Cooley Ranch 2011

Submitted by Christina Kramlich Bowie, Team Easyboot 2011 Member 

The annual Cooley Ranch Ride was held the weekend of July 16-17 in Northern Sonoma County, California. As always, it was a gorgeous and fun filled weekend, with beautiful trails, perfect weather, great management, wonderful people, awesome prizes, and incredible food and wine! Who could ask for more?  This is the kind of ride that reminds me of why I am so hooked on endurance.

The Cooley Ranch is a private property that has been in the same family since the 1800s. As ride managers Cynthia Ariosta and Forrest Tancer pointed out, as funds for our public parks dwindle in the state of California, it will increasingly be up to us endurance riders to cultivate relationships with private ranchers to hold rides on their lands. Crawford Cooley is extremely generous with the land and we are grateful he lets us use it. The ranch has very steep hills and is a real challenge for horse and rider. Usually the weather is hotter than it was during the weekend, but no one was complaining about that. Forrest and Cynthia did an amazing job organizing the meals: a casserole competition for Friday night with a wine tasting, a delicious paella dinner on Saturday, and a lovely dinner of roast pork loin on Sunday evening. No one wanted to leave.

Christina at Cooley

As far as boots for the weekend, I decided to glue them on because of all the steep hills and water crossings, plus the fact that it’s a two day ride. I figured I had spare Gloves, but at least we’d start with Glue-Ons. I’ve been having good luck with the combination of Goober Glue on the frogs and on the walls, with Adhere in the quarters and along the top seam of the boot.  We booted on a very hot day, and we did the first two boots quickly, which was great. Then I opened another tube of Adhere that was either too old or just too hot and it set up before I could get the boot on. Then that happened again with another tube.  A few nasty words escaped my mouth, I admit - I hate wasting boots. Finally, the third tube was fine, and we booted a few more hooves and then ran out of time. Pascale and I popped the remaining two boots on in camp.

A few notes on using Adhere: 1. It has a shelf life of about a year, and it's possible that one or both of those tubes that went bad were too old, as someone had given them to me. 2. The ambient temperature is important to consider when applying boots using Adhere. On a very hot day, some find it works to keep the tube in the refrigerator before opening it so it doesn't set up too quickly. A cooler could also work, but just be sure that no moisture gets close to the glue.  In the winter months, many find it works to wrap the tubes in a heating pad for a while before applying the glue to the boots.

Briggs working up a hill


But back to the ride: The first day I rode with Pascale who was on my young horse, Brigadoon, and we had a blast. We took it pretty easy, enjoyed the views, and had no booting problems – YAY!  The next day my friend Bob Spoor, whose horse Logistic had BC’d the first day, dropped the gauntlet on me and urged me to ride with him. He rides a bit more aggressively than I do, and I made it clear that I might not stay with him, even though Czeale is a veteran and able to go plenty fast. It turned out Czeale and Logistic were great together! Their gaits are well matched (even though tiny-but-mighty Czeale is probably two hands smaller than Logistic!), they drink about the same, and they recovered about the same too.  

Riding with Bob is intense. He’s very competitive. We started a few minutes late so the first loop there was some question about where we were in the group. We passed a bunch of horses right off the bat. It was a lollypop shaped loop with some doubling back, and of course I didn’t have time to look at my map at any point. After awhile I noticed that we were seeing some trail for the second time and wasn’t sure if we were on the return trail or if we had missed a turn. I started to remember a time at another ride when Bob went an extra 25 miles on a 50 and we all teased him for winning the 75….! He wasn’t thinking that was so funny right then. Then we passed someone we had already gone by, who was pretty darn sure he was on trail.  Hm. Somewhere we had indeed missed a turn. Fortunately we saw the way back to the vetcheck and down we went. We had simply done the lollypop twice – an extra few miles.  Oh yeah and somewhere in there Czeale lost a back boot, but I taped his hoof, popped on a spare Glove and off we went – my only loss for the whole weekend.

Pascale and Briggs - I didn't have time to take pix on Sunday!


So we started loop 2 back a bit further back than we’d started, but no big deal. We just kept cruising and by the time we got to the next vet check we were back to #2 and 3.  Both horses ate well, peed, and rested at the vetcheck, and we pulled out just a few minutes after the number one horse. The trail had a long stretch of flat and we cantered most of it. Along there we passed the number one horse walking back towards the vetcheck – he had lost a shoe and his boot had fallen off.  I only had a 00.5 which wouldn’t work for his horse, so we kept moving. Then we went through a lovely long creek bed and sponged off the horses.  There was a huge hill and we walked up it, and got off and walked down the other side. I walked slowly down that hill as my knee was really starting to ache – and I know it pained Bob to wait! Just as I got to him and got on, a few riders came tearing down the hill after us and passed us cantering through the rocks. We let them go for the moment. When we got to the wide open road again we started a nice easy canter and just kept going, passing both of them. There was another huge climb going into the finish, and we let the number one horse have that, as we didn’t think it was worth it to sprint up it. We finished a minute after him and both our horses recovered and showed for best condition. Bob’s horse got overall best condition for the weekend! What a fun day! What an incredible, exciting weekend! When can I go again?
Christina and Czeale SF at Cooley Ranch.  Photo courtesy of Baylor Photography


How To Grow Some Foot

Just in case you were hoping for your horse to grow some foot at an incredibly alarming rate, I have determined the guaranteed formula. 

1) Trim horse with your normal barefoot trim, taking care to balance the foot well and back up the toe as much as necessary.

2) Apply Easyboot Glue-On shells, using extra Goober Glue in the sole of the boot to create a soft, flexible and supportive pad.

3) Wait one day, and then trailer several hunderd miles into neighboring state (this may or may not be necessary).

4) Wait one more day, and ride said horse 100 miles.

5) Repeat step 4, only trailering several hundred miles back to your state.

6) Pretend that you weren't trying to catch said horse, anyway, when she sneaks off up the hill everytime she sees you pull up for the next week and a half.

