Light Globes and Bricks

Submitted by Susan Gill, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Revelations, epiphanies or just flashes of clarity - I often experience these moments while out riding - I'm relaxed, enjoying myself and my mind is free-wheeling in thought.  All of a sudden the light switches on and I realise that a problem I haven't been consciously thinking about is solved.

The other end of the spectrum involves moments I class as "bricks". The process also involves recognising a solution but only after my barriers of pre-conceived or rationalised ideas have been totally smashed and I surrender to the inevitable.

I had a successful weekend with my mare Joby despite catching a few bricks. With the first reports of the Glove Back Country boots, I was pretty excited with the  possiblity of using pads in a new version of my favourite Glove boots. Joby is pigeon-toed, paddles and is very good at flinging off or twisting her boots. She also seems to really feel the difference between hard and soft roads even in boots so it would be great to use hoof pads. After using Gloves for so long I have started struggling with just the thought of all that extra hardware and fiddle by substituting Epics - pathetic I know. And I haven't been keen on power straps to help tighten up the fit of the Gloves either - my attitude: a good fit is hard enough to get on without adding power straps to the mix.

So we start our 86km ride with Back Countrys and hoof pads on her front hooves and Gloves on her hinds. Luckily I was riding with two friends who also ride their horses in Gloves because I had a few hiccups that only special friends would understand. Within the first 10km both pads were out of the boots and in my stowaway - Joby hadn't lost either boot but they'd twisted badly. Without pads they stayed in position nicely for the remaining distance of the first 43km leg without apparent rubs so I decided to keep using them for the second leg as well.

Similar to the first leg, one of the Back Country boots twisted again - possibly that little amount of stretching from near-new to more used, made the difference. This time the wrong position caused a rub on the back of Joby's heel. If it had been a Glove I possibly would have lost the boot, maybe torn the gaitor in the process, but avoided the rub. I was ready to pull Joby out, not wanting to risk the rub getting worse.   My two riding buddies stepped in - Ms. Years of Experience plus Ms. Meticulous Preparation had Joby's heel taped over in duct tape for protection, then her whole hoof wrapped in adhesive tape for extra grip, and my spare Glove exchanged for the Back Country boot. Then we taped her second hoof for extra grip and reapplied the other Back Country boot 'cos I was only carrying one spare...  Neither boot moved further, we finished the ride and vetted through, and Joby's rubbed heel was no worse than the minor rub first noticed.

It was soon after my rescue by my riding buddies that I felt the bricks hit - ouch! I'd wanted the easy option instead of trying a bit harder to get things right. I thought I was embracing new technology - I actually was looking for an easy fix. I thought I had a relaxed attitude - post-brick I realise it was just lazy wishful thinking.

My friend who is never sure whether the boots will stay on her horse, takes great care to prevent problems by wrapping the hooves with adhesive tape. She never loses a boot. Appearing to be worried and distrusting, she is actually extremely meticulous and conscientious in her preparations.

My other more experienced friend doesn't lose boots either, but from experience she does have a more relaxed attitude. She will wrap her horse's feet, uses power straps, uses other boots such as Epics or do whatever else is appropriate for the occasion. She hasn't just experienced the problems, she learns from them. What can be seen as lucky with boots, is the result of years of constructive use. While me at home, I've been too busy to think about what is going on, just wanting to use my time to ride, not to take the time to figure out how to get the best ride.

My quick-fix to a boot that wasn't fitting so well? Duct tape. I just hoped I didn't get seen by anyone while out riding: a safe bet at 5 AM when it's dark but not so good on a sunny afternoon - double ouch.

Power straps, mini Sikaflex pads left permanently in the boots, wrapping in tape when appropriate, and recognising the difference between covering my bets and crossing my fingers - I hope this time I use my bricks as constructive building blocks. That way I'll get some quality riding time done next time and maybe switch on a light globe or two.

I attached power straps last night supplied courtesy of Ms. Experience, and used them on Joby this morning.  That brick must have needed to be industrial size because I can't believe it was still easy to get the boot on, how effective they were, and how nice they looked - and I've been avoiding it ever since Joby arrived in my paddock.

Susan Gill

Good Reasons to Easyboot

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I always have people asking me "Why do you use boots and not shoe?"

Before EasyCare invented the Gloves I mostly booted over shoes for rock protection on rocky rides like XP and a few others. My shod horses were all successful. Tonka had 1,895 AERC miles plus ride and ties. Sunny completed 4,410 AERC miles, Speedy had 5,515 and Zapped+/ had 6,485 miles. All those miles included 100's and multi-days and no LD's. However if there were a few weeks inbetween rides we would pull shoes and trim to give the hoof a rest. After the last ride at Thanksgiving until the first ride in April, all of our horses were barefoot. We conditioned bare and the horses got shod just before the first ride of the season. That was always our standard procedure for the hooves and our horses were healthy and sound so we were pretty sure that we were doing something right. 
 
So if we had success why switch to all boots? I won't deny that saving money is not one of the reasons. After all, the boots last for several hundred miles and I do all my own trimming so I do save money. But it isn't the most important reason.
 

Barefoot tracks with the frog making ground contact, in a shod hoof track you only see the imprint of a shoe and no frog. 

I suppose the most important reason is hoof health. It really is hard to deny that a bare hoof, when properly cared for on a domestic horse, is a healthy hoof. Why? Because the hoof is allowed to contract and expand with each step. As the frog comes in contact with the ground it pumps blood through the hoof which increases circulation. The old adage of "out with the old and in with the new" applies to blood in the hoof and legs as well. Fresh blood helps keep the horse sound, warding off inflammation as well as possible navicular conditions, contracted heels and other lamenesses. Even when the hoof does sport a boot it is only for a few hours, and that hoof can still work with the boot on.

So besides saving money and improving my horse's well being what is left?
 
