Introducing Daisy Bicking, "The Millenium Farrier"

Like many hoof care providers I know, I too got my start in hoof care because my own horse had hoof problems. In my case, I was dealing with a metabolic problem child who had laminitis and rotation of the coffin bone. A fantastic farrier put the rasp in my hand and empowered me to care for my own horse’s feet. She encouraged me to go out and conquer the often tumultuous world of hoof care knowledge. So my addiction was born: I AM a hoof educational junkie (say this 3x fast, it’s quite empowering).

 


 

After fixing my horse and by fixing I mean getting him back to his previous level of performance as my Dressage schoolmaster and winning multiple Championships at Arabian Sport Horse Nationals, I realized that everyone had or knew of someone who had a horse like him! I was passionate about helping these horses and began offering my knowledge to others.

In 2004 I founded Daisy Haven Farm, Inc. where we specialize in Hoof Rehabilitation using dry lots, specific diet balancing, and meticulous hoof care. I work with two other amazing hoof care providers, Terry Boswell and Molly Vlk, who work side by side with me on and off the farm. We specialize in solving horse’s hoof problems using barefoot methods and “Alternative Support Devices” which include hoof boots, hoof pads, composite shoes, hoof casts, etc.  

I was given the title "Millenium Farrier" by a group of great farriers due to my progressive thinking and use of glues and composite materials. I have respect for all aspects of hoof care, and have studied with a wide variety of practitioners in our industry. In order to navigate the wide variety of hoof care philosophies, available today, we are meticulous in digitital documentation of every horse we work on and have built a database of over 200,000 hoof pictures and radiographs. This has proven to be an invaluable resource of the hoof over time, and one which I hope to share with you here.

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

DaisyHavenFarm@gmail.com

My Foundered Horse is Finally Stable...Right?

Your horse gets sore feet. He is diagnosed with laminitis and founder. You have a good TEAM: Veterinarian, Farrier, and Caretaker, who help you address your horse's underlying metabolic condition and provide rehabilitative care. The horse becomes sound, and returns to his normal personality and, if you're lucky, his pre-laminitic level of performance. You can finally relax and breathe.   

Or can you?   

I began my hoof care journey in 2004 because of my own horse who foundered. I had a wonderful farrier at that time who put the rasp in my hand and empowered me to help my horse. With the veterinarian, we identified his insulin resistance and eventual Cushing's syndrome. He became sound and went back to a fabulous dressage career, retiring many years later due to EPM. You can read his story here: https://www.daisyhavenfarm.com/case-studies/windy

Windy, post-laminitis, back to work and winning in the show ring.

Fast forward to today. Windy is now 29 years old. He has been in excellent health and quite sound; metabolically stable, until last fall. I try to assess body condition on my own horses once a week, and Windy had become quite thin, even though he was eating well. He was a 3.5 body condition score (BCS) on the Henneke Body Condition Scale, ribs and hips sticking out. Looking back, I only have this image of him at that time, taken out of a video of the pony you see in the foreground:

I increased his feed for six weeks and when that didn't improve his weight I worked with our farm veterinarian to eliminate other causes of his condition:

-Teeth were assessed and re-addressed by our excellent dentist, but weren't the issue.

-No symptoms of ulcers, or other pain and discomfort leading to weight loss.

-Cushing's and insulin resistance were controlled based on blood work.

-Basic blood work all normal except for indicators of intestinal inflammation. We wormed Windy aggressively as he is a worm shedder. We also wondered if he possibly had internal tumors.

Interestingly, at that time, Windy's foot condition was also fairly poor with thin, retracted soles. We put him in EasyShoe Performance with dental impression material to support the frog and sole.  

By January, Windy was finally looking better. Until one day, upon assessing Windy's body condition, I realized he was now a 6 BCS, slightly overweight and decided to back off the feed. His soles were no longer retracted and he looked much healthier!  