7) Two weeks later, finally coax horse down from the hill with a bucket of goodies, and pop the boots off to find the feet have grown at a rate roughly equal to the rate at which bamboo grows in the perfect environment. 

rep

Five days after gluing, and boots are still on tight.

It's true. I left Replika's boots on for a full two weeks this month and was shocked to find what I found when I pulled them off ten days after the 100 at Bandit Springs. Not only had they grown (and grew a lot!) but all that hard false sole that normally won't come out easily was conveniently shedding and ready to pop out with a little pressure from my hoof pick. I was able to take advantage of the moist foot and got in a good trim, the first since her feet were so wet this spring. I was able to take care of some laid-over bar, trim her down closer to live sole than I usually get because the false sole was begging to exfoiliate and was able to easily rasp the heels to an appropriate height.

I was glad that I pulled the boots at that time, because I feel like the heels and toe were starting to disort the foot. As I stared in awe at the hooves that didn't look like my girl's, and realized just how BAD they were look at eight weeks in shoes. How did I DO that? 

feet

Rep's "long" foot getting loooooonger.. Thank goodness for the rasp!

What little things do you notice now, that you didn't while your horse was shod? The list goes on and on for me, but for one, I am thankful to be able to correct abnormalities that could become problems after eight weeks in steel shoes. 

Thank you, Easyboot!!
~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho

Easyboot Glue-Ons Take On the Fauresmith 200 in South Africa

Submitted by Peter Ward, Team Easyboot 2011 Member

The Fauresmith 200 takes place in the first week of July each year and is the culmination of the Endurance Year in South Africa. Since 1973 it has been run over the same course every year, 201 km over three days in a 75-75-51 split, with vet checks every 25 km to ensure the well-being of the horses. The sleepy little town of Fauresmith comes alive for a week with over 2,000 riders, supporters, organisers and officials arriving and camping at the show grounds. It is an annual gathering of Endurance enthusiasts from all over South Africa and neighbouring countries such as Namibia and Botswana. Teams from “overseas” such as Australia, New Zealand and Britain sometimes attend. South African riders are selected in various age and weight groups for national and provincial teams, with international and inter provincial team competitions to be decided.

Fauresmith 200

Billed as the South African National Championships, this race is the big deal in our Endurance world. South African Endurance riders are split into those who have done it and those who want to do it. A common question that comes up quickly between newly- met riders is “Have you done Fauresmith?” An affirmative answer is given with some measure of pride.

To be honest, one does not simply “do” Fauresmith. In all senses of the word it is a mission. First both rider and horse have to qualify in the preceding year through the successful completion of at least three 80 km races. Then the horse's fitness must be managed in the remaining months leading up to Fauresmith. Most importantly, one needs a good crew to commit a week of their life to the cause. This is necessary as all except the final vet check each day take place away from the ride base, which means all the paraphernalia associated with vet checks must be carted to these remote stops by the crew. It took me three years for all the stars to be aligned and so it was that very early on Friday 1st July my good friend and crew Ross Malcom & I left Mooi River, kwaZulu Natal with Buddy in the horse box, off on our mission at last.

South Africa is a big country and we are used to travelling long distances. After four hours we gave Buddy a half hour exercise break in Bethlehem, Free State. Late Friday afternoon we arrived at Fauresmith and began the process of settling in for the next six days. It was midwinter and we were on the high plains of the Free State. The temperature was well below 0oC and we had our first taste of the lazy wind that was to become our constant companion during the nights at Fauresmith. We call it lazy because it would rather go through you than around you.

I was glad that I had chosen not to clip Buddy and he was quite snug in his rugs and stable for all the nights we were there. Buddy is a 14.3 hh SA Boerperd cross that we bred five years ago, out of an indeterminately bred mare that came with the farm we purchased. Buddy was not the ideal choice for such a gruelling race as he was only just old enough according to the rules. All the aficionados say that five years is too young for horses to be able to finish. Buddy was in fact my stand-in horse, my main horse, Solo, having succumbed earlier this year to African Horse Sickness. Following this tragedy, there was just enough time and therefore an outside chance that Buddy could qualify to do Fauresmith if he successfully completed all three 80's that we could attend in the time remaining. Buddy fronted up each time and we slowly knocked them off until all three were in the bag.

Ross the Crew

Ross doing his crew thing with Buddy.

So there we were, a bunch of novices with neither the horse, rider or crew ever having been to Fauresmith, about to take on an epic. To add to the pressure, we had been selected to race in the KZN provincial team – 6 riders with the best 4 times to count. To top it all off, Buddy was and always will be barefoot. Fauresmith eats horses and spits them out with a consistent fall-out rate every year of approximately 40%. Common knowledge is that most eliminations have always been due to lameness. One training ride out onto the course itself showed why. The going was extremely tough, the worst part being loose stones, mostly larger than the gap between a shod hoof's sole and the ground below. Shoes were not going to be much protection in this race. Strangely enough, all the horses I saw were fitted with shoes. I subsequently found out that 393 out of 397 starters raced in shoes. We smiled quietly to ourselves as we had a plan that seemed perfect for the underfoot conditions. We were going to race in Glue-Ons.

On Monday, the day before the race was to start, we arranged all the tools, boots and glue outside the horse box, trying to escape as much of the wind as we could. A few people had expressed a wish to see the Glue-Ons being fitted but I kept invitations to a minimum, especially as it was only the second time I would be glueing on boots. I suspected that things could possibly turn bad and sure enough, they did. I was using my own glueing system similar to that used by the Aussies. The plan was to apply SikaTack Go to the inside of the boots and the hoof base then to keep the boots in place during the 2 hour drying period by adding super glue in the top of the boots. All went well with the preparation phase and we had four clean and dry hooves. So far so good. Then I reached for my glue gun, squeezed and nothing would come out. After much digging and squeezing eventually the gun broke and I realised that it was because I had been trying to use the remnants of an old glue tube, some having leaked out the side of the plunger and set hard, thereby ensuring that no more could be squeezed out.