Enter the mighty "Thunder" into the picture. A veritable shoer's nightmare who at six weeks of age developed a badly turned out foot requiring continual trimming to get it corrected. It turned due to a mineral deficiency. Thunder also grows very fast so he simply continually needed trimmed. In four weeks he needed reshod as his hoof wall would quickly grow over the outside edge of the shoe (yes he was left with plenty of expansion) and he would get a bit unbalanced as the outside of the hoof grew faster than the inside. So it was easier to leave him bare as much as possible, maintain balance through trimming and ride in regular boots.
 
 
This picture is dated fall 2009 his first Gloves in back, Epics in front. You can see the rear Gloves are too big, part of the learning curve because at the time I thought they fit.
 
In 2007 I was introduced to Team Easyboot and a couple new boot designs entered the scene, the Bare and the Epic. Up until that time I had only used Original Easyboots so I could see some new promise of success. He didn't pull off the front Epics with the gaitor, that was an improvement over regular boots. Only he also over-reaches so the hardware clamp on the hinds would get a bit beat up and it wasn't the best option. The Easy Up clamp worked better for him but it was best for trail riding and not endurance. So I would have to shoe at the last minute and then pull shoes again between rides to maintain the hooves. The Bare was hard to get on so I wasn't crazy about it for Thunder. We kept fumbling along though in our practice of alternating shoes and barefoot with boots until the Gloves came along.
 
The Gloves were wonderful and Amanda Washington helped me secure the fit and gave me a few pointers. Now I believe we are into our third year of using Gloves. I love them and so do the horses and we have had very few problems with rubs or loss. Thunder is a bit hard on the gaiters, but believe me when I say Thunder is simply hard on everything. He has around 2,000 AERC miles in Gloves and Blue has around 700 AERC miles in Gloves.
 
 
Steve Bradley took this on Day Four of Owyhee Canyonlands as we waded through Sinker Creek Canyon with our Gloves.
 
But besides all of that, I really do like trimming the hooves and doing all this myself. It is more work but so satisfying. If their hoof is unbalanced or I fail I have no safety net - no one else to blame. But I learned to trim as a kid, was married to a farrier and I'm not saying I am an expert, but I know enough to get by. I love it when people ask me, "You horse's hooves look great, who is your trimmer?" And I get to say 'Me!"
 
So those are all my great reasons for booting and I have to say thanks EasyCare for great products and for Team Easyboot.
 
 
My grandaughter McKenzie and me with Scarlet and Thunder in their Gloves.

Karen Bumgarner

Converting Shod Gaited Horses to Barefoot with EasyCare

Submitted by Anna Pittman, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I learned to ride about six years ago. I started taking lessons on a Tennessee Walking Horse. I was 34 years old and clueless about horses. After about a year, I bought a show horse that was up for sale. I had been taking lessons on her for about three months, and I was hooked. She was a top five ribbon mare in the show ring competing in rail classes. She had Lite Shod shoes on, but they were heavy and overhung beyond her heel bulbs. I had problems with her over-striding and stepping on the fronts; this resulted in pulling them off or bending them. Eventually, I went to Keg Shoes. They were lighter, cheaper to replace, and I didn't have problems with them being stepped on while she was out in the field. I had begun to become concerned because, her hoof wall was starting to look rough and chipped with all the nail holes. I began to suspect that they were coming off more often now because of the weakened walls from repeated nailing.

Show shod.

At this time, I didn't know anyone who went barefoot. I was new to the horse world, and my friends and family were walking horse people. I was taught that horses had to have shoes for show success or for riding them any length of time outside their soft pasture.

After owning this horse for about a year and a half, I decided that I really enjoyed trail riding and so did my mare. I discovered competitive trail riding and NATRC (North American Trail Ride Conference) through a Google search. I was very intrigued and started learning all I could.

The first ride I attended was at Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina. I came as a volunteer to see what it was like and determine whether it was something I thought I could do by myself. I didn't know anyone who did it and couldn't get anyone interested. It rained hard and was cold on the Saturday leg of the ride, which consisted of the first 25 miles. I was a scribe for the veterinarian judge. We would camp out in the woods and on rocky outcroppings to view the horse/rider teams attempting certain obstacles or terrain challenges. The vet would tell me the scores to write down for the horse/rider teams as she evaluated them.

One of the terrain challenges was a hill that was one big rock surface. It was pouring rain and near freezing, and I noted that many horses were skating over the rock while climping the ascent. Some horses, however were scrambling up like mountain goats. I asked the vet why some horses were having a hard time and others were not. That's when I first heard about the possibility of horses going barefoot and/or riding in boots. I was amazed. She directed me to a rider that I could talk to later in the evening who used Easyboots. That was where it all started for me.

I went home and did tons of research online, inluding on the EasyCare site. I joined a chat group for competitive and endurance riders and asked tons of questions. Then I had the shoes pulled. I bought books and read about barefoot trimming. Then I found a barefoot trimmer online and had him come out. I had several friends and family memebers tell me that I would be messing up my talented walking horse and that she wouldn't "walk" the same or win anymore. I didn't care. I wanted a sound, natural horse, and I couldn't believe this horse who was bred to walk this way couldn't do it without shoes. I had seen colts do it in the field.

Barefoot and still gaiting.

Shortly after, my husband and I moved to another state with his job. I had to find a new trimmer. Fortunately, I found an awesome trimmer who also sold EasyCare products. I bought my first pair of Easyboot Gloves from him. I really wanted to start training for distance riding. We had moved from very sandy soil and flat terrain, to hard rocky soil in a mountainous terrain. My mare had only been barefoot a few months, so I needed the boots to help her transition to barefoot in this new terrain. I got four boots. I mostly used just the fronts for trail and training rides. Occasionally, the terrain called for rear boots too. She remained barefoot in the field, and I would walk her up and down the driveway with pea gravel at the beginning of my training  sessions barefoot, then put on the boots for the ride. Within a year, I had a wonderfully healthy, barefoot TWH, that could trail ride barefoot or with front boots in most places. I always packed all four boots in my Stowaway Packs, in case I needed them, or in case one of my shod riding buddies lost a shoe.

