Epic Evolution (Brandy does Cooley Ranch 50)

Submitted by Renee Robinson, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Nothing ever goes as planned. You’d think I’d be used to this by now. My main man, Bite, was scheduled to do two days at Cooley Ranch on June 9th/10th. Unfortunately a couple of weeks prior to the ride he presented with puzzling symptoms which ended up being Scratches Gone Wild in his left front leg. He developed cellulitis in that leg and spent 10 days on antibiotics. His course of treatment was completed just days before Cooley Ranch but I didn’t feel comfortable asking his stressed system to tackle such a difficult ride.

Insert Backup Horse.

Brandy really doesn’t deserve to be called a backup horse, but lately that’s what she’s been. I felt she was fit, but wasn’t sure about asking her to do Cooley as her first ride of the season, given it’s degree of difficulty. But I tried to look on the bright side and was very excited to have an excuse to test out her new style Epics.

Improved tread, improved breakover, improved buckle system. Perfect.

At one point last year I made a wish that Easycare would make the perfect boot. For Brandy, this would be an Epic with it’s ability to accommodate a 12mm comfort pad, but with the more beefy tread of the Glove. Someone at Easycare was listening and this month they released that very boot. Not only do the boots have improved tread, they also offer better break over and an improved buckle system. Genius.

Cooley Ranch is known for it’s endless, steep climbs. We all know how steep climbs will test your boot fit. And if steep climbs aren’t enough of a test, adding multiple water crossings before each steep climb can provide an even better test. The footing offered a little bit of everything. Very little gravel roads, some creek beds with deep sand, and a ton of really beautiful dirt roads with loose rock here and there. I did quite a bit of footwork on the downhills (more like sliding downhill) and let’s just say Brandy’s Epics had much better traction than my running shoes.

One of the many endless hills. Photo by Katie Azevedo

We spent most of the day riding with my absolute most favorite friend in the world, Katie, and her beautiful mare, Nona. Nona wears Gloves and for this ride Katie chose to use Sikaflex and athletic tape for added security. Nona’s gloves performed beautifully and stayed on over the challenging terrain. Brandy also wore Gloves on her hind feet with the same tape/Sikaflex combination. As I was applying her rear boots on Friday I made a mental note that the LH could have used more athletic tape. As I predicted, we lost that boot about a mile from the finish on the last bit uphill (moral of the story: when you think you’ve used enough athletic tape, use more).

Brandy and me puffing our way to the top of a hill. It's steeper than it looks. Photo by Katie Azevedo

I was worried about Brandy’s Epics collecting the course sand/small rocks from the creeks. Many of the water crossings had areas of deep sandy footing with small rocks that swallowed the entire hoof. A couple of times I dismounted and removed small amounts of sand/rocks from the heel area of all four gaiters. At the 35 mile vet check, just to ease my paranoid mind, I removed Brandy’s Epics and was pleasantly surprised to find very little debris had accumulated. I love how easy the Epics are to adjust and remove/reapply. Have I mentioned how perfect these boots are?

Brandy has been known to have very sensitive feet but with the combination of the new Epics and her cushy Comfort Pads, she was solid all day. I love Easycare for continuing to make improvements to their already successful, proven boots. I can’t imagine how the Easycare product line could get any better but I’m thankful they continue to evolve to serve a wider range of horses with different needs! Brandy thanks you for making her the perfect boot!

Happy horse and happy rider at the end of a tough, successful 50 thanks to our new boots. Photo by Katie Azevedo

And thank you to Cynthia Ariosta and Forrest Tancer for hosting this beautiful ride. We felt privileged to ride through such beautiful country and we’ll definitely be back.

Renee Robinson

Sometimes It Just Works - and Other Understatements of the Season.

Submitted by Tami Rougeau, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

It's been two weeks since I was last in the lovely state of Idaho.  As I sit here at the Boise airport looking out over the mountains I can't believe it was just two weeks since the most amazing of rides.  Since I have not written much this year for various reasons this one might be a bit long.  I only hope I can do the ride justice.  The trail to Fandango was a long one.  This ride has held a prominent spot on my bucket list for the last several years.  Every year I would plan and then a deployment, hurt horse or EHV would come along and smash my well laid plans.  Perseverance paid off and boy was it worth it.

 

May and me showing off our hoof boots at 20 Mule Team.  Photo by Lucy Trumbull.

The story actually begins back in February at the 20 Mule Team 100.  Although I wrote a story about this adventure I never got around to posting it.  Suffice it to say it was a great 65 mile training ride and I learned a great deal.  The hole in my plan for the year became apparent and I knew I had to work on it.  What I really wanted was to get another 100 mile ride on May before August but with the schedule the way it laid out I was not sure how this was going to happen.  We went to the Nevada Derby ride and each of the mares got a lovely 50 mile ride.  Well, that might be a stretch as far as May goes anyway.  My day on her was anything but lovely as she pulled on me and acted snotty all day.  It was not fun and I was hurting at the end of the first day.  Fancy gave me a lovely day two and that sort of made up for it.  But there was an ever growing doubt about whether or not I had set a realistic goal for May this year.

 Lucy Trumbull and me at Nevada Derby.  Gloves all around!  Photo Bill Gore.

Fast forward to May (the month not the horse, although there is a bit of poetic reality in this comment) and we set off for a weekend of fun riding at Forest Hill and the Tevis Fun Ride.  Fun it was!  The week prior I decided to glue boots on May.  We had been fighting a strange case of scratches since three days after Derby (April 25).  We were three plus weeks into topical treatment and she was responding well but considering her history I was taking no chances.  The only problem with this plan was that Fandango was the following weekend and I really did not have time to remove the boots, clean them and reapply them before leaving for Idaho.  Having left boots on for a couple of weeks before I was not terribly worried but my good friends from Easycare reminded me that it really was not recommended.  Oh well, I am just about as stubborn as my mares so on went the boots.

