, chastising myself for being so paranoid. I get a text first thing Friday morning, yes, the morning I would have been off with my little red mare for the ride, that says my horses went through a panel sometime in the night and were out. Off I head for the ranch, stomach in knots, regret filling my mind and tears in my eyes. I lost it when I saw my girl, standing there with blood down her legs and uncomfortably shifting her weight on her back legs. I glanced at Topper, who naturally escaped relatively unscathed, due to the fact he's only a baby and has no athletic obligations at this time. 


The right front and right hind were most marked up.

 

Look how fit she looks!
 

Baby Topper's little knees..

Trailer first aid kit.

I hauled out the first aid kit and went to work cold hosing and cleaning up the minor but numerous scrapes. Honestly, I don't know how neither horse got seriously injured, but I tried not to dwell on it too much. My husband came out to do a quick once-over to make sure I didn't miss anything serious, and topped the visit with an IV cocktail to combat the pain and swelling both were already experiencing. I sobbed for my girl, not because we would be missing our ride, but because I put her in the situation. We came to the conclusion that the horses became terrified of the tarp that had come loose off the haystack beside the pen in the 30 MPH wind and went through the panel. As you could normally house my mare in a corral made of dental floss, we know she was truly terrified to go to such extremes to get out of the situation. 

After cleaning them up and putting them out, I headed back into town to figure out what to do with the weekend. As I had planned on riding the 60 with one of my most favorite friends on her first ever endurance ride, I was most worried about leaving her alone, even though I knew she and her pony would be just fine. I did some quick thinking and even quicker talking and ended up with a horse to ride, and another riding partner! Karen Bumgarner offered me her gorgeous home-bred gelding, Blue. Whoo-hoo! To boot, (pun intended), we would all three be riding in Easyboot Gloves and Easyboot Glue-Ons! A real Team Easyboot!! 

Z Blue Lightning and me- what a COOL horse!! 
 
Big climb out of the Snake River Basin- check out those Easyboots!! 


Dueling cameras. Another big climb through some rocks. The downhill prior to this uphill was pretty impressive!!

What an amazing ride!!!! We rode down to the river and through the petroglyphs which date back 11,000 years! It was seriously amazing, not to mention I was on a super-cool horse and with some truly fantastic riding partners. We had a blast all day long, especially because we really rode all day! It was a long ride, but we laughed and chatted and got in just before a nasty hail/sleet storm blew in. I am so thankful that I was offered this amazing little horse, and that I had an opportunity not only to ride this amazing new trail, but to share the experience of finishing 60 miles with a fresh horse, with someone new to endurance who had really done her homework and always put her horse first. Thank you ladies, it really was a blast! 


These petroglyphs were so amazing.
 
There was some speculation that I might melt into pink goo if the rain continued. Luckily it stopped before we found out!! 

We really put the Easyboot Gloves/Glue-Ons to the test, as it was the first booted endurance ride for two of the horses, mine included, but both did so great! The two horses that used Gloves had no rubs what-so-ever, and the Glue-Ons stayed put beautifully, despite a less than perfect application. 

Karen and her other home-bred, Z Summer Thunder. A seriously cool horse! He rocked the Gloves all day long.

We flew down 2.5 miles of this gravel/hard-pack road. Karen commented that in years past she would not have been so confident flying down this road in steel shoes. We had no problems and weren't worried about excessive concussion or catching a rock. This is the only shot we have of all three of us- you can see Elly and Jasper, Thunder's butt and my hair ;-) 

Even better news is my mare looked good by Saturday night, and great on Sunday. She looked 100% today and we'll get back on the trail this weekend. Since she lost her two front boots in the wreck, I slapped on a pair of front boots using a newer version of Goober Glue and will test that out this weekend on a tough mountain training ride. Look for the story next Wednesday!! 

