Take a Chance and Flippin Run With It

Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

One of the great things about working for EasyCare is that I have the opportunity to use and experiment with all of the products. By doing this, it allows me to give better guidance to anyone who may call-in looking to use EasyCare products in a nontraditional way. With all of our products we do hours, months, even years of testing to perfect them, however, as anyone involved with horses knows there are countless disciplines. As much as we would like to test every one of our products for every discipline it just cannot happen, and that is where a little commonsense and my experimentation comes in. By just looking at some of our boots and shoes you can tell they will not work. This is where the commonsense part happens. For example, using the EasySoaker on a trail ride, it’s not going to work. Unless you are taking it to use as a bucket or cup. Then go for it, it will work for that! Or trying to use the Easyboot Trail to condition a Race Horse. If you are conditioning that race horse by trail riding, this is absolutely an option. However, if you are conditioning him at Churchill Downs in Trails you may need your noggin checked.

All of us at EasyCare have come from different horse backgrounds which allows for us to bounce ideas back and forth or even ask what certain terminology means. I was lucky enough to grow up around horses and have had the opportunity to dabble in quite a few different areas. The majority of that, has been Western or stock type horses, cow horses, barrel racing, roping, ranch horses and the list goes on. The western world, while wide-ranging, I believe tends to be very traditional. Many things have been done the same exact way for hundreds of years. I love tradition and treasure it, but I also believe there has to be progression. At least one person will jump out of the box and try something new. It may work or it may not, but at least someone tried. Whether that progression is in nutrition, training, rehabilitation, health, or hoof care, I believe taking chances in moderation, can most certainly be worth it.

We have had quite a few people curious if you can barrel race in any of our products, especially with the release of the Flip Flop and the increased popularity of the EasyShoes. That curiosity is sparked by many different reasons but I believe the top three are: 1. Owners looking for another option, 2. Referral from a friend or farrier and/or 3. The horse will not hold a traditional steel shoe. Since I barrel race, these inquiries are passed my way and I truly enjoy helping to find a solution. This also sparks my interest in trying different things on my horse. Just so this is known: I am not a farrier, trimmer or hoof care professional. I do have access to great resources that allow me to confidently try these products on my horses. Acknowledge I know my horses well, I know the products well and I do my research by reading different articles, blogs and listening to feed back. I am also not a professional barrel racer, horse trainer or anything like that, nor do I claim to be. I am a weekend warrior barrel racer at best. I do not venture far from home, typically compete in open 4D barrel races as well as open rodeo’s that are within a short driving distance. My horse on the other hand is nicer than I deserve, when everything is clicking she will make a 1D run and when I am being a terrible jockey she clocks in the 2 or 3D. If this whole “D” business is making absolutely no sense click here to better understand the D system that is used in barrel racing.

Ok enough of my banter, I am sure the suspense is killing everyone as to what I took a chance on. There were two items or procedures I ended up testing out. I had toyed with the idea most of the summer to run my horse in the Flip Flop and finally took that chance. I applied Flip Flops on her hind feet and modified Glue-On shells on her fronts along with modifying the gluing process for the front Glue-On's. I followed all of the gluing protocol for gluing the Flip Flops but did not add the optional pour-in pad. I had used the Equipak Soft when previously using the Flip Flops but wanted to see how my mare would do without the pad. The reason I did not use the Flip Flop all the way around is because I did not have the size she needed on hand for her fronts. I can without a doubt say that the Flip Flop can be used for barrel racing. She had plenty of traction and worked awesome which told me she was feeling good. We also were a 10th of a second faster than our previous run, made in the same arena on the same pattern. I know a 10th does not seem like much, but in any speed event it is. I also believe that she was just as comfortable without a pour in pad as she would have been with a pour in pad. The need of a pad really depends on the individual horse. I would not hesitate at all to make a run with the Flip Flops on her fronts as well. Next spring with out a doubt that is what she will have on all four. I can understand potential users concern as to the horse over reaching and possible pulling of the Flip Flop or tripping them self, it is always a possibility that a horse can over reach with a boot, a steel shoe, Glue on shoe, and yes even a bare foot horse. The Flip Flop is no different, since it is trimmed to fit it actually might be a better option for those horses that over reach since you can trim it to the exact length needed. If you are on the fence about using the Flip Flop for any event, I say go for it! This product is much more versatile than users first tend to believe and in my opinion can be used in just about any situation. It is also a great choice for someone that wants to try gluing for the first time because of how easy and successful the application process is.