Spreading the Glue

Spreading the glue inside the Easyboot Glue-On (and quite a bit outside too).

I had no choice but to cut open a glue tube and apply glue as best I could by hand, screwdriver, Leatherman and anything else that was handy. It was messy and not a good advert for Glue-Ons. Luckily my audience had dwindled to a couple of understanding die-hards and eventually the job was done, albeit with black glue in many places it should not have been. There was so much extra SikaTack around that I canned the idea of using superglue. To top it off, the wind was blowing dry grass onto the excess glue, making things look messier than ever. Two hours later I noticed that one back boot had twisted slightly but not enough to require reapplication. The boots were set fast and we were ready to race.

Day One

Day 1 at last – let's do this thing.

Day 1 of the race dawned and finally we were off. Horses were started on a seeded basis over a period of one and a half hours as the track quickly narrowed down into a rocky pass up the first mountain, with no room for overtaking. We were near the back owing to our relatively slow qualifying times. Once at the top we found it comfortable to stay with our starting group at an easy mix of cantering and trotting. The boots were staying on and Buddy went painlessly over all that the trail could throw at us. The all-round protection on his hooves made him confident to stride out smoothly and I felt we were on to a winner if they would just stay on for the duration. After 24 km we arrived at Metz, the first vet checkpoint. I was astonished to see some horses on drips, which could only mean that they were already out of the race. Thanks to Ross's ministrations we passed the vet check and were soon on our way again. This became the pattern for the race – ride 25 km, vet check, short rest then on again. The only hiccup came at the end of the first day when Buddy's pulse stubbornly refused to drop and stay below the maximum 64 bpm. The vet card shows that he passed with 64 and the vet remarked that this was a sign that I could ignore at my peril. After this close shave I decided to slow down for the remaining two days.

Roads were no problem

Roads were no problem with the Glue-Ons providing outstanding all-round protection.

Day 2 was the reverse of the previous day's course, which meant that we at least had an idea of what lay ahead. This helped and we enjoyed the outstanding scenery, taking things slower. After a strong final vet check at day end we had done 150 km and I felt for the first time that we could be among the finishers. Many horses had retired or been eliminated but we were still going strong. I now knew that the boots were going to stay on and that they were making all the difference at vet checks where many other horses were showing signs of lameness.

Set-Up at the vet stop

Our setup at a vet stop – flags help the riders find their crew among the hundreds of vehicles.

We set out on the final morning in great spirits, with just 51 km to go. We sailed through the penultimate vet check out on the course and turned for home. As always, although the horses had never been there before their uncanny instinct told them they were going home and their good spirits matched those of the riders around us. A few km from the end we hit the top of the pass that we had climbed on that first morning. While clambering down the pass we could hear music coming from the ride base and it was the tune we had been waiting for. Every rider entering the stadium completes the course by riding around the old athletics track to the tune of “Chariots of Fire”. This is a tradition that has been followed at Fauresmith for many years. What a feeling it was to be greeted at the entrance by Ross and to do that lap of honour. All that remained was one more vet check (the ninth). I knew that Buddy was not lame so the only obstacle would be the pulse rate limit of 64. After cooling down his head and face I put on the heart rate monitor and it showed 58. The vet check confirmed that he was in great shape and suddenly it was all done. Mission control could finally stand down.

Final Vet Check

Final vet check after 201 km – the heart rate monitor going on.

After 201 km of rocks and roads the Glue-Ons were firmly attached and looking for more work. The KZN team is grateful for the sponsorship received from Easycare which covered the cost of our racing shirts bearing the Team Easyboot 2011 logo. The Easyboot profile has been significantly raised in our province and I am sure that we will soon be the most progressive province in the adoption of hoof boots. Of the six members of the KZN team, only three of us finished which sadly meant that we were one time short and therefore out of the provincial team competition.

An analysis of the race results yields some interesting statistics:
  • Horses that started the race: 397
  • Finished: 248
  • Did not finish: 149 (38% of starters)
  • Retired by rider: 20
  • Eliminated by vets: 129
  • Elimination reason: Metabolic - 11
  • No reason given: 2
  • Lameness: 116 (90% of eliminations)
Clearly if riders in subsequent years want to minimise the chance of elimination, the areaon which to concentrate is lameness. The use of hoof boots is very limited in South Africa, and while I have no statistics in this regard, anecdotally I can say that I have never seen another hoof boot in four years of attending races.

Some Final Facts
  • Buddy was the only horse in the 2011 race wearing hoof boots.
  • This was the first time in the history of the race that a horse has worn Glue-Ons.
  • As far as I can tell, Buddy is the first horse to ever wear a full set of hoof boots for the entire duration of the race.

And a final thought: as a team Buddy, Ross and I beat the odds that were stacked against us from the time we had to change horses in mid season. All three qualifiers and many training rides were done using Easyboot Gloves. Ross & I know unequivocally that the Easyboot Glue-Ons made the difference between completing Fauresmith and the probability of being eliminated due to lameness. We know because we were there, we did it and can show you the T-shirt.

Coming Off 100

Well it's Wednesday night now, just four nights after finishing the 100 mile endurance ride at Bandit Springs. I have so much to say, yet for some bizarre reason, I can't quite put it into words. Excuse my rambling. 

Ever since the first time I rode at Bandit Springs, it has stayed with me as one of the most beautiful endurance rides in the Pacific Northwest. I remember watching the 100 mile riders come in and out of camp all day and always thinking how lucky there were to be able to enjoy SO MUCH of the Bandit trails! Well, I'll tell ya now, doing a 100 is the freaking gift that keeps on giving. At about 90 miles, you wish the gift would just get on with itself already and leave you to go to sleep on the side of the trail. But then you realize that something scary like an aggressive wild stallion (true story- a wild stallion stalked the trail and even attacked a group of riders on the 50) might come and eat you, or, worse, might breed your mare and stick you with some God-awful specimen of an equine that you would be destined to stare at in your pasture forever. So you suck it up and keep on going. 

rep
Replika last year, the morning after the 80 mile ride.