May got a good trim on Monday, 14 May and I glued on her boots on Wednesday 16 May.  To say that the gluing was non standard would be another understatement.  We had the most bizarre weather that day.  I had pretty much decided to put off the gluing and come up with a different plan when the weather seemed to break up.  The wind died down a bit and the rain stopped so I went for it.  All my supplies were already layed out and prepped from the day before and May's feet were clean.  This would be my first experience with using Sikaflex (the new Goober Glue).  It is indeed exactly the same as GG.  I put the Sika in the boots first as it takes such a long time to set up and the Adhere is so fast.  The temps were cooler which was a good thing and I was able to get two boots on without changing tips on the Adhere.  I am not that fast, it just was not setting up quickly.  Before going to the back feet I let the front set up.  It seemed to take forever and it got really hot, way hotter than I have ever experienced but not so hot that it bothered May.  Then the temps leaped up by at least 10 degrees while I got the back ones on, waiting for the Adhere to set up again.  While I was waiting the weather shifted again.  Not exactly perfect gluing conditions.  The wind intermittently picked up and although I was sheltered at the side of the trailer small bits of sand did get on the glue.  To top it off, in my hurry I had not cross hatched the hooves.  By this time I am thinking that I have just wasted my time and products as there is no way these boots are going to stay on.  Oh well, too late to cry about it now, will just have to hope it works out and deal with what happens when it happens.  Did I mention that I was washing May's legs twice a day, treating scratches on one leg and praying that none popped up on the other three?  Good thing I had plenty of gloves I would probably need them, drat.

Tevis Fun Ride. No shortage of creek crossings to test my glue job. With Renee Robinson. Photo by Lucy Trumbull.

Friday morning came along and off May and I headed over to Forest Hill to the Fun Ride (understatement).  I met up with Lucy Trumbull and Renee Robinson.  After shuttling up to Devil's Thumb in the trailer we then proceeded to ride back to Forest Hill.  I just love this trail, its beauty is just indescribable.  We had a lovely ride complete with loads of water crossing.  When we arrived back to Forrest Hill our friends Connie Creech and Gina Hall had arrived and had a lovely ride themselves.  To top it all off Leslie Spitzer and her mom Lynda Taxera brought in the best pizza in the world for dinner!  After a nice evening of socializing (and washing legs don't forget) I went out to check my little brown mare and assess the likelihood of the boots staying on the next day.  Amazingly enough all four boots were solidly in place.  Wow!  We all had a perfectly perfect boot day.

On Saturday we headed out to ride from Forest Hill to Drivers Flat after shuttling trailers.  Leslie was running a bit behind but wanted to ride faster so we knew she would catch us.  What a great day!  Gina, Connie, Lucy, Renee and I enjoyed a great day trundling steadily along what can be a scary bit of trail for some folks.  At one point I think Lucy asked me to take photos and I told her that I could not think about anything except forward (yes, I am not a fan of heights and there are a lot of them here) but maybe when we got in the trees.  I think she may have been a tad disappointed but she was a great friend and did not chastise me too much.  Lots of water crossing and dipping on this day as well.  Leslie caught up with us in the last few miles and we got to ride in together.  Another fantastic day with great friends, great trail, great views and great horses.  May really stepped up and acted like a big horse all day, I was so proud.  Another day down with all four boots firmly attached to the feet.  The Tevis group hosted a wonderful meal complete with live music.  They also had a raffle and Renee even won the coveted Tevis Entry!  Now she has to ride!

So we get through the weekend with boots attached, Monday dawns and my plans to get a tune up ride on Fancy in preparation for doing the 100 mile day at Fandango quickly fade away in the business of life.  That afternoon Leslie brought down her most excellent of all (gelding) horses, Eagle, to stay at my place till we left for Idaho.  I love this horse! Yet another understatement.  It was at some point this day it occurred to me that I should change my plans and ride Fancy on the first 50, see how she did and play day 2 by ear and then plan on putting May in the 100.  Leslie gave the consummate experienced endurance rider advice "go with your gut".  Thanks.  May's boots were still firmly attached even after 35 tough miles and 5 days of leg washing.  Fancy just wants to go somewhere and do something.  She fell in love (understatement) with Eagle in a way I have never witnessed in all my years of mare horse ownership.  Rockett was also very interested in this wonderful visitor who played bitey face expertly.

Leslie came back on Wednesday and we made our trek to Idaho.  It took about an hour longer than we had planned probably due to stopping for supplies and to let the horses out but it was all good.  The only sad thing was arriving at the Teeter Ranch in the dark.  I was so bummed to not be able to see it all and orient myself.  Oh well, nothing to do about that but walk up to the house and say hello.  Steph and John were up to welcome us and show us up the road to where we were to park.  Kevin had said that we needed to be careful on the road as there was turn that needed to be taken wide in order to make it (in my mind this meant that we would fall to certain death down a bottomless crevasse).  Steph showed us up the road and around the death curve (in reality....yeah do the math, we all survived and my nails were intact) where we were met by Kevin Myers, Rusty Toth, Garrett Ford and Gene Limlaw.  Talk about a welcome party!  Steph let us put the ponies in pens since no one else was in yet - are  you getting the idea of the hospitality you get up here in Idaho?  Kevin took Garrett's dare and requested to park my rig - he did a good job and only killed it a couple of times.  Just kidding, it was very nice to have someone with night vision and a knowledge of the field to help out after nine hours of driving.  Ponies settled in and we had a nice social hour (or two).

