Winning the Haggin Cup at Tevis 2012

Submitted by Rusty Toth

“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." - Anatole France

I remember when I first entered this sport hearing about a ride called Tevis. It had the respect and reputation of an Olympic level challenge and in recent years, Time Magazine had given it the prestigious award to be one of the top ten toughest endurance events in the world. I had not yet dreamed, or, more importantly, believed, that I would one day be able to conquer this majestic 100-mile one-day event.

The winning duo cresting the bluff into Foresthill. Photo by Lynne Glazer.

The dream was born to embark upon Tevis in the spring of 2010. I asked Kevin Myers if I could ride his horse, Farrabba, aka Stoner. Stoner was an interesting case: he had competed in endurance in steel shoes in 2007 and 2008 but he would invariably come up very footsore at about 25 miles into any 50-mile event he entered. It was for this reason we hesitated over pulling his shoes until later in 2009. His hoof health improved dramatically over the next 12 months, but it was still a bold move to enter him into what is arguably the most challenging 100-mile event in the country.

2010 was our first summer training at the Easyboot R&D location in the mountains near Durango, Colorado, and I spent much of my training time with Kevin and Garrett Ford getting the horses ready. I believe it wise and wonderful to train with excellent horsemen: there is always so much to learn. We went on to complete the 2010 Tevis in 19th place, faster than we expected and hoped for. It was Stoner’s first 100-mile ride and my first Tevis ride. It was a dream come true, and we would return to complete the modified Tevis trail in 2011 in the top 20.

Rusty Toth with Stoner, who seems to appreciate the grain inside the cup,
accept the 2012 Haggin Cup from ride director Chuck Stalley.

2012 Tevis season was soon upon us, and a new Tevis dream was formed. With encouragement from the people at EasyCare, we set a goal of completing in the top ten. As the dream became an aspiration, we set out to learn and absorb as much as we could. I would need to increase the skill and intensity of our training and nutrition program. I kept an open mind, I asked questions and I applied what worked for our horses.

Our entire ride season building up to Tevis was a testing ground for what we were learning. We used a new electrolyte protocol developed by Heather and Jeremy Reynolds and tweaked it to fit our own personal horses. We did some excellent reading (4th Gear, by Dennis Summers) and followed sound advice from experts around us. We built a training program that involved greater speed over shorter distances. All this new knowledge is useless unless you truly believe in your horse and yourself. With Garrett and Kevin’s unquestionable support, I started to believe the dream was achievable.

Dream big; set a goal; do everything you can to achieve it. Surround yourself with people you respect and admire. Ask for help and accept it, take what you find works for you and apply it. Most importantly, believe. Believe that it can be done, that you and your horse are capable.

At the Haggin Cup judging. Photo by Merri Melde.

Letting go of my own fear and doubt, and trusting in all the preparation gave us one of those rides when it all comes together. The day was pure magical bliss. Stoner moved along with little need for anything but the freedom to do as he had worked so hard for. He was present in every moment of time.

I can still hear Dr. Fellers explain the esteem of the Haggin Cup at the awards ceremony the next day. I remember turning to Stoner and suddenly believing it could happen and saying “you know, you could win this”. And then it came, I heard Farrabba’s name announced. The feeling was unexplainable: euphoria and disbelief. We aimed for the moon and reached the stars.

Kevin Myers leading Far (left) and Rusty Toth leading Stoner (right) up Bath Road to the
Foresthill Veterinary Checkpoint are greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. Photo by Lynne Glazer.

None of this would have been possible without the help of many. Our crew was nothing less than spectacular: Kandace French, Cathy Peterson, Leslie Spitzer and Linda Taxera. Huge thanks must go out to Easyboot for the Easyboot Glue-On and to Duncan McLaughlin for equine bodywork and training and nutrition strategies in the weeks leading up to the event. I am also profoundly grateful to the Ford’s crew, Rodger and Amy Ford, Gene Limlaw, Dale Gurney and Cole Ford. They are all most excellent people and I am grateful for their generosity and encouragement.

Thank you to Garrett and Lisa Ford for believing we could reach this goal and helping give me the confidence to attain it. Thank you to Kevin Myers for your support and guidance. Last but not least, to Stoner. You, my friend, are the true star and you shine brightly. I love you buddy: thank you for the ride of a lifetime. Thank you for turning a dream into a reality.

Dream big, and most importantly, believe you can do it.

