Fitting Zahara's Spare Part

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Last summer my Competitive Trail Riding prospect, Zahara, broke my heart when she suffered a pretty bad heel bulb laceration - twice. Instead of spending the summer getting broke she spent the majority of ride season in a hoof cast standing in a small pen healing.


 

Now that the soft tissue has healed the defect in her cornet band is very evident. She is growing a hang nail of sorts on her affected quarter. About 4 months ago the hang nail grew down and seemed solidly attached. I was thrilled. It wasn't pretty but it was trying its best!

The day of the final trim that put the defect in passive contact with the ground seemed like a good day, we had grown her hoof out and I was ready to get riding. The very next day the whole quarter had been torn away and we were back at square one. The attachment wasn't strong enough and the hang nail was indeed hanging out there!

I trimmed it back as far as possible and since then it hasn't tried to grown down again: it just hangs around, attached to nothing in particular only to get trimmed back as needed to keep snags to a minimum.


I can see the light at the end of this tunnel though. She grows a surpising amount of heel on the affected side though there is still a deficit of hoof wall. Looking at her hoof from the sole there is enough heel there for her to use it properly, and use it properly she does! Throughout this process she has always been relatively sound and there is no evidence of flare, underslung weak heels or the opposite, contracted high heels, which would indicate abnormal weight bearing in this hoof.

Since all signs pointed to go I started riding her again about 6 weeks ago. We've been conditioning slowly on the shoulders of the gravel road, lots of long slow miles, hoping to get her muscles strengthened and her bare feet toughened up. We've been patiently awaiting the arrival of our new boots before adding the speed required to get her cardiovascular system conditioned as well. We haven't even been on a real trail yet as I'm scared the hang nail might get caught and torn in any sort of rough terrain.

Well guess what? The Easyboot Epics have arrived and I was worried they might not fit well on her damaged hoof due to her extra parts. Here's how they looked:

The abnormal part of her hoof sits above the shell of the Easyboot Epic so there is no pressure on the hang nail at all. If it ever does decide to try to grow attached and down with the rest of the hoof it should still fit in the boot no problem.


 

So far we've put about 25 miles on these boots since their arrival mid-week last week and I've seen no rubs or discomfort across her scar tissue on her heel. I couldn't be happier.

My hope is that with the Easyboot Epics we can continue to eat up the miles with the intention of being competitive one day soon. My gal who was once a "wait an see but I don't think that hoof will stand up to any sort of heavy work", according to the treatment vet, now has hope.

We will keep everyone updated on our progress as time goes on but I have big plans for this girl.

Stacey Maloney

Our First Natural Trim in a Year

We had a very interesting weekend. We competed in the Texas Trail Challenge CTR in Whitney, Texas. It has turned out to be a such beautiful spring in Texas, and what a difference from last spring and summer. We finally received some rain over the winter and spring, and the wild flowers are in full bloom. Friend and Natural Hoof Care Practitioner Trista Lutz was at the ride with her beautiful 7 year old daughter, Dani. Trista and I have been talking about her doing Newt's feet, but unfortunately she lives about 5 hours away.  

We know of no natural hoof practitioners close to where I live. I have been studying up on natural hoof care, but have never really seen a trim, and frankly, I am afraid of trimming Newt's feet. The Natural Hoof Care Practitioner I used for about 2 years has moved. I rarely saw him work, as I would drop Newt off for his trim at the farm where he was working. My current farrier does a good job, but is of the old school. Newt's toe cracks were worsening and now he is getting quarter cracks, which he has never had before. Of course, my current farrier wants to put shoes on to correct the cracks. Help! 

Trista took a look at Newt and said no problem. She pointed out that his heels were a little long, and his soles were flat and a little thin. She explained the cracks were from all of the peripheral loading. He has decent hoof walls, just too many of the wrong kind of forces working to cause the cracks. Things I kind of knew, but was not sure of how to handle. Trista trimmed him, explaining all the while what she was doing and why. I took pictures, and really tried to eel the wall and waterline relationship. One of the most interesting things I noticed after Trista trimmed Newt's feet was the sound of his feet hitting the ground. Instead of the usual clip-clop, I now heard pad-pad. I was thinking, "Now I know why the Indians always snuck up on the settlers - their horses must have had much more natural feet. No long hoof wall to make clip-clop sounds!" I know his feet are not perfect, but I feel like we are improving.

