On Tour Abroad

My hoof care clinics abroad have become a yearly, sometimes semi-yearly, happening. Most of the time my travels lead me to Europe, but occasionally also to Australia and Canada. This month I'm just returning from a series of seminars in Spain, Catalunya and Germany.

To fill you in, in case you did not follow European News lately: Catalunya, or translated into English, Catalonia, is an autonomous region in the most eastern part of the Iberian peninsula, close to the Pyrenees and bordering France. The population is 7.5 million. The Capital is Barcelona, home of the soccer club FCB that has won the European Soccer League Championship Title many times. Catalunya is now  trying to achieve independence from Spain within the next couple of years. National sentiments and feelings are wide spread among the people, about half of the population favors an independent new country. So to be politically correct and not hurt anybody's feelings, I will refer to the location of my visit as Catalunya instead of Spain.

The new Catalonian National Flag can be seen everywhere.

Barcelona, viewed from the Castello, a vibrant beautiful city with a fascinating history.

Why travel to Europe to conduct hoof care clinics? After all, it is not that the Europeans do not know much about hoof trimming and shoeing. Horses have been used and ridden in Europe for thousands of years, I mean, compared to the USA, these folks there have been around horses and known horses literally forever. But EasyCare happens to be a company based in the USA, is very innovative and a leader in the industry. And although I'm not traveling and conducting these clinics on behalf of EasyCare, but rather on my own accord and under my company's umbrella, Global Endurance Training Center, these clinics focus very much on Natural Hoof Care, Barefoot Trimming and the application of all the EasyCare products and boots. After all, these boots and shoes are the future. Besides EasyCare boots and shoes, I also apply and demonstrate other innovative hoof protections on the market like Duplos and EQUIFLEX, a USA company that imports the Cera Shoes made in Germany. (Disclosing here that EQUIFLEX is also my own company, a subsidiary of Global Endurance Center). For these stated reasons, European stables, equine organizations and clubs are looking for USA based clinicians that know and teach progressive and innovative hoof protections and their applications.

Besides the hoofboots like the GlovesTrail, EpicsOriginal Easyboots, Glove Back Country, and Clouds that require neither nails nor glue, I teach nailing and gluing EasyShoes and Glue-Ons using various glues, but mostly the over and over proven VETTEC glues. An all time favorite for many participants is the molding of a hoof shoe using the Vettec Superfast. And when I receive a phone call 6 weeks later telling me that the Superfast shoe is still on the hoof and fully intact after being ridden many miles through rocks and endless hours standing and walking in muddy pastures and stalls, even I can be a little proud of my work and the quality of the products I'm putting my faith into.

The  equestrian community of the Iberian Peninsula as a whole has not embraced the new hoof protection boots and shoes from EasyCare and other manufactures like the rest of Europe or the Americas have. Most horses there are still shod with iron shoes like they have been for over 2000 years.  A few Duplos and Equiflex Shoes could be seen, but hardly any Easyboots of any kind. Contrary to lots of horses in the rest of Europe, most horses had also fairly long, undubbed toes.

A very common sight: steel shoes with long toes.

The two day seminar this fall was open to farriers, horse owners and riders of all disciplines who were interested in learning about hoof boots and the application of them. 15 participants (among them 4 farriers) wanted to hear all about EasyCare's products.  After introduction and initial PP presentation about anatomy of the lower legs, the group watched and analyzed gaits of various horses, studied toe and heel landings and examined pathologies and hoof imbalances.

During the indoor presentation.

Toe landing or heel landing? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

M/L imbalances were noted together with anatomical abnormalities.

After evaluating hooves, we practiced and discussed hoof trims and compared trimming philosophies between various countries. Any group member who wanted to do so, could show and explain his trimming procedures.

Trimming was followed by various hoof boot applications. Participants had again the opportunity to select boots, apply them and check the fit.

Gluing Easyboot Glue-Ons was first demonstrated by me, then could be practiced by the attendees.

Here we are using Vettec Equipak CS as sole packing in the Easyboot Glue on. For that purpose, small holes were drilled in the bottom of the boots and the CS then injected through those holes.

Catalonians never miss an opportunity to have siesta and eat well. A great opportunity to celebrate the end of the clinic with a traditional Catalonian dinner.

