By Rachel Braverman of Polyflex Horseshoes
The good news? The answer may be as simple as tapping your feet.
Named after its inventor and longtime farrier Doug Ehrmann, DE Hoof Taps are a product that offers an entirely new approach to hoof care.
DE Hoof Taps were inserted to assist this horse with wall separations.
Created because of his need for a real solution, Doug explains “Up where I shoe, inclement weather and abrasive surfaces like stone dust arenas are commonplace. So many horses were having chronic issues with excessive wear, wall separations and overall loss of hoof integrity. I remember thinking to myself - I have to find a better way to help.”
So after years of research, field trials and evolutionary stages Ehrmann formally introduced DE Hoof Taps to the market in 2018 and since then has produced noticeable and exciting results for the future of farriery.
A zinc coated steel tap measuring approximately 1.25 inches in length, DE Hoof Taps are inserted into the foot just outside of the white line. Left in for the duration of the shoeing cycle, DE Hoof Taps are most commonly used under traditional shoes. However, great success has also been seen utilizing the taps under glue on synthetics, in booted horses and the barefoot horse. “I designed them to be versatile,” Ehrmann clarifies, “horses of all disciplines and shoeing methods can at some point face the challenges these taps are meant to combat. That’s why it was so important for me to create a product that could be used as an accessory for any horse.”
DE Hoof Taps can be a great option for booted or barefoot horses suffering from brittle hooves and wall separations. This horse is shown prepped to ride in an Easyboot Epic.
This versatility is just one feature that’s made DE Hoof Taps a popular choice among industry professionals. Farriers are reporting significantly tighter white lines, healed wall separations and a marked decrease in excessive wear. Simply visit the DE Hoof Taps Facebook page and a plethora of before and after case studies illuminates the screen. While Doug is no newcomer to product innovation, his ultimate standard remains the same. “If I’m going to bring an idea of mine to fruition - it needs to be a product that I reach for and that I use on a daily basis without having to think about because it works. The DE Hoof Tap has become exactly that product for me.” Based on growing product demands, it’s obvious these taps are quickly becoming a go to product for farriers across the U.S.
While the positive feedback and documentation has been consistent - the inevitable question comes up.
How exactly do DE Hoof Taps work?
The answer, is that the answer is still evolving. What we do know for certain is that the zinc coating plays a major role. On a chemical level, zinc is said to attract existing bacteria and repel new bacteria. Ehrmann’s hypothesis is that if the tap is inserted into a compromised foot, then the zinc coating will draw the bacteria towards itself. In turn, it’s believed that the zinc aids in rerouting the bacteria from traveling up the tubules of the hoof wall. As a bonus the steel makeup of the tap aids in reduction of wear on the hoof.
“We’re continually discovering more about how they work,” Ehrmann admits, “but the exciting part is that we’ve seen over and over again the positive impact they make on horses feet. They produce results too good to ignore.”
Mechanically speaking, Ehrmann designed the taps to mimic the natural curvature of the white line and to remain within the foot at a shallow depth. While the taps are not intended to be shaped, they can be easily modified to match the needs of the foot.
Some examples include shortening the taps to be placed in smaller, more specific locations, inserting the taps at the toe and in the heels. “In some cases you may only choose to use part of a tap, while in others you may decide to use multiple. The decision is ultimately up to the discretion and knowledge of the farrier using them,” Ehrmann explains. He continues “The more skilled you are as a farrier the more you’ll be able to utilize the potential of these taps to their full extent.”
To remove, easily pull or trim the taps out at the end of the horses shoeing cycle. The uncomplicated process just makes taps that much more appealing. However, it’s important to understand that the DE Hoof Tap is not a DIY product.
While the simplicity of the DE Hoof Tap makes it a natural addition to any farrier’s shoeing box, Ehrmann cautions that taps should only be inserted by a hoof care professional. “This product is simple to use, and that’s one of the best parts about it - but it still needs to be respected as a tool. If you think your horse could be a good candidate, have the discussion with your farrier. He or she will be able to place the tap where and how it will benefit your horse the most.”
Designed with the good of the horse in mind, it’s exciting to consider what the future holds for the DE Hoof Tap. Many believe this product could be the representative product of a new generation of hoof care technology to come. It certainly defines out of the box thinking - and offers a new platform from which to approach hoof care. Not to mention it offers a creative addition to any farrier’s toolbox.
