Testing Hoof Wear in the North Cascades

Submitted by Ruthie Thompson-Klein​, Equine Balance Hoof Care 

After conditioning rides around our Washington San Juan Islands’ gentle road and forest trails, three of my clients and adventure-mates and I set out for some serious riding in the North Cascades. It was our “last blast of
summer,” and a great test for a variety of EasyCare hoof wear. The four of us spent several days riding steep and rugged wilderness trails as well as easy riverside meanders in the Methow Valley of Washington State.

Here’s our multi-breed lineup: Monique’s Chincoteague gelding sported a pair of EasyShoe Performances on front feet, bare behind. At home he is ridden bare or with front Gloves; on mountain rocks he needed protection. Since Monique would be riding intensely for a month, we decided  EasyShoes were the best application. Jet is a solid black horse with solid black feet, that made my Easyshoe Performance glue work look pretty decent. The shoes were applied with Adhere, five days before our trip, and ride-tested.

Jet's EasyShoes- before

Jet and Monique

Jan’s Arabian gelding, Farli, sported Easyboot Glove Back Country boots on front, bare behind the first day. When this endurance horse among us began lagging, short-striding and avoiding center trail, I suggested booting behind. I swapped boots, with a pair of firm-padded Glove Back Country behind and Power-Strapped Easyboot Gloves in front. Farli became his sound and comfortable self on the trail the rest of the trip. No vet call necessary. 

Jan and Farli

Alice’s Dutch Warmblood mare (a very large and intrepid trail horse!) trekked in Easyboot Gloves all around; size 4.5 Wide in front and size 4 Wide behind, no accessories necessary. An attentive owner/trimmer, Alice spent considerable time making sure Amira’s Easyboot Gloves fit her trim perfectly. My very-green Appaloosa gelding worked in our usual Power-Strapped Gloves in front and I added Easyboot Glove Back Country boots behind.

Our first few days were low elevation trails with water and rocky river crossings, bridges and forest paths. We then trailered to elevation where the terrain got much more technical. Headed to Cutthroat Peak, we traversed a landslide, encountered sharp rocks, a steep, rocky water crossing scramble, and boggy lakeshore when we reached Cutthroat Lake to rest and water the horses at about 5,000 feet. This is where we decided we’d rather hang out and experience the scenery than forge further up the trail.

Amira and Alice

Dancer, my Appy trail partner

The most demanding boot test may have been when I had to dismount to send my gelding ahead of me across a steep water crossing and up a rocky bank. It was too dangerous to ride at his level, and I was worried I might have to pick up boots in his thrashing, dashing wake, but Monique snagged him—still booted—on the other side. At the high elevation lake we took a break to assess our nerves, enjoy the scenery, have lunch and check our hoof protection. All boots and Easyshoes in place.

Steep water crossing

Jet's EasyShoes after miles and mud

Happy with our big adventure, we spent the rest of our time on more casual rides to give the horses a break. With so many details involved in this sort of trip, a large part of our success was carefree hoof protection, and we put it to the test to my satisfaction. This type of multi-day group ride used to require multiple shoe and tool preparation headaches, now those days are over. Thank you, EasyCare!


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