Testing Hoof Wear in the North Cascades

Submitted by Ruthie Thompson-Klein​, Equine Balance Hoof Care 

After conditioning rides around our Washington San Juan Islands’ gentle road and forest trails, three of my clients and adventure-mates and I set out for some serious riding in the North Cascades. It was our “last blast of
summer,” and a great test for a variety of EasyCare hoof wear. The four of us spent several days riding steep and rugged wilderness trails as well as easy riverside meanders in the Methow Valley of Washington State.

Here’s our multi-breed lineup: Monique’s Chincoteague gelding sported a pair of EasyShoe Performances on front feet, bare behind. At home he is ridden bare or with front Gloves; on mountain rocks he needed protection. Since Monique would be riding intensely for a month, we decided  EasyShoes were the best application. Jet is a solid black horse with solid black feet, that made my Easyshoe Performance glue work look pretty decent. The shoes were applied with Adhere, five days before our trip, and ride-tested.

Jet's EasyShoes- before

Jet and Monique

Jan’s Arabian gelding, Farli, sported Easyboot Glove Back Country boots on front, bare behind the first day. When this endurance horse among us began lagging, short-striding and avoiding center trail, I suggested booting behind. I swapped boots, with a pair of firm-padded Glove Back Country behind and Power-Strapped Easyboot Gloves in front. Farli became his sound and comfortable self on the trail the rest of the trip. No vet call necessary. 

Jan and Farli

Alice’s Dutch Warmblood mare (a very large and intrepid trail horse!) trekked in Easyboot Gloves all around; size 4.5 Wide in front and size 4 Wide behind, no accessories necessary. An attentive owner/trimmer, Alice spent considerable time making sure Amira’s Easyboot Gloves fit her trim perfectly. My very-green Appaloosa gelding worked in our usual Power-Strapped Gloves in front and I added Easyboot Glove Back Country boots behind.

Our first few days were low elevation trails with water and rocky river crossings, bridges and forest paths. We then trailered to elevation where the terrain got much more technical. Headed to Cutthroat Peak, we traversed a landslide, encountered sharp rocks, a steep, rocky water crossing scramble, and boggy lakeshore when we reached Cutthroat Lake to rest and water the horses at about 5,000 feet. This is where we decided we’d rather hang out and experience the scenery than forge further up the trail.

Amira and Alice

Dancer, my Appy trail partner

The most demanding boot test may have been when I had to dismount to send my gelding ahead of me across a steep water crossing and up a rocky bank. It was too dangerous to ride at his level, and I was worried I might have to pick up boots in his thrashing, dashing wake, but Monique snagged him—still booted—on the other side. At the high elevation lake we took a break to assess our nerves, enjoy the scenery, have lunch and check our hoof protection. All boots and Easyshoes in place.

Steep water crossing

Jet's EasyShoes after miles and mud

Happy with our big adventure, we spent the rest of our time on more casual rides to give the horses a break. With so many details involved in this sort of trip, a large part of our success was carefree hoof protection, and we put it to the test to my satisfaction. This type of multi-day group ride used to require multiple shoe and tool preparation headaches, now those days are over. Thank you, EasyCare!

We Couldn't Have Done it Without Easycare

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2014 Member

My red headed beast, Z Summer Thunder, cruised through the Old Selam 50 to finish up his AERC 4000 miles. While Thunder hasn't worn Easyboot Gloves the entire 4000 miles, I have used them on him since 2010. In that time he has completed 3200+ miles in either Gloves or Glue on Boots

Thunder's first set of boots required that I learn more about balancing the hoof and getting a good fit. I refined my trimming techniques, rounding the hoof up, setting the toe back and really making the boots work on his hooves. I know that a good fit is a must to booting success. Booting success really requires a person to make a commitment to the horse, the hooves and the boots to make it right. But some people question why I went to boots in the first place.

Steve Bradley took this of Thunder and I at City of Rocks 2014

Thunder has a crooked foot, the left front turns out and requires constant trimming to maintain the balance. Plus, he forges if allowed to go any length of time between trims and shoes. Therefore shoeing wasn't the best for him as we'd have to show him every 4 weeks to maintain the hooves, that created a lot of nail holes. I've trimmed horses for years and Al shod all our horses back in the day, I know how numerous nail holes can break down hoof wall integrity. It was always our practice to allow horses to go barefoot in between rides and all winter long. So transitioning to barefoot wasn't a big stretch for my horses. 