I learned a few things on this 100 mile ride. I learned that Snickers bars with almonds can be an absolute lifesaver on a long loop. I learned that sending Luna and Cliff bars and yogurt as your only source of food to the out-check at 50 miles just won't cut it. I learned that your tights can leave marks on your legs that last for at least four days after the ride. I also learned that after you trot trot trot all day, you fall asleep trot trot trotting after it's all said and done. Another thing I learned is that my horse can eat more before, during and after the ride that I ever thought would be possible. I learned that even though my mare was reluctant leaving the last loop, she sucked it up and lead us safely through the black forest, stopping only briefly to grab bites of the lush Bandit grass along the way and brought us strongly back to camp. And another thing that I didn't exactly learn, because I already really knew, is that Easyboot Glue-Ons have GOT to be the best option for the horse on these long rides. 

indian prairie
Riding through Indian Prairie NEVER gets old! 


The journey to this ride started last year really. I had planned on Tevis this year. The Tevis in July, not October. I rode every ride last year, including the 80 at Bandit, with the intention of doing Tevis this year. As it would happen, Tevis was postponed and Bandit stood quietly in the corner. It wasn't actually quiet at all. Ride manager, Janelle Wilde, is NEVER known as quiet. She had been hounding us for months about coming to Bandit, as my husband has been a vet at this ride for the last several years. Janelle pretended to be sad for me when I told her that Tevis was moved, but I could hear her jumping up and down the background. She really likes Robert. 

I was torn between doing the 80 like I did last year (and had an absolute blast doing), or putting on the big girl panties and doing the 100. I made plans with a good friend to use her Big Horn horse from last year and ride with me on the 100, but it wasn't meant to be and I was left waffling about which distance to do. I got her out the night before we left and just knew. She not only looked amazing, but was sassy as can be. We were going to do the 100, whether we were the only ones riding or not. I glued on her boots, using my regular combination of Goober Glue on the sole and 3/4 of the wall of the boot, and a strip of Vettec Adhere at the top of the boot to secure it on the foot while the GG sets. Despite a little twisting of the right front, the boots went on without a hitch and we were ready to go. 

Rep
Sassy mare, the night before we left. 

Eddy
My old horse, Fast Eddy, gazing at the view from his pen. Can it get much better?


We made the 7hr drive to ridecamp without any issues, and Replika set in to eating. And eating. And eating. In fact, I think the only time she wasn't eating was when I was riding, and even then she was eating. She must have known what was coming. The day before the ride, an Idaho friend asked if I wanted to ride with her and we were set. In hindsight, I feel pretty bad for my friend. She has got to be one the most laid-back, go-with-the-flow girl you've ever met. Well, have you met me? I think I surprised her first thing when I declared my plan to finish at midnight. I have done most of the loops before, so I knew about how fast each should take, and calculating in the hold times, I thought midnight was doable. Poor thing didn't know what she was getting into. 

trail
Ride Management ALWAYS has a sense of humor at this ride! Hope Chuck didn't get wiped out!! PS Chuck uses Easyboots so he's an alright kinda guy.

rock
A little bit of rock...

Is negated by all of this-
views


ears
But the best view I saw, were the perky red ears that looked like this all day long.

We kept a steady pace all day, and thankfully for the boots, the rocks didn't slow us down at all. My friend's horse was shod and I am always thankful when there are no boot failures when riding with people that shoe! As her husband is a farrier, I was extra thankful! I really appreciated the protection and cushion of the boots/Goober Glue combo as there are a lot of rocky sections on this ride, and a little bit of downhill hard-pack road. Although most of the trail is lovely single track, I am always thankful for the protection when doing much downhill trotting. 

I feel a little disappointed in myself that I was so focused on getting from vetcheck to vetcheck that I didn't spend as much time as normal taking in the views and just enjoying the trail. It seems hard to do both, and I wish I would have relaxed a bit an enjoyed it more. But, in my defense, I am terrified of the dark and didn't want to be out all night! The horses were doing great and there was no real reason to slow down other than to gawk, so I guess I did the right thing in this situation. My main goal of the day was to get the second to last loop done before dark. It was close, but we were golden!! I had the most excellent help at this last vetcheck, and appreciated it more than anyone could ever know. Although I was tired, we set out on the last loop in the pitch black, ready to git r' done! We rode along quietly, chatting here and there, but mostly I was concentrating on following the very well-marked trail. At one point, Replika picked it up and I assume that was after we made the turn at the halfway point. She never once tripped and stayed focused on getting us back safely where she could EAT! 

blur
I think it's safe to say this picture represents the last 20-ish miles of the ride, at least for me!


We hit the main road a mile from camp and I reluctantly pulled my iPhone out of my pack. Well wouldn't you know it was 12:13AM! I was stoked and waved my phone around yelling "We did it, we did it!" I am sure my friend just rolled her eyes. She just loves riding her pony and I don't think she cares much if she finishes later rather than earlier. It will be interesting to see if she ever cares to ride with me again! 

We got into camp a few minutes later and were greeted by a few special friends. Thank you guys SO MUCH for staying up!! I remember feeling pretty dazed and my mare was ravenous. We completed out CRI, somehow got her untacked and I think I wrapped her legs. Someone wrapped them and it was a pretty dang good job so I'll assume it was me :) I headed into the LQ and got ready for bed before checking on Replika one last time- she was buried eye-ball deep in her hay bag and from the looks of it the next morning stayed there most of the night! Because we were soooooooo fast (or because we were the only two riders in the 100) we got ready to show for BC. Rep looked AMAZING and used her charisma and charm (ok, so I think I'm the only person in the world who things she's charming) and plenty of 'tude to show how great she felt during the trot out. After running me over, she pranced her way back to the vet and about ran over the vet trying to get to more grass. She earned the High Vet Score and Best Condition, but mostly because my poor friend's horse things trotting out is dumb. Regardless, BC is BC (or so they tell me) and I couldn't be happier with how fabulous she looked just nine short hours after finishing a tough 100 mile ride. 

rep
First thing the next day.

eating
And she ate, and ate and ate..

