Sizing up the Season

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

It's past spring now but I'm just getting back into riding after adding a new member to the family. Even though it's summer I'm just now getting through my spring time check list of to-do's and I was just recently able to check another item off my list; re-evaluating each of my horses to see how their boots are fitting.

Whether you're ordering for the first time, trying to solve a fit problem or just checking to check, the process is always the same. Proper sizing is so important in ensuring your horse is comfortable and moving correctly and helps mitigate any potential boot failure due to ill fit. 

So! Bring your horse into a clean dry area and clean out their feet in preparation for a trim. Right after their trim you're going to pick up each foot and take two measurement. The first measurement is to be across the widest part of the foot - from medial quarter to lateral quarter. The second measurement is to be taken from the point of the toe to the heel buttress where the heel contacts the ground (not to the back of the heel bulb - this is where I see most incorrect measurement mistakes). EasyCare has a great set of instructions you can find on their website and I've borrowed this picture to illustrate the proper anatomical area's to be measured. 

You will need to write it all down so your don't forget as you will have a total of eight measurements, two per hoof, to now compare to the size chart. Each style of boot has their own size chart and in many instances the sizing does not cross over. Unfortunately, you cannot assume since your horse takes a certain size in, say, the Easyboot Epic that they will take the same size boot in the Easyboot Glove. Use only the size chart of the boot you're wishing to purchase. 

So I did all the above things and put my mare in her red Easyboot Gloves that we used all of last year. You can see the boot on the left of the picture has a nice snug fit but the boot on the right is a little big for her hoof at this time. We've changed farriers and she's not working nearly as much as she should be so it makes sense that her feet may have changed a bit. 

With her measurements these size #1 Easyboot Gloves fit alright, but not 100% ideal. We're able to get out and condition on our gravel roads in them but the addition of Power Straps will make them perfect for riding this year in some more rugged conditions. Remember, it is up to us to get the proper size of boot to ensure booting success!
 

EasyCare offers a Fit Kit for certain styles of boot so you can try before you buy! If  ever you have questions or concerns about boot sizing you can always contact EasyCare directly to speak with a representative to help direct you which style and size might best suit your needs. Happy booting!

 

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.

A Tool for Everything

Submitted by Rusty Toth 

Meet Delilah, she is a 16.1 h former race horse I was introduced to to help her become sound again. She is a sweet and kind mare with some issues from less than stellar shoeing practices in her past. She has a low heel, long toe and very flat thin soles.

After a discussion with the owner, we decided to try the EasyShoe Performance. The frog stimulation, I believe, will help grow sole while getting her off the rough hard decomposed granite that is our ground in the Phoenix area. She was so tender standing on a mat she could not load one foot long enough to either directly or indirectly glue on the shoes. Poor girl gave it an honest try, but she just couldn't do it. Now what?

In trying to problem solve the situation, I remembered a blog from Christoph some time ago about modifying a shell into a shoe. Bingo! With the Adhere being so quick to set, the shell encompassing her hoof wall, she could set the bugger down quickly and with gusto, and I knew the boot would remain in place.

We truly have an excellent group of people collected with EasyCare. A quick call to Christoph to ascertain the size of hole required for the size of shell and we were off and running. I used a three and a half inch hole in a size #2 Glue-On shell. She needed the support of the base and frog.

Knowing how sore she was, I did not apply any glue to the sole surface, and applied Adhere to the wall of the shell only. Using a duct tape damn, I applied Vettec Soft to make her immediately comfortable. Knowing this product has zero sticking quality we will remove the packing in two weeks time to allow the sole to breath.

The owner reported the next day that Delilah was walking sound, landing flat and even heel first for the first time in a long time.  Problem solving at its best. I am grateful to be part of such an incredible team of people collected, using amazing products with an infinite ability to be used to solve any problem. Thank you EasyCare.

 

Now Available: The Easyboot Mini

Minis and ponies and foals, oh my! The smallest molded hoof boots in the world go on sale today: April 1, 2016. The benefits of maintaining a healthy, protected barefoot hoof now reach our smallest companions. The Easyboot Mini offers an easy application and added traction on any riding surface. The Mini has been tested on service ponies that spend time indoors to driving ponies that are trekking miles on their little legs over asphalt. This boot shares EasyCare’s success-proven, semi-aggressive tread pattern that is integral to our most popular boot styles, such as the Easyboot Glove.