I knew after our first ride in the Gloves that these were going to work. He moved well and was much happier. We put on the Gloves and never looked back, racking up 865 miles in 2010 doing two 100's and a multi-day. The Easyboots offer excellent rock protection and I was sure that I couldn't have done the Fandango 100 or 5 days at Canyonlands without boots! Plus I believe they help absorb concussion and protect my horse's legs and joints from harm. 

And Thunder just keeps going, so far this year we have 620 miles. We also got our dream trip this year through the Oregon Cascades and westward to the Oregon Coast. Ten wonderful days of riding and camping! Our Easyboots have certainly taken us many places and if they could talk they'd tell of many adventures!

Thank you Easycare for a great product. I'm fairly sure that Thunder wouldn't have reached 4000 miles in steel shoes. 

Glue Like A Pro - Calling Applicants for the 2015 Tevis Gluing Crew

The performance of the Easyboot Glue-Ons at the most challenging 100-mile ride in the world are nothing short of astounding. If EasyCare hoof boots can perform at this level in one of Time magazine's Top 10 endurance competitions in the world, imagine what they can do for you.

Heather Reynolds and Hadeia riding through Foresthill at the 70-mile point of the 2014 Tevis. They went on to win the event.

Teams of EasyCare representatives have been gluing hoof boots onto equine competitors for the last six years and the results are impressive.

  • Increase in Easyboot usage 2009 - 2014: 35%
  • Increase in Easyboot completions 2009 - 2014: recipients: 52%
  • Percentage of Easyboot finishers in 2014: 25%
  • Total number of Easyboot starters 2009 - 2014: 229
  • Total number of Easyboot buckle recipients 2009 - 2014: 142
  • Six-year average Easyboot completion rate: 62%
  • Six-year average overall completion rate: 54%
  • Number of Easyboot Tevis Cup wins since 2009: 4 (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Number of Easyboot Haggin Cup wins since 2009: 5 (201, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Number of Easyboot Top 10 riders since 2009: 25
  • Number of glue-on boots lost a the 2014 Tevis: 0
  • For more information on Easyboot results at Tevis, please click on each of the following year: 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014.

What do the above statistics mean to you? Would you like to be part of the team responsible for bringing booted success to a new level? EasyCare is  recruiting gluing team members for the 2015 edition of the 60th running of the Tevis Cup. The requirements are as follows:

  • Be a practicing hoof care practitioner with experience in barefoot trimming and demonstrated experience in hoof boot gluing
  • Be available for gluing training July 27, 2015 in Auburn, CA
  • Be available for gluing July 28, 29 & 30, 2015 in Auburn, CA and Truckee, CA
  • Be available for gluing support on the day of the event, August 1, 2015 

Members of the EasyCare Gluing Team in Auburn in 2014. 

If you would like to be considered for a team of the most reputable gluing professionals in the world, please email us at admin@easycareinc.com

Kevin Myers


Director of Marketing

I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your equine partner.

Summer Success in Endurance Events and Questions to Ponder

A successful summer so far?

2014 Vermont 100 Endurance Ride.  Meg Sleeper and Syrocco Cadence win the Vermont 100 using the EasyShoe Performance.  "The best part about them was on the road. We had several fairly long stretches of black top road and she didn't shorten her stride at all. In fact, I generally always pulled her back to a trot when we were approaching roads (just to be safe), but after a couple strides she almost always went right back into her relaxed canter, whether I asked for it or not. I think she just felt that confident in them." 

Dave Augustine applied the EasyShoes a couple days before the event.  Do you believe horses should train in what they compete in?  Do you think horses need time to adapt to urethane forms of hoof protection?

Meg and Cadence early in the race.

2014 Tevis Cup 100 Mile Endurance Race.  First Place, Second Place, Best Condition (The Haggin Cup) and 10 of the top 15 horses in Easyboots.  The Tevis Cup is the most difficult 100 miles in the world and Easyboots continue to excel.  A couple interesting facts to note.  Both the first place and Haggin Cup horses were in steel shoes days before the event.  Steel shoes were pulled and both horses completed the difficult 100 miles in Easyboots.  Many people would argue that a horse's travel different in boots?  I have my own thoughts, what do you think?  Do you think the horses would have performed the same without Easyboots?  What would cause you to pull iron shoes and switch to Easyboots days before the biggest endurance event in the world?

Barrak Blakely and MCM Last Dance showing for the Haggin Cup.

2014 World Equestrian Games.  Three of the six horses representing the USA at the WEG will be in EasyCare hoof protection products.  Two in the Easyboot Glue-On and one in the EasyShoe. Jeremy Reynolds, Heather Reynolds and Jeremy Olson have spent hundreds of hours conditioning horses for the event and will race in flexible forms of hoof protection.  Do you think you can train harder in urethane forms of hoof protection?  Do the hours spent barefoot contribute? 