But was he? The weight difference between 3.5 to 6 BCS was significant in a fairly short period of time, when he hadn't been underfed to begin with. Maybe the intestinal inflammation resolved somehow? I was unsatisfied with such a mystery. I hypothesized my horse was actually a skinny old horse whose metabolic condition was no longer controlled. Even though he had gained weight and looked "good" to me, perhaps it was really an indicator he was in trouble.

Our veterinarian agreed and we tested Windy metabolically:

ACTH: 39 pg/mL ( > 35 considered elevated)

Insulin: 58 uU/mL ( > 42 considered elevated)

Glucose: 102 mg/dL  (Lab reference range 70-120)

The blood results don't look alarming: Insulin only mildly elevated, ACTH a seemingly minor difference, and glucose normal. However, Windy had very similar blood work when he originally foundered in 2004.   So I was very concerned. In these situations, the Glucose:Insulin (G:I) ratio can be quite helpful: 

From ECIRHorse.com, one of the leading resources for managing Cushing's and insulin resistant horses:  

"What is the G:I Ratio?  The Glucose to Insulin Ratio (G:I ratio) is a very simple concept.  This ratio/number indicates how many “units” of insulin are being secreted per “unit” of glucose.  The smaller the number, the less sensitive the cells are to the insulin.  For example, a normal horse may have a blood sugar of 100 and an insulin of 10, for a G:I ration of 100/10 = 10:1, where an insulin resistant horse may have an insulin of 25 for that same blood sugar of 100, yielding a G:I ratio of 100:25 = 4:1.  Both insulins may be within the laboratory’s “normal range”, but these normals represent a variety of diets and various times after eating.  Obviously the horse that has a circulating insulin level 250% higher than other horses with the same blood sugar level is less sensitive to insulin.  A ratio < 4.5:1 is diagnostic for Insulin Resistance, while a ratio between 4.5:1 and 10:1 represents compensated IR."

Windy's G:I ratio was 1.76 = Severe IR, high laminitis risk.

The G:I ration confirmed my concerns, that his mildly elevated blood results were not the whole picture.  In order to gather more information, we decided to test Windy even further with a glucose tolerance test.  

The glucose tolerance test assesses the horse's insulin response to a dose of Karo syrup at 60 minutes and 90 minutes. Additionally we gathered a pre-Karo syrup insulin sample as a baseline. A horse whose insulin levels test within the laboratory reference range would indicate normal response and normal metabolic function.  

Windy's insulin values came back highly elevated, above the testable range:

Pre: > 200 uIU/mL (Reference range 0-20)

Post @ 60 minutes: > 200 uIU/mL (Reference range 0-45)

Post @ 90 minutes: > 200 uIU/mL (Reference range 0-45)

This test was definitive. It is important to remember that the baseline metabolic blood work panel is only showing you a moment in time. So the insulin taken in the initial panel result of 58 uIU/dL, being mildly elevated, was catching a low moment. Where the pre-glucose tolerance test insulin showed us a different moment, and one that was of much greater concern, which validated the G:I ratio.

I wish there had been some way to know that the pre-Karo syrup insulin was so high. We probably would not have done the glucose tolerance test if the initial insulin had been that high. However, it did give me a clearer picture of my horse's laminitis risk status.

By being proactive and asking questions, I was able to identify that my horse's underlying metabolic condition was not truly controlled and a contributing factor to his weight change. It is imperative to be vigilant when managing the Cushing's/insulin resistant horse by working with your veterinarian and utilizing these diagnostic tools to be objective when needed.

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

In Love With The Love Child

When working with glue and composite shoes, there are a variety of factors that impact which shoe you might choose. Some of those factors include the horse's job, the type of support/mechanics/protection/traction the horse needs, and more. When setting yourself up for success, there's also a direct relationship between the experience of the person applying the shoes and the amount of glue surface area the shoe offers. The higher the demands on the foot and shoe the more detailed your application needs to be and more glue surface area the better in many cases for added insurance.  

