Easyboot Stratus - The New Standard in Equine Therapy Boots!

The Easyboot Stratus is in the warehouse and ready to ship!  We are excited about this unique design and feel it will help many horses.  

What makes the Easyboot Stratus unique?

1. The TheraPad is a patent pending design that is intended for therapy situations. The pad is made in a medium range durometer, has a fabric layer to wick moisture from the hoof, and incorporates a pattern of holes on the underside. The holes reduce the weight of the pad and allow the insertion of TheraRods. Although the TheraPad is molded to fit into the Easyboot Stratus and Easyboot Cloud, it can be cut to fit into other EasyCare boots. In addition, a large pad can be used without a boot to provide cushioning and comfort while trimming a sore horse.

2. TheraRods are used to add additional density to regions of the TheraPad. Although the majority of horses will find the density of the TheraPad perfect without the TheraRods, the rods can be added to increase the stiffness of the pad. TheraRods allow each TheraPad to be customized.

3. The internal heel sling locks down the heel and prevents twisting.

4. We chose leather for the upper after testing many different materials. Leather held up the best and conforms to the hoof and lower leg better.  

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford talk about why the Stratus is Unique.

Fitting the Stratus is easy. Measure for the correct size, fold the back of the boot out of the way, insert the hoof and tighten the strap system.  


Fitting the Stratus.  

EasyCare is excited to add the Stratus to our Therapy line. The Stratus is the premium counterpart to the Easyboot Cloud. Between the Stratus, the Cloud, the Easyboot Rx and the Easyboot Zip we have your therapy boot needs covered.

Garrett Ford



I have been President 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.


Equine Therapy Boots: Why Leather?

EasyCare has been working on robust version of an equine therapy boot. A boot that will last much longer and hold up to the daily punishment that a therapy boot may go through when on a laminitic horse: the constant use, the twisting, the horse getting up and down, the routine washing. After testing many materials we found that a high grade leather tested the best.

The Easyboot Stratus will have a leather upper.

Why did we choose leather? One of the tests that brought us to leather was a horse named "Chubby". Chubby was a tough founder case that Curtis Burns helped with over a 18 month period. Chubby was in boots 24/7 and needed the support and comfort therapy boots offered. Boots were worn for a day and then removed, washed and set out to dry. Another pair was used for a day while the first pair dried. Boots were used everyday for 6 months.  

One of the boots Chubby used was leather up front and tough Cordura in the back. We quickly saw a difference in the leather. The leather formed to the hoof, held up and didn't fray. Take a look at the photos below and see why we chose leather for the new Easyboot Stratus. 

Front is leather. Back is high end Cordura Fabric.  

Leather held up very well and took on pleats to form to the hoof.

The Cordura was no match for the leather. Same boot, same wear, different results.

We are excited about the new Easyboot Stratus: a better equine therapy boot, leather upper, TheraPad, TheraRods and an internal heel sling to prevent twisting and heel lift. The Stratus will be ready to ship on March 1st.



Garrett Ford



I have been President 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.



Still Going

Submitted by David Landreville of Landreville Hoofcare.

Sera, the buckskin mare in the video below was going to be euthanized for chronic lameness before she had reached the age of two. We found out about her through a client and brought her to our place. She was wearing steel shoes and pads that had been on so long that all the nails were gone and the walls had grow over the shoes keeping them fixed in place. She has been a tough rehab case due to the extensive damage done to her feet by poor and neglectful shoeing while her feet were still growing. Although I've never be enable to restore her feet to a sustainable shape and function I've been able to help her make slight but steady progress in form and function over the past 10 years. I can typically rehab most horses with minimal time in boots and pads but this mare has been a lesson in exhausting all options. Since originally pulling her steel shoes and plastic pads I've tried many different protective applications including: hoof casts, boots with Comfort Pads, and EasyShoes.

I've even tried combinations of these products. While I have had success keeping her comfortable from time to time (she's even been ride-able through some periods), I never had any good long term results improving the form and function of her feet. The biggest challenge that I've had with her is that her coffin bones were so badly remodeled at such an early age that I haven't been able to figure out how to fully eliminate wall flare or get her to produce an adequate thickness of live sole. I read some of Dr. Bowker's research on bifurcation of the lamina and I feel that this is one of the reasons that she can't produce a wall that has enough integrity to hold up her muscular 1100 lb Quarter Horse frame. The solar corium needs to be non-load bearing to produce healthy, thick, live sole and with such little support from the wall she is set up for continual crushing of her solar coriums and further bone loss. Due to the extreme wall flare from the bifurcated lamina, her toes grow super fast and require weekly trims. This is one reason that EasyShoes haven't been the right solution in the past. Her feet simply out grow them in a weeks time. Another problem that she has may be hormonal. One vet mentioned to me that there may be a connection to mares with bad feet and hormone issues. Every summer, after several months of progress building sole thickness and reducing distortion, her feet would collapse after our rainy season. The combination of heat, humidity, and possibly hormone imbalances would undermine all the progress made in the months prior. This has been a constant cycle for 9 years.