The modification I made to the Glue-On was cutting holes out of the sole. I elected to use the modified Glue-On shells on her fronts for added traction. This modification would make the Glue-On similar to a rim shoe. I used a past blog as guidance for putting a hole in the Glue-on written by Christoph Schork. The major risk I took was gluing the shells on with only Sikaflex, I have talked to quite a few people that were wondering if it was indeed possible. I had success on two different occasions gluing the shells with the sole cut out with only Sikaflex. I did prep the hoof the same as I would if I were going to use Vettec Adhere. I did use more Sikaflex then I would if using Adhere as well, making sure to completely cover the base of the boot that was still intact and then also adding Sikaflex up the wall of the Glue-On. When applying the Glue-On to her hoof, I made sure to have my rubber mallet handy and was diligent in making sure the hoof was seated well in the boot. I then put her foot into the plastic sack that the shell came in and put an Rx boot on, this was to insure that the shell would say in place until the Sikaflex was somewhat set.

She hung out with all of this on her feet for most of the day either tied up or in a small turn out. One could also leave the Gaiter attached overnight and then remove the Gaiter once the Sikaflex is set, one of our team EasyBoot members shared how to use Sikaflex with the Gloves and then remove the gaiter. Gluing with only Sikaflex is not something you would want to do if you are going out on a long ride, unless you were to have an extra boot handy. Since my trailer was right there and I have everything I would need to reapply a Glue-On or just put one of my Gloves on I was not concerned with the possibility of losing a Glue-On. When I went to remove the Glue-On's that I only had used Sikaflex they were very secure on the hoof, very similar to when I apply them with Vettec Adhere. The first time I used Sikaflex only to glue, I left the shells on for 3 days, the second application I left them on for over 6 days (secretly hoping they would fall off), they did not fall off I ended up have to pull them, and they were undeniably glued well and not going to be falling off anytime soon.

I would love to be able to run my horse barefoot but after attempting to last summer and seeing what I was up against with the conditions outside of the arena I came to the conclusion she is not a great candidate to be left bare all the time and needs protection when we are coming in and out of the arena where I am likely to be on anything from grass to asphalt. Being able to experiment with our different products has been and will be a way for me to better help anyone looking for that other option with their horse. Keep in mind I have a lot of great resources at my fingertips along with the products, this allows me to take a chance with much less risk involved than if our customers were to try the same things. If you are in doubt about doing something off the beaten path with one of our products give us a call, we will do our best to answer any questions, tell you it won’t work or get you in contact with someone that will have answers you are looking for. For success with any EasyCare product we always recommend to follow our application guidelines. We have a plethora of detailed, videos, print outs and blogs to help guide users through the application of each product that we are constantly updating. If you are wanting to try a product in a situation that you are not positive it will work contact us we are more than happy to speak with you about it. I would only recommend to experiment and modify if you have time, resources and an open mind. The first time I experiment or modify anything it is always with a used item that I am not concerned about losing or ruining, this is a great second life for my pile of stinky, torn up, worn out boots.

EasyShoes Lead To Success: Newest Certified Farrier Glue Practitioners

We live in an era where we have options on how we treat the horse's foot.  No one option is right or wrong, good or bad.  It is up to the horse's TEAM of Owner, Farrier, Veterinarian, Trainer, etc. to determine what is the best solution to help the horse. We have more choices than ever before.  Until recently the only Certification opportunities available to the hoof care provider were in metal or barefoot methods.  However recently the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization (ELPO) has developed a certification for farriers to demonstrate proficiency in glue and composite shoeing.

ELPO offers Certification in: 

  • Level 1: Live Sole Hoof Mapping
  • Level 2: Certified Barefoot Trimming 
  • Level 3: Certified Farrier Practitioner/Certified Farrier Glue Practitioner

The Level 3 Shoeing Exam is offered in Metal (CFP) or Composite/Glue (CFGP).  The testing criteria for both exams are identical, except when it directly applies to the material being used.  The test taker must demonstrate a thorough understanding of gait analysis and conformation assessment, recognizing hoof distortions, hoof mapping to identify external landmarks and how they relate to internal anatomy, trimming the hoof to address existing distortions and applying a prosthetic device in balance to the internal structures, on all four feet.  

Additionally for the glue/composite shoeing exam, showing a thorough understating of the material in use is scored, including preparing the foot for glue, understanding of glue handling, and composite shoe selection, fit and final placement.  Any composite shoe and glue that meets the ELPO protocol is acceptable to use on the exam.  

The criteria for accurate foot preparation for the exam was largely based on the standard of excellence created by EasyCare, Inc. for successful application of the EasyShoe as it is the most detailed, systematic method for glue and composite shoeing available.  Additionally, EasyCare has been a huge supporter of this educational process by donating shoes for Glue Skills Courses as well as Certification opportunities.  

This past week examiners from the ELPO traveled to Pennsylvania to conduct a certification exam weekend.   Levels 1, 2, and 3 were offered with many examining for the Glue/Composite Shoeing Exam, CFGP.  Congratulations to farriers Michael Glenn, Jennifer Farley, Madeline O'Connor, Heather Colket, Jeremiah Kemp, and Annie Commons on earning the CFGP, Steve King for earning the CFP (metal), and Nickie Jantz for earning her CBT (trimming).   

