The Merlinator

This is Merlin the mini. He came to me for some hoof rehab with severe laminitis. He currently lives on our track system with the big horses but has to wear a grazing muzzle to keep his weight down. As we all know the fastest way to recovery for these little guys is movement (among other things of course), however when you have sore feet you don't feel much like moving. Enter EasyCare Mini Hoof Boots! Merlin had never worn anything like them and as I had to order them from Oz I was a little worried they wouldn't be the perfect fit. Thankfully EasyCare Down Under made the whole thing easy and stress free. I really can't thank them enough. As soon as Merlin had them on it was like they were made fore him! He pranced up the road with the happiest look on his face. He just absolutely loves wearing them! He's now excited to go out and about knowing he will have comfy toes. Thanks EasyCare for making the Merlinators life that much more enjoyable. 

Name: Peta 
Country: New Zealand
Equine Discipline: Other
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Mini


At Least Once

Yes, I truly believe that each Hoof Care Professional should attend the yearly International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio at least one time in their life. It is an event packed to the brim with lectures and seminars. Organized by the AFJ, this year attendance was in the thousands. Farriers from all over the world attended and it is a great opportunity to meet them and exchange experiences. 

EasyCare Inc and Polyflex Horseshoes had partnered up and shared a booth side by side at the Summit. Great experience to work with Curtis Burns, in my opinion, the most experienced and best Hoof Care Professional in terms of gluing synthetic and polyurethane horse shoes.

EasyCare and Polyflex booth at the trade show.

 The Bootmeister explaining the advantages of the EasyCare products to visitors from all over the world.

Curtis Burns demonstrated quarter crack repair in front of many trade show attendees. 

Garrett Ford had some airline problems, so unfortunately he did not make it to the Trade Show. Some of the newest products developed by EasyCare, and meant to be showcased in Cincinnati, also fell victim to flight cancellations. Therefore the EasyCare Booth did not have all the new products at hand. Nevertheless, we had some of the newest and exciting EasyCare products on display and in cooperation with Curtis, I made it a go.

One of my all time favorite boots, the EasyBoot Flip-Flop, on display on the blacksmith buddy.

A joint production with Polyflex Horseshoes, the EasyShoe Flex is scheduled to get released onto the market in March. Watch this video here that explains the benefits of the Flex. The EasyShoe Flex will first be released in four sizes: 0, 1, 2 and 3. With a springsteel core, this shoe will flex just about like a hoof, like nature intended. The Flex is meant to be nailed on. Options are a dorsal clip or side clips. Another option is open heel or closed heel for frog support. Garrett Ford talked a little bit more about this in last weeks blog.

Not only was the Trade show a huge success with products on display from companies all over the world, the lecture series was filled with capable and iconic speakers like Mike Wildenstein, Simon Curtis, Dave Farley and my all time favorite: Brian Hampson. Brian has done extensive research on the Australian Brumbies and the Mongolian Takh horses like no other scientist in the world. His research has influenced the way we are looking and judging horse hooves in recent times. 

In Brian's lectures, you can learn a lot about the wild horses of the world. For example, did you know that 46% of all wild horses with hooves that we often consider ideal suffer from laminitis?

Photo from Brian Hampson's lecture. 

Looking at these hooves of wild mustangs in the image below, one might think of these being the ideal hooves everybody is striving to achieve.

What Brian Hampson found out in his numerous studies puts a damper on this illusion: these hooves might look appealing from the outside, yet inside these hooves have the highest percentage of pathologies. Specifically founder, laminitis, white line disease, navicular etc.

In the slide below, Brian is detailing the percentages of the pathologies found in his studies of the wild horse hooves in Australia:

Compare the wild horse hooves in the image above to this one below, taken from a horse in a wetter environment and representing hooves we see more commonly among our domesticated herds:

On first sight, we all would probably agree that this hoof is somewhat neglected and unhealthy. 

