Alternative Uses of a Horseshoe Nail

You might never have an interest in nailing a horse shoe on a hoof but if you are a natural hoof care provider, rider, or horse owner, the horseshoe nail can still serve you very well.

Here are five alternative uses for horseshoe nails:

1. Explore the depth and severity of white line separation.

Horseshoe nails are very pointed, no other nail or hoof pick is thin enough to be inserted into the white line to clean out decayed tissue, debris, small embedded pebbles and prepare it for treatment. Simply insert the nail and scrape the separated white line clean, then apply treatment solution. The same applies for cleaning out collateral grooves.

 

2. Explore the frog for thrush.

Not every crack in the frog means thrush. With a horseshoe nail it is easy to find out and check the frog for sensitivity, decay and bacterial invasion.

 

3. Estimate the thickness of the sole by measuring the depth of the collateral grooves. With the pointed end of the nail it is easy to get to the bottom of the groove. Unless you use a Precision Hoof pick, which has a pointed end and a reading scale, a horseshoe nail is second best. Lay your rasp over the level and flat trimmed heels, place the nail to the bottom of the groove and use your fingernail or a marker to fixate the spot where it hits the rasp. Then pull the nail out and measure the distance.

The distance below, marked by the fingernail, is 2 cm, about 3/4 of an inch.

 

4. Clear the channels in the Vettec Adhere tube. Sometimes, when tubes have already been used previously, little plugs can form and obstruct the openings. This is really bad news if a mixing tip is already attached and an uneven flow of glue comes out. A nail tip can clean it out quickly and easily.

 

5. Clear debris from a screw. Need to replace a gaiter on your Easyboot Glove? Tighten a screw on your gaiter or the power strap? ( I highly recommend doing this after each ride using Gloves). After a ride with Easyboot Gloves, most screw heads are filled with debris. Somehow the sand and grit forms such a hard fill that your phillips screwdriver cannot get a bite. A horseshoe nail allow you to clean the slots out with minimal effort.

This screw slot is filled tightly with debris.

Can you think of any additional usages of a horseshoe nail? Please share them with us.

 

Your Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

Matthew's Story

This past winter I traveled half way around the world to spend time with my husband who works in Saudi Arabia. I left a list of local barefoot trimmers with my clients in case of an emergency or if any were in need of trimming while I was gone. With the exception of a few horses that had health issues going on, I felt that all would be well. One of those horses was Matthew. Mid-November Matthew, was having trouble eating and drinking and had a very sore neck. He was taken to a vet clinic where they performed dental work and sent him home. A few days later, he was still very sore in the neck, had laminitis and was displaying colic like symptoms. He returned to the vet and spent eighteen days being treated for laminitis. Although Matthew's owner, Linda, preferred barefoot, the vet felt traditional farrier methods were the best course of action for the laminitis. A type of wooden wedge block was screwed to his hooves in hopes of alleviating his discomfort. As days went by, his blood panels continued in a downward spiral indicating that his kidneys and liver were shutting down. Matthew was in constant pain from the laminitis and showed no sign of improvement. Unfortunately as I was leaving the country, Linda called to tell me her horse was being sent home from the vet clinic to die.

When I returned home at the end of January, I fully expected Matthew to have gone on to greener pastures but much to my surprise he was still alive. When he returned from the clinic it looked hopeless at first but Linda felt she had to give her boy a chance because of his will to live. It was very challenging to keep him warm on the below zero degree days and nights - most of the time he laid in his stall. Finally he started showing improvement and new blood panels showed his kidneys and liver were normal. As Linda's wish was to return Matthew to barefoot, the vet agreed to begin by pulling the hind shoes.

Matthew's right hind after his first (left) and second (right) trims.

When I arrived at the barn, Linda had Matthew standing ready for his trim. As I removed his bandages, nothing prepared me for the sight of the sole completely gone from the tip of the frog forward. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I wished someone would have warned me before I started the process out in the middle of a dirt lane by the barn. But there I was, so I began lowering the heels and bringing back the toe to a more proper break over. By the time I finished trimming, Matthew seemed more comfortable and was walking better. After cleaning the dirt from his hooves, we put him in some Easyboot Gloves with 12 mm medium density comfort pads inside until we could come up with a better solution.

Matthew's right hind five (left) and ten (right) weeks after first trim.