Left front after trimming.  You can see the right front without the trim.

Right front trimmed, left front still untrimmed.

Hind foot before finishing the trim.

Working on the hind. Notice the miracle rasp.

My job now is to try to keep Newt where he is through weekly rasping of his hooves. I rasped some yesterday. Don't think I did any harm, but unsure if I did enough. We are at the beginning of a huge learning curve.  

Trista also gave me one of her old rasps. What a difference! My old rasp was difficult to use, hard to cut with and very grabby. Trista's  worn out Vallorbe Swiss rasp is amazing. It cuts so easily and smoothly. Who knew there was such a difference in rasps?

I also re-measured Newt's feet for the new Glove Back Country boots and Easyboot Trails. We have been wearing the Easyboot Gloves for over 2 years. I wish I had saved my measurements from the first time, but I do remember his measurements did not really correspond to the size that actually fit best. The measurements I took yesterday indicate he needs different sizes. Guess I'll try another fit kit and see if his feet have really changed over the last few years. The Gloves seem to fit well now, even the new ones I ordered about 4 months ago. Trista also suggested adding pads to help his soles out. Hopefully, Trista and I can get together at future TTC rides and keep Newt's feet healthy.  I am so looking forward to this journey in natural hoof trimming.

Carol Warren

To Color or Not to Color

Submitted by Tami Rougeau, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

With all the talk about colored boots lately I thought I would share a story as well as my own thoughts on the topic.  I was a solid red boot fan back in the day.  In fact I was so bummed when they quit making them I went in search of any I could find and stocked up, convinced that there would be nothing better if it were not in color.  A few years and hundreds of miles later I would not trade a Red Easyboot for a Glove for any amount of money.  My red boot collection has slowly but surely made its way into my trail buddies tackroom.  She still swears by these tried and true boots but I know I will get her into Gloves as soon as the collection runs out.

One of the things folks seem to like best about the red boots is that "they are so easy to find when they come off".  I beg to differ.  In fact just this year, while out checking trail my friend lost a boot.  Drat!  We looked for it a bit then decided to just go on.  Over the course of the next three months I traveled this same trail no less than a dozen times with various trail partners, all of us on the look out for the lost red boot.  I had finally resolved that said boot had been toted off by animals or something as it was no where to be found.  Then one day, riding along the same trail, there was the boot - smack in the middle of the trail no less!  Over the years many a red boot has been lost to the trail.  So, easy to find?  I think not, perhaps easier but not necessarily easy.

My other counter to this discussion would have to be a statement of the obvious - Gloves are much less apt to come off if they are fitted properly.  The same can also be said for the Epic and now the new Back Country (which I think will be my recommendation to my trail riding buddies).  So if you are not having to constantly look for boots it just does not matter.

Another frequent comment about having colored boots is that you can easily see them while the horse is moving so you know if you lost one. I have experimented with various ways to identify my boots. Spray paint works OK but some colors just don't really show up after you paint over black. The Power Straps come in loads of great colors and are a great way to make your boots mroe visible. My friend Lucy uses yellow (color coordinated with the rest of her tack) and that really shows up well. Very easy to glance down and "boot check". I don't use power straps (or rather didn't but that is another blog) so not realy an option for me.

Cool purple Mueller tape my friend found.

But this year for Christmas a good friend gave me a few rolls of colored Mueller tape, purple of course as Miss Fancy is very fashion conscious. I used the purple tape a couple weeks ago at the Nevada Derby ride and was amazed at how well it showed up. It really made the V in the boot stand out.

My helmet with the vents covered in tye die duck tape.