Heather and Jeremy Reynolds are two of the three USA riders using EasyCare hoof protection at the World Equestrian Games endurance event. 

The Vermont 100, the Tevis Cup and the World Equestrian Games are three of the most prestigious events on the USA endurance calendar for 2014.  Urethane forms of hoof protection are not only performing well but winning at these venues.  There are still many critics arguing against hoof boots and urethane shoes but most would say they are here to stay and will continue to grow in popularity?  What are you thoughts?

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.

Glued by The Experts

Submitted by Sabrina Liska, Team Easyboot 2014 Member

I too, attended Tevis this year. I had an appointment to have my TWH mare, Jersey, to have her Glue-Ons applied on Thursday. When I showed up for my appointment, I sure was surprised when The Bootmeister and Mr. Ford themselves, were there to do the dirty work. I marveled at their techniques. I have followed blogs and publishings, as many of you have, but to see all this in person was beyond words. Garrett and Christoph used dremel tools, heat guns and other totally cool contraptions to trim, smooth and prepare the hoof for the Glue-Ons. You can see thier latest techniques on their application videos

The gluing went smoothly as predicted. I was very pleased with the accuracy, proficiency and very important to me, the cleanliness with no glue all over the place. Impressive to say the least. 

The guys did a very good job. Those boots did their job and held fast on the trail. I never had one concern about losing a boot or any footing while riding. Peace of mind. Thank you so much dear Master Gluers of the Gloves.

I am so proud to wear this shirt. 

Gaiters (And I Don't Mean The Ones in the Swamps)

I wanted to take a moment to talk about sizing and fit of boots.

In my own shoes, I have hiking boots, riding boots, flip flops, flats and running shoes. I wouldn’t wear my hiking boots running and I wouldn’t wear flip flops hiking. My flats are ok for dancing and everyday stuff, but aren’t that great for any distance of running. You get the idea. There are fit and purpose issues here.

Let’s look at a family of boots that have the same sole: the Glue On, Glove and Glove Back Country.

As a simple Glue On, this boot reminds me of flats.

If you slid a Glue On onto a hoof, with no glue, you would have as much security of that boot staying on during riding as I would have in keeping a flat on while jogging trails. If there was mud, rocks, twists and angles, my flat would slip off of my foot. For the record, I am not volunteering to glue on my flats and see how they manage.

But the first fit of the Glue On, Glove and Back Country have something in common with my flats, so I will keep the comparison.

A hoof is measured in 2 dimensions: length and width. Yet there is a third dimension that gives the hoof its overall shape and height. Same with my feet. This is why I can’t buy shoes on ebay! I can’t tell if a size 9 will actually fit me or not. For our boots, we offer a fit-kit so that you can start with the L & W, but also  get the “fit” from the shape of the hoof and its height.

Back to my flats. The more contact with my foot, the better that puppy is staying on. If the flat is too “short” compared to my foot, it will fall off readily.

You can see the ratio between skin contact and non-contact in the heels image. What I’ve marked in green shows only a sliver of skin connection. The red shows how much of her foot is “out” of her heel. When I have less contact, I get gaps when the shoe flexes and if I am doing anything faster than walking, that causes the heel to slide off. You have to work your toes to keep barely-there flats on.

Horses don’t have toes. They can’t “work” to keep their boots on either. So you have to ensure that you have enough hoof-to-boot contact to start with. Let’s see how my horse’s boots are fitting.

First step, when we are looking at our third dimension: how tall is your hoof, when in the shell? On the left we can see possibly a ½” to ¾” gap between the top of the shell and the hairline. That’s a great ratio of covered hoof to uncovered hoof. You have “most” of the hoof in contact with the inside of that shell. On the right, we can see a horse with a hoof that is too long to fit into the shell (regardless of his length and width measurements being right). We can clearly see an inch of hoof above the shell and it looks more like 1/3 of the hoof is “out” of the boot and 2/3s of it is “in”. Additionally, just like my flats that pucker and don’t fit right, you can see the shell was waves in it, where it is puckering and gapping and not clinging to the hoof.

Here we can see a shell that has the right “height” but the one on the left, the slit has almost no gap showing  no tension between the walls of the shell and the hoof. The one on the right has a “V” in the gap, showing that the hoofwall is sufficiently snug up against the inside of the boot. You want to see a spread in that cut-out so that it looks more like a “V”.