Yet, when checking more closely with digital radiology, nuclear scintigraphy and ultrasound the inside of hooves looking like this, one is astonished to find out that these hooves were among the healthiest in Hampson's studies. So the first impression is not telling us the whole truth or might actually totally fool us. Take home message is that the external looks of a hoof will not allow us to draw conclusions and pass judgement on how "healthy" the actual hoof, its internal structures and the digit inside really are. Interesting, isn't it? It sure taught me a lesson. That is the kind of invaluable stuff you learn at the Summit.

The learning experience all around was just amazing and, quite frankly, there is no better way to learn about Hoof Care, the newest scientific findings, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones but by attending the "Summit". See you there next year!

 

From the desk of The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

Best Practice: What Glue Work Works?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

New Hoof Protection Products in the R&D Phase at EasyCare

I was recently looking at the last seven years of statistics from the Tevis Cup 100 mile horse race.  Although I'm a big believer in hoof protection products that give the hoof the ability to move as nature intended it's nice to see real numbers from the most difficult and demanding horse event in the world that support my beliefs. Results for the Tevis Cup show that EasyCare's products not only work but they outperform other types of hoof protection.  

Here are some interesting numbers from the last seven years of the Tevis Cup.   

1.  53.07% of starting riders finished the event, 61.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event, 50.36% of starting riders not using Easyboots finished the event. In 2011, 75.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event!

2.  6 of the last 7 Haggin Cup (Best Condition) winners used Easyboots.

3.  5 of the last 7 Tevis Cup (race winner) winners used Easyboots.

4.  In 2016 the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers used Easyboots.  

2016 Haggin Cup Winners.  Lisa Ford and GE Cyclone.

I'm not a statistician but those numbers tell me that flexible, urethane hoof protection excels at the most demanding 100 mile horse race in the world.  You are more likely to finish if your horse starts in Easyboots, you are more likely to win the Haggin Cup and you and more likely to win the Tevis Cup if your horse is fitted with Easyboots.  Yes, there are many that still want to argue that hoof boots don't work, are a fad, are for tree huggers, etc. but just looking at numbers from the last seven years, it's a hard argument to win.

So what's next?  We believe in our products, we believe we have a nice range that covers many types of disciplines and EasyCare can accommodate Mini horses up to some of the smaller draft breeds.  Although we are happy with our line there is always room for new products that can help horses, are easier to apply or are more economical. Below is a short list of what we have in the works and some quick thoughts on each.

1.  EasyShoe Flex.  A flexible steel core over molded in urethane.  Intended to be nailed on the hoof.  Yes, many people do not like nails but at the same time complain of the costs associated with glue.  We believe this shoe will be a healthier alternative to many of the nail-on products in the market.  Open heel, full heel with frog support and different clip options.  The open ended nailing slots are very unique and make the product much easier to apply.  Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the EasyShoe Flex.  

EasyShoe Flex Ground Surface.

2.  Easyboot Slipper, Easyboot Love Child or BFM.  A cross between the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and the EasyShoe Performance.  It allows more movement in the heels than the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and is easier than the EasyShoe Performance to apply.  In the future we plan to integrate a gaiter on this shell. Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the product.  In 48 hours we received 200+ applications to help test the new design.  

Easyboot Slipper/Love Child/BMF

3.  Easyboot Sneaker.  A new multidimensional boot for riding, turnout and therapy.  The boot has a unique strap system that hugs the heel bulbs and prevents boot rotation when tightened.  The sole is a rubber/urethane blend and is more flexible than a total urethane product.  We will be looking for riders to help test this product in a new BETA release program.  More information to follow.

4.  The Old Mac's G2 is back.  We have brought back the G2 for 2017.  In addition we are testing a wide version that is wider than long. 

Old Mac's G2 Wide in testing.

5.  Easyboot Fly.  Features a shell that accepts three different gaiter types.  The design allows for adjustment in length, heel height and allows for heel pivot.  It's testing well and we will be reaching out to include testers soon.  

Easyboot Fly from the back.

We look forward to getting these products tested and to market.  In the near future we will be reaching out to horse owners, vets and hoof care professionals that would like to be involved in BETA releases and product testing.

We are excited about these products and feel they work in conjunction with the "Smart Structure" of the hoof.  What product do you believe will be the most helpful in the horse industry?

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO 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.

Freedom Movement

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

Someone recently asked me how to convince their clients to schedule their horse(s) on a shorter trim cycle. One of my clients had this horse's leg bone and I haven't been able to get the shape and function of the fetlock joint out of my head. Talk about no margin of error. There is no room for error. Trimming  is meant to be done daily in nature. Horse's feet grow 1/16th of an inch every four to five days (3/8" - 1/2" per month). If they are naturally a little crooked due to conformation flaws (which every horse has to some degree)  then the longer their walls get, and the more crooked the foot gets. Their feet are their foundation. If they are crooked the horse must compensate in their body. This is typically where leg, shoulder, neck, back, hip, hock, stifle, knee and jaw pain comes from. The horse is a living kinetic structure. Any imbalance in any joint affects every other joint. 
 
I think the biggest thing that is overlooked in horse's hooves is how much the horse is affected by minute imbalances in the hoof. Here is an example: take a four foot builders level. Fix it vertically to the jamb of a door. Check it for plumb. The bubble should be centered between the lines at the center of the level. Slide a penny between the bottom of the level and the floor, on the jamb side of the level. You should notice the top of the level come away from the jamb about an inch and half. 

A penny is about 1/16 of an inch thick. That's how much the hoof walls grow in about five days. If the leg of a horse isn't plumb then one side of the hoof gets longer than the other from lack of wear. The weight of the horse gets distributed more to the short side of the hoof. The longer this condition persists the more the short side of the hoof gets excessive wear and crushed, the more crushing, the less circulation, the less circulation the less growth, etc. Horses can compensate for years, silently, until their lameness becomes obvious. Most often this appears as a "mystery" lameness or gets diagnosed as a neurological issue, or even disease. The cure is the same as the prevention; keep the heels level, don't just eye ball it. Use a gauge. Remember that a 1/16 inch off at the ground equals an inch and a half at the shoulder. This is pretty significant to the horse when they are trying to keep 300 lbs (per leg) balanced four feet above a four inch diameter circle. Problems are compounded with the addition of a rider.

The cadaver leg in the photo below is crooked and shows uneven wear.  The live foot is properly balanced. 

Horses feet can't be left to go to hell for several weeks and then brought back for a few days. They're designed to be perfectly balanced, always.
People still don't want to admit that this is supposed to be done daily by nature. Domesticated horses rely on humans for this and the real problem is that too many people set trim schedules according to their pocket book instead of the rate of growth, or empathy for the horse. 

Positive Changes

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo, Wild Hearts Hoof Care

I was recently asked by EasyCare to write up a few words about our trimming theory and approach. This always ends up being quite difficult to be succinct with, as there are so many ways depending on the horse. But, at our foundation we believe that the hoof is a highly adaptable “smart structure” as said by Dr. Taylor of Auburn University. The hoof is capable of positive change given the opportunity with supportive trims, diet and lifestyle. We have seen it over and over and over again in our hoof care practice.

This left front hoof made the visual changes above, as well as an internal coffin bone angle change from negative to positive angles (-2.45 degrees to positive 3.25 degrees) in 6 months

We have found that if you help the hoof a little bit with your trim, by setting it up to grow better between cycles, making sure the horse is comfortable to move properly with minimal or no compensative movement, and then get out of their way, they can develop a pretty awesome hoof. It may not be the picture in some people’s mind of The Perfect Hoof, but it can be a pretty awesome, functional, sound and improving hoof for that horse.

This right hind hoof made a positive change (literally) to the angle of his coffin bone, which we can see by observing the angle of the hoof wall and the hairline. In the October image, the hairline is much steeper, the heel is lower and forward and the dorsal wall is bulging in a bull nosed shape. By January, his hairline is more shallow and relaxed down, the heel is in a more supportive position under the bulbs and his dorsal wall is straight. (Please note that this was not straightened with the hoof buffer, which we used to only very lightly scuff the walls.) 

 The yellow and green line overlays were copied and pasted unchanged from each of the images to show the shape changes that took place over 11 weeks.

The owner may have to make some changes for the horse’s sake, and in fact, it is pretty much guaranteed.Often this involves things like changing the footing in the horse’s pen to be cleaner or more dry, perhaps treating for thrush, changing from sweet feeds to a lower carb vitamin/mineral supplement and almost always learning how and when to use hoof boots

It also often involves educating owners as to what a healthy hoof looks like. When an owner learns to recognize signs of hoof distortion they can, for the rest of their horse owning life, step in and know when to make necessary changes before things get too out of whack.    

You could say that the frog’s change in width, in this right hind hoof, over 11 weeks was simply due to a style change of trimming less from the sides, but how to explain the change in the heel bulb shape? This cannot be cut to shape, the horse makes this change.  

We tell our clients that it takes around eight months to one year to grow a whole new hoof. Some horses need to grow two or more hoof cycles to really develop into more like what we like to see, but I think it is important to be aware that the horse, and his feet, are always in motion. They are always growing, and they can be growing for the better every moment. Sometimes we are gifted with quick visual changes, the heels open up, or maybe the wall quality improves right away.  But even if we don’t see huge changes externally, we can know that the horse is moving better, perhaps a longer stride, more confident loading their heels. This tells us that internally, things are improving, realigning, developing and strengthening.

Finally, we feel strongly that you need to look holistically at the situation. The horse’s feet may be better aligned with some modifications to their trim, and that is wonderful, but that’s not all. That change then impacts the way he stands and moves, which impacts the angles of his joints and the way he uses his soft tissues.  It is a whole horse change.

Left front, 11 weeks between images.

What does your horse have going on that could be improved upon?  Could he benefit from a change?  How much more could you see from your beloved partner in terms of comfort and performance? 

Sossity and Mario of Wild Hearts Hoof Care.

 

Frog Talk, Part II

In Frog Talk, Part I last month, we discussed frog trimming and looked at various frog pictures of all kinds of shape and form. In this second part of Frog Talk, we are going to discuss the following:

- Crooked frogs

- Frog pathologies/diseases

- Treatment options

Crooked frogs:

This frog of a left front hoof had moved to the lateral side, the right side from the bottom seen here. The question is, why did it do that? In many cases where a side movement of the frog can be observed, it moves to the higher side of the hoof, in this case the higher side is lateral, where the green arrow points. Comparing heel height by means of the red horizontal line, we can see that the lateral heel has moved forward and needs to get trimmed shorter. Notice that little crack in the heel (blue arrow). That is one of the markers the hoof tries to tell us that the heel is too high in this area. In my blog from July 2014 I talked about Daniel Anz and the F Balance. These markers help us decide how far we can or should trim the heels down. A very interesting concept.

Here as well, the frog tip moved to the higher side of the heels. This hoof being front left, the higher side is the medial side. The red arrow at the heel shows how far that heel has moved forward compared the the lateral heel (blue arrow). Even the heel bulb was pulled forward with it, meaning that this imbalance had existed for a while. 

In both cases the higher heels need to get shortened and the hooves balanced. I would not trim anything off the frog and artificially realign it with the hoof's center line, just for optical reasons so it would look 'pretty'. By doing so, I would rob the frog of its protective callused skin and make it vulnerable for pathogens to invade. If the hoof is balanced, these frogs will realign themselves again without any trimming.  

This one throws us a curve ball, telling us that it will not play by these rules. Indeed, the frog tip moved to the lower side of the heel. The green horizontal line indicates level heel height, clearly the blue arrow shows the higher heel, while the red arrow the movement of the frog tip. 

What gives? Looking at the high and long bar on the higher (left) hoof side within the red arch could give us the clue: the bar could have pushed the frog to the side. 

The outer shape of the frog matches the inner shape of the frog's corium. Looking at these cadaver hoof capsules with huge bars, one can easily imagine how these overgrown bars (below the red semicircle) can create havoc inside the hoof capsule. 

Here the bar had grown so large and long, that it created a dorsal hoof wall crack (red arrow tip). Again, easy to imagine how much damage this bar did to the frog corium and subsequently the actual visible frog.

This neglected hoof and frog does not want to play ball either. Here the frog tips point in two different directions, the older frog, ready to shed, in one direction, the newer frog in the other. With these way overgrown heels it is even hard to decide which one is higher or if both are similar height.

Where does that leave us? Well, the famous answer: it depends. Heel imbalance can be a reason, long bars can be a reason, the way a horse moves, lands, breaks over, all can be reasons. I like to look at the frog deviations as indicators that something is amiss and that I need to get exploring and finding out what it is and what to do about it. But I leave the frog itself mostly untouched. Then I also can get confirmation at the next trim, if I balanced the hoof correctly so the frog was able to self correct. 

Frog pathologies and diseases:

We can differentiate between frog yeast, the white powdery or smeary substance, fungus, a black layer of frog decay, and thrush, which combines fungus and anaerobic bacteria to really attack the frogs substance. Thrush is the most destructive form and if untreated, can migrate deep into the corium, laming up a horse in a big way. 

This frog certainly harbors all all three. There are holes everywhere, the frog is literally falling apart. Double sole, long bars, long heels and hoof wall. The frog is trying desperately to get some kind of ground contact, and although it is very sick, it does not want to shed anything. Now it is time to cut the decayed matter, find out how bad the damage is, treat it accordingly and give that hoof some relief.

After a preliminary trim of the neglected hoof, the frog damage becomes visible: red arrow points to yeast, blue arrow to fungus.

On this frog tell tale signs:

Typical 'butt crack' indicating thrush infestation. 

Recessed, thrush infected frog. Very often frogs that do not receive enough ground stimulation recede and suffer from thrush and other infections. Notice also the contracted heels and negative hoof wall angles. A totally dysfunctional frog, crying out for help.

Another prime example of a recessed frog, contracted heel, thrush infestations. This frog is dysfunctional and sick, cannot handle any load bearing. Bell shaped hoof capsule (Glockenform). The steel shoes he was wearing did not allow the heels to spread and be load bearing. 

Treatment Options:

There are many thrush treatments available, from Thrushbuster to White Lightning, Kopertox, Iodine, bleach, vinegar, sugar betadine solutions, copper sulfate solutions and paste etc.  Some of these mentioned above are toxic and kill healthy tissue as well. Others are complicated to apply, you have to soak the hooves for a time period in solutions. For all these options, the EasySoaker works excellently. Not a better boot can be found on the market. It will take time and effort, though,  to treat thrush with liquids. 

A quicker and more effective way to treat thrush are pastes. Specifically I like these two formulas:

-  Hypozin, an effective paste developed in the Netherlands

- Antibiotic and antifungal cream mixed 50/50.

(This can be Neosporin, triple antibiotic, mixed with with Athletes Foot Cream)

   

Either one of these two pastes will do an excellent job of killing thrush within a few days. Monoject curved syringes work best for the application.

Arguments have been made that thrush is caused by bacteria that thrive in an anaerobic environment. True enough. Conclusions have been drawn that it is therefore better to cut the frog clean, so air or oxygen can reach the frog and thus kill the bacteria. The reality is that oxygen seldom, if ever, reaches the frog in the best of cases. Most of the time the horse stands in soft ground, the sole and frog filled with soil, mud and manure. No oxygen is able to penetrate there. So, unless a horse is moving fast over gravel, sand or other abrasive terrain, there just is no oxygen reaching infected soles and killing any thrush bacteria. I would much rather keep the callused frog with all its little pockets and niches. These will allow me to fill these with anti thrush cream. There the cream will stay and keep working 24/7 without getting worn off or worked out. 

Back to our contracted heels. Daisy Bicking wrote a very informative blog over a year ago about heel slippering. I found it to be a great way to aid with rehabilitating contracted heels and recessed frogs. A very worthy read. 

After slippering heels and treating thrush with paste mentioned above, what is left to accomplish is frog stimulation. If the frog is pressure sensitive, we need to proceed slowly and with baby steps. Sand and pea gravel are preferred ground cover for healthy frogs to move over. Lacking any of these grounds, we then can look into the usage of Vettec products like Equipak or Equipak CS. 

 

This frog pictured above was sensitive to pressure and only marginally functional. It actually appears stronger than it was. After cleaning and drying thoroughly, I supported it with Equipak CS. This soft cushion (Strahl Polster, frog support, pour in, caudal support) allows the frog to accept more load bearing while at the same time guarding against thrush with the CS (copper-sulfate) addition. The small recessed frog in the photo above would also greatly benefit from an Equipak cushion.

Of course, none of this will work in the long run, unless we use a holistic approach in our horsemanship and hoof care. Only then can we guarantee long lasting success. The elements of this holistic system are:

  • Nutrition (up to par)
  • Strong immune system
  • Proper footing/stratum
  • Movement and plenty turnout
  • Barefoot as much as possible.

But that last part we all know anyway. Am I not correct with this assumption?

 

From the desk of the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

Clouds in the Rain: The Water Wicking Properties of a Thick, Concave Sole

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

When I was a landscape designer/contractor I loved the rain. I prayed that it would come and water my newly created landscapes because the water from the hose never had the same effect as a good rain. The plants would grow a few more inches, foliage filled in and greened up, and the dust was washed off of the boulders and stones in a way that softened the look of the landscape and heightened the subtle colors of the desert. The rain would freshen everything it touched. My love for rain quickly went away when I started trying to rehab horses feet. 

In the beginning, just when I felt like I was making progress with a horse, the rains would come and I'd have horse owner's calling me worried about their horse being sore. I'd do my best to convince the owner that their horse was just temporarily rain sore and to help them keep their horses as comfortable as possible until it dried out, often driving out to see if there was something else I could do. Many times the drive wasn't wasted and all I needed to do was clean the hard packed mud clod off of their soles. This usually provided immediate relief, however mud would accumulate again and the owner would have to keep their feet clean. Over the years I tried everything to prevent rain soreness:

  • Leaving the walls a little longer
  • Boots and pads
  • Creating positive drainage
  • Adding pea gravel

I did everything I could think of, including warning the owner up front that they would likely experience soreness during the rains for the first year or two.

After about 10 years of dreading the rains, and just when I was starting to get used to warning the owners before we started the rehabilitation process, I started having much better results. At first I attributed that to being prepared with boots and managing the environment, but some horses were still having trouble even when their owners were being proactive. After a long time of trying to figure out how to predict and prevent this problem I realized that some of the horses were getting along fine with big old mud clods on their soles while others were lame and the horses that were getting along fine had better feet at the end of the rainy season while the lame horses feet looked worse. I really wanted to understand what the difference was.

Over time I became aware of a pattern. After things dried out, the improved feet had a tremendous amount of crumbly sole that easily exfoliated, revealing even more concavity than they went into the wet season with, while the the horses that went in with flatter feet had even flatter feet by the end of the season. This realization caused me to try to help horses build as much sole as possible during the dry seasons. Convincing the owners to do their part was a challenge but I had a much better success rate with the ones that cooperated. 

First I had to get the owners to see and understand when the feet were improving and when they were declining instead of just riding their horse until they broke down, and then freaking out. Next I had to get them involved in the process so they felt more like it was a collaboration. After they knew what progress looked like and they realized that the changes were happening after they improved the footing and/or started using boots and pads they began to take even more ownership of the rehab process. Once it started feeling like team work, their horse's feet started getting even better.

I know 2016 was a bad year for a lot of folks but I had some of the toughest founder cases with the quickest and best turnarounds that I've ever seen. One of the biggest reasons for this was the arrival of the EasyCare Cloud boot. I used this boot extensively to get foundered and rain sore horses through the wet weather. I went through more than one pair in a few months time with several horses. In many of the extreme cases the boots were left on until the sun was shining. Sometimes they only had them off for an hour or two for the feet and the boots to dry out. I was able to trim frequently enough to keep the dead tissue to a minimum. This kept the feet from getting infected and allowed extra comfort after a trim. I taught the owners to use the boots as much as needed, but as little as possible, and to gently graduate their horses out of them until their horses were moving around comfortably totally bare. 

Over the last few years I've learned to love the rain again. I've also learned some interesting things about horse's feet. In wet weather the mud that collects in a concave sole works somewhat like a sponge. When a healthy concave hoof with thick live sole gets packed with mud, the weight of the horse squeezes the moisture out of the mud and keeps the sole dry. An old fashioned orange juice squeezer might be a better analogy. The mud ball elevates the foot off of the  ground just enough to let the weight of the horse squeeze the water out. They can go for weeks and maybe months like this if they have adequate concavity in the beginning. Once a horse is acclimated to their weight bearing being distributed between their heels and the peripheral edge of their sole at the toe, the sole will thicken and form a bowl (concavity). Achieving this is possible for most horses if they have the right owner/trimmer team. These horses are the ones that benefit from the rain. For the horses that go into the wet season with thin, flat, or even prolapsed soles, Easyboot Clouds used responsibly in conjunction with well timed and properly balanced trimming, should at the very least get a horse comfortably through the wet weather.

 An added benefit is that the rocker effect of the mud clod on a properly balanced, thick, concave sole helps to develop the digital cushion and lateral cartilages because the weight bearing is over the back of the foot where it belongs. This puts the center of the mud ball directly under the soft regenerative tissue in the back half of the foot, and increases flexion in the hoof capsule, while the rocker effect on a thin flat sole caused by excessive weight bearing on the toe puts the center of the mud ball directly under the coffin bone in the front half of the foot. This causes excruciating pain and magnifies the strain on the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon along with the ligaments and joints in the leg. Flexion of the hoof capsule is increased this way too, but in a harmful way.

I believe some of the founder cases from this year (pictured above) may not have been as successful without the Easyboot Cloud

2016 Didn't Suck!

We are still here after 46 years! 23 years under the direction of Dr. Neel Glass and 23 years under my direction. 

96% of businesses fail in the first ten years! EasyCare has been making hoof boots and hoof protection for 46 years! It's been a great year but has come with some learning experiences.  The death of Kevin Myers has helped the entire EasyCare staff put things into perspective and look at things a bit differently. EasyCare continues to make an impact in the equine industry, help horses and have some fun in the process. It's been a great year!

Here is a quick summary of how 2016 looked: We lost Kevin Myers; farriers now stop at our booth while at the Hoof Care Summit; our hoof protection products dominate at the toughest 100 mile race in the world; we successfully launched many new unique products and we have some great products in the works for 2017. EasyCare and our urethane hoof protection products were once on the fringe of the equine industry. Our products are now carried by most equine retailers, mail order companies, farriers and veterinarians. In short the Easyboot and EasyShoe products continue to develop and improve the lives of our equine partners.  

1.  In February EasyCare returned to the International Hoof Care Summit in Cincinnati Ohio. EasyCare and Polyflex share a booth at the Summit and display alternative urethane hoof care solutions. The booth is often packed with farriers looking at our non traditional hoof protection solutions. Non traditional seems to be turning traditional.  

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford demonstrate application methods.

2.  California Chrome relaxes in Easyboot Clouds. The Easyboot Cloud created a big challenge for EasyCare as it's sales were much better than anticipated. The Cloud caused us a couple grey hairs and put us in catch up mode after release. It's taken some work and forecasting but our inventory levels are much stronger for 2017.   

California Chrome chilling in Easyboot Clouds.

3.  The Easyboot Mini makes an impact on the smaller breeds and foals. The mini boot has made a massive impact with the small breeds and horses.  These smaller feet are often very hard to protect and the Easyboot Mini has provided an economical solution.  

Easyboot Mini's and Easyboot Epics in competition.

Easyboot Mini fits a hoof only 44mm in width.

4.  Easyboot Elite storms the 2016 Tevis Cup. Nine total team members booted 50 of the horses starting the most difficult 100 mile race in the world. No reported boots were lost during the race and completion statistics were impressive. 30.3% of all starting horses were in Easyboots. 41.3% of all finishing horses were in Easyboots. This is the most difficult 100 miles in equine sport, not only do Easyboots work, they dominate.  

-1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, 4th place and 6th place finishers at the 2016 100 mile Tevis Cup were in Easyboots on all four feet.

-Ten of the top 20 finishers were in Easyboots.

-Easyboot completion rate: 72%  (50 Easyboot riders started, 36 Easyboot riders finished).  Historical finish rate at the event is less than 50%.

-Non-Easybooted completion rate: 44.35%  (115 Non-Easybooted riders started, 51 Non-Easybooted finished). 

2016 Easyboot Elite from left to right.  

Pete Van Rossum, Daisy Bicking, Christoph Schork, Garrett Ford, Deanna Stoppler, Steve Foxworth, Derick Vaughn, Jeremy Ortega and Josh Bowles.

5.  Karen Donley and Royal Patron win the 2016 Tevis Cup. Easyboots have now won the Tevis Cup in years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

7.  Lisa Ford wins the 2016 Haggin Cup. Easyboots have now won the Haggin Cup in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

8.  Easyboots excel in many equine disciplines. From dressage, flat track, endurance, to trotters. Easyboot products do more than the other brands! 

New models are hard to detect!

Easyboot Glue-On shells in a fawn color.  Hard to tell they are even there.  

Easyboot Gloves trotting fast!

EasyShoe Competes can be seen on many of the racetracks around the world.

9. The Easyboot Flip Flop also makes a huge impact. Easy to apply, stays in place very well and allows the back half of the hoof protection and complete hoof mechanism. Most said it would not work but it's winning endurance races and helping save foundered horses.  

Easyboot Flip Flop application.

10.  EasyCare said goodbye to one of our own. "I've had some difficult moments in my life but Kevin's passing has ripped my heart out. Kevin had amazing friends and was loved by everyone he touched. It's ironic that Kevin took his life because he didn't want to go forward lonely. Those close to Kevin have been through a bunch of emotions since Wednesday June 29th, 2016. Disbelief, sorrow, guilt, hours of tears, anger and numbness. I've personally had a very difficult time trying to accept his passing and know we will never be able to replace him." Rest in peace my friend. I plan to go forward in 2017 with more smiles, laughs, will practice more patience, will listen more, will give better hugs/hand shakes and be more generous.

Rest in peace Kevin Myers!

To 2017 we go. Expect a new EasyShoe model, the Easyboot Slipper, the Easyboot Sneaker, a boot shell that accepts two or three gaiter solutions and the Old Mac's G2 will come back. EasyCare and the Easyboot/EasyShoe lines will continue to help many different breeds in numerous disciplines. Thanks for your business and continued support.   

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO 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.

Mark, Mustangs, EasyShoes and Winning!

Mark Montgomery is known for adopting, breaking, training and racing BLM Mustangs in the sport of endurance. Mark is a gifted horseman and is usually seen winning and receiving best condition at most endurance events!

Mark and Woody on the way to first place. Photo courtesy of Steve Bradley.

Mark took several of his mustangs to this years XP Death Valley Encounter. The 200 mile event is known for abrasive footing, fast speeds and changes in elevation. Mark has recently switched to the EasyShoe Performance N/G on his horses and is tickled with the results. Mark and Woody came home with the overall 200 mile fastest time and overall best condition at this years event.  

Woody's EasyShoe Performance N/G before the event.

Woody's EasyShoe Performance N/G after 200 fast and abrasive miles.

Thank you Mark for putting the EasyShoes to the test! They obviously work for some of the toughest trails in the USA and at the same time allow hoof mechanism.  

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO 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.