I've kept up on her on weekly trims for 10 years. This has helped minimize further structural damage. I tried something new about a year ago. I started using the Easyboot Cloud almost like you would use a shoe. I leave them on her 24/7 with frequent brief periods out of them. She has thin hoof structures but they are mostly live tissue due to the style and frequency of my trimming. Her feet stay clean and dry in the boots and she has no trouble getting around in any gait she pleases. The thick wedge shaped pads make up for her atrophied digital cushions and this was the first year that she didn't lose concavity over the summer. I'm always looking for continual progress with horse's feet, no matter what the rate of progress. I've never been comfortable with just making a horse appear sound and I'm careful when it comes to using boots for rehabilitation. It needs to be done thoughtfully. If there's no structural integrity it's not true soundness. To me, form and function are interdependent. Hoof distortion is just a problem waiting to happen. I'm still hopeful that Sera can have sustainable sound bare feet sometime in her future. I don't believe in quick fixes or keeping horses around with a poor quality of life. In my opinion, we are all here to express ourselves, including horses.

This is Sera expressing herself in our track system with her herd mates.

5000 Miles of Hope

Submitted by Chris MacLuckie

Roxy has never been shod. She uses Easyboot Gloves. I love them, she loves them, and it gives us the freedom for her to be barefoot every night during our 5000 mile solo horse ride fundraiser.

We first got the Gloves in April to replace another brand that didn't fit Roxy's wide hooves. Until this point, I rode Roxy barefoot in the roughest of terrain. The only reason I needed boots was to ensure her hooves weren't worn raw when I increased the mileage in preparation for the trip.

We tried the Gloves in a range of situations: swamps, roads, trails, rocks, gravel, at all speeds and with rough transitions. I even did a sliding stop on pavement once! They never came off. I like the simplicity of the design, less parts to break or replace.

The first four boots I bought were a little large, so I just kept Roxy's hooves longer to make sure the fit was snug. I knew that when it was time to replace the first set, I would go a size smaller. The 3rd week of September we went from the size 2 and 1 Wide in the front and the size 2 and 0 Wide in the back, to size 0 Wide in the front and size 0 in the back. This set works great with Roxy fully trimmed. I use them with the Power Straps, and most recently, the firm Comfort Pads and the Quick Studs for extra traction and longer wear. The Comfort Pads help a lot with concussion absorption. The studs help prolong tread by taking some of the direct pressure and wear off of the sole. They also give a bit more traction in some situations.

The second set of boots have been used exclusively during our trip on pavement and gravel. We currently have 600 miles on them. I expect to get another 150 miles at least. The next set will be used with the Quick Studs right from the first day. I'll report back on my blog at a later date to give an account of how long that set lasts, as well as future observations. From what we've noticed so far, the boots last longer the tighter they fit on the fully trimmed hoof. This includes walls, heel bars and mustang roll edging.

I encourage you to visit our blog to learn more and follow our story.

We are doing a 18 month solo horse ride fundraiser for Maya Pedal, a Guatemalan NGO that builds pedal powered machinery.

Our GoFundMe page for Maya Pedal is here:

Fitting the Back Country

The new and improved Back Country boot has evolved into what I like to call the “Black Knight” of boots.

With it’s rugged, warrior-like good looks, tough as nails rubberized upper, and extra-thick neoprene comfort cup cradling the heel bulbs, this boot is the best of both worlds. It combines the fit, comfort and convenience of the Glove with the ease of application of the Trail. At the back of this boot is the Snug Strap and its job is to hold everything together in a strong, but tender, embrace. This strap is now standard equipment on every Back Country boot, ensuring a super-secure fit.

Though this boot begins its life as a Glue-On shell, the fit requirements for the Back Country are vastly different from those of the Glue-on shell or for the Glove boot.

Thanks to the Back Country’s innovative design and robust construction, even if your horse’s hoof measurements don’t fall perfectly into the parameters of the sizing system, the forgiving qualities of this boot’s 3-lap Velcro closure system can make up for various hoof shapes, conditions and pathologies.

Here's an excerpt from the Fit Kit application guide:

"Although the size chart for the Easyboot Back Country is the same as one for the Easyboot Glove, the fit does not need to be as snug. Customers who are unable to use the Easyboot Glove due to length of trim cycle or lack of hand strength should consider the Easyboot Back Country. If your horse is on a trim cycle longer than 4 weeks, we recommend using a 1/2 size larger than the snug fit required for the Easyboot Glove. Sizing up a half size also allows for ease of application." 