So, I guess that's my story in a nutshell. Of course there is much more to it, but it seems like my subconscious doesn't want to share as it's keeping all linear thoughts and feelings about the experience to itself. This doesn't happen often so I'm guessing there is a reason for it. Maybe it's like what women who give birth say about how their bodies or minds suppress the memory of the pain or else no one would ever give birth more than once in their lives. I think that if people really remembered the "in the moment" feelings that thoughts, no one would do more than one 100? Nah, it wasn't that bad. I hear the Virginia City 100 is an awful neat ride.........

I bet in a few weeks it will sound fantastic!
~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho

Dealer of the Month: The Australian Connection

You could be forgiven for thinking that The Australian Connection is based in Australia. As a point of fact, The Australian Connection is based in Newcastle, California. If you're not familiar, that's the heart of Tevis country, just south of the Tevis finish line at Auburn.


The Man From Snowy River
Did that movie inspire you? Well it inspired Janet and Joan in 1982 to try Australian stock saddles. Janet had been riding a high-spirited and high-withered Thoroughbred horse who was hard to fit a saddle to. In 1983, she rode her Thoroughbred mare at the Tevis using a Syd Hill saddle. In 1986, Janet and Joan formed The Australian Connection. They quickly saw a need for other trail and distance riding products and started selling saddles and other tack they believed in, testing other trail and distance riding gear.

A Long-Distance Junkie
Janet Pucci has been running the company solo since 2008. And running is very familiar to her. "As a long distance runner for more than 25 years, I have a pretty good sense of what my horse goes through on endurance rides," says Janet when asked what someone can expect when coming to her. "In fact, I have a lot of empathy for horses. In my business, we try to help our customers find a suitable solution to their riding issues. We test the products we sell, have our favorites, but don't let that color what is best for each individual horse and rider." What more could you ask?


Easyboots Then, Easyboots Now

When asked to describe how the boot industry has changed, Janet scores a hole in one: "Boots have changed from a temporary shoe replacement to a go-to hoof protector for all riding disciplines." At EasyCare, we're proud that Easyboots were one of the first products The Australian Connection carried, and continues to do so.

The Magic of the Right Inventory
Janet carries Gloves, Glue-Ons, Epics, Original Easyboots and EZ Ride Stirrups in stock. And she will order other products as needed. "The Glove is my best seller now," Janet proclaims when asked about today's trends. "And I tell people that they have to practice with Glue-Ons before they go to an event."

Barefoot and Booted
Janet's horses are all barefoot. She has two Arabs and two Anglos. "I usually ride bare, but if I'm conditioning, I use Gloves or Glue-Ons," she says of her booting preference.

Rewards

Janet has a Bachelor of Arts from UC Davis in Mathematics. Before starting The Australian Connection, she worked as a programmer for many years. "In 1986, I started running ultra marathons. My favroite is the Way Too Cool 50 Miler." Her first Easyboot encounter was on her second 50-mile endurance ride. "I lost a shoe and I had no boot. Another rider loaned me his and it fit. It was definitely a 'pay it forward'. Since then, I've always carried an Easyboot and I've kept my sense of humor."

The two crowning experiences for Janet were finishing the Tevis on a horse that had multiple attempts, but had never completeted; and then going on to run the same course herself at the Western States 100 mile run.

The Crystal Ball

When asked to gaze, Janet says the barefoot/booted industry will continue to grow.

Post Script
If you want to visit The Australian Connection's webiste, there's a .us extension: theaustralianconnection.us, lest you forget the company is based in California.

Boots Make it Possible

By Zach Rabow, Team Easyboot 2011 Member

Like many people, I was nervous to make the leap from shoes to boots. We had followed the “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” theory. But eventually it broke, it being my horse!

Apache Bulero (a.k.a. Bo) is a Thoroughbred off of the Santa Anita racetrack. Being shod at a young age left him with some pretty crummy feet. He had thin soles, weak hoof walls and pretty much just some jacked up feet! Three years ago he foundered and had quarter cracks on both front feet. The vets recommended putting him down, saying he would never be sound and would be uncomfortable. We realized that something needed to change so we enlisted the help of barefoot guru Cindy Nielson from Reno, NV.

She pulled his shoes and took X-rays of his feet. Nothing short of horrific, but the shoes were pulled he was tender footed just walking around in the pasture so we put Easyboot Epics on him during the day with comfort pads. Eventually his feet started healing and turning back into normal feet, his soles are now 3 times thicker than they were then and he is quarter crack free. Needless to say he hasn’t had shoes on since.
Bulero and I after a local 20 mile ride

After spending part of the summer with Dian Woodward and Christoph Schorck of Global Endurance Training Center in Moab, UT, I learned booting techniques and a lot about the barefoot lifestyle in endurance horses, and how to manage them during competition. I had the privilege of crewing for the duo during the Tevis Cup ride; getting to help glue on boots for GETC horses was great, and it gave me the confidence to glue and boot on my own horses.

Winter came all too fast and I found myself with not an endurance horse, but an ex-race horse that was my showing, jumping and eventing horse for years. And for whatever reason I had the thought that maybe he could do endurance. So in early January I did a little 5 mile ride to see how he would respond, then bumped it up to 10 miles the next weekend and did 3 ten mile rides, then 5 20-35 mile rides then entered in a local Fun 20 mile Ride.

We went to the race with no real hopes, and faced the reality he may be pulled for lameness considering all of his past issues. We finished 5th out of over 40 starters, 10 minutes off the winner and could have gone out and done another 20 miles easily! He has done all these rides barefoot, and has had no issues (knock on wood). For any of you that have ridden in Nevada you know that there is no shortage of rocks! Training completely bare has been beneficial for him, he has been growing more sole than I have ever seen and with the increased amount of blood flow to his feet he is growing a hoof like nobody's business! 