I was intrigued when EasyCare announced trials available for a new shoe, fondly called the Love Child. With so many glue-on composites shoes available, the largest variety of shoe design and application options already coming from EasyCare, I wondered what the Love Child would have to offer that was unique. The Love Child comes from the union of two already fabulous products, the EasyBoot Glue-on and the EasyShoe Performance. The Love Child combines the tread of the Performance with a modified cuff from the Glove Glue-on. Additionally, a full pad was added in the bottom of the Love Child. This pad is softer than the bottom of the Glove Glue-on which allows for more flexibility in the heels. I immediately thought of several horses this hybrid boot/shoe could help, and applied to be a tester.  

Over the last several months I've been able to apply the Love Child to two different horses in two very different situations playing with both acrylic and urethane glues with tremendous success. This first horse is a teenage hunter/jumper thoroughbred who has had chronic lameness in both the front and hind end. He does very well in EasyShoe Performance or Performance N/G on the front, but we've had difficulty getting EasyShoes on the hind feet because he cannot hold his legs up for very long and going weight-bearing in our application process in the past has been difficult.  

The Love Child offered us an excellent option for hoof protection with a greater chance of success. Here are his hind feet before Love Child application, note how badly he wears his toes due to his hind end discomfort.

The Love Child fit his hind feet perfectly.

His feet were prepped well for glue by scuffing and drying all glue surface areas, in this case the wall, from heel to heel. Fungidye is applied in the quarters to prevent infection growing in a bit of wall separation present, then Artimud was applied to the sole side of the foot to prevent fungus and bacteria from growing before next trim/shoeing.

Finally dental impression material was applied to provide sole support, and to help prevent debris from going up under the shoe.   

The Love Child was glued on with acrylic glue, cleaned up and had a final layer of super glue applied over top. They have been on for four weeks and the horse is quite comfortable and sound, schooling low level dressage four-five days/week. We're expecting the shoes will provide him with sole support and protection, as well and prevent the worst of the toe wear over time.  

Here is the Love Child applied to the second horse, an endurance horse. We were able to use urethane glue on the left at the first application, and acrylic glue on the right for the second application. Both glue applications kept the horse comfortable and performed well. There was no reason for the change beyond curiosity of application differences between the two. Both glues worked quite well. We followed the same application details as specified above for each set of shoes, including antimicrobials, dental impression material, and hoof prep protocol.  

This is a horse who is a chronic shoe puller and needs a weight bearing application for glue on work. The Love Child is an excellent shoe for this horse because the large amount of glue surface area helps ensure shoe retention, and with the complete toe cuff, is easy to apply in a weight bearing method. This first set stayed on for seven weeks with no issue even though the horse lives in a wet environment with a lot of mud and rocks. The glue bonds were strong, the shoe expanded at the back as the foot grew, and dental impression material stayed in all but the very back.  

When they were removed for the second application they came off cleanly, with no wall degradation. The shoe had some mud on the inside, but no debris. And the frog, bars and sole cleaned up with no bacteria or fungus present. The slight sole bruising evident in the photo here was on all four feet, even though the fronts are shod and the hinds are barefoot. He's a very sensitive horse.  

Overall we've been very impressed with the performance and ease of application of the Love Child. I definitely see a place for this shoe as a tool to help horses in my practice. Thank you EasyCare!  

For more information on Daisy Haven Farm, Inc. please see www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com
 

Best Practice: What Glue Work Works?

In the horse world there are “ways to do things”. Some of of these things we do because it is grounded in science and based on research and objective information.  Other things we do, maybe even most things, we do because “that’s the way it’s always been done”. This even applies to glue-on shoes. If you ask 10 farriers how to prepare the foot and apply a glue-on shoe, you’ll get 20 different answers. Many of them claiming this is the “way to do things”. Not only are there different kinds of glue, but difference kinds of shoes, and many variations on application methods!  So how do you know what to do to be successful?  What is the "best practice" when it comes to your glue-on shoe application? There are several ways to set yourself up for success.

Start with following manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. If you pick a certain brand of shoe and they have recommendations for glue application, the best place to start is the foot preparation and glue method that they recommend. The manufacturer wants you to be successful so it’s a great place to learn best practices. 

Many of you know I LOVE acrylic glue, EasyShoe Bond/Equilox, yet in applying shoes like the the Flip Flop and product testing the new “Love Child” I’m following manufacturer instructions and using urethane glue, Vettec Adhere, with the application.   

Next idea for learning best practices with your glue work: contact a practitioner who uses the shoe/glue and intended application method you’re looking to utilize. Many farriers are glad to share the tips and tricks of their successful glue work with other practitioners who want to learn. Best is to do a ride along and watch them work if possible. But many will be glad to answer questions over the phone, via email, or on social media.  

Another great way to learn is to attend a clinic. There are many learning opportunities out there for those who want to learn different glue and shoe methods. A clinic situation is often a stress free way to learn different glues and shoe applications and gain hands on practice with supervision from a trained professional.

Lastly, be meticulous in your own work. Write down the steps you’re using and keep your work space neat and clean. Practice your process in your mind and consider walking through the steps with each foot before applying the actual glue to the shoe…that’s GO time!  Additionally, take photos of your work, and track objectively how the horse's foot responds to the application you're using.  

Glue work is 99% preparation and only 1% actually doing it. The more thorough your preparations, the easier your applications will go, with less chance of failure.  And that way, on the small chance you do have a failure at one point or another, you’ll be able to pin down why and resolve it very easily. 


www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

Retracted Soles: A Broader Perspective

In 2012 I wrote a blog about retracted soles, describing an appearance of the sole with seemingly "good concavity and sole callus" that in reality can be quite dysfunctional, and lead to lameness:

"Retracted soles are when the sole retracts, or 'sucks up' into the arch of the coffin bone. Usually this happens to horses when they are in a wet or muddy environment. The external appearance of the foot will have good concavity (usually excessively good), and even sole/toe callusing. However the horse is often footsore with low grade pulses, sensitive to hoof testers and even manual palpation. These horses often get diagnosed with low grade laminitis and/or sub solar abscesses."

 

Since then, we've learned a lot about retracted soles: 

  • Not all horses with retracted soles are lame
  • Retracted soles can be observed on horses in wet and also dry environments
  • With horses of similar type, breeding, and management in the same living situation some individuals develop retracted soles and some don't.  

It's interesting to see retracted soles all over the world.  I've observed retracted soles in all environments and many different continents: North America, Europe, Africa and Australia.  Here is an example of a foundered pony whose rehabilitation was complicated by a retracted sole in Melbourne Australia under the care of farrier Sarah Kuyken of Innovative Hoof Care Australia:

We still have more questions than answers about retracted soles: Why are some horses sore with retracted soles and some aren't?  Maybe something to do with the quality or the density of the sole, as we see that in non-retracted soles as well: a thin sole doesn't necessarily mean a sore horse!  So even if the sole is retracted if it is dense or hard enough the horse may be able to resist getting tender.  

Also, why some animals in the same herd develop retracted soles and not others, even when variables for breed, type, discipline, nutrition and management are controlled?  Could retracted soles have an immune component where the affected horses have a compromised immune system for some reason?  Could there be underlying inflammatory illness in these animals?  

We'll just have to keep gathering data and making observations!    

Until we have more definitive information, retracted soles are important to recognize because it is a reason to think cautiously about the trim you are applying to the horse's foot.  When you see the characteristic concavity, with large toe callus, where the concavity meets the callus at a sharp almost 90 degree turn, recognize that the horse's sole is thin and may become quite sore with an aggressive trim.  