But if there is one thing we can count on, it’s for Doug Ehrmann to keep innovating. So long as there is a horse in need, whether shod, glued, booted or barefoot they will now have the opportunity to tap their feet.
- Rachel Braverman
By Hoof Care Practitioner David Landreville of Landreville Hoof Care
If you’re struggling with hoof issues, don't fool yourself into thinking that merely trimming more frequently is going to be a magic fix. There’s always a learning curve and there are often kinks in that curve.
The key to lameness prevention, rehabilitation, and continued development is keeping the outer wall off of the ground.
To accomplish this, I believe that optimum weight bearing is when the inner wall is loaded at the Four Pillars. I don’t try to make it happen in one trim. It’s built over years of frequent trims. After trimming to the inside of the inner wall, it takes three weeks for the inside of the outer wall to make it to the ground (with this kind of trim), which is why I try to keep them on no more than a 3-week trim schedule. The second and third weeks are the optimum comfort weeks for the horse. The inner wall, through its attachment to the sole, is set up to support the weight of the horse. The strength of the outer wall is not in its ability to support the weight of the horse, but in its ability to contort while simultaneously resisting the forces of contortion.
Frequency is only part of the equation.
The trim has to unload the outer wall and put the majority of the horse's weight bearing comfortably on the back of the feet. Correct weight bearing and movement is what heals feet. The trim just sets the horse up for healing. 1/16" of vertical error at the ground equates to 2 inches of horizontal displacement at the wither on an average size horse.
Too much weight bearing on the forehand causes excessive toe loading.
When the lateral heel on a left front foot is continually being left 1/8" longer than the medial heel it causes the horse to shift their weight 4" to the right. This places the right front 4" closer to the midline of the horse. This results in the majority of the horse's forehand weight being supported by the right front. Most horses are already too much on their forehand due to the lack of knowledge about the relationship between proper heel shape and caudal soft tissue development. A horse that has natural downhill conformation and who is also naturally right forelimb dominant can be a disaster in the making. The right front becomes the crutch for the horse, resulting in mechanical founder in the right front. The symptom may be wall separation and/or sole penetration but the cause is 1/8" margin of error in the trim. This is not a disease; it’s a breakdown in the mechanical bond from excessive force. Keeping the horse properly squared up over their heels is how you fix them.
Example of improper trimming for founder.
When you're rehabbing founder, you're essentially taking the horse back in time through all the phases of their foundering. Helping a horse get comfortable is only the beginning of restoring them to a point where continual development is sustainable.
This is the right front foot of a right hand dominant horse that foundered due to improper trimming. These photos show 7 months of progress to reverse the damage.
This is a caudal view of the same horse.
Don’t rely on frequent trimming as the magic fix.
Trimming more often may just create a disaster – faster. I’ve found that a good trimmer/owner team is central to the horse’s successful rehab. Choose a trimmer who not only knows how to fix a hoof problem, but who does meticulously correct work and who also knows how to prevent it in the first place. How do you find out? Ask lots of questions! (Tip: Do they have horses of their own with structurally sound bare feet that they’ve been riding for years?)
And finally, be upfront how an issue will be handled. The trimmer should have a couple back up plans and the owner should be clear about how willing they are to go the distance if plan A doesn't work out.
- David Landreville
By Christoph Schork of Global Endurance Training Center
Horses hooves do have "big shoes to fill," pun intended. Not so much because of previous great shoeing experiences but more so because of their responsibility to carry a heavy body through life's travels. Whether it's just hanging out as a backyard horse, competing on the track, dressage, versatility, trail riding, endurance racing or competing on demanding 100 mile races like Big Horn, Old Dominion, Biltmore or Tevis.
GE Blizzard of Oz, wearing the new EasyShoe Flex during the Old Pueblo Ride in Arizona, finishing in First Place and winning Best Condition
When talking about shoeing or booting horses, are we shoeing a hoof or are we shoeing the horse? Now, what does that question entail? In the definition of a farrier's job description, he or she is engaging in 'horse shoeing.' Nobody refers to a farrier as a 'hoof shoer.' For the sake of an argument, let's look at the term 'hoof shoeing' first.
