Trelawne Wins at the 2011 Vet Marketing Awards

Trelawne

EasyCare UK distributor, Trelawne Equine, picks up
Marketing award for the Easyboot Trail.

Innovative barefoot hoof boot picks up vet marketing award

British distributor Trelawne Equine has been awarded the Equine Product Innovation Of The Year award for the Easyboot Trail hoof boot at the 2011 Vet Marketing Awards.

The awards, hosted at the London Vet Show and organised by Grove House Publishing, recognise companies and individuals that are driving innovation in communications and product development in a way that promotes the health and wellbeing of animals.

The judges commented: “We were impressed by this simple and straightforward product. The Easyboot Trail hoof boot is a modern, durable design for barefoot horses and is ideal for leisure riders.”

Trelawne Equine’s co-proprietor Lucy Nicholas said: “We are thrilled to have received this recognition from the veterinary community, particularly as it recognises the importance of the health and wellbeing of animals. Understanding of barefoot equine management continues to increase, and many UK horse owners now choose to keep their horses barefoot, using hoof boots in certain circumstances when they ride.”

The Easyboot Trail hoof boot for barefoot horses, manufactured by American brand EasyCare, is most suitable for distances of up to 25 miles. It is lightweight, easy to apply and offers shock absorption properties, particularly when comfort pads are used inside the boots. The boots are sold singly and available in 11 sizes. Sizes 0 - 6 are £54.99, and sizes 7 -10 are £64.99.

For trade account / stockist enquiries: Tel: 0844 257 8585

Web: www.trelawneequine.co.uk / Email: advice@trelawneequine.co.uk

Like the company at: facebook.com/TrelawneEquine

For media enquiries or to request images please contact kathy@sirenia.co.uk / 077866 9114



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.

December 2011: Jenkins Hoof Care

Matt Jenkins is a relative newcomer to the hoof care industry. He was burnt-out from long hours working at the feedlot and ready for a change in careers. His father called him one day and said he was having trouble with a farrier and unfortunately this wasn't the first time. Instead of dealing with the frustration of finding yet another farrier, he suggested Matt attend shoeing school and at least learn how to trim and shoe their horses. Matt signed up for school and after the first week, he knew he had found his new career. 

EasyCare Dealers at the American Hoof Association Conference in 2011

American Hoof Association Conference 2011: Ida Hammer, Matt Jenkins, Mark Rudenborg, Ada Uphoff.

Four years later, Matt had a client horse he could not keep sound, nor could he keep shoes on it. Fellow farriers came to the barn to assist him, but to no avail.

The horse's owner was in his late seventies and rode every day. On one of Matt's visits to the barn, he handed him one of Pete Ramey's books. Matt was not impressed at first and told him it wouldn't work. The owner was very persistent but a full year passed before Matt took the leap of faith and pulled this horse's shoes. In six months, the horse had recovered completely. "I was amazed and confused," said Matt. "This mentality was so different from my schooling and how I was taught to raise horses."

Matt secretly started to transition his own horses and could not believe the changes in them. He ordered his own copy of Pete Ramey's book and started reading everything he wrote. Soon he started asking his clients to allow him to pull the shoes to rehabilitate their horses. Today, Matt has a client base of more than 450 horses.

He gets excited when he talks about the many advancements in the hoof boot industry. "There have been tremendous improvements in the quality, fit, and ease of application in the past few years. I have to admit I put down the boots in the beginning and would tell people it's okay for a spare tire but nothing will replace the steel shoe."

Easyboot Dealer Matt Jenkins

Returning from 22 miles in the rugged Shawnee National Forrest on the River to River trail (all barefoot horses). Matt is in the black hat.

Matt comes from a modest family farm south of Marion, Illinois, where they raised cattle, vegetables, rabbits and horses. He has a bachelor's degree in Beef Nutrition from Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. He paid his way through college by training horses and driving trucks in the summer.

Today, Matt lives with his wife, Rachel, in Vienna, IL. As an owner of ten Quarter Horses and one Missouri Fox Trotter, Matt attributes his success to patience with people and genuine care for the well-being of horses. All of Matt's horses are booted: "We use Epics and Gloves. My favorite is the Glove but I still have a special place in my heart for the Epic."