Just how easy is the Easyboot Mini to apply? Watch it happen here:

 

There are a lot of questions that come to mind when a revolutionary product of this magnitude is introduced. We’ve answered some of the most common questions below.

Can this boot be used for driving?
Yes, the Easyboot Mini can be used for driving on any surface. 

Will the Easyboot Mini help with traction on indoor surfaces? 
Yes, the Easyboot Mini works well on all indoor surfaces. No more slipping on tile, hard wood or laminate floors.

Can Quick Studs be used with the Easyboot Mini?
Yes, Quick Studs can be added for traction in mud, snow, and ice.

Can a pad be added to the Mini?
Yes, any EasyCare Comfort Pads can be cut down and added to the Easyboot Mini.

Can a bandage be used with the Easyboot Mini?
Yes, the Easyboot Mini will accommodate a wrap. You will need to size up in your boot selection to accommodate for the volume of the wrap.

Can I leave the Easyboot Mini on for an extended period of time?
Yes, we suggest a maximum of 12 hours on at a time to allow ample time for the boots and hoof to dry out. 

Can my miniature donkey or mule wear the Easyboot Mini?
Yes, if their hoof measurements fall within the size chart, there should be no problem with using the boots on donkeys or mules. 

Can the Easyboot Mini be worn over steel shoes?
Yes, but keep in mind it will void the 90 day warranty.

Are the Easyboot Minis easy to get on and off?
Yes, the flexible upper folds out of the way to allow for easy application and removal.

How long will these boots last?
This will depend on what type of terrain you will be using the boots on but should get more than 200 miles before the sole starts to wear down.

The Easyboot Mini is in stock and available to ship immediately. Call or go online to order yours at (800) 447-8836. We are eager to see the Easyboot Mini on many minis, ponies, and foals.

Kevin Myers

easycare-marketing-director-kevin-myers

Director of Marketing

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

 

That's My Story and I'm Stickin' To It: The Learning Curve

Submitted by David Landreville

That's My Story by Collin Raye was a popular song in the 90's. I don't know how many times back then I would hear someone finish their sentence with the line, "That's my story and I'm stickin' to it." I feel sorry for Collin Raye as I'm sure he never escaped his fans shouting this line at him. What I find interesting though, is how a hit country song aimed at self deprecating humor quickly became a national anthem that seemed to "stick." This method of "tweaking the truth" has become very prevalent in our society and has become an every day part of my personal experience with horse people: Veterinarians, farrier/trimmers, trainers, and horse owners. It's easy to judge the success of a concept, or product, by your own experience, but not very productive to just stop there. Here's a self deprecating story about my learning curve with EasyShoes.

I've spent many years developing a predictably successful trimming protocol. The trouble is that success is like money, and it seems that you can never have enough. When the EasyShoe first came out, I have to admit, my first thought was negative because it looked too much like the demon I'd been fighting for years. A funny thing happened, though. Over time, the closer I looked at it, the more interested I became until I was modifying Glue-On shells to mimic the design (because they weren't available to the public yet). I started gluing them on my own horses and immediately had some positive results. They improved the movement and the integrity of the soft tissue in the back of their feet.  I was excited about this and couldn't wait for the EasyShoe to become available. As usual, when trying something new, there will be a learning curve. My problem was being able to make them last for a full trim cycle. I was getting anywhere from a day to a month. I still saw hoof improvement as long as they would stay in place. I was afraid that I wouldn't be very successful using them on my client's horses if I couldn't reasonably predict how long they would stay on.

After a few brave souls offered to be experiments, I slowly broadened my experience and learned to improve my success rate. I achieved good changes in the hoof but only moderate success with them staying on the feet. To be honest, it was very close to a matter of doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Something finally changed but it wasn't for the better. A new client asked me if I would apply them to her horse as she was going on a 50 mile endurance ride in the upcoming weekend. She seemed thrilled at the chance to be getting to try this new product. After applying them she took photos and proudly posted them on Facebook. One of the comments read, "not enough glue"... from Garrett Ford. A nagging feeling crept in and I couldn't get rid of the sense of foreboding. I was terrified that they were going to come off during her ride. My internal dialogue took over from there. I couldn't wait until the weekend was over. I called her on Monday hoping to hear that she had a great time and all my fears were over nothing. Instead, they were confirmed. She had a horrible ride, losing all but one shoe by the forty mile mark. She had no way to remove the last shoe and for fear of hurting her horse she got off and walked him to the finish line. I'm sure my name came up more than once in that stretch of the trail. I apologized but wasn't sure that would be enough.