At the Nevada Derby ride this year the winds were fierce.  So I duck taped the vents in my helmet.

Duck tape will also work and it comes in all sorts of cool colors and patterns, even tie dye! I suppose if you are really creative you could even sew colored ribbon onto the velcro strap of the gaitor. Talk about lots of choices with that option.

So do I wish that boots came in colors?  Not really.  In the end it would probably end up costing more money to produce them and that cost would have to be passed on to me (which would mean less to spend on fun inexpensive things like tape).  Plus, what colors would they come in to be sure to satisfy everyone?  Furthermore, for those with a bit of fashion sense, who like to color coordinate their tack, they would have to have different colors for every horse.  No ability to mix and match - a definite Glamor Don't!  Oh yes, colored boots would result in far too much cost all the way around.

Photo by Bill Gore.

In the end, I still love the Glove and lets face it, black is always in and very classy!  So black Gloves for me and I will dress them up as I see fit all on my own. 

Love Squared

Another blog about the Backcountry Glove? Yes! I, myself, am very excited about this new protective horse boot and I will shout from the roof tops if I have to.

I received my new boots and couldn't wait to try them.The next decision was to where would we take them on their first journey. Knowing I would eventually take them to the limits, I wanted our first endeavor to be a whopper.

I used the new Glove Back Country boots on my big TWH mare with large hooves. We went to South Mountain Regional Park, and although we only rode about 7 miles that day, it was the ever so famous Arizona terrain we all know and love. We did climbing and very little gaiting, and I tried my best to find a fault in this new boot. I couldn't. Believe me, I tried.

Why yes, this is the trail.

Taking a short rest. This is about the best footing we found up on the mountain.

I watched my Glove Back Country boots from horseback. I wanted to see if I had any twisting, damage to the boot or any sign that the boot was not on securely. Is it wrong that I had a little disappointment that these hoof boots performed perfectly? I even checked for rubs with a fine toothed comb and there weren't any. None, zilch, zip, nada. When all was said and done that day, I did do a little happy dance behind the trailer so no one could see me. 

I love the Easyboot Trails and I love the Easyboot Glove, and I am so in love with this idea of the combining the two. I guess it would be called Love Squared. 

Try them and do your own happy dance behind the trailer.

Sabrina Liska

A Skeptic's Review of the Easyboot Glove Back Country

Submitted by Roger Rittenhouse

For the past two years plus I have used other boots with good results on my horse, Omni. While very satisfied with the other brand, I wanted to try another boot that might be easier to install and have less mass going down the trail. Omni has oblong, non-round hoofs, but the other boot is round. So while it fits the length, it is wide for his hoof. The first pair of the new Easyboot Glove Back Country boots arrived today.  With good spring weather, I had to ride and test the boots.

I had measured his freshly-trimmed hooves at least four times. I could not find the mm scale so I used the 32-inch scale and converted against EasyCare’s advice. The sizing is the same as the Easyboot Glove, and from what I can gather, the boot should be long enough for base support but narrow to grip the hoof.

Based on the measurements, I settled on #2.5. It took some effort to get them installed so I used a rubber mallet to seat them. The right front was tight; the left front was better, but still tight. I felt the boots were perhaps a half size too small. I should have ordered a #3. Oh well: once installed there is no return and I had to test ride. Once I got them seated and worked the rear heel capture in place they were easy to lock in place. The mallet sure helped to get them seated. The wide Velcro back flaps worked great. That part was easy.

A little trot in hand went well and the boots stayed on. He moved out nicely. I re-checked the heel and was able to get a finger in the boot to check heel/hoof contact. Everything appeared OK.

We hand walked down the hard road, some trot. No slipping. I mounted at the dirt road, and off we went into the forest. We walked a mile, and then I asked for an easy trot: all felt fine. Due to size and shape, the other boots would clip inside on each other, but not hit the cannon bone. The Glove Back Country did not hit. He also did not forge from behind.