Matt has been an EasyCare dealer for about 15 months. He carries Epics, Gloves, Glue-Ons, EasySoakers, Rx and recently added the Trails. His bestseller is the Easyboot Glove.

He graduated from the Kentucky Horse Shoeing school in 2003. He also attended any certification clinic or educational class that he could find. "While transitioning my own thought process to barefoot, I worked at the Agronomy Research Center in Carbondale, IL."

The most rewarding experience Matt has as a trimmer is seeing the look on people's faces and the hugs and tears shed when a horse has been successfully rehabilitated. Most of these clients thought they had done everything and as a last resort they reluctantly tried barefoot. "Yep, their lame horse with no hope walks again."

He can remember standing in a barn with a sad family, a vet and another farrier. The prognosis for the horse was grim: nothing more could be done. He remembers the vet saying to the owners "say your goodbyes, we need to put him down right away." As the farrier and the vet left the barn they looked at Matt and asked if he could fix the situation. 

Matt wasn't practicing barefoot hoof care at the time and this would be his first founder rehabilitation using barefoot methods. "The coffin bone had penetrated both front feet. His frogs were almost non-existent, destroyed by thrush. What was I thinking?" He drove an hour one way every week for several months, then went every three weeks, then every four. Eventually, the horse was doing much better and he moved him to a six week trim cycle. "I am proud to say that the horse is alive and well and guiding trail rides at a local camp. Later I ran into the original farrier. He just shook his head and told me I just got lucky."

When discussing the key to success as a trimmer, Matt's first response is the ability to admit when he has made a mistake. "It goes along way in retaining clients as well as picking up new ones. Obstacles are forever present throughout life and someone is always watching to see how you overcome them."

Matt's leading mentor is Ida Hammer. He also gives credit and an honorable mention to Eric Knapp, Randy Hensley, Jeanie Wright and Debbie Schwiebert from EasyCare.

In his opinion, the barefoot industry is moving forward at a rapid rate. "Everywhere I go, people are showing more interest in barefoot hoofcare. As rule books change in the competitive arena and barefoot horses start out performing shod, change will happen. I also believe barefoot success is parallel to boot success."

Why You Should Buy Easyboots Instead of Crack

Why, you might ask? Well let me count the ways...

1) Crack kills - Easyboots don't. It's pretty much that simple.

2) Crack is really expensive (I think, anyway) and is pretty much instant gratification. Easyboots last for miles and miles and miles! You can't beat that!

3) Crack is illegal and being in jail would suck. Easyboots are now legal in lots of different sanctioned horse sports including CTR. Glue-Ons are appropriate for many types of competition and hopefully the new Easyboot Race Plate will be allowed at race meets across the country very soon! 

4) Crack makes your teeth fall out and your skin fall off <ewwww!!!!> . Easyboots allow horses to live a more natural lifestyle the other 90% of the time they aren't being ridden. It's really a win-win. 

5) Crack must be purchased by specialized dealers across the land. While Easyboots are also purchased from specialized dealers across the land, you most likely won't get shot or robbed or have to wear wires to purchase them. It's a much safer situation overall. 

crack

A different kind of crack, but also bad. 

While I could go on and on, I think the above provides adequate reasoning why NOT to purchase illegal controlled substances, when you could be buying Easyboots for your horse instead. Of course for those who would never consider buying crack, we could substitute other frivolous (hopefully legal) things many of us chose to spend money on... a few lunches out a week, some Starbucks, manicures, fancy shoes, I could also go on and on about spending money on non-necessary things such as purses and luxurious make-up but not because *I* ever do such a thing!

boots

A worth-it purchase. Same as those cute red shoes (but don't tell the ponies).

When recently polled, the number one reason that people cited as keeping them from purchasing boots for their horses was cost. While I get the sucky economy deal, I also consider horses to be a hobby. An EXPENSIVE hobby.. one of the "you gotta pay to play" kinda deals. I also think about how much money the average crack user (who is usually unemployed and drowning in legal fees for past and present criminal charges) probably spends a week. The thought of spending $120.00 on a pair of Easyboot Gloves that will last my horse months and months of riding doesn't seem so bad. 

