Modifications of Easyboot Glove and Glue-On Shells: Part II

Submitted by Pete Ramey

Glove Glue-On Shells    

The Industry’s Shift to Synthetic Horseshoes 
In my opinion, the increasing popularity of synthetic shoes – both for rehab and for high performance – is a very good step in the right direction. During the time that metal was the only material we had that would hold up under a horse, metal made a lot of sense as a horseshoe material. But these days we have a wide array of materials that will do the job, and most of them are much better for energy dissipation and shock absorption. These materials are also more flexible, which can allow the foot to function more normally, perhaps leading to increased health of internal structures when compared to more rigid shoes. 

I do worry that synthetic shoes will become just another thing that people leave on horses’ feet 365 days a year. Healthier than steel, perhaps, but still degrading the foot with their constant presence. I use these tools in my everyday work, but for most situations I remain a “barefoot and boot man,” as I think this combination yields the best hoof health in a majority of situations. 

My Love Affair with the Glove Shells
There are times, though, that long-term or even permanent hoof protection is needed. For these horses, I usually turn to the Glove Glue-On Shells, simply a Glove without the gaiter (instead of other synthetic shoe models) for several very specific reasons:

  • All of the glue bond is on the side wall, instead of on the bottom of the wall. This frees me up to unload areas of separated walls, making these shoes ideal for growing out hoof capsule rotation, toe flaring, and quarter flares (and thus wall cracks).
  • Almost as well as a hoof boot, if applied properly, they can allow total release of pressure to the sole during hoof flight. This allows you to get away with more sole pressure/support than any other fixed shoeing method I have seen, heard of, or tried.
  • There is no need to trim the foot “flat” in preparation for shoeing. The horse’s foot, when viewed from the side, is naturally arch-shaped, mirroring its internal structures. The only ways to level this arch for shoe prep are to, 1) thin the sole at the toe, 2) thin the sole at the heels, 3) leave the quarter walls too long, or some combination of those three. I can’t abide any of those, as each causes damage. Note: When floating the quarters above the shoe floor, be careful not to let glue run beneath the wall and harden under the sole.
  • The glue bond area is 3-5 times larger than typical glue-on shoes. There is also no need to prep or protect the prep of the ground surface of the foot. For beginners, this makes it easier to succeed with them. For seasoned veterans, this makes the bond as close to bombproof as a shoe can get.
  • I can pad in them! Most permanent shoe modifications accommodate padding or impression material under the arch of the sole, but not under the wall or the outer periphery of sole. This little trick is a true life-saver for thin-soled, splat-footed horses.
  • Using heat-fitting, this shoe can easily adapt to any almost any hoof shape, and be adapted to any breakover or heel support needs.
  • Economics. I can stock only this shell and, by trimming it down to shape, duplicate a wide array of products. If I want an Easyshoe, a Flip-Flop, a lower cuff, a direct glue shoe with no cuff, M/L or D/P wedge, better traction, heels in, heels out, open sole, closed sole, frog support… I can make one by removing unwanted material from this single product. This helps maximize precious storage space in my truck and, of course, dramatically cuts the expense of carrying extra stock. 

Heat-Fitting 
It is equally important to achieve a close fit with the Glue-Ons as it is with the Gloves. We have the same breakover and heel support needs. Large gaps between the wall and shoe will be difficult to fill with glue, and tight areas may push the shoe out of place before (or after) the glue dries. 

Better fit can be achieved with the Glue-Ons than the Gloves when large quarter flares are present since the gaiter is not in the way of quarter fitting. During the heating process, you will find that it is better to hold the shell with something besides your hand, particularly if you have opened the sole (discussed below). I use my shoe pull-offs or crease nail pullers.

As an end result, you want a snug but relaxed fit with little-to-no air space, and no pressure attempting to push the shoe out of place. Prior to gluing, you should be able to put it on the foot with no glue, walk the horse around on concrete, and it should stay in place.

Other Modifications

All of the modifications I discussed in Part I with the Glove boots can also be done to the Glue-On Shells. Below are additional options I use only when gluing.

Venting the Back of the Shoe
Gluing allows you to cut out the heel section of the boot completely. I almost always do this as it allows the foot to breathe, keeping the back half of the foot relatively free of the black, foul funk. I tend to do this simply with my pocket knife, and then I finish by rounding the top of the cuff with my nippers or shears. 


Opened heel of Glove shell, done with knife and nippers. I’m doing this to 90-something % of my glue-on shells.

Venting the Bottom of the Shoe
If there is adequate sole and frog in the center of the foot and if I don’t perceive a need to use impression material or padding, I often vent the bottom of the shoe. Using a jigsaw or Dremel, you can follow the contour of the shoe tread, mimicking the frog support and look of an EasyShoe. The material is strong and difficult to cut. Most tools actually burn their way through it, rather than cutting, and it can be a long process. 

So in most cases, I simply use a drill and hole saw (thank you Leslie Carrig!), usually 2 ¼” diameter, occasionally larger, to vent the bottom of the foot. This takes seconds to do, with no burning or clogging, though the end result may not look as cool as other designs, the horses never notice. As with almost any open-bottom shoe, there is some risk of a stone lodging between the shoe and the sole, causing problems. But the access to air can be worth the risk, particularly if the owner routinely picks and checks the area.

Pads and Impression Material
All of the padding methods discussed for the Glove boots will work with the Glue-On version, plus several additional options -- Dental Impression Material (DIM), pour-in pads, and Sikaflex 227 adhesive, to name a few. Generally, when using any type of pad, I leave the shoe’s stock sole intact (forgoing the sole vent). I also fill the collateral sulci and cover the sole with a thin layer of Artimud to keep infection at bay.

Prep and Glue
Gluing instruction is best done in person or at least via DVDs or YouTube (start here)  – not in writing – but here is my basic protocol in a nutshell, and in a very specific order:

  1. Trim the feet, clean out any infected areas in the white line or frogs, wire brush debris from the walls and bottom of the foot. This, and the other steps are each done to all four (or two) feet that are being glued in sequence, rather than doing each foot start-to-finish. This saves time.
  2. Heat-fit and do all shoe modifications. If using DIM or a felt pad, it is prepared at this point. If using a pour-in pad, decide if you need a hole or holes in the shoe to inject the pad.
  3. Sand all the gluing surface of the sidewall, yielding a rough finish. I cut 50 grit belt sander belts into small squares and do it by hand, or more recently, use a cordless drill buffer/sander. I then use the rough corner of my rasp to add fine grooves to the gluing surface. Take care to prep all the way to the back of the heels. This area can be hard to reach, easy to forget, and is the most critical area of glue bond. 
  4. With a small hand-held butane torch, I heat the outer wall for 1 or 2 seconds in each individual spot, moving the torch around very quickly while avoiding melting the hair at the coronet. Most of this, I do with the foot on the ground, but be sure to pick up the foot and prep the heels. I do the same to the inside of the shoe’s gluing area. This step eliminates dust, oils, and moisture, and is critical to success. After this step, take great care not to re-contaminate the glue surfaces of the hoof and shoe. Arm sweat, oils from impression materials and bacterial treatments are the most common culprits, as well as the grubby little hands of curious onlookers and well-meaning horse owners with a bottle of fly spray in hand (yep, it happened to me).
  5. Using a painter’s digital moisture meter, verify that all parts of the hoof’s gluing surface read 0.0% moisture. If not, repeat step #4. If a horse just came in from dry stall shavings or a dry pasture, one lap with the torch will usually do the trick. If the horse just came in from the rain, it may require three or more laps. Resist the temptation to heat longer as this could harm the horse. Instead, heat more times. Be patient – this is the most important step, particularly if you live in a damp climate.
  6. Glue. Keep it warm in winter, cool in summer. I like to use the guns and mixing tips – personal preference. Sometimes I use the acrylic, EasyShoe Bond Fast Set (Equilox, Equibond – all the same, with different labels) because it may be better glue for wet environments, and sometimes I use the urethane Vettec Adhere because it is less noxious and may do less damage to the walls. Adhere is also more user-friendly, and thus may be easier for beginners to succeed with.
  7. Purge the glue before installing the tip. For Adhere, be sure equal amounts of both agents are flowing freely. For EasyShoe Bond Fast Set, be sure the (white) bonding agent is flowing constantly, about 1/10th the volume of the pigmented agent. If so, wipe the glue from the end of the tube, being careful not to mix the agents, and apply the mixing tip.  
  8. If using DIM, place it on the foot. If using felt (or other) pads, place them in the shoes.
  9. Purge a grape-sized ball of glue onto the ground or paper towel, then apply the glue to the shoe. I avoid the sole, the ground surface of the wall, and the lower ½” of the cuff. The concern here is getting a glob of glue on the sole, which will then act as a stone in the shoe. To the rest of the cuff, I apply the glue liberally with a continuous ¼”-thick bead covering most of the gluing surface by the time I am done. In warm weather, I then put the shoe on immediately. In cold weather, I may stall for a bit, waiting for the glue to begin to cure. I repeatedly touch the glue with my gloved finger – at first the glue will attach a small “string” as I pull my finger away. As the glue starts to cure, this will not occur, and it is time to apply the shoe. As you do this, be careful not to drag glue from the sidewall onto the sole.
  10. Wait. For some applications, I want to cure the glue while I am holding up the foot (less sole pressure, less compression of pads – I generally do this on thin-soled horses). On other applications, I want to cure the glue with the foot on the ground (easier for lame or impatient horses; may yield a more snug “performance fit.”). If the shoe is to be cured in the air, put the shoe on, put the foot down on the ground, have an assistant pick up the off foot, then quickly put it back down (this spreads any glue that might have ended up on the sole). Pick up the foot you are gluing, check shoe placement, wipe off any excess glue, then hold the foot up until the glue dries. If the glue is to be cured with the foot on the ground, place the shoe, have your assistant pick up the off foot, and then watch the glued foot carefully as the glue dries. At some point partway through the cure, I switch places with the assistant, as I will want to be the one holding the foot during the latter (and more trying) minutes of the cure.
  11. Repeat for the other feet. You will need to clean, purge, and apply a new mixing tip for each shoe.
  12. Go around with a hoof pick and check the shoe heels to be sure they are bonded. If not, attach a new mixing tip and re-glue these areas. At this point, you can also seal the tops of the shoe cuff with a thin bead of glue. If you are slick, you can get all this done to all 4 feet with one mixing tip.
  13. If you are using pour-in pads, inject them now. Decide whether you want a lot of sole pressure, a little, or none. If you completely cure the pad while you are holding the foot off the ground, there will be a lot of support/pressure. If you put the foot down to let the pad cure, there will be none. It varies case-by-case, but I tend to do something in-between.
  14. When all the glues are cured, watch the horse move. Make final adjustments to breakover and heel rockers, if needed, based on movement.

Removal
After 5-6 weeks, Vettec Adhere will become brittle enough that shoe salvage is not terribly difficult (though it is still cheaper to buy a new shoe than it is to pay me to clean an old one up for you). I take a ¼” flathead screwdriver and work it between the shoe and the hoof, separating the bond.

With EasyShoe Glue (Equilox, Equibond…) at 5-6 weeks, the glue will not be brittle – the screwdriver method rarely works. Instead, using my hoof knife, I cut ½”-long slits in the top of the cuff, dividing the cuff into 6 sections around the circumference of the foot. I then use my shoe pull-offs to peel and rip each of the sections down and off the hoof wall individually. 

Tape-On Application
A hybrid between the on-off hoof boot and a glue-on application is the tape-on boot/shoe. Many people trail ride in this setup, and I use it for rehab cases when I need to cover the foot for 24-48 hours and then gain access. 

Warning: Results of this vary wildly. If a horse steps on his own shoe, they will pull right off. But I have also seen them stay on for a week and heard of them staying on even longer. I think it really depends on the way the horse moves and perhaps the environment. I have found that I can count on them for 48 hours as well as about anything – so this is how I use them. 

If a horse absolutely must have 24/7 protection, use a boot or a glue-on instead. I like to say, “Tape-ons are for when you kind-of need a shoe and only need it for a short period of time.” All that said, this is still a very commonly useful tool, and has the distinct advantage that you can keep re-using the same shell over and over, often for years to come. This can also be the only option (for turnout or riding) when the bulbs or coronet has been injured and permanent shoeing is not desired. This method also works for use similar to a hospital plate when daily access is needed to dress a wound or surgery site. 
This method is ideal for post-trim tenderness. A conscientious trimmer (with a stock of glue-on shells) who inadvertently causes post-trim soreness, can do a tape-on application to cover the foot for a few days, then pick up the boots at the next visit, clean them up and sell them to a gluing client. All it costs is the purchase of the tape and the time to clean up the boot.


Mueller Athletic Tape Application. Used alone with Glove Glue-On shells or as extra insurance with Glove hoof boots.

Mueller Athletic Tape
Note: Several years ago, I bought two cases of Mueller Athletic Tape, which I am still using. Apparently, it has since changed, and the material is now thinner (thanks, Amy Diehl), so these instructions may warrant some experimentation with the newer version of tape. I will update as I learn more. And, no, I will not sell you any of my tape. 
Here is my method:

  1. Heat-fit a Glove shell – and strive for perfection. Do not cut the back out of it or open the sole for this method – just use a stock shell. As always, the better the fit, the better this will work. You want to end up with no excessively tight spots and as little air space as possible. The shoe should be difficult to pull off, once applied. Be sure the boot is clean – free of dirt and moisture.
  2. No additional prep to the foot is required; just trim normally.
  3. Wrap the foot with Mueller Athletic Tape as if you were applying a hoof cast. I generally use 3-4 rounds/laps of tape, wrapping so that I cover all of the side wall that the boot shell will cover and also lapping under the wall and slightly onto the sole. 
  4. Drive the boot shell onto the foot with a rubber mallet (or for trail use, a big stick). For the first 30 minutes, the extra friction provided by the tape will make this shoe very difficult to remove. After 30 minutes, the heat and pressure will have caused the tape’s own glue to wick through the fabric and there will be a pretty decent glue bond. During the first 24 hours, it is almost as hard to get off as it would be if it were glued with hoof adhesive.
  5. The bond seems to disappear within 48 hours. I think dust simply works its way in and absorbs into the glue. I believe that when I (and others) have seen these stay on longer, it was simply because of good fit, the added friction, and a horse that never interferes or trips. Either way, removal after 36 hours is not an issue – you can generally pull them off by hand.

Mueller Athletic Tape in Gloves
The above wrapping method is even more useful as “Glove boot first aid.” If you are using Glove boots, carry a roll of Mueller Tape in your trail pack; it doubles as first aid tape, so shouldn’t take up extra precious space. If you rip a gaiter on the trail (or develop any other boot fit/performance issue) you can add the tape to the foot, knock the boot on with a stick, and ride on for the rest of the trip without a gaiter.

I even had one client who was using a #2 Glove when her friend threw a #0 horseshoe. They kept wrapping tape around the #0 foot until the #2 Glove fit and got the horse off the trail without further incident. My client discovered, at the same time, that her horse no longer needed boots for that particular trail anyway. Now, this is not a recommended application by any stretch of the imagination, but it did work.

Smoothing Boot Fit Problems
I like for my booting clients to have a roll on hand in case booting issues pop up mid-cycle. This is particularly common when I am in the process of growing out hoof capsule rotation or wall flares. The boot fit will get sloppy over time. I do try to adjust for this at routine visits, but sometimes I misjudge. Hopefully, when I arrive for my scheduled visit, I can de-bug the boot fit, but having a way to keep my clients riding saves me some unscheduled trips.

I recall two instances where I had to use the tape application with the Gloves as a permanent fix. I didn’t like it, but it was the best I could do. Both were on the hind feet of horses with hip problems that rotated their foot on the ground under load. After several boot-fitting fails, I left both clients applying one wrap of tape prior to booting the hind feet. Sloppy, yes, but better than nothing, I suppose. 

Race Day
This method, combined with adding Vet Wrap to the gaiter is how to make a bombproof Glove application. I don’t like to see clients train this way. I want to work through any booting bugs during normal rides. But on race day, show day, or that big group trail ride – that day when you want to be absolutely sure you don’t have any problems, it is worth the extra 3 minutes to put Mueller Tape on the foot, boot, then wrap the gaiter with Vet Wrap. Optionally, an added bell boot seals the deal.

And the List Goes On…
That’s the best thing about these two platforms (the Glove and Glove Shell). Your own imagination is the limit. While every boot and shoe can be modified to some extent, none other lends itself to so much possibility. In the past, I had to haul around a wide variety of options. Now, I find that I can get by with a full stock of only these two products – well – except that we do need them in larger sizes… and with some different tread options. 

For a complete article in PDF format, please follow this link to be redirected to Pete Ramey's website: http://www.hoofrehab.com/Glove%20Mods.pdf 

Modifications of Easyboot Gloves and Glue-On Shells: Part I

Submitted by Pete Ramey

Easyboot Glove hoof boots with optional Power Straps added to the top of the lower shell. 

Since they were only prototypes in 2008, the Easyboot Gloves and Glove Glue-On Shells from EasyCare Inc. have been my primary tools for hoof protection. There are many great boots and gluing options out there and I have tried a majority of them but these have remained my favorites.

Easyboot Gloves

These boots are light, compact and durable; but the reason I am so fond of them is that I can modify them in so many ways to suit individual hooves. This is particularly important with flared or rotated hoof capsules or hooves with low heel/long toe syndrome. The toe of the boot can be heat-fitted to expand, allowing the breakover to be placed correctly – critical to correct movement and thus rehabilitation of these hooves.


Glove shell heat-fitted to a rotated hoof capsule. The breakover will also be modified in the sole as shown below. Note the “shiny” areas of the boot – a key part of judging the heating process.

Heat-fitting is useful for more routine fitting on “normal” hooves, as well. The Glove is so light, durable and compact partially because it does not rely on buckles, straps and overlapping layers of materials to keep it on. Instead, it relies on perfect fit. If the boot is touching the foot everywhere, with no excessively tight areas and no areas with air space between the foot and the boot, it will perform like no other. But – and this is a big but – if the boot is tight in some areas and has air space in others, it may be one of the least reliable boots on the market. Fit is everything with this model, and if the foot is changing, the boot will have to change along the way as well. 

That means that this boot is not for everyone and not for every hoof; however a well-fit Glove is the highest-performance option, so each owner must decide whether to go this route. I suppose this is similar to a racing engine that must be pulled apart and rebuilt after every race. Is this a good engine? It depends on your perspective.

This is an easy choice for horse owners who are lucky enough to have a hoof professional who does all this modification for them. But for horse owners “on their own,” the Easyboot Glove may not be the best boot choice.

Heat-Fitting

I use the Digital Heat Gun from Ace Hardware that reaches 1100° (Fahrenheit) although any other brand will work, as long as it reaches this temp. Place the boot (or shell) on the foot and then palpate the boot walls. You will usually find that some areas of the boot are tight against the foot, and some are loose – you can press inward to close the air space inside. Mark any areas that are tight with a Sharpie. When heat fitting, you will generally be moving the foot forward into tight areas until the loose areas become tight. 

As you close these loose areas, you will simultaneously be optimizing breakover and placing the heels in the perfect spot to be snug (but not overly tight) and sitting all the way down on the boot floor (not standing on the heel portion of the shell or the gaiter).
Remove the boot from the horse for the heating process, and be careful to direct the heat away from the gaiters (and your hands). Only the lower shell is heated. You need to heat the boot gradually, so it heats all the way through. The timing varies daily with the power source, heat gun, ambient temperature, and the temperature the boots endured in the back of your truck the previous night. So each time I heat boots, I must determine a new timing. I do this by seeing how long it takes the area I’m heating to develop a sheen.

On the outside of the boot, hold the heat gun parallel to, and ¾” away from the surface, moving the heat gun small in rapid circles to distribute heat. As soon as you see a slight sheen appear on the surface, move the heat quickly to another area. Keep the heat focused only on the tight areas you previously marked, trying to avoid heating areas that were already loose on the hoof wall. Once you have brought a slight sheen to the desired areas on the outside walls of the boot, switch to the inside of the boot. You will not be able to focus heat as accurately or see the sheen on the inside, but instead, apply heat for the same amount of time as you did on the outside. Repeat one more time inside and out for the same amount of time as it took to develop the sheen in the first lap.

Caution: In used boots, you will not see the sheen develop – the ground-in dirt hides the sheen until the boot is over-heated. Learn today’s timing on a new boot before trying to heat up a used one.

If, at any point in the heating process, you see tiny bubbles emerge on the surface, move on from that spot and don’t return – that area is slightly over-heated (but may still need more heat from the inside of the boot).

After this process is complete, move quickly to the horse and put the boot on. You may need a rubber mallet to drive the boot back far enough. When the heels are in the perfect spot in the boot, put the foot down, let the boot cool for two minutes, and evaluate your fit.

Evaluating Boot Fit

The key to Easyboot Glove success is at the heels. If the heels are too tight, the boot will be constantly trying to “squirt off” the foot (plus heel rubbing is likely, as is gaiter failure). If a mallet is required to put the boot on, the heels are probably too tight. The boot should slide on readily in hand. 

If the heels are too loose, the foot can twist in the boot. If it can twist with hand pressure, it will twist when you ride. So to combine these two extremes, the perfectly fitted Glove will slide right into place with firm hand pressure (no percussion), but then “suck” into place with no turning of the boot on the foot.

Secondary to heel fit is the percentage of boot wall touching the foot. Ideally, the boot will be touching the hoof wall everywhere with no air spaces. But this perfection is sometimes impossible to achieve – particularly with wide feet or feet with large quarter flares. The boot can perform well with about 30% airspace, but always strive for “the best you can get.” At this point, I often reheat small, tight areas to close more air spaces, particularly at quarter flares.

Hind Feet

I fit hind feet the same way, but it usually looks very different. Hind feet tend to be more pointed than the rounder front feet. The Gloves (and all other hoof boots) were designed to fit the front feet. This is why hind boot fit issues are so common, and this is where the Gloves can really shine. I generally pick a hind boot size by its width.

This usually means the foot is way too long for the selected size. I then heat the center of the boot toe, allowing the horse’s more pointed hind toe to hang over the front of the boot, much like a laminitis case. This, of course, locks the foot in place within the boot, preventing the twisting so common with hind boots.

Boot Sizing

Sometimes, by the time you get the toe area fitted, the heels have become too loose. This boot will not function well because the heel fit is the most important aspect. You simply need to go down a size (or two) and start over. This is not a big deal for professionals, who can simply sell the other boot to someone else who needs that size, but can be really bad news to a horse owner who has one horse and one set of Gloves. With experience, you can learn to prevent this (usually) by simply thinking things through before you heat. If, during the initial assessment, I see that I have significant changes that need to occur at the toe, but my heels already fit nicely, I automatically know I need to start with a smaller size. 

It usually works well to size the boot for the width the foot would be if there were no quarter flares, and then heat-fit to accommodate toe length and any wall flares. At best, with distorted feet, this will take some experimentation, so it is always best to have several different sizes around to simply try on.


One Foot, One Boot 

Like your own shoes, horse boots adapt to the foot with use. For best results and performance, designate one boot to one foot (I “earmark” them with nippers and/or a hole punch, as writing on them doesn’t last). While this will help with the performance of any boot model, it is particularly critical with the Gloves. If you need to share boots between horses, I recommend you choose a different model – one with buckles, straps and overlapping layers of materials. 

 

Other Glove Modifications

Insoles

The most common modification I make is the addition of padded insoles to the boots. This puts the sole, bars and frog to work, thus relieving strain on the laminae and provides a cushier ride to the solar corium. A weakness of the Gloves (vs. some other models) is that they generally won’t accommodate pads thicker than 3/8-inch. When I need thicker padding for extreme rehab cases, I use a different model.

But for most horses, 1/4”-3/8-inch pads are all we need, and these work well in the Gloves. A wide array of pad choices are available – your imagination is the limit – but the best pad is the one that makes the horse feel the best. Particularly with lameness cases of any kind, it is wise to experiment with multiple pad choices and pick the one that yields the best movement of the horse.

I am a big fan of the EasyCare Comfort Pads (as I should be, since I originally picked out the materials). They come in two thicknesses and three densities that cover most needs. It can be a big money-saver, though, to find large quantities of raw foam/rubber from other sources. Horses with thin or otherwise painful soles tend to choose this type of padding over other options.

Another favorite of mine is synthetic felt in 1/4" or 3/8” thickness (thanks Sossity and Mario of Wild Hearts Hoof Care). Horses with caudal foot pain tend to prefer these. They are also better for moisture management, so I really like them for boot turnout and in glue-on shells. Sourcing the material has been a bit of a problem. It is readily available online but seems extraordinarily expensive. So far, I have continually found new saddle pads and liners at clearance sales for my own use, and I am always sticking my nose into clients’ tack rooms looking for a deal on an unwanted felt saddle pad. I have also found the thick (1”-1 ½”) felt pads can be easily cut/torn into thinner pads, as the material is put together in layers.

Some horses show no preference between the foam/rubber pads and synthetic wool felt. For these, I tend to use the felt, as it is cheaper and more durable (always a good combination).

Thick leather is another durable pad choice. Go to a leather shop and buy tanned, full thickness cowhide. These pads offer less shock absorption so may not be the best choice for most thin-soled horses. But for sound horses that you simply want to provide more load distribution, leather is a great choice. I also prefer leather when I need to unload an area of the sole by cutting a relief hole in the insole. This comes up with surgery sites on the bottom of the foot, and with “sole penetrations” or other exposure of the solar corium. 

Regardless of the material selected, you will need to cut it to shape. With Easyboot Gloves, I place the boot on the pad material with ½” of boot heel tread hanging off the edge of the pad. Then, using a Sharpie, I trace the boot outline onto the pad. I cut the pad with large shears or a razor knife, following the inside of my mark, leaving the mark and 1/8” of extra material on the unused portion of the pad. The desired end result is a pad that fits the inside of the boot well, with no wiggle room, and no lapping up onto the sides in any area.


Power Straps

These are stretchy rubber additions to the top of the Glove boot, available as add-ons from EasyCare. They are very handy for eliminating boot fit/performance issues, but they do make boot application more difficult for the average horse owner. When I first started using the Gloves, I knew nothing about heat fitting them and found I needed Power Straps on about 20% of front feet and 80% of hind feet. As I got better at heat-fitting, I use about two sets per year.

Their best use may be for economy. When you fit Gloves to a flared or rotated foot and then succeed in growing in better-connected walls, the foot size is generally smaller. This means the boot fit will have become loose and sloppy. The correct thing to do at this point is fit a new set in a smaller size but adding the Power Straps can be a cheap alternative that extends the life of the old boot.

Power Straps come with cut and punch marks labeled for each boot size. I have found that, rather than using these marks literally, I do better thinking my way through it and punching the holes where I think they need to be for the individual fitting needs.

Add-On Buckles

As an extension of the Power Strap idea, you can add buckles to the boots to gain even more adjustment. The buckles in the picture below are replacement buckles for O’Neal motorcycle boots I ordered from Amazon. Of course this eliminates some of the compact nature I love about the Gloves, but the result is still more compact than most types of boots.

 


Replacement buckles for O’Neal motorcycle boots I ordered from Amazon (part #0290-095 and #0290-091) added to the Power Strap attachment points. Apply buckles so that they are on the lateral sides of the boots to avoid interference.

Drainage Holes

In other models of boots, I usually drill drainage holes in the sole to quickly drain the boots after creek crossings. Due to the close fit of Gloves, particularly if insoles are being used, I find there is no need to do this – there is not really any room for sloshing water in the well-fitted Glove. But opinions (and fitting) vary, so if you feel the need to drill drain holes in your boots, there are certainly no problems with it. I generally like to use a ½” drill bit and place multiple holes in the tread over any open areas inside the boot. This hole size seems to be a good compromise – large enough to resist clogging and small enough to minimize the entry of pebbles.

Trim Cycle

By nature, Easyboot Gloves are probably more sensitive to a tight trim cycle than other models. This works to some horses’ advantage because boots have been used by many owners as a tool to allow neglect. 

The boots should be fitted to a freshly trimmed foot. There is generally enough stretch in the Glove shells to accommodate a six-week trim cycle if there is minimal wall flaring on the hoof. But for horses with significant wall flares, the foot gets much larger in circumference during the trim cycle. By six weeks, you usually will not be able to get the Glove on. These horses will need a shorter trim cycle until most of the flaring is successfully grown out – but again, this is a good idea, anyway. It is worth noting, though, that the bulkier types of boots with buckles and overlapping layers of materials will be more accommodating to long trim cycles on flared hooves. The Gloves aren’t for everyone.

Modifications to Tread

Breakover Adjustment

The stock bevel built into the toe of the Glove is generally just right for horses with perfect wall attachment at the toe except that since horses need to turn, I feel that same shape should continue from a 10:00 to 2:00 position around the toe. This modification, I do to almost every pair I fit. I use a brand new Heller Legend hoof rasp that has never trimmed a foot for this (and most other modifications to the boot soles). Many types of sanders and grinders work well, too – your choice.

In horses with separation of the toe wall from the coffin bone, I generally accommodate most of the needed breakover adjustment with heat-fitting of the boot’s toe, but an additional inch of breakover change can be trimmed into the boot sole as well. This is handy for joint, muscular and other problems with locomotion as well.


At 2:00, the typical rounding of the breakover I do to most Gloves and Glue-Ons. Additional breakover adjustment can be added – I often rasp it back to the second traction groove at the toe, taking care not to rasp up to the tiny seam between the boot tread and sidewall. 

At 7:00, I have added a typical heel rocker I like for chronic toe walkers, hoof capsule rotations, and some club feet. This shape and size can vary as needed. Center, is a common vent (discussed below) I do, only on Glue-Ons – not Gloves. This is a size #1.5, the hole was made with a 2 ¼” hole saw and drill.

Heel Rockering

There are countless reasons (I won’t go into here) that rockering of the heels can create an advantage for the horse – club feet, forging issues, chronic toe-walkers, joint problems, caudal foot pain, hoof capsule rotation to name a few. I often do this, both to bare feet and to any appliance I add to the foot, including hoof boots. The Gloves accommodate this very well.

Wedging

Occasionally, there is a therapeutic need for mediolateral or dorsopalmar wedging of the foot. If no more than 3/8” of deviation is needed, I prefer to simply remove the unwanted material from the boot tread. If more were needed (rare), farrier wedge pads (up to 3/8”-thick) can work in the Gloves. 


Traction modification for deep footing. Be sure to leave an adequate “shelf” for the toe to stand on. Because of the increased likelihood of gripping the ground too well or snagging on something, use this with Glue-On applications or with Mueller Tape added to a Glove as discussed below. Also, of course, consider the safety of the horse – this is suitable for loose arenas or tracks but not trail work.

Traction Modifications

Two types of add-on studs are available from EasyCare – a large nut/bolt type stud and smaller ice studs. I have also experimented with using a hole saw to drill out and open the bottom of the boot, leaving a narrow rim of shoe at ground level and an exposed sole. This gets great traction in muddy and most arena conditions but may have the same disadvantages of a thick metal shoe; clogging and carrying too much weight of dirt, which could limit performance and hasten fatigue.

A better modification for deep or muddy footing is to use an electric router and guide to thin the boot tread to ½” wide. Next, heat up the remaining boot sole and push it up into a dome shape (I press the boot sole onto one of my daughter’s softballs to achieve this shape. The prototype traction sole shown below was simply a computer duplication of a Glove shell I modified in this fashion.

The idea (much like a bare foot) is that the tread will clean out with every stride (spray with WD-40 or Pam for better results). I believe that these get better traction on mud, wet grass, arena surfaces, tracks, etc. than cleat-type treads or a metal perimeter shoe because of this resistance to clogging. An additional advantage from a performance standpoint is not carrying the added weight of the dirt/mud.

Prototype Glove traction sole. You can build one from a standard Glove (except that the outer rim of tread will be slightly more shallow) using a router with a guide and square bit, a heat gun, and a softball.

This boot will, of course, wear out faster on hard terrain but as with human athletic cleats vs. track shoes, I don’t think it will ever be possible to optimize turf traction with the same tread pattern that is perfect for road work. You’ll need to own both.

Boot Turnout Done Right

The Gloves are designed and intended for riding and other work, with the assumption that the boots will be removed when the horse is turned out. In spite of that fact, after trying countless options, I have found Gloves are my favorite turnout option for horses that are temporarily lame in their own turnout environment. Boot turnout is no picnic for the horse owner – there is work involved – but, in my experience, padded boots tend to provide more pain relief and quicker healing than any other shoeing option. If increased movement and a lack of compensative movement are achieved while simultaneously “doing no harm,” the result is healthier growth of every part of the foot. So boot turnout tends to be the quickest path to feet that are healthy enough to be comfortable barefoot in their own turnout environment.

This is most critical with laminitis cases. Only in a padded boot (or sometimes bare on the most perfect terrain) can you hope to get away with unloading the walls (and thus the laminae), carrying the load on the sole while healthy laminae are re-grown. This is beacause only boots offer a full release of pressure to the sole when the hoof is in flight.

The primary reason I like the Gloves best for turnout is that with heat-fitting, I can adjust breakover to the correct area on horses with flared or rotated walls – a key feature of most horses who are unsound at turnout. For caudal foot pain cases, assorted pads can be tried in the boots to achieve flat or heel-first impacts – the key secret to success with these cases. The Glove tread readily accepts modification, as discussed above, often critical to rehab cases. In my experience, a well-fitted Glove is less likely to cause rubbing of the bulbs or hide than any other boot I've used. All this and more can be done in a lightweight, very compact package, which also very important to me.

Turnout is hard on boots. Constant exposure to UV rays break down the nylon and plastics. Generally the same boot that might last an endurance rider 450 miles (or the average trail rider five years) will be destroyed by 2-3 months of turnout. The Gloves are no different except the only part that gets destroyed is the gaiter. Replacing the gaiter is much cheaper than buying a whole boot.

Note: Gaiter life is greatly extended by wrapping the gaiter with Vet Wrap (or other tape) when using the Gloves as turnout boots. It blocks UV rays, and helps prevent horses from nibbling on the Velcro closures.

The Gloves do also have weaknesses as turnout boots, compared to other models. Some cases will need thicker padding than the Glove can accommodate. I use ½”-thick pads in Gloves on lame (lower performance) horses, and it works well. But if you need thicker padding, you will need to select a different boot model. 

Another issue already discussed is that with the Gloves, you are more likely to need 2-3 boot sizes as you grow out a 20+ degree rotation than if you were using a boot with buckles and layers of overlapping material. But since you generally can’t get breakover right on a rotated foot with those other types of boots, I feel you are much more likely to grow out a rotation if you use heat-fitted Gloves. The extra money is well-spent.

Regardless of the boot you choose for turnout, the primary problem is the rotten “funk” that quickly builds up inside the boot. This can complicate infections in the white line and frog. It can also get in the way of growing a healthy sole, one of the key features of a horse that can be sound for barefoot turnout. To eliminate these problems, the boot must be removed and washed daily. During this time, clean the horse’s feet and place him in a dry area suitable for whatever problem he has (deep shavings, a deep bed of pea rock, etc.).

During this time, inspect the bulbs and legs for rubbing. If this occurs, it is probably because the boot is too tight at the heels (jamming), or too loose (twisting/movement is occurring). Re-fit your boots and/or bandage or use a man’s tube sock on the horse prior to booting.

After – ideally – two hours of drying time, powder the inside of the boot with Gold Bond Medicated Powder (available from most pharmacies) and replace the boots. Re-wrap the gaiters with Vet Wrap (or other tape).

Yep, this is a lot of work for the horse owner. But for many problems, particularly laminitis and caudal foot pain/navicular syndrome it works better and is way-cheaper than any shoeing option I know of. I expect/demand horse owners with a horse with the above problems to give me 2-3 months of good boot turnout. During this time, my goal is comfortable, non-compensative barefoot turnout. If I cannot achieve this, I let the horse owner off the hook and seek other options.

Some problems are permanent. Others may take years to fix. This is when I reach for glue-on shoes. The healing rate is slower, compared to booting, but the daily maintenance by the owner is more reasonable for the “long haul.”

Please stay tuned for EasyCare's July newsletter for Part II of Pete Ramey's "Modifications of Easyboot Gloves and Glue-On Shells". Don't miss out! Subscribe to EasyCare's newsletter today.

Rounding the Corner

Submitted by David Landreville of Landreville Hoof Care

There are a lot of trim methods out there teaching how to address heel height without mentioning heel shape. The shape of the heels are meant to change over a horse's lifetime of use. When used properly they change in a much different way than if they are used improperly. While it is true that all horses have a unique hoof shape, they all have more in common than not. To understand this on a personal level, consider the equine foot being similar to the last digit on a human's finger. Most human fingers are anatomically the same. They have the same function and similar nail growth rate, however, some humans have fat fingers with short nails and some have slender fingers with long nails. Some manicure their nails and keep them at optimum length with smooth edges so they don't crack or chip and some work in the dirt and wear them down to nubs. It doesn't matter whether you work with a shovel or a computer, how you repeatedly use your fingers will affect the way the nail is aligned with the finger and even the way the fingers are aligned on the hand, arm, and so on. I have wide hands with short fat fingers that work well for handling hooves and trimming tools. Personally, I'd rather have hands like Sting but we all have to make due with what we are given. This doesn't necessarily mean that I couldn't learn to play guitar or even be proficient at it, it just means I'm not naturally set up for it and may have to work harder to get there. The point is that all horses and humans have digits that produce a keratinized shell that provides strength and protection. They are recognizable by their shape and they have slight differences due to genetics, care, and use.

As far as horses are concerned, I don't believe in any one human method of hoof trimming due to the fact that all humans have a unique perception so the method will be reinterpreted by everyone anyway. We all have something to contribute; some more than others and some are good examples of what not to do. It's all valuable input.
It takes time to develop an eye for hoof distortion and even longer to develop an eye for hoof perfection.  You have to see a lot of perfect hooves to build a mental model. Perfect hooves are rare and it takes years to develop them. It's not very common for domestic horses to get the movement they need or have the kind of consistent hoof care that it takes to build these kinds of feet. What I'd like to share here is how I think heels should be shaped and how to assess whether the hoof shape is going in the right direction or not.

There is plenty of information out there on hoof anatomy so I won't get too detailed on that. I will say that if you don't put the time in on that you'll be like me trying to play guitar. Once you understand the relationship between the heel horn and the corresponding soft tissue that it grows from, you'll have to decide how much the heel supports the soft tissue or how much the soft tissue supports the heel. This perception may change as you develop your hoof care skills and start to see more and more bad feet turned into good feet. Hopefully, if you're learning curve is on the vertical, there will be no boundaries to your perception, and you will get to observe good feet continuing to develop under your care.

(Above) This hoof capsule is fully alive and perfectly aligned with with the internal structures.

The first thing to be aware of when assessing heels is how they transition from the soft tissue, that forms the heel bulbs, to the hard horn in the heel wall that wraps around the sole at each seat of corn. This return in the wall is known as the heel buttress and the part that makes contact with the ground is the heel purchase. As I said before, there are many online videos to watch and get a clearer picture of the inner structures. What's important to me is a smooth transition from soft tissue to hard tissue. Faint lines turn into wrinkles, wrinkles turn into cracks, and cracks separate the hoof capsule from the inner structures. These visible symptoms disappear when the correct length of horn is distal to its origin of growth. This is what makes a horse choose to weight their heels and consequently build their caudal structures. Due to the rapid growth rate of the hoof wall, the heels can quickly become too long and depending on the conformation of the horse, they will either collapse or prop the horse up on stilts. The heel horn is meant to be fully alive and kept at an efficient length for optimum functionality. The larger the error, the more the horse has to compensate for it and horses are masters of un-detected compensation. Horses can perform amazing athletic feats with or without good feet. This is why so many suffer in silence until the breakdown is obvious.

The bottom line is that the profile of the heel should not have a flat spot or worse, a recurve. This is a telltale sign that the heels are too long and the soft tissues are being pushed up by the heels (this can be misinterpreted as being supported by the heel buttress). The recurve causes a "muffin top" appearance and that is exactly what is happening. Another term for this recurve is "navicular waist." This is more commonly referred to on the hoof wall itself but it continues around the back of the foot through the transition between the heel bulbs and heel horn at the widest part of the frog. To make it more confusing, the widest part of the frog can become stretched, but this only makes the flat spot longer or the recurve more pronounced. This should make the problem more obvious. This condition indicates that the hoof capsule is not in alignment with its growth origins at P3 and the attached soft tissues. The hoof capsule is produced by the inner structures and in later stages of distortion, caused by the lack of growth/wear equilibrium, can actually mechanically separate from them causing a painful and difficult restoration process. A stretched heel is typically an indication of toe loading that causes stretching and/or tearing of the dorsal lamina as well as flattening of the sole that leads to P3 erosion (founder). This can be remedied, more easily in its earlier stages on most horses, by trimming in an anatomically meticulous way that allows the horse to fully use the entire solar surface of their feet in order to achieve and maintain optimum stride length. This will help them begin to correctly build their own true hoof shape through proper function.

Another way to view this distortion is to look for the appearance of one foot inside of the other. The new, supple, healthy growth being stuck inside of the old, hard, dead growth or simply put, "new foot versus old foot". The new foot is seeking support from the ground and the horse is fixed on its toes by the still attached old foot that has become too tall. Due to the forward and downward growth of the hoof wall, the heel contact points migrate forward toward the middle of the foot as well as forward of the vertical line of the boney column. The heel buttresses become too long and the heel purchases become a pivot point instead of a proper support base. This can be compared to a human standing on the rung of a ladder. Anyone who has ever painted a tall wall while standing on an old style ladder with dowel shaped rungs should be able to sympathize. Many horses get stuck in a kind of "zombie" foot that's half dead and half alive.

Above: Green outlining new hoof and red outlining old hoof.

There is a common plateau where I see most horses and trimmers get stuck. Diet, footing, movement, and trimming can and should all be used to remedy this situation and to continue making progress. Some trimming methods prescribe a pre-determined heel height and some prescribe flattening the heel through the quarters to the widest part of the frog. These approaches can be too much or too little. This is where understanding the proper shape is an advantage. When you become more familiar with the internal structures of the foot, you may realize that there is not a sharp corner at the back of the heel (from a lateral perspective). It's more of a rounded corner. In order for the back of the heels on the outer hoof capsule to remain in alignment with the growth origin at the adjacent spot on the internal structure where the origin of growth is, the corner must remain rounded. This would happen naturally with miles of wear from heel first landings, however, it is up to the trimmer to accurately simulate this wear pattern which is slightly different for every horse, every foot, and in every stage of development. This takes a lot of experience on the trimmer's part to know just when and where to remove hoof horn in order to build sole and soft tissue. The frog has to be factored in and properly shaped as well or the horse still won't commit their weight into the heels. The live frog should be full and supple and match the profile of the heels, never protruding past the heel purchase or have the appearance of buckling under or being stacked in layers. This is another sensitive area that relies on knowing exactly what to remove and what to leave. This can make the difference of a horse walking off better or worse. So many trimmers, understandably, play it safe and they tread lightly in an area that thrives on use and wear. Over time, this increases the heel length in the wrong area.

Heels should be assessed by dividing them into two parts: From the widest part of the frog (distally) to the ground and from the widest part of the frog (proximally) to the hairline or even above that to the top of the heel bulbs. The upper heel is regenerative soft tissue and the lower heel is degenerative horn. When the lower part is kept short, the upper part gets the stimulation that it needs to develop. Many trimmers theorize that this corner will wear on its own or that it needs to be there for a larger base of support. Rounding that corner allows the horse to rock back and get their weight over their heels. This can be one more step to improving the horse's stance, increasing the horse's stride length, and moving the foot out of limbo.

I follow three rules that have kept me, and the horses I trim, out of trouble and have increased my success rate:

  1. Never touch live sole. 
  2. Minimize the amount of wall that protrudes beyond the peripheral edge of the sole.
  3. Don't allow a sharp corner to develop between the widest part of the frog at the termination of the collateral grooves.

How you get to good feet will depend on many factors, but how can you fix or prevent what you don't see?

(Above) White arrow points to the apex of the recurve.

(Above) Top photos: before and after trim showing the recurves heels and how I addressed them. Bottom photos: taken several months later showing the changes made in the transition of soft tissue to hard horn. This is the tail end of some corrections made over a 2 year period at 4 week trim intervals. The bruising in the heel purchase in the bottom right photo is from past trauma caused by the deviated (recurred) heel buttress crushing its own growth corium.

(Above) This is an example of how faint lines and creases indicate separation in its infancy. (Image on the left is a different horse in the beginning stage)

To read more of David Landreville's educational writings, search his name on our blog or visit his Stuff That Works page. Be sure to subscribe to EasyCare's newsletter for more!

Freedom Movement

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

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

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

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

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

Frog Talk - Part I

What do frogs and bars have in common?  Answer: they are both most controversial among hoof professionals.

Bars and frogs of the equine hoof are the most discussed tissues and there are about as many opinions out there as there are hoof care professionals. Bars and frogs are always a hot discussion topic. (I had written a blog about bar trimming a couple of years ago.)

Personally, when trimming the frogs, I am a minimalist. I remove as little as possible from any frog, unless special considerations require it. But more on that later.

The frogs of the equine hoof have many functions, one of them being shock absorption. Generally speaking, a large, wide and thick frog is better suited for that task. A frog that contacts the ground upon landing of the hoof is a healthier frog compared to a recessed frog or one that is not able to contact the ground because the hoof is shod with a horse shoe that loads the hoof wall only peripherally. 

Not sure what it is, but many hoof trimmers just have an urge to trim something of the frog. Even if it just a tiny little piece. I mean, what good is a hoof knife when one cannot use it. And frogs just cut so nicely and soft, quite contrary to most soles and bars. They just cannot help it, something has to be cut of the frog, even if it is not necessary.

During my recent hoof care clinics in Europe, one of my group of hoof care professionals discussed trimming and preparing hooves for gluing various hoof protections like the EasyCare Glue-Ons, Flip FlopsEasyShoes and Equiflex horse shoes. Every year for the last ten years I have been traveling to Europe to conduct these clinics and workshops. Most of the time by myself, but occasionally also with EasyCare Staff and Garrett Ford. 

A participant had asked me a question and just in that moment I had turned around to answer, one of the others who held up the hoof could not resist the urge to slice a little piece of a very healthy and nicely callused frog. Nothing needed to be taken off here, but it is just so typical of us trimmers. Something needs to be cut, even if only a tiny little bit.

Now, this will not do much harm, however, that little piece taken off robbed unnecessarily the sensitive frog tip from its callused skin.

The calluses are a front line shield and defense against fungi, bacteria and parasites. Remove it and the frog is weakened and harmed. Before cutting any tissue off a horses hoof, I always ask myself the two questions:

- Is the removal of that tissue helpful to the horse or will it be harmful? 

- Will the horse travel better or worse afterwards?

These are two quite different questions, the second question building upon the first.  What decision I ultimately make in terms of hoof trimming depends a lot on whether or not the horse is being ridden, over what terrain, for how long,  and is it bare footed or with hoof protection

For me, the ultimate test is riding a horse over varied terrain bare footed. Below I am sharing a few photos of different frogs and my trimming thoughts on them.

Let's start with an easy one: This Tinker frog is perfect for its job of landing and shock absorption. I think we can all agree that any trimming of this frog would harm the horse.

Another healthy frog that should not encounter a hoof knife at all.

A desert hoof: thick sole and thick frog. Hardened by the elements and terrain. The outer layers are showing signs of cracks and shedding. I won't help that process, but leave it alone and let nature do its job. There is no thrush anywhere, so I do not see any reason to start cutting anything off.

Thick callus with a deep central sulcus. Thrush? Unlikely, no smell, no sensitivity, just a deep sulcus because of summer dryness. I am leaving it as is.

Looks like the outer callused layer of the frog was just shed. Whether by terrain or with help of a trimmer, I do not know. Obviously the hoof trimmer followed the principle of trimming the heels to the widest part of the frog. That hoof now is compromised and probably not a good candidate to be ridden without hoof protection, frog and sole will be sensitive for a while now.

Good one above. Analysis: thick sole, probably a double sole. Frog tip connected to sole. Frog flaps with thick callus. Horse travels sound over rocks without any hoof protection for many many miles. Admittedly, that frog does not look "nice". But it certainly is functional, tough and thick. Cutting anything off that frog would compromise his bare footed travel. I leave it as it is, even that connection with the sole on the tip is not harming the hoof, but protecting it even further.

That hoof needs some trimming, some of the overgrown bars already were shortened. But let us just look at the frog now: cracked, thick callused frog with dry central sulcus. I do not trim anything off here. At red arrow tip: flap material is growing laterally to hold soil and to increase heel support area. These flaps are useful, I will leave them in place as they have been growing.

Frog tip is starting the renewal process and peeling. Do I help and cut it off or let nature do its job? Obviously it is not quite ready to peel itself, if I cut it, the frog tip will be sensitive and I will have potentially harmed the hoof. 

On the opposing hoof of the same horse, the tip has shed itself of already, next part is also trying to come off. I do nothing and leave it alone.

Now to an interesting question: 

What to do about flaps and fold overs that are often observable on the frog? Generally these flaps are there to hold dirt which in turn again stimulates the tissue. Often they grow there where the hoof considers them most useful. I am always amazed on how nature takes care of the areas in need. Building materials are expediently sent there.

 Lets have a look at these frog flaps:

Same hoof with slightly different photo angles for better understanding. That hoof shows very low heels, in fact the heel bulbs are so low that they are running the risk of getting bruised and injured when encountering rocks. These flaps grew at the right place to protect the bulbs. In the second frame the red arrow shows a slight abrasion from the movement of the flap against the heel bulb. Possibly also from soil or sand rubbing against the skin. Removal of these flaps would endanger the bulbs. These frog flap extensions also increase the load bearing surface area of the whole foot. 

But, these flaps also can harbor bacteria and fungi, one might object. True enough. How to safeguard against this and more about frog pathology, crooked frogs, recessed ones and how to deal with them and correct them all I will cover in next months blog, Frog Talk - Part II

 

From The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

 

Bringing the Foot Back to Life

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

Many horse owners find themselves in a situation where their horse isn't necessarily lame but they know that their horse's feet could be healthier. They find themselves in the uncomfortable state of not wanting to settle for "what is" and not knowing how to achieve "what can be". In my own opinion this is where change often starts and where I suggest:

  • A change of footing.
  • Then a change in trim protocol and diet.
  • And finally to give the horse room to move because that's where the real change occurs.

I recently had someone ask me what my take on frog contact with ground surface is. In my opinion, frog contact is the heart of hoof development and the key to bringing a foot back to life. One thing I will say to begin with is that it all depends on:

1. The stage of development of the foot

2. The type of footing that the horse lives on

Success will be limited unless you can control these two factors. The footing needs to be brought up to the frog or the frog needs to be lowered to the footing. One way or the other, or both.  Sand/chat/pea gravel and/or boots with appropriate pads can be used to accomplish this.

I consider this ( photo above ) to be a well developed foot (eight years in a small track system and micro managed on a 1-3 week trim cycle).  You can see that there is less heel height (ends of collateral grooves to ground contact points) and more heel depth (ends of collateral grooves to hairline).  The frog is fully alive and in the same plane as the heels (blue line). This relationship doesn't change much when the foot is weight bearing due to the strength of the back of this foot.  This frog and digital cushion are well developed and they can take a lot of weight bearing. This, in turn leads to further development.

I believe the frog needs to make contact with the ground but it's actually a very specific area of the frog and a very specific percentage of the horse's body weight that it is supposed to support. It's slightly different for every horse, in every environment, and for various stages of development. Proper frog contact provides proper stimulation to the digital cushion and lateral cartilages. These tissues are regenerative. In my experience this is true even in older horses, although this can be limited by the extent of the damage done over time. Once the proper frog/heel/back of sole relationship is achieved, development can begin and the frog can begin to gradually take a heavier load. When a foot gets to this point, development can be continual. The key to frog development is pressure. The frog thrives on pressure.  It is like a muscle in that way.  It can be developed at any age, just like an old man who decides to get fit in his 70's. It's not easy but it's possible.  Needless to say, starting younger is better, but better late than never. 

 The key to success here is in controlling the environment, movement, diet, hoof shape (trimming/wear) and especially movement.  The horse should always be kept as comfortable as possible because it's the proper weight bearing over the hoof structures while standing and during movement that build the foot.

Above is the progress on a hoof made over 5 months of trimming on a 2-3 week cycle. The heels have been properly lowered and shaped (for the stage of development) and brought closer to the level of live horn, following the contour of the growth corium. The goal here is to keep the horse comfortable while gradually getting the frog reactivated by making proper ground contact; bringing the living tissues that thrive on stimulation closer to the ground. This horse was living part time in a grass pasture and part time in a 12'X12' stall bedded with shavings. The black arrow shows an abscess eruption that I used as a land mark to track the progress.

Here's another photo showing the foot before, and directly after, a trim. Here, I set the heels according to the horse's poor stage of development and the terrain she lives on, which is a 10 acre natural desert, grass pasture (dry and hard footing). My decision to "set the heel height" comes from carefully listening to the horse. By that I mean that she is untied and not being held when I trim her so she is free to leave if she doesn't like what I'm doing. 

I almost always trim to just above the live sole in the seat of corn (back of sole forward of the heel purchase) and use this as a gauge for heel height. I've learned to respect the live sole plane and wait for change. This is the horse's response to readiness for change. The dead sole will exfoliate more easily when the horse is weighting the heels properly. Then I just remove the dead tissue and follow the same protocol for the frog. Removing the dead tissue on the frog exposes the live tissue that has feeling. When the toughened surface areas of the living heel walls, seat of corn, and frog are all in a proper tight relationship the back of the foot will become naturally more stabilized. This allows the horse to willingly set their weight into the back of their feet. When this is done correctly the horse will typically show signs of relaxation like licking, chewing, yawning, eye rolling, lowering their head, engaging with the trimmer, etc. 

I work over time to close the gap between the ground and the frog until the frog is taking its fair share of the weight bearing. This can take a few years. These same techniques can be applied to horses that are being transitioned out of steel shoes with distended frogs.


Left: just out of steel shoes. Right: two years later after making all the changes mentioned above.

Battle River CTR and Easyshoe Success

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

I wrote in a previous blog about getting my unfit mare fit for a 25 mile Competitive Trail Ride Competition and some of the challenges we were overcoming in regards to being overfed. CTR's are not new to us, we've been competing successfully for a few years now, but we've been really slow getting going this year as we added new young family member early in 2016. 

Well we dieted, we conditioned, we trimmed, we booted, and finally the competition was near so we glued! I had been taught by a local barefoot trimmer how to apply EasyShoes last year and I gave it a shot on my own as well in 2015 but hadn't picked up my Adhesive applicator in about 12 months. I had ordered some Easyshoe Performance earlier in the year and re-watched the instructional video's on how to apply them to jog my memory. Away I went and I made a MESS!

But messes were meant to be made and are easily cleaned up. Here's another messy foot!

You can see I don't have the ideal gluing environment. Gluing in the grass is not recommended but I make it work for us. I had much more confidence in myself this year; I felt really good about my process and I trusted that they would stay on. I am certain my confidence came from my practice last year, but as an extra precaution this year I made sure to have extra everything on hand in case I really messed something up. One of those old wives tales, as long as you have it you won't need it but the minute you don't have it..... well I had more than I needed and still do because all went according to plan.

The EasyShoes got a week of turn out, one road ride and one foothills ride before we headed out to our competition. 

We arrived at the Battle River CTR in Ponoka, AB when it was already in full swing as we had planned to ride on Day 2 of the competition. We did a leg stretching warm up ride that evening to work out some silliness, had our initial vet check which went great and tucked ourselves in for a chilly night of coyote and elk song. 

With a 7:15 am start time, I was up by 5 am and started prepping my horse and myself for the day. Food in for both of us, jammies off, competition gear on, warm up and off to the start line. We were first out and off we went into the sleet. We got to ride with a few other riders who caught up and passed us momentarily but my riding buddy's mount as well as mine had other plans about being left behind. We all cantered the first 7-8 miles to the vet check over the wet grass, through the creek and over some slippery mud. The first vet check was hidden but we pulsed down no problem and were off again in the lead. 

It wasn't long before we were over taken again and spent the rest of the day leap frogging with the other front runners. The ride seemed to be just flying by and we had such a great time with great company. The horses had excellent momentum all day and the scenery was lovely. 

Both the second and final vet check came much too fast and my first and last competition of the year was already over with. The vet out was uneventful and I felt really good about how my horse did that day. We got lots of compliments and questions about our hoof protection as it is still an uncommon choice up here but I hope I am leading by example and we will soon see more and more riders choosing options that let the hoof function more naturally than traditional hoof wear. 

We started and ended our CTR season with a solid second place finish and I couldn't be happier with my mare and our choice of hoof protection. She truly felt great all day, confident and stable in her way of going. Our riding buddy commented that she looked like she was floating. I know I sure was as this mare is my wings and those Easyshoes are her little jet packs!

Sound or Insensitive?

Submitted by David Landreville, Guest HCP

When I first started trimming I thought the goal was to have horses that could travel barefoot all day over rocks.  Since then I've realized that this is where ego comes in, and compassion goes out.

Another problem is that horse's hooves are adaptable to their environment, however, this can get them into trouble if they don't get enough daily movement and the environment they are in is not conducive to good feet.

Something that should be constantly considered about horses is that their feet grow at a rapid rate (roughly 1/16 inch every 4-5 days).  This isn't just the walls. The sole, bars (which are just continuations of the wall), and frog try to keep up with the rate of the wall.  Just like human fingernails and toenails, hoof walls are only live tissue until they grow past the peripheral edge of the sole (the specialized equivalent of human skin) where they lose moisture and feeling.  Rock hard hooves aren't necessarily a good sign.  A healthy sole is at least a half inch thick and relies on constant movement or simulated natural wear (proper trimming) to keep the wall and frog very close to the live sole plane.  A thick, healthy, live sole  can be identified by it's quality and appearance.  There will be concavity that measures at least a half inch deep from the peripheral edge of the sole at the quarters to the bottom of the collateral groves at the tip of a well defined frog.  The surface of the sole will be smooth like leather but not necessarily shiny like stone.  It will be void of lumps and bumps.  There may be a crackly texture directly under the coffin bone forward of the bars and surrounding the frog.  This is retained sole and can be between 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick.  This is a good thing that adds comfort when it's managed properly.  It should feather out to nothing about half way from the bottom of the collateral grooves to the peripheral edge of the sole.  This should be a result of high mileage, proper trimming, or a combination of the two.  

Because of the conical shape of the hoof capsule, when the walls are are allowed to grow past the peripheral edge of the sole for long periods of time, the sole tries to migrate with it.  The problem is that the sole has a border and the wall doesn't.  This causes the sole to stretch and flatten under the horses weight.  This would draw more attention if the horse would just go lame every time this happened so we could all recognize a pattern and agree on the cause.  Horses have adapted to this problem over millions of years of evolution by accumulating, retaining, and producing an excess of the retained insensitive sole that I mentioned earlier.   In nature this would happen during the wet season when grass is abundant and the ground is softer.  It quickly gets worn away as it dries out and horses have to move more miles over more abrasive terrain in search of grass and water as it become more scarce.  This accumulation of retained sole keeps them sound enough to survive until it's worn back down.  If over-growth persists and is not managed naturally through wear or mechanically through proper trimming then the retained sole gets thicker as the live sole gets thinner.  Eventually there will be nothing but thick retained sole that the horse becomes reliant upon for soundness.  At this point if an attempt is made to rectify the hooves, the retained sole can exfoliate all at once exposing the true, thin, live sole.  Exfoliation is a natural response to growth equilibrium of the hoof structures...out with the old, in with the new.  It's just not meant to happen all at once after an extended period of overgrowth. 

Miles of daily wear, frequent proper trimming, or a combination can develop any foot to its true potential.  I believe that the horse's true potential hasn't even been seen yet.  I do know that with the recent advancements in rubber boots and shoes the standard has been raised considerably.  Rubber hoof wear not only protects, but it helps build the horse (and saves the legs) and the highly regenerative structures of their hooves.

When people see photos of the feet that I've developed over years of simulated wear,  they often ask, "yeah, but is she sound all day on rocks?" My answer is, " I ride in boots so they are improving with every step."

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.

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.