It’s impossible to determine if the boots are working as desired with just a few miles, so we did 7.5 miles, mostly at a walk some at a trot and some jerking around being an idiot Arab. I let him ramp up to about 8-9 mph to see how he traveled. Apart from the idiot Arab kick-outs and hops, he moved very nicely: almost the way he moves when barefoot. Very nice!

When I returned home, the left front was tight to remove. His heels looked good and the captive lip at the lower heel (what EasyCare calls the Comfort Cup gaiter) showed tight contact, as did the back of the heel bar. He had wear marks on the heels showing full base contact. The heel bulbs looked good and had no rubs. The right front showed more pressure contact on the hoof heel bar below the bulbs and more indentation in the heel captive lip. Both hoof walls showed the wear or marks from the grip of the Glove on the sides and the quarters. This shows good width size. The boots were gripping the walls the way they are designed to.

My second ride was not a long ride - only three miles.  I set the boots out in the sun while I cleaned up my boy, figuring it couldn’t hurt them and may make them a bit softer. They were much easier to put on. Since he was ten days into the trim cycle, I filed the left front just to clean it up some and get a better mustang roll. I worked the toe back just a little: a few swipes of the file were all I needed. This hoof grows sort of normal compared to the right front.

Off to the trails: I rode a mile or so on the dead-end hard top, then asked for a little trot. It was nice easy going with no slip. Then into the trails with leaves, mud and downhill terrain. Went quite well with almost no slipping. The tread gripped fine. We did a few loops around the woods trail and into an open field. The boots went through ankle-deep mud. Back at the barn, the boots came off with a slight effort, easier than first ride but they did not just fall off. The grip marks on the hoof wall at the quarters indicated a tight fit.

I think the # 2.5 is a good fit as long as I keep the toes and front walls close and tight. If he would go a week or two, the boots would be too tight. If I were planning on going more than two weeks without trimming, I’d go up a half size to account for the hoof growth. Since I am the primary trimmer, I can work the hoofs as needed. I have a professional barefoot trimmer on a 7 to 8 week schedule to re-do my trims and make corrections as needed.

I noted how well he seemed to move, as in break-over and getting the forehand moving faster. The boots have a natural balance design, that is to say there is a nice beveled toe with the break-over point back behind the white line. I think he moves better in the boots than barefoot. He has tendency to toe clip or toe drag, which causes him to trip at times. The boot design gets that toe over and up into the fight faster. At least I noted he tripped less.

As has been stated many, many times, no boot is perfect for all horses in all conditions. The advantages we have today to find a design of boot that works well for your horse and riding style is significant compared to the limitations that we had to deal with when they are shod. My Initial impressions remain positive. I will find out more as we hit the trails this spring. For me and my old horse the Easyboot Glove Back Country is working and meets my requirements.

Over the course of the next five rides with the four Glove Back Country boots, I used # 3 on the front, and #2.5 on rear. I was concerned the large size would result in pulled boots, but the boots stayed on though hoof-deep mud and rocky washed-out trails.

I am very pleased with the performance of these boots. I have used other EasyCare boot styles with mixed results. The new Glove Back Country really works for me and my horse. They are easy to put on the hoof and take off, and there is no messing around with adjustments. I fold back the Comfort Cup gaiter, slide the boot over the hoof and tap it in place with the palm of my hand to seat the boot. I close the Velcro flaps, and I’m done. I can install four boots in about five minutes. The larger size has allowed me to let the trim and re-shape go a little longer than with a smaller sized boot. He trots just fine over rock stone roads and blacktop. The boot tread and the grip helps to keep him from slipping on the blacktop.

For the riders who are thinking about this new boot design, it really works. I have used almost all the boots ever made over the last 30 years. The new Glove Back Country has performed the best for my current horse and how we ride.


Name: Roger Rittenhouse
City: Pikeville, Tennessee, USA
Equine Discipline: Trail, Endurance
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove Back Country

A Conspiracy You Can Be Proud Of

Quo vadis natural hoof trimmers, bare hoof trimmers, booters, farriers, blacksmiths, hoof care merchants?