So lay off the crack and buy some Easyboots. It's a good decision. 

~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho 

Making New Tracks - What Will They Think?

I had the opportunity to put first ever tracks on earth over the Thanksgiving weekend. Two new hoof protection inventions were used in soft soil conditions that may potentially leave fossil tracks for the next inhabitants of the earth. 

EasyCare Glue-On Shoe

New low profile, lightweight prototype glue-on shoe. First tracks hit the earth over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Have you ever wondered how they will react to the tracks we leave on earth? Will the next inhabitants look at booted horse tracks and wonder what the heck?  Will the hoof tracks covered with hoof boots and iron shoes confuse them or will they even care? 

I personally always look at tracks when I'm out and about.  "Is that an Easyboot track?" "Wow that's a great looking barefoot track."  "Is that an Easyboot Glove track?" "Mountain Lion or bear?"  "Montrails or New Balance?".  Kind of fun to see who's making tracks.

Dinosaur Tracks

Fossil dinosaur tracks give our generation more clues about the pa
st.
Probably something many of you haven't put much thought into?  I personally find it fun to be involved with making new tracks on the earth!

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.


Everyone Needs a Fit Kit

I have been in love with the Easyboot Glove since its release in 2009. After struggling with the original Easyboot and losing several in mud, I was thrilled with the concept of the Easyboot Glove; finally a low profile boot that is easy to put on and most importantly it stays on. I measured Calatar and came up with 118mm x 127mm for the left front and 116mm x 126mm for the right front. Based on the size chart, I determined he would need a size 1.5 for both fronts. I tried to order the boots and much to my dismay they were on back order; I would have to wait. In spite of this disappointment, I continued researching the Gloves and found that there were Fit Kits available. I wasn’t worried about the fit since both his width and length measurements fell into a size 1.5 but I was impatient and wanted to see these new boots so I ordered a Fit Kit.

Fit Kit

A size 1.5 Fit Kit contains three boots: sizes 1, 1.5 and 2.

When I received the kit, I put the size 1.5 on and right away I could tell it was too big. It was a little better on the left front than the right but the V did not expand much on either foot and the boots were not difficult to remove. Next I applied the size 1 and was surprised to see it fit much better; the V expanded nicely. There did appear to be a slight bulge near the quarters but I felt confident I could keep it to a minimum with regular rasping. The size 1 Glove has worked well for Cal and to date we have not had any boot losses. I started trimming Cal full time a few months after purchasing the Gloves and moved him from a 6-week trim cycle to a 4-week trim cycle. Over time, his toes have gotten shorter and his fronts now measure 118mm x 122mm and 116mm x 120mm but the size 1 is still the best fit.

Cal with Size 1

Cal wearing a size 1 from a Fit Kit.

Fast forward to today and I have a new horse, Bruiser, a five year old Peruvian Paso Quarter Horse cross. I have had him for a little over a year and started him under saddle this past spring. Now that we are settled in Arizona, it’s time to start putting some trail miles on. When I purchased him, I was worried the regular Glove wasn’t going to work due to his round hoof conformation. He has never had shoes and his front feet measure 114mm x 114mm. In my next blog, I am going to discuss fitting Bruiser for Gloves. I was convinced the new Glove Wide would be the best boot for him, so imagine my surprise when I tried the size 0W on and it wasn’t a perfect fit…

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I have plenty of hands on experience since my horses have been barefoot and booted since 2003.

My name is Alayna and I am a Hoofoholic

Although I have already written a few posts under the Customer Help blog, I feel I should officially introduce myself as a hoofoholic. It all started in 2003 with my first horse Calatar. Admittedly, I knew nothing about hooves but I had a friend who was taking her horses barefoot and I decided to give it a try. Cindy "Hawk" Sullivan pulled Cal’s shoes and I never looked back. The more time my horses spent barefoot, the more I realized how much stronger and healthier bare hooves are. Cindy is much more than a trimmer; she is also a wonderful teacher who got the ball rolling for my trimming education. She taught me how to roll the wall for maintenance and emphasized the importance of environment in regards to hoof health. At the time, I had no idea who Cindy was or the impact she had on the barefoot movement but if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Alayna and Cal

Calatar competing barefoot at a Trail Challenge in 2010.

