Horse Strength, Speed, Torque and Hoof Boot Warranties

I'm often asked what type of torque is placed on a hoof boot by a horse.  I don't have the answer to that question but I marvel at the forces put on hoof protection products by a 1,000lb horse galloping around a pasture and changing direction at 30 miles per hour.  I have no idea what the exact answer is but it's a very big number.  When you consider the strength, speed and torque placed on all forms of equine hoof protection, it makes me proud to see what hoof boots have accomplished in the equine industry.  

The above photo shows the tremendous amount of strength and force that a horse can put on a both a horse shoe and a horse boot.  The Easyboot above was fitted on a horse over the top of freshly shod hoof.  The Easyboot was then glued into place with a product called EasyFoam (EasyCare doesn't sell EasyFoam now).  The foam was a pour in and would expand and fill all voids during the cure cycle.  Both the boot and the shoe were ripped from the horses foot.  All six nail clinches pulled through the hoof wall, the EasyFoam bond broke as the shoe and boot were pulled from the hoof.  The photos illustrate the forces applied to equine hoof protection.

The photos are a great example of why EasyCare has both a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee and a 90 Day Warranty Policy. Regardless of hoof boot construction, boots can be damaged, materials can rip and boots can be pulled off. EasyCare has the best warranty in the business and plans to be the leader in hoof boot technology for another 45 years.  We have recently strengthened our warranty and empowered our team to take care of dealers and consumers more effectively.

With hoof protection it is not a matter of if but when.  Many times it is not the fault of the hoof protection product but the nature of the business and product line.  EasyCare has the best and most fair policy in the industry.  Our improved warranty procedure is outlined below.  

EASYCARE CUSTOMER RETURNS & WARRANTY

USA customers that have purchased directly from EasyCare.

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. 

We back all of our products with a money-back guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with this product for any reason, EasyCare will gladly refund your purchase price (excluding shipping and handling) within 30 days of purchase. To qualify, all products must be returned to EasyCare and have a dated receipt. Offer not valid for EasyCare bargain bin or factory seconds. The customer will need to contact EasyCare Customer Service at 800-447-8836 to obtain a Return Authorization Number (RMA). The customer is responsible for freight costs to and from EasyCare.  

90-Day Warranty. 

EasyCare Inc offers a 90 day repair or replacement warranty (from date of purchase) on quality and workmanship for all merchandise manufactured under the EasyCare label. The customer should return the product to EasyCare with a copy of the customer’s dated receipt showing the item was returned within the 90 day period.  Products will not be accepted without a dated proof of purchase. When the product is sent in for evaluation, the customer must call EasyCare Customer Service at 800.447.8836 to obtain a Return Authorization Number (RMA).  Products that can be repaired will be quickly sent back to the customer.  Products that can’t be repaired will either be paid in the form of a store credit or replaced.  The customer is responsible for freight costs to EasyCare.  EasyCare will cover ground or parcel post shipping back to the customer.  Parts and labor are no charge under the 90 day warranty. 

EASYCARE DEALER RETURNS & WARRANTY

Customers that have purchased from an EasyCare dealer. 

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee.  

Products purchased from an EasyCare dealer that are being returned under EasyCare’s 30-day money-back guarantee must be returned to EasyCare within 30 days of purchase. The EasyCare dealer will need to contact EasyCare for a Return Authorization Number (RMA). Once this number is obtained the product will be returned back to EasyCare along with a copy of the customer’s dated receipt showing the item was returned within the 30 day period. Once EasyCare has received the products a credit memo for the full purchase price of the item will be issued to the dealer (excluding freight charges).  All 30-Day Money-Back items will be paid in the form of a store credit. The 30 day money-back offer is not valid for EasyCare bargain bin or factory seconds. The consumer and/or dealer is responsible for freight costs.  

90 Day Warranty. 

If a customer has a warranty issue in the 90 Day Warranty period it can be handled two ways.  Through the EasyCare dealer where the product was purchased or through EasyCare

90 Day Warranty taken care of through the EasyCare Dealer.  The customer should return the product to the dealer with a copy of the customer’s dated receipt showing the item was returned within the 90 day period.  Products will not be accepted without a dated proof of purchase.  The dealer will then send the product to EasyCare to be replaced or repaired at EasyCare’s discretion. When the product is sent in for evaluation, the dealer must call for a Return Authorization Number (RMA). Products that can be repaired will be quickly sent back to the dealer.  Products that can’t be repaired will either be paid in the form of a store credit or replaced.  The dealer is responsible for freight costs to EasyCare.  EasyCare will cover ground or parcel post shipping back to the dealer.  Parts and labor are no charge under the 90 day warranty. 