 

Ridecamp from one of the inbound trails.  Very spacious and accomodating.

Thursday we woke up and set to settling in for the long weekend.  We met new friends Katrin Levermann from Canada (but she is really German) and her daughter Katya.  What great ladies, we would spend a lot of time with them over the next few days.  Pens rearranged, trailer reparked and properly nested, ponies cleaned up and greetings made to friends old and new.  What a nice day.  We were joined in our little circle by Amanda and Robert Washington.  Amanda arrived along with the rain and assured us that this was just a passing storm and that we would have a lovely weekend.  She was planning to ride the next day on her might steed Breve.  Kevin and Rusty put on a most excellent barefoot and booting clinic that afternoon.  It was soooooo cool (understatement of all understatements) to see these guys in action, up close and get to ask questions.  I learned a ton.  Rusty handed out a sketch of proper foot trimming which should probably be posted to the world.  It is by far the easiest to understand that I have seen and really put a lot together for me.  Thanks Dudes!  Garrett also debuted the new boot/shoe that he would compete in this weekend.  Can't wait to see these things in action!

A lovely reception followed in the gathering area (thank you Easycare!) along with dinner served by a local business Blue Canoe.  Steph gave the briefing for the next days 50 mile ride along with a weather report that was cheerfully optimistic.  Another bit of socializing after yet another bit of leg washing and getting Fancy's Gloves on and we were in bed.  At the last minute I decided to just put Gloves on and not use Sika.  Please don't let me regret this plan.....

Friday morning we were aroused by the sound of rain on the trailer roof.  Really????  Tacking up in the rain is not my favorite part of endurance.  It is also not Fancy's favorite and she was quick to relay her displeasure to me.  But she is one tough mare, seriously the toughest horse I have ever owned, she is tough and focused.  We were very happy to be starting out the ride with my friend from Sunriver and fellow Team Easybooter, Karen Bumgarner who was also in Gloves.  The sun broke out soon after we started and we had a lovely day.  Into the first vet check and big surprise! we were met by crew!  Woohoo!  There was Leslie, Kevin, Rusty and Amanda (who had decided not to ride in the wet that day)!  What a treat!  They had even set up a space apart from the rest which was nice since Fancy is not exactly a social mare.  This was such a huge, special treat.  Thanks guys!  Off with the rain pants for what looked to be a lovely day.  Fancy was really feeling her oats and we had to depart our friends shortly after the vet check.  We proceeded to have probably the best day together on this magical trail.  I dropped her bit and put her in the side pull and she just moved out with the biggest mare horse smile ever.

  Crazy Woman Mine

Along the hills, down to Crazy Lady Mine and back up to the vet check.  This place is amazing!  Yes, it did rain off and on all day but more off than on and the footing was great.

  Day one Gloves on Fancy

              During a break in the weather on day one.

Fancy was strong and forward all day and we ended up finishing 11th in 7 hours and 22 minutes.  Not bad for all the sightseeing we did.  What a great day!  Fancy's boots all stayed on nicely.  I took them off to make sure there was nothing in them and that her feet looked good then reapplied tape and boots.  I was so happy with her.  The only downer was that my knee locked up and I had a bit of a hitch in my giddyup.  At one point Kevin asked me why I was lame...cuz I am broken, drat!  But a bit of walking around and socializing and it was OK.  We would go out again tomorrow.

Once again we awoke to the sound of rain.  Fancy and I discussed it and decided that we really were tough enough to take this on so off we went along with our new friend Katarin riding John's horse Mac also in Gloves.  It was a soggy wet mess all day.  Fancy is such a professional she just took each step as it came, moved when she could  and took good care all day.  She is the most amazing horse I have ever owned and I have tremendous respect for her.  The trail was a slippery mess and there were so many times that I wished I had my Grips on instead of Gloves.  In the end the Gloves really did well and we did not do nearly the slipping that we could have.

 

Katrin on Day 2, smiling through the wet. Thanks for a fun day.

Not as many photos on day 2 but still a fun and lovely day.  Katarin and I shared a few laughs and it was good to have someone to share the trail with.  The sun would peek out for short periods and that really helped keep the mood up.  Then it would start raining again but we were on our way home so it was just a matter of moving forward.  At some point I realized that I was really shivering pretty violently and it was bothering Fancy.  She wanted to move out so bad but the footing would not let her, any opportunity she would trot and make me post but it would only last a few steps.  Then the shivering stopped and I started to feel very peaceful and warm - DRAT! Keen awareness that I was not OK.  Checked the GPS just as the batteries died and we had about 5 miles left.  I had to move about and Fancy knew it too.  She was very tolerant of me moving my arms and legs as she walked as fast as she could in the muck.  Shortly before the finish we hit the actual road and Fancy moved, made me post and got me home in much better shape than I had been just shortly before.  Leslie was at the finish, glory! and really helped me to get vetted quickly and take care of Fancy.  Hot water and a hot shower was the ticket.  Once again, Fancy  took care of me and we got through in 16th place in 7 hours and 35 minutes.

 

Soggy boots for all of us!  Notice all the Bare prints?

We took care of the ponies and attended the ride meeting for the next days 100 mile ride.  May vetted in well but that evening lost her first boot while at the trailer spinning around and having a fit because I had taken Fancy to vet.  Great!  is this a sign of things to come?  So after dinner and a great fundraiser drawing I decided to replace that missing boot.  It had been raining pretty much steady for two days and May had been standing in it the whole time.  Her foot was wet and the likelihood of anything drying out was slim.  After talking to Kevin and Rusty I decided to just go for putting on a Glove.  They very kindly loaned me their heat gun to dry out the foot and I took May over to the driest area I could find.  Of course she proceeded to have a total melt down being separated from Fancy and would not stand.  To say I was frustrated is yet another in a long line of understatements.  Support and understanding came in the way only endurance riders can provide.  Despite my desire to "win" Kevin went to get Fancy, May settled down and we got the foot taped. Of course her boot that had fit perfectly was....too big????really????WT????  Get a smaller boot and I can't get it, at my wits end Kevin again steps in and takes the boot and mallet...it fit just fine.  Loads of reassurance from Kevin and Rusty and the realization that I needed to be done and we headed back to the trailer and I settled in the mares once again.  Thanks to all!