Shoeing a hoof means that we are looking specifically at a hoof, trimming it according to our parameters and then booting or shoeing that particular hoof. We might be looking at live sole, medial and lateral balance, point of rotation and midpoint balance. We are evaluating and trimming and shoeing a hoof!
When trimming and shoeing a horse, I follow an holistic approach to hoof care. First I evaluate the conformation and posture of the horse, then I consider the weight and the alignment.
As an example of how we trim and shoe to provide support for the whole horse, not just a single hoof, we'll look at the horse below.
This image shows an untrimmed hoof. We can observe that the hoof is pretty symmetrical in appearance from the dorsal view point. If we draw a red line through the center of the fetlock we can see that both halves of the hoof are equal in width.
Here's a similar observation on a horse with a trimmed hoof.
In both cases the horse's body is supported by the hoof. The whole hoof is equally loaded and receiving equal ground pressure.
In the next case, however, the hoof cannot fulfill its job of properly supporting the horses weight. The plum line drawn from the center of the canon bone does not divide the hoof capsule in equal halves. Notice how it's offset to one side. The lateral half of this front right hoof is quite a bit wider compared to the medial half. (Blue horizontal line vs green line.)
My next question is how can I mitigate that conformation fault and center that hoof better under his leg? For starters, when trimming, I'll rasp the lateral wall a little more and the medial wall somewhat less, to try and move the hoof more underneath the bone column.
Look at the two blue vertical guide lines coming up from the supporting area of the sole. The leg is now more centered over the sole. I shifted the support area medially.
When shoeing or applying hoof protection to this hoof EasyCare provides the tools to center the hoofs ground bearing surface even more under the leg. The new EasyShoe Flex is the perfect shoe to help horses with asymmetrical hooves.
Here's how the Flex can be used to help center the hoof under the limb.
In this photo, I moved the Flex more to the medial side (see the red arrow), to center the bone column over the supporting surface.
The weight baring surface of the Flex is now centered under the red plum line, and both lateral and medial (yellow lines), are equidistant between the two blue vertical guide lines again.
The protruding edge, red arrow, can easily get beveled off so a horse would be less likely to step on it and pull the shoe off.
With a grinder or even a rasp the shoe can get easily modified. The spring steel insert can also get rasped without any problems.
Stay tuned, because I'll be sharing more information on the Flex. You'll learn how easy it is to nail on the Flex, get some DOs and DONT's, and see my test results on their performance during long and hard endurance races up to 100 miles in length. I'll also be including the Flex Light, the version without the spring steel core.
In the photo below, the Flex Light, in a size 3, is shown on top. It comes with the heart bar for frog support. Below the Light is the Flex Open Heel with spring steel core, also in a size 3. The steel inside gives it enough rigidity so that a heart bar isn't necessary. It's also available in a heart bar version.
The Flex is opening a lot of new doors for the riders, farriers and trimmers alike.
From the Bootmeister
By Garrett Ford, President of EasyCare Inc.
The Glove Soft has been a challenge to keep in stock!
The Easyboot Glove Soft was added into the EasyCare line up of hoof boots in early 2018. It's been selling very well and exceeding our forecasts. Several sizes have sold out and we are working hard to get more in stock for the busy summer months.
The Glove history goes back to 2009 with the launch of the Easyboot Glove. We've made a number of improvements over the years, and while people have been very happy with it, the rubber gaiter on the 2016 model makes it a bit more challenging to install. This feedback, along with other comments from our valued customers, resulted in the design and launch of the Glove Soft.
The Glove line has always been a favorite. You can see why in the video below. It shows the original Glove in action during a very difficult 50-mile race. Even in terrible, muddy conditions down slipper terrain, the boots stayed on with no problems. Notice the Glove's low profile and snug fit that allows the horse to be the athlete it is. The horse went on to finish 1st and receive Best Condition. (If you watch the video to the end, you'll notice I took a tumble, but kept on filming!)
Here's a quick list of what we were trying to achieve with the Easyboot Glove Soft and the reasons horse owners like the boot so much.
1. The Easyboot Glove line is the closest fitting hoof boot line. It doesn't add bulk and width to the hoof, allowing the horse to be athletic and nimble.