After leaving Catalunya I traveled to Germany for more clinics and workshops, then to Belgium and finally finished my travels in France. There, and also before that in Catalunya, I had to opportunity to enter two endurance races. From these events I will report my experiences in next months blog.

From the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork, Global Endurance Training Center


A Season of Boots and Lessons Learned

Submitted by Karen Neuenschwander, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

How far can your Easyboots take you? This season my Easyboot Gloves helped me take my mare from greenie to the AERC 50 mile National Championship. It was a fun journey, and I learned so much along the way, especially when it came to booting. Here are some things I learned along the way.

Photo by Becky Pearman Photography

Lesson one: Fit is everything when it comes to booting success. Follow the directions from EasyCare, all of them, and ask for help from more experienced folks if you’re having trouble or if you are not sure about the fit. There are plenty of people out there who have been there, done that, so pick their brains.

Lesson two: Boots may occasionally come off, and it’s ok! I didn’t lose a single Glove until my third endurance ride, but when I did, I had to do some troubleshooting to figure out what was going on. In one case, my mare’s hoof shape changed a bit with all of the new miles and hoof growth. Adding Power Straps fixed the problem, and I gained some new knowledge and skills in the process. Use boot losses as an opportunity to learn, and don’t be discouraged.

Lesson three: Don’t be afraid to try something new. I was terrified to try Glue-On shells for two back-to-back 50’s, but by taking the plunge, I found a great option for multi-day or 100 mile hoof protection and gained confidence with a new skill.

Lesson four: Hoof boots CAN work for you on any terrain. So many people told me that boots wouldn’t work in wet East Coast footing and mud. Mine stayed on as well as a nailed on shoe through sucking mud, deep sand and the famous Old Dominion rocks. Know your terrain, find a good boot fit, secure your boots accordingly, and they will perform.

Lesson five: Treat your boots well, and you can really get some miles out of them. I made sure to clean and inspect my boots after every ride. I stored them out of the weather when not in use. The boot in this picture started the season with me. I did 310 competitive miles and all of my conditioning miles in it (many on gravel forest service roads) before the toe finally blew out. Not too shabby!

As we look ahead to a new season of endurance, I can’t wait to see where another year in EasyCare boots will take us!

My Season with Easyboots

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

I wanted to share what a typical year looks like for me and my horses' feet. We are competitive trail riders competing at the 25 mile distance this year and we start "spring training" as soon as the weather allows us to be outside without freezing (that date can vary greatly here in Alberta!).

This past year was exceptionally mild and as early as February we were out running down the gravel roads and across the bare crop fields. The ground is frozen this time of year and can be punishingly lumpy, rocky and uneven. If we're out for a slow ride we can get it done barefoot but of course my horses are more comfortable with something between them and the ground. Often times, at this time of year, it's our Easyboot Epics that fit the bill. 

I have used these boots for over a decade now and just love them. They are easily adjusted and therefore easy to fit to your horse throughout their trim cycle. Two days post trim to six weeks out, these boots will insure a snug, secure fit and I don't ever worry about losing one thanks to the handy gaiter.

This past spring we had lots of chinook winds that would blow very warm air across the snow covered ground turning the top of the snow to wind whipped melting puddles that would freeze into sheets of ice overnight. We had ice everywhere. Lots of open, bare tracts which made it quite possible to condition if you could just make it to those spots. 

Enter my Easyboot Gloves with Quick Studs. I wrote about how to apply the Quick Studs here. My oh my what a difference these little studs make to traction. Nary a slip on the dodgy sections, my horse strode out with confidence on our way to our training grounds. I love the Gloves for their ease of application, snug fit and no hardware to fiddle with. There are a bit trickier to ensure correct fit as my horse has to be trimmed more often to "get it right" but that just means her hooves are always in great shape. 

Once the snow and ice cleared and we headed more into our true spring and early summer, I removed the Quick Studs (so I can use them again next year) and continued using the Easyboot Epics and Gloves to condition my horse up and down the gravel road, through the hills, across the rocky river beds and into the Alberta foothills (small mountains).

Then FINALLY, after what seemed like forever, competition season was upon us! I broke out my gluing gear and this rookie made a one woman show of gluing a set of four EasyShoe Performance on my mare. I had learned the how-to's from a local professional last year and set to work making it happen for myself (I wrote about my experience gluing in this previous blog). There was lots of trial and error, glue everywhere and some frustration but that first set I put on myself looked not too bad and definitely did the trick in landing us a first place at that CTR. 