So I had this idea that May needed to get into a nice 8 mph pace and she would do just fine.  Remember back to my earlier comment about "speed ahead to May"?  Well this is where that epiphany comes back.  Come morning it is was drizzling a bit once again.  Really?  can I do this again?  Yes, and this naughty little brown mare needed to go.   So still a bit miffed from her antics the evening prior I decide that I am going to ride away from the trailer and that she would behave like I know she can.  May decides at this point to put on another show of bad attitude, great.  Thankfully Robert was still at their trailer and came over to hold her for me.  So I get on and she begins to dance in place, great.  Robert just takes her halter and leads her away from the trailer to the start.  Great, I am being lead like some sort of pony club neophyte on a silly little brown mare that I think can go 100 miles.  Of course I have to finally admit that this psychotic brown mare is 12 years old, has 1,100 miles and this would possibly be her third 100.  I am going to just have to figure out how to manage her in these difficult situations. 

Thank you Robert for getting us to the start.  So horses start leaving and miraculously May decides it is time to get down to business.  Leslie and Amanda are at the start and we all head out together at a nice steady pace.  Figuring that May will drop back soon I just keep tagging along in the rear.  Eagle decides that he needs to roll a bit faster and Leslie goes ahead (did I mention that Leslie is one tough chic?  Riding a hundred in a borrowed saddle that she had never ridden in before, yes she is that tough).  It was short-lived as Eagle showed that he was indeed ready to go and Leslie demonstrated some seriously great riding skill and we were soon a trio again.  May decided that Amanda's horse Nero (aka the Unicorn) was the love of her life and the pace for the day was set.  We came into the first check with me thinking that May would begin to slow and hold back.  Nope, pulsed in immediately and Robert even had a nice word for my naughty mare.  Amanda had a very good laugh at my desire to set an 8 mph pace as May seemed to be really happy at 10 - her desired "sweet spot" as Amanda put it - with long bursts at 12.  So all you hot shoes at this point are amazed that this is considered "fast" but for some of us who live in the 5-6 range it really is. 

 

Unicorn feet flyin'!  Amanda's Nero setting the pace for the day in fine form.

Next leg includes several miles of Oregon trail complete with wagon wheel tracks.  Amanda is a great guide and points out everything, even taking the camera for a bit so I have some evidence that I actually did this ride.  Then down to the Snake river and the famous petroglyphs.  It was a great day then we come up to the boulders that I had somehow forgotten about.  How on earth is the horse who has spent the last two days trying to kill me going to get me through this?  Like a pro, thats how.  Suddenly her brain settled down between her ears and she showed some serious athletic ability, navigating the treacherous boulders like they were nothing.  Proud and amazed does not begin to describe the feeling.  Across the trestle bridge and into the vet check still with all boots intact.  Really!  We all vet through quick and fine and set to resting and enjoying the scenery.  Celebration Park is a nice little park on the Snake River.  Turns out it was built by Eagle Scouts.  Pretty cool.

Nero reading the petroglyphs for us.  With Amanda and Leslie.

On this ride you basically go 40 miles out and then back to camp.  Some folks might think that this would be boring.  It was not!  Seeing it all from a different angle it all looked different and it gave me a second chance to get photos that I had missed the first time through.  Going through the boulders was no less scary the second time - especially where it looked like you were going right off into the river if you did not make that hidden right turn.  We left a bit of shin on a couple of those rocks.  At this point I was also wondering when those boots would start coming off but they were on there good!

Into the next vet check all is well and the temperature is heading up.  All the layers we wore all day needed to stay behind but there were still some dark clouds out there on the horizon.  We made our way back to camp for the last vet check.  For Amanda this was the end as she was doing the 80 mile ride.  Third place for her, way to go to another Team Easybooter!  Leslie and I would be heading out on the last loop together now that our ponies had settled down and were happy to go along together.  This is usually the point in a 100 when I am adding glow bars and head lamp but on this day it was still plenty early and we only had 20 miles to go so Leslie and I set off to see the last 20 miles of the 2012 Fandango.

Cantering along as the sun sets.  Perfect!

The miles passed quickly even though the horses were happy to take in the scenery and munch the trail grass.  At 9:45 that evening our ride came to an end.  Leslie (yes, yet another Teameasybooter), riding in her borrowed saddle, oh so tough finished 5th and May and I in 6th.  How exciting to finish as the sun set.  That has never happened to me before and I have to say I pretty well liked it.  To top it off those boots that had been on for 11 days were still firmly attached and the one glove that we put on the night before was on tight as well. 

I still can't believe it all worked out so well.  A total of two hundred wonderful miles in this beautiful place.  Two days of riding  and another hundred miles on Fancy in Gloves and a successful hundred on May in three Glue-Ons that had been on for 11 days and one glove.  The first two days of wet icky muck and the last day on some of the best footing ever.  May once again proved herself and most of my doubts were erased.  It was sure all worth the wait to get to this great ride.  The boots did great all weekend and there were loads of successes.  Congratulations to all.  But I think the best part of this adventure was all the friends who were there to share it .  Thanks to Steph and all her gang for putting on such a first class beautiful ride.