My obsession with hooves developed over time and for the past several years, I have done my best to absorb as much knowledge as possible. After reading books and articles by Jaime Jackson, Pete Ramey, Gene Ovnicek, KC LaPierre, and The Horse’s Hoof, I was ready for something more hands on. I participated in a trimming and dissection clinic taught by Marian Figley, who started trimming my horses when we moved out of Cindy’s service area. The dissection was a huge confidence builder and I recommend at least observing one if you plan on trimming. Once you understand the internal mechanics you are better able to recognize the external landmarks. I have seen many diagrams of the equine foot but they just don’t compare to being able to see things first hand.

Marian Figley

Marian Figley trimming a sore older horse. Look at her stretch!

Shortly after the clinic, I moved out of Marian’s service area. When I asked her for a recommendation for a new trimmer, she laughed and told me I was more than capable. Now, over two years later, I have been trimming my horses full time and have loved every minute of it. Learning how to trim was such an empowering experience and I have developed a huge appreciation for the hard work of hoof care professionals. When I started, each new tool felt clumsy in my hands, but with the help of some great mentors, I became confident using them. Trimming your own horses isn’t rocket science, but anyone who wants to follow this path should work closely with a qualified trimmer or farrier. I think every horse owner would benefit from learning how to trim even if they choose not to do it regularly – but consider yourself warned, you may wake up one day and come to the realization that you too have become a hoofoholic.

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I have plenty of hands on experience since my horses have been barefoot and booted since 2003.

Transition Tuesday's Back Y'all!!

Ok well it's not exactly Tuesday but it was written on Tuesday so technically I'm not too far off. Kevin Myers began the series, Transition Tuesday, some time ago. Kevin chronicled not only the transition from shoes to barefoot with their horses, but also the transition for himself and Rusty. It was informative and sometimes hilarious. Unfortunately, you won't be reading about the greased pig effect of silicone and Gloves during MY transition, but I hope there will be something of use for someone! 

While I know most people who read the Easycare blogs are already barefoot and well on their way to success, there are others who have yet to or have just made the decision to yank the shoes off their horses. It's a scary decision if you're new to barefoot/booted riding, but once made, rarely will you go back. The decision is much less scary when you've done it before, but there is still a little anxiety as to how this particular horse at this particular time will handle the transition. 

nero

Meet Nero. 

Nero is a 9 year-old CMK gelding. He has 1,820 endurance miles. All shod. He is in his prime and absolutely *loves* his job. I'll be taking Nero on for the next year, and hope to add many successful endurance miles to his record. Of course, these miles will done booted. I can only hope to do this fine horse justice. 

Nero came to me in shoes, set about six weeks prior. He was off, right front, with no discernible reason. Upon close inspection, I came to the realization that I couldn't really fault his shoe job. While I obviously don't shoe my horses, if I did, I would want their feet to look like Nero's. His heels were nice and open, the shoes were set wide, and his break-over was very nice considering he was six or more weeks into the set. Setting the foot down, I noticed that there were no flares and his coronary bands were very straight and not pushed up like I see a lot of shod and even barefoot horses. This says a lot for the trim he was given prior to shoeing. 

nero

That all said, I could see exactly what we'll be working toward! Given that he was so many weeks into the shoes, he had a lot of foot growth. It is amazing to look at a hoof that hasn't been trimmed in that long and see how much growth there is! I can totally see why people new to barefoot worry about the "look" of a barefoot hoof. It is so much shorter, overall! I will be sorry to tell his mom, but our boy will be a bit shorter when this is all said and done! That's ok, he's a little tall for me anyway :) 

nero
shoes

Unfortunately, none of this gave much reason for his lameness. I could only hope pulling his shoes helped, but at least I knew pulling them wouldn't make him more lame, or I hoped anyway! Luckily, I married the right guy for this job! My husband, who is an equine veterinarian, came out to take a look at Nero and help (help meaning do) pull his shoes. He noticed right off the bat that there had been a nail set on the outside of the right front, much higher than the rest. Nero was obviously uncomfortable when pulling that side of the shoe off, and settled when the nail came out. He also had some slight separation of the white line at the quarters, and had a funny looking crack along the toe that may have had too much pressure from shoe and dirt, and could have been causing some soreness. At this point, it's all speculation. Time will tell. 

nails

nero

After pulling Nero's shoes, I very lightly rasped the walls to round them, and headed back to the round pen. While I know he needs a trim, I like to give them a bit of time to settle without changing everything all at once. As for that day, wouldn't you know Nero was SOUND! Sound and sassy - a great combination! He was turned out on the hills with the other two boys the next day, and I will be doing a real trim on him in a few days.