A happy barefoot horse.

My next step was to compete in a competitive trail ride. I went back to Uwharrie National Forest where I had previously volunteered. I began by competing in a one day ride. The terrain there is pretty rough, and shoes all around are recommended by the ride staff. At this time, NATRC did not allow anything above the coronary band for competition; so no gaiters. I had heard about some people gluing, but it was fairly new. I had no idea how to do it, and have the glued on shells stay put. After some research and consulting with my trimmer/ EasyCare dealer, I decided to put Sole Guard on all four hooves. We applied this on two nights before my competition. I had to leave the following morning to arrive at the competition for check in and vetting. I vetted my horse in on Friday afternoon wearing Sole Guard. My vet judge had to ask what it was. The following morning, I went on my first CTR for a one day ride consisting of 20 miles. When I made it back to camp, we had Sole Guard still in both front feet, but none left in the rear. I remind you that this is some tough terrain, and I too had to scurry up that hill that was one big sheet of rock. No slipping occured, and she amazed me how easily she took that hill. Upon my vet check after the ride, I had no downgraded scores for lameness or any marks on her heel bulbs or coronary band. I was thrilled when we one Second Place in Horsemanship in our Novice Division, as well as First Place in Horse Condition.

First NATRC ride in March 2008 using Sole Guard.

Since then, my mare and I competed in a fun show while barefoot. We still ribbonned. I have learned a lot more about horses and my riding abilities have improved over the years. I changed horses about 18 months ago. He too, was a shod TWH. My husband and I had had just moved back to our home state. I was on the hunt again for a skilled trimmer. Luckily, after some research and phone interviews, I found Rebecca Wyatt, PBHT II of Nature's Path Hoof Care. She also is an EasyCare dealer and is very knowledgable. With her guidance and skills, I  have converted my 12 year old gelding to barefoot. My previous mare's boots didn't fit him. I decided to try the Easyboot Edges first, but ended up going back to the trusty Easyboot Gloves. I'll save the experiences of my current mount and me for another blog.

Until next time, thanks to EasyCare and all the innovators in hoof trimming. Don't let anyone tell you that it can't be done.

 

Anna Pittman in North Carolina

Boomer Chooses Easyboot Epics

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Boomer belongs to a friend of mine. She spent four months in the fall of 2010 at my house, terrorizing my herd; or perhaps my herd was terrorizing her.

At that time Boomer was a barely handled fat two-year old who had been living with some eldery horses who had allowed her to run the show. At the time Boomer came into Vicki's life, she desperately needed to learn manners and the proper way to interact with both horses and humans.

In the past year and a half, Boomer has blossomed into a well behaved, good looking four year-old ready to start her career. Vicki trims her own horses and has kept Boomer barefoot since they've been together.

Up until this point Boomer has had a pretty cushy life; playing around with ground work and learning to behave under saddle. But the time has come for the real work to begin. She may not know it yet but Boomer is Vicki's new Competitive Trail Horse.

Therefore, it is time to get Boomer her first pair of Easyboots. Vicki prefers the Easyboot Epics for their ease of use, flexibility in fit throughout the trim cycle, and their miles and miles of reliability.

Lucky for Vicki, I own too many horses and not one of them has the same size of foot, so I have a variety of sized boots hanging around; the next best thing to having my own Fit Kit.

Boomer measured out to be a Size 1 Easyboot Epics in the front and a Size 0 in the back. Once we had the Size 0 on the back it was evident they were still a bit too big. We didn't have a smaller size to try on her backs so in the end she only got booted in the front and Boomer seemed quite pleased with herself.

She moved out freely and really stretched her legs. I think these boots were made for this horse. She was instantly comfortable in them and put up no fuss at all. It as if she'd been wearing them her whole life.


Boomer is now all set to go so be sure to watch for these ladies out on Alberta's Competitive Trail circuit this summer. These boots are going to see some hard miles.

Stacey Maloney

Chevy's New Tires - Part 2

Submitted by Natalie Herman, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

In Part One of this blog post, I introduced you to a sweet Belgian mare with hoof problems as big as her. Megan Hensley of Holistic Hooves and I, are working together to hopefully help her grow some new hooves on Sparrow's Cheval, aka Chevy. Here is the continuation, her trim, and her journey to Megan's place, where she will be rehabbed.

Megan, on the right, and me, discussing what we should do. Pictures by Shannon Grinsell

 

Looking at the separated lamellar wedge and figuring how far back we can go on this trim. Megan starts to tackle the first hoof. Lots to cut through and a bit of work.

Rasping off the worst of the sharp edges and then taking some more from the outside. There is actually a normal hoof shape under all this I think. It will take managing the hoof until the new one grows back out.

More rasping, and then from the top. She was not wanting to stand it on a stand, so we did it on the ground. Meanwhile, I check the other hoof and see what we have there.

Good enough for today. Poor hoof is still pretty misshapen, but the worst of the wedge is off. We wanted to leave some, as she has no other protection for her hoof and her heel is more under her.

Next, we made some padded boots for her. We didn't have any draft sized Easyboots in stock, and it turns out, that even the largest Easyboot, Epic or Boa are still too small for her deformed foot, let alone an RX boot. We used Gorilla tape, an Easycare Comfort Pad (even the largest one of that barely fit), and vet wrap. This lasted a few days, but then was sucked off in the mud. We cut a sole relief area into her pad, as the dropped soles didn't like the pressure of the pad, or just standing on the foot without any relief.

The finished hoof and pad, and the pad fit. We missed getting a picture of the sole relief. But basically we cut a semi-circular shape, that had its arc near the tip of the frog, and went just forward of where the thumb on the right of the right side picture is, on both sides.We walked her both without and with the relief, and she walked out much better with the support.

Next a layer of vet wrap all around, to secure the pad and protect the hair from the tape. here we still had the full pad, then after walking we tried the sole-relief.

Chevy is walking alright on the padded hoof. Looking good, so now on to the other hoof, then we finish the 'boots' for her.