Me, Rusty, Leslie, Kevin and Amanda just before we all hit the road.  Great friends are what make this sport so much fun.

Tami Rougeau and the Fabulous Mares Fancy and May

Learning From Teaching the Team Easyboot Way

By Kandace French and Sabrina Liska

One of the greatest aspects of being members of Team Easyboot 2012 means great and abundant questions about boot fit, types of boots and how to use them. To cover more topics and address a wider audience, fellow Team Easyboot 2012 team-mates and buds decided to jump in with both feet and offer a Easyboot Fitting Clinic in Desert Hills, Arizona on June 3, 2012. Due to the warm temperatures, we started early in the morning. But neither the weather nor the early hour deterred people. Unlimited auditors and a ten-horse limit maxed out the crowd. Attendees were encouraged to bring their questions and their current boots if they were using them.

Approximately 20 people and eight horses attended the clinic that included information on Why Bare and Why Boot?. There was a presentation on the types of boots available for every fit and need. There were great questions by the participants about boots in each category of trail riding, endurance and therapy.

What to Use and When to Use It



Hands on view of various boot styles, hints and equipment.

There was a hands-on demonstration and presentation of the Epic, Bare, Trail, Back Country, Glove and Glue-On and a presentation of which boot works best for individual horse's needs and applications. There was also a discussion regarding when to use Glue-On boots. Participants were surprised to know the actual length the Glue-Ons could be left on the horse safely.

Sabrina addressed the importance of a proper trim and we were able to show more than one attendee that their boot fitting problems were actually the result of long toes or improper sizing.



Measuring how-to for fit and accuracy.

The clinic also included the importance of measure in metric for best fit and discussion stressing that different types of boots use different measurements for a proper fit.


 

Detailed information, explanation and demonstrations were provided on how to measure the hoof and the importance of understanding the buttress line. Hand-outs, using information found on the Easy Care, Inc. website and brochures provided the additional information attendees needed to appreciate proper measurements.



Fitting an Epic.
 

Demonstrating the proper taping technique using Mueller Athletic Tape.

Great fun was made of the demonstration of proper boot fitting and removal and guests’ horses gave an excellent live demonstration of what a proper (or improper) fit looked like.

One of the Special Needs hooves. There will be a separate blog about this girl.

Horses were presented with a club hoof, a damaged hoof, shod, unshod and odd shaped.

Information and education was well received regarding Helpful Hints such as Power Straps, Athletic Tape, the use of knee-high panty hose, removing and reusing Glue-Ons, replacing parts, checking screws in new boots and great interest in the use of Loktite threadlocker. Kandace gave all the attendees a view of the emergency kit she keeps in her own pack consisting of extra screws, a short screwdriver and a tube of Loktite.

The clinic concluded with helping attendees with individual measurement and booting fitting/checking.

The greatest impact to the presenters was that a majority of the horses were wearing boots that were too big. Without the clinic and hands-on presentation, users simply don’t realize how to fit a boot or how snug it should be. Even more were happy to learn how to get a boot off without ripping the gator. “Work smart. Not hard.”


 

The clinic was well received and there are already requests for another clinic in the Fall. The audience left with a much better understanding of the product and three horses that were previously shod are going to be taken barefoot.

Thank you EasyCare Staff for all of your support! Your answers and encouragement help to make this little clinic of ours a success!
 

Owyhee Fandango Part I - The Not Riding Part

Has it been only a week? Just a week ago I was hobbling around the house, all grumpy and sore after an awesome weekend with awesome friends and awesome horses. Too bad the weather was NOT awesome. The weather just plain sucked. This year, one of my favorite rides, Owyhee Fandango, was extra special because of some long-distance but very good friends who were able to come join in on the fun. EasyCare's own Garrett Ford and Kevin Myers, as well as Team Easyboot members Rusty Toth, Leslie Spitzer, Gene Limlaw (from Vermont!) and Tami Rougeau all made the trek to enjoy the sure-to-be lovely Idaho spring weather, beautiful trails and fun times we usually have at the three-day Owyhee ride. Little did everyone know, the joke was on us. 

I should have known the weekend would be somewhat tumultuous when I pulled into ride camp under a beautiful sunny sky, opened the truck door to exuberantly greet my friends and promptly slammed the door shut as the sky opened up and drove everyone into hiding for about 20 minutes while Mother Nature finished her little temper tantrum. "Oh," I joked, "that's about as bad as things get out here- and it's not as bad as it could be!" Still laughing nervously, I said optimistically, "I'm sure the weekend will be awesome, these storms come and go as quick as you can snap your fingers." It turned out to be pretty nice for the rest of the day and we enjoyed an AWESOME trimming, booting, gluing clinic put on by Rusty Toth and Kevin Myers. 

This is a super fun video done by Merri Melde. Pretty much sums everything up for the day before the ride began! The front picture happens to be me giving Breve a bath. You know, so he looked clean and shiny in our ride pictures the next day...

Rusty did an amazing job of explaining the mechanics of the foot and the importance of a proper trim. My favorite bit of information from Rusty was regarding the importance of a tight trim schedule, explaining that if you start at week one, and don't trim again until week eight, you have to take at least nine weeks of growth off, to get ahead of where you were at week one. He explains that it makes so much more sense to trim at three or four week intervals, as you are actually able to get ahead that way. I also liked his explanation of not only backing up the toe to improve foot mechanics, but backing up the toe pillars as well. If you only work on the toe, the foot can't actually morph into the tight, concave little number we get to see when addressing the toe pillars. The guys proceeded to glue on Easyboot Glue-Ons to Leslie Spitzer's bad-ass horse, JAC Eagle Cap, who was to do the 100 that weekend. Eagle is notorious for being hell on boots and Garrett Ford made the observation that his back feet weren't shaped ideally for boots, which most likely contributed to his "issues." Eagle is special. I'm happy to say Eagles boots didn't BUDGE the whole weekend and they completed the 100 in 5th place! More on that later. 