Our First Multi-Day With Glue-Ons

I have been a barefoot fan for a long as I owned horses (25 years), but shod under duress because I thought that was the only way to ride in endurance. My double Khemosabi grandson, Khemali'i (12 yrs old) has never had shoes and only this past year we have been conditioning religiously in the Easyboot Gloves w/Gators.

This last weekend we finished our first 50 mile multi-day ride at Washoe Valley with the Glue-Ons. My boyfriend Tony glued them on Thursday and we weren't sure how they would stay on. Tony did a great job and after the first 25 mile loop I never worried about them again. Our goal is Tevis this year, so if we make it, we will be in line to have Ali'i's boots glued on by Garrett.

Thank you EasyCare for your innovation and giving the barefoot horses a fantastic alternative for hoof protection. Life is good.

Name: Diana Hiiesalu Bain
City: Auburn
State: CA
Country: USA
Equine Discipline: Endurance
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glue-On

Horse B - Roo Gets the Last Laugh

By late May 2009, Roo was declared "A Perfect Fit", footwear-wise. I'd figured out to trim off toe and smoosh his back feet into a smaller pair of Gloves, and I'd discovered that he has uneven front feet so needed a half-size smaller on one side. From here on I knew "without a doubt that I would have no further boot problems".
 
<snicker>

With the above in mind, it was time to ramp up our Tevis-training.

Patrick and I decided to ride California Loop, the ~18 mile stretch between Foresthill and Driver's Flat. CA Loop follows an old flume trail on a narrow singletrack high along the canyon, dropping a few hundred feet every so often in a series of switchbacks until you reach the river, before making the final 1000' climb up to Driver's Flat. This section of trail is a little nervous-making due to the drop-offs but is not terribly technical per se.



"Cal-1". By the time most Tevis riders get here, it's pretty dark - unless they are running up front, which wouldn't be us by any stretch of the imagination. My carefully crafted schedule (borrowed from a friend who'd completed the ride successfully two years before) had us on this part of the trail around 10 pm.

It's good to have pre-ridden this section so you and your horse are somewhat familiar with the trail - however many riders refuse to ride it during the daylight, preferring not to be able to see what they miss in the dark. :)





Boot check to see how Roo's rears were holding up - still present and correct, despite having just scaled one of the only steep uphills on this part of the Western States Trail (WST).








This is the part I am least comfortable with - they forgot to plant those little bushes that will do nothing to break your fall, but give you a happy false sense of security. :)





It's also one of the most scenic sections of the trail as you get down towards the river.








"Sandy Bottom"



We had a great day's riding - the flowers were pretty, the weather perfect, the pones well-behaved and cheerful. And I was very pleased that neither Fergus' nor Roo's boots had moved the whole time ...until it came time to take Roo's boots off.

Yanking the rears off at the top of the canyon, I discovered that they were minus their toes. Despite having gone such a relatively short distance, the boots would only be good for a few more short trail rides and then he'd be coming right through the front of them.




<wail>

There was no way Roo could wear boots for the 100 miles of Tevis if a mere 18 miles of the milder parts of the WST did this to the toes. We'd have to go back to shoes. To say I was discouraged would be an understatement.

And then I got Garrett on the phone. He explained that they'd had other horses do this to the toes - his own horse included - so they had redesigned the front area of the boot to be much thicker and tougher.

I was unconvinced and suffering from pre-Tevis "everything has to be perfect" mania. Looking at the calendar, I was running out of time to get the boot thing right before I'd have to give up and put Roo back in shoes. <wibble>

Garrett promised me that they'd have the thicker toe shells by July and, with a bad tummy, I agreed to hold off on going back to shoes.

My next experiment would be gluing on boots. I still needed to test that aspect out in real competition so picked the Cooley Ranch ride - the closest thing I could find to replicating vertical climbs and steep descents we would be putting the boots through on the day. We still wouldn't have the reinforced toes by then, but could at least see how gluing the boots on would go.