The next day I called EasyCare for advice on boots and padding for his severe condition. I ordered the Easyboot Rx and several pairs of pads knowing that we would have to experiment to find the perfect combination. As barefoot trimmers will tell you, the horse will show you if you just take the time to ask. Taping the pads to his hooves with duct tape worked best at first (Matthew preferred 2 soft density comfort pads). Boots were tolerated during the day as he roamed the yard but not at night. We ran into a problem with rubbing even with wool socks. So the taped on pads offered a needed rest from the boots while he was in his stall on softer terrain. In as little as five weeks, you can see how quickly the sole filled back in and the hoof began to heal a condition that was traditionally thought irreparable. I'm hoping that in the future, veterinarians will come to know that with the proper tools available like hoof boots and pads, barefoot is a viable option for laminitis.

Karen Reeves, Natural Equine Hoof Care

Don't Be Negative

We all know that being negative is considered a bad thing, and it's no different for the horse's hoof!
 
A negative palmar (front), or negative plantar (hind), angle in the hoof refers to the orientation of the coffin bone in the hoof. In a negative angled hoof, the wings of the coffin bone (called the palmar processes) are lower than the front of the coffin bone. A healthy hoof alignment within the capsule is considered to be a couple to several degrees positive. The range of normal can depend on the horse's individual conformation and breed. While there are proponents of a ground parallel coffin bone when the horse is at rest/standing on flat ground, it is generally accepted that the healthiest and soundest feet are those with a positive angle (this is my preference). As I am always repeating, the rear most area of the hoof is meant to be landed upon, and under full load it will dip downward as nature intended. If the hoof is already at ground parallel just standing still, the coffin bone will go negative under full impact.

A negative plantar angle.  The red line shows the angle we are referring to - the rear
of the coffin bone is lower than the front. This is an extreme example to help you see it.

So what are the causes, why is it bad, how do you recognize it, can we fix it?

Some of the causes of negative palmar/plantar angles:

  1. Environment
    One of the causes of negative palmar/plantar angles (NPA) relates to our arid environment here in Southern, CA. Without moisture to soften and help exfoliate their feet, some horses can build excessive sole. Bar material that should end about 1/2 way down the frog can migrate forward and over the sole, blending with the sole and even covering it completely. You may have heard the term "false sole" and this is what it is referring to. This material, if not recognized and removed, can pack in under the tip of the coffin bone and essentially push the edge upwards.
  2. Trimming
    Some horses are trimmed and shod to exacerbate this situation. Reiners, for example, can have crushed heels and excessive vertical toe height (NPA's) from sliding, and I see it in upper level dressage horses who are stepping under themselves during highly collected movement.  
  3. Conformation
    Sickle hocked horses are predisposed to this hoof form. Horses with DSLD are as well, because the damaged, dropping pastern and suspensory areas move the weight bearing area too far rearward.  

Why is being negative a bad thing?

The horse is essentially overloading the rear of the hoof. The soft tissues of the digital cushion, lateral cartilages, frog, etc., are being crushed. The heel bulb areas will look flattened, the frog can appear to be prolapsed, and there may be a crevice in the frog from where it is pinching forward (which can trap thrush). Horses with negative plantar angles often stand underneath themselves, which leads to soreness through the stifles, hocks, hamstrings and up into the croup and sacroiliac area.

How does one recognize this situation?

A lateral radiograph will certainly show you the bone orientation, and is ideal so you know exactly what you are dealing with. With that said, a big sign of NPAs can be a bullnosed appearance to the hoof wall. This is due to the wall following over the tip of the coffin bone which is pushing outward. Another obvious sign is from underneath the hoof, there will be more depth at the apex of the frog than the rear of the foot. Sometimes horses with NPA's will have wear such as squaring at the toe wall and a buffed appearance to the wall. (This is also a sign of sore hocks or stifles, which we know is a possible result of NPA's, but it can also be just a symptom of soreness, injury or weakness there and can't be assumed on its own to mean the horse has NPAs.)

Before (left): The bullnosed or dubbed shape common in horses that have a NPA.
After (right): Five weeks later - the heel was able to start lifting now that the pressure has been relieved.

 
How do you fix it?