I have been fortunate enough to have had great mentors when I started farrier work over 20 years ago. My mentors were farriers who were open minded, letting the horses in their care go bare for long stretches of the year to "allow the hoof to relax" for a while, as they always said. Bare hoof trims were nothing fancy or new, whenever a horse had some time off, the shoes were pulled and that was it. Bare hoof riding was a way of life for many horses already many years ago.

Now Barefoot Trimming and Natural Hoof Care have gone mainstream. Natural Hoof Trims and Hoof Boots are in the lime light now, we all talking about it and more and more horse owners are taking it upon themselves to learn and study and doing it themselves.

I have been conducting hoof care clinics all over the Northamerican Continent and Europe. I attend farriers clinics, am a member of the American Farriers Association (AFA) and have ample opportunity to speak and interact with farriers from many countries all the time. Interesting to hear their take on Natural Hoof Trimming and the usage of protective horse boots. Here are some of the comments:

  • "It's a fad".
  • "It doesn't work"
  • "Horses cannot go bare"
  • "Steel shoes have always worked"
  • "Don't change anything if it is not broken"
  • "I'm a professional, I work hard"

None of these statements have any substance, they are hollow, mean absolutely nothing and are only excuses. But for what? Just a few days ago, I heard a new one, which I liked the best so far:

"It is a conspiracy!"

Is this horse a conspirator?

Now I was interested, who are the conspirators? He explained to me that the objective of "them" is to push the farriers out of business.

Conspirators at work.

The Kodak Company came to my mind.  When they filed Chapter 11, did they think it was a conspiracy of the digital camera manufacturers and the various software companies to push Kodak into the abyss? Were typewriter manufacturers victims of a conspiracy?

Life is ever evolving. So are our jobs and professions. If we think we know it all, are lazy, resting and stagnant, we are getting steam rolled. More now so than ever before.

I had to thank this farrier for giving me the opportunity to show him that he will only be out of business if he refuses to educate himself and adapt. The new hoof care findings and new hoof protection product lines offer an amazing opportunity for farriers to participate in the future by providing a complete Hoof Care Service for their customers.  Adding new skills to the art of blacksmithing, like barefoot trimming, Easyboot Glue-On applications, Vettec hoof protection; selling and providing Polyurethane horse shoes like Equiflex and the new upcoming Easyshoe, Easyboot Backcountry, Glove, Epic, Trail, etc, etc; any farrier can participate in this conspiracy and benefit immensely economically through it.

From the past, we move to the future through learning and by being open-minded.

A polyurethane horse shoe made by the Bootmeister with Vettec Superfast.

A protoype of the new EasyShoe.

Jump on board, Farriers, let the journey begin!

Brought to you by Christoph Schork,  The Bootmeister.

Global Endurance Training Center

Team Lurgy Make Their Debut (In Which I Get Quite Sore, But the Pone Finishes Looking Great)

Team Lurgy (Fergus + Lucy) made their debut last weekend at the Nevada Derby 50 miler endurance ride.

Fergus is my husband Patrick's 16+ hh Tennessee Walker/Arabian horse and although I am his main caretaker and trimmer, I'd only ridden him twice prior to embarking on our 50 miles together. Given that he's probably twice the weight of pony Small Thing, and travels at twice the speed but half the tempo, I knew we were in for a very steep learning curve when it came to adjusting my riding to suit his way of going. Couple that with having not done a 50 since May last year, this was going to be an interesting ride.

Fergus has never worn shoes (he's about to turn 10 years old) and his arrival in our lives was the main push to convert all the other horses to barefoot. If I was going to have to learn to trim him, I might as well do the other five horses as well.

He was probably in the very first wave of the horses competing in Gloves. We were at the Death Valley Encounter multi-day endurance ride in 2008 - with Patrick planning for Fergus to wear Epics for their first limited distance ride - when we came across Garrett Ford fitting some other horses for the new Glove boot.