We have a few 50’s planned in the coming months and can’t wait to see what he can do, and with the use of Easyboots to help absorb the concussion during in competition and Gloves during training we expect him to have no feet problems or issues from here on out!!

We thank Easycare for their products and credit them for saving my horses feet! 

What Have We Learned?

Remember the good old times? I do have fond memories of foaming the Original Easyboots on horses' hooves. In the 80s and 90s, we often foamed. And what a mess it sometimes was. Very few of us still foam Easyboots nowadays. But for old times' sake and for this blog I decided to do it again. I also felt sorry for these boots sitting unused on the shelf. Most importantly, I wanted to see if I still can make a mess! You be the judge on that one.

z

Actually, it hasn't been all that long ago that we  quit foaming boots. But when protective horse boots developed in such a revolutionary way, it seemed that the foaming days were waning for sure. The EasyCare Glue-On boots have been used and tested now for over two years. We all have learned a lot and we are still learning to improve our application of the EasyBoot Glue-Ons.

Quite frankly, no hoof protection on the market has fascinated me as much as the glue-on horse hoof boots and the whole glue-on procedure. Just something about being a hoof care provider and chemist at the same time.

It's been over two years now since we started, cautiously, to glue on the first boots. It happened at a 3-day ride in December in Sonoita, Arizona; the start of a new ride season. Glue on horse boots were unheard of before then. Mistakes were made by us, we lost boots. I'll spare you from listing all the mistakes we made, we would only reinforce them. What I want to share with you are the improvements we made, the lessons we learned, so  you don't have to make the same mistakes we did.

Most Important Lessons We Learned
  1. The hoof has to be totally dry and totally clean.
  2. The glue-on hoof boot has to be dry and clean.
cleaning hoof
cleaning hoof

After using hoof picks, a wire brush, available in hardware stores, works great to clean the hoof. Notice how clean this hoof is, all dust, sand and dirt are absent. A white line separation was treated with iodine. 

Drying can be accomplished with a heat gun. It will work the best. Thoroughly dry the hoof wall and the sole. If you do not have a heat gun available, a hair dryer will do as well, it just requires more time, because it provides less heat.

When the hooves are wet, dry the walls and soles several times. Capillary action will move moisture back to the hoof wall after drying it the first time. Nature always tries to balance things, so when there is a lot of moisture in the hoof, like after a rainy weather period, drying the outer periphery of the hoof wall will make the remaining moisture inside the hoof move to the now dry areas through this capillary action. Therefore it is really important to take the time to dry the hoof several times.

o

Lately, we have been using Goober Glue for padding the bottom of the hoof. If using Goober Glue, the actual sole does not have to be quite as dry as when using Equipak. However, keep in mind that bacterias thrive on moisture. So, by drying the sole really well, you are also taking care of any bacterial infestation. Literally, with a heat gun you can actually burn  any fungi or bacterias. You do not have to worry about damage to the hoof. Farriers have hot seated steel shoes for centuries, the hooves can handle the heat for a short time without any damage.

o

Notice the slight brownish color in the quarter area. We actually seared the sole slightly and killed any detrimental bacterial infestation. Not to worry, the hoof can easily handle it, heat dries, hardens and disinfects the sole.

Boot Preparation
If the heel bulbs of your horse are fairly low, you can easily cut the back of your boot down. It will not compromise the structural integrity of the protective horse boot.

a

In cold weather, you may also use the heat gun to warm your boot up.

n

Once you have finished drying and cleaning the hoof and boot, you should only handle the hoof and glue on boot with gloves. EasyCare has gloves in their store, but you can also use simple latex gloves from the hardware store. This is of utmost importance, otherwise dirt, moisture and grease from your hands can easily contaminate the hoof wall and boot, thus compromising the adhesion of the Vettec Adhere.

Next, I like to apply Goober Glue to the bottom of the boot. Goober Glue remains very soft after drying and is a good cushioning for even tender footed horses. We apply the Goober Glue in the shape of the frog, more for hooves with deep concavity, less for flat footed horses. Goober Glue takes several hours to cure, so no rush with this application.

Vettec Adhere will work best for gluing the side walls of the boots onto the hoof.

Vettec gun

Here I'm applying the Adhere with the large 180 cc application gun.

Always hold the boot on its side, so the glue does not run down inside the shell to the bottom of the boot, possibly causing undue pressure on the sole. Adhere is a very dense material once it is set, we do not want it on the bottom of the boot.

s

The Goober Glue has been applied in the shape of the frog to the bottom of the boot, then the Vettec Adhere is applied only to the top half of the boot shell. When pushing the boot onto the hoof, the Adhere will then get pushed down the remainder of the boot wall, but not as far as the bottom of the boot.

g

Notice again how I hold the boot almost upside down, in order to prevent the Adhere from flowing to the bottom. In warm temperatures, it could easily happen.

g

You do not need a lot of glue, this is plenty. Pushing the boot onto the hoof will spread the glue down the remainder of the shell wall.

Working with Adhere, one has to move fast and expedient. Adhere sets within one minute. If you work too slow, the Adhere will have set before you get the boot onto the hoof. 

Just recently, Vettec brought a much small application kit on the market.

Vettec 50 cc kit

This kit is lightweight, has three mixing tips, a plunger with a finger ring. Easy to use, you can take this kit in your saddle bag, just in case you did not use good diligence at home when gluing and lost a boot. You can then easily re glue on the trail. Setting time in 1 minute, full cure in 5. Beats not finishing your ride because of a lost boot.

pushing

Again, tilt the boot while you apply the glue to the side wall, so it doesn't run onto the bottom of the boot.

sidetilt

One 50 cc tube holds enough glue for 4 glue-on boots. Contact me at Global Endurance Training Center if you would like more information about it. After pushing the boot onto the hoof, it is highly advisable to seal the edges with a beat of Adhere. With your gloved finger, you should then smooth it out. You want to create a good seal all around the shell between the hoof wall and frog, so no moisture and debris can enter the boot.

beat

Here using the 50 cc applicator, below the 180 cc applicator gun

h

After applying Adhere to the edge of the boot,  use your gloved finger to smooth it out.

k

In the frog/bulb area, some Goober glue will have pushed out. We smoothen it out to create a good seal there as well.

l

Now we have a complete seal around the edges of the boot.