To recap: in the real world the natural order of boots goes:
  • Boots go on. Boots come off. Rider curses.
  • Rider discovers the importance of fit on uneven-sized feet, as well as how to remove toe to fit boots correctly.
  • Boot Boots fit wonderfully. Rider is smug.
  • Boots start to fall off, trashing gaiters. Rider curses.
  • Rider puts Power Straps on boots. Boots stay on. Rider is smug.
  • Horse drags back toes, goes through front of boots. Rider curses.
  • Rider discovers EZ Care has already taken care of the problem. New reinforced toed shells coming up. Despite this, rider is still wibbly from pre-Tevis nerves.


Next Time:

Roo and Lucy vie to see who can get more glue on themselves.

Lost Padres Endurance Ride

I had the opportunity to attend the Lost Padres Ride in Santa Margarita, California last weekend. This has got to be one of my favorite rides. With rolling hills, flowers and beautiful vineyards, it is one of the most breathtaking endurance rides I have been to.


I showed some California friends the Easyboot Glue-Ons this weekend. Some had only used the new Easyboot Gloves before.

Debbie Schwiebert and I glued boots on for Janet Worts and her horse, GC Finesse, who took seventh place the first day and fifth place the second day. Peter Claydon and his horse, Knight to Remember, took fourth place the first day and third place the second day with the overall fastest time in Glue-Ons. Vickie Saitta and her horse, Lakota, took third place the first day in Easyboot Gloves.

I saw many booted horses throughout the ride and was impressed with their performance as there was quite a bit of mud on the first day. I even glued a boot on a horse that had lost a shoe due to the suction of the mud.

I also saw older boot models like the Epic out on the trail. Overall I'd have to say it was another great weekend for Easycare boots.

Miriam Rezine

easycare-customer-service-miriam-rezine

Customer Service

You will probably speak with me if you call the EasyCare office to make a purchase or if you need help with one of our products. I am proud to work for a company dedicated to the health and well being of our equine partners.


I'm Sold

My mare competed in the American River 50 mile ride in Glue-On boots without a single issue. They were great! They're still on too. I was very impressed.

It was a good ride, wet though in a lot of spots due to rain most of the week prior. So we got to really give them a good test. Even sucky mud they were still on (which honestly surprised me). My mare went through a bad spot and sunk up to her knees. We got out with all four boots still intact. I had to chuckle though because several horses lost shoes.

Anyway, I"m REALLY happy with them. Never a shoe on my mare again...On any of them ever. All my horses are barefoot anyway. I have hard drylot pasture they are mostly on, w/some rocks which has been very good conditioning for their hooves. My older TB/cross mare had terrible feet at one time. She's been barefoot now for years and still in good shape...even with a slight degree of Cushings. I'm sold.

An Easyboot customer/rider forever!

Name: Kathie Ford
State: CA
Country: USA
Equine Discipline: Endurance
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove

Keeping a Commitment

I don't think many can argue that keeping your horse barefoot is not a commitment. Anyone who has done this for any length of time will have had set-backs, successes, failures, epiphanies and triumphs. For most of us, success has out-weighed set-backs, although the ratio may not be in our favor all the time. 

In this post, I mentioned the barefoot Gods. Of course I joke about this lightly, but there are definite outside factors such as diet, environment, trimming and the horse himself. 

Ponies enjoying the afternoon warmth of a beautiful November day

It seems to be the time of year (at least around here) where people start throwing up their hands, saying "I tried," while on hold with the farrier trying to make an appointment to get shoes put back on. I am NOT saying this is right or wrong, just posting an observation. It's difficult this time of year- most people start riding more, there is typically wet weather to deal with, spring grass is coming up and after a long winter people want to RIDE! It is frustrating to have a competition (or pleasure) schedule beginning and being stuck at home with a horse who isn't 100% while your friends are out having fun without you. 