​I greatly appreciate ELPO Instructor/Examiners: Steve Foxworth, Jen Reid, Carrey Gunderman, and Chase Rutledge for making the trip to Pennsylvania and assisting with our certification. 

Huge thanks to EasyCare and Garrett Ford for supporting the efforts of the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization in providing education and certification opportunities to help people help horses.  

For more information on upcoming courses and certification opportunities, please see:  

http://www.lamenessprevention.org/event-list

Horse Strength, Speed, Torque and Hoof Boot Warranties

I'm often asked what type of torque is placed on a hoof boot by a horse.  I don't have the answer to that question but I marvel at the forces put on hoof protection products by a 1,000lb horse galloping around a pasture and changing direction at 30 miles per hour.  I have no idea what the exact answer is but it's a very big number.  When you consider the strength, speed and torque placed on all forms of equine hoof protection, it makes me proud to see what hoof boots have accomplished in the equine industry.  

The above photo shows the tremendous amount of strength and force that a horse can put on a both a horse shoe and a horse boot.  The Easyboot above was fitted on a horse over the top of freshly shod hoof.  The Easyboot was then glued into place with a product called EasyFoam (EasyCare doesn't sell EasyFoam now).  The foam was a pour in and would expand and fill all voids during the cure cycle.  Both the boot and the shoe were ripped from the horses foot.  All six nail clinches pulled through the hoof wall, the EasyFoam bond broke as the shoe and boot were pulled from the hoof.  The photos illustrate the forces applied to equine hoof protection.

The photos are a great example of why EasyCare has both a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee and a 90 Day Warranty Policy. Regardless of hoof boot construction, boots can be damaged, materials can rip and boots can be pulled off. EasyCare has the best warranty in the business and plans to be the leader in hoof boot technology for another 45 years.  We have recently strengthened our warranty and empowered our team to take care of dealers and consumers more effectively.

With hoof protection it is not a matter of if but when.  Many times it is not the fault of the hoof protection product but the nature of the business and product line.  EasyCare has the best and most fair policy in the industry.  Our improved warranty procedure is outlined below.  

EASYCARE CUSTOMER RETURNS & WARRANTY

USA customers that have purchased directly from EasyCare.

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. 

We back all of our products with a money-back guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with this product for any reason, EasyCare will gladly refund your purchase price (excluding shipping and handling) within 30 days of purchase. To qualify, all products must be returned to EasyCare and have a dated receipt. Offer not valid for EasyCare bargain bin or factory seconds. The customer will need to contact EasyCare Customer Service at 800-447-8836 to obtain a Return Authorization Number (RMA). The customer is responsible for freight costs to and from EasyCare.  

90-Day Warranty. 

EasyCare Inc offers a 90 day repair or replacement warranty (from date of purchase) on quality and workmanship for all merchandise manufactured under the EasyCare label. The customer should return the product to EasyCare with a copy of the customer’s dated receipt showing the item was returned within the 90 day period.  Products will not be accepted without a dated proof of purchase. When the product is sent in for evaluation, the customer must call EasyCare Customer Service at 800.447.8836 to obtain a Return Authorization Number (RMA).  Products that can be repaired will be quickly sent back to the customer.  Products that can’t be repaired will either be paid in the form of a store credit or replaced.  The customer is responsible for freight costs to EasyCare.  EasyCare will cover ground or parcel post shipping back to the customer.  Parts and labor are no charge under the 90 day warranty. 

EASYCARE DEALER RETURNS & WARRANTY

Customers that have purchased from an EasyCare dealer. 

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee.  

Products purchased from an EasyCare dealer that are being returned under EasyCare’s 30-day money-back guarantee must be returned to EasyCare within 30 days of purchase. The EasyCare dealer will need to contact EasyCare for a Return Authorization Number (RMA). Once this number is obtained the product will be returned back to EasyCare along with a copy of the customer’s dated receipt showing the item was returned within the 30 day period. Once EasyCare has received the products a credit memo for the full purchase price of the item will be issued to the dealer (excluding freight charges).  All 30-Day Money-Back items will be paid in the form of a store credit. The 30 day money-back offer is not valid for EasyCare bargain bin or factory seconds. The consumer and/or dealer is responsible for freight costs.  

90 Day Warranty. 

If a customer has a warranty issue in the 90 Day Warranty period it can be handled two ways.  Through the EasyCare dealer where the product was purchased or through EasyCare

90 Day Warranty taken care of through the EasyCare Dealer.  The customer should return the product to the dealer with a copy of the customer’s dated receipt showing the item was returned within the 90 day period.  Products will not be accepted without a dated proof of purchase.  The dealer will then send the product to EasyCare to be replaced or repaired at EasyCare’s discretion. When the product is sent in for evaluation, the dealer must call for a Return Authorization Number (RMA). Products that can be repaired will be quickly sent back to the dealer.  Products that can’t be repaired will either be paid in the form of a store credit or replaced.  The dealer is responsible for freight costs to EasyCare.  EasyCare will cover ground or parcel post shipping back to the dealer.  Parts and labor are no charge under the 90 day warranty. 