Rusty Toth

Tiki the Lionheart - A Transition Success Story

This is a success story about my husband's horse, Tiki. Barry purchased MV Mac Tiki when he was 18 months old and already over 15 hands. He matured to a nice, solid 16 hands. Tiki has a few conformation faults, including a hammer head. Tiki’s motto on his Facebook page is “Heart of a lion; head of a wrecking ball.”  Unfortunately, he is also somewhat base narrow in his front legs and has short, upright pasterns. These two faults in combination have caused various lameness issues over the years. When Barry started riding him as a 3-year-old, Jeremy Reynolds was his farrier, and so Tiki had the best hoof care available. When Jeremy moved East and Barry to Napa, Tiki lost his farrier. At the hands of a new farrier, Tiki slowly developed heel pain and reoccurring stress rings around his front hooves. He walked on his toes, his stride became shorter and he could not tolerate trotting on hard ground. My farrier tried different shoeing techniques but the heel pain worsened. I can't solely blame the new farrier. The demise of Tiki's soundness was the result of a combination of things -- shoeing, conformation, carrying a heavyweight rider and training and racing on hard ground.

Add to all this, a comprehensive lameness evaluation at UC Davis indicated inflammation of the digital flexor tendons of both front legs. I had UC Davis’ resident farrier shoe him (twice) and then laid him up until he got the green light to go back to work again. As soon as Tiki went back to work, the problem returned. This time the inflammation in his front heels was visible in his heel bulbs. As it worsened,  he developed a nasty corn. I had a heated conversation with my farrier about Tiki and then, in a moment of sheer exasperation, I instructed him to just pull Tiki’s shoes off and leave him barefoot. My argument was that nothing we were doing was working. Tiki was barely rideable. If Barry couldn’t ride him, then there was no point in shoeing him.

This image was taken January 12, 2011. The inflamed heel bulbs and stress rings are apparent.
The frog is dark, recessed and unhealty. This was the day we pulled his shoes.

The red mark on his frog is a corn. It took a long time to heal.
You can see how unhealthy the hoof wall is.

This is Tiki's left front foot a year later, April 2012. The hoof wall and sole is much healthier
and the frog is improved (still a ways to go). His heels are about 30% wider.

This is Tiki's right front foot. It has increased in size from a 0.5 to a 1.5 in one year.

The Results:

Well, if Tiki could talk, he would have emitted a vocal “It’s about time!” The difference was immediate. He was tender-soled initially, but his sand-based paddock protected him from any bruising. What I noticed right away was that he began to walk around with his head held in a natural position, rather than holding it up to “protect” his front feet. His shoulders relaxed and his walking stride increased. Gradually, the "swing" in his neck returned.

His first set of Easyboot Gloves included a size 1 on the left front and a size 0.5 on the other three feet. He now wears 1.5s on the front and 1s on the back.  His soles, hoof walls and frogs are healthy. Although he still has short, upright pasterns, they have dropped some and his hoof/pastern angle is more closely aligned than it had been. Most importantly, he was completely sound and Barry could ride him again.

Tiki back in action with Easyboot Glue-Ons.

Tiki’s a great horse. He has a lot of personality. He’s fun to take to endurance rides and he’s an awesome trail horse that anyone can ride. He’s 12 years old now and has a long, sound life ahead of him.

Footnote: Incidentally, Tiki was not the first horse I have transitioned. Bearcat was the first. I had pulled his front shoes in 2010 in hope of curing his tripping, which worked. But it was this experience with Tiki that led to all my horses going barefoot now.

Here Comes (B)ridezilla

My girlfriend is getting married this summer. She’s met a great guy and I’m very happy for her. However, since her engagement, whenever I talk to her, the conversation is focused on her upcoming wedding. If I ask how the plans are coming along I get an earful. If I try to dodge the subject, I still get an earful. As the date draws closer, the planning has reached a fever pitch. There is no life; only "The Wedding."  Yesterday, I made my first of what will be many “Tevis-planning” comments to my husband. He rolled his eyes and with a strained smile replied, “Here we go again.” At that moment, it occurred to me that planning a wedding is just like planning Tevis. And now that Tevis is within what I call the countdown phase, I am behaving exactly like my friend the bride-to-be. I've become a ridezilla.

You don't believe me? Read this twice, the first time ignoring the text in the parentheses. Read it the second time and substitute the test in the parentheses for the underlined text. Then I dare you to tell me I'm wrong.

In the beginning, riding Tevis (getting married) is a far off dream that most every endurance rider (young woman) aspires to. But she knows that she must first find the right horse (man), and not just any horse (man), but one that can really go the distance. Finally, she meets the horse (man) of her dreams. Their training (relationship) progresses and she realizes that he’s THE ONE.  She decides she’s ready to commit to riding the Tevis (getting married).

Ridezilla.

Bridezilla

The date is set. She selects her crew (maid of honor and bridesmaids) and gives them their initial list of duties and tasks, which will be revised over and over and over as the BIG DAY draws near. There is much to be planned, from outfits and menus to transportation and logistics.

Ridezilla crew.

Bridezilla crew (aka maid of honor and bridesmaids).

All this time, the unsuspecting horse (groom) has no idea what is in store for him. He just goes along like he’s supposed to and does what he’s told.

Months pass quickly, and the date of the BIG DAY is close enough for the countdown phase to begin. The closer the BIG DAY gets, the more all-encompassing it becomes, until every minute of every waking day is about Tevis (the wedding). The crew (bridesmaids) is (are) now smiling at the rider (bride) through clenched teeth; they are secretly ready for the BIG DAY to be over because the rider (bride) has turned into ridezilla (bridezilla).

The night before the ride (wedding), there’s no sleeping. And when the rider (bride) finally falls asleep, morning comes quickly and she bolts upright in her bed and exclaims, “Today I’m riding the Tevis (getting married)!”

The day goes as planned. Everyone fulfills their assigned duties. The ride (bride) is beautiful. The party lasts into the wee hours of the morning. When she finally lays her head on her pillow with her Tevis Buckle in her hand (wedding ring on her finger) and her horse (husband) by her side, she realizes she is the happiest rider (bride) in the world.

Footnote: As I write this, Tevis is seven weeks away. I’m in countdown phase. I need to select my crew and assign them duties, fine-tune my horse, organize my equipment and—perhaps most important—schedule the time for the EasyCare crew to glue my shoes on for me. However, having done this many times before (Tevis, not weddings) I’m much more relaxed about it. I’m still with the same horse (and husband), and both are very tolerant of me. I’m trying my best not to be a ridezilla, but it is Tevis.

Alternative Uses of a Horseshoe Nail

You might never have an interest in nailing a horse shoe on a hoof but if you are a natural hoof care provider, rider, or horse owner, the horseshoe nail can still serve you very well.

Here are five alternative uses for horseshoe nails:

1. Explore the depth and severity of white line separation.

Horseshoe nails are very pointed, no other nail or hoof pick is thin enough to be inserted into the white line to clean out decayed tissue, debris, small embedded pebbles and prepare it for treatment. Simply insert the nail and scrape the separated white line clean, then apply treatment solution. The same applies for cleaning out collateral grooves.

 

2. Explore the frog for thrush.

Not every crack in the frog means thrush. With a horseshoe nail it is easy to find out and check the frog for sensitivity, decay and bacterial invasion.

 

3. Estimate the thickness of the sole by measuring the depth of the collateral grooves. With the pointed end of the nail it is easy to get to the bottom of the groove. Unless you use a Precision Hoof pick, which has a pointed end and a reading scale, a horseshoe nail is second best. Lay your rasp over the level and flat trimmed heels, place the nail to the bottom of the groove and use your fingernail or a marker to fixate the spot where it hits the rasp. Then pull the nail out and measure the distance.

The distance below, marked by the fingernail, is 2 cm, about 3/4 of an inch.

 

4. Clear the channels in the Vettec Adhere tube. Sometimes, when tubes have already been used previously, little plugs can form and obstruct the openings. This is really bad news if a mixing tip is already attached and an uneven flow of glue comes out. A nail tip can clean it out quickly and easily.

 

5. Clear debris from a screw. Need to replace a gaiter on your Easyboot Glove? Tighten a screw on your gaiter or the power strap? ( I highly recommend doing this after each ride using Gloves). After a ride with Easyboot Gloves, most screw heads are filled with debris. Somehow the sand and grit forms such a hard fill that your phillips screwdriver cannot get a bite. A horseshoe nail allow you to clean the slots out with minimal effort.

This screw slot is filled tightly with debris.

Can you think of any additional usages of a horseshoe nail? Please share them with us.