In order to minimize the risk of lameness from the trim, consider leaving more vertical height in the foot, as well as not rolling the toe back too far into the callus.  And if the horse is lame, and you suspect from a retracted sole, please consider hoof protection, either a boot with a soft pad, like the Easyboot Cloud, or a glue on shoe with frog support, like the EasyShoe Performance or NG for these horses as well. 

For more information about Daisy Haven Farm please see:
www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

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

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>.

Tevis 2016: Elite Gluing and Crewing

There are many different ways we can experience a world class equestrian event: as a spectator, as a volunteer, as a competitor, and even for some, as a judge. I've been honored to experience several of these kinds of events as a competitor and also as a volunteer, and they all overflowed with feelings of excitement and fulfillment.  However, none of them compare to my experience at The Western States Trail 100-Mile Endurance Ride: The Tevis Cup, just last week.   

The Tevis Cup made it to the top of my list so quickly and easily because I was able to experience the ride from two very different, yet equally amazing perspectives: in the early part of the week as a member of the Easyboot Elite Team, and then during the ride as elite crew!  

Being part of the Easyboot Elite Team was a phenomenal experience.  Starting a few days before the ride we helped about 50 horses, that's somewhere around 200 feet that we glued boots on!  It was a blast.  The energy was high from riders and Easyboot Team members alike!  We were here to help these horses have the best ride they could possibly have with the best hoof protection our industry has to offer for such a tough event.  

Every horse I helped with their hoof protection I felt like I was part of their teams.  There were six of us on the Team, plus Garrett Ford and Christoph Schork coaching.  Team members included farriers: Josh Bowles, Jeremy Ortega, Deanna Stoppler, Derick Vaughn, Pete Van Rossum, and myself, each worked in teams of two gluing.  One partner would be responsible for foot prep: buffy, scuff, wire brush, torching, and dremeling. The other partner would be responsible for gluing: prepping the boots, applying Sikaflex and Adhere to the boots, facilitating horse handling, work space management, and boot application.  

Boot size selection was typically done by both partners, which was surprisingly easy considering the horses arrived with their feet already trimmed. As a group the Team Members are used to fitting boots to our own trim, so to fit boots to someone else's trim was an interesting process.  As a whole the horses arrived with very tidy trims and good feet which made boot selection easy.  

We took turns with each responsibility, one prepping and one gluing each day. The goal was to get really good at one part of the process on the first day, then switch roles, and do the other part of the process the second day.  The repetition of one part of the process helped ensure consistency and excellence in application.   I was partnered with Jeremy Ortega, fellow farrier and friend from California, who had also been on the team last year.  With his previous experience he helped me get up to speed quickly on the tiny details that make or break success at a ride of this level.  We had a great time together!  

While my work gluing was over, the best was yet to come!   I couldn't come all the way to California to help everyone get ready for the ride and then not stay to watch! Even better, I was honored to be part of ride crew for Garrett and Lisa Ford.   What a phenomenal group of people!  

Someone said to me that crewing for Tevis is harder than riding it, well this group made it seem pretty easy.  Yes there were many stops, and yes getting in and out of some of them required a lot of physical labor by the crew, however, talk about extremely well organized.  The Ford's crew operated like a well oiled machine, it was amazing to be a part of it!  

 And what a Team to crew for!  Garrett and Lisa crossed the finish line hand-in-hand as they have for the last several years, Lisa placing 2nd with her horse GE Cyclone, and Garrett 3rd with The Fury. Lisa's horse even went on to win the Haggin Cup.  Yahoo!  I felt like I had won it myself, being part of the TEAM.  

I'm still "riding high" from the week at Tevis. Garrett asked me at the end, "What do you think?  Not the gluing, about the ride"?  I thought for a moment and responded, "It's amazing, every detail matters, the preparation, the training...but at the end of the day, it's still an endurance ride, ridden one step, one mile, at a time, hold to hold, just like any other ride".  Now I want to ride Tevis myself, even more!  