While this isn't the best time of the year to transition due to the fact it's about the freeze and get REALLY hard, we'll do our best! Throughout the winter, I'll be writing once a month about our experiences getting Nero going from shoes to boots and hopefully completely barefoot as he lets us know he's ready. This is the fourth horse I'll have transitioned from shoes to bare, hopefully the fourth SUCCESSFUL horse! This horse has incredible feet and incredible abilities as an athlete. I cannot wait to see what Nero can teach me through the process. 

nero

Stay tuned for more Nero. I can't get enough of this face, can you? 

nero

Next time: why you should buy Easyboots instead of crack. Oh yes. There are many reasons. 

Happy Riding! 

~ Amanda Washington
SW Idaho 


Darn, I Wish My Horse Didn't...

Have you ever thought, "I have spent umpteen hours transitioning my horse to barefeet, fitting him for boots, fixing his body, tweaking his diet, saving up for the best tack, and yet he still" (choose from the following):
  • Shoves me for attention; or
  • Won't stay out of my space; or
  • Jerks his feet away when I am picking them; or
  • Snaps at me, when I put on the saddle (make sure there isn't pain); or
  • head bobs on the cross ties, etc.

Most of us have at least one equine behavioral peeve that we would love to get rid of. And no matter how much you love your pony, having your horse turn into a giraffe during bridle time is just no fun. Yet most of us never take the time to train away these nuisances. For some, it's easier to smack and yell at the animal; but the next day, the behavior is still there. For others, we just don't know how to train him to stop it or chose another pleasant behavior.

Peanut learns to trust again.

Peanut learns to trust again.

Peanut, a Palomino TWH, was so severely harmed in training that he refused to let anyone touch his head. He failed Field Trial Training, returning home with deep halter/bridle sores. When Sara met him he was beyond head shy. It took one week with a few, short lessons each day of clicker training to turn Peanut in a halter-lover. By the end, he offered to drop his head into the halter! Peanut is Sara's first and only horse.

Whether you are into barrel racing, classical dressage training or something in between, I have found that using a marker signal, click, combined with positive reenforcement, a treat, to be a skillful way to work with horses. Coined Clicker Training is the go-to tool in my equine training tool box. You can use clicker occasionally, sometimes or all the time; you chose. There are ways to tell you horse, "We aren't playing clicker now."

Panda, the seeing eye mini horse

Panda's job is a guide (mini) horse. She was trained by Alex Kurland. Her story is now available. All her photos by Neil Soderstrom.

When I found my Sunny (OTTB) at a rescue, I realized pretty quickly that he knew next to nothing. He loved people and wanted to be with them. Beyond that, he was a blank slate. Like so many racehorses, he was muscled and threatened, not trained. A pocket pony was just what I wanted this time around, a best friend. But, a friend with manners and one who lived by the ground rules.

I had some clicker experience training my last rottie, Lily. But as we all know, horses are not dogs. I called my friend, Katie Bartlett, requesting that she bring me up to speed in equine clicker. Katie has been working with Alex Kurland for over ten years. In my opinion, Alex is the premier clicker trainer of horses. She teaches throughout the world and her kindness and patience with horses is without bounds. Just seeing some of the horses she has brought back to sanity will warm your heart. No horse is too far gone. Her introductory DVD will give you a clear understanding of her training style. Whether you are a 50 year old first time horse owner or a competitive rider with a couple of challenges, this training can help you find solutions that work for you and your horse.

I am delighted to say that both Katie and Alex have barefoot horses too. Katie trims her eight equines that range from a mini to a Shire.

Alex often uses people as horses for demonstration purposes.