Several weeks of conditioning later I removed that set and applied a new set of four with greater ease and improved skills (see - trial and error at work!). For me I realized the best way for my slow self to apply the adhesive was to only put the Adhere around the bottom where it would contact the sole, hold it to the hoof until set then use a hoof pick to hold the wings open while I applied the Adhere to the quarters with enough quantity that it spilled out the holes. Wait for the appropriate set time again, clean it up with a rasp and voila. 

We had a great competitive season and in total my mare spent 14 weeks in the EasyShoe Performance hoof protection. They definitely offer convenience over the boots as there is no applying/removing before and after each ride and my mare felt superb in them. I called them her little "Rocket shoes" because she was faster and more confident in our conditioning rides than ever before. 

I just pulled them off last weekend and we are back to heading into the colder weather. I will shake the dust off my hoofboots that have been sitting in the corner of the tack shed all summer and we will continue on our merry way, booted and bundled up in the colder weather, waiting for springtime and warm summer days to return.

I do believe EasyCare offers a hoof protection solution for most all situations and if you're not sure, just get a hold of EasyCare Customer Service and they can direct you to what may work best for your situation. We are able to ride outside year round thanks to the protection the EasyCare Hoof Boot line up offers and I am so thankful for all the options. 

Breaking into the Mainstream: Hoof Boots in Competition

The horsey media has been all abuzz about hoofwear as of late. David Wilson of Flying High Stables recently submitted a request for a USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) rule change that would allow for hoof boots in USEA (United States Eventing Association) dressage phases. The current rule is written in ambiguous language that prohibits the use of boots of any kind. No distinction has been made between boots as leg protection and boots as hoofwear or hoof protection. This kind of ambiguity is consistent across disciplines.

Thanks to Sally Hugg for this photo of Carolyn Salas' own Alltair sporting EasyShoe NG's at Brookside Equestrian Park. There are no restrictions on our EasyShoes in any discipline at this time.

The proposed rule change reads EV115 (Saddlery) section 2E: “Any type of horse footwear (hoofwear) is permitted, provided all components of the hoofwear are either permanently attached to the hoof or are integral to a covering of the bottom of the hoof and the holding of that covering in place.”

The proposal will be up for review and go before the Board of Directors at the USEF Annual Meeting which takes place in January 2016. Members of USEF may login to their account and make comments about the proposed rule change under the rule changes page.

All that buzz inspired me to reach out to our governing bodies to compile a list of where hoof boots are legal in competition and where they aren't. It is by no means comprehensive and exhibitors should check with show management to be safe, but here is what I found:

The fine line between permissible and prohibited boils down to semantics. It's not that these organizations are against the use of hoof boots such as the Easyboot Glove in competition, rather that hoofwear was never considered when the rules were written.

EasyCare has changed the game when it comes to hoof protection and continues to actively develop novel approaches to hoof care. Our Glue On Boots and EasyShoes are currently permitted for competition in any discipline and our new Cloud boots can be seen outside the ring at shows all over the country. It is an exciting time to be in the horse industry and see our products breaking into the mainstream. I for one would love to see hoof boots allowed in all show rings across disciplines. Let's work together to keep our competition horses sound and performing their best for years to come!


Rebecca Balboni


Customer Service Representative

A lifetime of riding and showing sport horses has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of soundness and comfort on performance. Let me help elevate your equine experience by finding the right boot for your horse and unique situation.

Hole In The Boot

The Easyboot Glue-Ons are certainly a marvelous invention. From the beginning we had a great product, but we had to learn how to use them properly and how to apply them correctly so they stayed on even under the most extreme conditions. Meanwhile, Easyboot Practitioners have refined the gluing process to an art and getting the boots off the hooves even after they been 'on' for a few weeks can be quite a chore. Which is, of course, a good thing, because it proves to everybody that the gluing application has matured.

A couple of months ago I wrote about Reading The Boot, a blog with photos to evaluate the gluing application after the fact, meaning after we take the boots off. A learning after the fact, so to speak, but also a studying and learning opportunity for future applications.