Therefore, when using a Fit Kit to fit your horse for the Back Country, find the boot shell that “fits like a Glove”, where the "V" at the front is spreading and it's like a second skin. Then, try the next ½ size up. Keep in mind that the actual Back Country boot, with the upper and comfort cup gaiter attached, adds to the strength and rigidity to the boot, making it seem a tiny bit smaller than it actually is.

That being said, here's some more food for thought:

If your horse's measurements fall in at the low end of the sizing system, it IS possible that it will be a good fit for the Back Country. This is especially true if your horse's hooves fall into the wide sizes. This is why I always recommend using a Fit Kit whenever somebody expresses interest in either the Glove or the Back Country boot.

FYI, whenever a horse's hoof width measurement meets or exceeds the length measurement, we consider that a wide foot. 

Here’s my horse in his size 1 Gloves. 

He is a rock-solid size 1 in Gloves, measuring 114mm x 123mm after a fresh trim. I've had these boots for about a year. I'm thinking of adding Power Straps pretty soon. I normally apply Mueller Tape to the hooves when I ride in Gloves and have never lost a boot.

Shown below, I am trying to stuff his right hoof into a size 1 Back Country. It's a bit of a struggle, but I got it on.

After I set his hoof down, I noticed he caught the Comfort Cup Gaiter between his heel and the boot, creating the dreaded "wedgie effect". His heels could not seat properly into the boot. Even after I fixed it, I am not happy with this fit, so I will go up a 1/2 size to the 1.5 and add a Comfort Pad if necessary.

From the back, you can see that the closure system of the size 1 on the right only has about a 1/2" of Velcro overlap, while the size 1.5 on the left has a much better purchase. The Snug Strap on the size 1.5 is also getting a better overlap compared to the size 1. See what a difference 4 mm makes? That’s the difference from one boot size to the next.


Size 1


Size 1.5

I like to maintain a left and a right with my boots and pads, so I will switch the Snug Strap on one of the boots so that, at a glance, it's easy to see which is which. Plus, it keeps me safer because as I tighten that strap, I'm pulling away, keeping my body out from under my horse. 

Here is the final test to be sure your boots are fitted properly:

After applying the boots securely, walk your horse a bit, then come to a stop and pick up each hoof and try to twist the boot.

Give it a good hard twist. If you can feel a small amount of twisting around the hoof inside, you may need to add a comfort pad at the beginning of his trim cycle to snug things up a bit. If there is more twist  than an inch or two, you may be better off with a 1/2 size smaller.

Fitting your horse for hoof boots can sometimes be a challenging process. Once you find that perfect boot, though, it’s all worth it.


Jean Welch

Jean Welch, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

Originally from New England, I finally heeded the advice of my inner cowgirl, packed up my horses and moved west to Arizona. Here I learned the finer points of hoofcare and successful booting techniques. I can help you select the right EasyCare product for your specific needs. 

New Medical Boot System Coming to Market: Easyboot Stratus

Several months ago, Curtis Burns and I sat down and challenged each other to come up with a better medical hoof boot. We both felt the products on the market could be improved to better serve the laminitic and foundered horses. In addition, we felt a product line could be improved to give professionals more options during a treatment cycle. Our main goals were to develop a new boot with the following features:

The Easyboot Stratus in the prototype area.

1.  High quality materials.

2.  Soft internal materials to prevent rubbing.

3.  Fastening system and sole shape to prevent twisting.

4.  Tread system that accepts the EasyCare Therapy Click System.

5.  Each boot will come with a pad system.  

Easyboot Stratus.  Getting Close. 

One of the features of the boot that I'm most excited about is the fastening system. The system has an internal piece of webbing that hugs the contours of the horses heel when fastened. The webbing runs between the layers of the boot, doesn't actually touch the horse but places pressure in the right areas. This strap keeps the heel down and prevents twisting.   

Cut away view of the heel area.  Easy to see how the internal webbing strap holds the boot in place.

Non cutaway version shows how the webbing exits the boot. 

Each boot will come with a the Stratus Pad System and 15 stabilization rods. The system will allow professionals to custom design a pad for each horse and change the pad during the treatment cycle.  Rods are made of different densities and are inserted into the pad to add/change or remove cushion.  

The pad with 15 comfort rods. Different colors for different density.  

We are excited about the Stratus project and believe it will help horses and the professionals that treat them. Looking at a late 2017 or early 2018 launch.  

Garrett Ford



I have been President 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.

Easyboot Stratus Pad System: Get that Laminitic Horse Comfortable!