In a 2008 clinic, on the right, Alex Kurland, as Human, demonstrates a cue that carries through much of her clicker training. In the foreground, as Horse, Laurie Higgins.

A year ago, Katie agreed to take on a pony, Stella, from a rescue. The rescue could not adopt her out because Stella's answer to everything was rearing. Punishment only upped the ante. One of the reasons that clicker training works so well with difficult horses like Stella is because it changes up the game. Clicker training was unfamiliar, more like a game. Stella was glad to play. She had no bad memories of touching a target, for instance. As time passed, more typical horse behaviors like foot care and leading were reintroduced in the context of the now familiar clicker training. These days, Stella is handled like the a regular horse; she is back on track to becomeing a model citizen.

The new, beautiful Stella

Many positive behaviors are demonstrated in the new and relaxed Stella. Relaxed trot. Head at withers or lower. Soft eye. Nice bend on the circle. Previously, any long lining or longing activated her rear response. Look at her now.

It occured to me when watching the new movie, "Buck", that the spoiled stallion that was sent home to be euthanized, could have been saved. With the right, patient person, clicker may have been an alternative.

Clicker was an overlay for teaching my horse ground manners, ground work, in-hand, trail riding preparation, and now, classical/kind dressage. Although surrounded by some of the top riders and trainers in the world (based in nearby Unionville, PA), I decided against sending him to a professional. With the help of Katie, Alex and other resources, I decided early on that Sunny and I would do this together, slow though it might be. Clicker training made it possible for me, an ordinary horse lover and owner, to turn a racehorse into a well mannered companion horse. For us, 'training' continues to be an ongoing process.

Backing with a rein lift. No pressure.

Here (2008), Sunny is backing from a lifted, near rein cue. There is no pressure on the bit. The movement is offered by the horse, not demanded by the person. Introduced first in-hand, I then re-taught it from the saddle. Now, 2011, he easily reads my body language when working in hand or at liberty.

Every journey begins with the first step. For Clicker, the first foundation exercise is Target Training. I think of targeting as a chance for the owner and horse to learn a common language. The second lesson is teaching good food manners. In typical Alex humor, she calls this lesson, "Quiet while the grown-ups are talking." There are a few more foundation lessons that will help turn your horse into a well mannered, curious learner and turn you into a stellar trainer. After that the sky is the limit.

The Foundation Lessons:
  1. Targeting.
  2. Quiet while the grown-ups are talking.
  3. Head Down, the calm down exercises, taught several ways.
  4. Backing.
  5. Happy Face, ears forward for grumps,
  6. Mat work, the clicker form of ground training.

The first offer of a target.

The first offer of a target.

Target Training is how I introduced clicker to Sunny. At its most basic, the target is something you want the horse to touch with his nose. I offered a target, my home-made wand: a short dowel with a tennis ball on the end. TThis toy/tool has no bad associations. When Sunny touched the target, I clicked and rewarded him. The click means "Yes, that's the behavior I want," and the food reward, reinforces the behavior: click and Treat (C/T). Most horses are curious and learn quickly. Everyone I have met is astonished to meet the genius hiding inside their horse.

Target the bag

Can you touch and grab the oat bag?

Of course, initially these horses didn't know the click meant "Yes!". It was just a noise. During the training of the first foundation exercise, targeting, they figure it out. The click is fast, simple and can't be confused with words or other noises you use. After a few weeks, when each horse is clear about the new language, many of us change from the mechanical click you buy at the pet store to a mouth cluck. I get a cluck by putting my tongue on the roof of my mouth. My click is always with me. 

And bring it to you!

Can you bring me the oat bag? Floppy oat bag on windy day: Desensitized. On occasion I can get him to pick up trash on the trail and hand it to me!

As for the relationship between clicker trainers and their horses, attend a clinic sometime. Never have I seen a workshop where every single gelding drops as he works on a lesson. The horses are relaxed and happy.

Along the way, we introduce a cue. A cue initiates behavior. I say "Touch!" (voice cue) when I offer the target. I am putting targeting on stimulus control, "Touch the target only when I ask you to." If you touch when not asked, I won't C/T.

Another foundation lesson: Mat Work - the Clicker form of ground tying, and more.