EasyCare recommends to pull the Glue-On boots after ten days to two weeks.  I have to admit, I often do not adhere to these these time recommendations and keep them on somewhat longer than that. Maybe I shouldn't, but when the seals are still intact and the boot well attached with no water having entered the boots, I stretch this time line. And yet, I'm always amazed how hard the hooves still are after I pull these Glue-On Boots off my horses hooves. I have not noticed any thrush developing under the boots and most of the time they are a 'mother' to get them off, even after hundreds of miles ridden and several weeks having passed. Yes, they are softer compared to the bare footed horses running around in dry sand. But certainly are not any softer than a bare hoof that travels and lives more in a wetter climate and muddier soil than we have in the desert southwest.

Notwithstanding those observed facts, I cannot help to wonder sometimes if it would be better to have the sole exposed to more natural soil, sand, rocks and air to keep it dryer and tougher.

Time to experiment and play.

Tools needed:

- power drill

- circular hole saws of various sizes

I pre-drilled a small hole in the center of the Glue-On so that the hole drill can stay centered:

While drilling the hole, the boot has to be fixed, otherwise it will spin around and the circular saw won't be able to cut. The best way for me to stabilize the boot was to hold it between my feet.

The sole of the Glue-On boot is rather thick, so it will take a little time. Too much pressure on the drill and it will not cut anymore but get bound up and stuck and jerk your arm. So better use light pressure to allow the tool to do the work.

The modified Glue on Boot with a hole in the bottom.

The sole thickness of the boot is indeed impressive, here is the cut out piece. The Gloves and Glue-Ons certainly have a thick sole, that's the reason they last so long and protect the soles so well.

Hoof preparation is being done identically the way we glue a boot without holes.

For gluing the boot I used Sikaflex the same way as I normally would for a complete boot. I just need a lot less of it this time.

Vettec Adhere is being applied afterwards to the inside wall of the boot and the boot then being glued on according to protocol published on the EasyCare website.

In the sole area I use the excess Sikaflex to seal the cut borders.

Most of the frog and sole is now exposed, keeping the sole and frog tough and hardened.

The foremost question in my mind was: did I rob that boot of essential stability and compromise the integrity so much that it will fall apart and get ripped off in no time? Only time and frequent riding over mixed terrain will tell me.

In my first try I cut the hole too big and, sure enough, the toe part of the boot sole was pushed over the dorsal hoof wall within 20 miles ridden.  The boot pictured above is a size 2 and I used a 3.5 inch diameter hole saw. That hole seemed the appropriate size, leaving a wide enough sole margin.  I therefore came up with the following hole sizing chart (this is what has worked for me):

-2.5 inches saw diameter for boot sizes 00 and 00.5

-3 inches saw for boot sizes 0, 0.5 and 1

-3.5 inches for sizes 1.5, 2, 2.5

-4 inches for sizes  3 and 3.5 and 4

With these sizes the boots have stayed strong enough to withstand heavy and fast riding over mixed terrain.

After 4 weeks of riding this horse, the margins and borders are all intact and the horse is moving happily and freely.

Next photo from the bottom side:

The frog and sole did toughen up more, more dead sole visible compared to the frame above 4 weeks ago. The horse walked before the Sikaflex had completely been dry, that is why some of it had pushed out from under the sole, but that did not create any issues.

Summarizing why such a foolish undertaking could benefit the hooves:

- Continuous sole and frog stimulation and toughening through contact with ground

- Longer time intervals before pulling the boots, possibly up to 6 weeks

- Better grip in mud and wet grass

I might not elect to use this modification for endurance rides or riding a lot over sharp and hard rocks. The risk of stone bruising is certainly greater. For moderate terrain and training rides it seems to me to be a viable alteration.

To give credit where credit is due: this 'Hole in the Boot' idea did not originate with me. I saw it first while attending one of the Pete Ramey Clinics in Durango and considered it worth a try and to experiment with. Pete had a couple of the boots with holes cut out on display.

So far, I must say,  I'm happy with the results.


From the Bootmeister's desk


Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center


Although "Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery" It's Time to Move On. New E-Z Ride Stirrups are Here

The majority of the endurance riders in the United States and many abroad either use or know a friend that uses the E-Z Ride Stirrups.  The wide base stirrup, based on an early US cavalry design, supports the foot for long miles in the saddle and is very lightweight.  Bob Walz started making the stirrups in his Tucson home in the early 1980s.  My mom was his first dealer buying and selling many stirrups for Bob.  The stirrup design grew in popularity with Bob adjusting his manufacturing and machinery to keep pace.  Bob moved to Pilot Hill, California, to be closer to the Tevis Trail and his children in the late 1980s.  His desire to ride more prompted him to sell the machinery, trademark and know-how to EasyCare in the early 1990s.  Bob was a long time family friend and sponsored me as a junior twice at the 100 mile Tevis Cup.