Everywhere we went, Kevin Myers was missed..."IRFKM" = I Ride For Kevin Myers was spotted stenciled on horses, people and things, and t-shirts were abundant saying "We ride with Kevin".  We know he was there with us in spirit!

  

The Easyboot Elite Team Members who stayed to crew for Tevis.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to spend so much time with some of the greatest people in the world doing something we all love, helping people excel with their horses!  

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com


 

The Amazing Kevin Myers

There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this and after this.  

Kevin Myers, my friend, colleague, and mentor, is gone.  Kevin and I shared a CONNECTION.  Many good times: through social media, email, and in person traveling together to teach, meeting up at conferences, visiting each other's houses and even riding together.  I first connected with Kevin through EasyCare, but honestly can't remember the first time we met in person.  He was the kind of guy who you felt like you knew forever.  He always brightened a room, and had a way of making everyone feel like they were on top of the world.  

 "There are two ways to bring out the light: be the candle or the mirror that reflects it".  Edith Warrington

Kevin was both the light and the mirror.  He was my mentor in many ways.  He lit the spark that started my endurance riding journey after being a dressage rider my entire life.   

On one ride in particular, I was riding in Durango with Kevin, Rusty Toth and Kim Lipko, another endurance friend.  I was discombobulated in the treeless endurance saddle on the horse I was riding as I was used to riding in an english dressage saddle.  We had 25 miles to cover that day, up and down one of the beautiful mountains in the area.  The horses were being conditioned for Tevis and I was along as a guest.  I was never going to get through 25 miles bouncing around the way I was!  Kevin generously sent Rusty and Kim on ahead and slowed down with me, giving me an "endurance riding lesson" while on the trail.  He coached me to absorb the irregularities of the terrain with my ankles and to post differently in a more forward position so I could stay with the horse easier.  And best of all, he taught me the "endurance shimmy", trotting with the horse down hill at speed.

Halfway through the ride we caught back up with Rusty and Kim and all finished the ride together.  It was one of the highlights of my 20 year riding career.  I felt like I could ride anything, anywhere that day, all because of Kevin.  And that experience spring-boarded my confidence with riding out on trail which I had never done much before, and enabled me to successfully participate in endurance rides, my FIRST one just a few weeks later we took 3rd place and Best Condition in the Vermont 50.  Kevin's support even helped me feel comfortable taking my seven-year-old daughter out riding now too.


 

Kevin was always going above and beyond to make sure everyone around him was taken care of in a light hearted way.   He and I taught several EasyShoe clinics together. He was fabulous at improvising and problem solving on the fly which made traveling together and teaching the clinics fun and easy. Especially with his dynamic sense of humor. We had favorite songs that we would sing at the top of our lungs going to and from the clinics to get motivated for the day (Rixton "Me and My Broken Heart"), and crazy words that Kevin used became part of my daily vocabulary even when we weren't together (Re-DONK-ulous!!).


Kevin was a gifted teacher, sharing information and techniques brilliantly to help the clinic participants feel successful.  He was always the first to cheer you on, whether it was the first time you've glued or your 1000th.  He made you feel like you could do anything.  

I am eternally grateful to Kevin in so many ways.  He has been a huge supporter of my hoof care work, from helping me navigate the blogs I write here for EasyCare, Hoof Love Not War, to offering me opportunities to teach and be part Team Easyboot, and Team Easyboot Elite 2016.   I taught a hoof mapping course to the EasyCare employees and Kevin helped me do an EasyCare webinar on Therapeutic EasyShoe Application during which we had technical difficulties where one camera went down and so most of the webinar was taken from behind me...we laughed about that a lot.  I know these opportunities were available in large part because of Kevin's support.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Kevin, for your faith and support over the years.  It has meant so much to me.  


 

Kevin Myers leaves a dark place where his light no longer shines.  His loss leaves a hole I cannot fill.  I will miss his sense of fun, his energy and way of making me feel like I could conquer the world.    


Fly free my friend, you will always be in my heart and mind.  
 