Another part we want to look at is, is the shell too small?

Ooohh baby, you and I got the same issue. Our shoes are too small and our foot “runneth over”. When you get a “muffin top” look to your shell, the hoof is clearly too wide for the size you selected. We can also see a gap between the hoofwall and the shell and clearly, there is more hoofwall OUT of the shell than IN.

Once we get the right size shell and glue it on, we’re good to go.

What if you don’t want to glue? How do they get flats to stay on? They add gaiters.

Don’t think horse people have the exclusivity on gaiter use. Humans know their little shoes can’t stay on and they add straps to them too! They do add an additional point of fit though. If your horse’s heels are quite tall, the gaiter height won’t reach the anatomical position it was designed for.

You can see the height of the shell in relation to the hairline. At the toe, it’s relatively close. But this horse has taller heels. You can see the shell’s topline falling away from the hairline as it heads back towards the heels. This leaves our gaiter “reaching” to be velcroed.

If you put the stress on the gaiter alone, it will strain and likely pull off of the boot. This gal isn’t going to last long in her strappy sandals either. Her gaiter is also running “uphill” and showing the tension she is putting on it. With a correct fit, her strap wouldn’t be the primary pressure point on her shoe.

So if we have Glue On shell fit, and Glove gaiter fit, we just have to look at the Back Country Upper and see how IT fits.

If the Back Country were a shoe, it would be the most secure gaiter they could design.

Or possibly more like a Tom’s, because they are flats that are pretty hard to “accidentally” have coming off.

Just like the Glove gaiter, you want the heel height of the horse to mimic the shape of the boot. If your toes are a good height and the boot gets further away from the hairline as it hits the heels, your horse’s hoof shape is not ideal for this shell family.

Two things that don’t fit in this photo: Although the angle IS parallel to the shell’s topline, there is almost a 50-50 between hoofwall that is in the boot and hoofwall that is above the boot. Not a lot of hoofwall contact in that ratio. We can also see a bulge (muffin top) to the boot at the heel. This horse would go up a size.


Just like the gaiter of the Glove, the upper of the Glove Back Country should be as level with the boot as possible. We don’t want it pulling “up”. If you can feel around the bottom of the gaiter and touch Velcro, your gaiter is not wrapped parallel to the shell. Try again!

The Back Country has a Comfort Cup Gaiter inside the wrapping flaps of the upper. In the green example on the left, the upper is wrapped parallel to the shell. You can see the symmetry of the wrap and that the Comfort Cup Gaiter is situated in the center of the back of the boot. When the upper is wrapped incorrectly, it raises too high for the Comfort Cup Gaiter. You can see it’s off-center and listing. The harsh Velcro of the upper is now exposed and can come in contact with the pastern. NO GOOD!

If you are wrapping the upper and it “won’t reach” it’s a sizing issue. Don’t try and wrap it uphill just to get it to reach. Not only will it be too tight, but you will also be exposing the Velcro to your horse’s pastern. Tight, rough Velcro on pasterns is no fun!

Lastly, when you wrap “uphill” the anatomically designed opening of the boot gets distorted. It leaves less room for the pastern, front to back. It widens the boot into pokey corners. This leaves less range of moment in the stride for the boot to contact the pastern and can introduce rubbing.

I hate when my heels get rubbed.

Ultimately, we want the Back Country to fit well and we want to run our hands along them to ensure the upper was wrapped levelly. We want to see that the upper isn’t pinching the pastern or bunching or pulling. We will want to introduce our buddies to their boots over several rides. Like a hiking boot, the rigid upper needs to soften and break in.

All of these have the same sole, but the fit is 3 dimensional and very exact. Get a fit kit so you can try them out on the flesh.

  • Be mindful of the shape of your horse’s hoof so you can see if there is more hoof IN the boot than OUT. Consider that if you want to add comfort pads, it will lift your hoof even higher and cause less hoofwall contact. Stick to thinner or no pads.
  • See if it “V”s at the front. You need that hoofwall contact and tension there for a good fit.
  • Check your hair line and see if it mimics the topline of the shell. Are your heels too tall for this boot? If the shell of the fit kit shows less and less contact as it goes back near the heels, then you KNOW once you put the Glove gaiter on, it will pull “up” and not level around the pastern and will likely wear out faster than the boot. You will also know that the Back Country upper will not wrap levelly around that high heeled horse and will rub or not fasten all the way around.

See our website and blogs for more tips on using Glue Ons, Gloves and Glove Back Country boots.