A lot of questions have been asked regarding how long we safely can keep Easyboot Glue ons on our horse's hooves. As often, the answer is: it depends.

If you did a great job drying and cleaning your hoof, have no bacterial invasion, or you took care of it through drying and various remedies, (see our previous blogs on Hypozin and Sore No More), diligently sealed the edge of the glue on boot all they way around the hoof, then you can leave these boots on for up to a whole trimming cycle.

Below a couple of photos of boots glued on the hooves now for 5 weeks. Notice that the seal  is still intact. No foreign matter was able to enter these Glue on Horseshoes.

j

l

This horse did two 50 milers with these boots and over 100 miles of conditioning rides. All the seals are intact, no water, mud or sand was able to enter these boots.

Here are some more photos from different hooves after boot removal that had glue ons applied for about 6 weeks:

pulling boots

No thrush, no smell, no problems with this hoof. Residual glue still on the sole. After initial cleaning, glue removal and a slight trimming, (the trim is not completed) it looked like this:

initial trim

A photo of the hind hoof:

hind

What's remarkable here, no bacterial or fungal invasion and no white line separation anywhere.

After using EasyCare Glue ons now for over two years on most horses at GETC, the cases of white line separation have  almost completely disappeared. When keeping the Glue on boots on the hooves for the full trimming cycle, (up to 6 weeks), we observed a notable decrease of  white line separation.  Could it be, that the shell gives the hoof capsule more stability? Could it be that there is less bacterial invasion because the sole is clean and sealed? Could it be that there is less peripheral loading when traveling  with Easyboot Protective Horse Boots, thus weight bearing is more distributed over the whole foot instead of the hoof wall? Could it be, that we all are getting better at trimming? Or is it all of the above?

Whatever the answer, the results speak for themselves and they spell SUCCESS. We tried, practiced, learned and succeeded. 

Working with Glue ons and Hoof Glue is fun, it works and helps your horses hooves.

From the Global Endurance Center:

Your Bootmeister

Dealer of the Month: MileMakers

Joanne Pavlis is the owner of MileMakers, an Endurance Horse and Rider training and conditioning facility located on 800 acres of diverse Rocky Mountain terrain at 7,500 ft, in Colorado. She has been a Student of the Horse since she was seven years old and has lived in Colorado for 15 years.  After being a supporter of the boots and the barefoot concept for many years, MileMakers became an EasyCare Dealer in February 2011.

Joanne Pavlis

If you buy from MileMakers, you can expect one-on-one attention, the most current hoof and boot education; a custom boot fit for each individual hoof, access to their extensive inventory for on-the-spot delivery of product, and follow-up to ensure that both the horse and the rider are provided the ultimate boot experience.

“MileMakers is not interested in making a one-time-sale, and forgetting the customer,” said Jo when asked about her business model.  “Instead we are interested in creating a lifelong EasyCare Boot advocate who truly understands their horse's hoof and boot requirements.” They believe in always maintaining a positive attitude and environment and they have a thirst for continuing education.

MileMakers
Jo attributes the evolution in the hoof boot industry to investment in research, providing cutting edge multimedia education, utilizing better product materials and construction techniques, better quality control, and excellent customer service. “We feel EasyCare is leading the industry as it changes the way the world thinks about hoof care and hoof protection. EasyCare has also created an extensive network for customers to share concepts and provide valuable feedback that can be utilized in future product development. We feel EasyCare listens!”

Jo and her husband Steve own 12 horses and there are an additional 14 horses at their facility for training and conditioning.  Jo has been using boots on and off for the last 12 years, utilizing various models.  She prefers the Easyboot Glove for training and the Easyboot Glue-On for endurance competitions.

MileMakers carries Glue Ons, Gloves, Edges, Epics, & EasySoakers. Their best sellers are Gloves and Glue Ons.

Jo is a certified CHA Riding Instructor, Equine Veterinary Technician, Licensed Arabian Race Horse Trainer, and endurance rider (attended rides in Mountain, Central, Midwest, Pacific Southwest, Southeast, Southwest, and West, including Tevis).

When asked about her most rewarding experience, Jo likes to see others succeed and to be confident as a result of the education she provides them. “My most memorable hoof boot success story was watching the positive transformation of my stallion's feet as the result of a trim conducted by Duncan McLaughlin, and Glue On Boots fitted by Garrett Ford. Eight months, and several trims later, Dancers Starliner is now one size larger, with strong hooves and proper balance. He loves his Glue Ons!”

When asked about Jo’s prediction for the future, Jo believes strongly that barefoot, boots, research and knowledge will replace the age-old practice of shoeing horses.

Miles of Trails

Two more endurance rides have come and gone for Replika and myself. Our second ride of the season was the newly re-named Eagle Spring Fling. We have an advantage for this ride in that it's on our home turf. The disadvantage is having to go *through* home twice. I usually skip this ride for that reason alone, as our horses just can't understand why they can't go back to their pasture the first time through! 

Given the fact we know the trails, I know just how barefoot friendly they are. That said, I decided to use my Easyboot Gloves again on all four feet to keep up with all of our work we did desensitizing her to the gaiters. Much like our first ride of the year, she had no rubs or irritation throughout the entire 55-mile ride. Again, we were 5th place at almost the exact pace we did at the previous ride. If anything, we're consistent! This ride was definitely more difficult on boots than the first ride, as we dealt with slick mud, boggy bogs, sharp uphills and plenty of water crossings. I did experience my first hind boot loss on Replika, however, when she spooked hard and pulled her left hind boot off with her other foot. At that point in time she realized a giant badger had emerged from the ground and wrapped his grimy little hands around her fetlock, attempting to eat her as we were. She proceeded to kick the living snot out of him until the gaiter, er, I mean badger let go. It was impressive and the gaiter was completely obliterated. One of the greatest things about these boots is the fact that the gaiter can be replaced, or, the shell can be used as a Glue-On. Either way, it's win-win! 