2. The ability to fold the gaiter back all the way. This achieves a very easy installation of the hoof boot. When the gaiter is folded backward it's quick and easy to slip over a hoof and get a tight fit. The gaiter is then rotated up and fits around the pastern.
3. Wider hook and loop make for a better hold and closure. We have beefed up the hoof and loop for a more secure fit. Now it's 1.5 inches wide.
4. Longer straps allow the boot to fit more pastern circumferences. The overlap system and longer straps allow the gaiter to fit both large bone and finer bone pasterns.
5. The Glove Soft comes in both regular and wide sizes. The range has 20 different sizes to fit most horses.
We appreciate your feedback on the Glove line and are excited that the Easyboot Glove Soft is part of our 2018 product range. We are working hard to prevent back orders, so please be patient.
Enjoy your summer riding.
The EasyShoe Flex horse shoe line is finally here! In the warehouse and shipping now.
Curtis Burns and I have worked many hours on this shoe and are very happy with the final result. It has a long wearing, shock absorbing urethane tread with a flexible spring steel core. Both Curtis and I believe the EasyShoe Flex line will help many horses and fills a niche in the industry. Another arrow in the quiver.
What's different about this urethane shoe?
The biggest challenge with other urethane shoes is stability. Urethane shoes without an internal nail plate have a tendency to both "cup" and have nail clinches loosen with time. Adding a solid steel core solves the nail issue but does not allow hoof mechanism. We believe we have solved both of the urethane challenges by adding a spring steel core. The spring steel core promotes hoof mechanism and allows a solid anchor for nail clinching. In addition, the shape of the spring steel core solves the cupping and sole pressure problems that plague many other urethane shoe designs.
A Nail-on urethane/steel hybrid that promotes hoof mechanism.
Watch the shoe flex under load. Hoof mechanism with each foot fall.
What our EasyCare dealers and horse owners need to know:
1. We have inventory in our warehouse of all styles and are shipping now. Dealers and consumers can place orders here.
2. There are 4 styles. EasyShoe Flex Open Heel, EasyShoe Flex Heart Bar, EasyShoe Flex Full Heart Bar and EasyShoe Flex Light. The open heel, heart bar and full heart bar are available with toe clips or side clips.
3. All sizes and styles are the same price except for the EasyShoe Flex Light. The Flex Light is a lower price point.
Open nail slots and clear urethane provide accurate nail placement.
The four biggest take home messages for the farrier:
1. The EasyShoe is very easy to apply. Any farrier can do it. The EasyShoe Flex line is not shaped with an anvil, the shoe is shaped by removing material with a belt sander or band saw. Watch Tim Cable apply the shoe in the video below.
2. Nails can be driven through the clear urethane window or holes can be pre-drilled. If the holes are pre-drilled, nailing is very accurate and no different that other nail on applications. The clear urethane material make the white line easy to see.
3. Wear is very great! Most people can expect a reset. The urethane is very hard wearing and the wide web makes for extended longevity.
4. It's easy to fit both front and back feet with the same pattern. Simply trace and remove material to match the shape of the hoof. The open nail slots provide plenty of adjustment after material is removed for accurate nail placement.
We hope your horses enjoy the new design. It's been a fun project that both Curtis and myself believe fills a niche in the equestrian industry.
Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Kelsey Lobato
After discovering an abscess and finding out the cause, start treatment and possibly a prevention program. The treatment program will depend on the type of abscess your horse has and what your vet and farrier have determined. It's important to remember that each approach to treating an abscess is unique and varies from others.
Here is my experience.
My first step in treating a hoof abscess is to gather supplies and medications. This way it's handy in the barn aisle or stall.
Note: If your vet has prescribed antibiotics and Bute, follow your doctor's instructions as long as the abscess has blown and you are seeing drainage.
After gathering all your supplies, clean the hoof gently using a hoof pick and squirt hydrogen peroxide in the infected area. Make sure the pus and debris is cleaned out thoroughly for soaking. Next, place the Soaker boot on your horse and fill the boot with Epsom salt, betadine and hot water. Soak the hoof for about 10-15 minutes once a day for 3-4 days. If you can't soak the horses foot, use an Epsom salt poultice. Put a generous amount around the abscess/hoof, wrap and then leave on for 24 hours. Repeat for 3-4 days.