Holly Jonsson


Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

If My Horse and I Were Sisters, We'd Have a Wicked Shoe Closet

I’m not a “shoe” girl but OOOH LOOK! SHINY!!!

Just kidding.

I can wear a pair of flats until the soles have fallen off and the uppers have nearly dissolved into a pile of fabric, thread and holey seams. I don’t pick shoes to match my outfit or my mood; I pick shoes to put on my feet that will get me from point A to point B.

I used to have heels, ballet flats, strappy sandals, flip flops, slippers, mules, mary janes, Docs, Crocs, tennis shoes, deck shoes, running shoes, hiking boots and a whole load of “fun” shoes (read: they look really fun, but should be worn for only 12 minutes at a time). When you move from house to house and pack up the vital things first and the “fun” things second, you start to prioritize what you really need to unpack. Needless to say, most of those shoes have gone to die in a box labeled, “Holly’s Shoes”.

This got me thinking about shoes. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Shoes were originally worn to protect the foot from the ground.

As the earliest shoes were made out of organic materials, they would also biodegrade. Hence, the oldest “known” shoes are dated as being 8,000 years old. There could’ve been older ones, but if the T-Rex was sporting tennies, they disappeared a long time ago.

For thousands of years, shoes were still made for the primary purpose of foot protection. Different civilizations had different terrain, weather patterns and a variety of rigors of “necessity” demanded of their design.

Before the 1850’s there were no LEFT or RIGHT shoes. They were just SHOES.

Only in the last 100 years (of all civilizations of humanity) have shoes made the jump from protection to performance. We started seeing not only a variety of activity-specific shoes, but saw revisions and adaptations of those shoes as they were further honed for their specific need.

For sprinters

For basketball players

Did you know that basketball shoes were first thought of in 1907? Converse “Chuck Taylor All Stars” were the first b-ball shoes developed specifically for the courts, in the 1920’s. They were the first to pilot a “high top” or ankle supported sneaker in the 1930’s. For over 50 years, they were THE shoe of basketball. They were the official shoe of the Olympics from 1936 until 1968.

Ask any kid now what is a basketball shoe and they think “Nike”. Nike came along in the 70’s and soon other sneaker companies were jumping on board with the advanced “style” of the modern b-ball shoe.

To this day, only the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

For bicyclists

In fact, it doesn’t matter if you walk, hike, run, sprint, climb, bike, swim, lounge, stroll, garden or dance. There is a shoe for you.

As my closet filled to the brim, I had to ask myself: what do I have all these shoes for? What style of movement am I doing that establishes the shoes I “need” apart from the shoes I “like having”.

Usually it’s two things: What type of activity am I doing? How do those shoes fit for that activity?

When we try on shoes we are usually thinking, “Where would I use these shoes?” and then “Would they be comfortable for where I intend to use them?” Some heels are “OMG! SO, so, so, so, soooooo cute on you!” and you can walk exactly 15 feet in them before you start to question your life choices. Some shoes are so boring and ugly, but they feel like heaven. Unfortunately, my office frowns upon the wearing of bunny slippers to work.

Please keep in mind that your horse's hoof wear has advanced from protection to performance as well. Back in the day they were either unshod or shod. That's like saying you can either be barefoot or wear clogs. Your horse now has a variety of “shoes” to pick from as well. This is what my horse's shoe closet would look like.

Whether you ride bareback, saddled, professionally or for fun, you can gauge what type of “sneaker” support your athlete will prefer best.

Is your horse on a frequent trimming cycle? Does your riding style and terrain dictate a snug fit? Maybe the Easyboot Glove family of boots is right for you. The Glue On shells, the Glove and the Glove Back Country all have the same “sole” and fit.

I have a client in Switzerland who had two foundered horses. All 8 feet were booted to go on their daily walks. She was taking them on 3 walks a day. That’s a lot of booting time. Clean out 8 hooves, boot 8 hooves, walk, unboot 8 hooves and turn the horses out. Do that 3x a day. When we came out with the EasyShoes, it was a hallelujah for her. She didn’t want her horses shod in metal, but she knew the limitations of her sanity in booting and rebooting 3xs a day. That’s 24 boot applications and removals a day! The EasyShoes allowed the function of hoof while being "permanently on" so she had more time for walking.

We have quite a few boot styles and, while I could go into every one of them it's like being asked to “organize” the shoes in your closet: that could go 50 different ways. Should I do them by fashion to function? Should I do them by color? How about by comfort? What about by activity level? Maybe I’ll do them by work and fun. Just like with our boots, there are a variety of ways to “start” thinking with which boots or shoes will work best. If you want to talk to a pro, give us a jingle and they will assess which type of footwear you should be looking at.