The Easyboot Stratus and the pad system are a collaboration between EasyCare/Polyflex Horseshoes and Garrett Ford/Curtis Burns.  We have been working to bring a new concept to market that will help horses. The comfort of the horse has been the main goal but we are also putting emphasis on a product that can be adjusted and changed for the horse as the needs of the horse change. In addition the system needs to hold up, stay in place and can't twist. We tried to look at the challenges laminitic/founder horses have now and provide a better solution. When asked about the project, Curtis offered the following.  

"When Polyflex Horseshoes and EasyCare first began working together, it quickly became obvious to me that just as the equine industry continued to improve, so would our products.Garrett had a way about him that never seemed to settle with "good enough" when it came to his company. According to him, every product could always be improved. It's that core business value that brought us to the Easyboot Stratus.

"My personal challenge was to redesign the sole insert. We needed a material that would withstand long term use while simultaneously offering therapeutic benefits to the horse. After research, trial & error we created a product we are truly excited about.

"Its honeycomb design is the most notable feature. We discovered that this pattern increases in stability as the horse loads weight onto their foot - making it ideal for horses requiring therapeutic feedback for extended periods of time. The new insert is soft enough to cushion the sole yet resilient enough to maintain its integrity. It offers a dependable, personalized level of comfort for horses who require a consistent level of therapeutic feedback."

The system comes with a pad and three densities of stabilization rods.

The holes go 80% through the pad.  The horse stands on the side without the holes.  

Rods are inserted in different areas of the pad to customize the experience for every horse.  Stiffen different areas with different densities.

Stabilization rods placed in the pad a cut to length

Hoof surface side

 The pad system will work both in the Easyboot Stratus and Easyboot Cloud hoof boots.  In addition the pads will be available to purchase and can be cut to fit other EasyCare hoof boot designs.  

"The relationship shared between Polyflex and EasyCare in itself is an example of professional collaboration for a common goal that we are proud to be a part of. Together we are working to create and improve products for the good of horse - and the Easyboot Stratus is just one example of many more to come," concluded Curtis.

Garrett Ford



I have been President 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.

Tips and Tricks for Gluing and Removing Shells Using Acrylic

Submitted by Philip Himanka, Not Only Barefoot LLC

The preparation before the application of a Glue-On is what makes a difference in longevity and strength of bond between product and the hoof. Contained in this blog are some things to take in consideration.

I will start with at the end with the removal process: If you are not thinking about how difficult it is going to be to remove the Glue-On shells, then you will do a better job gluing. I've found that the best way to pull them off is with a pair of dull nippers. If you take your time and your horse does not wiggle then the shell might peel off intact enough to reuse it. Usually, when you are ready to pull/peel them off, there will be a small separation towards the heels.

First, get the corner of your nippers and wedge it in. If its not cracked like in this picture you might need to rasp the edge a bit.

Second, close your nippers and use the leverage outwardly in a peeling motion.

Third, the edge of the shell will start to separate so work your way forward until you get to the center. Go back and keep peeling deeper until the rim at the lower edge of the shell pops. You will usually hear a sound. Move yourself to the other side of the limb and repeat the process.

The shell has more flexibility than the glue so if you peel it off instead of prying it will leave the glue adhered to the hoof wall and then you can just buffer out the glue gently.

I think this process is very important in order to conserve the integrity of the hoof wall. I find that if you buffer/sand instead of rasping you can do consecutive gluing applications without taking a significant layer of thickness of the hoof wall. Note: This process will work also for the gluing of shoes like the EasyShoe Performance.

Now I will discuss the application process. It is important for you to consider, regardless of the kind of riding you will be doing, the length of time you are planning to leave them on.

If you are planning to leave them on for less than one week you can use either glue types such as acrylics, EasyShoe Bond and urethanes, Vettec Adhere. For sole protection and comfort a silicon base or dental impression material, such as Shufill dental impression, is a good idea. Note: For short periods of time, the Sikaflex has proven to be the best in any kind of condition because of its sticky, flexible and sealing properties.

If you are going to leave them glued for 6 weeks or so, the process I recommend is more specific (leaving the shells/shoes glued more than 7-8 weeks can be detrimental to the angles of the hoof). My experience has been that the acrylic works best for longer applications due to the following properties:

- It's more flexible and is less likely to crack or become brittle over time, so it moves with the hoof. This is great because you want the heels to expand and move independently from each other (that is what I love about the Love Child).

- Seals better from water and moisture.

- You can add copper sulfate when you are mixing the glue in order to prevent thrush.

I've also found very important when you are going to leave them glued for a longer time to consider this:

- Leave the back of the foot open so the softer caudal tissue can be in contact with air.

- If you are applying any kind of sole support including pads, it is important to apply thrush prevention products. What I do is after the glue is set, I sprinkle some copper sulfate powder or granules in the heel, then I pack in a clay based anti-thrush product, Artimud is a good option.