90 Day Warranty through EasyCare.  EasyCare Inc offers a 90 day repair or replacement warranty (from date of purchase) on quality and workmanship for all merchandise manufactured under the EasyCare label. The customer should return the product to EasyCare with a copy of the customer’s dated receipt showing the item was returned within the 90 day period.  Products will not be accepted without a dated proof of purchase. The customer must call EasyCare for a Return Authorization Number (RMA) then the product shall be sent in for evaluation.  The customer is responsible for freight costs to EasyCare.  EasyCare will cover ground or parcel post shipping back to the customer.  Parts and labor are no charge under the 90 day warranty. 

EasyCare was the first company back in 1970 to make a production hoof boot.  The majority of new hoof boot products emulate our sizing charts, sizing methods, our boot designs, glue-on techniques, our fit kit concept and many of our procedures.  EasyCare's warranty program is the best and most generous in the industry and we plan to continue leading the way.  

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.

Modifying EasyShoes for Leverage Management

How to use glue and composite shoes 101:

  1. Study the materials and hoof preparation steps  
  2. Gather the necessary materials and tools
  3. Select the best shoe size for the foot in front of you
  4. Apply the shoe and glue with attention to detail.  

These steps will lead you to success!  The shoe will stay on, and your horse will have excellent foot protection. 

I often ask myself:  Did I do everything I can to help the horse?  Some horses may need more than a basic application.​ One of the biggest components of glue and composite shoes, like the EasyShoe, is the height they provide to the foot and shoeing package. That height needs to be considered when applying the shoe, it can be used to benefit the horse in a myriad of ways in performance and therapeutic applications.  

You may remember a quote from Dr. Hilary Clayton at the PHCP Conference I blogged about before:

"If the Reaction Force vector does not pass through the center of rotation of the joint it creates a torque around the joint that the soft tissue has to oppose". Dr Hillary Clayton, PHCP Conference 2016

In a large portion of the horses I work on, small details of shoe placement and leverage can greatly impact their short and long term level of soundness. This especially helps horses diagnosed with navicular and arthritis.  If the break over is a bit too far forward, or leverage is extended medial to lateral, the horse may not be comfortable, let alone sound.  This horse is a good example of how leverage reduction, determined by using the Krosscheck Leverage Testing Kit, can greatly help the farrier determine how to help the horse best: Broken Down May Not Be So Broken.  This horse is still sound and being ridden, jumped and evented now, three years after that blog was written.

 

Here is an example of how a shoe can be easily modified to help prevent the break over from being too far forward.  Remember because the foot is a cone, when you add height to the foot, the footprint moves forward as well.  This horse has a very forward footprint, and the shoe can be applied to either continue the forward footprint, or help the footprint move back under the center of mass of the limb, assisting with leverage reduction:

By rolling the toe of the shoe back, and extending the heel support with dental impression material we moved this horse's footprint back significantly.  
Because the shoe is composite material, the modifications can be easily done with a rasp or grinder.

I'll routinely bring the break over back in the toe, and soften the heel landing depending on the horse I'm working on.  It's also easy to add medial/lateral leverage reduction in the quarters. The pink dotted line here shows the change in where the shoe is contacting the ground. Even these small modifications can make a big difference in the comfort level and soundness of the horse. 

 

This is an example of a foundered horse from this blog here, who benefited from leverage reduction all around the entire shoe, creating a "ball bearing" effect.  This helped minimize the torque on her very damaged laminae:

And don't forget sometimes you want to prevent the break over from wearing too far back. 

I hope this gives you some additional ideas on how the EasyShoe can be modified to help the horse you're working on. Wedges and lifts can also be added to the bottom of the shoe, as well. In reality, you are only limited by your own imagination when it comes to modifying EasyShoes to help the horse.

For more information about this kind of work see our website:

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

www.IntegrativeHoofSchool

DHF Case Study: Laminitis and Canker

This is one of those cases that stays with you; that you think about even when you're not with the horse.  The initial description from the veterinarian was "Every time the owner picked out her feet she would bleed.  When I saw her feet I thought, OH MY".  I get called in by veterinarians typically for one of two reasons: either the horse doesn't have enough foot to nail to and they need performance glue work, or like in this case, the horse's feet are significantly distorted with pathology and they need help with rehabilitation.  It's never good when the vet says "Oh my!" when they see the horse's feet.  So I was expecting a train wreck.

When I met this mare I thought helping her would be pretty straight forward.  It ended up being a little more complicated than I was expecting.  She had some significant hoof capsule distortion typically found with chronic laminitis complicated by contracted heels.  All of that is pretty easy to address.  My biggest concern was the description of "bleeding when her feet were picked out", and was thinking about the coffin bone penetrating her sole or a deep abscess track in that area. Here are her feet when we first saw her:

The veterinarian met us at the appointment and took radiographs for us.  