 

Your Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

Get the Word Out

Four years ago, a professor at Colorado State University asked me if I would give a lecture about endurance riding in her Equine Exercise Physiology class. I gladly accepted the invitation and I have done it once per semester since. It's nice to have the opportunity to expose college students to the sport of endurance since many have never even heard of it.

The topics I discuss include:

  • the basic rules of AERC.
  • the horses that excel and training.
  • nutrition.
  • high performance and international level competition.
  • the finances.
  • the business and professional aspects.
  • physiology and metabolics.

 

During each of my lectures, I sneak in a slide about hoof care and I talk about all of the alternatives that are out there. I try to be unbiased and briefly talk about various alternatives but honestly, I go through the list of options quickly and spend extra time on my favorites; the Easyboot Glove and Easyboot Glue-On. I discuss how more and more horses are being booted rather than shod and that boots are successful in all fields, from track racing to dressage. The students always ask about the boots afterwards and I'm happy to have put the bug in their ear about it. Living near Fort Collins, I also train on a lot of very popular public trails and I'm always happy to talk to people who are interested in what's on my horse's feet. 

Equine enthusiasts are everywhere so I try to make a conscious effort to get the word out. I grew up with horses but did not know the sport of endurance riding existed until graduate school. The sport of endurance riding is what exposed me to the world of booting. Previously I never thought twice about horse shoes because I had never even seen hoof boots being used. I wish somebody had told me! We should all try to expose new groups of people to our equine sports and be sure to discuss hoof care and booting, because like many, they may not even know about hoof boots.   

Nobody is going to try something they don't even know exists. There are alternatives to steel shoes, lots of them. There is an Easyboot option to fit every horse's needs. Help get the word out! 

Tennessee Mahoney

PS: Join us May 11th & 12th at Remuda Run for a clinic on the Performance Barefoot Hoof with the Bootmeister.

Broken Down May Not Be So Broken

As hoof care providers we often get calls to help horses as a last-ditch effort before euthanasia. The owner calls with a laundry list of problems and a history of solutions that have been tried and fallen short.  

This is the case of a 19-year-old Quarter Horse gelding whose laundry list was a mile long. He had been diagnosed with:

  • bowed right front tendon
  • left front coffin bone fracture
  • sidebone
  • ringbone

His current diagnosis was navicular disease. When I first saw him he was barely walking on his left front leg. Many options had been tried to resolve his lameness but with minimal long term success. The owner was tired of watching him in pain and was considering euthanasia. The veterinarian who referred me to the case told the owner "Call Daisy, she may be able to perform a miracle for you"...no pressure!   

Anytime I come across a horse with arthritic conditions, navicular, etc my goals as a farrier are to minimize the range of motion the joints have to articulate through, hopefully minimizing the impact any soft tissue problems or rough bone surfaces may have as the horse moves. The more compact the foot, the shorter the distance the joints have to move in locomotion.

I have discussed my basic trimming and shoeing goals in previous blogs. The same goals apply in this situation as the other case studies I have highlighted.

My goals are:

  • 3-8 degree palmar P3 angle: the angle of the bottom of the coffin bone in relation to the ground.
  • 50/50 base of support from toe to heel around the center of rotation of the hoof capsule.

Here is the horse's left front foot when I came to see him:

Goal:
P3 Palmar Angle: 3-8 degrees
Toe Support % (50/50) 50% toe

May 8th Old Shoe:
P3 Palmar Angle: NEGATIVE -1.70 degrees
Toe Support % (50/50) 59.17% toe

I really respect what the previous farrier was doing with this horse. The shoe is well fit, and the rolled toe was working to help this horse with his lameness issue. However the internal and external hoof alignment was not quite to my parameters, so I felt increasing the palmar P3 angle and getting closer to a true 50/50 support base would have a good chance at helping this horse become more comfortable if not sound.  

Here is the same foot, same day, with the shoe pulled:

May 8th No Shoe:
P3 Palmar Angle: NEGATIVE -3.69 degrees
Toe Support % (50/50) 63.51% toe

So without the shoe the hoof capsule and internal alignment was worse.  

Here is what we were able to do in our first trim the same day:

 

 

Goal:

P3 Palmar Angle: 3-8 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 50% toe

 

May 8th After Trim:

P3 Palmar Angle: POSITIVE 2.90 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 56.70% toe

 

So we were getting much closer to our ideal parameters. I felt I had pushed this foot as much as possible at this time. We left him barefoot in a dry lot paddock. The horse became much more comfortable and at a walk was sound. But at a trot, especially on firm ground or on turns he was still off.  