This hoof actually looks normal, just needs to be trimmed up.

I tackle this hoof while Megan holds the leg. We find that having two people, one leg holder, one trimmer, and switching off as needed, sure makes it a lot easier to work on draft horses. This is particularly true if they are unable to hold their leg up due to pain issues like Chevy, or unwilling or untrained to stand and leave hooves in a cradle or stand.

 I start my boot with a 'pad' of double layer tape, that will go on the bottom of the hoof and up the sides a little. Then I tape down strips on the wall, all around the hoof.

Then I wrap a continuous strip around the hoof from the bottom edge up to the top. This is a fairly effective boot and will hold a few days in wet weather, or a week or more in dry weather. You can always make a thicker bottom pad if it wears down. A nice, 'custom' boot. But the problem? It takes a bunch of vetwrap and tape and thus, money when changing this every few days or once a week for months of rehab you soon far exceed the cost of hoofboots). It is also not breathable, so you get thrush, seedy toes, and other issues, which are already a problem with these compromised feet. If you are working on an animal that is not very sore, and is very exuberant, the boots will wear through and fall off fast. But as an emergency measure, this is a tried and true method for abscesses, laminitis, navicular, or anything else you would have used a boot and padding system for in pasture.

Chevy is still not super happy (will be many months before that foot is better), but she is landing heel first and can walk! So we are pleased.

Chevy and her Hensley and Herman Draft Services Team. Megan leads her down the drive and to the trailer. Her next adventure awaits at Megan's equine rehabilitation ranch.

Will I fit? Yes. Most every horse does. I simply adore my Brenderup (center divider removed for her sake, usually it hauls two). I often wonder why here in the US we don't build light trailers like in Europe. With fuel prices skyrocketing, these little trailers can be pulled by a smaller pickup, an SUV, or a larger sedan even. The fit in even the smallest forest service camp grounds and are easy to maintain, since they are made of synthetic materials. This trailer is a 1980's model and is still going strong, even in wet and salty coastal conditions.

Fun! Usually all you can see is the tips of my horse's ears (14-14'2 size). Chevy looks like a normal sized horse in here, LOL. She rode fairly well and then walked out of the trailer quietly as well.

Is this my new home? She seems to ask... And there seems to be a lot of hope, for a great future, in her eyes. We'll try and get you there, Chevy! :)

Chevy's new herd...a couple of horses, a few donkeys, and a mini burro. All are happy to meet their new pasture mate :)

 

An introduction over the fence. And she is in the herd with no problems.

 

She is moving around the pasture just fine in her boots. Here is hoping for a successful healing.

This was a print one of her back hooves left in the driveway. One day, all of her feet will leave healthy looking prints like this.

The Easyboot Glove 101

Submitted by Carol Warren, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I'm sharing a few things I have learned over the last few years using protective hoof boots. Newt, my horse, and I have tried many different boots. We have found it depends on the type of riding we have planned as to which boot I choose. 

We live in a relatively flat, sandy area so most of our riding around home does not require boots. When we go camping or to competitive trail rides we need some kind of hoof protection. I absolutely love using Easyboot Gloves. The Gloves have such a low profile that he rarely gets his feet tangled up with the boots. The Gloves have superb traction and most of our competitive trail rides are in the Hill Country of Texas where there are lots of exposed caliche rock. He never slips on those bald rock surfaces with his Gloves on. It scares me when I hear those horses with metal shoes slipping and scrambling on that rock. In fact, that is why so many of my friends have switched to barefoot so they can wear the boots and feel safe and secure on the rocks. 

The rocks and hills we typically ride in. Newt and me at the Pipe Creek Christmas ride. Photo by Mark Limsky

When I first arrive at camp, I put on a set of Easyboot Trails just for a easy ride around camp to allow Newt to stretch, move about after the long trailer ride, and relax. I do not like these boots for competition as they have a larger profile and seem like Newt is wearing house-slippers for a track meet. I have friends who do compete in short (6-10 mile) rides in these type of boots and their horses seem plenty comfortable.

When you convert to barefoot, be prepared for your horses' hooves to change shape. Sometimes the boot you bought a year ago no longer fits. I think a boot like the Easyboot Trail or maybe the Easyboot Glove Back Country might a good first boot. It is easy to apply and allows some room for hoof shape changes. I think pads could also help. 

Always take some time to allow your horse get used to the boots. Just walk him around for 5-10 minutes the first time to let him get used to the feel of them. Allow their pasterns and heels some time to toughen up so you don't get rubs on your first long ride. You might even like to use the gaiters to help protect their skin at first. It may take some horses several weeks of increasing boot wear time to get them used to the balance of the new boot. Practice your turns, side passes, and gaits so your horse learns how to get his feet around that new bulk you added to his foot.

Get the Fit Kit if you are getting the Gloves or the Back Country boots. I don't care how well you measure, the fit of the boots always seems a little different to me. Well worth the $8.50.

The hoof should be as clean as possible before putting on the boots. Drying the hoof wall will help the boot slide on easier. I always carry a couple of old towels to dry the hoof if it's wet or muddy. If conditions are really muddy, having the horse stand on a clean mat or tarp will help keep the hooves clean as you you prepare them for booting.  

Cleaning the foot.  Notice the boot with the gaiter folded down, ready to apply.

Cleaning the hoof. Notice the Glove with the gaiter rolled down, ready for application. Photo by Mark Limsky

I use a little baby powder in our Gloves to help them slide on a little easier.  I used to let Newt put his toe down to help seat the boot, but using a few taps from the rubber mallet definitely works better for us. If the boots are cold, they get stiff and hard to apply. Warm them by putting them in front of the heater for a few minutes. 

Always clean and dry the boots before you re-use them. Dirty boots boots and gaiters are unhealthy and can cause lots of irritation. I do not add soap or disinfectant. I just soak the boots in water and scrub them with the brush end of the hoof pick. Be sure to get the mud out of the screw heads so you can check if they are still tight before the next use. I dry the boots in the sun. It is surprising how fast they dry. Having a second set of boots is great because you can alternate days you use them, allowing them plenty of time to dry and air out between use.