The veterinarian diagnosed the pony with chronic laminitis with rotation and sinking.  Our plan was to pull the shoes, apply a de-rotation trim to re-align her hoof capsule with the internal structures, addressing the phalangeal and capsular rotation.  Oh, and to figure out what the bleeding when the hoof was picked was about. 

After pulling the shoes, CAREFULLY cleaning out her frogs, and applying the de-rotation trim, the bleeding was not coming from where we expected. 

We were looking at canker.  This poor mare, foundered, with contracted heels, chronic thrush, AND canker.  We determined she was going to need daily attention to her feet to eliminate the canker, and help her regain soundness.  We brought her to our Daisy Haven Farm Rehabilitation Center to facilitate her care.  Of course with the additional benefit of addressing her underlying metabolic problems through diet and environmental management.  

There are many different ideas on how to treat canker.  We see a fair bit of it in our area with so many draft horses going though auction, as it seems most prevalent in draft breeds although occurs in all breeds.  I also saw a lot of canker in Nigeria during my trips helping horses there.

Canker is generally thought of as an infectious process that leads to a proliferation of abnormal tissue originating in the frog.  Why it happens and why only to certain horses is not known, however, it is generally associated with excessively wet conditions, poor hoof management, and possibly a poor immune system.  It's described as having a cauliflower appearance, typically highly sensitive, bleeds profusely when trimmed, and often has an associated putrid smell.(1)

In this case we worked with veterinarian Dr. James Holt of Brandywine Veterinary Services in Glenmoore, PA.  His go-to method of treatment for canker consists of debridement as needed, followed by topical application of oxytetracycline (oxytet) on cotton padding against the affected tissue with pressure, changing daily, then weekly Clean Trax soaks.  When it looks like the canker has been eliminated, continue treatment for an additional two weeks to help prevent regrowth.  We applied the oxytet to the cotton padding, wrapped the foot in a diaper with vet wrap to hold it in place.  Then applied a Cloud Boot with antimicrobial powder to prevent any sweating inside the boot in our humid environment.  

This worked quite successfully for this mare:

We were also able to get her metabolic problems controlled during her stay with us, and returned her to her owner at a new boarding barn, quite comfortable, and with a management plan in place to prevent future recurrence of either the laminitis or the canker.

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

References:

1: O'Grady, Stephen E., BVSc, MRCVS, and John B. Madison, VMD, Diplomate ACVS. "How to Treat Equine Canker." Equine Podiatry. Northern Virginia Equine, 1 Jan. 2004. Web. 02 Sept. 2016. <http://www.equipodiatry.com/canker1.htm>.

For the Love of the Glue-Ons!

Submitted by Leah Cain, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

I love riding a horse with Glue-On boots!  I have had a lot of success with them.  My horses travel freely and are confident over varied terrain in them.  In the past, I have only used them for 100 mile endurance competitions and multi-day rides.  I like using them so much that I hate to have to pull them off after a couple weeks to keep the hoof healthy.  I was thinking that if I had access to the sole of the hoof in order to keep it dry,clean it out and apply iodine, I could keep the boots on longer.  After speaking with Kevin Waters and Christoph Schork, and reading Christoph's blog about cutting out a big hole in the bottom and some of the benefits, I decided to try it myself. 

I took clean, unused glue on boots and cut a hole in the bottom using a 2 1/8 hole cutter (the one that you would use to cut a hole in a door for the door knob.)  I secured the boots to a piece of wood to hold them still. Also, make sure you are using clean gloves on your hands to ensure that you do not get the boots dirty.  Once the boots have the proper holes, you are ready to glue on boots as normal except you do not need Sikaflex in the bottom of the boot.  I did also use the EasyShoe Bond for this application simply because I realized that I didn't have any tips for the Adhere. 

I kept the boots on for 8 weeks.  In that time, I did many miles of conditioning and one 50 mile endurance competition.  We experienced lots of mud, gravel roads, sand and just about everything in between.  Surprisingly, we never picked up a rock. 

The last two photos are the boots and hoof after eight weeks. I definitely have found my new favorite way to use Glue-On boots!

 

Mentorship with Garrett Ford

Submitted by Deanna Stoppler, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

In 2015 I applied for the American Association of Professional Farriers (AAPF) Roy Bloom Scholarship by submitting a case study entitled “A Team Approach to Treatment of Recurrent Abscessing Resulting From Solar Keratoma in a 14-year-old Quarter Horse”. As one of two recipients of the scholarship, I received the grand prize of a two to three day paid mentorship to take place with an AAPF mentor of my choice.  I chose to mentor with Garrett Ford, President and CEO of EasyCare, the leader in hoof boot technology.

Ford is an innovator, businessman, endurance rider, athlete, and breeds and races horses in the Arabian racehorse industry.  He is married to an amazing athlete, could-be professional chef, and physical therapist, Lisa Ford, and is raising a 9-year-old hard-as-nails, feisty daughter, Alyxx Ford. They have three dogs—one that is quite crafty and does all kinds of tricks, another who is an up and coming cattle dog (and wreaks havoc on the horses and foals, in a good way) and another miniature guard dog whose bark is much bigger than her bite. And they have a lot of horses. Arabs.  Ford trims and shoes his own horses for pleasure, endurance competitions, and for the racetrack. 

Ford’s experience in the hoof care industry, wide range of interests and talents, and ability to manage his career and personal life were all reasons for my selection. 

Traveling across the country from Vermont to Colorado was nothing new—every year I travel to Alberta, Canada to visit my dad—but still when I exited the plane in Durango I was amazed at the dry air.  Vermont is a humid place; even when we lack rainfall, it is humid.  Colorado was dry.  Cloudless sky.  Bright sun.  Like Alberta, like home.

My first evening at the Ford ranch was spent settling in, eating delicious sushi in downtown Durango (I liked the appetizer of fried brussel sprout chips best), and planning the next two days. 

Enjoying sushi with a feisty Ford!

In the days to come I would learn about trimming in a dry environment; glue on tips-and-tricks; new ideas for glue usage; basic information about Arabian breeding and racing; and endurance riding (hands on—we went for a 17-mile ride in the mountains, trotting and cantering the entire ride).

17-mile ride with Garrett and Lisa Ford.

Day 1: Can you glue a shoe?

If you think you know all there is to know about gluing try spending the day with Garrett Ford.  His mind constantly challenges the status quo.  He and his friend and colleague, Curtis Burns, continually test new ideas for shoe designs and for glue prep and use.  After numerous courses with various well known glue practitioners and spending a week as a team member of the 2015 Easy Elite, gluing shoes on competitors’ horses for the Tevis Cup 100 Mile Endurance Ride, I would say I know a thing or two about gluing but as farriers we can never learn too much and Ford is a prime example of pushing the boundaries and not allowing ourselves to settle in the comfort zone.

We played with shoeing using a technique that allowed us to tack the shoe on with Vettec adhere only from the heel to widest part of foot portion of the shoe, alleviating any possibility of glue pressure in the tip of P3, and tying in the cuffs and toe region of the shoe with Equilox tinted with black concrete dye.

Equilox tinted with black concrete dye.

We talked about the importance of heel prep and making sure the periople is removed prior to applying glue and how critical it is to glue the vertical height of the heels, not just the sole side.

Importance of heel prep.

We applied a dual nail/glue system and cut the cuffs down to account for slight flaring in the foot. 

A conversation about aesthetics and finish led me to realize that the smallest of details, like consistent finish in all four cuffs, separates better from best.  Ford talked about his mantra when finishing a foot—Curtis Burns once said to him: “Would you leave it like that?” And so he says it to himself after every trim, glue job, boot removal…would you leave it like that?  If in doubt fix it; do it to the best of your ability or don’t do it at all.

Day 2: Trimming a few, and a few more.

Trimming in a dry climate was in some ways like taking a breath of fresh air.  The work can be more difficult when trying to remove embedded bar and sole material but the feet are rock solid, literally. In Vermont feet are in a constant cycle of wet to dry to wet to dry to mostly wet, soggy, like a sponge. I might be exaggerating a bit but you get the idea.  Even though Ford’s pastures are irrigated daily, the horses’ feet are dry.  The air is dry. The ground is dry.  Feet: dry.

The balance of backing toes, leveling heels, leaving vertical height, straightening bars, removing exfoliating frog material, all of it applies to Colorado feet but Ford’s horses had healthy, dry feet instead of healthy wet feet.  Looking at the feet in Colorado versus Vermont wasn’t earth shatteringly different but I quickly realized that dry West feet could handle a bit more trimming than soggy East feet. In Vermont it feels that I am constantly balancing taking just the right amount of foot; not leaving so much that it will chip in the next couple of weeks of growth but not taking so much that if we hit a dry spell the horses will be sensitive on hard ground. 

During our day spent trimming Ford and I talked about the Arabian breeding and racing industry and what I got from those conversations is probably not what you’d expect, the retention of facts of sires and dams and bloodlines.  Instead it was the fact that a person can specialize in and pursue various areas of interest and still be successful.  Sure it is important to have a place in the market for your talent and skill set but that doesn’t mean solely focusing on only that area to be successful. 

Ford’s ability to network in various aspects of the horse industry reminded me of a web with many threads that all weave together into an intricate design, making the entire web stronger. 

My mentorship taught me that if you have passion, a willingness to work hard, an open mind, and aim to do things right the first time you will succeed.

If you understand that the most important thing in life is caring for your loved ones and staying true to who you are deep inside—to look in the mirror and be able to answer to yourself—then success is easy.  Success is and will always be yours.  Success is more than reaching a specific goal; success is a way of life.

"E" is for Epic and "K" is for Kevin

Submitted by Jordan Potthoff, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

On Saturday, July 16th I went on a ride with my mother, Cathy, and our two Wisconsin cowboy friends, Daniel and Vern. Cathy, Vern, and I are members of the Back Country Horseman in La Plata County. This group does trail work in wilderness areas where horses have access to ride. It is "Trails 2000" for Equestrians. As president of the Durango Chapter my mom decided we needed to scope out the Crater Lake trail that goes up past Andrew's Lake, near Silverton, Colorado, before the work crew came in the following week. It was a fun day ride and we were all happy to get out and enjoy the beautiful Colorado weather.

We looked at the hiking guide to gauge our time and mileage. It stated, "5.5 miles to the lake" then of course 5.5 miles out. I had done a 5 mile ride on my 4 year old mare, my first young horse, and I felt she was ready for a longer ride. This would certainly be a challenge because it was twice as far as we had ever gone. There would be many challenges on this ride that would test her and I as a team. Needless to say, according to our GPS tracking the day went from a 11 mile ride to a 14 mile ride. If I was looking for a ride to challenge and train my young horse, boy did I find it.

I wasn't sure the footing of the trail so I decided on my Easyboot Epics for the ride. I am new to the barefoot world and natural hoof care. My horse, Pistol, has spent the riding season in shoes and the off season barefoot. When I joined EasyCare I pulled her shoes and began the journey into barefoot hoof care.

So far I like the Epics. The way that they open up allows for easy application and I still get a snug fit because of the cable and buckle system. This is a great starting place for me since both Pistol and I are new to booting. My hope is to make believers out of my riding group for this trip and future ones. I did spend part of the ride talking about EasyCare and all of the different boots we have to offer, as well as Glue-Ons and EasyShoes. I enjoy talking about the boot because I truly believe in our product. It doesn't work for every horse but the owner and CEO, Garrett Ford, is always looking to increase sizing options and created a better boot. 

My horse had some reservations about our first few water crossings. Somewhere during that time of trying every avenue possible to avoid the water she tore the gaiter on one of her boots and the boot came off. The boot buckle didn't release so I need to examine the boot and see if the cable is broken. I will also measure her feet again to make sure I have the correct size. I think what happened was I tried the fit kit and found the correct size for the Glove. But without checking measurements ordered the same size in the Epics. This is a common mistake. Our boots are not all sized the same, so we always tell our customers not to assume that if they are a size in one model they will be the same size in a different model. What probably happened is that this boot was too big and the clamp didn't tighten enough around the hoof to stay on during her frantic moves across the water.

When I did remove the boots I found that very little water stayed in the boot. I know that some people worry about water building up in the boots and sloshing around during a ride. This boot allows most of the water to squish back out after going through a stream.

The Epics have moderate traction and break over on the toe. The trail up to Crater lake was a mixture of dirt trail and big rocky sections. As we passed over large slabs of rock I noticed that Pistol had better traction in most instances and had less of a tendency to slip out compared to the other horses who were shod with steel shoes. Pistol has not developed a disciplined, cautious step yet, so I know that she wasn't getting better footing because of better foot placement on the trail. I was also happy for the gaiter protection around the heel bulbs because two of the horses experienced small cuts from sharp rocks.

We saw this butterfly at the end of our ride. It made me think of Kevin. Butterflies to me symbolize rebirth and transition into a new state of being. For me I think it could have been Kevin joining me in my successful ride. I had looked forward to riding with him this summer. I know that I would have learned a lot from him and my horse would have as well. He was always approachable when I had questions or wanted to learn more. I know I will still learn from him, his memory, and his experiences through the many many lives he impacted. 

Although I did not have the pleasure of knowing Kevin Myers for very long, he immediately inspired me to challenge myself and expand my riding experience. Both his and Garrett's passion for endurance riding was infectious. I have dabbled in many disciplines and their passion has sparked my curiosity for this new one. Well let me tell you I have a long way to go! Kevin would have called my 14 mile stroll a "recovery ride". HA! I was the one who needed to recover after that ride. It was my longest ride in a long time. But he was always very encouraging and was great at celebrating victories no matter how small.

He was on my mind during my first big ride. I know that he had a habit of doing a hand stand in great places so in his memory I did a hand stand in victory. Here's to you, Kevy. "K" is for Kevin. Happy Trails.

Kevin And The 300

It is very hard for me now to pick up a pen and write a new blog after the tragic event that occurred within our EasyCare Family. It just hit too close to home. I am still extremely sad and in pain to the deepest level in my soul. 

 

 

And now what? We are all supposed to pick up the pieces and keep going. I guess we have to. Life is going on and we cannot keep staying in a state of sorrow forever.  It is unhealthy and also not fair to others close to us who might not have had the privilege of knowing Kevin Myers.  But make no mistake about it, it is hard, very hard. Tevis is happening this week, then the Nationals and other rides.  EasyCare will develop new products and life will continue. But Kevin's memories will stay with us and that is a good thing. Sooner or later we all shall be united again with him.  Hope it will be quite a bit later.