Or, just like me, your horse might find that it wants a pair of each in its closet  ;)

Holly Jonsson


Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Cash: Daisy's Webinar Horse

At the end of June I had the honor of presenting a live demonstration webinar for EasyCare on my techniques for therapeutic application of the EasyShoe. http://easycare.yourbrandlive.com/c/therapeuticeasyshoe/.

Therapeutic application of glue on composite shoes would be appropriate for any horse whose needs cannot be met with the trim and/or basic shoe application alone. 

The webinar featured a horse named Cash, a 16 year old Saddlebred gelding who is being treated for laminitis due to insulin resistance. While he is undergoing rehabilitation through diet and environment changes with veterinary intervention, he was not improving in comfort level.  

Upon examining his feet, we determined he would be a good candidate for the webinar. He had enough foot to work with to show positive changes through the trim, but would also benefit from the added protection and mechanics provided by therapeutic application of EasyShoes.  

Upon reading Hoof Love Not War, you'll note that I strive to be objective in my work at all times. After seeing Cash and his feet, I asked for radiographs, so I could be as accurate as possible and do no harm. Shown below are the radiographs of his front feet before trimming.

While the radiographs were not ideal with the left front foot partially cut off, I am grateful to the vet who made time amongst true emergencies to take them for us last minute before the webinar. They gave me a good idea of relative coffin bone position within the hoof capsule in order to help Cash. 

I have explained my goals for trimming and shoeing from radiographs in various scenarios in What To Do With That Foot?, For The Love of the Small (Often Foundered) Pony, Rehabilitation of the Insulin Resistant Foundered Horse: DHF Style and Broken Down May Not Be So Broken.

However, in summary, the four most important criteria for me in my hoof care work is:

  • 3-8 degree palmar P3 angle: the angle of the bottom of the coffin bone in relation to the ground.
  • 50/50 base of support from toe to heel around the center of rotation of the hoof capsule.
  • Minimizing flare and distortion in the hoof capsule.
  • Hoof-pastern axis in alignment

With Cash, I felt I was going to be able to get close to my criteria, however they needed to be modified a bit due to several reasons:

  1. Cash has had the current hoof distortions for a very long time. Since I was not going to be following up on Cash's hoof care, I didn't want to make changes that would be dependent on my future work.  
  2. The purpose of the webinar was to demonstrate therapeutic application of EasyShoes.  And I only had one hour to do it in. Normally when making big changes for a horse with issues like Cash, I would do a progressive series of radiographs after trim and before shoeing, and tweak my trim and shoeing plan before shoe application. It wasn't realistic in the format of the webinar so I felt I needed to be a bit more conservative due to not having the extra radiographs to push his feet further.

Here are his feet after trimming:


And radiographs with his shoes on:


All in all, I am very pleased with how his feet turned out. I know I helped him a lot, and his caretaker reports he is moving more freely, jogging and even cantering around his dry lot. He has now lost weight and is feeling much better due in large part to the increased movement. I am grateful for the opportunity the webinar provided for me to help Cash.


Floating The Heel

Finally we have successfully rebalanced the hooves and achieved an accurate M/L balance, only to discover to our dismay a few weeks later that same M/L imbalance again. What went wrong with our last trim, we might ask ourselves? Really nothing probably went wrong, a great job could have been done, it is just that the Law Of Least Resistance took over again.

No horse has perfect conformation. At least, I have not encountered one. So when evaluating hoof growth and hoof balance, it is important to look at the horses conformation first, because that conformation is the decisive factor which part of a hoof grows more or less. A hoof grows more where it experiences less pressure or loading. A narrow based horse, as an example, where the lower legs and hooves end up inside a plum line drawn from the shoulder, will exert more pressure on the lateral sides of both hooves while standing. Let's look at the photo below.

This horse is extremely narrow based, the medial side will grow much more, because most pressure is exerted on the lateral sides of both hooves. The opposite would be true for a wide stance horse.

Let's look at another one.