Throughout the afternoon, I hemmed and hawed about riding the next day. It was to be Breve's first ride. I knew the trail to be rocky, and I just had a general feeling of unease. I enlisted Mr. Easyboot himself to create a Sikaflex pad in Breve's boots by squeezing the Sikaflex onto Breve's foot, spreading it around and putting on his boot. This would offer him more protection against the rocks and more holding power against the wet. That night I went to bed still feeling "off" about the next day. Unfortunately (fortunately? I'm going to say fortunately because I did learn a long time ago to trust my gut instinct) I woke up the next morning to a downpour. I rolled over and told my husband to go tell my riding buddy there was no WAY I was riding in this weather! Completely atypical for an Owyhee spring, the clouds hung low and heavy with rain. And there was no break visible. Huh-oh. No way. While I'll agree that nobody likes a sissy, most people don't like being soggy for 50 miles either. Merri and I agreed to forego the day and planned on riding the next day when it was sure to be nice out. Can everyone see where this is going? So of course Friday ended up being a lovely day, blah blah blah. Garrett Ford on The Fury and Gene Limlaw on GE Cyclone (rocking BLUE Gloves!!!) won the ride in fine form. It was extra cool because Garrett had the new prototype EasyShoe on The Fury and they are SWEET!! While the EasyShoe might not be for everyone, I see it as an excellent option and am excited to try them myself. 

Garrett and Gene finishing their ride. Can you spy the blue test Gloves on Cyclone? They were really sharp!

Kevin, Rusty, Leslie and I headed to the outcheck to crew for our friends and help wherever needed. It is amazing how many people here are using boots these days, for so long they were so resisted. I felt a little bad as the conditions were such (wet, slimy, mucky) that can test even the most experienced booters' resolve, but it seemed like people were mostly doing just fine with things. Because we aren't used to a whole lot of wet here in the desert, you tend to forget that some extra precautions can prevent any errant boot losses, and for future wet rides, I will definitely be using Sikaflex in the sole and my trusty athletic tape around the wall. Don't forget the powerstraps!

Later that afternoon, after another impressive downpour, Merri and I took our boys, Breve and Jose, out for a pre-ride spin in the sunshine. We'll laugh about our decision not to ride in the rain that day for a long time to come...

Merri Melde Photography

Next time, Part II- The Swimming, er Riding. 

~ Amanda

An Epic Era

42 years ago when Dr. Neil Glass developed the first Easyboot, I doubt he knew the impact his vision would have on the worldwide hoof care market. 35 years after the Original Easyboot was developed EasyCare released the Easyboot Epic.

The Epic took a revolutionary product and made it much more versatile and user friendly. These two horse hoof boots have created the foundation of what EasyCare is today. That foundation is so strong and so well thought out that these boots were able to serve thousands upon thousands of horses/owners with only modest improvements over the years. EasyCare has always been the type of company to push, dream, research and developed new products or make product updates that suit every discipline, condition, size and shape of hoof. 

I am proud to announce the beginning of a new Easyboot/Epic Era. 

New Tread
The new Easyboot and Epic tread is designed after the Glove. Boasting enhanced grip and a faster breakover, it also offers improved frog support. The new tread design can tackle any terrain and sheds mud because of its flexibility and depth.

 

A Brand New Buckle
The new buckle system prevents wear on the cable and prolongs boot life. The forged buckle is now free of sharp edges and hard corners, yet still retains three adjustment options and three buckle settings from the original buckle design.

The Original Easyboot and Easyboot Epic have traveled more miles and seen more trail than any other hoof boots in the world and still provide the benchmark for every hoof boot in the world. Here's to another 42 years of service. 

Brian Mueller

easycare-sales-manager-brian-mueller

Director of Sales

As the director of sales, I am responsible for identifying new dealer opportunities and building on existing relationships to foster ideas and create additional growth.

 

What To Do With That Foot?

I titled this blog “Hoof Love Not War” because I hope to embrace all aspects of horse and hoof care here. In my own hoof care practice, I believe it is critical that we maintain an open dialog, even if all we do is agree to disagree. I have learned never to say 'never” when it comes to my horses and their care no matter how foreign the idea may seem. We are constantly learning and growing, and in order to do that we have to be receptive to new ideas. Even if sometimes all you learn is what you don't like!  

 

Recently I had a fellow hoof care practitioner tell me that she was afraid to do certain things to a horse’s foot because she didn’t want to experiment on the horse. My question is, aren’t we always experimenting to some degree? How do we make value decisions for our horses since what we’re doing to the foot is based primarily on anecdotal evidence? How can so many people be wrong about an idea and yet so many people be right with the same idea? At the end of the day, the horse tells us what they like and don’t like, and yet they tolerate so much. How do we decide?  

 

The only way I feel I have any confidence in my hoof care protocol is to study everything. I take nothing for granted and document everything I do. That way I can evaluate the impact of the decisions I make for the horses I work on over time. I am completely accountable for the results of the choices I make for the animals I work on.  

 

 

In my opinion, there are no rules when it comes to hoof care, more like guidelines. And when it comes to the actual work on the horse’s foot, I have only 2 guidelines:

  1. a 3-8 degree Palmar P3 Angle  (bottom of the coffin bone angle in relation to the ground which allows for healthy soft tissue in the back of the horse’s foot)
  2. a 50/50 base of support from toe to heel around the center of rotation of the hoof (which allows for neutral input from the proprioceptive nerves of the foot to the body of the horse)

Here is an example of a healthy sound foot on a horse in our practice that demonstrates these basic principles:

 

 

 

How you achieve those two guidelines is open for discussion. Ideally you would achieve the guidelines in the trim on the foot, however sometimes you need a prosthetic support to get there, like a hoof boot and hoof pad, a glue on horse shoe, metal horse shoe etc. 

