Ten years after I lost my beloved Quarter Horse, Jessi, I decided that life is just too short not have a horse in my life. My cats, my dogs and my parrot were all adopted or rescued - so why not my horse? Working with Longrun Thoroughbred Retirement Society, here in Ontario, I found my dream horse. Creemore is an eight year old, 16hh gelding, who wasn't a particularly great racehorse with 5 starts and 1 place, but he is second to none in his new job of being my best pal.
The day that I went to see him, he galloped up to me in the field, stopped dead in front of me and put his head on my shoulder. If he would have fit in the back of my Honda, he would have come home with me that day.
Creemore was barefoot when he arrived and while his feet were in good shape, they needed just a little bit of TLC since he'd been out to pasture and not ridden in months. I was committed to keeping him barefoot, if at all possible. I figure that the horse's hoof is a mechanical thing of wonder and barring any physical problems, why mess with what nature intended?
My riding background is mainly low level eventing and hunter/jumper, but these days, small saddle club shows and tons of hacking are more my speed. The footing in our area is mostly clay and Canadian Shield, ie rocks, rocks and more rocks! There is also an old rail bed trail of crushed stone nearby. A typical ride is 15-18 kilometres or 10-12 miles.
With these factors in mind, I spent a huge amount of time researching barefoot vs shod (whatever did we do before the interwebz?) and had no idea the topic generated so much controversy. I spoke with people on both sides of the debate, farriers, vets, barefoot converts and endurance riders. All roads seem to lead to Easyboots.
When I first looked at the EasyCare website, I was floored by the options and quailed at the prospect of wading through all the available information. Turns out everything I needed to know was way easy to find and presented in clear, comprehensible language. The "Education" section, especially "Which Boot?" and "Videos," was invaluable. What a relief!
I decided on the Easyboot Glove because I appreciate anything minimal. For a newbie like me, the Fit Kit is ingenious. Nothing says, "I fit" like the real thing. Four size 0.5 booties later we seemed set. Then winter came . . .
Six months later, (yep, winter in Canada really does last that long), I pulled out the Gloves, slapped them on my boy and went for a trip down the rail trail. Spring has sprung and Creemore thought he'd display his OTTB talents with a huge gallop - AWESOME! The down side: he blew completely out of both back boots and torqued one of the fronts. Luckily, I found both of them - 2 km down the trail.
I contacted the EasyCare folks with a query about fit and whether the Glove is suitable for galloping, etc. and man-oh-man did I ever get a detailed and helpful response. Dee Reiter, my new personal hero, provided all kinds of suggestions like using Mueller's Athletic Tape to improve stickability and links to other hoof-related topics such as forging. Dee also offered to take a look at some pictures of the boots on Creemore's feet. So, I posted photos from last September as well as new ones from this Spring and got feedback on hoof shape, boot fit and suggestions for moving forward.
Creemeore is currently wearing Easyboot Epics on the fronts and Gloves on the rears. At least until his feet and gait get to "optimum" shape. We haven't gone all out since the boot blowing incident (well, it was Spring after all) but so far, cantering and civilized gallops have gone without a hitch. It could have been so easy to give up on the Easyboots and go to shoes, but for Dee's dedication to customer service and education.
All dressed for the Canada Day Parade.
Andrea and Creemore on the rail trail bridge overlooking the Cataraqui River.
When you call EasyCare, I’m one of the folks that will answer. I’m also one of the cowgirls in the group. (Heck no, I don’t show, I Rodeo!) When it comes to life’s adventures – never pull back on the reins, and remember: the world is best-viewed through the ears of a horse!