This horse is narrow based and on top of it, pigeon toed. The lateral hoof walls will experience even more pressure compared to the medial hoof walls, allowing them to grow much easier and much more. Within a trimming cycle, the inside of both hooves will have grown a lot more, because the loading is less there. At every trim, we have to take therefore more hoof wall off the medial side. And this will never change. Failing to do so, can cause quarter cracks and severe lameness. Within a six-week trimming cycle, the medial heel bulbs and coronet bands could also experience an upward displacement. To correct coronet bands that are vertically displaced or 'shoved up', to use a jargon frequently used, we can float the affected heel. What does that mean? It means shortening the heel length to the same level medially and laterally and allowing that 'shoved up' part of the hoof to settle down and relax. In essence, we are shortening the heels more on the displaced side when looking at the plane of the sole

Looking straight at the heels of this hoof and the heel bulbs, we notice the vertical displacement on the left side. When shortening the left heel so both heel lengths (measured from the heel to the coronet band at the bulb) are the same, we allowing the distressed side to relax and settle down.

Here the same photo with arrows indicating how to measure the length of the heel. Both green arrows measure the length, (not height) of the heels, the red shows how much more that heel was shortened to achieve the same heel length laterally and medially.

If we would have trimmed both heel to a level plane, you can see how much longer the left heel would be compared to the right one.

Initially the shortened hoof side will be hanging in the air, so to speak, but within a relative short period of time it will settle down to have ground contact again.

How long will it take? That depends on the moisture content of the hoof, the time frame of how long the vertical displacement has been allowed to go unchecked and the hardness of the ground. Under favorable conditions, the hoof can settle down within half an hour. If the hoof capsule has been distorted for a longer period of time, the hoof itself is dry and hard, the ground is soft, it may take days for the hoof to regain its balanced shape.

So, can you apply hoof protection? Absolutely. You can use any kind of Easyboots during your work out and ride. Just apply them for the ride and take them off afterwards. When gluing on Easyboot Glue ons or EasyShoes, however, make sure you firmly press the shoes or Glue-On boots onto the hoof as it is trimmed. Do not fill the part of the recessed hoof wall with glue, otherwise the hoof capsule cannot relax and regain its balance. Basically you would substitute and rebuild the trimmed side with glue and your trimming and floating will get negated. So either wait till the hoof capsule has relaxed completely or apply even pressure onto both sides of the hoof wall before setting the hoof down. 

Next month we will look closer at trimming the heels to the appropriate length, which parameters we can use to do that and I will share with you the names of the two hoof care professionals who have been advocating the equal heel length theory in seminars in several countries of the world and may come to the USA this fall, so stay tuned.

From the desk of the Bootmeister.

Christoph Schork, www.globalendurance.com

A Case for EasyShoes

By definition, a dilemma is a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives, or any difficult or perplexing situation or problem. And I’ve got one—a big one. My No. 1 horse M Dash Czoe  (Zoey) has developed an unusual lameness. My dilemma is this: Tevis is now less than five weeks away. Do I just sit this year out and breed her early (tentative plan is to breed her after Tevis), or do I try to get her sound again so I can ride her? My gut says sit it out. I'd rather not go at all than take a horse that is less than 100%. It's too hard to get through the Tevis, and I don't want to get pulled. My hopeful heart says don't give up so easily. Maybe it's something minor that can be resolved. I'd like to take a long nap and get back all the sleep I've lost so far over this dilemma.

The problem started in April, on the 24th to be exact. My regular barefoot trimmer Rachel Rezos (former EasyCare Dealer of the Month), injured her back and was sidelined for awhile. I had a race coming up on the 26th, so I called a farrier I knew and asked if he could trim my horses. He had been filling in for Rachel in my area. My horses are trimmed every four to six weeks, and I am diligent about maintaining them between trims. I typically have my horses trimmed two to five days before an event so that I can apply the Glue-On boots onto freshly trimmed feet. Rachel and I have a good system that has been working well for me. My horses just needed a “buff and scuff” so I could apply the Glue-Ons. Normally I would do this myself but I had four horses to trim and it was more than I wanted to take on.

Zoey has significant high-low syndrome. Her right front foot (the “high” foot) is borderline club foot, although it is straight. The right foot is also smaller than the left. For two years now she has worn a 1.5 Glove on the left and a 0.5 on the right. I’ve recently started using a 1.0 on the right front with good success. In a nutshell, she has two very different front feet. For this reason I have been very particular about keeping up on her trimming. If I let her go too long, the left toe grows and the right heel grows in such a way that how she travels is greatly affected. I can feel it in her right shoulder (it “hikes”) and I can hear it when she walks on pavement or hard ground. She also steps shorter with her right foot. This is more apparent at the walk than the trot. After 6 years of riding her, I've developed a keen sense of what is going on with her feet and how it affects her movement. It's tempting to just knock down the heel on right foot and take back the toe on the left so that the two feet appear similar, but that would cause all kinds of internal problems. This is the confirmation that Zoey was born with and I can only manage it, not change it.