Using my favorite hoof pick with brush to clean the boot. Get all of the dirt out of the screw head. Once it dries, it is very difficult to get out.

When ordering replacement gaiters for the Glove, it is easier to put the new gaiter on the old boot if it is 1/2 size larger than the boot size. I have not had any problems with that arrangement. I think the boot stretches and it is difficult to get the same sized gaiter on. The smaller gaiter seems to form a wrinkle on the sides of the old hoof boot. Or maybe the boot size is wrong for my horse. I am trying the Glove Wides next time. 

Save your old screws and washers when you change out your gaiters. They make great spares in case of an emergency repair.  I have also noticed that sometimes the screws are slightly different lengths. If the new screw is too long, you can replace it with the old screw.

This may be old news, but I learned it the hard way.

Carol Warren of Goliad, Texas

Washoe Valley Ride (in which we learn what we can get away with, and what we can't...)

To say the weekend didn't quite go as expected would be an understatement. 

 
Problems
 
Patrick called me as I was leaving work at 8 pm on Thursday evening to tell me that Hopi had a poked eye and it was swollen shut.
 
As part of Hopi's continuing education, he was to join us on our trip to the two-day Washoe Valley endurance ride as a spectator - to get some ridecamp experience and to be exposed to ridecamp stuff - horses, people and dogs going past at all hours of the day and night; RVs, trucks, trailers, ATVs passing; perhaps a fake vet check if the vets were amendable; and, most importantly for him, food appearing in front of him at regular intervals - no need to share - just stand and eat all day long. Hopi thinks ridecamps are "A Good Thing".
 
By the time I got home and inspected his eye, it didn't look too bad - he was able to open it and wasn't unduly reactive to us prodding at it, so it was decided we would continue as planned since if he needed veterinary help we were going somewhere where there would be vets, and if he needed regular administering to, we'd be on hand to be his personal slave for most of the weekend.
 
As it turned out, by the following morning the eye was looking much better, the swelling was down, the watering had stopped, and although you could see a poke and a scrape on his eyeball, he seemed quite happy. Go figure.
 
Problem #2 occurred about three minutes before loading up on Friday, late morning - Fergus, tied to a post while Patrick went to collect the next horse, managed to get tangled in his lead rope, resulting in him jammed upsidedown against the post, legs flailing. 1100 lb horses should not get into those positions. The result was a cut on one heel and two rope burns on the other pastern, and goodness knows what in terms of tweakedness from pretzelling himself. We trotted him and he seemed sound, applied desitin to his owies, and decided to load him up anyway and see how he was by the time we reached the ride (3.5 hours drive away).
 

The gang, ready to take on Washoe Valley - L to R: Fergus, Patrick, Hopi, and Small Thing
 
Problem Solving
 
As it turned out, Fergus passed the vet check with no problems. And Small Thing didn't disgrace himself on his debut appearance in front of the vets. Both were checked in for the 25-mile ride the following day and we retired to the trailer to figure out what we were going to do for footwear.
 
Originally, I'd intended for Fergus to just wear Gloves, but clearly with his owies that wasn't going to work - the gaiters would be putting pressure in exactly the wrong places, so instead I opted to glue boots on his back feet and, as luck would have it I had a size 2 and a 1.5 Glue-on left over from glueing Uno at 20 Mule Team 15 months earlier. I also had some adhere glue from the same time period and although it had been stored in the cool basement, I was sure that at some point I'd left my booting box sitting out in the sun, so didn't know how effective it would still be. For his front feet, he'd wear Gloves, but I'd put Goober Glue (now Sikaflex) in the bottom of all four boots for extra sole protection from the NV rocks.
 
Let it be said here and now that I *hate* glueing boots. I have no idea why, but the whole situation fills me with angst and I usually end up suffering from glueing-induced tourettes. This glueing session was no exception.
 
To start with, it is recommended that you glue on a clean, even surface. That way you can clean the feet and casually put them down while you're relaxedly applying glue to the shells. In my case, Fergus was standing in 2" of fluffy NV dust with bits of freshed-chipped sagebrush mixed in. 
 
Secondly, my glue-gun which works fine when no tube is inserted, seizes up as soon as I put the tube in and start to pump - the handle doesn't spring back making it almost impossible to get any glue out (I suspect, in retrospect, that the plungers are gummed up and catching on the inside of the glue tube and it just needs a good cleaning). 
 
Thirdly, the temperature was dropping quickly in the high desert and it was probably below 40 degrees when I started to glue. I've never glued in anything but warm weather, so wasn't expecting the glue to take as long as it did to set up - resulting in mild panic that the glue had gone bad and I'd just ruined the only Glue-ons that I had with me. 
 
Fourthly, it is helpful to have good lighting so you can see what you're doing. Glueing during oncoming nightfall with no headlamp doesn't help.
 
And finally, despite having asked for advice, I, of course didn't take it. Which meant that I put the sole-packing glue in the boot rather than spatula-ing directly onto the foot - resulting in a less even layer to protect the sole, and also resulting in excess glue oozing out the back of the boot. And despite being told that I should coat any hairy areas with petroleum jelly to prevent any unwanted adhesion, I of course didn't do so. I did remember to ask Patrick to walk Fergus around once I'd finished applying the boots, to make sure that all the glue in the sole would squish nicely to the right places around the grooves of his feet. But I didn't remember to check for excess oozing glue.
 
At 3 am I remembered - but by then it was too late. And when I checked first thing in the morning - yup - I'd managed to glue the gaiter to the back of his foot. <sigh>  The only thing I could do at that point was very, very carefully snip the glued part of the gaiter away from the outer part of the gaiter with my scissors, so although it would remain firmly attached to his foot, it wouldn't be pulling on it all day. 
 
Fergus' fur-lined boot after removal. You can see where I had to cut the gaiter apart to prevent it yanking on the back of his foot all weekend.
 
I figured, what the heck, given his hog-tying antics he'd probably come up sore within the first ten miles anyway, so at that point I was fairly fatalistic about Fergus' likelihood of achieving anything much that weekend.
 
Bundled in their blankies, we make a last lap of camp before bedtime
 
 
Because of all the gluing activities, by the time I turned my attention to Small Thing's footwear I was uptight, frazzled, and badly in need of supper. It was 10 pm and the temperatures were dropping towards freezing. But knowing what a fidget-pants the pony can be, despite not having to start the 25-miler until 8 am, I didn't want to wait until the morning to try and put his boots on and result in us "Having Words" - and me starting the day in a hassled state. His boots would be applied that evening so everything would be nice and calm and relaxed in the morning for his debut ride.
 
To ensure no boot losses would be had, that morning, Patrick had very carefully applied brand new powerstraps to each of Small Thing's brand new Gloves. The result, in the dropping temperature, was a set of boots that was impossible to actually get on his feet. If I'd been on my own I probably would have just given up and stuck his old boots on and called it good. But Patrick came up with the bright idea of setting the new boots in front of the heater in the trailer to soften them up. I took each one out in turn, together with my rubber mallet, and whapped them firmly onto his feet. It worked perfectly. Four smartly yellow-powerstrapped Gloves decorating his dainty feet.
 
I went in and had supper - it was 10:30 pm.
 
Ride Morning - Saturday
 
Because of the aforementioned worry over having glued Fergus' foot to the gaiter, I was up at 6 am and went to watch the start of the 50-mile ride. There was ice on the buckets but it was a lovely clear morning.
 
Everything went very smoothly during pre-ride preparation, if you ignore the part where Small Thing swung around to look at something just as I was trying to do up the velcro on his brushing-booties and promptly knocked me on my butt and stood firmly on my foot as I was sprawled backwards.
 
Words were had and he minded his manners better after that. I thanked my forethought at having put on his Gloves the previous evening. Patrick wasn't quite ready to go when we were, so I opted to make a lap of camp to warm the pony up and see how his small brain was dealing with the situation. I'm happy to report that it was a non-event. He was a bit concerned that we'd left Fergus back at the trailer but was otherwise calm and acting like an adult. Score 1 for Small Thing.
 
 
Approaching the start line - couldn't have asked for better behaviour
Photo: Gina Hall
 
 
 
The head-height difference really illustrates the mismatch. Photo: Gina Hall
 
Off we went, and about 100 yrds after the start line, Small Thing picked up his usual jog-to-keep-up-with-Fergus-who's-walking - and he was dead lame. Not "slightly funky feeling, maybe he'll warm out of it" lame, but "full blown, head-bobbing, even a non-horse person would spot something was amiss" lame.
 
Rude words were said. 
 
I hopped off and took off his front boot in case by some fluke some rock had climbed in there during the night, but no... he was dead lame barefoot too.
 
And as quickly as it started, Small Thing's debut had once again come to an end. 
 
Patrick, bless him, very kindly offered to let me ride Fergus instead (would have necessitated a trip to the ride office to switch our entries), but at that point I'd had enough. I sent him on his way, fully expecting him to end up in the same boat as I was, with a sore Fergus from the previous day's tangle.
 
Small Thing and I trudged back to the start and vet Karen Hassan took a look at him before we returned to the trailer (Hopi was happy to see us). The pony wasn't reactive to hoof-testers, and Karen complimented him on his flexion (not for nothing is he sometimes known as "Gumby"), but the only thing she could find was slight soreness to his heel.
 
As best I can figure out, putting a warmed set of brand new boots, with brand new powerstraps, onto his feet and then leaving them on overnight while he stood quietly tied to the trailer in freezing temperatures caused them to effectively shrink wrap onto his feet and cause enough pressure to bruise him. 
 
Erg. It's not like he's a delicate flower, so how frustrating can you get? If only I'd just put on his old, stretched boots. If only I'd been manly enough to put the boots on first thing in the morning. If only we'd just opted for plain boots instead of powerstrapped boots, all might have been well. Erg.
 
* * *
 
Approximately 3.5 hours later, Patrick and Fergus were spotted far out in the sagebrush travelling lickety split, coming in from the first 20 mile loop. Huh? What happened to the horse that ought to be sore? the one with the rope burns and the cuts? Yup - he was the sound one, coming into camp at a dull roar with a beaming Patrick on top, telling me he was having his best ride ever. 
 
Patrick and his Golden Boy. Photo Gore/Baylor
 
 
Fergus diving into his lunch at the hour hold at 20 miles
 
Patrick and Fergus completed the last five miles in the same style and both looked like they'd had a lot of fun that day - which was wonderful. The back glue-ons were still firmly attached to his feet, and the glued-to-his foot gaiter didn't seem to be giving him any trouble. Neither the rope burns nor the cut were causing any pain.
 
Sunday's Ride
 
Not least was it even more wonderful because I was due to take Fergus out the following day and ride the 50-miler. We would take it slow and aim just to get around.  Although, it turned out, Fergus had other ideas. 
 
Photo: Bill Gore
 
We had a marvellously relaxing first ten miles or so, riding alone in the cool morning air as we climbed to the top of the 7000' mountain. Against my better judgement, I slithered off (the ground is much further away than I'm used to) to hike the long downhill, but gladly found a large rock to get back on again at the bottom. 
 
At the top of the big climb - looking down on the big descent
 
After the hill, Fergus decided it was time we stretched out a little and demonstrated his finest long-trot. It's not that he has a super-fast tempo, or that he has foot-flipping extension when he does it, it's more that he's just a big boy so his "easy trot" covers ground in a way that months of riding the short-pony-trot causes me to be in awe of. So this is how the other half lives? 
 
The concept of passing people at rides is not alien to me. But the concept of passing them and them staying passed - and not being seen again - is quite unknown. I could get used to this. 
 
Nice heel-first landing... Photo: Bill Gore
 
Later in the afternoon we trudged up the second long climb of the day and he wasn't quite so eager, but none of his reticence seemed to have anything to do with soreness - more to do with the fact that it was afternoon-nap time.
 
 
We came from all the way down there...
 
Approaching lake-level again he cheered up considerably and on the final few miles in Washoe State Park I had to specifically ask him to keep it down for fear of him injuring himself in the final mile or so. 
 
Looking down on ridecamp at Washoe Lake level
 
So the weekend turned out to be a success. Fergus handily rolled out 75 miles of training, despite being the horse who should have been lame. I got some unwanted glueing practice in. Patrick had his best ride yet. Hopi got tons of camp exposure and didn't lose an eye. Small Thing showed that he can act like a grown up and will cope very well with a ride start - assuming, of course, we ever actually start a ride properly. So far we're 0 for 3.
 
And I learned some valuable lessons about cramming boots onto feet. If the boots are that tight, Powerstraps are not needed until new boots have been used a few times. Don't just put them on "because".
 

--
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California

There Is An Easier Way – Some Thoughts On Grinder Trimming

By: Lisa Morris, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

 
I am a Barefoot Hoofcare Practitioner in the San Antonio Hill Country area of Texas. In my spare time, I am pulled in many directions. I have a busy family with three lovely kids. We live and work a ranch that has been in my husband’s family since 1867. I am active with my children's school. My time is precious and in short supply.
 
Mary Alice and Buddy
 
My daughter Mary Alice has inherited the horse crazy gene.
 
I enjoy recreational trail riding and I have begun training my naturally gaited, barefoot, Tennessee walking horse, Gator for ACTHA Competitive Trail Challenges. He is my steady riding companion who had a previous life as a Field Trial horse in Mississippi. Gator graciously agreed to model grinder trimming for this blog.  
 
 
Gator rocks his Easyboot Epic hoof boots with 12 mm medium comfort pads. Rack on.
 
I board a few horses, include the occasional soundness rehab project. So, in addition to trimming 15-20 outside horses on average per week, I maintain the horses at home. Last summer was brutal; the temperatures in Texas during the drought were record-setting. I was in survival mode to try to get everything done without getting heat stroke. To add injury to insult, the hooves were rock hard from several months of drought. I got serious about using an angle grinder to trim horses. The result is that my own personal horses, and the client horses that I have introduced to the grinder are fine with the process. Grinder trimming is very fast and effective. It’s easier on me physically than wielding traditional tools. A nice quality, new rasp and sharp GE nippers are hard to beat, but it is nice to have alternatives. Even when I lug my traditional tools around to work at the local barns on customer horses, I enjoy the change of using a grinder to trim our own horses.  
 
 
Gator has his tail tied in a knot and secured with a hair band for grinder trimming.
 
Here are some observations that may be helpful if you have considered stepping away from your rasp.
 
1. Consider the temperament and training of the horse.
If your horse is well trained and desensitized to body clippers, more than likely it would accept the noise of the grinder without any due regard. If the horses panics with clippers touch him, don’t even think about using a grinder until that is resolved. Even if your horse is a sleeper, introduce it to the grinder in a very logical approach and retreat manner; train it to accept the machine. I find that it is easier for the horse to accept the noise if it is constantly running, rather than off and on. Keep it running steady when possible. Start by having a helper hold your horse and touch your horse with your right hand, with your left hand holding the running angle grinder. Touch him in the safe zone of his shoulder and wither area. Your horse will feel the vibration of the machine in your free hand. When he relaxes, and accepts the grinder, back away and turn off the machine as a reward. Rinse and Repeat, both sides of the horse until it could care less. Don’t force the issue, look for acceptance and retreat. This is a nice situation to give your friend a cookie as a reward for accepting the noisy machine.  
 
Start the trimming process with the back hooves. As odd as it sounds, the horse accepts it more readily. I think the air from the grinder blowing on the belly is harder to accept for most horses. Some people also desensitize their horses with a blow dryer before they trim with the grinder. I usually start by trimming from the top, keeping the bevel low on the hoof wall. I then put the hoof in the hoof stand cradle and balance the bottom of the hoof. If the hoof is rather long, I usually just use my nippers and give a rough trim first.  
 
 
Working on the bottom of the hoof, trim in progress. HIs hooves were overdue.
 
2.  Consider your own training and expertise.
Are you already experienced with trimming horses with conventional tools? Can you map out the strengths and weaknesses of the horses hooves and objectively balance them correctly? If you are a beginner trimmer, it is best to continue practicing with quality conventional tools. If you are frustrated with your tools, perhaps it is because they are cheap and ineffective. Invest in quality tools. The angle grinder is a great tool, but it is easy to over due things quickly. If you are not experienced at handling horses in spooky situations, I would skip the grinder. You and/or your horse could get hurt.
 
 
Angle Grinder with trigger switch, hair bands, safety glasses, 60 grit flap disks.
 
3.  Invest and use the right equipment.
Even if you are just experimenting with grinder trimming it is best to have the correct things you will need. The lighter the grinder is to hold, the better off you will be. Compare the weights and hold them when shopping for a grinder. I like an angle grinder with a paddle switch or a trigger. A grinder that has a constant on/off switch only is much more dangerous when things go wrong. With horses, things will eventually go wrong. If you are working anywhere around water, like a wash rack, use an extension cord with a circuit breaker GFI plug. Cordless angle grinders are great, but much heavier due to the battery packs.  
 
I use 60 grit flap disks and I only trim a couple of horses before replacing the disk. They get dull rather quickly. I am also one who is quick to change out a rasp if they are somewhat dull. Use a quality hoof stand with a cradle; do not use a tripod type stand. Do not attempt to hold the horses’ hooves in between your legs or in the traditional farrier stance. If the horse spooks you do not want him tangled in your legs, extension cord.  
 
TFTT
 
Keeping the bevel low on the hoof wall. I can release the trigger in the event of a spook and my grinder stops.
 
4.  Obtain and use safety equipment.
The trimmer should use gloves, I like the latex gardening gloves, ear protection and eye protection. I have longish hair, and I always wear it pulled back and in a hat. You do npy want your hair or your horse’s tail wrapped in a grinder. Don’t wear loose or flapping clothing.
 
Tie up your horse’s tail in a knot and secure it with bands. Have a horse savvy helper hold your horse. If you must tie him, only use a quick release ring like the famous clinicians promote. Make sure the area you are working in is safe and free from anything that could injure your horse if it decides to spook or otherwise have a tantrum. Have your horse treated with fly spray so it isn't stomping flies.
 
Tied Blocker Ring
 
Gator with a safety tie ring and tools, we are ready to trim.
 
Be conservative when trimming. Always stop before you think you need to and check your work from different angles. Give your horse mental breaks when he needs it. Summer is coming and I will probably start using my grinder a bit more again. I am glad I have an easier way for trimming when needed.
 
Have you tried using a grinder to trim your horse? What was your experience? Do you have any tips that I missed here? What equipment works for you?
 
Lisa Morris

Barebooted: My World of Trimming and Booting

Submitted by Tanja Benz, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

As I first started to think about how a blog could look like, I felt a bit overstrained. Then I thought, hey OK, normally everybody who reads this blogs is also interested in hoofs and hoofboots, so why not tell my story how I got into trimming and booting.

3 different horses with 3 different boots, but all walked awesome on our 6 hour ride

Since I was a small child, I was fascinated by horses, but never had the possibility to have an own one. I have to admit that the interest in horses during the time of adolescence was not this big as there seemed to be more important things for me. But I turned the other way around when I became an adult. After finishing my education as a forwarding agent, I had the spontaneous idea to leave Germany and travel to beautiful New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud. I didn’t really have a fixed goal where I wanted to head to. This turned out to be a good decision later on, as I ended up at Kate’s Riding Center in Kerikeri, in the north of the north Island.

The German Native Forest ;o)

Until that day I had nothing to do with hooves at all. Like many people, I thought a hoof needed to be shod, no matter what. But the people at KRC taught me the opposite. All horses were barefoot and they moved without any problems. I got a Shettland Pony there, trying my first trim. It took me ages and loads of sweat, but in the end it was a good trim for the first time.

So I started to become more interested in the whole stuff and it fascinated me to see how fast the horses turned sound again after a hoof abscess or hoof injury and only because they had to move every day and lived in huge paddocks all together, and were handled naturally at all. As these people said, “no improvement without movement," and today I know that’s true.

I still had not heard of hoof boots. After my return from New Zealand I decided to start a hoof trimming education and at the same time I bought my first pony. I soon rented a little Western stable and decided to leave all the horses barefoot which worked out perfect. When we went outside for a ride, the horses preferred to walk on the grass on the side of the road to avoid stony ground. I never really minded it but have to say now that it’s much more fun for horse and rider having hoof boots as your horse doesn’t have to go off the road.

By accident I saw an advertisement on the internet “How to become a hoofbootcoach”. I looked up more pictures and information about Easycare and hoofboots and decided to absorb this additional education, also with the thought of offering my customers a wider range of service and an alternative of shoeing. I need to say, that in my region in the deep south of Germany we haven’t much distance rides like in the US, and boots are not widely seen around here. We have a lot of show jumpers and dressage and these people believe in irons. If you mention hoof boots they tell you that they already tried some but they came off, that they’re difficult to put on and off and too expensive anyway. And often those guys only bought a boot without knowing much about and obviously most times the wrong boot for the horse.

The first may ride, 6 hours ride, which was really awesome !

When I meet these people now, I try to keep the boot conversation vivid and ask them which boot did you try, do you think it was the right boot, as it came off? I tell the people if the boot comes off too easily it’s not the right boot for this horse. Right now with so much knowledge of boots and fitting, for me it became kind of mission to show people the advantages of boots which can be:

- no irons anymore

- saving money with no irons

- keep your horse more natural and healthy

- only use the boots if you need them

Last October I gave a lecture on the entire Easycare boot line and people became bit more open minded about it. So a few days later the first one called me for a fitting. I started ordering more different sized samples of the different boots, as I couldn’t afford to buy a pair of every single boot and size, II bought only one of each. But it doesn’t bother me at all by fitting, as for me it turned out wise to put two different boots onto the hooves so you can see quite fast which one has a better fit or the horse likes more.

I rode the my Pony with the Easyboot Glove Back Country and it’s amazing where you can ride in these boots. Thanks to Easycare for this new invention. I really can say that their inventions only got better and better, I really like the Glove, but since the Back Country is on the market it’s the better one for me and the bestseller to my customers. I sold two pairs to a customer not long ago and we really underwent it a hard test. But maybe I can write another blog about this later on.

Suffice to say that I’m really glad having choosen this road. It changed my mind about hooves and horses and my goal is to meet more people who are open minded enough to give it a try and getting a happier horse. Because I gave it a try and it turned into passion and lifestyle for me and I really won’t miss it.

Tanja Benz, Germany

May 2012: Hoof Boot Inventions, A Skeptic's Review of the Glove Back Country

This month, Garrett Ford pauses to reflect on hoof boot designs and evolution.

Roger Rittenhouse, a self-confessed boot skeptic, reviews the Glove Back Country.

Dawn Willoughby reports on a barefoot racehorse experiment, and our Dealer of the Month is Happy Feet Horse Care.

Dennis Summers has released a new e-book on training the endurance horse - it's worth the read.

Is it time for new stirrups? We've got a newsletter special for the month of May offering a 15% discount on all standard aluminum and nylon stirrups. Check out the special in the right sidebar.

Do you need support in making boot choices or troubleshooting? You can contact us at the EasyCare offices for free advice, no matter where you purchase your Easyboots.

Please keep in touch: our goal is to help you succeed with EasyCare products and your booting needs.

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