90 Day Warranty through EasyCare.  EasyCare Inc offers a 90 day repair or replacement warranty (from date of purchase) on quality and workmanship for all merchandise manufactured under the EasyCare label. The customer should return the product to EasyCare with a copy of the customer’s dated receipt showing the item was returned within the 90 day period.  Products will not be accepted without a dated proof of purchase. The customer must call EasyCare for a Return Authorization Number (RMA) then the product shall be sent in for evaluation.  The customer is responsible for freight costs to EasyCare.  EasyCare will cover ground or parcel post shipping back to the customer.  Parts and labor are no charge under the 90 day warranty. 

EasyCare was the first company back in 1970 to make a production hoof boot.  The majority of new hoof boot products emulate our sizing charts, sizing methods, our boot designs, glue-on techniques, our fit kit concept and many of our procedures.  EasyCare's warranty program is the best and most generous in the industry and we plan to continue leading the way.  

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.

"E" is for Epic and "K" is for Kevin

Submitted by Jordan Potthoff, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

On Saturday, July 16th I went on a ride with my mother, Cathy, and our two Wisconsin cowboy friends, Daniel and Vern. Cathy, Vern, and I are members of the Back Country Horseman in La Plata County. This group does trail work in wilderness areas where horses have access to ride. It is "Trails 2000" for Equestrians. As president of the Durango Chapter my mom decided we needed to scope out the Crater Lake trail that goes up past Andrew's Lake, near Silverton, Colorado, before the work crew came in the following week. It was a fun day ride and we were all happy to get out and enjoy the beautiful Colorado weather.

We looked at the hiking guide to gauge our time and mileage. It stated, "5.5 miles to the lake" then of course 5.5 miles out. I had done a 5 mile ride on my 4 year old mare, my first young horse, and I felt she was ready for a longer ride. This would certainly be a challenge because it was twice as far as we had ever gone. There would be many challenges on this ride that would test her and I as a team. Needless to say, according to our GPS tracking the day went from a 11 mile ride to a 14 mile ride. If I was looking for a ride to challenge and train my young horse, boy did I find it.

I wasn't sure the footing of the trail so I decided on my Easyboot Epics for the ride. I am new to the barefoot world and natural hoof care. My horse, Pistol, has spent the riding season in shoes and the off season barefoot. When I joined EasyCare I pulled her shoes and began the journey into barefoot hoof care.

So far I like the Epics. The way that they open up allows for easy application and I still get a snug fit because of the cable and buckle system. This is a great starting place for me since both Pistol and I are new to booting. My hope is to make believers out of my riding group for this trip and future ones. I did spend part of the ride talking about EasyCare and all of the different boots we have to offer, as well as Glue-Ons and EasyShoes. I enjoy talking about the boot because I truly believe in our product. It doesn't work for every horse but the owner and CEO, Garrett Ford, is always looking to increase sizing options and created a better boot. 

My horse had some reservations about our first few water crossings. Somewhere during that time of trying every avenue possible to avoid the water she tore the gaiter on one of her boots and the boot came off. The boot buckle didn't release so I need to examine the boot and see if the cable is broken. I will also measure her feet again to make sure I have the correct size. I think what happened was I tried the fit kit and found the correct size for the Glove. But without checking measurements ordered the same size in the Epics. This is a common mistake. Our boots are not all sized the same, so we always tell our customers not to assume that if they are a size in one model they will be the same size in a different model. What probably happened is that this boot was too big and the clamp didn't tighten enough around the hoof to stay on during her frantic moves across the water.

When I did remove the boots I found that very little water stayed in the boot. I know that some people worry about water building up in the boots and sloshing around during a ride. This boot allows most of the water to squish back out after going through a stream.

The Epics have moderate traction and break over on the toe. The trail up to Crater lake was a mixture of dirt trail and big rocky sections. As we passed over large slabs of rock I noticed that Pistol had better traction in most instances and had less of a tendency to slip out compared to the other horses who were shod with steel shoes. Pistol has not developed a disciplined, cautious step yet, so I know that she wasn't getting better footing because of better foot placement on the trail. I was also happy for the gaiter protection around the heel bulbs because two of the horses experienced small cuts from sharp rocks.

We saw this butterfly at the end of our ride. It made me think of Kevin. Butterflies to me symbolize rebirth and transition into a new state of being. For me I think it could have been Kevin joining me in my successful ride. I had looked forward to riding with him this summer. I know that I would have learned a lot from him and my horse would have as well. He was always approachable when I had questions or wanted to learn more. I know I will still learn from him, his memory, and his experiences through the many many lives he impacted. 