Front view of Zoey's front feet. I wet them down so the pastern joint effusion (more on that later) could be more easily seen.


HIgh-low syndrome common in Arabians. Note the dish in the RF hoof wall. The black marks on the hoof wall is old glue.

Back to April 24th. The farrier trimmed four horses. One horse (Tiki) was very tender-footed after the trim. He had clearly been trimmed too short. Stella and Tyler looked good. Unfortunately, he had done too much cosmetically to make Zoey's feet look similar. He took a lot of toe and the front of the hoof wall off the left front foot. Overall, all four of Zoey's feet had been trimmed too aggressively, although I didn't fully realize this at the time. I applied the Glue-Ons exactly as I always have.

The race on the 26th was the American River 50, which was the topic of my last blog.  Zoey and I had a great day and finished 2nd. What I left out of the last blog was that between the time that I trotted out for completion and CRI and then went back 45 minutes later to show for BC, Zoey developed acute lameness in the left front. It gets even more perplexing because on the way to show her for BC, we practiced our trot-out and she looked really good. I got two thumbs up from my riding partner, Jenni Smith.

Within 24 hours, the lameness was gone. By the time my vet was able to look at her, three days after the ride, she couldn’t find any evidence of lameness. An examination of her soles did show tenderness, and Zoey would hold her head to the outside when trotted in a circle on hard ground.  My vet surmised that she had been trimmed too aggressively and the Glue-Ons with Sikaflex hadn’t provided sufficient protection from concussive forces. She didn’t have a definitive explanation for why the lameness would appear so suddenly except to suggest that the circulation in the foot had been diminished during the ride and then when it returned it caused pain and inflammation.

We returned to our normal training routine for the next three weeks, including an intense circuit around Mt. Diablo. Our next race was the NASTR 75 on May 25th. This time Rachel trimmed my horses a week before the race and then I applied the Glue-Ons two days prior to the event.

The NASTR race delivered miles and miles of rocks, sand, heat and hills.

Jenni and I finished in first and second place. We went through the completion exam and CRI and then showed for BC. Zoey looked good and I actually thought I had a chance at showing for Best Condition. We took them back to the trailer and iced and wrapped legs. About three hours later, we took them to the arena for a leg stretch and roll in the sand. Zoey trotted around with energy but was noticeably off, but this time on the right front. My heart sank. I called my vet during the drive home. She came the next morning, which was 36 hours after we finished the ride.

My vet conducted a series of flexion tests and all were negative. She noted effusion of the pastern and coffin bone joints in all four feet. This is the point where the exam took an unexpected turn. When we blocked her right front foot she was then off on her left. When we blocked her left front foot she dramatically shortened her stride in the hind end. The blocks concluded pain in all four feet. This occurred while Zoey still wore her Glue-Ons from the race. My vet did not want me to pull them off right away, thinking they would provide needed protection. We took radiographs of both front feet and, even with the boots on, could see that her soles were very thin, approximately 30% of normal.


We started her on Previcox and I waited a few days to let her joints rest then pried off the boots. As before, the lameness minimized within three days. The effusion was reduced as well. She had a week of rest in her paddock and then easy walk/jog workouts in the Euroxcizer with Easyboot Gloves on all four feet. She looked comfortable at the trot but I could see that she was still stepping short on her right front and coming over her shoulder (see video).

Do you see anything at the trot?

How about at the walk?

My vet returned to take a second set of x-rays so we had a clear view of Zoey's sole thickness. She also ultra-sounded both front legs from the knees down. Everything look good and her radiographs showed nothing unusual or alarming. Some minor remodeling and spurring that would be consistent with a 10-year-old endurance horse. She concluded that the inflammation in her joints was the result of her thin soles and therefore she needed 24-7 sole protection. I knew the EasyShoes would be ideal.


Rachel returned and we collaborated on our first attempt at applying the EasyShoes, which we did without much difficulty.

I gave Zoey a couple of days in her paddock to become accustomed to them and then I started her back on the Euroxcicer program. The improvement was considerable. We didn't have much success getting the back ones to stay on very long -- they lasted about four days. However, the front shoes have been on for two weeks and three training rides so far. My vet returned again for a follow up and noted that much of the effusion was gone and Zoey was traveling much better.

I mentioned already that when you have a horse with high-low syndrome, don't try to change the shape of the foot. This is an unfortunately case in point. Now, Zoey needs time to regrow lost sole, have her feet return to what is their natural balance and have the inflammation subside in her feet. I don't know yet if I will get to Tevis with her this year. Stay tuned!