Last year I dealt first hand with a very mild bout of laminitis, as did many people around the valley. Luckily it was mild, but did include sensitivity and was later confirmed by my gelding who I used to joke had maintenance-free feet. Never saw a flare in his life. Several months after he was sore, he started growing out white-line separation and actually had a flaring at the toe. What was most alarming, was the bruising at the heel that grew out for quite some time. In hindsight, we determined that he was exaggerating a heel-first landing due to sensitivity at the toe (although he was not positive to hoof testers).



While he was never obviously lame, I noticed. He uncharacteristically sought out the soft ground instead of pounding down the middle of the road, shortened his stride on the hard-pack and returned to normal on the soft stuff.  I missed the first few rides of the year, as I just didn't want to risk hurting him further. We treated him with a short period of bute, rode him only in boots and then glued-on Easyboot Gloves a week before the first ride we completed last year (end of May). He did great at the ride, but showed subtle signs of sensitivity until the end of July. His normal rock-crunching hooves continued to prefer side-passing gravel and he slowed down over rock which definitely wasn't normal for him! 

 
Almosta-Bennett Hills Day 1 Photo Courtesy Merri Melde

What happened last year that was so different than the three years prior that I never had any problems with? We do have some answers. We had a ridiculously WET spring last year. Due to the rain, we had a lot of grass come in on the 200 acres the horses roam. Now keep in mind this is not lush pasture grass, but is wild grass in the foothills. Definitely not sugar-free, but not nearly the same as irrigated pasture where you expect to see laminitis and founder. Not only did we have an abundance of grass, but we had a very long period of warm days with below freezing nights. When the temperatures drop, the sugars become concentrated and offer a nice little sugar spike in the early am until things warm up later in the day. 

Eddy gazing longingly at the lush mountain meadow at Bandit Springs

We later had our hay and beet pulp analyzed and this is when we had our "Ah-HAH" moment. The hay was good, but the beet pulp was very high in Non-Structured Carbohydrates. Much higher than we thought. At the end of winter, the horses had been getting beet pulp (soaked but not rinsed) in decent amounts which we are certain set off the inflammation of the laminae in most of the horse's feet. The grass exacerbated the issue. 

This was the first time in three years that I had problems keeping a barefoot horse. I guess what I am trying to say is that even if you have been lucky enough to have a flawless transition from shoes to bare, it doesn't mean things will stay that way. Nothing is static in horses, and as a wise horse-trainer once told me, "There is nothing like horses and kids to keep you humble." 

I had always in the past skimmed over articles on diet and sugar/starch in the barefoot horse. I honestly thought barefoot success was more about environment than diet. I'll tell you, eating that crow didn't taste so good. I have since obviously changed my thinking and I made several changes in my feeding. I started researching different available feeds looking for something appropriate for my barefoot endurance horses. I switched off the feed I was using, which was 24-27% NSC and put them on a feed that is only 17% NSC. I stopped feeding beet pulp freely, and now when I do feed it, I rinse numerous times, soak, and rinse again. Literally rinse and repeat!

I am committed to making barefoot work even more than ever, which means sometimes making sacrifices. Last year my gelding was in contention for Sophomore Horse of the Year, an award sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides, but I knew that skipping the first several rides would make it difficult to catch up. Even so, we had some fantastic rides from the middle of the season on, and I felt good about my decision not to ride when he wasn't 100%. I guess one could argue that he shouldn't have been ridden until he returned to complete normalcy, which was about two months after I felt he was good to take to rides, but I felt confident in my decision and had he shown more obvious discomfort I would not have asked him to go. I think exercise is important in stimulating hoof growth also. 

Pink Flamingo Classic Day 2 in Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons. Photo by Steve Bradley Photography

Barefoot is certainly not for everyone, but it is exciting to see so many people try it out. It will be interesting to see how many are still bare at the end of the season. There is a definite learning curve when it comes to boots (When to boot? How to boot? How often to boot? Boots at rides, boots at home, etc), but there is also so many other factors that contribute to success. Hopefully things work out for each and every one of you, but please remember, there will be road bumps and detours along the way. It takes commitment to get around them and find the way. It IS worth it at the end!! 

~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho