What In The World Is The F Balance?

What is the difference between the length and the height of a hoof's heel? The photo below illustrates it.

The yellow arrow shows the height, the red arrow shows the length of the heel. So, why would that be of any significance, one might ask?

In last month's blog, Floating The Heel, I discussed Medial/Lateral Balance and trimming to the same heel length medially and laterally. For this blog, I took a few more photos to illustrate how to identify the correct heel length just by observing the untrimmed heels and looking for cues. The hooves in the following images had not been trimmed for over 10 weeks. They will therefore give us good examples in our discussion. 

Often we have heard the advice to trim the heels to the widest part of the frog. That is the ideal, true enough, but In reality, it is not always possible. Therefore, different and additional parameters would be helpful in heel trimming. In these photos, we are looking for certain cues, or markers, in the heel area, that tell us how much of the heel we should trim. The hoof actually gives us these hints in terms of small dents, breaks, change in direction, waves etc. Sometimes these markers are tiny and we need to train our eyes to recognize them. In the images below, though, these cues are more distinct and easier to identify.

The red arrows pointing to the visible breaks or marker points, the cues, in the heel area.

Not only can we see here the distinct mark and break in the heel, but also a direction change at the break point. Green arrows show that change in direction.

Another example below. Here, the break points are carrying over into the bars and we can also see how far the bars are asking to be trimmed back to.

The side view below shows three different cues or break points. We will trim step by step after identifying where the live sole lives. Most likely we will end up trimming to the third or highest marker, closest to the heel bulb.

In the next image, we can observe four markers on both heels. I've used yellow arrows for a change.

Another interesting specimen below. Notice the 2 markers. Most likely the second marker will be the one we end up trimming the heels to. But not before we are checking for the live sole.

A little different scenario in the next photos.

This image shows us clearly two different marker points in the heels, the left side (lateral) is shorter compared to the right side (medial). The medial side has seen more hoof growth. If we follow the markers and trim to their indicated length, we achieve even heel length, indicated by the green arrows. Remember, we measure the heel length in the direction of the heel to the coronet band, or hairline, in the bulbs. Notice also how the hairline is pushed up on the medial side, a result of M/L imbalance.

On the next image, the previous trim has been only three weeks ago. We can see a marker on the left (lateral) side of the hoof, (red arrow). For that horse, the lateral side has grown more. The medial side, in this photo the right side, does not need to get trimmed. When measuring the distance from the marker to the hairline, we see that it is the same as the presently untrimmed medial side from the heel to the hairline (green arrows).

After trimming to the marker in the photo below, both sides now have the same length. No trimming was done on the right side (medial).

Now, where is that live sole I have been talking about?

After identifying the visible break points or cues in the heel, we check for the live sole. When mapping out the sole, live sole is identified by the shiny appearance, versus the dead sole, which can be hard, cracked, flour like or whitish in appearance. When removing the dead, chalky sole in the heel area, we eventually will see the shiny, darker-looking live sole.

Under no circumstances do we want to violate live sole, but when we follow these heel cues, we will notice the following:

- We will not cut in live sole.

- Medial and lateral heel length are the same on both front hooves and on both hind hooves respectively. No matter whether you have symmetrical hooves or a high and low symptom, the heel length should always be constant. Medially and laterally as well as on the left and right hoof (not the heel height,however). And it will be if we are following the visible heel cues.

Whether you want to trim your heels and hoof walls to the level of the live sole or let it protrude 1/8th, 1/4th inch or more beyond the hoof wall, depends on your horse, the hoof, hoof wall, sole thickness, the ground surface the horse is being worked over and more factors. There is no right or wrong answer, that decision needs to be made for each and every horse individually.

These interesting cues and much more is being taught by Daniel Anz and Stephan Stich during their worldwide seminars. Both men have been studying the F Balance for many years and conducting educational and certification clinics for a number of years now. If interested, you might want to visit their website.

Daniel Anz

Stephan Stich

You will learn how to use the natural landmarks the hoof is showing us and recognizing the exact trimming lines.

I was able to convince Daniel and Stefan to come and  conduct a joint Education and Certification Clinic for the first time in the USA. In conjunction with Global Endurance Training Center the clinic will be held in the middle of November 2014. Details to follow on this website. You may also email me for more info.

From the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

www.globalendurance.com

Crunch with Easyboot Epics

We bought Sun Countrybumpkin at age 17 for my daughter to use in 4-h and her high school equestrian team. He was pretty well bred and had a strong performance record in our county. So many people would ask "How did you end up with Crunch?" They would then add "Oh, we looked at him but his feet are terrible."

He became foot sore five months later while he was training for jumping. He was cranky and his feet were very tender. Our farrier nailed heavier shoes on his front and declared him cured. Not at all! Luckily, our trainer was a believer in barefoot trimming and recommended a hoof care practitioner. We pulled the steel shoes and embarked on a natural foot way of life. Crunch went from unable to walk across packed dirt to full out races around our very rocky pasture. Our vet labeled him "classic navicular horse", indicating we may have a tough road ahead.

He will be 26 this summer and he's still ruling the roost! He is pictured above with his Easyboot Epics.

Name: Jaelle
City: Ellensburg, Washington, USA
Equine Discipline: Other
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Epic


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the Bulb Butt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

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

A Case for EasyShoes

By definition, a dilemma is a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives, or any difficult or perplexing situation or problem. And I’ve got one—a big one. My No. 1 horse M Dash Czoe  (Zoey) has developed an unusual lameness. My dilemma is this: Tevis is now less than five weeks away. Do I just sit this year out and breed her early (tentative plan is to breed her after Tevis), or do I try to get her sound again so I can ride her? My gut says sit it out. I'd rather not go at all than take a horse that is less than 100%. It's too hard to get through the Tevis, and I don't want to get pulled. My hopeful heart says don't give up so easily. Maybe it's something minor that can be resolved. I'd like to take a long nap and get back all the sleep I've lost so far over this dilemma.

The problem started in April, on the 24th to be exact. My regular barefoot trimmer Rachel Rezos (former EasyCare Dealer of the Month), injured her back and was sidelined for awhile. I had a race coming up on the 26th, so I called a farrier I knew and asked if he could trim my horses. He had been filling in for Rachel in my area. My horses are trimmed every four to six weeks, and I am diligent about maintaining them between trims. I typically have my horses trimmed two to five days before an event so that I can apply the Glue-On boots onto freshly trimmed feet. Rachel and I have a good system that has been working well for me. My horses just needed a “buff and scuff” so I could apply the Glue-Ons. Normally I would do this myself but I had four horses to trim and it was more than I wanted to take on.

Zoey has significant high-low syndrome. Her right front foot (the “high” foot) is borderline club foot, although it is straight. The right foot is also smaller than the left. For two years now she has worn a 1.5 Glove on the left and a 0.5 on the right. I’ve recently started using a 1.0 on the right front with good success. In a nutshell, she has two very different front feet. For this reason I have been very particular about keeping up on her trimming. If I let her go too long, the left toe grows and the right heel grows in such a way that how she travels is greatly affected. I can feel it in her right shoulder (it “hikes”) and I can hear it when she walks on pavement or hard ground. She also steps shorter with her right foot. This is more apparent at the walk than the trot. After 6 years of riding her, I've developed a keen sense of what is going on with her feet and how it affects her movement. It's tempting to just knock down the heel on right foot and take back the toe on the left so that the two feet appear similar, but that would cause all kinds of internal problems. This is the confirmation that Zoey was born with and I can only manage it, not change it.

Front view of Zoey's front feet. I wet them down so the pastern joint effusion (more on that later) could be more easily seen.

 

HIgh-low syndrome common in Arabians. Note the dish in the RF hoof wall. The black marks on the hoof wall is old glue.

Back to April 24th. The farrier trimmed four horses. One horse (Tiki) was very tender-footed after the trim. He had clearly been trimmed too short. Stella and Tyler looked good. Unfortunately, he had done too much cosmetically to make Zoey's feet look similar. He took a lot of toe and the front of the hoof wall off the left front foot. Overall, all four of Zoey's feet had been trimmed too aggressively, although I didn't fully realize this at the time. I applied the Glue-Ons exactly as I always have.

The race on the 26th was the American River 50, which was the topic of my last blog.  Zoey and I had a great day and finished 2nd. What I left out of the last blog was that between the time that I trotted out for completion and CRI and then went back 45 minutes later to show for BC, Zoey developed acute lameness in the left front. It gets even more perplexing because on the way to show her for BC, we practiced our trot-out and she looked really good. I got two thumbs up from my riding partner, Jenni Smith.

Within 24 hours, the lameness was gone. By the time my vet was able to look at her, three days after the ride, she couldn’t find any evidence of lameness. An examination of her soles did show tenderness, and Zoey would hold her head to the outside when trotted in a circle on hard ground.  My vet surmised that she had been trimmed too aggressively and the Glue-Ons with Sikaflex hadn’t provided sufficient protection from concussive forces. She didn’t have a definitive explanation for why the lameness would appear so suddenly except to suggest that the circulation in the foot had been diminished during the ride and then when it returned it caused pain and inflammation.

We returned to our normal training routine for the next three weeks, including an intense circuit around Mt. Diablo. Our next race was the NASTR 75 on May 25th. This time Rachel trimmed my horses a week before the race and then I applied the Glue-Ons two days prior to the event.

The NASTR race delivered miles and miles of rocks, sand, heat and hills.

Jenni and I finished in first and second place. We went through the completion exam and CRI and then showed for BC. Zoey looked good and I actually thought I had a chance at showing for Best Condition. We took them back to the trailer and iced and wrapped legs. About three hours later, we took them to the arena for a leg stretch and roll in the sand. Zoey trotted around with energy but was noticeably off, but this time on the right front. My heart sank. I called my vet during the drive home. She came the next morning, which was 36 hours after we finished the ride.

My vet conducted a series of flexion tests and all were negative. She noted effusion of the pastern and coffin bone joints in all four feet. This is the point where the exam took an unexpected turn. When we blocked her right front foot she was then off on her left. When we blocked her left front foot she dramatically shortened her stride in the hind end. The blocks concluded pain in all four feet. This occurred while Zoey still wore her Glue-Ons from the race. My vet did not want me to pull them off right away, thinking they would provide needed protection. We took radiographs of both front feet and, even with the boots on, could see that her soles were very thin, approximately 30% of normal.

 

We started her on Previcox and I waited a few days to let her joints rest then pried off the boots. As before, the lameness minimized within three days. The effusion was reduced as well. She had a week of rest in her paddock and then easy walk/jog workouts in the Euroxcizer with Easyboot Gloves on all four feet. She looked comfortable at the trot but I could see that she was still stepping short on her right front and coming over her shoulder (see video).

Do you see anything at the trot?

How about at the walk?

My vet returned to take a second set of x-rays so we had a clear view of Zoey's sole thickness. She also ultra-sounded both front legs from the knees down. Everything look good and her radiographs showed nothing unusual or alarming. Some minor remodeling and spurring that would be consistent with a 10-year-old endurance horse. She concluded that the inflammation in her joints was the result of her thin soles and therefore she needed 24-7 sole protection. I knew the EasyShoes would be ideal.

 

Rachel returned and we collaborated on our first attempt at applying the EasyShoes, which we did without much difficulty.

I gave Zoey a couple of days in her paddock to become accustomed to them and then I started her back on the Euroxcicer program. The improvement was considerable. We didn't have much success getting the back ones to stay on very long -- they lasted about four days. However, the front shoes have been on for two weeks and three training rides so far. My vet returned again for a follow up and noted that much of the effusion was gone and Zoey was traveling much better.

I mentioned already that when you have a horse with high-low syndrome, don't try to change the shape of the foot. This is an unfortunately case in point. Now, Zoey needs time to regrow lost sole, have her feet return to what is their natural balance and have the inflammation subside in her feet. I don't know yet if I will get to Tevis with her this year. Stay tuned!

Almost A Tradition

It all started 5 years ago with Global Endurance Training Center offering Hoof Care Clinics in conjunction with the yearly Fandango Endurance Event in Oreana, Idaho. In the first year I focused on barefoot hoof trimming, then we added various Easyboot applications to it. We also showed other kind of available hoof protections, from Duplos to Old Macs, Sneakers and Equiflex Shoes, so everybody could make their own informed decision on what kind of hoof protection are most suitable for their horses hooves and needs. During the next couple of years we refined and improved the demonstrations, focused more on the Easyboot Gloves and Glue On applications. It is worth mentioning that throughout all these years, these clinics have always been free of charge and, on top of it, all participants were eligible to win in a raffle great prizes like Easyboots, saddlebags etc. EasyCare, GETC and Vettec Company have sponsored all of these clinics and provided great prizes for the raffle.

This year we concentrated on the application of EasyShoes. The workshop took place on the second day of the event, after most of the riders were back in camp.

Dave Rabe and I are planning the demonstrations together, while Emma is watching out for the arriving participants. Merri Melde wrote a nice story on us in her 2014 Owyhee Fandango summary on Endurance.net

 

Explaining the various tools necessary for successful applications.

What are the advantages of the EasyShoe? Everybody is curious.

 

About 30 attendees participated and took ample notes. After going through the various new models of EasyShoes and their best recommended usages, it was time to apply an EasyShoe to a live horse. I chose the Performance N/G for a gluing demo.

With the preparations and trimming completed, I roughed up the hoof walls from the side and from the sole level, using rasp and Dremel tool. By means of a gas torch, the hoof was dried and sanitized.

 

An Easyboot Trail was used to protect the clean and dry hoof from contamination while the EasyShoe was prepared.

 

Adhere,  I also shared some nailing techniques. If you are inclined to learn more about nailing the EasyShoes, you may revisit my last month blog: Nailing for Performance.

 

Following the demonstrations, a raffle rounded out the symposium. EasyCare donated several pairs of EasyShoes, Global Endurance Training Center donated logbooks, saddle bags and Coldflex cooling wraps. Vettec sponsored the wine and cheese party in the evening.

 

Walking with Medinah during the vet check hold on day one. Medinah MHF is wearing the EasyShoe Performance. This horse won the 50-mile race and also won BC. More proof that EasyShoes are getting results.

Dave Rabe and I are planning the demonstrations together, while Emma is watching out for the arriving participants. Merri Melde wrote a nice story on us in her 2014 Owyhee Fandango summary on Endurance.net. - See more at: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/bootmeister-natural-hoof-care-tips#sthash.0LhG7ZEX.dpuf
Dave Rabe and I are planning the demonstrations together, while Emma is watching out for the arriving participants. Merri Melde wrote a nice story on us in her 2014 Owyhee Fandango summary on Endurance.net. - See more at: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/bootmeister-natural-hoof-care-tips#sthash.hHbgqrjG.dpuf
Dave Rabe and I are planning the demonstrations together, while Emma is watching out for the arriving participants. Merri Melde wrote a nice story on us in her 2014 Owyhee Fandango summary on Endurance.net. - See more at: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/bootmeister-natural-hoof-care-tips#sthash.hHbgqrjG.dpuf

From the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork, Global Endurance Center

Horse Clinics - What Do You Go To?

What kind of horse clinics do you like to go to?

Our 4H Club hosts many clinics during the good weather months of the year. We also have a weekend Clinic and Camp every summer. Some of the topics covered have been: Natural Horsemanship, Natural Balance Dentistry, Equine Massage Therapy, Whole Horse Balance, Barefoot Trimming, Centered Riding, and an Obstacle Course.

We bring in clinicians from multiple states around us. It is so cool that professionals donate their time to spend with us!

Gary Ford and his daughter Cassie Ford were our March 2013 clinicians.
Every horse in this picture is barefoot! One is also wearing Easyboots!

Sometimes, however, it is good to travel to the clinic as well. Last November, my Mom and I traveled to Theresa and Tim McManus’ Keymon Farms in Virginia to attend a weekend event focused on learning the different levels of collection, equine osteopathy, and hoof balance. Theresa gave a great presentation on the three levels of collection. She also got me into riding with a bareback pad and a bitless bridle. I love them!

Theresa McManus fitting the colorful Sprit Bridle (bitless) on Sasha before giving me a lesson.

Anne-Marie Hancock, DVM, EDO worked with and adjusted my horse, Sasha, who had been lame for over a month. Sasha got better during the weekend and was all well within a week.  

Anne-Marie performing a pre-exam by checking Saha’s ear for sensitivities.

Paige Poss, http://www.anatomy-of-the-equine.com and www.ironfreehoof.com, did a surprisingly fun dissection of a cadaver leg. It was really educational and entertaining!

Paige's dissection was so interesting for all!

There were also vendors, including Paulita Neff with Saddle Up Treeless Saddles http://treelesssaddle.com. I ride in one of her Freeform saddles and love it. We also got to meet Ann Buteau, an EasyCare dealer and long-time natural hoof care provider, who brought loads of EasyCare hoof boots to look at.

Paulita helping a client learn about her treeless saddles.

This is me with Anne Buteau!

We all need to keep improving our horse knowledge. While it is convenient to bring clinicians to us, it is also great to get out sometimes and go to a clinic in a new place and meet new people. Where will you go this year?  What will you learn?

Nonee High

May 2014: Three R's Ranch

We are very pleased to announce that Three R’s Ranch of Reno, Nevada, is EasyCare’s Dealer of the Month for May. Tami Rougeau is the owner of Three R’s Ranch as well as a Member of EasyCare’s Team Easyboot.

Three R’s Ranch became an EasyCare Dealer in the Spring of 2013 and very quickly became a strong presence. While Tami’s original focus was on hoof boots, she also carries the full line of EasyCare products. Her best seller is the Easyboot Glove, since most of her customers are primarily endurance and trail riders. However, she is now thinking the new EasyShoe might take over the best seller spot. Tami indicates that the EasyShoe has really expanded the number of customers to now include those who are not traditional barefoot riders. Her personal hoof boot favorite is the Easyboot Glove.

Tami’s marketing strategy is very simple. She uses hoof boots on her horses and is present at a lot of rides so she feels that the products sell themselves. She feels that using the product is a huge plus. “When people see others being successful and having fun, they are encouraged to ask questions and find out what is working. I frequently ride with other members of Team Easyboot and quite often we will come upon riders that have lost a shoe or are having a boot issue. Between the two of us, we carry the most common sizes and can usually get the person back on the trail in a matter of minutes. When you can save someone’s ride, that is a good marketing strategy. At one ride, I actually had a lady approach me saying that her horse lost a shoe and was off. She said the vet sent her to me. Now that is a compliment! We did a little maintenance to the mangled hoof, put on a boot and the horse trotted off sound. She got to complete her ride.”

We asked Tami about her favorite yearly event. “All of the rides that I attend are wonderful, but by far, my most favorite is the Virginia City 100. It is really beautiful and tough. The trail is just made for hoof boots in that it is rocky, full of hills and is a very technical trail. To top it off, it is a historical ride created by the pioneers of our sport held in historic Virginia City, Nevada. This is one seriously cool town. You start the ride in the middle of town in front of the Delta Saloon. How many posses over the years organized in that very spot? Or miners riding into town announcing their find? Mark Twain spent time here as well. It is just overwhelming to think that we can ride our horses over the same ground as those who helped build this country. I could go on and on, but this ride requires strategy and thinking to get your horse through safely. The feeling of accomplishment and pride this felt when you are walking back through town after conquering the trail is like no other.”

Why is Tami successful? She says she has really amazing horses! “My horses have taught me so much and they really love their job. In the way of boots, each of my horses has had a different hoof challenge that had to be dealt with and boots have helped them be successful. Also, my family, who are so supportive of my crazy horse habit and especially of my starting this new chapter. They are not horse people, but they sure step up to help whenever they can. I could not do any of this without my husband, my son and my parents as well as my good friends who encourage me and keep me grounded.”

Tami currently owns three horses. She has two mares that are half-sisters and a gelding out of her older mare, Fancy. All of her horses are booted. Fancy is 18 this year and has never been shod. May is 14 this year and was shod for a brief period when first starting out. Rockett is just coming 5 and was fitted for his first boots this year. And, Tami has just put him in EasyShoes.

When we asked Tami how she thinks the hoof boot industry has changed, she answered, “Hoof boots and hoof protection has really come a long way. When I first started booting, there were not many choices. Of course, I was in Easyboots, but if they did not work for you, there were not many other options, especially for endurance riders. Now there are boots for practically any circumstance. We now have therapy boots and boots to help during transition, not to mention the options for riding boots. If one does not work, then we can try another until we find the boot that fits for the horse and rider. Now we even have the EasyShoes, which are opening up whole new options to a new group of horse owners. I am really excited to get the shoes on lots of different horses to see what they can do. The first pair I sold was actually nailed on. There was an immediate improvement in the way the horse moved and the owner is just ecstatic. Now, I have them on several horses and they are all doing well. The fact that they can be nailed on in the traditional fashion is a big deal. A lot of folks simply do not want to mess with glue. They want to nail on the shoe and not think about it again. This option opens the door to a whole new group of riders.”

Tami sees the barefoot industry really growing and expanding because there are more and more people choosing barefoot as a viable option. She feels that for some, it is the desire to do the best for their horse and the desire to do what comes naturally. And, for others, it is simple economics. The more people see others being successful in a variety of sports, the more inclined they are to try it, particularly, when they find out how easy it is. “It seems there is a perception that if your horse is barefoot, you have to be able to trim their feet yourself every week. This is not the case. Barefoot is really pretty easy, it allows riders to not be tethered to an appointment or lose a riding day and it encourages a solid relationship with your horse partner. With all of the options available, it really gives people choices. I have clients that are trail riders and they go horse camping several times a year for a week or so at a time. They use Gloves and Easyboot Epics. One lady said that, sometimes by the end of the week, she is just too tired to put on boots. I suggested that perhaps she use Easyboot Glue-Ons so that she would not have to mess with boots for the whole event. At first, people are skeptical, but when I tell them that we glue them on for multi-day endurance events without issues, they are sold. With hoof boots, it’s not a matter of “it won’t work” it is a matter of “I have something that can fix that.”

And Tami’s most memorable hoof boot success story? “I have seen loads of unsound horses become sound and comfortable with good trimming and hoof boots, but my personal experience is still the most memorable for me. When my Thoroughbred went from totally unsound in shoes, we turned to barefoot trimming and Easyboots.  We did retire him, but he lived another ten years being comfortable and happy while babysitting the young horses. Most recently, my “once in a lifetime” horse was diagnosed with osteomyelitis of the navicular bone. She decided it was not her time to go and we were able to successfully treat her. During her treatment, we had to support the foot. The Vets wanted to put shoes on her, but I knew that anything that could be done with a shoe could also be done with a boot. So, I customized boots for her in various wedge angles which we lowered. The benefit of the boot was that we could take if off to assess the foot whenever we wanted and change it out in a matter of seconds. As her heel grew out, we got rid of the boot and let her go naturally. She now has a normal heel height and is sound – to the amazement of all of the vets and even myself!” 

A Quick Curricular of Navicular

“Navicular” is a dreaded word. It is often not discussed unless the conversation addresses navicular syndrome or another disheartening hoof ailment. While navicular syndrome may be frightening, the navicular bone is a good thing! I’d like to give the navicular bone the spotlight and some love by expressing its notable functions and physiology.


Courtesy of The Merck Veterinary Manual.


The navicular sesamoidean bone resides approximately at the level of the coffin joint, posterior or behind the coffin bone and short pastern, and anterior to the digital cushion. The coffin bone connects to the navicular by the impar ligaments. The navicular bone is also secured by the collateral sesamoidean ligament, which attaches to the short pastern. The navicular bone is called so because of its canoe-like shape (“navicu” in Latin meaning “small boat”). This canoe-like structure has an accessory titled the navicular bursa. This cartilaginous sac cradles the caudal navicular bone and allows the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) to glide smoothly along its surface. This is the simple, primary function of the navicular bone – to provide a surface for the DDFT to smoothly swivel across as it continues onto its connecting point at the coffin bone.

      

On the left, horse is diagnosed with navicular syndrome. On the right,
the same horse one month after natural rehabilitation techniques.


On the other hand, a navicular "diagnoses" can be devastating. Navicular syndrome is a deep unknown. The specific of what causes caudal heel pain is a general understanding, not a science, and there is much education yet to be discovered. Horses with poor hoof conformation due to inadequate shoeing or improper trimming are the most common causalities of navicular syndrome, although conformational defects from genetic principle plays a role, as well. Poor hoof conformation, such as underrun and/or contracted heels, leads to additional stress being placed on the DDFT, extra pressure on the navicular bone, and a degeneration of the digital cushion which is a shock absorber for the internal structures of the lower limb. Without a healthy digital cushion, impact with the ground forces a blow to the navicular area causing trauma over time. Another trauma source is horses with excessively high heels and upright pasterns, which place pressure and stress in unnatural ways on the DDFT and navicular. Poor blood flow into or out of the navicular may also be responsible for pressure build-up and mineralization or degeneration of the bone structure. Obstruction of vascular function can be caused by a weak digital cushion or unsuitable heel disposition (i.e. high or underrun). As you can imagine, degeneration or over-calcification of the navicular bone, in turn, inflicts strain and distress on the DDFT.
 
Proper trimming methods and stimulation of the heel are ways to encourage navicular syndrome rehabilitation. For more severe cases, injections or surgery may be necessitated. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian and hoof care practitioner to determine a treatment plan. EasyCare is available to help make the rehabilitation process less complex for you and your horse. The Easyboot Rx is an excellent boot option for concussion absorption while still promoting circulation. Contact EasyCare today to find a hoof boot option to help you and you horse achieve optimal equine health and performance.
 

Mariah Reeves

easycare-customer service-mariah

Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I promote holistic methods of equine care and will assist you with finding the perfect fit for horse and rider.

Functions Part II: The Hoof is a Roller Blade and a Nike

In my last blog, Functions Part I: The Hoof's Memory Foam, I discussed the digital cushion. In this blog, I'll build on that and look at the functions of traction and braking.

Most of the horse’s hoof is made of a horny substance that is quite slick. Except for the frog, which can feel leathery, spongy, velvety or glossy. One of the functions of the frog is as a brake pad and traction aide. Green is for GO and Red is for WHOA. 

Have you seen an image of a horse sliding to a stop? How about a “stubborn donkey”? Both postures are the same: the front legs brace and the back legs brace and all four feet are on their “heels” or…on their frogs.

 

Think of rollerblading, with a brake at the back of the “foot”.

  

Ironically, when teaching someone to brake with roller blades, they teach to balance with the upper limbs. Looks like a similar posture and spinal balance to both the horse and the donkey. Front limbs go out, back legs hunker down.

If you look at the back end of the hoof, almost the whole span of it is the frog. While it does have several functions, it is also the rubber brake. You can visually see the width of the hoof. In the back, the green areas indicate really how “wide” the back of the hoof is. It is predominantly frog that takes up the back of the hoof.

Additionally, the frog absorbs concussion from the weight of the footfall. Let's look at function some more. We have a functional choice: we can land toe first, or we can land heel first. What does the hoof look like it was designed to do?

What’s at the toe is the tip of the coffin bone, and the sole of the foot and the front of the hoof wall. Even without being a vet, I can hazard the guess that hundreds of pounds-per-square-inch probably weren’t designed to land there “first”. In the back of the foot, we see this huge cushion and a large depth between the ground and the closest bone. It’s a bit like a Nike, isn’t it? With a big fluffy heel to support the jarring impact of landing. Less and less cushioning as it goes towards the toe.

I would have to guess that a horse would want to land heel first. He wants to land on his traction pad frog, he wants to land on that digital cushion inside of his hoof.

A horse who is hurting on his heels, will attempt landing TOE first. Trimming to relieve that pressure, a horse can immediately adopt a heel first landing again. And I will dive more into that in the next blog, when we go over more of the innards of the hoof.

 

(I know the photos look like uphill and downhill, but it's actually relatively flat ground. It's just the angle of the photo.)

Here are a couple more shots of toes landing first, taken from a therapeutic hoof care facility:

 

And another heel first landing:

Don't get too excited if I prance away from this topic of toe-first/heel-first landing. Again, the next installment has to do with the rest of the hoof innards... which I feel is important to cover in order to better illustrate why toe-first/heel-first occurs. For now, I just wanted to introduce the functions of the digital cushion and frog. 

Moving on! Lastly, a horse needs to be able to “claw” its way into acceleration. It needs to “dig in”. If you had to shape a device to dig in, it would likely have knobs, scoops, treads and the like. If you can picture a tank tread, it should have something that digs into the dirt, followed by something hollow.

 

A human footprint does the same thing, there are deep spots and hollows. This is us “digging in” to the ground and getting traction.

 

Horses have a cupping to their foot too, to help them dig in too.

 

Some have deeper cupping than others. Just like all parts of our body, you use it or lose it. Not all humans have high arches. If you, as a human, wear shoes with tread, your body doesn’t have to try as hard to “carve” your foot into a digging machine. The shoe does it for you. Same with horses in metal shoes. A metal shoe gives the horse a digging “rim” around its edge. So some horses in shoes go “flat footed” just like a human would. (Note: this isn't my argument for shod vs. barefoot, I am merely trying to illustrate the natural cupping a horse develops for digging in and running when barefoot)

 

While shoes have many functions and hooves have many functions, I am sticking to the simple, illustrative view that the rim of the hoof will dig into the ground for propulsion and that one function, can also be mimicked with a shoe; giving the horse a digging edge. When you take the shoe off of a routinely shod horse, you can see their soles are a bit flatter.

We’ve covered the very basics of bone and bare minimum of function. I know for as many people out that that love one part of function of the foot, there are ten more that love a different part. I am trying not to leave out any essentials, but am trying to cover the BASICS. If you've never trimmed your horse, never looked at its feet in curiosity, never wondered if your trimmer or farrier was doing a great job or just a decent one, I am hoping to give you a very basic understanding so that you are more empowered about the health of your horse's feet.

For the next blog, I’ll write about the “in between”, or, “what are all the bits between the bone and the outside hoof that I can see?" How do the inner bits, the middle bits and the outside bits work together to carry a 1,000 pound animal down the trail?

 

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

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

EasyShoe Clinic Provides Hands-On Learning

Last month, I had the privilege of attending an EasyShoe Clinic at Arroyo Del Mar, an outstanding facility in Southern California run by Steffen and Shannon Peters. Shannon was a gracious host and has her own personal experience with the EasyShoe, as Garrett Ford discussed in his last blog, Why Do We Do This? For Successes Like Squishy's!. The level of expertise at this clinic was quite phenomenal. Daisy Bicking of Daisy Haven Farm led the clinic along with Garrett, Ernest Woodward and Paige Poss of Anatomy of the Equine. The clinic kicked off on Friday evening with a presentation by Garrett and Daisy. After that, Paige performed dissections on two different hooves. It was very interesting to see the differences in the various structures of the hooves.

Garrett and Daisy begin the clinic with a presentation.

On Saturday, we began the hands-on portion of the clinic by first selecting a cadaver hoof. Next Daisy discussed her preferred technique of hoof mapping and we marked our hooves accordingly. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and although I have experience trimming my own horses I am definitely not a trimmer. I won't go into too much detail so if you would like to learn more about hoof mapping and EasyShoe application, attending one of Daisy's clinics is a must!

Untrimmed hoof before and after mapping.

We had the opportunity to take "before" x-rays and then we went to work trimming our cadavers. I was one of the last people to select a cadaver and the "more interesting" aka challenging hooves were selected by the trimmers and farriers in attendance. I was glad to have a hoof that was straight forward since I do not have any experience trimming pathological hooves. After trimming, we took our "after" x-rays before we prepared them for gluing.

X-rays before (left) and after (right) trimming.

The most important key to success with the EasyShoe is a thorough preparation. If you want your shoes to stay on, please do not rush the prep! The video below shows the steps necessary in a proper preparation.

On Saturday afternoon there were demonstrations on live horses. We saw the application of the EasyShoe Performance with Vettec Adhere and EasyShoe Bond and an application of the EasyShoe Performance N/G. The presenters did a great job of explaining the steps in their application and they were happy to answer questions.

Sunday was glue day - it was time to put all of this newly acquired knowledge to the test. Participants were allowed to choose which glue they wanted to practice with and were then divided into their respective groups (Vettec Adhere, EasyShoe Bond using the dispensing gun, EasyShoe bond mixed in a cup with copper sulfate). I have a small amount of experience with Vettec so I chose the EasyShoe bond/copper sulfate group. Once in our groups, we were allowed to practice one at a time under the guidance of our instructor. My group was led by Ernest Woodward; he was a wonderful teacher and I have a deep respect for his knowledge and patient nature. My application is definitely a novice effort but the experience was very insightful.

Solar view of my trimmed cadaver (left) and EasyShoe application (right).

Lateral view of my untrimmed cadaver (left), trimmed cadaver (center) and EasyShoe application (right).

The next EasyShoe clinic is less than a month away and will be held south of Charlotte, NC at the Anne Springs Close Greenway. We have participant and auditor positions available however space is limited so we encourage you to register ASAP if you want to attend. For the full clinic agenda click here: EasyShoe Clinics. To register click here: EasyShoe Clinic Registration.
 

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, Marketing and Sales

Marketing and Sales

I assist the marketing and sales departments at EasyCare with a special interest in hoof care practitioner and veterinarian dealer accounts. My horses have been barefoot and booted since 2003.