To learn more about what Kevin meant to all of us within the EasyCare Family, you can read up on the last couple of blogshttp://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/horse-boots-customer-help/postcards-to-kevin, and here: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/easycare-admin/wish-you-were-here.

One of the best blogs about Kevin was written by Garrett Ford. A magnificent tribute to him. I just love Garrett's thoughts about Kevin. 

Kevin was very interested in the success of his friends. He was always supportive of me and helped me achieve my goals. He was so looking forward to me reaching the 300 mark of wins in the endurance sport which he himself loved so much. It is sad that he missed that day and event, which happened during the Doubloon Ride, managed by Tennessee Lane of Remuda Run

Riding GE Pistol Annie at day 2 of the Doubloon ride to achieve the 300 win mark.

While the spirits were dampened by the passing of Kevin, and we all were not really in celebration or partying mood, it was nevertheless a big event that had not been reached by any endurance rider in the the world. 

Merri Melde from Endurancenet wrote a very nice article about it, to be read up here.

Trotting out for Completion after the finish of the Doubloon on day 2.

Okay, so far so good,  but what does EasyCare have to do with it all, one might ask.  Quite a bit, I will answer. 

A lot of these wins were actually accomplished using various EasyCare hoof protection products:

By far the most used boot was the Glue-On. In over 100 wins the Glue-on boot were used. Simply a reliable hoof boot that gets the job done. Love that boot. Easy to apply and lasting.

Ria McCarthy from Heber City, Utah, just rode with her dad the whole length of the state of Utah from the border of Arizona to the border of Idaho, 605 miles with countless vertical feet over many mountains during her 28 day trip. She and her horse used only one pair of Glue-On boots for the whole trip, and there are still some miles left on the tread. Just incredible performance. No iron shoe would have lasted that long.  Ria shared these two photos of the bottom of the Glue-On boots with me:

What a testimony for the Easyboot Glue-Ons. No need to say anything more. These photos say it all. 

So we all move on, with a heavy heart, no doubt. I hope time will heal us all and make us better people because of Kevin. We all shall look out more for each other. This will be his legacy he left for us.

From The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

EasyCare Goes Cavalry at the Old Dominion

Submitted by Karen Neuenschwander, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

The Old Dominion 100 is a bucket list ride for many. Rocks, big climbs, heat, humidity, and more rocks make “the Beast of the East” a fitting nickname for this ride. To add to the challenge, there is an option to ride “Cavalry.” The rider must carry with them everything for the horse and rider (except for water) for the entire ride. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of attempting this challenge since I learned about it several years ago. When it came time to take my mare, Brooke, on her first 100 miler, I knew she’d be a good candidate to give it a try. She’s strong on mountain trails, tolerates heat and humidity well, and takes great care of herself without being too high maintenance.

Hoof protection was a big consideration since any gear for lost shoes or boots had to be carried. Easyboot Glue-Ons were the obvious choice for us. The key to Glue-On success is proper application to DRY hooves. In our damp, swampy Southeast Virginia climate, getting those hooves dry can take a little extra effort. Brooke and her buddy, Legalas, had a sleepover in my barn’s stalls the night before we applied the boots for some extra drying time. “Legs” will be doing Tevis next month in Glue-Ons applied by the EasyCare gluing team, so he did the 50 miler at Old Dominion to try them out. The next morning, I glued everyone’s boots (with lots of extra hands to help things go smoothly), and we headed to the ride.

A night in the stalls keeps everyone's hooves nice and dry before gluing.

Although I tried to minimize the amount of stuff that I carried, some necessities needed to be packed along. I used the EasyCare Deluxe Stowaway Pack to carry some grain, two spare Easyboot Gloves, and electrolytes. I had planned to use the Deluxe Pommel Pack for more storage in front, but upon trying it out, discovered that I actually preferred something a little smaller. One quick call to EasyCare, and the standard size pack arrived a couple of days later. It carried my drink bottles and Brooke’s all-important carrots! I carried my food in a small backpack designed for ultra-runners, and we were all set to tackle the ride!

Sporting our Glue-Ons and all of our gear.  Photo by Becky Pearman Photography
 
Our goal was simply to get a completion. We made time where the footing was good, trusting that the Glue-Ons would absorb concussion on the miles of forest service roads. Brooke was able to do her awesome power walk over the crazy rocks and up and down the steepest climbs, her boots providing great traction and protection on the uneven footing. In the end, we completed the ride in fifth place, making us eligible to compete not only for the Cavalry Trophy, but also the Old Dominion Trophy, which is judged similarly to Best Conditioned.
 

During the judging the next morning, Brooke trotted out sound and looked great for the vet exam. I was shocked and honored at the awards ceremony to learn we had won both the Cavalry and Old Dominion Trophies! I am so grateful to EasyCare for offering products that helped make our ride such a success!