Once you have soaked the hoof, keep the hoof dry and clean. For my horse Summer Flame, I also packed the hoof with betadine/Epsom salt soaked gauze. I wrapped it with duct tape and vet wrap for 3 days until I could put her out with the other horses in boots.
Photo: Summer Flame in her makeshift boot
Keep the hoof clean, packed, and bandaged for several days, depending on how long it takes for the lameness to disappear. If the infection is deep in the hoof, the process of eliminating the infection and relieving the horse of pain will take longer.
In Summer Flame’s case, because the abscess was slow to heal and she still had swelling, I stopped wrapping her hoof and put her in the Easyboot Trails with medicated padding. I also continued with her prescribed antibiotics. She did very well turned out 24/7 in the boots. I checked them once a day to make sure they were staying on and not causing additional issues. She wore them for another week until the vet gave the "okay" for them to come off.
Note: if you leave the boots on for long periods of time, add Gold Bond Powder or a copper sulfate mix to prevent bacteria growth.
Photo: Summer Flame in the Trail boot
Here are the preventative measures I follow:
In addition, keeping your pastures and paddocks clean as well as not over bathing your horse should reduce the risk of abscess development. If you have rocks in your paddock, removing them can help keep your horse from a stone bruise, which can lead to an abscess.
No matter how much you take preemptive steps to ensure no abscesses, there still might be a day when one does appear. Stay calm and act promptly in consulting your veterinarian and farrier. Be prepared and have the provisions you will need on hand to treat the problem.
Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Dawn Willoughby
Original Post June 2, 2011
In most cases, owners can prevent the ravages of laminitis (inflammation of the laminae between hoof wall and coffin bone) and founder (pulling away of wall from coffin bone due to a broken laminae). During my six years as a professional trimmer, I tried to educate owners about preventing this painful situation. Here is a review of what I shared with them every spring.
I live in Delaware where we have a spring that challenges most horses. Beginning in late March, early April, our sugary spring grass starts to grow. Our worst days are cool and sunny. This combination has the effect of creating a surge of sugar in the grass. When the sun goes down, the spring night temperatures are cool, keeping the sugar in the grass, not allowing it to return to the roots. That's a double whammy for the natural herd that is out 24/7. It isn't until July that we reliably dry out and warm up every day and night. When this happens the sugar returns to the roots. I learned about forage growth and pasture management from studying materials and attending clinics by Katy Watts, www.safergrass.org, an agricultural expert and owner of founder-prone horses. She offers wonderful lectures on her site as well.
Submitted by Ruthie Thompson-Klein, Equine Balance Hoof Care
Here at 48 degrees North, off the coast of Washington, our winters are usually mild and temperate, with lots of wind, occasional brief snow, and plenty of sideways rain. This is a wimpy winter compared with many across the country. Best management strategy for healthy hooves is usually “a dry place to stand out of the wind.”
This 2018 out-of-character winter has brought multiple days of below freezing temps following epic rainfall. What we got was impromptu skating rinks, slippery slopes and nail-sharp footing. During a typical couple months of winter appointments I cataloged some of our challenging conditions and ways owners cope.
My clients are on 5 to 6 week trim rotations through winter and most feed high-quality forage supplemented with balanced minerals. High immunity and tight keratin bonds only go so far. Two places we fall short for healthy hooves are movement and moisture balance. When daily hoof care slips that adds to the problem. Despite best efforts, some horse owners are coping with thrush and abscesses by February. Clients with heavy-use tracks had other challenges: wind-thrown trees, flooding, mud slicks and ice rinks.
Here are some examples of hooves, environments, puzzles and solutions:
Heavy use track with mud and drainage issues.
This becomes a hazard when the temperatures drop.
Our islands are “piles of rock” with a clay layer and thin topsoil reaches saturation point early in winter. Though annual rainfall in this part of Washington averages 25 inches, rainfall either drains slowly or creates new pasture lakes. Hooves tend to be sponge-like unless owners invest in mud control or hard-scape footing.
Solution: scrape topsoil away and apply 5/8” gravel with fines. Horses will compact surface. Adding a Geotex fabric layer between soil and gravel would improvesurface durability.
January with 6 inches of gravel, snow and mud are no longer a hazard.