EasyCare took over production in its Tucson facility with Bob's equipment and opened molds for an injection-molded version.  Our distribution grew and we started selling to more endurance and trail saddle manufacturers.  As time went on, many of the companies we sold to copy Bob's original design but made them with inferior manufacturing techniques.  If you do a Google search for "Endurance Stirrups" and then click on images you will see pages of endurance stirrups that resemble Bob's design.  Many of the copy designs designs are hard to tell apart and over the years we had many returned to EasyCare that were not manufactured by EasyCare. Although "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", we have decided it's time to introduce a new model with several patent pending features.    

A Google search shows pages of distance stirrups that copy Bob Walz's original E-Z Ride Stirrup design

The goal of the new design was the following.

1. Wide base to support the foot over long distance and long hours in the saddle.

The E-Z Ride Ultimate Ultra in black.  Also comes in silver.

2. A very strong hoop that will hold up for years.

3.  A pad system that offers cushion, traction and can be easily changed as they wear.

The new EVA pad.  The pad will be used in both the E-Z Ride Ultimate, E-Z Ride Ultra and E=Z Ride Nylon designs.

E-Z Ride pad and base before assembly

4.  Top bar system that integrates with different stirrup widths.  

The 1", 2" and 3" top bar system.  Top bar is designed to accept many different leather widths and half sizes like 2.5" or 1.5".  No need to change top bars when you switch top bars to a new saddle.

5.  Removable Cage.

Cage pops into place with four male pins.  Pad holds it in place. 

Cage in place ready for EVA pad.

The new E-Z Ride Stirrup will come in two different price point models.  We will offer the top shelf E-Z Ride Ultimate Ultra and the lower priced E-Z Ride Ultimate.  The Ultimate Ultra is a 100% machined aluminum design that will hold up with the most aggressive riding and abuse.  This stirrup is built to last for your lifetime and is priced to be the last pair of stirrup you will buy.  The Ultimate has the same indestructible hoop but uses a ABS injected base that is a bit lighter in weight.  Both designs accept an EVA pad that snaps into place with four male plugs.  The male/female plug system in the pad an base allow the pad to be changed as they wear. The system goes together with two bolts. No glue or rivets for the pads or cages.

Two screws hold the design together.

All designs (with the exception of cages) are in stock and ready to ship.  Cages will be here in a month.  These will be the premium priced stirrup on the market and we will continue to sell our nylon version.  

I really like how this project has come together and believe the new design is a great one.  Both the non cage and cage versions have been tested on mnay endurance events and both finished top ten at the 2015 100 mile Tevis Cup.  Bob Walz would be proud.

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.

Secrets of the Savvy - October 2015

The changing of seasons and wide temperature variances throughout the day are prime reminders to make sure adhesives and other gluing materials are handled with care. Glue and horses are a lot alike-take care of them, and they’ll take care of you.  Let’s go over a few general guidelines to keep you gluing like a boss all year long.

Manufacturer’s guidelines for set and cure times for adhesives and pour in materials are usually based on a 70 degree ambient temperature. Optimum temperature range for gluing is between 65 and 85 degrees. These timeframes will speed up in the heat and slow down when it is cold. Take the guesswork out of how much by keeping cartridges, tips, shoes and shells in a climate controlled environment.

As always, hoof prep is critical to gluing success-no matter the temps. Remember to organize your materials (don't forget your Zips), prep feet thoroughly, and take your time. Fluctuations in temperature can wreak havoc on your adhesives and packing materials. Store these items in a cool dark place and use within a month once opened. Stay aware of expiration dates and rotate stock using FIFO: first in/first out.

Thanks for joining us for the October edition of Secrets of the Savvy! Feel free to contact us to find out more about our wide variety of adhesive and packing materials or to place an order:

Debbie: dschweibert@easycareinc.com 800-447-8836 ext 2224

Rebecca: rbalboni@easycareinc.com 800-447-8836 ext 2232

As always, we welcome your comments and want to know what you've learned from your experiences in the field!

Secrets of the Savvy

Secrets of the Savvy: your source for inside information on all things EasyCare. See you next month!