Although I did not have the pleasure of knowing Kevin Myers for very long, he immediately inspired me to challenge myself and expand my riding experience. Both his and Garrett's passion for endurance riding was infectious. I have dabbled in many disciplines and their passion has sparked my curiosity for this new one. Well let me tell you I have a long way to go! Kevin would have called my 14 mile stroll a "recovery ride". HA! I was the one who needed to recover after that ride. It was my longest ride in a long time. But he was always very encouraging and was great at celebrating victories no matter how small.

He was on my mind during my first big ride. I know that he had a habit of doing a hand stand in great places so in his memory I did a hand stand in victory. Here's to you, Kevy. "K" is for Kevin. Happy Trails.

The Easyboot Mini: Available Friday, April 1, 2016

You spoke, EasyCare listened. The miniature horse and small pony world will soon have dependable hoof protection that still delivers the benefits of being barefoot. Meet the Easyboot Mini. The smallest production hoof boots in the world go on sale on Friday, April 1, 2016.

The Easyboot Mini is the most durable tiny boot on the market today and utilizes EasyCare’s most successful tread pattern made famous by the best-selling Easyboot Glove. Its urethane sole provides excellent traction that has proven in testing to hold up on any terrain, from pavement to rocky trail to kitchen tile. The boot is simple in nature but secure to the hoof when fitted correctly. No strength or hand dexterity needed: the boot fastens using a robust, industrial-style hook and loop system at the front of the pastern.

Need another reason to own an Easyboot Mini? When you purchase them, you also get a jar to store you horse treats.

To determine the correct size for the Easyboot Mini, measure the width and length of your pony’s hoof following a fresh trim. The width is the widest point across; the length is the line from the toe to the buttress line. For more detailed information, visit out Measuring Instructions page. Next, compare the hoof dimensions to the size chart below. 

If you have questions about the Easyboot Mini or would like assistance with sizing, please contact us our customer service team at 800-447-8836. EasyCare is excited to provide the little-horse community with the most advanced natural hoof care protection available today. The boots will be available for purchase online and by telephone starting Friday, April 1, 2016.

For more photos information about the Easyboot Mini's evolution, see my last blog.

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.

Don't Miss Out, Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners Conference Is Right Around the Corner!

Are you yearning for continued education or to ramp up your skills? Do you ever find yourself struggling to stay on top of the latest happenings in the world of natural hoof care? Do you wish you could connect with other hoof care professionals? Well look no further than Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners!   

The exciting news is their 2016 conference is just a few short weeks away and YOU are invited to come! 

Don't miss this opportunity to hear world class speakers present on a huge variety of relevant equine hoof and health topics.

WHEN:  Friday March 4th - Sunday March 6th, 2016 

WHERE:  Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and beautiful Arroyo Del Mar (owned by Shannon & Steffen Peters) Del Mar/San Diego, CA

The early bird rates for the 2016 PHCP conference close Thursday the 18th! Sign up NOW to enjoy the savings!

SCHEDULE OVERVIEW:  

Friday: Dr. Debra Taylor topics:  

  • Caudal Hoof Morphology
  • Negative Palmar/Plantar Angles
  • Padding the Thin Soled & Laminitic Horse 

Dr. Hilary Clayton topics:

  • Biomechanics of the Hoof to Ground Interaction
  • Straightness & Sidedness in Horses and Farriers 
  • Biomechanics of Lameness

Friday evening events include our fun and popular Meet & Greet event, amazing door prizes, boots and tools swap/sale, etc.!

Saturday:  Bus to Arroyo Del Mar

  • Dr. Clayton on Dressage Gaits & Movements
  • Garrett Ford of EasyCare live horse glue on demo and Q & A
  • Coralie Hughes, a Masterson Method Practitioner will demonstrate Dr. Kerry Ridgeway's technique of identifying patterns of musculo-skeletal pain in horses with Ulcers. She will also cover relief of tension and restrictions utilizing the Masterson method to ease the work of the farrier. 

Sunday:  

  • Carol Layton on Equine Nutrition
  • Joan Kulifay on Equine Arthritis & Lameness

In addition to the speakers, this conference includes the Meet & Greet dinner on Friday night as well as lunches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and transportation to/from the hotel to Arroyo Del Mar.  

Pricing as follows:

PHCP member early bird (now through Feb 18th): $250

PHCP member late: $300

Non member early bird: $300

Non member late: $350

To sign up and pay, reserve your hotel and get more details on this special conference, please visit the PHCP website.

This is a great opportunity to get connected, hone your skills and learn from some of the best in the business!

I look forward to seeing you there! 

 

Debbie Schwiebert

easycare-vet-hcp-deaaler-accounts-manager-debbie-schwiebert

Vet Dealer & Hoof Care Practitioner Accounts

I manage the hoof care practitioner and veterinarian dealer accounts at EasyCare. An integral part of my job is to stay current in all areas of barefoot hoof care, which enables me to serve this vital group of EasyCare dealers at the next level.

Farriers Crowd The EasyCare Booth at the 13th Annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio

Submitted by Deanna Stoppler, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

This week I attended the 13th Annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio.  More than 1,100 farriers attended the four-day event with more than 130 vendor booths set up in the Duke Convention Center.

EasyCare, Inc. and Polyflex Horseshoes booths were crowded with farriers and offered a unique opportunity for farriers who signed up in advance to compete in one of two horseshoe glue-on competitions. EasyCare offered the Flip Easyboot Flop Flop Glue-On Division and Polyflex Horseshoes offered the Polyflex Horseshoe Glue-On Division.

Prizes in each division were $500 for first place, $300 for second place, and $200 for third place. Competitors were scheduled by the hour and only had an hour to complete the application. All competitors finished in the allotted time.

Derick Vaughn, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Second Place Winner of the Flip Flop Glue-On Division.

Hoof preparation for both glue-on applications were very similar; in fact EasyCare’s Garrett Ford adopted many techniques developed by Curtis Burns, owner of Polyflex Horseshoes.

The Polyflex horseshoe was applied using the steps outlined below.

Hoof Preparation

  • Rasp solar surface of foot to clean any debris off foot after your trim.
  • Treat all bacterial areas with Thrush Off and seal with Polyflex Seal-It.
  • Use a drill and buffy attachment (60 grit buffy paper) to clean and rough up the outer hoof wall and heel area.
  • Use a wire brush to clean the outer wall.
  • Use a handheld torch to dry the hoof wall. Torch then brush. Repeat three times.
  • Use a wire wheel to remove dust and debris from the solar surface of the hoof.
  • Dremel the heels (removing all overgrown periople) and bar region.
  • Use a handheld torch to dry the sole then remove all dust with a wire brush.

Shoe Preparation

  • Shape your shoe using a stall jack or by hand. Do not use a hammer to shape the shoe.
  • Clean the sole side of the shoe with a Dremel (use 9931 bit), roughing up the glue surface of the shoe. Be sure to get the inside and outside of the heel area roughed as well.
  • Use Keratex putty mixed thoroughly with copper sulfate crystals to pack any bacterial areas in the hoof, preventing glue from entering the depressions.

Polyflex Horseshoe Application

  • Dispense 2 oz of Polyflex Bond in a plastic rimless cup and mix with a 1/4 tsp of copper sulfate crystals.
  • Mix glue and copper sulfate with a wooden tongue depressor (cut one end of the depressor at a 45’ angle to use later).
  • Once glue is completely mixed, apply evenly on the sole surface of the shoe.
  • Set the shoe on the foot and use the remaining glue from the cup to blend in the heels and quarters. 
  • Use the angled end of the depressor to remove glue from the sole surface of the foot.
  • Do not wrap the foot with plastic wrap.
  • Hold the foot until glue is completely cured.

Finish

  • Once the glue has completely cured, use the buffy to smooth the glue and create a nice transition from hoof wall, glue, to shoe.
  • Use the Dremel to clean up excess glue from around the heel and bar area of the shoe.

First Place Polyflex Division Pete Van Rossum prepping the sole side of the polyflex horseshoe

1st Place Polyflex Division Winner, Pete Van Rossum, prepping the Polyflex Horseshoe.

The Easyboot Flip Flop was applied using the following steps:

Hoof Preparation

  • Use a drill and buffy attachment to clean and rough up the outer hoof wall.
  • Use a wire brush to clean the outer wall.
  • Use a handheld torch to dry the outer hoof wall then brush with a wire brush.
  • Repeat three times.

Flip Flop Application

  • Load a cartridge of Vettec Adhere in the Vettec glue gun.
  • Make sure Flip Flop is clean and free of debris.
  • Cut the tip off the Vettec Adhere cartridge.
  • Purge a squirt of glue before attaching the Vettec tip and purging another squirt of glue.
  • Dispense glue on the cuff of the Flip Flop, filling only about 2/3 of the cuff from the top with glue so that glue does not get under the solar surface of the foot, creating sole pressure.
  • Apply the Flip Flop to the hoof making sure that the toe is completely set into the cuff.
  • Once the glue has set for about a minute, place the foot on the ground.
  • Use more glue to trace the outer cuff of the boot, creating a smooth seal between the hoof wall and boot cuff.

Finish

  • Once the glue has completely cured, use the buffy to smooth the glue and create a nice transition from hoof wall, glue, to cuff.
  • Be sure not to sand down the sides of the cuff where it ends and transitions to hoof wall.  Sanding this area too much could weaken the glue bond.

When the hoof preparation and shoe application methods are followed as listed above shoe failure will almost never occur.

Flip Flop Glue-On Division Completed Shoes

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford judging all entries

The winners of this year’s glue competition are as follows:

Polyflex Horseshoe Glue-On Division

1st Place: $500 - Pete Van Rossum, Farrier and Owner of Pete Van Rossum Natural Hoofcare, Ramona, California.

2nd Place: $300 - Steve Norman, Farrier, Georgetown, Kentucky.

3rd Place: $200—Ashley Gasky, Farrier and Owner of Precision Hoof Care, Ballston Spa, New York.

Polyflex Horseshoe Owner, Curtis Burns, with Polyflex Horseshoe Division Winner, Pete Van Rossum

Flip Flop Glue On Division

1st Place: $500 - Jeremy Ortega, Farrier and Owner of From The Ground Up, Mokelumne Hill, California.

2nd Place: $300 - Deanna Stoppler, Farrier and Owner of Horse & Sole Hoof Care, Fairfax, Vermont; tied with Derick Vaughn, Farrier at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky.

3rd Place: $200 - Daisy Bicking, Farrier and Owner of Daisy Haven Farm: School of Integrative Hoof Care, Parkesburg, Pennsylvania.

4th Place—Shawn Skorstad, Farrier Apprentice for Kendra Skorstad, Owner of Connected Healing Hoof Care, Rochester, Wisconsin.

Jeremy Ortega, First Place Winner of the EasyShoe Glue-On Division, with the EasyCare crew, Kevin Myers, Garrett Ford, and Debbie Schwiebert

Ashley Gasky, Jeremy Ortega, Deanna Stoppler, and Pete Van Rossum

Along with the competition, EasyCare displayed the new EasyCare Therapy Click System. Choose from a five degree or ten degree wedge pad that clicks into place on the bottom of the Easyboot Flip Flop and uses screws to lock the wedge into place. The Therapy Click System can also be used in conjunction with the Easyboot Cloud and eight other hoof boot models.

The cutest displays in the booth were the new Easyboot Mini Horse Boots. The boots have a simple construction and are easy to adjust. They can even be used as a therapy boot if your mini suffers from a hoof abscess or has an injury that requires the hoof to be wrapped and kept in a clean environment while healing. I already have clients lining up to purchase these boots for their minis. 

The booth was fun, interactive, and exciting. I can’t wait to see what EasyCare has in store for us at the 13th Annual International Hoof-Care Summit.

There's Measuring Hooves and Then There's the Fifth Dimension of Boot Fitting

Shopping for boots is like shopping for pants. For most, it's easy enough. Most people's conformation lands somewhere within the bell curve. Those 32 x 32 Carhartt's folded neatly at the top of the stack on the eye level shelf are just right.

For those of us outside the bell curve, things get hairy. For example, I tower a solid seven inches over the average 5'5" height for an American female. A pair of 28 x 34's (bottom shelf hidden behind 20 pairs of back stock for the bell curve people) should be perfect, but when I try them on, they aren't quite right in the thigh, or the calf, or across the bum, or how high they come up (or don't) on my waist. Those two dimensions on the label just can't account for the three dimensional nature of people. Seriously you guys, it's like I have to enter into the fifth dimension of some parallel universe to find the perfect pants.

I know, I know, so how the heck is my pants dystopia supposed to relate to your hoof boots? Stay with me here.

You started with your horse's freshly trimmed length and width dimensions. You referenced the measuring guide and size charts. You measured the hoof (NOT a tracing) in metric instead of standard. You didn't round off dimensions because you know we are a bunch of squares. You are armed with facts.

You are in the majority of riders whose horse falls conveniently within the bell curve of hoof confirmation. A quick comparison to the two dimensional size chart produces an easy answer. Your favorite tack shop has your size in stock so after resisting an impulse buy (matching saddle pad-polo wrap-halter set) and catching up on the local gossip you buy them. You get them home, try them on, and they are a perfect fit. Right off the rack. Cue the golden sunbeams and choir of angels. Hurrah! High five! Go play outside!

What's that you say? Your experience went nothing like that? Perhaps your measurements weren't matching up with any of the size charts. Maybe the measurements looked perfect on paper but when you tried boots on the top was all wrong (it's that 2D vs. 3D thing). You're overwhelmed and can't figure out what is going to work for your special flower of a horse?

Not to worry. EasyCare customer service is here for you! Let us escort you beyond the boundaries of the space time continuum and into the fifth dimension: the realm of perfect fit. Chances are we have something to fit your horse, large or small. We even have minis coming soon!

Try our Fitting Assistant online. You can upload your hoof measurements and photos and we will contact you for a personal consult on your best options.

If you want EasyShoes, Flip Flops, Gloves, or Backcountry boots order a Fit Kit so you can try before you buy. Let us help you make your booting experience out of this world.

 

Rebecca Balboni

easycare-customer-service-representative-rebecca-balboni

Customer Service Representative

A lifetime of riding and showing sport horses has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of soundness and comfort on performance. Let me help elevate your equine experience by finding the right boot for your horse and unique situation.

Hoof Care Starts In The Gut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nutritional hoof building blocks in order of importance are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Form the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

Transitioning to Barefoot- A Sappy Reflection on Change

For me and others, the New Year is a prime opportunity to reflect on the past and gain some insight on how to go forward. This year, much of the reflection has been centered around my horse's (and my own) move into the barefoot camp. While trimming my horse this week, a deep appreciation of how far she and I have come in the last two years came over me. As I picked up and looked at each foot, I saw a timeline of recent history, an organic written record, a tiny natural history, a crystal ball for seeing forgotten moments, and a road map. Whoa. Weird, right?

I chuckled to myself remembering my old (read: limiting, uninformed, and close minded) views on barefoot trimming and hoof boots. Never before forced to think outside the shoe, I was once overwhelmed by the myriad options available for booting. Little did I know EasyCare was to transform me into a wizardess of booting solutions for most any situation.

I relished the feelings of gratitude and satisfaction as I took my sweet time on those familiar feet, pausing every couple of rasp strokes to observe and assess. First observation is of a dexterity with the rasp that somehow snuck its way into my clumsy hands over the last year. Second observation is that these are completely different feet. Gone are the splatted out shelly walls, enormous flares, and flopped over bars. The hoof wall no longer swerves like a drunk on it's way to the ground from the coronet band. No more ragged chipped hoof wall, no stretched white line, and no bruises. No nail holes either. I admired my horse's "new" feet: tight white line, big beautiful frog, well developed digital cushion, straight hoof pastern axis, and toe:heel ratio balanced 50:50 around the center of rotation. Sure, there's plenty worse out there, but that was one ugly clodhopper!

My big mare stood quietly for me as I worked my way around all four legs, a far cry from the "wheelies" she did on Garrett's hoof jack the day of her first real barefoot trim. That was the day that I learned that the bars aren't just places to drink whiskey and tell lies. That same week I fumbled through measuring hooves for the first time and discovered that my horse would need four different sized boots. What?! But her feet are perfect!! Right?? They aren't?? Oh. What do we do?? We put her in the forgiving and secure Old Mac's to start, trimmed a little at a time, tweaked diet, and eventually got her fit perfectly into a set of off the rack Gloves.

I am far from an expert, but I have learned enough to have a few tricks up my sleeve. I've learned enough to see how much I don't know. I love the daily opportunity to pass my experience of transition along to our customers and being able to learn from each of their experiences.

So here I am, with open arms at an open door, inviting 2016 and all it's potential for growth and change to come right on in and stay a while. Of course I know that the more things change the more they stay the same. The horses still provide unlimited opportunity for learning and improvement as a rider and horsewoman. It's still those quiet moments spent with a good horse that keep me working through the frustrations and setbacks. The crunch of fresh snow under hooves, a sweet nicker "hello," the tickle of frosty whiskers on steaming nostrils, the sweet smell of good grass hay, a soft trusting eye, and the feeling of unbridled euphoria that accompanies that elusive yet occasional perfect ride.

Here's to embracing innovation, having (and recognizing) the knowledge, tools, and skills to keep our equine friends going strong in 2016 and for many years to come!

 

Rebecca Balboni

easycare-customer-service-representative-rebecca-balboni

Customer Service Representative

A lifetime of riding and showing sport horses has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of soundness and comfort on performance. Let me help elevate your equine experience by finding the right boot for your horse and unique situation.

Top 10 Best Read EasyCare Blogs of 2015

Here at EasyCare, we work hard to provide our customers with as much information as possible when it comes to our products, as well as hoof education. We believe that knowledge is power and our blog is an excellent resource, filled with tips for success.

2015 was full of new products, lots of information on hoof health, and product experiences shared by hoof care practioners, customers, Team Easyboot members and the EasyCare staff team. We have paid attention to what you like, and here is a list of our top ten blogs for the year.

1. Laminitis And The Laminar Wedge: Take It Or Leave It - "Laminitis is one of the biggest hoof problems we can encounter." Take a look at the debate about the laminar wedge and what to do with it.

2.  Six Things You Should Know About the Easyboot Cloud - "This robust boot exceeds the needs of therapeutic support and protection, whether it be a long trailer ride to an event, prolonged stalling situations on hard ground at horse shows, thin-soled horses, laminitic stages, abscesses, founder or recovery after tough work-outs. It can also be used to aid movement and reduce recovery time after injury or surgery." This boot is changing the lives of many horses.

3.  The Truth About Equine Abscesses - "Hoof abscesses can be much more serious than most of us realize. Abscesses usually are misunderstood, misdiagnosed, mistreated and cause our horses unnecessary suffering, loss of use and too often loss of life. The following is a brief explanation of white line abscesses of the hoof wall."  This was a two part blog and is filled with invaluable information.  Be sure to check out Part Two as well.

4.  How To Develop a Healthy Foot: Circulation It Is - "The circulation of the horse's foot is critical to nourishing the tissues as well as being an integral part of the energy, shock and heat management system of the foot." This is a facinating read.

5.  The EasyShoe Sport Maxed Out - "The only way to know how strong you are is to keep testing your limits." See just how much you can get out of this popular EasyShoe.

6.  Retained Soles: Stop Polishing a Turd - "Next time you are looking at your bare hooves and see “nice, thick, healthy walls” but no connectivity to the sole, check and make sure you are not, in fact, dealing with a flare and a false sole." This blog has great photos and lots of information.

7.  DHF Addressing Hoof Distortion: Slippering Heels - "There are many ideas surrounding how to address the back of the foot with our trim. Heels, bars, frog; some trimming techniques are more aggressive than others, recommending more or less removal of material." Critical information here on different methods of heel trimming.

8.  Conditioning From the Ground Up - "Every step a horse takes can either build them up or break them down. Every serious rider is aware of the benefits of conditioning their horses bodies through regular work and play. Fewer are aware of the benefits of conditioning their hooves. Every time a horse takes a step there is also the potential for development or breakdown." This is one of my personal favorites from the year.  A must-read for any horse owner.

9.  The Courage to Change - An equine massage therapist and hoof care practitioner shares her experience with change in this industry. "...it seemed so cruel to me that so many generations of horses had lived, and died on crippled feet. It seemed so unfair that they had a lesser quality of life simply because they were locked 24/7 onto steel shoes."

10.  Slow Change Is Better Than No Change For the Equine Industry- There is nothing more consistent than change, and as Garrett Ford explains, it can be painful to watch the lack of change in this industry at times. Thank goodness he keeps pushing through with innovation and passion for our horsey friends.

Tina Ooley

easycare-customer-service-representative-tina-ooley

CustomerService Representative

As a member of the EasyCare Customer Service Team, I am here to assist you in fitting and choosing the best hoof protection foryour horse. I believe in natural, holistic hoof care and its contribution to sound horses and happy riders.

Stop the Growth and Development of the Equine Hoof Early in Life: The Best Way to Screw Up Your Well Bred Superstar

RB Rich didn't win the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (the richest race in the history of Arabian racing), but a bigger battle was won at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on November 8th, 2015.  Rich's invitation to race on the biggest stage in Arabian racing and the chance at the 1.2 million euro purse was the highlight of his young career and also a huge milestone for the EasyShoe Compete.  

RB Rich raced the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons in a glue-on racing shoe that was once prohibited by our local track in Colorado.  It's not unusual for a young horse to use the same type of hoof protection each year but what is unusual is for a young horse to start his career in a flexible form of hoof protection.  RB Rich is the first horse that we are aware of to start his race career in the flexible glue-on EasyShoe Compete that not only conforms to track traction rules, but allows the hoof and internal structures of the hoof to develop and strengthen after application. Most young track horses are shod in a non flexible form of hoof protection early in life which in turn slows and hampers some of the critical development of the hoof.

RB Rich's left fore after pulling his flexible shoes. Trimmed and ready to train barefoot over the winter months.  Not the hoof on most horses after a successful 2015 season.  