After a futile attempt at justifying the failure with rationalizations such as, "these shoes just don't work on a well trimmed hoof" and "if the horse had better conformation there wouldn't have been so much torque on the shoe", but I knew other people were having more success than I was. I decided to reply to Garrett's comment, "I would appreciate any tips that you might have." Garrett graciously offered to show me first hand the protocol that he had developed for predictable adhesion (the same protocol that is available on the EasyCare website). After spending a day gluing shoes on his horses, I realized that what he was showing me and what I had been doing were a universe apart. Garrett advised me that, if you don't develop a strict protocol, you'll never be able to look back and see why you were successful or where you failed. This made perfect sense to me because I felt the same way about trimming. I'm grateful for the lesson and now I am very proud of my shoeing results. As a matter of fact, I've had to develop my own protocol to remove them in a timely fashion. If you're not having good results with something that other people are, you may just be the variable.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking' to it...for now.

Easy Jumping

I bought my new horse, Red Hawk Rupert (six years old), off the racetrack last year and picked him up from the track just before Christmas. I'm now getting him used to being barefoot, which means hoof protection for trail rides on rocky ground and for retraining for eventing for the time being. Jumping with Easyboots?  No problem in the Easyboot Glove Back Country!

Name: Esty 
City: Wickenburg
State: ARIZONA
Country: United States
Equine Discipline: Eventing
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove Back Country


Conquering 100 Miles at Sun River Classic

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

Last June I added the Sun River 100 miler near Bend, Oregon to my ride list. This is a great mountain ride in the Oregon Cascades. It's not really a hard 100 but a deceiving ride as the hills are long gradual climbs for miles and miles, not rolling.  I really wanted to do another 100 and not get the vertigo in the dark, as I had done two years ago. The year before that, Tami Rougeau and I had picked up a sick rider along the way who became hypothermic and we were just lucky to get her into the finish! At the last minute my Junior decided that she wanted to go, so she came along with my gelding, The Big Brass. Ah, the more the merrier!

The plan was to ride with Tamara Baysinger who was doing her first 100 on HHR Jammazon. My friend, Beth Nicholes, leading Junior rider on my horse, The Big Brass, was also trying her first 100. All the horses were outfitted in Easyboot Gloves and we happily trotted through the Deschutes National Forest into the first vet check. My two boys also had a spot of SikaFlex in their boots for extra cushion and to keep dirt out.

Some things are just not meant to be, however, as misfortune can deal a heavy blow. Sadly, Brass was a tiny bit off at the vet check, so Beth had to stay behind and wait for a trailer back to camp. Bummer! Hate it when that happens but endurance riding is like that. We had a lot of downhill and I suspected trotting all the downhill was part of it. The next day showed his back a bit sore so that was going to have to be addressed but the problem had nothing to do with his hoof protection at least.

 Thunder and I trotting down the trail after vet check two.

I'm not a potato, I carry "stuff". It's a 50 mile loop so I have my EasyCare Stowaway bags, my E-Z Ride caged stirrups and Thunder has his Gloves on all four. I'm prepared, and while I may not need all of that, I have it just in case I do. And the fact that Thunder carries it comfortably and that I can easily ride with it and not fuss with it, means stress-free miles for both of us. Happy miles mean a lot bigger chance for success especially when you are chipping away at 100 miles!

One of the things I love about this ride is you travel above the Deschutes River and get some great views. In the afternoon there are people in canoes and small boats on the river and it just looks so appealing and beautiful! This was Thunder's and my third Sun River 100. I've ridden it many times over the years and always enjoy it. The snow capped Mt. Bachelor plays peek a boo through the trees and at different points on the trail. Tamara and I also spotted a couple deer late in the evening.

We left camp and the final vet check before dark and trotted for about an hour before the darkness claimed the day. In this particular area the ground was rough with some rolling rocks here and there under the loose dirt. Not really a great place to trot in the dark. We also had some uphill on the two track roads in the forest. But as the hill gave way to more flat, and the ground improved, it was time to trot. And now came my personal test. Could I trot without vertigo? Thunder started trotting and I tried not to think about any vertigo. It wasn't long before I realized all was good and life was fine! The horses felt good. Neither Tamara or I had a single boot problem all day and we were feeling confident those last few miles. We knew we were closing in on horses up ahead as there was a bit of dust hanging in the air. We never caught them though, they finished 10 minutes ahead of us.

It was nice to ride into the camp amid cheers and people waiting at the camp fire. Beth had our horse blankets and we vetted through just fine!  A total of 23 started and 16 completed! Our time was 16:43, certainly not speedy but I was happy with it! No vertigo and this gave Thunder four 100 mile completions. Helping my friend get through her first 100 was a great bonus! It was a fun ride and I'm looking forward to another 100!

How Do You Promote EasyCare Products?

Promote: (definition) Further the progress of (something, especially a cause, venture, or aim); support or actively encourage.

What do you do to promote EasyCare products? Speaking with EasyCare Dealers daily, I hear about all of the little problems. But, when I ask, “What are you doing to promote EasyCare products for your business?” there is usually dead silence. If you don’t promote a product, how will your customers know about it?

Sonya Walz, of Walz Performance Horses, is a promoter. If you look at the Walz Performance Horse Facebook page, you will always find information about Easyboot Clouds, Rx boots and the new Trails. And, she always upsells Comfort Pads to go with the boots. Or an extra pair of inserts for the Easyboot Clouds. This benefits her customers and, of course, it benefits her business. Also listed on Facebook are the events that she will be attending.

Gabriel Krekk, Photographer

But, she’s not just promoting on Facebook. Take a look at anything related to barrel racing or roping and you’ll find something connected to Sonya and Walz Performance Horses. Whether it is attending the event or taking advertising space in the program, Sonya is there with her EasyCare products.

Sonya is out in front of the public all the time and always reaching with EasyCare products. Sonya says, “I think we go above and beyond to try to help our customers.” She also uses EasyCare boots on her own horses and constantly experiments with the hoof boots to make the experience better. And, other horse owners see that she is using the boots, once again, promoting the product.

Sonya is not known for sitting and watching the world go by. She has helped EasyCare with sponsorships for Barrel Racing Promoters and Sponsorships for some of the top Barrel Racers and Champion Ropers. Walz Performance is also a sponsor for NBR 2015-16 and has taken a very active role.

Ask any Barrel Racer about Sonya Walz and they know exactly who she is and what products she offers. As any EasyCare Dealer knows, the Easyboot Clouds have been such a popular boot that they have back ordered many times. Sonya always has them available because she maintains a healthy inventory of the most popular sizes. Her customers know they can count on her to get them product in a timely manner. Sonya also takes advantage of our Direct Shipping to her customers.

Making herself stand out again in her own private arena, Sonya was named American Cowgirl #5.

Gabriel Krekk, Photographer

She also knows her priorities and her family is always first.

Gabriel Krekk, Photographer

Walz Performance started out with EasyCare in 2014 and quickly rose to be a major contender in the Hoof Boot Business. Last year, her business grew again, experiencing constant growth from year to year because Sonya never lets down.

Gabriel Krekk, Photographer

Sonya is definitely an over-achiever. She says, “From the beginning, our plan was never to be just average.” She illustrates what a successful EasyCare Dealer does to promote product.

 

Dee Reiter

easycare-customer-service-dee-reiter

Retail Account Rep

I am the Retail and New Dealer Account Rep for EasyCare. I will be happy to help you with ordering, selecting the most popular styles and sizes of EasyCare hoof boots to stock. Let me help you with suggestions on merchandising and provide training for you and your staff, at your convenience.

Hoof Care Starts In The Gut

They can be seen everywhere, the most unbalanced hooves, long toes, underrun heels, high heels, flares, you name it. It is truly amazing that horses with neglected hooves can sometimes bring superior performances to the table, while I would not even have given them credit for being able in taking one sound step. While many farriers and trimmers are making it an art to trim and shoe horses correctly and with utmost care, horses can act amazingly tolerant towards hoof imbalances. Many just do not seem to care how well their hooves are being taken care of. Professor Bowker, most renowned for his scientific equine hoof and anatomy studies, has seen horses that can handle a ten degree hoof angle variation and considerable medial/lateral imbalances without missing a beat during long endurance races. Others are lame when there is just a small hoof angle variation. How can there be such discrepancies how horses deal with the status of their hooves? Could it be that a proper hoof trim for a lot of equines is nothing more but the last little detail in a series of events that start with their birth as a foal?

In my blog from February last year: High And Low From Above I discussed the importance of proper training and horse husbandry for proper hoof growth and health and how we can achieve healthy and balanced hooves through a holistic approach. If interested, one can read up on it again to learn how body massages and manipulations can help fix hoof problems. Let us expand a little more on this line of thought, but move a little deeper into the subject, literally and anatomically.

Let's have a good look at this horse. (GE Whispurr from GETC) What kind of information can we gather by just spending a few moments looking at him as a whole?

Without even looking at his hooves, we do get a first impression of this horse. What can be observed:

  • Shiny coat
  • Moving feely and naturally
  • Alert, happy and kind eye and facial expression.

From this first impression, we can draw conclusions in regards to the status of the hooves. I now expect his hooves to show me:

  • Large and healthy frog
  • Deep concavity
  • Thick hoof wall
  • Well developed digital cushion and lateral cartilage.

Maybe something like these two images of fairly strong and healthy hooves:

These are all signs of a healthy hoof, and in nine out of ten cases, the first impression a horse gives us reflects directly to the status of the hooves. How can everybody then contribute easily and without much training to achieving strong and healthy hooves?

Hippocrates, the great Greek physician (460 -370 BC) has an answer for us when he said this: "All diseases begin in the stomach".

And indeed, for humans and animals alike, a healthy gut is the prerequisite for a healthy body, mind and spirit and, of course, hooves. The healthier we can keep our gut and intestinal organs, the healthier our whole body and our DNA will be. While we could go on and on and look at the effects of modern nutrition and the exposure to toxins and how these poisons and toxins literally destroy human and horses bodies and health, I want to just give a short list of supplements that can make a difference in your horses hoof health.

Start with a well-balanced diet to stimulate hoof growth and maintain strength and flexibility of the hoof. Organically grown hay will be mostly toxin free and gives horses a head start. Same for grains and commercial feed. Nutrient deficient and toxin loaded hooves are weakest in the heels and quarters. Low levels of zinc and copper will make horses much more susceptible to hoof pathologies like white line disease, thrush and poor horn quality.

The nutritional hoof building blocks in order of importance are:

  • High quality proteins
  • Amino Acids
  • Minerals
  • Biotin (vitamins)

Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein for keratin synthesis, important for strength and flexibility of hoof material. This synthesis is not really possible without the sulfur containing aminos, such as methionine and cysteine. Of all the minerals out there, zinc, copper and selenium are the most important trace minerals for hoof growth and health. Especially for the strength of the hoof wall. Zinc is probably THE most important one. While zinc is actually strengthening the cell, copper and sulfur are responsible for building the bridges between the proteins, thus giving the hooves their density and strength. Selenium, on the other hand, is not a building block, but a shield against oxidizing damage. It works best in conjunction with Vitamin E. However, too much selenium can be toxic (mane and tail hairs can fall out or break off, hoof walls can crack). Biotin will help foster hoof growth by assisting the cell cornification process. One might say, it is the cement for holding the cells together.

Important is the zinc to copper ratio when supplementing these minerals. This ratio should be 3:1. A horse needs 450 mg of zinc and 150 mg of copper daily. Iron, however, is competing with zinc and copper for absorption in the cells. Lots of horses in general are taking in way too much iron in their diet; should that be the case, then the zinc and copper administration needs to get increased. Natalie Herman wrote a very informative blog three years ago, Got Iron?,  where she described the poisonous effect of iron overload in the horses diet. While a horse needs only 40ppm of iron a day, most daily hay portions have almost twice to three times that much iron. When riders then supplement additionally with the popular Red Cell, a product high in iron, one can quickly poison a horse and the result could be hoof soles that look like this (Photo by Natalie Herman):

Irregular cracks inside the hoof wall (not within the actual white line) are a sure tell sign of iron overload.

Iron in excess is certainly toxic. But there are numerous other toxins which we, riders and equines alike, are burdened with everyday. While this topic in itself is well deserving of its own blog, I just want to briefly give a short list on how we can minimize their poisoning effects on the body:

  • Minimize or eliminate exposure to pesticides in grass and hay
  • Neutralize toxins by administering high doses of Vitamin C and E
  • Feed probiotics on a regular basis.

When it all comes down to it, nutrition trumps trimming. The most sophisticated and accurate hoof balance will not mean much if the horse is not properly fed, lacks aminos and minerals, has an unhealthy gut, is overburdened with toxins, carries a damaged DNA and looks unthrifty. Even the best EasyCare shoes and products cannot perform miracles if there is no solid foundation to build a performance horse upon. So, the bottom line could very well be: 

Making sure that our equine friends have a healthy gut is the very best hoof service we can provide.

 

Form the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center