You really want to use clay based products regarding thrush not only because they have a better prevention effect but they also keep their properties longer. Note: If you want to be successful regarding thrush and your horse lives in a wet environment it will be very helpful to pack anti-thrush clay at least once a week from the heel into the collateral groves of the frog and central sulcus.

Why is the Easyboot Rx the best medical hoof boot in the equine industry?

The Easyboot Rx is different than the other medical boots in the equine industry!

1.  Close contact. The cushioning is built into the sole, the sole is the cushion. The unique design doesn't stand a compromised horse on 2 inches of pad and sole. The additional thickness of other solutions put the horse on the equivalent of high heels. Imagine walking around in high heels with a sore foot.  

Less that 20mm at the thickest part of the sole.

2.  Light Weight. A #2 Easyboot Rx weighs less than 3/4 lbs. The competitor products weight more then 2 lbs.  

Less than 3/4 of a pound.

3.  Affordable. The Easyboot Rx is the most affordable medical boot on the market. You can find the Easyboot Rx at $62.05 in the market place.  

4.  Easy to apply. The back of the Rx folds out of the way making application easy. Application over a bandage is no sweat.

Quick and Easy to Apply.

4.  Warranty. The Easyboot Rx is covered by the most extensive warranty in the industry. If you are not 100% satisfied in the first 30 days send them back.  

5.  The Easyboot Rx is on sale for the month of July. 15% Off of the Easyboot Rx. Offer valid July 1-31, 2017. Offer applies to domestic and international customers, wholesalers, retailers, veterinarians and hoof care practitioners. May not be combined with other offers. Limit one order per customer and maximum discount amount of $250.00. Place your order at orders.easycareinc.com and use coupon code RX717 at checkout.

Garrett Ford


President & CEO

I have been President 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.

Modifications of Easyboot Glove and Glue-On Shells: Part II

Submitted by Pete Ramey

Glove Glue-On Shells    

The Industry’s Shift to Synthetic Horseshoes 
In my opinion, the increasing popularity of synthetic shoes – both for rehab and for high performance – is a very good step in the right direction. During the time that metal was the only material we had that would hold up under a horse, metal made a lot of sense as a horseshoe material. But these days we have a wide array of materials that will do the job, and most of them are much better for energy dissipation and shock absorption. These materials are also more flexible, which can allow the foot to function more normally, perhaps leading to increased health of internal structures when compared to more rigid shoes. 

I do worry that synthetic shoes will become just another thing that people leave on horses’ feet 365 days a year. Healthier than steel, perhaps, but still degrading the foot with their constant presence. I use these tools in my everyday work, but for most situations I remain a “barefoot and boot man,” as I think this combination yields the best hoof health in a majority of situations. 

My Love Affair with the Glove Shells
There are times, though, that long-term or even permanent hoof protection is needed. For these horses, I usually turn to the Glove Glue-On Shells, simply a Glove without the gaiter (instead of other synthetic shoe models) for several very specific reasons:

  • All of the glue bond is on the side wall, instead of on the bottom of the wall. This frees me up to unload areas of separated walls, making these shoes ideal for growing out hoof capsule rotation, toe flaring, and quarter flares (and thus wall cracks).
  • Almost as well as a hoof boot, if applied properly, they can allow total release of pressure to the sole during hoof flight. This allows you to get away with more sole pressure/support than any other fixed shoeing method I have seen, heard of, or tried.
  • There is no need to trim the foot “flat” in preparation for shoeing. The horse’s foot, when viewed from the side, is naturally arch-shaped, mirroring its internal structures. The only ways to level this arch for shoe prep are to, 1) thin the sole at the toe, 2) thin the sole at the heels, 3) leave the quarter walls too long, or some combination of those three. I can’t abide any of those, as each causes damage. Note: When floating the quarters above the shoe floor, be careful not to let glue run beneath the wall and harden under the sole.
  • The glue bond area is 3-5 times larger than typical glue-on shoes. There is also no need to prep or protect the prep of the ground surface of the foot. For beginners, this makes it easier to succeed with them. For seasoned veterans, this makes the bond as close to bombproof as a shoe can get.
  • I can pad in them! Most permanent shoe modifications accommodate padding or impression material under the arch of the sole, but not under the wall or the outer periphery of sole. This little trick is a true life-saver for thin-soled, splat-footed horses.
  • Using heat-fitting, this shoe can easily adapt to any almost any hoof shape, and be adapted to any breakover or heel support needs.
  • Economics. I can stock only this shell and, by trimming it down to shape, duplicate a wide array of products. If I want an Easyshoe, a Flip-Flop, a lower cuff, a direct glue shoe with no cuff, M/L or D/P wedge, better traction, heels in, heels out, open sole, closed sole, frog support… I can make one by removing unwanted material from this single product. This helps maximize precious storage space in my truck and, of course, dramatically cuts the expense of carrying extra stock. 

It is equally important to achieve a close fit with the Glue-Ons as it is with the Gloves. We have the same breakover and heel support needs. Large gaps between the wall and shoe will be difficult to fill with glue, and tight areas may push the shoe out of place before (or after) the glue dries. 

Better fit can be achieved with the Glue-Ons than the Gloves when large quarter flares are present since the gaiter is not in the way of quarter fitting. During the heating process, you will find that it is better to hold the shell with something besides your hand, particularly if you have opened the sole (discussed below). I use my shoe pull-offs or crease nail pullers.

As an end result, you want a snug but relaxed fit with little-to-no air space, and no pressure attempting to push the shoe out of place. Prior to gluing, you should be able to put it on the foot with no glue, walk the horse around on concrete, and it should stay in place.

Other Modifications

All of the modifications I discussed in Part I with the Glove boots can also be done to the Glue-On Shells. Below are additional options I use only when gluing.

Venting the Back of the Shoe
Gluing allows you to cut out the heel section of the boot completely. I almost always do this as it allows the foot to breathe, keeping the back half of the foot relatively free of the black, foul funk. I tend to do this simply with my pocket knife, and then I finish by rounding the top of the cuff with my nippers or shears. 

Opened heel of Glove shell, done with knife and nippers. I’m doing this to 90-something % of my glue-on shells.

Venting the Bottom of the Shoe
If there is adequate sole and frog in the center of the foot and if I don’t perceive a need to use impression material or padding, I often vent the bottom of the shoe. Using a jigsaw or Dremel, you can follow the contour of the shoe tread, mimicking the frog support and look of an EasyShoe. The material is strong and difficult to cut. Most tools actually burn their way through it, rather than cutting, and it can be a long process. 

So in most cases, I simply use a drill and hole saw (thank you Leslie Carrig!), usually 2 ¼” diameter, occasionally larger, to vent the bottom of the foot. This takes seconds to do, with no burning or clogging, though the end result may not look as cool as other designs, the horses never notice. As with almost any open-bottom shoe, there is some risk of a stone lodging between the shoe and the sole, causing problems. But the access to air can be worth the risk, particularly if the owner routinely picks and checks the area.

Pads and Impression Material
All of the padding methods discussed for the Glove boots will work with the Glue-On version, plus several additional options -- Dental Impression Material (DIM), pour-in pads, and Sikaflex 227 adhesive, to name a few. Generally, when using any type of pad, I leave the shoe’s stock sole intact (forgoing the sole vent). I also fill the collateral sulci and cover the sole with a thin layer of Artimud to keep infection at bay.

Prep and Glue
Gluing instruction is best done in person or at least via DVDs or YouTube (start here)  – not in writing – but here is my basic protocol in a nutshell, and in a very specific order:

  1. Trim the feet, clean out any infected areas in the white line or frogs, wire brush debris from the walls and bottom of the foot. This, and the other steps are each done to all four (or two) feet that are being glued in sequence, rather than doing each foot start-to-finish. This saves time.
  2. Heat-fit and do all shoe modifications. If using DIM or a felt pad, it is prepared at this point. If using a pour-in pad, decide if you need a hole or holes in the shoe to inject the pad.
  3. Sand all the gluing surface of the sidewall, yielding a rough finish. I cut 50 grit belt sander belts into small squares and do it by hand, or more recently, use a cordless drill buffer/sander. I then use the rough corner of my rasp to add fine grooves to the gluing surface. Take care to prep all the way to the back of the heels. This area can be hard to reach, easy to forget, and is the most critical area of glue bond. 
  4. With a small hand-held butane torch, I heat the outer wall for 1 or 2 seconds in each individual spot, moving the torch around very quickly while avoiding melting the hair at the coronet. Most of this, I do with the foot on the ground, but be sure to pick up the foot and prep the heels. I do the same to the inside of the shoe’s gluing area. This step eliminates dust, oils, and moisture, and is critical to success. After this step, take great care not to re-contaminate the glue surfaces of the hoof and shoe. Arm sweat, oils from impression materials and bacterial treatments are the most common culprits, as well as the grubby little hands of curious onlookers and well-meaning horse owners with a bottle of fly spray in hand (yep, it happened to me).
  5. Using a painter’s digital moisture meter, verify that all parts of the hoof’s gluing surface read 0.0% moisture. If not, repeat step #4. If a horse just came in from dry stall shavings or a dry pasture, one lap with the torch will usually do the trick. If the horse just came in from the rain, it may require three or more laps. Resist the temptation to heat longer as this could harm the horse. Instead, heat more times. Be patient – this is the most important step, particularly if you live in a damp climate.
  6. Glue. Keep it warm in winter, cool in summer. I like to use the guns and mixing tips – personal preference. Sometimes I use the acrylic, EasyShoe Bond Fast Set (Equilox, Equibond – all the same, with different labels) because it may be better glue for wet environments, and sometimes I use the urethane Vettec Adhere because it is less noxious and may do less damage to the walls. Adhere is also more user-friendly, and thus may be easier for beginners to succeed with.
  7. Purge the glue before installing the tip. For Adhere, be sure equal amounts of both agents are flowing freely. For EasyShoe Bond Fast Set, be sure the (white) bonding agent is flowing constantly, about 1/10th the volume of the pigmented agent. If so, wipe the glue from the end of the tube, being careful not to mix the agents, and apply the mixing tip.  
  8. If using DIM, place it on the foot. If using felt (or other) pads, place them in the shoes.
  9. Purge a grape-sized ball of glue onto the ground or paper towel, then apply the glue to the shoe. I avoid the sole, the ground surface of the wall, and the lower ½” of the cuff. The concern here is getting a glob of glue on the sole, which will then act as a stone in the shoe. To the rest of the cuff, I apply the glue liberally with a continuous ¼”-thick bead covering most of the gluing surface by the time I am done. In warm weather, I then put the shoe on immediately. In cold weather, I may stall for a bit, waiting for the glue to begin to cure. I repeatedly touch the glue with my gloved finger – at first the glue will attach a small “string” as I pull my finger away. As the glue starts to cure, this will not occur, and it is time to apply the shoe. As you do this, be careful not to drag glue from the sidewall onto the sole.
  10. Wait. For some applications, I want to cure the glue while I am holding up the foot (less sole pressure, less compression of pads – I generally do this on thin-soled horses). On other applications, I want to cure the glue with the foot on the ground (easier for lame or impatient horses; may yield a more snug “performance fit.”). If the shoe is to be cured in the air, put the shoe on, put the foot down on the ground, have an assistant pick up the off foot, then quickly put it back down (this spreads any glue that might have ended up on the sole). Pick up the foot you are gluing, check shoe placement, wipe off any excess glue, then hold the foot up until the glue dries. If the glue is to be cured with the foot on the ground, place the shoe, have your assistant pick up the off foot, and then watch the glued foot carefully as the glue dries. At some point partway through the cure, I switch places with the assistant, as I will want to be the one holding the foot during the latter (and more trying) minutes of the cure.
  11. Repeat for the other feet. You will need to clean, purge, and apply a new mixing tip for each shoe.
  12. Go around with a hoof pick and check the shoe heels to be sure they are bonded. If not, attach a new mixing tip and re-glue these areas. At this point, you can also seal the tops of the shoe cuff with a thin bead of glue. If you are slick, you can get all this done to all 4 feet with one mixing tip.
  13. If you are using pour-in pads, inject them now. Decide whether you want a lot of sole pressure, a little, or none. If you completely cure the pad while you are holding the foot off the ground, there will be a lot of support/pressure. If you put the foot down to let the pad cure, there will be none. It varies case-by-case, but I tend to do something in-between.
  14. When all the glues are cured, watch the horse move. Make final adjustments to breakover and heel rockers, if needed, based on movement.

After 5-6 weeks, Vettec Adhere will become brittle enough that shoe salvage is not terribly difficult (though it is still cheaper to buy a new shoe than it is to pay me to clean an old one up for you). I take a ¼” flathead screwdriver and work it between the shoe and the hoof, separating the bond.

With EasyShoe Glue (Equilox, Equibond…) at 5-6 weeks, the glue will not be brittle – the screwdriver method rarely works. Instead, using my hoof knife, I cut ½”-long slits in the top of the cuff, dividing the cuff into 6 sections around the circumference of the foot. I then use my shoe pull-offs to peel and rip each of the sections down and off the hoof wall individually. 

Tape-On Application
A hybrid between the on-off hoof boot and a glue-on application is the tape-on boot/shoe. Many people trail ride in this setup, and I use it for rehab cases when I need to cover the foot for 24-48 hours and then gain access. 

Warning: Results of this vary wildly. If a horse steps on his own shoe, they will pull right off. But I have also seen them stay on for a week and heard of them staying on even longer. I think it really depends on the way the horse moves and perhaps the environment. I have found that I can count on them for 48 hours as well as about anything – so this is how I use them. 

If a horse absolutely must have 24/7 protection, use a boot or a glue-on instead. I like to say, “Tape-ons are for when you kind-of need a shoe and only need it for a short period of time.” All that said, this is still a very commonly useful tool, and has the distinct advantage that you can keep re-using the same shell over and over, often for years to come. This can also be the only option (for turnout or riding) when the bulbs or coronet has been injured and permanent shoeing is not desired. This method also works for use similar to a hospital plate when daily access is needed to dress a wound or surgery site. 
This method is ideal for post-trim tenderness. A conscientious trimmer (with a stock of glue-on shells) who inadvertently causes post-trim soreness, can do a tape-on application to cover the foot for a few days, then pick up the boots at the next visit, clean them up and sell them to a gluing client. All it costs is the purchase of the tape and the time to clean up the boot.

Mueller Athletic Tape Application. Used alone with Glove Glue-On shells or as extra insurance with Glove hoof boots.

Mueller Athletic Tape
Note: Several years ago, I bought two cases of Mueller Athletic Tape, which I am still using. Apparently, it has since changed, and the material is now thinner (thanks, Amy Diehl), so these instructions may warrant some experimentation with the newer version of tape. I will update as I learn more. And, no, I will not sell you any of my tape. 
Here is my method:

  1. Heat-fit a Glove shell – and strive for perfection. Do not cut the back out of it or open the sole for this method – just use a stock shell. As always, the better the fit, the better this will work. You want to end up with no excessively tight spots and as little air space as possible. The shoe should be difficult to pull off, once applied. Be sure the boot is clean – free of dirt and moisture.
  2. No additional prep to the foot is required; just trim normally.
  3. Wrap the foot with Mueller Athletic Tape as if you were applying a hoof cast. I generally use 3-4 rounds/laps of tape, wrapping so that I cover all of the side wall that the boot shell will cover and also lapping under the wall and slightly onto the sole. 
  4. Drive the boot shell onto the foot with a rubber mallet (or for trail use, a big stick). For the first 30 minutes, the extra friction provided by the tape will make this shoe very difficult to remove. After 30 minutes, the heat and pressure will have caused the tape’s own glue to wick through the fabric and there will be a pretty decent glue bond. During the first 24 hours, it is almost as hard to get off as it would be if it were glued with hoof adhesive.
  5. The bond seems to disappear within 48 hours. I think dust simply works its way in and absorbs into the glue. I believe that when I (and others) have seen these stay on longer, it was simply because of good fit, the added friction, and a horse that never interferes or trips. Either way, removal after 36 hours is not an issue – you can generally pull them off by hand.

Mueller Athletic Tape in Gloves
The above wrapping method is even more useful as “Glove boot first aid.” If you are using Glove boots, carry a roll of Mueller Tape in your trail pack; it doubles as first aid tape, so shouldn’t take up extra precious space. If you rip a gaiter on the trail (or develop any other boot fit/performance issue) you can add the tape to the foot, knock the boot on with a stick, and ride on for the rest of the trip without a gaiter.

I even had one client who was using a #2 Glove when her friend threw a #0 horseshoe. They kept wrapping tape around the #0 foot until the #2 Glove fit and got the horse off the trail without further incident. My client discovered, at the same time, that her horse no longer needed boots for that particular trail anyway. Now, this is not a recommended application by any stretch of the imagination, but it did work.

Smoothing Boot Fit Problems
I like for my booting clients to have a roll on hand in case booting issues pop up mid-cycle. This is particularly common when I am in the process of growing out hoof capsule rotation or wall flares. The boot fit will get sloppy over time. I do try to adjust for this at routine visits, but sometimes I misjudge. Hopefully, when I arrive for my scheduled visit, I can de-bug the boot fit, but having a way to keep my clients riding saves me some unscheduled trips.

I recall two instances where I had to use the tape application with the Gloves as a permanent fix. I didn’t like it, but it was the best I could do. Both were on the hind feet of horses with hip problems that rotated their foot on the ground under load. After several boot-fitting fails, I left both clients applying one wrap of tape prior to booting the hind feet. Sloppy, yes, but better than nothing, I suppose. 

Race Day
This method, combined with adding Vet Wrap to the gaiter is how to make a bombproof Glove application. I don’t like to see clients train this way. I want to work through any booting bugs during normal rides. But on race day, show day, or that big group trail ride – that day when you want to be absolutely sure you don’t have any problems, it is worth the extra 3 minutes to put Mueller Tape on the foot, boot, then wrap the gaiter with Vet Wrap. Optionally, an added bell boot seals the deal.

And the List Goes On…
That’s the best thing about these two platforms (the Glove and Glove Shell). Your own imagination is the limit. While every boot and shoe can be modified to some extent, none other lends itself to so much possibility. In the past, I had to haul around a wide variety of options. Now, I find that I can get by with a full stock of only these two products – well – except that we do need them in larger sizes… and with some different tread options. 

For a complete article in PDF format, please follow this link to be redirected to Pete Ramey's website: http://www.hoofrehab.com/Glove%20Mods.pdf