Many readers are nodding their heads with agreement at this point while many others are calling me a tree hugger.  I ask all the non-believers to think about what the athletic fate of their young daughters and sons would be if their feet were cast to a rigid 2x4 board from ages four to eight.  The casted young foot was not allowed to flex when it hit the ground and the arch never developed, expansion was limited and the heel never developed to support the load of the body, feeling was lost and proprioception compromised.  We would never do it to our children but the majority of the equestrian industry does it to their most promising young prospects. Many equine industries rush to get steel and aluminum shoes on the two and three year old superstars so training can begin, races can be won and trophies can be collected.

In my opinion, the rush to fill the trophy case compromises the development of the equine hoof and as a result changes the lives of many horses.  As a result, many unsound three and four year olds head home because the horse is not winning and can't pay the bills.  The owners are frustrated and they wonder what to do next with the hopped up race bred horse.  The challenge is the horse now has the feet and internal structures of an 18-month old but the body and mind of four year-old. The engine and torque that the three and four year-old has developed is too advanced for the wimpy feet that were not allowed to develop with the other structures of the horse.  Yes, many horses race successfully with the current tools and protocol, but could their careers have been better and longer?  

Can a flexible shoe really make a difference?  I believe it can.  I believe young horses can start their careers early, have hoof protection applied and still develop a strong hoof and strong internal hoof structures.  

RB Rich is insignificant in the big world of horse racing, but he's a great example of how a horse can be managed with early trimming, conditioning barefoot and training/racing in a flexible form of hoof protection.  Rich has developed incredible feet, great digital cushion, and to date has been very sound.  He has all the ingredients to retire sound and start a second career.  He's a great example of what is possible.  

RB Rich before the Arabian Crown Jewel in Abu Dhabi: the richest race in the history of Arabian racing.  

Rich's EasyShoe Compete hoof protection before flying to Abu Dhabi.  Rich has great feet, massive frogs and an impressive digital cushion.  

Rich's feet in Abu Dhabi.  Not the feet you see on most track horses.  

I have a good friend that is an endurance rider and farrier.  He made a comment to me a couple years ago that has stuck with me and also made me think, "You're lucky because most all your horses have good feet" (not all my horses have good feet but most have much better than average feet).  My comment to him was, do you believe it's Nature or Nurture?  Do my horses have good feet because I've been better at selecting horses with good feet or do my horses have good feet because I've been better at providing and environment and trimming cycle to develop good feet?  He looked at me like I was a jackass but one of the two has to be true.  

I've personally seen the development of Rich's feet over the last four years, and I believe the following can improve a young horses feet and their long term soundness:

1.  Early balanced trimming.  Many people spend a great deal of time and money on breeding and then neglect hoof trimming the first 24 months.  Nurture the nature you have created. Give them the platform to perform.  

2.  Do as much of the early training and conditioning as possible using a barefoot and booted practice.  Help the feet develop and build the internal structures of the hoof.  

3.  When hoof protection is needed early use a flexible form.  It may be more expensive, but you just spent a fortune on breeding.  The majority of lameness is in the hoof or a result of poor feet.  Protect your investment.  

4.  Pull hoof protection during rest periods or the off season.  Continue to develop the hoof mechanism.  For all of you that say you can't due to a sore horse, you didn't do #1, #2 and #3.  

The EasyShoe Compete is not a first for flexible hoof protection.  And although the EasyShoe has made a small impact in the sport of Arabian flat track racing and some smaller splashes on the thoroughbred tracks, it's bigger brother has won some of the biggest races in the world.  The Polyflex shoe has won races like the 2013 Breeder's Cup Classic on Mucho Macho Man, had a successful career with the highest North American money earner in Curlin and has won stakes races on most of the tracks in the USA.  The Polyflex and the EasyShoe Compete are similar products, share the same patent and have both been highly influenced by farrier Curtis Burns.  

Mucho Macho Man winning the 2013 Breeder's Cup Classic in the flexible Polyflex horse shoe.

The race in Abu Dhabi was the finish line for a product line that we have worked very hard on and believe in.  Rich has been a living research dummy that has come out the other side smelling like roses and has feet like iron.  It's not the road for everyone but it's a consideration for owners and breeders who want to develop the horse first and value second careers.  I'm personally excited to take Rich off the track and start a long and successful endurance career.

What are your thoughts?  Is this a bunch of hogwash or does shoeing a young horse in non flexible materials compromise hoof health, athletic longevity and successful second careers?

 

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.