Inspired by Innovation and Perserverance

Before coming to work for EasyCare, I knew nothing much about horses, and even less about their feet and how they function. Now here we are, more than a year later, and I cannot say enough about how much I have learned or how inspired I am by Garrett's ability to press forward in this industry.  He always puts the horse first, often times going against the grain, to provide options for all types of horse and rider situations, as well as options to help improve the quality of life for lots of horses that may otherwise be looking at a different fate.  

In Garrett's most recent blog, he says, "One of the things that keeps me going is innovation and bringing new products to the equine industry."  In the past year, I have personally seen him out-do himself time and time again with his creations, working with people like Curtis Burns, Rick Redden, and Pete Ramey, just to name a few.

We hear success stories from all types of riders, including this one from Heather Reynolds about the EasyShoe Ultra Prototype: "The EasyCare hoof protection held their own once again! The EasyShoe Ultra Prototype was worn on Bound For Honor's front feet with Glue-Ons behind. The AHA Championship was at the Big South Fork ride in TN. It was a very challenging hill course through sand, mud and rock with multiple deep river crossings. There was a very competitive field. 

Without the EasyCare products I don't think it would have been possible for Honor to train for and compete in this event. Honor was 14 minutes behind, leaving the last check in 4th place. He went on to win by a healthy margin in a ride time of 5:10. Thank you EasyCare and Garrett Ford for producing amazing products that help our horses have that extra advantage."

6th and 7th graders pushing forward in the face of challenges. 

To look into the face of challenges and find ways to grow and advance is something that I can absolutely get behind.  When I am not working at EasyCare, my other job is coaching kids and adults on mountain bikes.  Every day I witness them being faced with challenges and finding ways to use those challenges as a vehicle of change.  They persevere and push forward with bravery and courage, going against the grain of what they have told themselves is capable.  Without pushing those limits, there is no evolution, as a rider, or as an inventor, or as a community.  For me, it is admirable and inspiring to watch people like Garrett, and the athletes I coach to keep on pushing forward.  When we create change, within ourselves and within our communities, we become the helpers in the world.  With each new product EasyCare creates, we help another horse and rider. I am grateful to be a part of that.   

Tina Ooley


Customer Service Representative

As a member of the EasyCare Customer Service Team, I am here to assist you in fitting and choosing the best hoof protection for your horse. I believe in natural, holistic hoof care and its contribution to sound horses and happy riders.

Holdin' Ground With Glue-On's

Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

The equine world is very diverse, as you all know. It amazing and humbling the tasks our four legged friends are capable of. At EasyCare we get to talk with owners and help horses involved in all types of events and many times we get asked, “Will this boot or shoe work for this or has anyone had success using a boot or glue on this way?” I enjoy being able to provide accurate information with everyone I speak with which leads me to wanting to test the products on my own horse in different situations, which I have also done with the Clouds and the FLIR camera.

I have most recently been experimenting with the Glue-On’s. I enjoy the benefits of running (barrel racing) my horse barefoot but unfortunately the quality of footing outside of the arena at most of the venues I attend is very rocky and many times has shards of glass, auto body parts, tools, pieces of metal, you name it, it is most likely sitting out there waiting to get your horse. I was concerned she was going to get injured by something running in and out of the arena. Us rookies took it upon ourselves to glue on shells using the same protocol that is shown in our gluing video, that is available on the web page for the Glue-On. It was not quite as pretty as what we would have hoped for but by the end of the night my horse had four shells glued on and she felt great.

I had four days to exercise and work her in the Glue-On’s before I was going to run her at our next event, since I am typically a Glove user I knew that my horse would have no issue adjusting to the Glue-On’s. My main concern was how well they were glued on. We had also been talking about if there was going to be enough traction with the standard Glue-On Shell. When Pete Ramey came to town he had shown me some modified shells that were being used for speed events to allow for more grab but I wanted to try it with an unmodified Glue-On. I have never had a problem with traction in my Gloves when working her but I would be lying if I told you I was not worried one bit about making a run in the Glue-On’s. I was apprehensive when running to first but after she inhaled that barrel all worries were gone.

She had absolutely no problem holding her ground around the barrels and leaving the barrels she did not struggle with traction what so ever. Needless to say I will have complete confidence the next time I make a run in Glue-On’s and will have confidence when someone asks me about running barrels in the Glue-On’s.