Eagle

Replika and I in the morning mist at Eagle Spring Fling. Steve Bradley Photography.

Eagle
We felt like we were in the moorlands of Scotland with all the green and foggy mist. We are desert people and obviously not used to the humidity or green landscape! Most of this loop was extremely slick and boggy. Barefoot behind probably would have been a good idea, although she was very secure in her Gloves. 


I pulled her other boot and we continued on into camp where we completed the ride in excellent shape. I don't think any amount of athletic tape would have saved my lost boot given the way she stepped on herself. Thankfully, she was wearing rubber boots and not steel shoes that could have hurt her. After the ride I pulled her tack, pulled her Gloves and that was that. No muss, no fuss. 

camp

After the Eagle Spring Fling, Replika was given her standard two weeks off where I was able to focus a bit on my geldings. But before I knew it, we were a week away from the Owyhee Fandango, where I had planned on doing a 100. What's the saying? The best laid plans? Well an outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus out West here put a big wrench in most everyone's travel plans regarding the Fandango ride, and for a while we weren't sure what was going to happen. A week before the ride we decided to continue on with our plans, only now the weather sucked! I decided to play it safe and enter the 80 mile ride which worked out well. 

Due to the fact I am still a paranoid freak of an endurance rider, I was concerned about the gaiters of the Gloves that haven't caused any problems all year to all the sudden cause us problems. In hindsight, I'm pretty sure they would have been just fine. Regardless, I decided to torture myself with the process of gluing, convincing myself it was worth it as a practice run for our next 100. I also told both geldings to expect their endurance careers to be almost exclusively done in Gloves and not expect any of the special treatment Replika gets. I think starting them now (while they are at the beginning stages of conditioning) in Gloves will prevent the problems we had transitioning Replika not only from shoes to boots but to the gaiters as well. 

Fandango

Another Steve Bradley great. 30 miles into the 80 mile ride.

Gluing on was messy, which it usually is, but again I find the addition of Adhere at the top of the boot smothered in Goober Glue is just the ticket. Although the right hind boot twisted a bit before it set, we examined the break-over and watched her track straight and decided it should be ok for the ride. If there was any boot I expected to lose, it was that one, but it is still as stuck on today as all the others are. I was thankful for the full protection of not only the boots but also for the cushion of the Goober Glue down by the river where she trotted back and forth over the sharp volcanic rock on parts of the trail. We rode into camp at the finish at about 5:30PM where we completed the ride with an awesome CRI and excellent final exam. Given the fact I was the only entry in the 80, we were first, last, mid-pack and turtle. Our ride time was a bit over nine hours, which was a pretty quick *true* 80 mile ride! She looked great that night and the next day. I just love this mare. 

Karen

Running into Karen Bumgarner at Z Summer Thunder headed down into the canyon on the 100 mile ride. Unfortunately it just wasn't Thunder's day, but the upside of that is they weren't stuck out on the trail when the nasty storm blew in. Karen has done several long rides with Easyboot Gloves and no problems.

Rocks

The petroglyphs that we ride through on this loop are amazing!


rocks



camp

Another reason I was super glad to be finishing up at 80 miles! This storm hit pretty hard!

I have now ridden over 1,500 AERC miles in Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons. I can't even imagine the number of trail miles I have ridden in them, but I'm sure it's substantial. I could never even consider going back to steel shoes, or relinquishing the control I have over my horses' feet. There should be a disclaimer at the bottom of these blogs and on the package of boots in fine print warning people about the effects of knowing too much and learning more. Be warned, your life will never be the same, and neither will the life of your horse!

Good luck!
~Amanda Washington
SW Idaho

Back On Track

After a down period during the winter when we went in Florida for two rides:

- Goethe 75 using gloves(slightly off going out on the last loop but fine the very next day)
- Gator Run 50, put on the Gloves the night prior, Twist was uncomfortable in the morning, so I did not start the ride.


I was very disappointed and not feel very positive for the future; very doubtful of my horse, of her feet, of the boots. When everything goes right you don't analyze too much (hmm, I guess I do). But when everything goes bad, you start to look at every little detail.

Anyway, I measured her feet and suprise! Her feet had grown one size since last year, so voila for the "Did Not Start" at Gator, could you imagine spending the night in shoes that are one size smaller than your feet and then go for a run? Ouch! So new boots arrived, the weather finally let us do some conditioning but not a whole lot.

I had entered Twist in The Rabbit Run 50 in March but decided to back down to the 30, it's only her 2nd season, and I had planned to enter the Old Dominion No Frills 55 two weeks later.

So my plan was to use Rabbit Run to tune up Twist (in Glue-Ons) for the OD No Frills. Keeping our pace and ride with negative splits (last loop faster than the 1st one). My plan worked since we finished 1st (granted a few riders got lost, but hey, it's part of the game) and she looked like she was ready for more at the end.

So this weekend we went to OD No frills, and the least I can say is we had thrills! My mare was great, the Glue-Ons rocked the very muddy, slippery, rocky trails!

We finished 9th in 5 hours and 11 minutes: very fast ride. My mare was on top of her game, wanted to canter the whole thing, even through the rocks. I did not let her as I thought we were going to die! But I let her pick her pace on the stretches with nice footing as long as she was relaxed, not pulling and slowed down when I asked her.

What a fun day it was, the boots stayed on perfectly! I have yet to put them on myself, it's my trimmer who really is a farrier with an open mind who glued them on for me.

So we are back on track! I think doubting, questioning yourself and your horse is a sane part of our sport and glitches humbled us (riders). But keep your spirits up as there is always another ride, take care of your issues as there is only one horse.

Photo credit: Dawn Engle (who I tied with and whose horse, Wirtual Dreams, got BC and high Vet Score!)

Name: Sandra Fretelliere
City: Brooklyn, New York
Equine Discipline: Endurance
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove