Stella is 1/10th Goldfish: The After Shots

I mentioned that I was going to leave her flaky sole in there and just lower that hoof wall to get her sole more in contact with the ground. I could've knifed out the sole and hacked off a bunch of hoof wall and heel all in one go. I just took these AFTER shots during lunch so she's had 2 days of walking around on them. As you will soon see, they look like they need to be trimmed again!

I like this mode.

For people who don't want to trim every weekend, this would be a pain in the neck, but I like that her sole shed a bit and her frog shed a bit and she got to move around with the adjustment I made. I like that her change in angles is going to be a little at a time, once a week (for the next few weeks).

I had nipped off some serious wall and didn't rasp a thing. I just wanted to hack off the surplus, let her sole exfoliate a bit and then I could come back in the following weekend and nip again and rasp to finish it.

Here is the Left Front. The frog is getting ready to shed and the sole has taken a bit of abrasion. I had nipped at a 45 degree angle and it was LOWER than the "sole" just 2 days ago. With the false sole in contact with the ground, it had a chance to shed a bit. Her hoof wall is factually still longer than her sole. Her sole, factually, still has some shedding left to do. Now that I am not traveling, I will be diligent to trim her weekly, and let the frequent small changes reveal a prettier hoof by the new year.

While not the *exact* same angle, I did want to show the comparison of where the heels went when I trimmed them back. On the left, you can see the weight-bearing portion of the heel had moved forward, to better support the column of her leg. You can see where the frog spans the back of the hoof, much further back than the heels. After the mild trim, you can see (on the right) that the weight-bearing portion of the heels resides closer to the base of the frog. While I am dying to hack those puppies right off, I *can't* hack off much of her toe, as it hits live tissue, so I have to leave X amount of heel on there to keep the torsion off the toe in her break over.

If I had my way, this is where I would like to see her hoof shape go, based on the new growth coming in. I know as soon as I want to change the hoof to make it look "visually better" (to me) I need to stop and review. I can only take off what she has there to give and can't get invasive for the sake of hurrying the process. I COULD. Seeing as she's not being ridden and lives the life of leisure, she is in no hurry, so I don't have to do anything drastic.

I like where her frog is and the angle her new growth is coming in. I would want to tip the hoof in that direction and match the directions I think she is trying to work with. For now, she has too much live sole that I would need to hack off at the solar side of the toe, so we're going to wait and see what falls out on its own.

Here is the Right Front:

It almost looks like a different hoof! The frog shed down a layer (I didn't touch it). The sole has really flaked out and her hoof wall has all sorts of love that needs to come off of it. I took down the heels and bars and had beveled the toe with a deep 45 degree nipping. The hoof wall, just two days ago, was shorter than the sole and beveled off. In two days, she has taken out enough sole to make the hoof wall "longer" than the sole again and, the 45 degree corner is worn off and flat again.

As you can see, the heels were brought back and are more in line with the support of the frog, without being lower than the frog and causing it to be the sole supporter (no pun intended) in the caudal portion of the hoof. I like seeing the fissures on the back of the frog start to appear, as the frog is now moving and will shed its excess soon. Bit by bit, her new hoof will emerge.

This is what her fronts look like on the ground:

Mmmm, I love seeing ripples and ridges in the hoof wall. Reminds me of potato chips. I wonder if I should slather her in French Onion dip?

Actually, I cringe when I see the feet she "has had" and I do mean that in a past tense sort of way, as the bits I don't like are already months in the past as far as growing is concerned. She actually has a bit of wooly fur that feathers down oh-so-slightly, so you can't get a clear vision of her coronary band and the health of what is growing in from this picture. But she doesn't have pushed up hairlines that mirror those two "lifts" in the wavy bands of her wall that seem to break her dorsal area into 1/3rds. We'll see how those grow out!

Here is a profile shot of the Front Left and man, I want that heel to come down, but her frog is already in contact with the ground and I would like to see it shed its way off and then adjust, then wrongly assume the frog is going anywhere. What if it doesn't shed and she's left with a rocker for the back of a foot, balanced on the middle of a tall frog after I hack her heels off? I will be patient.  I like that her hoof wall is no longer taking the support and this gives no pushback to the coronary band and not hindrance to her break over. What is growing in at the top looks tight and tidy. She'll be happy to have THAT hoof when it reaches the ground.

Maybe by this weekend the entire sole will look different and my approach will shift. Read it each time you see it; don't plan ahead. What they give you is the gift you get to work with.

Here is the Front Right:

If I knew I was going to go 5 weeks between trims, I would get more aggressive. Knowing I am going to trim her in another 4 days, not so much. Additionally, her ground is quite soft. If it were more hard packed, I would probably rasp back a lot of that toe and take the heel down a smidge.

This is what it looks like from a few solar angles:

From here, her frogs and heels look supportive and neither taking on all the weight bearing caudal role. The toe area is still packed with sole that either needs to flake out or knife out. I will see what she does with it for a week, take new "before" shots and trim what I see then. I'm going for points of improvement from existing, not points away from perfection.

HINDS!

Left Hind

I like how large and wide her frogs are on both of her hinds. In this Left Hind comparison, her foot started very triangularly. When she was shod, they were QUITE triangle shaped. Now we start to see a more oval hoof emerging. Her heels were quite tall and the toe long. With the toe brought back and the heel lowered, we were able to keep the new growth angle happy, while getting rid of these pressure points of unevenness in her solar support structure.

Here you can see how much her heels came down. You can also see the frog taking on more contact with the ground and a top layer of it has rubbed off. Here is the dorsal and profile shot of her Left Hind. Again, her fluffy hair tends to obscure where her coronet band is and the evenness of her hoof. I will be happy to see her dietary and supplement changes helping the quality of her hoof. Environmentally, she came off a dry sandy environ in Utah and is now in a softer, clay powder dirt, with less exposure to sun and more groceries and vitamins and minerals. She still likes to eat the tress branch clippings and is still larger than a house, so she's probably still missing something in the "diet change" plan. Either that or I've confirmed that her lineage includes Goldfish, which are known to eat anything put in front of them and not stop until they explode.

Again, her footing is a smidge soft, so some of her hoof is under dirt. She doesn't have a scoop in her quarter, as the shadow makes it appear that she does. This hoof has only a slight flaring down the dorsal plane, but is the most uniform in old growth matching the new growth coming in. What is notable is that both of her hinds, she has tried to keep her angles happy to herself, even while she had taller heels and longer toes. Her solution? She flared the heels out into a triangle shaped hoof. Now that the heels are trimmed and falling more "under" her instead of splayed to the side, she doesn't "have" a triangle hoof. When I trimmed my Friesian, it was a common refrain that they "had" triangle rear shaped hooves. Not so. He just had long heels that he avoided by letting them go sideways. Once the bars and heels were convinced to stay under him and not splay, he maintained a slightly oval hoof with no more triangles. There is a frailty in not READING a hoof and then shoeing what you strongly believe is their genetic way of growing it. You are encasing pushed-up heels and holding in the flare that was heretofore relieving pressure.

Oh, but don't they have such a plucky turnover in their gait now! "Avoid, avoid, avoid the ground" I hear those plucky feet saying. It's harder to see pushed up hairlines when you have horses with that much feather. Out of sight out of mind. Lift those Bad Larrys out of the way and assess your new growth. Often on Gypsies and Friesians, they "see" the angle that is already 2 months too old and don't handle high heels and flares. They start to trim in 2D by only seeing the solar plane and trimming that, without regard to the new growth angle or the pressure feedback from the ground up to the hairline.

This owner wrote into a horse blog that his horse was lame and he thought the feather was causing his horse's problem. Even after hacking off the feather and exposing that poor, tortured, pushed-up coronet band and the wondrous angles that had his feet had been shaped into, he still believed it was the feather causing the issue and was shaving the feather and applying Betadine and ichthammol to the coronet band to handle the "hair fungus" that he thought was causing an ugly coronet band and poor hoof growth and lameness in the limb.

Here is another view. If the hair was still there, you would've never noted the angle of the new growth and where the hoof wall has started stretching away and changing slope. You would've never read that it had a long toe. Heck, if you cover the top portion of the hoof with tons of hair, you see a very compact, uniformly angled hoof emerge from the bottom. In fact, if you covered up that top angle, the remainder of it would look pretty nice! You would never see the heel pulling in and the hoof visually bound and contracting in the new grown coming in. This is the same horse that then developed that very vertical, very pinched upper hoof capsule with a pushed up, swollen coronet band.

But I digress. Feather easily distracts me, OOH FLUFFY! If you have feather, or fuzzy "unicorn stockings" like Stella does, you do need to pull them up and read the new growth sans hair coverage. Back to my unicorn-fuzzy feet. Stella's Right Hind:

Slightly different angles in the photos, my apologies. It was interesting to see her foot "pointing" to the right. Her outside heel wall flares out and her toe wings in. Her frog also flares out and is more crushed and collapsed on the inside.

I know her right hind was the unlovely shoe job that pulled the shoe and the column of support to vertical on the inside wall and super flared on the outside. Here is what she looked like shod, just 6 weeks ago:

From the solar view, you can see the shoe was only still attached to the outer wall, so the hoof wall started splaying outward:

I get impatient seeing imperfect feet and I have to remember how much we adjusted and hacked off when we took her shoes off, just 6 weeks ago. She's been sound the whole while, so no sense in getting aggressive now! As you can see from the various views below, her outside flare is not being continued. Her heels are sharing the weight-bearing portion in the caudal area of the hoof and her dorsal angle seems to be coming in tight. She appears to almost be at the angle she wants and has little toe stretching. When trimming her, there is little sign of stretching in the laminar connection at the toe.

I would prefer to put Stella in Gloves and I think those will be her boot of choice. Right now, she's getting rid of a bell of flare that was caused by her prior shod life. It's one thing to have flare at the bottom edge of the hoof wall, but when the flare is kept shod and "supported" the connection all the way up the hoof is strained and stretches. Your flare "starts" well up the hoof wall. Shame that trimming the bottom growth and relieving pressure doesn't automatically mean that the hoof slinkies back into a tight shape again. The laminae don't just cuddle in and hug each other and hold tight again. Like spandex that has been pushed beyond it's elasticity... or tighty whiteys that are not so tight and not so white any more. You can't go back, you can only go forward.

She will need a new set of hooves that are uniformly tight again, with good connection. All I can do is keep the hoof wall from flaring out and causing new stress and tears and let the whole new growth remain tight until it reaches the ground.

Then I will also know her actual size. If I bought Gloves now, I am betting dollars to donuts that she would need at least half a size smaller by the time the bell flare had grown down and out.

I could be wrong. :) But I'm willing to learn as I go and I won't be wrong going slow. I have great hoof care practitioners in my midst here in Durango and I love keeping up trims on a weekly basis and calling an expert in to keep Stella on course.

 

 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Stella's Hooves: Before Shots

I could possibly retitle this, as this was not pictures of her hooves before consuming 1oz quantities of alcohol and, I assure you, they would look no different after whiskey was consumed.

I wanted to write a short blog on her feet before I trimmed them (after shots will follow, don't worry) just to share. I think some people out there (probably not the majority, but some for sure) have the concept in mind that a barefoot horse, trimmed with a "Mustang Roll" will have Mustang hooves, just by the mere fact of being barefoot and ambulatory.

There was a study done using 12 different horse bands in Australia and they tracked what their hooves looked like. They were all Brumbies (Australian wild horses, "mustangs" if you will) and all had been wild and loose and breeding and naturally evolving for at least 200 years. They should all have "mustang hooves" right?

Noper.

Aside from reading the whole study, check out this blog for Brumby photos and a recounting of Alyssa Brugman's trip to Australia to scout out a Brumby hoof model:

http://soundadvicehorsehealth.blogspot.com/2013/09/wild-horse-feet-and-why-i-went-to.html

My summary on the study was this: all 12 bands of horses tracked had DIFFERENT hooves. They had hooves that wore in relation to their environment, not their genetics. Soft ground led to Brumbies with long crumbling walls and folded over bars. Harder ground led to shorter hooves that flaked and chipped. Over 90% of the horses tracked all had signs of laminitis. Some from too lush a diet, some from too hard-packed ground (road founder). Some had contracted heels.

Enter Stella: Stella had very long hooves with shoes falling off when she arrived. They were shoeing her flare, not her actual hoof. As such, she has a wiggly staircase of old growth and I love watching the "rings" of her tree grow down and out. By Spring she will have a new hoof capsule and we'll see where our actions have taken us.

Let's look at the hooves of a horse on moderately soft ground. What do you think happened to them?

FRONT LEFT to start with.

She has a taller heel on the outside wall. She has quite a long hoof wall and her bars are also growing long, but not folding over. I rarely use a hoof knife, as it's my preference not to, but with the hoof pick, I was finding most of the sole was flaking and ready to come out. I view a hoof with two options, rightly or wrongly:

I can knife out the dead, flakey, powdery sole and then nip/rasp the hoof wall to being just slightly longer than the plane of the sole.

OR

I can leave the sole alone and trim the walls down to just below the solar plane and leave it.

My understanding is, if the flakey stuff is so loose that a hoof pick can piece it out, then a 1,000 lb horse should be able to exfoliate it on their own. Why isn't it? It's not touching the ground or not touching rough enough ground to abrase it and have it fall out. If I lower that hoof wall enough, I will get the false (dead surface) sole to fall out. After which, I likely have the wall longer than the solar plane, but I will have to go back and check that it is short enough, as a lot of sole might come out.

Here is the FRONT LEFT from the side. I like how tight and vertical the new growth coming in is. The lower the hoof you go, the further into the past you are looking. You wouldn't steer the Titanic by looking at the wake off the back of the ship, similarly, you don't look at the "end" of the hoof to judge how you are going to trim it: you look to the new growth. If you like what you see, you don't change course. Now, the sole can sometimes look scary and "wrong" but you are dealing with history and old hoof wall growth coming down from the coronet band. Don't change course of the ship to make the bottom of the hoof look pretty. Adjust the bottom of the hoof to make the new growth happy. She was shod and very long in the hoof. I have been tempted to hack her hoof off, level it off and dig that sole out. I might make her lame, I might not. I am not a professional farrier. I'm taking the cautious amount off.

This blog is purely my "reading" her hoof, and gives me the view of what I like/don't like and what I see is happening and what needs to come off. What I see in her is huge heel growth. Seeing her "live" and in the flesh (I know you can't see everything I see just by getting two pictures of a hoof) I see her with flared toes. Hoof wall at the toe that is "un velcro ing" from the sole and pulling forward. She's growing heel long and more forward, trying to give herself support. Not only do I not want her heels growing forward, I want to get those long toes taken care of to relieve that velcro pulling that she's telling me is happening.

This shot captures nicely how tight her new growth is coming in, how tall her heels are spurting in and the ridges down her hoof wall from all prior growth. If you visualized the new growth moving down like a conveyor belt, you can quickly see how far out of the growth pattern the toe has gone. It's flared quite a bit and is less and less supportive, less and less connected tightly in the laminae. Lots of stretching. You can see the rings of her hoof waver as it pulls around the heel. That heel is growing in at a mad rate, ha ha. You can almost see a triangle effect of lots of growth in the back, compared to very contracted growth in the dorsal (front) of her hoof wall. This was a second screaming clue that she doesn't "want" her toe length, as she's not resupplying the toe area with fast growth. She thinks her toes are long and odd enough, thank you. She is trying to grow heel to offset that long toe and move the heel under her to give better support and relieve the toe.

I had blogged about the hoof as a support column for the pillar of the leg.

When both pillars take the weight, the hoof is happy and balanced. When one pillar is compromised (in this case, a long toe) the back pillar (heel) moves forward to take on the weight as a single column, like you can see in the chestnut's hoof there.

This isn't surprising to me, as she had long hooves and is growing out "history". I just need to look at her new growth and make sure the "front of the ship" is moving in the right direction. Again, don't steer by the stern. Read the stern for history, read the hoof from the past to the present (from the sole to the coronet band). Learn from it. See what decisions the horse is making about his hoof. He too is feeling the "past" on the ground and adjusting his "future" by the new growth.

If you don't adjust the ground (sole level of the hoof) correctly, the horse will start to adjust. You'll see it in the new growth. Don't like how the new growth is coming in? Then what you left on the ground, the horse is compensating for and it needs adjusting.

Here is a hoof picture from a blog written by Team Easyboot member Christin Ganey Davis in June of this year:

http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/team-easyboot/life-during-founder-rehab

While this hoof is being rehabbed from founder, I did want to point out irregularities in the new growth as an example of what you might try to change on the solar level to help compensate for.

In this case (aside from everything else the hoof is going through, oh dear!) look at the hairline and note that as it wraps around to the right side of the image, it's pushed UP quite high. That would indicate, in a very simplistic reading, that the hoof had too much support "under" that pushed up portion, i.e.. the quarters were actually too long. If you mentally pushed that hair line down with your thumb and let the hoof magically "slide down" you would have about an inch long "bulge" on the solar plane.

Maybe a better example would be this: remember those pin toys, you press one side and the pins push through?

I keep in mind that a hoof can go two ways:

1) Grow from the top and push DOWN 

2) Resist from the bottom and push BACK UP.

You get to read all of it before deciding what to do with the trim.

And here is the RIGHT FRONT.

We will see the "outside" heel growing longer and flaring out a bit more than the inside one. We see a lot of hoof wall to trim off and we can still see the false sole as it is flakey, powdery and you can't even see the "seam" of connection between the hoof wall and the sole.

Close up so you can see the powdery texture of the sole and the hoof wall width and depth. Again, she won't have a mustang hoof on soft ground like she has. She will have long hoof wall that won't wear down and a soft sole that isn't being roughed and shed/exfoliated by its contact with the ground.

Just like our other front hoof, we can see the rings of dietary and exercise/environmental change growing out on her foot. We can also see increased heel growth that is outpacing the toe growth. You can see the white band of waxy periople of new growth since she's been here and the good sign is: there is a lot of it. Again, her heel is trying to grow long and forward, in an effort to support her leg column as she doesn't want to use user flaring toe to do so.

Here is the LEFT HIND:

Again, she has a taller heel and bar on the outside wall. The inside heel is also quite tall, and will be trimmed down, but she had previously been shod lopsided. It's one thing to have a horse that crushes the inside wall of a particular hoof, but she has the lazy pattern of a person who rasps and nips heavy on one side and light on the other. Ironically (and I could be VERY wrong) I see the outside as the "easily accessible" side of the hoof. When you rasp or nip, you have free clearance. You have the room to make it level. As you rasp and nip on the inside, you can run into the horse's belly. Rasps angle down to get under the belly and everything that goes towards the inside gets more taken off. She doesn't travel in a hoof path that would wear them this way. I will have to be mindful to really try and rasp correctly and prove if she's growing them this way, or if she wasn't trimmed properly.

What I DO like about this hoof is that her hoof wall along the toe has cracked and split off. She agrees: my toes are too long and this stuff has to go!

I like the way her new growth is coming in too. The heels are not growing AS fast and her toes are also not AS flared (for me, this is not a coincidence and these two markers go hand in hand). She also has the start of slight cupping. I will expect, after a bit more living here, that she WILL have cupping, as she has soft ground and constant sole pressure (albeit no abrasion as the texture of the ground is fluffy soft dirt and minimal rocks). If her hoof can cup, this would be the ground to do it. Horses that live on hard packed dirt, the equivalent of pavement, I wouldn't expect to get cupping. And again, I want to share this to dispel the concept that barefoot = a hoof shape,  or barefoot = mustang hoof. It doesn't.

Environment = hoof

Environment + Exercise + Diet = hoof

Genetics does not equal hoof, nor does purely trim.

Here is an angled shot of that same LEFT HIND so we can see the heel and how long that bar is. If I didn't read that the sole was false and powdery and fake, I might make the mistake of trimming the heels down and lightly nipping the hoof wall and visually "leveling" the bottom of the hoof. I might be sorely surprised when that sole does flake out that I wrongly hacked the heels off and left the toe quite long. You can't just read the sole. You can't just read the angle. Just like you can't only read the past and not look at the current growth. A hoof is 3D and you need to read it in 3D.

Last hoof, RIGHT HIND:

Again, this hoof might almost look "great" and like not much would happen with it. Those heels are "tall" and the bars are long, which might make one drop those down. While the bars look like "an inch" could come off (or more) the hoof wall looks like 1/4 to 1/2 an inch comes off. Here would be the problem of thinking that was the true sole: you get the wrong sense of length of the hoof wall. If I hacked off the heel more than the walls I likely would've wronged her. I would've created a longer toe and pressure there. Betcha next time I went to trim her, I would've found even more heel had grown back and had grown forward, to take weight off the long toe I created. 

Her hoof might not have MY past attached to it, but soon enough it will. She had her shoes pulled and her first trim to start her. She's now had trim number 2. Pretty soon, her uneven heels and long toes will either be gone, or something I have kept going by how I've trimmed her. I'll own that when the time comes.

Now it starts to look ugly! Once we start to see it in 3D we get more of a story. UGH! Again, my first desire is to kill those heels. I see them scooping out to the sides in a flare, I see how long the bars are, I see where the frog plane is compared to the heels and bars and see how far they could drop to let the frog actually reach the ground. But, I can also see the tight band of growth coming in and the way the hoof wall has belled out and actually flared. She still has a "long toe" on this hoof, as factually, the whole hoof wall is long and belled out. If I take off those heels, I have to commensurately take off those toes.

I could be fooled by how tough and thick her hoof wall appears from the solar view. But it's not as thick as it seems. Part of it is the thickness, but it's coupled with a false "width" of where the hoof wall has folded over.

In this little sketch you can see (from L to R) a hoof wall at X width. A hoof wall growing too long and curling or flaring outward. When it wears along the ground, it polishes off that little edge and you can no longer *easily* distinguish between the width that is hoof wall and the width that is the flare folded over. Hence, we read the hoof in 3D and don't simply look at the sole and say "My what lovely thick walls you have!" when we peek around the corner we see gnarly flares and have to rethink into, "My, what lovely thick slightly flared and folded outward hoof walls you have!"

Again, the more 3D you can examine the hoof, the better full picture you are getting.Now we can see how the hoof wall is flared and folded outward. We can physically see the "edge" or flat surface of the hoof wall folded outward until it's almost at a 45 degree angle from the ground. She's not wearing the hoofWALL she's wearing the hoofCORNER.

Again you can see the curly side of her hoofwall flare.

I like taking pictures before and after trims and saving them. I like going back a few months at a time and seeing if I am creating a monster or curing a monster. I find I look back on photos and go, "I'd do THIS" and then I glance at all the angles I took of the hoof and then at the other hooves and go, "Huh... maybe not." I like seeing a "problem" crop up and then going back a couple of months of trims and going, "THERE, it was right THERE and I missed it."

I don't trim a horse so aggressively that it will go lame, no sir. But I might trim too slow and so cautious that I am not steering the ship away from an iceberg fast enough. I gain confidence in what I am doing right by looking at my own before and afters and seeing if she moves better and is happier. Her mobility, soundness, desire to move (impulsion) and how the hoof is starting to grow in are my stars and compass to guide me.

Anyone who handles hooves will tell you they are constantly learning. Every hoof of every horse is different and each of them teaches us to "read" until we are more fluent in Hoof.

Stay tuned for the AFTER blog.

 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

I'm As Steadfast As a Butterfly In a Hurricane

I would love to have tidy horse stuff, I really would. But the moment I get to the ranch my best laid plans turn into "Ooooooh!!! PONY!!!" and I'm lost in fuzz and whiskers and dirt for the next six hours.

If there is one thing I love more than horses, it’s containers. I think I can get lost in a container type store and just imagine all the ways I might better organize my precious junk into tiny, decorative boxes. Impractical? Oh yes. Do I still dream of it? Oh, oh, oh yes.

Ah, if this could be my tack room. I would use a coffee grinder to grind up fresh flax and have Red Cell dispensers with pumps that would never drip. My electrolytes would be in sealed containers and everything would have beautiful, stainless steel measuring devices from Williams Sonoma.

In fact, it’s probably my lack of organizational skills that made companies like SmartPack come into existence.

Aside from our many boots here at EasyCare, I did want to give you a heads up on the STORAGE devices we have.

First up, the DELUXE HAY GEAR BAG

Some might think this bag is only for Endurance riders and only for vet checks. I hate to break it to you, but it’s a bag with zippers and pockets. Last I checked, they aren’t reserved only for people who trail ride cross country. Oh, the places you will go!

This bag has two large compartments. One would fit a thick, downy horse blanket and the other would fit 2 flakes of hay. You don’t HAVE to put hay in the other side, but it’s what it’s designed for.

So on the “front side” you have hay and an easy access portal. Much like the easy access portal on a onesie:

In the “middle” would be the compartment large enough for a blanket, leg wraps, shipping boots or what have you.

On the flip side is a series of zipper compartments (did I mention I LOVE compartments?!) with 3 square ones running across the top and a long rectangle running across the bottom. The three top ones would fit many things: sunscreen, stethoscope, gauze, extra socks/gloves/undies, windbreaker, Desitin, Vet Wrap and more. The bottom pocket is nicely sewn to be "3D", not flat, and fits 4 boots perfectly. It will also fit a set of fleece polo wraps or your clippers and an extension cord and the charging dock.

This bag would come in handy if you were:

  • a  groom who traveled to barns to attend to clients
  • a trail rider who hitches rides in others’ trailers and needs to bring their gear in a tidy way
  • a competitive trail rider who needs gear at an out of camp check point
  • a rider with a small car who can’t lug a huge tack trunk to shows
  • someone sending a mare to a stud, who wanted all her “stuff” to go with her
  • a farrier who doesn’t bring their rig for pasture trim clients and needs a bag for just an apron, rasps, knife, hoof topicals, a sharpener and the like
  • an on-location horse trainer who brings their halters, leads, lunge lines, desensitizing materials and treats with them in a professional kit

It would also be handy as a First Aid Kit for an owner or barn manager, a poultice bag (to store all your leg wraps, mud and baggies in.

 

Here are two “deluxe grooming bags” I found online. Without unpacking the whole shebang, there is no way I could find what I wanted. Additionally, a lot of these are “open” and after a month or so, get full of barn dust and hair. Not exactly what I like tossing in and out of my car either, when they can topple over.  Additionally, there is no way could I fit all my detanglers, conditioners, shiners, hoof dressings, clippers, hair wraps, bands, needles, brushes and whatnot into there.

The bottom pocket of the Deluxe Hay Gear Bag would fit anything from Hoof dressing and Bag Balm to bottles of detangler and conditioner. The bottom compartment also is the perfect size for clippers and your extension cord or charging dock. The center compartment would be ample for putting brushes into while still being able to sort through them easily and not have them “stuffed” in there. Again, I like having the compartments able to close and be separate. You don’t need your clippers getting hoof sealant spilled on them and then being gummed up with barn dirt and sitting in the bottom of a bag, unnoticed until you need to use them.

And I hate to add: some grooming and trimming client horses DO like you bringing a nice grass hay snack so that your gear bag doubles as a happy distraction. Easier to body clip a snacking horse than a fidget. Easier to attend to yearling hooves when you've taken them out of their buddy environment. Not all of them need that, but it’s handy to have it when you do. When you don’t have an owner there to help you handle their horse, having a backup plan is nice.

Having a horse trailer with a dressing room can be a blessing and a curse. Again, you usually have shelves to put stuff on, but like anyone with a curio cabinet will tell you: stuff on a shelf gets dusty, stuff IN a glass cabinet needs almost no dusting. Not that I expect a dressing room to stay immaculate, but it IS frustrating that it looks like a tornado hit it, every time I use it.

My average boarding experience has given me the option of a single space “shed”, a group shed or NO shed.

In the single shed, whatever spilled from the top, trickled down to the bottom. I would have to clean my brush bucket once a month to get rice bran and horse hair out of it. Every time you would hang up a spent saddle pad, the sweat and gunk from today’s ride would come drifting down at some point.

In a group setting, my stuff got lost or “grew legs” too many times. Again, either it drifted off, got broken or got dirty and thrashed, but didn’t remain where I wanted it and in the condition that I wanted it.

And so I come full circle on the bags. What I needed was the Stowaway Bale Bags. They come in full bale and half bale sizes, but they are essentially waterproof rucksacks to bring whatever you want, wherever you want it.

If you’ve ever set stuff down at a crewing spot and had another riding team accidentally soak your gear while they were enthusiastically sponging their horse, then maybe you’d love a waterproof bag. If you’ve ever been at a camp that was dumping rain, then maybe you’d love a waterproof bag. If you’ve ever been camping with your friends and family and had to store every item IN your tent with you, then maybe you’d like this bag outside of the tent, to get stuff out of the way. I would have loved to store my sleeping bags and wool blankets (and inflatable bed rolls) in a half bale bag that would keep out spiders and water and then just grab my “cube” when I wanted to go camping.

Growing up, my family camping looked like this:

My sister and I were packed somewhere in the middle.

And if you’ve brought everything but the kitchen sink, along with a bunch of your friends, you know that you can’t find any of your stuff until it’s FULLY unpacked and that all of your gear (whether you used it or not) will be dirty by the time the trip is done. It’s anarchy. Blankets, pillows, hiking boots and fish pails all seem to merge together so your hiking boots are wrapped in your blankets and your pillow is folded into a fish pail. AWE.SOME. Segregate your stuff from the masses! Be the tidy packer who cares about their stuff!

If you start riding at 11, you become resigned to the fact that you will hitch rides with everyone else. Alas, I couldn't drive, much less see over a steering wheel or reach the pedals. This meant I needed my gear to be as tidy and clean as possible so I didn’t freak out my ride. It’s all fine if you can throw your gear in the bed of someone’s truck, but I would be running back and forth to get my brush bucket, grain pan, Ziplocks of feed, bridle, saddle, pad, girth, breast collar, interference boots, blankets, rain sheets and all the “just in case” items. I would bring rain sheets in July and fly masks in the Winter, because what 11 year olds seem to lack is an abundance of life experience and the resultant judgment.

You can fit a saddle, several pads, a cooler, bridle bags and gear into a Half Bale Bag. None of it is getting lost or separated and you can unload from your friend’s rig in one step and get out of their hair. Even if it’s humid, raining, snowing or someone accidentally washes their horse right next to you, you won’t get your gear soaked.

As I grew up, I also got my own car. This car was not big enough for a rigid tack trunk and having a floppy tote to contain all my stuff was still just as vital. Additionally, I was like any superhero: my alter-ego could remain hidden from the casual friend riding shotgun so long as my car remained clean.

“Um, You must have dogs or…something.”

Maybe my tote campaign should be ‘Spend more hours riding and less hours cleaning!’ but who am I fooling? I don’t clean anything.

So I'll just say, if you need to get tidy, get Stowaways.

 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

The Tale of a $500 Horse

When one loves horses and is pining for one, there should be a rule book that reads as follows:
1) No horse shopping alone, at night, online.

2) No horse shopping for randomly bred horses when you have no idea what you will use them for.

3) If you want to buy a horse "just because" you need to rethink it.

4) Saying "Why not?" should put an automatic freeze on your bank account.

And the list went on and on, but the picture I saw of this $500 mare really caught my eye and I couldn't let it go. She was overweight, her feet were big and ugly, she even came with all her tack (is this a bad sign?) and her name was "Bo" although "she doesn't know it".

Well, she's 6, so at least she's not old! They also said she was rideable and had been used by the Boy Scouts for their merit badges, so unless she killed a kid and they were offing her, she seemed pretty harmless.

They did say, if she leads on the trail, she can be balky and flat-out refuse to take another step. Sounds like fun!

Enter my new horse: Stella. I spent a few days with her, getting to know her personality. She's super sweet and built like a truck. Some of that is "more to love" pounds that will come off, but she's still going to be a tonka toy. For some reason, a clip from Seinfeld of Elaine meeting Uncle Leo's flame named "Stella" kept popping into my mind. It's her reenactment of Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire" albeit she's hopped up on painkillers and is pretty loopy fruits. Needless to say, it's passionate and yet hysterical and this mare struck me as a bit of the same.

Stella came with a cresty neck, spongy croup and a bit of jiggle everywhere. She had her "right shoes on" and both lefts were missing. Her fur had that dirty, dandruffy greasiness that never brushes clean, but stays white and waxy wherever you touch it. Her coat had that dry coarseness that left each follicle curling up at the ends like a well-worn paintbrush in the masterful hand of a 4 yr old. I would also add that her legs, all the way up to her chest and shoulder, were covered in bot eggs.

And check out a couple hoof shots:

Here is an AFTER of her fronts having been trimmed, but look at the hoof wall quality:

This brings up an interesting point for me: not only do her feet need good trimming and not only would I prefer her barefoot (and booted when needed) than shod, but she ALSO needs a good diet to get good hooves.

Her coat quality, skin quality and hoof quality were all lacking from the outside-in.

That she started furiously eating all the fallen leaves as soon as I put her in her pen implied to me, the casual observer, that she was used to foraging on random foliage, gorging like a goldfish and yet still constantly eating in hopes of finding enough nutrients. It's a bit like me eating more chicken nuggets to get vitamins.

She paused in eating crunchy yellow leaves just long enough to see me bringing real grass hay. She stopped mid-bite like a kid caught eating paste in preschool. "Oh." Then she dove into her hay instead.

While we did trim, I also got her wormed and we're starting a psyllium cleanse for the next 30 days, seeing as I think she's eaten anything and everything off the ground (she's from Utah) and might have enough sand in her to build three castles. I got a custom-blended hoof supplement made up at our local store (awesome group of people here in Durango!) and also picked up a bot knife.

I have told all my clients to "Kick Off Your Shoes for Winter", to allow time for the hoof to grow out the nail holes and get even a momentary break from being shod. I know I wanted to take her barefoot anyway, but we're going to track the "balkiness", hoof growth, hair condition, body weight and solar quality on this special 6 yr old through Winter and into Spring. I am hopeful of seeing quite the transformation with good diet, good exercise and good hoof care.

Here's our starting point:

Left Front

Right Front (it hadn't crossed my mind to get a shot before the actual shoe came off, oops!)

Left Hind (Holy Hannah! That's a heck of a hoof wall and a curly frog!)

Right Hind

Even with the heels and frog positioned the same in each comparative shot, and them being adjusted to comparable sizes, look at how much hoof wall came off. The poor gal had sheared the nails off of the right side of the shoe, allowing it to slip onto her sole and frog. The left side of the shoe started pulling the hoof wall away with it. After trimming just the flare, you can see how much dramatically smaller the hoof immediately became.

And these were starting point trims. We didn't want to hack it all off to a place that looked "pretty" to us, we wanted to get rid of the excess and give her a starting point of good solar and hoof wall connection. She won't be starting under workload right off the bat either. She's got about 100lbs to take off and she needs to get her feet a bit happier, so we'll start with flat work on our grassy pastures. I'll be trimming her every 2 weeks, with small adjustments. In a month, I will see if she's in a good place to size for Gloves so we can get out on the rocky trails.

She would be a good example of a horse that lives in abundantly-sized turn-out (40 acres) but the ground is soft and comfy. Our trails are the polar opposite: hard-packed fire roads with tiny to medium size random gravel. She thunders through the pasture, but crab walks up the driveway. This would be a perfect candidate for being booted as she will not build up a nice sole callous unless I interfere with the footing in her pasture and bring gravel in. Left to a comfy pasture, she will have feet that are happy in "grass and soft dirt". Nothing wrong with that, but I would be naive to think that just because she's "barefoot" she will build rock hard hooves. Her footing, for 23 hours of her day, will never stimulate the growth of a hoof that can handle the 1 hour of trails like we have.

She's pretty happy so far.

Hope you have fun following us on the journey of taking our $500 6yr old "Cinderella" from her humble beginnings to her Happily Ever After.

 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Kick Off Your Shoes For Winter!

When I put on shoes, it’s specific shoes for running, riding horses, walking around town, dancing or when all else fails: flip flops. When I’m at home, 99% of the time, I kick my shoes off, regardless of how comfy they are.

My feet like to move and feel the texture of the ground. Even in loose boots, my feet can’t wait to get out and be rid of their socks.

I wear shoes outside because my feet aren’t very tough, I like to keep them clean and most ground surfaces would do serious damage to my feet (rocks, glass, pavement, heat, etc.). If I’m on sand, grass or in and out of rivers, I can go barefoot (but that’s not the majority of my walking surfaces).

The majority of the horses in the US are shod back to back. They are always in their supportive shoes. Even if I needed arch support, I wouldn’t want to sleep in it! But our horses do. They have shoes on 24-7 for months and years at a time. Possibly if they are used for breeding, the shoes come off. Possibly if they had an injury, the shoes come off. For the most part though, they are in shoes “for life”.

But their feet grow, like a 6 yr old growing through their shoes.

If you get them trimmed and shod monthly, you might get them trimmed in time to not have their foot feel cramped. Otherwise, if you get them done every 8 weeks or so, they are in “tight shoes” for a couple of weeks. If I have to be in tight shoes for more than 8 hours, my sweet swell up and I don’t want to stand on them any more. And I know women aren’t the only ones with the issue because there are a ton of tutorials for guys to get their tight, leather business shoes to stretch that involve wool socks and blow driers. Our shoes are either too tight, or we "overgrow" them, much like a hoof wall that starts to overlap its shoe.

So I’m playing Devil’s Advocate.

If you aren’t competing, riding, eventing or sticking to your trail riding over Winter… why does your horse still have his shoes on? Let him kick his shoes off for Winter!

If I have to stand in tight shoes for any amount of time, I start to rest each of my feet, shuffling back and forth between being weight-bearing and non. I need to release the pressure of standing, so that my tight shoe feels looser. The other foot, taking the full weight, gets irritated quickly and I have to then switch legs. By the end of a tradeshow, I am shuffling from side to side frequently and neither seems comfy.

When you walk back to your hotel, the first thing you want to do is get out of your shoes or get off of them, by sitting down. Seems horses will do the same.

And it's not like standing for a few hours is exhausting, and neither is a walk trot class that lasts 30 minutes, but we're both out for the count because we have to get off of our feet. If you've tracked with the anatomy blogs I wrote earlier this year, you can see why a horse would like to exercise barefoot for the flexing of the hoof and the ease on the tendons thusly. Again, the more work is shared between more parts, the less work another part has to handle alone. If the hoof can flex and is made so that it can't, the suspensory ligament, deep digital flexor tendon and shoulder muscles will have to pick up the slack. It's like group projects at work, where one guy slacks and the rest of the us pick up the workload and get grouchy about it.

Beyond tight feet, it is a common sense concept that hoof growth will slow during the winter months. If the growth is slow, you will see that your nail holes will get closer and closer spaced, as there is no new growth to clinch into. After a short period, you just have a line of nail holes going vertically, which leaves weakness in where you are trying to nail.

photo courtesy of Fran Jurga of www.hoofblog.com

 

On the left you can see a simple illustration of faster growth which leaves larger gaps between your nailing. In the middle, you can see slower growth, leaving little gaps between your nailing and structurally weakening the next nailing job. It has Swiss Cheese as a hoof wall between it and the shoe. The right shows your fresh hoof wall, after your last nail holes have all grown out of Winter and into Spring. Letting your horse go barefoot gives the hoof wall a chance to reset.

If you want to ride, then put boots on him to give temporary support. Otherwise, let him be “barefoot in his living room” just like you are.

If I go running, I put on shoes. So can he!

If I go hiking, I put on shoes. So can he!

But for all the time that I am at home, I don’t want my shoes on. I want to be barefoot. Guess what? So does he.

 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Collection: From the Ground Up

I never did formal riding in any discipline, but the topic of “collection” is one that comes up (and I’m not referring to my tendency to hoard horses). WARNING: This is A view on collection, not the be-all, end-all reference article for all things equitation.

What I appreciated from an anatomical view, was the amount of elevation and elasticity the horse put into his movement. His potential for action was put into becoming lofty and potentially explosive. In a wild horse fight, explosive might translate into a barrage of attacks. In a controlled explosion, we are seeing extended trots and jumps of massive heights being cleared. But in every picture I included here (and many more that I found) you can clearly see the horse engaging that hind end, tucking his rear under him so that he was ready for any variety of movements. It’s not surprising to see horses do this at liberty, as they are deciding on a whim where they want to move next. Dancing by themselves in their pastures, racing imaginary friends or shying away from horse-eating butterflies.

The deep digital flexor tendon and the suspensory ligament are huge players from the ground-up approach to collection. 

The balls of our feet are important to our ability to spring. Try this: Do a jumping jack. Now lean back on your heels and lift the fronts of your feet off the ground. Do a jumping jack starting and landing on your heels. You will have to exaggeratedly absorb the shock of your jump with your legs, back and torso. Now do it from the balls of your feet. Easy peasy.

So while a jumping jack can literally be the act of "jumping out and back in", knowing how you start and finish it and where the power comes from will change how easy it is and how graceful it looks. Sort of like collection. In fact, you can’t do high knees, jumping jacks, side shuffles or out-and-backs without using the balls of your feet. If you tried to do it with your heels, you would feel quite ungraceful.

Now, if a person was jumping from their heels and landing back on their heels, I could say,

“Higher. This time don’t make so much noise when you land, it was clunky.” and you could practice.

“More arms, you are not using enough arms. You look clumsy.” and you could practice.

“Your feet need to land further apart. Try again.”

“Your knees are wobbly, tighten them up.”

“You are moving your torso too much. I see others doing jumping jacks and they don’t have such movement.”

And on and on. What I really should say is, “You are launching and landing from your heels. Start from the ball of your foot.”

Similarly, I’ve seen horses “fitted into frame” for collection, instead of corrected from the ground up. “His legs should pick up higher, he should be more animated, his headset is not right, his back legs need to more lift and to be more under him.”

I’m not a student of dressage, so don’t string me up, but I tried finding two nearly-the-same images of horses doing a piaffe, riderless. The horse on the top clearly has lovely height to his feet, but nothing about his “collection” looks “collected”. He looks less likely to launch forward or sideways and more likely to just start walking after he’s too tired to keep doing it. The horse on the bottom is in a slightly different stride of the move, so it’s hard to say how high his hooves move, but would that really be the standard to judge him by? Look at his whole figure! He is collected, waiting to move at a moment’s notice, ready to launch forward into men wielding swords or wheel to the left or right to carry an owner to safety or to leap over a barricade and bolt up a mountain. All the while the horse on the top is doing a piaffe as gracefully as I could do ballet while pregnant. He’s waddling and strung out and all he knows is, “Tom wants my feet higher and my head just so. And I need to look exuberant while doing it. Gosh collection is hard!”

It’s like doing downward dog wrong. You don’t get better at practicing it wrong, you just get better at doing it incorrectly. Yet, there are higher yoga poses to attain, which depend on your being limber enough to correctly do downward dog. You see where I’m going with this? Your chance of lucking into a Flying Monkey Spider Crane Position while feeling nirvana are slim to none.

And just in case you’re not all “Namaste” with me, the girl on the top is doing it right. Her head to her butt is a straight line, You can see her line break at the hip in a clean cut. The girl on the bottom doesn’t have a line from her head to her butt. You can see the small of her back is bending so that she “can” do the position. This would all be fine if downward dog was the end of your yoga path. Visibly, she's close, structurally, she's not. To go to upper levels, you need the basics to be correct.

As soon as she tries to go on to the next advanced movement, she will struggle. When your back is humped, getting that open chest twist is nearly impossible. It's like slouching and trying to open up your shoulders. It requires a lot of effort to do it wrong (which is super fun and rewarding). For some of us, the word "Yoga" is Sanskrit for, "Super-difficult, tortuous stretching".

Good. Luck. With. That.

Entry level jumpers need to learn how to clear meter fences with correct form and build jumping musculature. Sloppy jumping at lower levels means you are never making it to Rolex.

I stumbled upon this video the other day. While Pedro Torres is a medalist for Spain and does World level dressage with this mount, look at his collection work put into action. This horse will blow you away.

(Please don’t mind the music!)

Now look at that horse doing equitation in an arena (with no obstacles to navigate).

While he’s running an obstacle course through poles, he’s doing flying lead changes. While he’s in a blank arena, he is also doing them. When you can see the correlation between movements that were trained for purpose, for a real life function, you can appreciate what you are looking for when merely testing those movements. It would be silly to take a horse and have it do flying lead changes when all it was doing was “memorizing” that every other stride needed to flip and not actually listening to his rider, wouldn’t it? As soon as you set a horse into real life application, he’d fall apart.

Let’s look at some horses that look “forced” when in collection:

Then I look at the body lines of these horses:

Again, we look at our nimble grey in those videos. He’s wound, bound and ready for action. He doesn’t care if the action is forward, backward, sideways or over a jump. The horses above look coiled, prepared, ready to do whatever the next command is.

So my first point, in all this rambling is: training with purpose, use and intention. Training to not shortcut. If you are training for a “look” alone, you end up with a tired pony who isn’t building each movement and will never reach the higher movements without a lot of strain.

And here’s my second point: There was a study done in England. https://www.facebook.com/EquitationScience/posts/10152231176856097?fref=nf

They took 20 Irish Sport Horses that were used for riding and dressage and videoed their movement. The selection had horses that had either been shod for 12 consecutive months or barefoot for 12 consecutive months.

You can read it (and you should) but the summary conclusion is that shod horses had diminished stride length, increased concussion and had more tendon flexion than their unshod counterparts. Unshod horses had less concussion, longer strides and their tendons had to flex less to absorb impact.

So, if shoes don’t give you an advantage, but DO shorten stride length and cause the tendons to have to “give” more to support your horse, then give barefoot equitation a try. Lateral movements would be a cinch if a horse had an ankle like ours, but he doesn’t. He’s going to need his hoof to be his first point of shock absorption. Reining, barrels, dressage, jumping etc. all athletic sports have lateral movement.

We pick the right saddle, the right bridle and the right pad because they fit our horse and enable us to communicate more clearly and make our horse’s job easier. It only makes sense to make sure he’s able to the job from the ground up.

While we can’t all do what THIS guy does:

Or what Stacey Westfall does (I could watch her bareback and bridles demonstrations all day!), we can try to start our horses right, continue to work with them with purpose and hope they have a saddle (or not), a bridle (or not) and now…. shod OR NOT, to be able to better perform what we ask of them.

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Gaiters (And I Don't Mean The Ones in the Swamps)

I wanted to take a moment to talk about sizing and fit of boots.

In my own shoes, I have hiking boots, riding boots, flip flops, flats and running shoes. I wouldn’t wear my hiking boots running and I wouldn’t wear flip flops hiking. My flats are ok for dancing and everyday stuff, but aren’t that great for any distance of running. You get the idea. There are fit and purpose issues here.

Let’s look at a family of boots that have the same sole: the Glue On, Glove and Glove Back Country.

As a simple Glue On, this boot reminds me of flats.

If you slid a Glue On onto a hoof, with no glue, you would have as much security of that boot staying on during riding as I would have in keeping a flat on while jogging trails. If there was mud, rocks, twists and angles, my flat would slip off of my foot. For the record, I am not volunteering to glue on my flats and see how they manage.

But the first fit of the Glue On, Glove and Back Country have something in common with my flats, so I will keep the comparison.

A hoof is measured in 2 dimensions: length and width. Yet there is a third dimension that gives the hoof its overall shape and height. Same with my feet. This is why I can’t buy shoes on ebay! I can’t tell if a size 9 will actually fit me or not. For our boots, we offer a fit-kit so that you can start with the L & W, but also  get the “fit” from the shape of the hoof and its height.

Back to my flats. The more contact with my foot, the better that puppy is staying on. If the flat is too “short” compared to my foot, it will fall off readily.

You can see the ratio between skin contact and non-contact in the heels image. What I’ve marked in green shows only a sliver of skin connection. The red shows how much of her foot is “out” of her heel. When I have less contact, I get gaps when the shoe flexes and if I am doing anything faster than walking, that causes the heel to slide off. You have to work your toes to keep barely-there flats on.

Horses don’t have toes. They can’t “work” to keep their boots on either. So you have to ensure that you have enough hoof-to-boot contact to start with. Let’s see how my horse’s boots are fitting.

First step, when we are looking at our third dimension: how tall is your hoof, when in the shell? On the left we can see possibly a ½” to ¾” gap between the top of the shell and the hairline. That’s a great ratio of covered hoof to uncovered hoof. You have “most” of the hoof in contact with the inside of that shell. On the right, we can see a horse with a hoof that is too long to fit into the shell (regardless of his length and width measurements being right). We can clearly see an inch of hoof above the shell and it looks more like 1/3 of the hoof is “out” of the boot and 2/3s of it is “in”. Additionally, just like my flats that pucker and don’t fit right, you can see the shell was waves in it, where it is puckering and gapping and not clinging to the hoof.

Here we can see a shell that has the right “height” but the one on the left, the slit has almost no gap showing  no tension between the walls of the shell and the hoof. The one on the right has a “V” in the gap, showing that the hoofwall is sufficiently snug up against the inside of the boot. You want to see a spread in that cut-out so that it looks more like a “V”.

Another part we want to look at is, is the shell too small?

Ooohh baby, you and I got the same issue. Our shoes are too small and our foot “runneth over”. When you get a “muffin top” look to your shell, the hoof is clearly too wide for the size you selected. We can also see a gap between the hoofwall and the shell and clearly, there is more hoofwall OUT of the shell than IN.

Once we get the right size shell and glue it on, we’re good to go.

What if you don’t want to glue? How do they get flats to stay on? They add gaiters.

Don’t think horse people have the exclusivity on gaiter use. Humans know their little shoes can’t stay on and they add straps to them too! They do add an additional point of fit though. If your horse’s heels are quite tall, the gaiter height won’t reach the anatomical position it was designed for.

You can see the height of the shell in relation to the hairline. At the toe, it’s relatively close. But this horse has taller heels. You can see the shell’s topline falling away from the hairline as it heads back towards the heels. This leaves our gaiter “reaching” to be velcroed.

If you put the stress on the gaiter alone, it will strain and likely pull off of the boot. This gal isn’t going to last long in her strappy sandals either. Her gaiter is also running “uphill” and showing the tension she is putting on it. With a correct fit, her strap wouldn’t be the primary pressure point on her shoe.

So if we have Glue On shell fit, and Glove gaiter fit, we just have to look at the Back Country Upper and see how IT fits.

If the Back Country were a shoe, it would be the most secure gaiter they could design.

Or possibly more like a Tom’s, because they are flats that are pretty hard to “accidentally” have coming off.

Just like the Glove gaiter, you want the heel height of the horse to mimic the shape of the boot. If your toes are a good height and the boot gets further away from the hairline as it hits the heels, your horse’s hoof shape is not ideal for this shell family.

Two things that don’t fit in this photo: Although the angle IS parallel to the shell’s topline, there is almost a 50-50 between hoofwall that is in the boot and hoofwall that is above the boot. Not a lot of hoofwall contact in that ratio. We can also see a bulge (muffin top) to the boot at the heel. This horse would go up a size.

 

Just like the gaiter of the Glove, the upper of the Glove Back Country should be as level with the boot as possible. We don’t want it pulling “up”. If you can feel around the bottom of the gaiter and touch Velcro, your gaiter is not wrapped parallel to the shell. Try again!

The Back Country has a Comfort Cup Gaiter inside the wrapping flaps of the upper. In the green example on the left, the upper is wrapped parallel to the shell. You can see the symmetry of the wrap and that the Comfort Cup Gaiter is situated in the center of the back of the boot. When the upper is wrapped incorrectly, it raises too high for the Comfort Cup Gaiter. You can see it’s off-center and listing. The harsh Velcro of the upper is now exposed and can come in contact with the pastern. NO GOOD!

If you are wrapping the upper and it “won’t reach” it’s a sizing issue. Don’t try and wrap it uphill just to get it to reach. Not only will it be too tight, but you will also be exposing the Velcro to your horse’s pastern. Tight, rough Velcro on pasterns is no fun!

Lastly, when you wrap “uphill” the anatomically designed opening of the boot gets distorted. It leaves less room for the pastern, front to back. It widens the boot into pokey corners. This leaves less range of moment in the stride for the boot to contact the pastern and can introduce rubbing.

I hate when my heels get rubbed.

Ultimately, we want the Back Country to fit well and we want to run our hands along them to ensure the upper was wrapped levelly. We want to see that the upper isn’t pinching the pastern or bunching or pulling. We will want to introduce our buddies to their boots over several rides. Like a hiking boot, the rigid upper needs to soften and break in.

All of these have the same sole, but the fit is 3 dimensional and very exact. Get a fit kit so you can try them out on the flesh.

  • Be mindful of the shape of your horse’s hoof so you can see if there is more hoof IN the boot than OUT. Consider that if you want to add comfort pads, it will lift your hoof even higher and cause less hoofwall contact. Stick to thinner or no pads.
  • See if it “V”s at the front. You need that hoofwall contact and tension there for a good fit.
  • Check your hair line and see if it mimics the topline of the shell. Are your heels too tall for this boot? If the shell of the fit kit shows less and less contact as it goes back near the heels, then you KNOW once you put the Glove gaiter on, it will pull “up” and not level around the pastern and will likely wear out faster than the boot. You will also know that the Back Country upper will not wrap levelly around that high heeled horse and will rub or not fasten all the way around.

See our website and blogs for more tips on using Glue Ons, Gloves and Glove Back Country boots.

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

If My Horse and I Were Sisters, We'd Have a Wicked Shoe Closet

I’m not a “shoe” girl but OOOH LOOK! SHINY!!!

Just kidding.

I can wear a pair of flats until the soles have fallen off and the uppers have nearly dissolved into a pile of fabric, thread and holey seams. I don’t pick shoes to match my outfit or my mood; I pick shoes to put on my feet that will get me from point A to point B.

I used to have heels, ballet flats, strappy sandals, flip flops, slippers, mules, mary janes, Docs, Crocs, tennis shoes, deck shoes, running shoes, hiking boots and a whole load of “fun” shoes (read: they look really fun, but should be worn for only 12 minutes at a time). When you move from house to house and pack up the vital things first and the “fun” things second, you start to prioritize what you really need to unpack. Needless to say, most of those shoes have gone to die in a box labeled, “Holly’s Shoes”.

This got me thinking about shoes. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Shoes were originally worn to protect the foot from the ground.

As the earliest shoes were made out of organic materials, they would also biodegrade. Hence, the oldest “known” shoes are dated as being 8,000 years old. There could’ve been older ones, but if the T-Rex was sporting tennies, they disappeared a long time ago.

For thousands of years, shoes were still made for the primary purpose of foot protection. Different civilizations had different terrain, weather patterns and a variety of rigors of “necessity” demanded of their design.

Before the 1850’s there were no LEFT or RIGHT shoes. They were just SHOES.

Only in the last 100 years (of all civilizations of humanity) have shoes made the jump from protection to performance. We started seeing not only a variety of activity-specific shoes, but saw revisions and adaptations of those shoes as they were further honed for their specific need.

For sprinters

For basketball players

Did you know that basketball shoes were first thought of in 1907? Converse “Chuck Taylor All Stars” were the first b-ball shoes developed specifically for the courts, in the 1920’s. They were the first to pilot a “high top” or ankle supported sneaker in the 1930’s. For over 50 years, they were THE shoe of basketball. They were the official shoe of the Olympics from 1936 until 1968.

Ask any kid now what is a basketball shoe and they think “Nike”. Nike came along in the 70’s and soon other sneaker companies were jumping on board with the advanced “style” of the modern b-ball shoe.

To this day, only the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

For bicyclists

In fact, it doesn’t matter if you walk, hike, run, sprint, climb, bike, swim, lounge, stroll, garden or dance. There is a shoe for you.

As my closet filled to the brim, I had to ask myself: what do I have all these shoes for? What style of movement am I doing that establishes the shoes I “need” apart from the shoes I “like having”.

Usually it’s two things: What type of activity am I doing? How do those shoes fit for that activity?

When we try on shoes we are usually thinking, “Where would I use these shoes?” and then “Would they be comfortable for where I intend to use them?” Some heels are “OMG! SO, so, so, so, soooooo cute on you!” and you can walk exactly 15 feet in them before you start to question your life choices. Some shoes are so boring and ugly, but they feel like heaven. Unfortunately, my office frowns upon the wearing of bunny slippers to work.

Please keep in mind that your horse's hoof wear has advanced from protection to performance as well. Back in the day they were either unshod or shod. That's like saying you can either be barefoot or wear clogs. Your horse now has a variety of “shoes” to pick from as well. This is what my horse's shoe closet would look like.

Whether you ride bareback, saddled, professionally or for fun, you can gauge what type of “sneaker” support your athlete will prefer best.

Is your horse on a frequent trimming cycle? Does your riding style and terrain dictate a snug fit? Maybe the Easyboot Glove family of boots is right for you. The Glue On shells, the Glove and the Glove Back Country all have the same “sole” and fit.

I have a client in Switzerland who had two foundered horses. All 8 feet were booted to go on their daily walks. She was taking them on 3 walks a day. That’s a lot of booting time. Clean out 8 hooves, boot 8 hooves, walk, unboot 8 hooves and turn the horses out. Do that 3x a day. When we came out with the EasyShoes, it was a hallelujah for her. She didn’t want her horses shod in metal, but she knew the limitations of her sanity in booting and rebooting 3xs a day. That’s 24 boot applications and removals a day! The EasyShoes allowed the function of hoof while being "permanently on" so she had more time for walking.

We have quite a few boot styles and, while I could go into every one of them it's like being asked to “organize” the shoes in your closet: that could go 50 different ways. Should I do them by fashion to function? Should I do them by color? How about by comfort? What about by activity level? Maybe I’ll do them by work and fun. Just like with our boots, there are a variety of ways to “start” thinking with which boots or shoes will work best. If you want to talk to a pro, give us a jingle and they will assess which type of footwear you should be looking at.

Or, just like me, your horse might find that it wants a pair of each in its closet  ;)

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Hindsight is 20-20: What happened to my EasyShoes after I glued?

Hey Ya’ll!

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend gluing and shoeing clinics with some of the top in the business. I have seen prep and application and finish. What I’d not seen yet was “feedback”.

Yes the horse moved out more easily. Yes, “Sparky was more comfortable” and “Bitsy really seems to like these”.

Recently, I got a batch of shoes that were “used” to review. While normally we review booted product for wear and research them for improvements, this is the first time I was looking at shoes and seeing what really happened with the glue.

In a candid setting, from a learning view and not judgment, I’d like to focus on some close ups and point out “what happened here?” so that we can all benefit from the importance of certain steps.

I’ve nicknamed each shoe. This one is Mr. Shiny.

Son of a gluing-gun, that looks like it set up before the horse went weight bearing. Look at the rest of the glue, it’s filled in the grooves of the shoe bed and looks “flat” and matte black. But ol’ Shiny there tells us that he never touched the bottom of that hoofwall until he was already hardened. This horse wore these shoes for a full cycle and still that glue is glossy, shiny black.

What would that mean if just that portion of glue, right near the quarters, was firmed up? Would feel like a rock in his foot. Or at least a pebble.

Here is another view of Shiny:

He’s about 3” long, about ½” wide and tapers up and tapers down. If this filled a scoop in his foot, we would see hoof stuck to it, or a pattern of hoofwall fiber. (See the shed hoof pieces in the front, that solar glue held on and when the shoe was pulled, the dead flaked out in 3D. But the glue behind it has no hoof stuck to it, and is glossy black.)

Tip #1: Watch the temperature and judge how your glue is setting up. Watch gluing a warm shoe out of a car/van. Your glue can start setting up from the temp of your environment and the temp of the shoe. Get the glue on the shoe, on the horse and get it weight-bearing as soon as you can.

This one is Mr. Mountain Range.

Again, this is a good example of the glue setting up before the horse went weight bearing. You can see that the glue set up like a tiny mountain range. This left peaks and valleys; valleys then filled with dirt. This view is taken at eye-level with the “glue dam” area.

Let’s note the mountain line. Granted, the trims can be uneven and not perfectly level. Generally, I have not seen trims that have this type of “line” in pitch and evenness, so I’m leaning in the direction that the glue made this shape, not the bottom of the hoof. This left the horse without an even platform to stand on.

With the valleys comes the dirt. You can see on the facing and in the 3rd dimension, where the dirt packed in.

Tip #2: Again, get the glue on the shoe, on the horse and get it weight-bearing as soon as you can.

Meet Captain Keratex:

You can see all the glue slots of the solar portion of the shoe are filled nicely. You can see the inner rim is very neat, where I pulled away the glue dam. But if you focus on this spine, you can tell this horse had enough of a crack in his white line that it should’ve had the Copper Sulfate Keratex Putty treatment before gluing. We don’t want mountain ranges of glue, like tiny spines, on the underside of our hooves. The wedge effect promises to drive deeper and deeper into a crevice and cause it to gap wider and wider. Not what your buddy wants to have happen to his white line. Again, if your hoofs are flush, then great. If you have valleys and pockets along your white line, they will fill with sharp blobs of glue. What a long toe does to laminae, a glue wedge does to the white line.

Other side of the same shoe. Same indicator.

The glue is nicely in the glue beds and the solar area looks level and has a routine texture/pattern/imprint of a rasped hoof. You can see how tall that ridge is. That is the purpose of the Keratex Putty. Put it in there so the glue will press out nice and level like the rest looks. Ensure you don’t put Keratix putty any place other than the crevice. You don’t want to smear it on the sole or cover any glueing surface that you don’t have to. But Putty those cracks for sure.

Tip #3: Keratex Putty is your friend. If you see valleys in your white line, get some putty rolled into thin little snakes and tuck them into the chasms before you glue.

Until next time!

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!

Oh. My. God. Becky. Look at Her Bulbs!

Let’s take a peek at another facet of impaired function, the indicator of which, I affectionately call “Bulb Butt”.

“Oh my God, Becky. Look her bulbs!” or “Do these shoes make my bulbs look big?”

In one of my first blogs, I had used a picture for illustrative purpose that also happened to have contracted heels. It gave the appearance of a plumber’s crack or a “bulb butt” on the back of the horse’s hoof.  Here would be some examples of what I am talking about:

Now, you can get a crack on a horse, due to really, really bad thrush. That looks ,more like this:

This Thrush Crack can happen on any foot, so you would have to check out whether it was a Bulb Butt, as laid out below, or whether it was a "Grand Canyon" of erosion caused by the frog having a severe case of thrush.

Back to the Bulb Butt.

Let’s look at human feet. Below you can see a bare foot. Left to its own devices, it has a width it prefers. If I put on a slightly tight shoe, my foot would accommodate it and bend.

From the solar view of my foot, you can see the foot in a flat, neutral position, and then you can see a crease, as it is squished. It didn’t “become” narrower, it’s just squished.

It’s like trying to squish your foot into a shoe that doesn’t fit. You can see the base width of the hoofwall marked in orange. You can see how the bulbs squish up and “over” the hoofwall that supports it from beneath. We can see that the frog is actually “behind” the heels. If I had a solar view, I am betting the heel had moved forward to support the horse. Seeing the metal on both sides, I can see how far around that shoe is wrapping and how narrow the frog is.

How come we can glance at that woman’s shoe and “feel” how tight her foot is squished and yet we can’t look at a horse and have the same instant assessment? We need to educate our eyes. Let’s see it  side by side. A horse has a heel width he would like to maintain. With shoes, it maintained it too narrow and you can see how narrow the heel is, how narrow the frog is, how pushed up the bulbs are and the tell-tale “V” that the hairline will make.

Let’s say a horse has “2 inches” of hairline along the left and right side of the heel. If it can’t go horizontal, it’s going to creep vertical. Can you see it there below? I know they are two different horses, but I measured exactly the same “length” of blue marker and applied it to both feet. What’s amazing is they both had 2.75” of “hairline”. One is just horizontal and one is vertical. The more horizontal one was a wider foot, not jammed up.

When I see Bulb Butt from the top, I know I will see this on the solar view:

In our previous blogs, we’ve covered that the hoofwall is not flexible. It’s a solid wall. The frog can flex and that allows the heels to move and the over-all hoof to shift its form a smidge. Additionally, we covered that they don’t have a rotating ankle like we do, it only flips and flops up and down. So those heels need to be able to move to adapt with as much range of flex that they can to accommodate the surface of the ground. With the digital cushion inside the hoof directly above that frog, they’ve got some cushion to work with. Those narrow heels mean a lot more rigid hoofwall and a much smaller range of flex in the heels. Couple that with a metal shoe and there is not a ton of flexing that hoof can do.

There are three parts of man-made interference here that a farrier will try to compensate for:

1) 99% of our horses are not on a varied terrain for enough hours to build up a wild-horse sole callous.

That’s on us. Whether we put them in a stall, or a dry field, or don’t ride them or or or. That’s on us. I love running barefoot. I can’t run truly barefoot, because I have no callous on my foot. I know a tribal messenger in South Africa that ran up to 100 miles a day and knew 32 different tribal dialects. He ran messages from tribe to tribe. He had a fantastic sole callous. His “job” allowed for this lifestyle. I work in an office building, in a city. I am not spending 24 hours of my life barefoot AND active. I won’t build a sole callous like he will. I don’t need Nikes, I can still run in a barefoot slipper, but I need *something* on the bottom of my foot to survive blistering pavement and rocky trails.

2) Our horses’ hooves grow in a cone-like path or trajectory, getting wider as they get longer, yet we normally fit them in fixed-size devices that limit the expansion their hoof goes through during a trimming cycle.

That’s on us. Ask any parent of a 5yr old and ask them how quickly they grow through shoes. Our fuzzy kids grow through a size or two, get a trim, then grow back out a size or two and then get a trim. A child can pout, take their shoes off and indicate that they don’t want them on.

If they couldn’t remove them, what would happen to their “growing” foot if left in a shoe that didn’t grow? We all have that friend with slightly odd looking feet because of their running shoes, their high heels or their lifelong passion for wearing $1 flip-flops.

But to be more accurate, as it’s not their “foot” that is growing, but their nail, I guess it would be like this guy trying to size himself for running shoes (hint, I’m *pretty* sure he’s going to need two sizes larger than he should to accommodate those toenails):

3) Lastly, we trim them how we trim them, rightly or wrongly. We might be great trimmers or we might be horrible trimmers, but we are trying to take off portions of their hoof that would’ve worn off naturally. We can cause issues by our crappy trims. We can cause issues by not seeing what improves the horse, what helps them move more freely, what trims make them happier.

Remember the too long, sloped toe and the underrun heel? That’s on us to see and trim.

Remember the too tall heels and the circular-wider foot? That’s on us to see and trim.

So get out and explore! Go look at the hooves on your horse and see what you can see. Challenge yourself to “see” what’s happening IN the hoof, from what you can see on the outside. Educate yourself more on hooves and their function. Go look at other horse’s feet in your barn. Go check out the neighbor’s horse’s  hooves.

There is no reason you shouldn’t be an expert.

If you can spot a saddle put on wrong from across a yard, a bridle put on backwards, a horse not tied correctly or a gate not shut properly then you have a trained eye. Now you just need to train it in hooves until you feel just as confident in spotting good from bad.

I’m not the expert, I am just passionate. I will keep sharing with you the basics that I find fascinating.

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!