I'd heard horror stories about Tennessee Walkers yanking off shoes from their way of going, so was a little worried that we were using an unproven (for Fergus, at least) booting method - especially given that it would be Patrick and his first distance ride together. Fergus went out the next day in a set of size 3 (fronts) and size 2 (rears)  Gloves and they completed two days of LD that week with absolutely no problems whatsoever. So much for worrying - Fergus has some TWH traits, but yanking boots isn't one of them.

In the years that have followed, we've downsized his Glove size to 2.5s in front and 1.5s in back, but recent changes in his left rear foot have necessitated bumping him up to a size 2. When I listen to him walking, he steps down differently on that foot so I'm considering getting a chiropractor to take a look at him to make sure there's nothing going on which could be causing this slight anomaly.

Back to last weekend.

Fergus and I went out on a 45 minute pre-ride on Friday afternoon and I came back feeling a little shell-shocked. Fergus has a humungous trot with loads of suspension - there's seemingly 5 seconds of hang-time between each stride and he's like steering the Lusitania - not exactly the short wheel-base of Small Thing.

  

As luck would have it, the following morning my riding buddy's horse was having an attack of "I'm so fit I left my brain back at the trailer" so we ended up walking most of the first five miles, giving me a chance to really settle in with Fergus and get used to this new balancing act. Perfect (all those trail miles babysitting Uno and Small Thing were paying off in dividends). The fact that Fergus' TWH genes blessed him with an amazingly big walk didn't hurt any either - I could get used to this travelling at speed without breaking into a trot option.

 

With cattle guards come cattle. Patrick and I discussed prior to me riding him that Fergus had never done anything bad at a ride before... uh, except for when we met those cows on the trail that time. Because of this, we proceeded with caution.

Fergus at the first vet check - having fallen instantly in love with a grey horse he spotted leaving.

The typical NV wind blew... and blew and blew. By the time we'd made the 1800'/550 m ascent to the top of the Dogskin Mountains it was gusting 60 mph, practically blowing us off the horses at times. It seemed like the harder it blew, the faster Fergus wanted to go - a pleasant surprise - I was expecting him to suffer from the "bleahs" from the climb.

Cresting the top of the Dogskin Mountains, before dropping down the other side to Bedell Flat. The steep descent featured several springs that had been diverted into large cattle troughs.

Once down on the flats on the far side of the mountains, it continued to blow and Fergus continued to be far more enthusiastic than I'd ever expected him to be. Unfortunately the muscles in my legs didn't share his enthusiasm and it began to feel like someone was jamming a hot poker into the side of one leg. However tempting it may have been to just let him go and relieve the pain from having my legs tweaked, it was definitely a case of "just because he thinks he can, doesn't mean he should" - his current fitness level was definitely not conducive to finishing a speedy 50 without something going horribly wrong, despite what he might think. So we worked on trying to keep it to a dull roar and get back to camp in some semblance of control.

Back at camp for our hour hold, I quickly checked under each Glove gaiter to make sure he hadn't collected any debris or piles of sand from having slogged through some deeper sand during the descent off the mountains. I was pleased to see that everything was fitting beautifully - he had a small wear at the front of one pastern, so I loosened that gaiter a little, but otherwise his boots were holding up with no problems at all - pretty typical for Fergus (he's not the most interesting horse to write about when it comes to 'boot adjustment').

Inside the back of my trailer, I was confused to discover everything covered in a fine layer of sand. It turned out that while we were out on the trail lamenting the wind, a sandstorm had blown through camp - sand-blasting everyone and everything. I'm going to be washing grit off my belongings for some time to come.

The sandstorm in camp - that's my trailer on the right. Photo: Andy Gerhard

 

Keeping it to a dull roar. Photo: Bill Gore

During the hour hold, the skies opened and began to rain - Fergus disappeared under a rain blanket to keep him and my saddle dry while he ate his slurpie refreshments. 

When it was time to leave, even though the sun was now shining again, we went for overkill dressing - waterproof legs, jacket, gloves and fleecy neck wrap. Just as well - within 30 minutes of leaving camp it began to rain again, gradually degenerating into snow. The horses decided they were on a Death March and we trudged rather unenthusiastically along into the head-wind, icy snow biting into our faces.