Live Sole and Then Some

Springtime trimming can mean uncovering the past winters secrets. During the spring months, horses hooves grow about twice as fast compared to the growth we see in the middle of winter. Sometimes hooves can grow so fast, that the dead sole does not get shed, even when the horse is ridden bare over rocks.

This hoof below is scheduled for a trim.

Previous trim 5 weeks ago. Horse was ridden about twice a week, always bare, without any protective horse boots. Footing was sandy with rocks. On first sight it looks like low heels, maybe underrun, toes somewhat long. Let's examine that sole a little closer.

Heels now look high, grew forward quite a bit. The sole looks polished and like live sole. The front part of the frog has grown together with the sole.

The collateral grooves have  disappeared in the front third of the hoof, but soil and water have found a way below that overgrown part (red arrow). Notice the heel height again (blue arrow) and how polished the whole sole appears, just like live sole (black arrow).

It is necessary to open the collateral groove and break the adhesions from the tip of the frog to the sole. Bacterial growth could fester below. The frog cannot function properly when grown into the sole.

The visible sole looks like the live sole, yet, when evaluating the whole picture, it just doesn't seem right. The sole is way too thick, the bars are mostly straight, but appear too high. I'm suspecting a false or double sole.

Exploring between the sole and the bars with the hoof knife, it now becomes more obvious. There is a visible separation between the bars and the sole. Possibly a  bacterial invasion. Confident that we are dealing with a false sole, I start lowering the heels in increments to the widest part of the frog. It looks like live sole, yet we are still far away from the actual live sole.

Slowly peeling away with nippers and hoof knife, we finally reach the real live sole.

Where the tip of the nail points, there is the separation line.

The chalky layer between is dead sole. Beneath that layer is the actual and true live sole. We can trim the hoof walls then to about 1/8th to 1/16 longer than the live sole. That depends on your preference, some of you might want it trimmed to the same level as the live sole or even let the sole protrude some. I will not get into the middle of that discussion, there are just too many real strong opinions out there and I'm sure all of them are based on some good reasons.

A valid question, however, might get asked: What's wrong with a false sole, can we not just do true Natural Hoof Care and let nature take care of it till it wears or falls out on its own? Here are some possible detrimental side effects when failing  to remove the false sole:

- The hooves will be getting too long, increasing breakover and compromising their ability to support the scelettal structure

- Bacterial invasion with considerable damage to the sole and frog

- Bruising of the live sole through the harder false sole, the horse might come up lame

- White line separation, because the long bars and false sole are pushing laterally against the hoof wall from the inside.

If in doubt, consult an experienced Hoof Trimmer or farrier. Always remove hoof material in small increments and take your time. You might be wrong. I certainly have been sometimes.

Good luck with spring trimming!

Your Bootmeister

Keeping the Endurance Gods Happy

Subitted by Karen Corr, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I have tempted fate - in my last blog about Endurance Riding in the UK, I upset the endurance gods by mentioning that Looey would do a 65km ride soon. Don't you know that planning endurance rides is bad: the gods then rain down all the bad luck they can throw at you and you end up watching TV all weekend So what happened to my plans?

Because we had a viral lurgy going round our horses, I decided to wait until I was 99% sure Looey hadn't succumbed and took a late entry for a ride in Cumbria. That was ten days before the ride. Eight days before the ride, I took him on a 20 mile training ride in the Pennine Hills which surround our home - he coughed twice - maybe he had some hay stuck or had swallowed a fly (yeah right, trying to kid myself). However, he flew round 20 miles of tough going in his Easyboot Gloves and felt great. 

Many of the tracks are littered with stones like this, hoofboots are essential!

The following day I had planned (yep, don't remind me, plans are bad) to take him to the gallops for some fast work on a decent surface. We haven't been to our local gallops for nearly two years - they used to be great - 1 mile long and undulating with a couple of straight stretches to let rip. I'll usually do about 10 miles of circuit training type work to help with cardiovascular fitness. This time we decided to take my partner's five year-old old mare to keep Loo company. I was going to ride her and Bond would ride Looey - a couple of stone extra on his back would make him work harder too.

However, disappointment number one = the gallops had been shortened - in fact, halved in length. Disappointment number two = the hire had increased in price. Disappointment number three = the surface hadn't been maintained recently and was very uneven and only suitable for trotting/cantering carefully. But, we were there, so decided to get on with the job in hand and then the penultimate happened - the minute we asked the horses to trot, they both convulsed into a fit of coughing - Hamra was much worse than Looey but Bond said he felt like the hand-brake was on, so we packed up and went home with heads hung and tails between our legs. The following day they both had mucus and were congested - vet was rung and copius amounts of antibiotics and mucolytics prescribed.

However, I still had an entry to the ride and we had one horse (actually, a pony) fit to go - our little coloured cob - Squiggle. She had only been back in work for a few weeks after recovering from the "lurgy", so we downgraded to a non-competitive distance. Yeah, on an upper again - we were going to one of my favourite rides and the forecast had changed from rain to sunshine.