Heavy use track with serious mud and flooding.
Same heavy use track, now with drainage swale (right) and deep wood chips from trees removed.
Before making footing and diet improvements, this thoroughbred’s right front is unraveling despite routine hoofcare.
Same horse this February: left front before trim at 4 weeks, a much more resilient hoof on the improved footing shown above.
Arabian Belle lives on deep medium-size gravel withlimited pasture turnout.
Belle before trim at 6 weeks in February. She needs attention to that frog crevice, but this could be a poster hoof for successful winter hoofkeeping.
Quarter horse Lucy before January trim at 6 weeks. Check out those solid heels and bars.
Lucy shelters in pea gravel, and spends winter in a sand and rock chip sacrifice area.
Sandy sacrifice area is gently sloped and slow draining, but deformable surface encourages movement and gentle hoof abrasion.
Easily available wood chips make a forgiving, drainable surface as long as they don’t become saturated. Composting wood chips are acidic and may unravel hoof wall. Wood chips or “hog fuel” are a semi-permanant solution, as they degrade over a few seasons.
Before trim at 6 weeks. Two horses who get regular trims, but sporadic daily hoof care, no balanced minerals and no respite from saturated conditions. Bacterial and fungal opportunists have prevailed and we have problems.
What’s going on? Horses on abrasive footing maintained beautiful distal hoof wall, plump frogs, and many grew robust bars for extra support. Horses with no respite from the constant moisture developed deep central sulcii and white line voids. Horses with excellent diets housed 24/7 in large muddy pastures had amazingly healthy hooves. Horses kept in sacrifice areas without daily hoof care did okay until mid-winter when thrush took hold. Thin-soled horses did all right in soft conditions until the freeze, when they needed boot support. In all cases owners used Gloves or Back Country for trail riding. Sometimes they added Quick Studs for mud and slushy conditions.
A solution for frozen footing is temporary use of Cloud boots to prevent bruising. I found Clouds kept thin-soled horses moving all winter despite treacherous frost heave and rough going.
What I see is proof that the 3-pronged approach of diet-movement-trim makes a significant difference in how well hooves adapt to changing conditions. Whatever winter threw at you, Happy Spring!
Submitted by Nichole Kunze an Easyboot customer.
Horse hoof problems can be some of the most difficult to overcome. I worked for a veterinarian who specialized in equine podiatry so I understand the lengthy process of diagnostics, care and the struggles of trying to make an equine sound and comfortable for a pain free life.
Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have horses over my lifetime with sound feet. I am cautious with purchasing horses because with no hoof, there’s no horse. A trainer and close friend contacted me about a mare being given away that I had put time on years back.
Her name is Miss Camptown Bidder. She is a 19-year-old mare with Pedal Osteitis who has had past laminitis as a result of the condition. It’s basically demineralization of the coffin bone. So needless to say, it is NOT a condition anyone wants to experience, but I just couldn’t say no. I took the older mare with a serious condition that could put her in her grave in November of 2017.
After a lot of research, I determined that blood flow was a key element to helping this condition as well as providing comfort to the sole. How do you provide comfort to the sole while allowing the frog to continually make contact in the natural way to ensure blood flow? I did not feel shoes were the answer to this. I ran across EasyCare, then found out a friend of mine worked for them! If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what was.
After speaking with her, we decided on the Easyboot Cloud. By this point “Willa” wasn’t a happy mare. I had a farrier out to trim her because she was very long in the toe. It was looking like her laminae was compromised. Her radiology from May of 2017 had showed she had for sure struggled with laminitis, her toe wasn’t being kept back and now she would barely walk, laid down frequently, just did enough to get by day to day.
The boots came in and she was walking 75% better immediately! I couldn’t believe it. Our long-term goals with her were to see if she could be a step-up barrel horse for my daughter. Needless to say, I was not optimistic, but more worried after the first couple weeks of having her of just making her comfortable enough to not be euthanized.
Well I am blessed to say I have gotten to know the real Willa! She bucks, she is the dominant mare in her group, and she takes no flak from anyone! She trots around comfortably and is just the sweetest girl to handle. We are now working on measurements for the Easyboot Glove to start riding her this Spring. I couldn’t be more excited!!!! Thank you EasyCare Inc for helping this girl. She more than deserves it!