Bowker Master Class in Australia

Traveling to the other side of the world to Australia is a surreal experience, 24 hours of air travel to land in a beautiful place full of completely different flora and fauna, let alone tremendously entertaining accents.

I recently had the opportunity to go to the Melbourne area of 'Straya, as it's often locally called (try saying this with an Australian accent), and attend Dr. Robert Bowker's master class at the Equine College of Podiotherapy.  The College is located at a fantastic facility, Mayfield, in Yarck, Victoria, and is a nationally accredited educational program run by "The Barefoot Blacksmith", Andrew Bowe.  

The master class is an advanced hoof course offered to students at the school. And while Dr. Bowker is from the USA, nothing like this 3-day master class with him is currently offered here in the US. It was an incredible opportunity to attend this class as it is not usually open to those not enrolled in the school. I was traveling to Australia to teach a Daisy Haven Farm Hoof Distortion and Glue/Composite Shoe Workshop and was invited to guest lecture on glue and composite shoe work at the Masterclass. Of course, I extended my trip to attend the entire program.  

Sitting and listening to Dr. Bowker at such a concentrated level helped me further understand the theories and anatomy he has been sharing with us for years. Dr. Bowker has always been a great influence in my approach to my work with the horse's foot and this master class just reinforced and enhanced my understanding of the function of the foot. Here are a few key thoughts that stood out to me from the course:

1. Most of the blood flow to the foot is going to the back part of the foot. 

It is commonly thought that the digital cushion does not have significant blood supply as the large vessels of the foot lead to the front of the foot, and the sensitive frog and digital cushion are pale in a dead foot. However the digital cushion is made up of mixoid tissue which has bazillions of micro vessels: like watering your garden, using a fire hose would eliminate top soil, however if you use the fire hose to feed many small sprinklers it will work to water the garden without damage. So the digital cushion actually has immense blood supply.  

This previous blog highlights some of Dr. Bowker's research on the circulation of the back of the horse's foot: How to Develop a Healthy Foot: Circulation Is It!.

2. Navicular syndrome is a whole foot problem, as opposed to being contained to just the back half of the foot.  

In comparison to a healthy foot, a horse with navicular syndrome will have:

  1. Lateral cartilages with greater size micro vessels indicating chronic inflammation.
  2. Digital cushion with less fibrocartilage and mass, the fibrocartilage is a key component in energy dissipation.
  3. Impar ligament and deep digital flexor tendon lesions associated with "navicular disease".
  4. Coffin Bone will have 1/3 less bone than all other horses age 2-31 when navicular syndrome is present, i.e. osteoporotic.
  5. Primary Epidermal Laminae are closer together indicating increased stress.

The newest information Dr. Bowker presented at the class was on fascia. Dr. Bowker has been doing dissections from the carpus down the distal limb examining the fascial sheets. So far no two horses are the same.

He has been able to draw preliminary conclusions from the dissections that indicate horses are not born with developed fascial bands. They develop over time in response to how the foot interacts with the ground and manages vibration.  

Key points:

  1. Fascia is an integrated binding fabric between and around muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments.  
  2. These structures “float” or are meshed within fascial layers and bands and develop and change over time.
  3. Many structures are connected through fascia where no other apparent connection exists. For example, the common digital extensor tendon connects all the way to the frog through fascia.  
  4. Dr. Bowker has observed that managing vibrations, especially at high frequencies has a negative impact on the fascia.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg of valuable information presented. My book of handouts is 3" thick and my notes are pages and pages long.

My favorite quote of the whole course:

"The unanswered questions aren't nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers."  Dr. Bob Bowker.

​Huge thanks to Sarah Kuyken of Innovative Hoofcare Australia for hosting me in Melbourne and Andrew Bowe of the Australian College of Podiotherapy for allowing me to present some of my work with composite shoes and attend the master class.

For more information: www.DaisyHavenFarm.com and www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com.