What could go wrong now? The endurance gods rained down some more bad luck - my 4 x 4 power steering had been leaking, it is a company car which is leased and the lease company decided that it was dangerous to drive and took it off the road two days before the ride - grrrr. The garage were not going to give me a like for like car as a replacement i.e not a 4 x 4 with a tow bar, but the guy from the lease company must have felt sorry for me and somehow persuaded my bosses boss to approve the hire of a Landrover for me for the weekend. Talk about cutting it fine - 5.30 PM on a Friday afternoon, I end up driving home from the garage in a brand new, top of the range, all singing, all dancing, Landrover Discovery - maybe all the prayers were starting to appease the powers that be. Thanks, Rick.

I did have one more dilemma, to boot or not to boot: we had used the Glove Back Country boots on Squiggle but she's got a lot of feather and trying to tuck that lot in was an issue.

Squiggle after a ride with BC's behind and Gloves in front - too much feather!

I knew the Gloves were ok but we had to put athletic tape round her hooves since she dishes and the boots twist. I hadn't used power straps on her Gloves yet and thought she'd be OK without them. In the end, I decided just to boot her front hooves with Gloves.

Sunday dawns and it's ride day - off we tottle up the motorway into to Cumbria and two hours later arrive at Tebay. Squiggle was very excited - this was her first journey in the trailer on her own since we'd bought her last year. We were very early for our class, but we slipped to the vets while they were quiet. Lynn took her heart rate - it was 50, yes, she was excited. I tacked her up quickly, and we were off.

Squiggle all "dolled" up in her endurance gear! (borrowed from Looey!)

Squiggle turbo-trotted the whole way. The views were spectacular and the weather perfect.

Everything was going great until we got to a ford about 2/3 of the way round. I happened to look down into the ford since it looked as if it could be slippy and it was then I noticed her front near fore boot had twisted - damn! We crossed the ford and I got off, undid the gaiter but by then her hoof, tape and Glove were sopping wet - I knew it wasn't going to stay put if I put the Glove straight on her wet hoof.

There was a long section of road up to the checkpoint and I figured that if I left the boot off, her hoof would be dry by the time we got there, I could put more tape round her hoof (I had taken some with me) and hopefully the Glove wouldn't twist for the rest of the route. And that is what I did: someone's crew held her for me. It was obvious when I was putting it back on that the Glove shell had become more pliable with the increased ambient temperature and was flexing more, hence it was twisting round with her funny action. I used all the tape on the spool and still the boot went on easier than I would've liked - power straps are definitely required! However, we didn't have far to go and the going was all ancient, springy turf on the way home. She was then rewarded with a slurp of sloppy fibre mash. 

She soon learned that snorting it up through her nostrils got lots of laughs and attention.

 

And the moral to this story is - keep going, don't give up, it'll turn out all right in the end, so long as you keep the Endurance Gods happy. Oh, and remember the booting mistakes you've made in the past and don't think you'll get away with it second time round! 

And the next ride is?


Karen Corr

Worth the Bruises

Submitted by Susan Gill, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

At the last endurance ride, I got "bricked" badly. At my latest event, the Buchan Tall Timber Endurance Ride, I proved that the bruises are usually worth the bricking experience.

Affectionately known as That Buchan Ride (say it, don't just read it), BTT has the lot. It's a relatively new ride that I've helped organise for two years now, so still in it's infancy and building a reputation. So far it's known for being a challenging track, but achievable when ridden to the conditions. Conditions include rural and bush tracks, hills, river crossings, rocky sections of road, but plenty of good going too - lots of variety to keep both horse and rider interested.  

Joby contemplating the next section of track.

Last year was unseasonably hot. This year was unseasonably wet. We had some areas of track that got marked at each end and that was it, because a vehicle could get bogged going through. The last thing we needed was to waste valuable time pulling out a stuck vehicle.

Stopping to glance down for a boot check after a boot-sucking, shoe-grabbing patch of track.

So hills, rivers and bogs, slippery uphill and downhill sections, and potential to move along in other stretches - all situations destined to pull off Joby's front boots. My ideal Plan A - use my recently acquired experience and ride her in Gloves with customised Sikaflex pads on all four feet, accessorised with Powerstraps on her fronts.  My realistic Plan B regarding opportunity was to swap the Sikaflex with worn-in comfort pads on her forefeet, and use plain Gloves on her hinds which haven't been a problem.

One of Joby's front boots, post-ride with a minimal amount of debris considering they'd done 80km all up with quite a few mudbaths included. The comfort pad is a bit mangled but the imprint shows it was still providing some extra cushioning and stimulation to her hoof.

The ride was fantastic. Joby completed her 3rd novice ride so is now eligible for Open Endurance Status. And I didn't have to get off once to even adjust a boot, let alone replace one.

Yep, being hit with a brick can pay off.

Susan Gill

 

My Easyboot Trails Are Camouflaged

Submitted by Terrin Turner, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

My Easyboot Trails have served me well, they have stayed with me through thick and thin mud, rough and smooth ground, up and down hills. When the terrain got tough and the ground went hard I turned to my boots the most. They didn't fail me, it was over the tarmac roads with gritty loose stones the trails offered the best protextion for my heavy ponies thin flat soles.


Left: Ang and Womble. Right: me and Argy. My Trails are under that mud somewhere.

I don't use boots all the time: I do enjoy riding barefoot and like to judge based on route or hooves if I boot. It is great to have the choice - a Plan B sitting on the shelf so there is never a day he can't be worked.

Sometimes the time comes and like all horses' tack, you need to show it a little love. Getting the brush out and looking after the Trail boots doesn't take long. Once the mud is dry, it simply brushes straight off. The Velcro just needed some hairs to be pulled out; the soles of the boots had a little wipe with a damp sponge. A very quick tidy reveals the boot like new underneath. This will keep the boot working to its best.


One down, one to go.
 

Close up photograph, hard to believe how well the mud brushes off.

 

Both Trail boots done! Look how well they scrub up.

 

Terrin Turner