 

All bundled up, but good and toasty on the trail. Woolly gloves are perfect for mopping a continuously runny nose. Photo: Tami Rougeau

One thing I was surprised to learn was how sensitive Fergus was to different footing, despite wearing boots all around. I suspect some of this has to do with my neglect of his feet in the last few months and hope that this will improve as the mud dries out and we get back to regular trims. Trotting along the gravel roads, he would veer decisively to the softer (or seemingly softer) outside edges, and once we got back on the soft stuff he would joyfully increase his speed. I may experiment with 6 mm comfort pads in his boots to see if it helps, assuming adding pads will work with his Gloves - results seem to vary with different horses and sometimes they cause the low-profile Glove to come off.

As soon as we rounded the corner at the northern-most point of the loop, both horses brightened considerably from their Death March. They had no interest in eating or drinking from the fare provided by the Ride, but every interest in catching the group of horses about eight minutes ahead of us. That took about ten minutes and then Fergus and I returned to our battle of wills on exactly what speed was appropriate for an unfit horse, given that we still had 8 miles or so still to go.

And it was this portion of the ride where Fergus really shined - a very long straight road for the last six miles - the least interesting part of the entire day. We got up on the soft verge and he showed me his bestest medium trot (the one I didn't realise he possessed) and the miles flew by. I've never ridden a horse that could cover ground quite so effortlessly before and it was a true gift at the end of a long day on the trail. 

We completed the ride dead last in 9.5 hours, but Fergus was still pratting around at trot-out during vetting - displaying his sideways stupid trot and bellowing for his buddies (standing right next to him). Finishing with such a happy horse was the second gift of the day.

Worst part of the day? Having to call Patrick and confess that, yes, his horse *is* the most perfect of all our horses, much as I hate to admit it to him. I'll never hear the end of it now...

--
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California

Returning to Horses and Evolving into Boots

Submitted by Monique Chaisson-Williams, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I have a confession. I’m “one of those people”. I loved horses as a teenager but never owned one until I was in my mid-40s. Growing up in Tucson, AZ, I had plenty of access to other people’s horses and I did everything I could to be around and ride them. I learned a lot about riding and handling horses, but very little about horse care. I worked as a wrangler, but I never had horses in my back yard, I didn’t show, I never took lessons, and my parents knew nothing about horses.

Going for a ride in 1980. Neither one of us had boots!

When I finally decided – at the age of 45 – that I was old enough to own a horse, the balance and muscle memory of my childhood allowed me to quickly pick up as a rider where I had left off 30 years earlier, in much the same way that one never forgets how to ride a bike. However the day I handed over the check for my new mount, I felt a wave of panic come over me as I realized that I had no idea how to care for this animal on a daily basis. Now that I am a few years into my horse adventure, I have come to realize that my lack of knowledge – which I viewed as a tremendous handicap at the start – has become my greatest asset, especially for my horse.

With a wealth of information at our disposal, today’s horse owners are far more sophisticated and the supportive technology and products for optimal horse care has evolved tremendously. After a 30-year hiatus, I find myself in the midst of an evolution in everything equine. There has been significant development and groundbreaking work in equine care, training, nutrition, sport, and equipment – endurance saddles, gel pads, western dressage, one-rein stops, bitless bridles, competitive trail riding, and of course hoof care products and boots. These things were all new to me. In fact, I had never really looked at a shoeless hoof. To me, that crescent of steel was as much a part of the hoof as the frog.

Before I finally took my horses barefoot last year, I did my research. I read articles on the internet, consulted with veterinarians, ferriers, and experienced horse owners. If I was going to try this barefoot thing, I’d have to do it right. I wanted to avoid all the “I told you so” comments from the people at my barn that asserted that the desert terrain was too harsh for a barefoot horse. I knew that the proper use of the right boots was going to be the key to my success. The boots I was looking for had to be easy to put on and take off; they had to stay on up rocky slopes, through water, and down long sandy washes; they had to be comfortable for my horse; and not break the bank.  Before I pulled the shoes, I searched for the perfect boot for over a year and one day while trail-riding, I saw a horse outfitted with the Easyboot Glove. BINGO – just one look and I knew I had found the missing key!