 

I felt I had achieved as much improvement as I could achieve in his internal and external hoof alignment through trimming. I wondered if he even could become sound at the trot and on turns, especially on hard ground. We decided to use leverage testing to determine where his discomfort was coming from. An easy way to do leverage testing is with the KrossCheck leverage testing system:

 

 

The leverage testing revealed that the horse hated his toe elevated (functionally decreasing his palmar P3 angle) and was very happy with additional heel elevation (increasing the palmar P3 angle) which made a lot of sense. However, it was interesting to find that he also hated his foot being tipped from side to side, medial/lateral. I decided to try a glue on shoe to create ease of range of motion from side to side as well as add a bit more heel height.  

 

Here is what his foot looked like with the addition of the composite shoe:

 

 

June 14th New Composite Shoe:

P3 Palmar Angle: POSITIVE 5.74 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 50.20% toe

 

With the additional mechanics created in the shoe, and the shock dampening effect of the plastic, this horse went completely sound and is now back in work being ridden for trail riding, light dressage lessons, and some therapeutic riding five days a week. The leverage testing was an invaluable tool in getting this horse, with his laundry list of problems, back in work and sound. Here is his very happy owner enjoying her horse!  

 

 

Daisy Bicking, APF

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

Expensive But Worth It

My riding partner Jenni Smith and I completed our second CEI** (75mi/120km) at the Shine and Shine Only ride on April 20. This AERC ride, which I think is in its 25th year, is managed by Becky Hart. The FEI component is relatively new. It was a great day overall. We finished 1st and 2nd, and 45 minutes ahead of the 3rd place horse. We were the only two horses in the CEI ** in EasyCare hoof boots. I was pleased that my two mares finished so well, and I was ecstatic that I had no wardrobe malfunctions (my code name for losing an Easyboot Glue-On during a race). At the 20 Mule Team ride in February, I learned a frustrating yet valuable lesson about makings sure that the Adhere glue mixes out of the gun in equal quantities. After losing nine of the 12 boots I had glued on and analyzing the failure ad nauseam,  Kevin Myers told me that if the glue dispenses with a bluish tint, then it’s not mixing evenly. I remember seeing the “blue” but didn’t think much about it at the time, assuming it was just cold. I didn’t repeat this mistake, and all the boots I glued on two days before the SASO ride stayed on.

In our quest to fulfill the necessary criteria so that we can nominate for an FEI national or world championship, Jenni and I have now completed the requisite one CEI* (50 mi/80km) and two CEI** (75mi / 120km). Regrettably, we are now stalled out until another CEI*** (100mi/160km) is scheduled somewhere on the West Coast—or at least west of the Rocky Mountains—so that we can get our Certificate of Capability at that distance. While CEI*** races are plentiful on the East Coast, they are a rarity on the West Coast. Only one was scheduled in 2013, and that was at 20 Mule Team. I persistently inquired as to why no other CEI*** events were being offered in 2013 when there are so many riders working their way up through the qualification process. I heard several dubious reasons (ride managers didn’t want to deal with it/too expensive/poor attitudes of the FEI officials and riders). Rob Lydon, DVM offered the most plausible explanation—that in order to hold a CEI*** a four-star-rated treatment vet must be present, and that vet must be licensed in the state in which the event is being held. According to Rob, the lack of a veterinarian with this qualification is the reason why  there are no CEI*** events on the calendar for West Coast riders. Regardless of the reason, there are a group of talented horses and riders on the West Coast who aspire to ride at the FEI level but cannot because fulfilling the qualification process is so difficult. I won't say "impossible" because I could haul my horse to the East Coast for a CEI*** but that is not a realistic or cost-effective solution for me. As it stands, the best we can hope for is that the CEI*** will again be offered at 20 Mule Team in 2014. If it is offered and if Jenni and I are successful in earning our COC, then it will have taken us three ride seasons to complete the qualification process.

In the meantime, we will continue to support the ride managers who offer FEI sanctioned events by entering their rides. It’s expensive, but worth it, if our entries help to maintain the momentum of interest in riding FEI that is building on the West Coast.

Jenni and me after our first CEI* ride and at the start of a long journey
to hopefully one day compete together in an international endurance ride.

Footnote: I am diligent about checking my Easyboot Gloves before and after every training ride. This time I found a rusty nail embedded in the bottom of a boot. How ironic that it was a shoeing nail.

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