After all that lead up, it seems over simplified to say you usually just remove excess sole under the coffin bone...but that is usually all that is required!  It may take a single good trim to fix the situation and get the hooves back on track. Or, more commonly, it can take many trims with varying amounts of material taken out, and the horse may need some remedial body work to help soothe the sore soft tissues. It takes someone really good at reading the hoof to know how much to take and when. Hooves adapt over time, and the corium that covers the coffin bone can actually have distorted enough that a trimmer could get into trouble by trying to over correct a situation too quickly. Sometimes all we can do is lower the wall at the toe, and only the sole immediately adjacent to it. If the problem didn't originate in the hooves but rather from a conformational issue, disease or an injury, we are limited in how much permanent change we can make at the hoof.  
 
At the AHA conference a couple of years ago, we used a simple heat sensing tool on the feet of horses that were NPA, before and after their trims. The feet were warmer after the trim, indicating possible better circulation in the foot when the rear of it was not being as crushed. I've seen some amazing changes to the heel and frog areas on horses with corrected angles so don't be negative, be positive!

A sole view of what changes can take place when correcting a NPA. There is approximately
6 months time between the images. The weight bearing area of the heel has moved back
and thickened, the frogs have widened, the hoof is rounder in shape, and there is more
equal depth under the coffin bone.  (The horse is a working teenaged dressage horse.)

 

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo, Wild Hearts Hoof Care

Give Shoes the Boot - You're Still a Cowboy

Over the years, we have seen many trends with horses - from the dos and don'ts of feed, to the method in which we train. The one thing that has stayed consistent is people moving towards doing what is best for their horse, and not what is simply habit passed down. Back in the day, it was not uncommon to get the youngest, craziest guy near the barn and have him hop on and "break" the colts. Obviously, we know there are better ways to skin that cat.

Being married to a ranch raised roper, I am immersed in the "cowboy tough" world. Surprisingly, these same guys that used to "break " horses are now deliberately trying to ride with a nice soft loop to warm up. Given that the mark of a "cowboy" used to mean climbing up on a bronc and surviving, I am happy to see the transition into a more sensible approach. So why the hang up with hoof boots?

My husband specializes in natural hoof care and so most of our clients are open to boots but there are those who still insist on shoes. Of course we try to show the advantages of allowing the horse to have a natural foot. We try to educate on the simplicity and versatility of boots. And yet, most of the time we meet resistance, usually justified by the old thinking that shoes are needed for traction and balance. Really? I beg to differ. I have a theory - it is not that shoes are really needed, it is that boots may be just a little too trendy for the "cowboy" crowd. I pose it in a different way when I talk to these guys. I point out the logical side. Who really is a smarter guy? The one who lights $80+ on fire every 6-8 weeks for shoes or the guy who invests a little chunk up front (far less than repeated shoeings) for the year.

Now I know this seems a bit ornery but the truth is, if you are going to put you foot down about not following the new trends, then put your foot down about not following the old ones and see where you actually end up. I challenged my father-in-law to do this. After almost 60 years of holding his ground on shoes, his horses are now booted in the latest and greatest Easyboots. He even changes them up to meet his needs. He uses the Easyboot Trail for everyday mountain riding and the Easyboot Epic or Easyboot Glove (depending on his mount) for the competitions and his older boys that have special needs. As it turns out, he is no less of a "cowboy" than he was in his shoeing days. As for our performance horses, we too ride with "trendy" hoof boots and yet, my husband is still the big tough guy he has been raised to be. When you are ready to set the bar for your own horse, make sure you have these crucial elements in place:

  1. A competent practitioner capable of properly trimming the barefoot horse.
  2. The proper fit, acheived by a simple fitting session.
  3. The proper boot for the needs you have.

When you have checked that list off, you will be well on your way to optimal performance. Give shoes the boot! Soon you may find you are more of a horseman than the stubborn guy next to you.

Amanda Peterson, Peterson Approach Equine Services

From Seaside to Sagebrush

This time last year, my horses and I were enjoying ocean views, redwood trees, and lush green grass. If you ask me, there really is nothing quite as beautiful as Humboldt County California’s redwood coast. Add some of the best trail partners around and it’s really hard to beat. But for some reason, my husband and I had this itch to see new places and try something different. So in December (perfect timing to avoid another wet Humboldt winter), we packed up our family of two dogs and three horses and moved ourselves to Reno, Nevada. It’s taken some adjusting, but it’s turned out to be a great move for us and even better for the health and happiness of our horses.

As luck would have it, this winter has turned out to be one of the driest on record for our former stomping grounds, and one of the coldest and wettest Reno has seen in years (“wet” is relative, it’s still a desert). We've adjusted to the colder temperatures and we have settled in with the help of some awesome friends. We thought the horses would protest -2 degree mornings coupled with 20 mph winds but they really didn’t seem to notice. In fact, they seem to be thriving in the desert environment. My sweet, retired old girl, Sere, in particular seems happier than ever.

Before we moved to Reno, I was considering euthanizing Sere. Sad, I know. And trust me, I cried just thinking about it. This is a horse I've had 15 years! But she was laminitic and dull and some days she really had a hard time getting around. On her bad days, she’d need to wear Easyboot Epics with Comfort Pads just to be comfortable in the pasture. I decided to wait to make a decision, and see if moving her to a completely different environment would improve her quality of life.

Ouch. Sere's California feet.

Four months after moving to Reno, we’re still using Easyboot Epics with Comfort Pads but now we’re using them on 10-12 mile trail rides. Sere is comfortable, bright eyed, and happier than ever. I have my horse back!

Sere's Nevada feet. Much better.

I’m amazed and delighted with the changes I’ve seen in Sere in the last four months. This move has turned out to be exactly what she needed. A dry environment has been a huge help for her formerly thrushy feet. Now she has those rock hard desert hooves that horse owners love and hoof rasps hate. Taking the sugar out of her diet has been an important change too. Even though she only had access to small amounts of green grass in California, that was still enough to cause her to have frequent bouts of laminitis. Now she’s on a big, two acre dry lot so she has plenty of room to move around but absolutely no grass. To make up for the lack of grazing time, the horses have access to grass hay in slow feeders at all times. In addition to the diet and climate changes, I've also gotten help from a natural hoof care provider. I feel like I was doing okay trimming her myself but it's always helpful to have a professional eye to point out any little things that can be improved (and FYI, if you're in need of a barefoot trimmer, Jeremy Procopio, from Foresthill, CA, does a wonderful job and is building a clientele in Reno).

So, my four month evaluation of Reno is pretty great! I’m thankful to have my horse back and I’m very excited to get out and explore new trails with her. As always, I’m very grateful to EasyCare for making products that allow me to take the best care of my horses and their feet.

Renee Robinson

Team Easyboot 2013 Members Announced

Thank you to everyone who applied for Team Easyboot 2013. The panel of EasyCare staff members selected this year's team based on diversity of representation in geography, discipline, age and skill set. Our goal for TE13 is to have engaging members who are enthusiastic and communicative both online and in person. Team Easyboot 2013 members are listed below.

Kim Abbott
Amy Allen
Sharon Ballard
Ashlee Bennett
Daisy Bicking
Laurie Birch
Karen Bumgarner
Mikayla Copenhaver
TJ Corgill
Angela Corner
Karen Corr
Carol Crisp
Q DeHart
Kandace French
Susan Gill
Natalie Herman
Nonee High
Leanna High
Kim Hudson
Brigit Huwyler
Christina Kramlich Bowie
Mary Lambert, DVM
Gene Limlaw
Sabrina Liska
Tennessee Mahoney
Stacey Maloney
Elaine McPherson
Lisa Morris
Martha Nicholas
Rachael Parks
Raina Paucar
Grace Pelous
Amanda Petersen
Buck Petersen

Heather Reynolds
Jeremy Reynolds
Carla Richardson
Vanessa Richardson
Renee Robinson
Tami Rougeau
Christoph Schork
Leslie Spitzer
Susan Summers
Steph Teeter
Lucy Trumbull
Mari Ural
Jennifer Waitte
Carol Warren
Amanda Washington
Kevin Waters
Kicki Westman

Congratulations! Team member photos and biographies will be posted on the Team Easyboot page. Team members are available to inform others about EasyCare products and assist in boot fitting. Keep an eye out for TE13 members at your next event.

Returning applicants were asked: "What do you feel was your greatest contribution to the team?" Tennessee Mahoney's humorous and inspirational response is below.

I feel like I help gal's like myself realize that "they can do it." I encounter a lot of people who have an, "it must be nice!" attitude. I guess they they think I have a Fabio, live-in, professional natural hoof care practitioner and booter. Spoiler alert - I trim, boot, and glue-on by myself. This industry is filled with women who love horses but their horse's hooves are akin to their truck's engines, a "black-box" area. Sure, every now and then you come across a gal who can change her own oil...or at least check the oil. Your horse's hooves and his hoof care and protection should not be a "black box" area. Yes, I do in fact have a wonderful husband (Sean) who helps me immeasurably but he has never trimmed a hoof. With some basic education and some experience, the women of this industry can take their horses' hooves into their own hands. Let's just say, you can get as involved as you want and do a good job.

Tennesse Mahoney returns to Team Easyboot for 2013!

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

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.

 

Free With Every Horse - New Zealand Trek Part I

One man, two horses, 3,000 km.

On November 1, 2012 Pete Langford embarked on a 3,000 km (1,800 mile) trek across the length of New Zealand. What inspired Pete to undertake such a challenging journey? His love of horses and nature were the main catalysts, along with a desire to raise money for Air Rescue Services in New Zealand. EasyCare and our New Zealand distributor, the Institute for Barefoot Equine Management (IBEM), are proud to sponsor Pete on this journey. Pete's horses, Two-Shoes and Cloud, are barefoot off the track standardbreds and they are traveling over the varied New Zealand terrain wearing Easyboot Gloves. The trip started at the bottom of the South Island in Bluff and will end at Cape Reinga on the North Island (you can follow their progress on this SPOT Adventure page). Pete and his horses are just finishing their route on the South Island and are currently near Picton.

How are the Easyboot Gloves holding up to such a demanding journey? Below, Pete describes his initial experiences using hoof boots:

Time for some words about hoof boots, specifically, boots used in place of steel shoes. Now this always seems to raise the emotions of some of those who sit on either side of that particular fence. Some seven odd years ago I got off the fence and opted to go down the barefoot route, using boots when the terrain demanded it and neither I nor my horses have looked back. The boots I used were Old Mac's from US manufacturer EasyCare and they did me well on the limited distance riding I did as a "weekend rider". When preparing for this trip I looked to see if they had a boot that could cope with all that my "long ride" could throw at it. After a couple of emails, EasyCare gave me various options and after a discussion with Thorsten at IBEM it was determined that the Easyboot Glove would be the most suitable boot.

Ready to ride! All photos by Pete Langford.

The first thing I had to do to use these boots was to get a good barefoot trim and then measure the hooves. Getting a perfect fit was a bit challenging since neither Cloud nor Two-Shoes had symmetrical hoofs - both had flare and Two-Shoes is a little pigeon toed on the forehand. With corrective trimming, their hoof shape should improve which will make fitting easier. In the meantime, I have been persuaded to use a couple of tricks to ensure boot retention. I had initially ignored the advice to use these tricks and as a result had boots come off when scampering up the sides of mountains or having a run down the occasional suitable tracks...live and learn.

On top of the world, the saddle crossing the Dampiers.

Now these boots are good, there's no doubt about it, having covered nearly 1200 km (750 miles) so far I reckon I'm well placed to comment on them! The sizing/fitting must be as close to perfect as possible for reliable performance and for staying put on the hoof, anything less will see boots being discarded in really demanding terrain. Having said that, there are a couple of tricks to ensure boot retention which are particularly useful if your four legged friends hoof walls are not symmetrical (most aren't). Trick one, power straps, these little gadgets are used to close the slot at the front of the boot which really helps with getting a nice snug fit around the hoof wall. Trick two, using some sports tape around the hoof to get extra grip between hoof and boot. Since I have used these two tricks, I haven't lost a single boot - they have stayed put crossing rivers, scampering up mountains, running along tracks and they even stayed on in quicksand...yes I did just say that! Whilst crossing the Rakaia River we hit a patch of this deadly stuff and were very lucky to get out. If we had been a meter more to one side then there's a good chance I wouldn't be around to write this. Happily I am and can report that even in that instance, the boots stayed firmly put and let's face it, that's important as no one would be keen to start fishing around in quicksand to recover a lost boot!

Rakaia River quicksand.

If you want to know more about what myself, Two-Shoes and Cloud are up to, visit us at www.freewitheveryhorse.com, on facebook (Free With Every Horse) and twitter (@3witheveryhorse). Hopefully we are done the quicksand - once was enough!

Pete Langford

4-H Goes Bare and Booted

4-H has been a big part of my horse life. We have always had horses at home but 4-H introduced me to other kids that rode horses.

Randolph County Fair Education Day.

I still remember one of my first 4-H meetings, the topic was trail riding. The club member presenting had a very nice power point presentation - one of the slides showed a rocky trail and she said you must shoe your horse to protect the hooves. I remember looking over to my mom in confusion, our horses were barefoot so this made no sense to me. Attitudes about shoeing have changed a lot since then. People have become more educated on the subject and are more open to barefoot horses and hoof boots. Today, almost all of the members in my 4-H group keep their horses barefoot - some members stopped shoeing and transitioned to barefoot and there are new members whose horses were already barefoot. It’s been fun talking about hoof care and hoof boots (seeing who wears what kind and arguing about which one the favorite is). The best part of 4-H is getting to ride with the other kids.

Ashlee and me riding Nanny and Maggie, Spring Break 2012.

4-H does not just focus on riding or showing, it teaches all aspects of keeping horses healthy. Last year at summer camp our club learned “All About Balance”. During this camp, we learned about the whole horse - how the teeth, body and hooves interact with one another to help or hurt a horse’s balance. We also learned how we, as riders, affect our horse’s balance. You can read more about our camp in Volume 15 Issue 1 of Natural Horse Magazine.

Inez Donmoyer, CEMT, CCMT, CSAMT,  IARP, Unicorn Dream
Wholistic Touch, teaching us about anatomy and massage.

This coming summer, our camp will focus on healthy horses and healthy riders. We are very excited that Dr. Juliet Getty, PhD, author of Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, has agreed to join us for an afternoon to talk about equine nutrition (Getty Equine Nutrition). In addition, we will be learning about first aid, anatomy, stretching and more, for both horses and riders. We have two riding instructors lined up and will learn more about saddle fitting and bridle/bit fit. We even have a chef coming. Chef Megan will be donating her time to teach about human nutrition and cook for us.  It is going to be another good time!

Left: Feed Your Horse Like a Horse by Dr. Juliet Getty, PhD.
Right: Chef Megan, Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Edible Garden Chef.

In my previous blog, you met some of my fellow 4-Hers who are learning to trim. We hope to show you how we are doing in a few months with a little more practice.

High Riders learn to trim their own horses.

Thanks EasyCare, for supporting the High Riders 4-H Club on our learning journey and for selecting me as a member of Team Easyboot 2012!

Nonee High

Balanced Horse, Balanced Hoof

Lateral or medial imbalances are fairly common and a symptom of uneven hoof loading. The load is dependent on a horse's conformation and muscle influence and results tend to be rather predictable. Legs that toe in tend to flare more to the medial sides, while toeing out creates hooves that flare more to the lateral sides. Exceptions to the common trends are usually horses that experienced some trauma in the past that affected conformation and/or muscle health and thereby hoof load. Although flaring is often identified from the front or back of the hooves with the horse standing on level ground, it can also be seen in the angles of the collateral grooves. One collateral groove usually has a steeper angle than the other and the one with the shallower angle is the side that normally flares.

Caudal view of the left front before the trim shows a medial-lateral imbalance.

Hoof form responds primarily to load from above and hooves are rarely (if ever) loaded evenly. Typically one side makes ground contact first before the other side "touches down" - the side that is loaded last is the side that tends to flare more. This is easily observed by walking a horse on a level surface. Closely watch how the hooves become loaded as the horse walks towards you. The more flared side is usually the side that needs additional trimming, while the first loaded side is often close to the right height. Frequent trimming is crucial to keeping these imbalances to a minimum - balanced hooves are beneficial to the horse and allow for proper hoof boot fit. It's even more critical with hooves that naturally flare more or unhealthy hooves that have disconnected wall growth, which leads to excessive flaring. Hoof shapes/flares can vary widely depending on individual hoof load tendencies. Unhealthy hooves, with disconnected wall growth, will also have generally more wall/white line separation on the primary loaded side.

White line separation on the lateral, more loaded side of the left front.

Equine side dominance with conformational traits like chest or pelvis width and leg length influence hoof load too. The non-dominant leg tends to get pulled in more toward the midline, thanks to stronger adductor (chest) muscles and weaker abductor (lateral shoulder/upper arm) muscles. This is very common in horses, especially in undeveloped horses. The wider the chest and shorter the leg, the more the lateral edge of the hoof becomes loaded. In extreme cases, this can cause rolling under (collapsing) of the primary loaded hoof side. It can also be seen in horses whose hind legs are wide in the hocks and narrow at the hooves (base narrow). I see this particular issue more frequently in minis and halter type Quarter Horses due to their conformational tendencies. Proper muscle development that results in even strength on both sides of the body is the only way to effectively address this issue as it encourages more even hoof load. Most horses seem to be right sided, some are left sided and some are more ambidextrous, just like humans are. The ambidextrous horses tend to naturally have more evenly sized front hooves and a dressage rider once confirmed this connection - as her horse moved up the levels in dressage his hooves became more even in size and shape. Fortunately EasyCare offers several hoof boot options in several sizes to ensure a custom fit even if hooves vary in size and shape.

Before the trim.

An equine's stance can make the hooves look more uneven than they actually are. I have frequently taken legs that are base narrow on horses with wide chests and set them so the horse is standing more squarely. It will make the hooves look comparatively normal and shows what even load looks like. If such a horse would consistently travel correctly, the hoof form would also be more balanced side to side with less flaring tendencies. In general, small hoof imbalances should not be cause for great concern if they are managed in a timely and consistent manner.

After the trim and with legs placed in an aligned position in relation to the body.
 

Submitted by Ute Philippi, Balanced Step

March 2013: Asa Stephens - Bright Lights, Big City

Our March dealer of the month is hoof care professional, Asa Stephens who calls the city that never sleeps home. Not far from the hustle and bustle of the strip Asa makes her way across the desert helping horses excel with a barefoot lifestyle.

Asa started her career in hoof care first as a farrier, graduating from Western's School of Horseshoeing, shoeing horses for three years in the Las Vegas area. A client's request for a barefoot trim started it all and nudged her into looking at natural hoof care. Asa says, "It just made so much sense. I was quickly sold on the philosophy." She enrolled in AANHCP (Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices) program where she not only graduated but was also a field instructor. While going through the program she was fortunate to have be able to spend three days with Pete Ramey. At that time students were able to mentor with Pete and she considers that opportunity a highlight in her career.

In 2005 she became a part of the EasyCare dealer network and remembers when the Boa Horse Boot was all the rage. These days the Easyboot Glove is her go-to boot for the healthiest of hooves and the toughest of riders. She chooses the Easyboot Glove Back Country for the horse that may be a bit harder to fit and yet is still able to meet the demands of a challenging trail. When it comes to rehab the Easyboot Trail is her favorite because the boot accommodates many padding scenarios and works well for light turnout and light riding. She also notes the Easyboot Trail is perfect for those clients who struggle with boot application due to physical limitations such as arthritic hands or bad backs.

What is her recipe for success? Two key elements, show up on time and be fully prepared for ANYTHING. Her approach is proactive rather than reactive. Asa is diligent in keeping up with the latest research and methodologies in hoof care which results in her services being in constant demand. She recalls when she first started natural hoof care it was easy to focus solely on the trim. Asa quickly realized much like layers of an onion, there is usually so much more to the picture - nutrition, the horse’s living conditions, and saddle fit also play a role. Asa stocks a range of EasyCare hoof boots, pads, accessories, thrush remedies and hay nets. "For me it's about doing a job well. Telling a customer, "I'm sorry, I'm not prepared and I don' have the right  tools" (i.e. hoof boots) is just not an option. Worse yet is to send them to figure it out on their own. What kind of service is that? Ultimately not being prepared costs you. It will cost you in time, money and customer satisfaction. It’s something I do my best to avoid. If I don't take my business seriously who will?"

Asa hits the Nevada trails every chance she gets on her horse Sirocco booted up in Gloves. She is a founding member of the Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners and a member of the American Hoof Association. She conducts booting clinics through PHCP helping to educate other hoof care professionals and the public. She is considered one the best in the business and readily sought after for mentorships.

               

Asa enjoys all aspects of her job but really enjoys transitioning horses out of horseshoes. "Every horse I take out of shoes show so much improvement, how can I not get excited?"