I also believe this will be a great option for those barrel horses that do not hold shoes well, or for owners that are looking for other types of hoof protection for their barrel horses. There are so many ways to modify these shells. The possibilities are endless. Depending on how your horse works around the barrels, you can modify the boot to exactly what is needed. Have a horse that is recovering from a hoof wall injury or needs a way to keep an abscess completely covered while still being able to compete? The Glue-On is your ticket!

Do You Need Boots When You Ride?

Submitted by Asa Stephens, Hoof Care Practitioner

Here are a few hints that will tell you that you do.

In desert environments and in places where horses are stalled in small enclosures, you rarely get a horse that can handle sharp gravel on a trail ride.

A healthy hoof is short and has most of the bulk in the back part of the foot. It has a flat, dry, large frog. This frog rarely sheds and has no bacteria pockets.

A frog that gets paired away or is shedding at every trim or almost every trim, or has bacteria pockets in it, is not healthy and you should ride in boots.

A healthy sole will callous nicely. Dead shedding sole material does not accumulate in a healthy hoof. If this happens between each trim, the foot is not healthy. Ride in boots.

The bars are hoof wall that turns in alongside the frog and collateral grooves. They help stabilize the back of the foot. They are short and grow only halfway down the frog. If they grow out over the entire bottom of the foot between each trim, then the foot is not healthy. Ride in boots.

When you pick the foot up and look out over the heels and the hairline, you want to see thick hoof wall forming the heels and bars. They do not taper out and get thinner. The hairline should be pretty straight over the heels. If the hairline and heel bulbs form a W, the hoof is not healthy. Ride in boots.

A healthy foot will have air-tight seams between hoof wall and sole. An unhealthy hoof does not. It has separation where little gravel and dirt gets in. Because of the dry environment, the dead sole will often dry up and curl inward, making the separation worse. In the desert area, the sole has the same color as the sand and dirt so most people do not know this separation exists. The dirt is so packed in between hoof wall and sole, so you can’t see it. You will have to take a very sharp hoof pick and dig in the white line area to find it. If your horse has this separation, ride in boots. If your horse is not tender on gravel just before he is due for a trim but always after, then ride in boots.

A healthy foot should not feel a maintenance trim. When using boots while riding you ensure a healthy heel first landing which will help the horse grow the healthiest foot he can get in his situation. Adding a pad to the boot is even better as it stimulates the frog each step. 

Does your horse land heel first or at least flat at a walk? This can be hard to see and if it is difficult, look for a forward motion with no hesitation, with very little dust in front of the hoof when landing. Check that the fetlock is at its lowest before landing (not coming down after hoof is on the ground). If he doesn’t land flat or heel first, ride in boots.

A little misleading. The picture on the left is a toe first landing at a walk. The picture on the right is a heel first at a trot. 

A farrier does not trim or sculpt a healthy foot. The correct diet, exercise and the right environment build healthy hooves, and a good farrier maintains them. There are many variations of unhealthy feet.

Some are unfortunately permanent, if internal structures are too damaged. Some can rehab quite nicely. Some are inherently stronger (some breed of horses have an advantage because of thick hoof wall and massive frogs). They can sometimes go completely barefooted even with lack of sound “housekeeping”.

Remember, it is the internal structures that need strengthening, not so much the outer shell. By making your horse run around landing toe first battling the gravel in order to “toughen up his feet”, you most likely will never get the healthy feet you and your horse were hoping for. You are only hurting your horse. 

There are many boots on the market, and if you have patience you will find the right one. Try to be there when the farrier comes to trim if and when you need boot help. The farrier would love to help you find the right boots. If you are in any of the situations mentioned above and don’t want to use the boots, you can either try glue on shoes or shells, or go back to traditional shoeing.

So if you can’t fulfill all the necessary requirements for healthy feet (most boarding facilities in Nevada have few options for 24/7 turnout), the boots are an excellent way of protecting your horse’s hooves while riding. The boots will not cause damage. They let the hooves work the way nature intended. They can be taken off after the ride when the horse goes back to his stall.

If you think boots on a horse is a sign of failure, then I have truly failed you as a hoof care provider. Try to see boots as today's hoof protection in a sometimes imperfect situation: a way to have the cake and eat it too. Your horse’s hooves will continue improving while you ride and have fun.