Competing in an ACTHA ride in November 2011. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer LaBelle, Silver Buckle Photography.)

The other obstacle I encountered was the erroneous belief that replacing the toe weights and heel cocks with boots would cause my walking horse to lose her smooth four-beat gait. Having no prior experience with gaited horses, I feared they might be right but I took my chances and I am so glad I did. In fact, I found that her gait has improved as a barefoot and booted equine. A proper barefoot trim is required for the use of the Gloves, and I am a huge fan of the Gloves to this day. My horses have never been sore and they gait better now than they ever did with shoes. A well-fitted glove will usually stay on through thick and thin. Over hundreds of miles, my Gloves have slipped off only twice and it was due to operator error (too large or failure to clean dirt out of the toe). They don’t fill with sand or water, and when you do get a flat tire it sounds like a flat tire, and the gaitor usually keeps the glove attached to the pastern so you don’t lose it.

The thing I am looking forward to most these days is settling in and maturing together with my horses, riding and exploring with them for many years to come, and establishing a long track record of barefoot soundness. My evolution from steel shoes to Easyboots is a decision I’ve never regretted for a moment and I don’t believe I ever will.

Monique Chaisson-Williams

Easyboots Finish First, Fourth and Seventh at USA Endurance Team Time Trial

It was another great weekend for hoof boots. Easyboots were used by several of the horse and rider teams at the USA Endurance Team Time Trial for the 2012 World Endurance Championship.  Although many Easybooted horse and rider teams didn't have the day they had hoped for, the first, fourth and seventh place horse and rider teams finished wearing Easyboots.  The Best Condition prize was also awarded to a horse that completed the course in Easyboots.   

Jeremy Reynolds and Kutt take home first place and best condition in Easyboots.  Photo by Merri Melde.

Heather Reynolds and Riverwatch finish in fourth place.  Photo by Merri Melde.


Amy Atkins and Juniper finish in seventh place.  Photo by Merri Melde.

In addition to the Easybooted horses, several other of the USA competitors were using Renegade Glue-On hoof boots. The second place horse finished in Renegade glue-on hoof boots.  At the end of the day, Easyboot horses and Renegade horses accounted for nearly half of the USA riders looking for a spot on the team heading to England.  The event shows that hoof boots are here to stay and are being used at the top levels of equine sports.

One of my favorite moments of the day was watching Jeremy Reynolds take time away from his horse during one of 30-minute vet stops towards the end of the race.  Jeremy put his race aside and helped a fellow competitor with a lost shoe.  He tacked the shoe on with minutes to spare and then quickly jumped on his horse as he departed on his way to his eventual first place finish.

Jeremy Reynolds applies a shoe to a fellow competitor's horse during a short vet stop.  Jeremy is still in his helmet!

EasyCare is looking forward to the possibility for riders on the USA Endurance team to compete in Easyboots.  We have several new tread patterns for them to choose from that will help them stick to the course.  In addition, EasyCare's new EasyShoe may be the perfect option for the English countryside.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

 

April 2012: Back Country Available Now, Easyboot success at USA Time Trials

Garrett Ford celebrates Easyboot's win and Best Condition award at the USA Endurance 100-mile Team Time Trial in Texas last weekend.

Kevin Myers points you to four areas of information about the Glove Back Country, including a video review by Carol Crisp.

Dawn Willoughby discusses tips and tricks to combat the effects of diet on the health of horses.

Debbie Schwiebert introduces a must-read article on hoof loading by Gail Snyder in Natural Horse Magazine.

We welcome three new dealers to the EasyCare distribution network.

And Team Easyboot 2012 member Anke Schreiber reports on a hoof trimming clinic she recently attended in Germany.

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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