Tessa's first ground tying lesson.

Diane as Human and Tessa on the first Mat Lesson. She spent a lot of time pawing but now is a stellar student of the mat at liberty.

Tacking up. What a great use for the Mat Lesson.

Here, Sally, the owner, demonstrates a very practical result from the Mat Lesson. Her OTTB, Molly, was a terror to groom and tack up. Assured that Molly wasn't in pain, Sally began daily mat exercises. What pleasure she is now. Note the attentive ears as Molly supervises Sally.

There is another practical result of targeting that might be useful this winter.

Did you drop something?

For those of us who can't mount our horses, how great is this? "Glove please," and point. He hands it to me.

One example of Free Shaping: How Many Things Can You Do with a Barrel? One C/T for each original behavior. Tell me that doesn't blow your mind.

I can push it. And target with my foot.

Practical Application: If we see a monster on the trail, I may ask him to play the same game. He touches the monsters every time.

The absolutely critical lesson on food, Quiet while the grown ups are talking, wherein my horse learns that I am not a grocery bag to be searched. Nor am I a vending machine. When you push my buttons (literally), I will not dispense food.

Horses, like children, can learn food manners. How many people have said, "Don't ever hand feed your horse." Oh Please! Even the greediest horse who inhales your entire arm, can learn table manners for heaven's sake.

This is also first taught behind a stall guard or an enclosed place where the human can control the space. I click and treated for head straight ahead, or head away from me. Over time, I raised the criteria to having his head forward, straight ahead, ears forward.

Because Sunny was excitable in the early days, I added Head Down, the calm down position, to his Grown Ups work. Now whenever I am talking or even just standing still, I have a subtle cue telling Sunny, hang out in your own space. If I want a particular head position - head down or arched neck - I can cue that. If I want feet squared I can cue that. What I do not have is a horse checking out my pockets!

Were are those dang treats?

In the very beginning, 2004 my curious horse during The Duct Tape Lesson. While I took a break to assess our progress, Sunny decided to search my treat pack. Sneaky little bugger.

There are DVDs and articles teaching Grown Ups with the training steps broken down. I encourage you to educate yourself on this one. I hope you won't wing it or ad lib in early clicker training. Frustrated horses are not happy horses. 

My challenge this winter is to work on the foundation lesson "Happy Face (ears forward)". For some reason Sunny's are more often back. Maybe that's how he concentrates? Regardless, it's not pleasant looking and I want people to like him, not fear him!

Rosie offers Happy Face, with the left ear forward.

Rosie learned to put her left ear forward on cue. Doesn't she look pleasant? The pre-Happy Face Rosie was scary. Trainer Katie showed me the cue, a gentle touch behind the ear, for the photo. In reality, Katie can now just look at that spot to cue Rosie.

Common Concerns about Equine Clicker Training
(1) Recently a vet told a friend of mine that he hated clicker training because it turned horses into Pavlov's dogs!
He didn't think it was normal for horses to offer behavior. As you read above, stimulus control is something we teach from the beginning in lesson 1 and 2.

(2) When I reward my horse with treats he gets pushy and nippy.
Thus the reason for "Grown-Ups", lesson two. I am sure your kids were not the best dinner partners at their first restaurant outing. Well just like kids, horses must learn table manners.

Having stellar table manners is a hallmark of a well trained clicker horse. In one advanced lesson, the horse learns to refuse a treat from your hand until cued. Alex demonstrates this exercise with Robin in one of her DVD's. "You can not force me to eat that carrot," Robin seems to say as he arches his neck in 'the dressage pose' and steadfastly ignores the food until cued. In another exercise, a horse at liberty will walk, trot and canter to his person without eating anything from the equine buffet table he must pass. That's Clicker Olympics.

(3) I don't want to click and treat (C/T) all the time.
Depending on your situation, there are different ways to handle this.

In one case, as the behavior advances on cue, you can select just for quality, C/T the best offerings and slowing fade the C/T. I still go back to basics every now and then for a 'tune up' but I don't C/T every cued smile, yawn, Yes, No. That's the old stuff.

Most of us create a 'keep going signal': That's great and please keep doing it.

Or what if I C/T only when we are working in the ring but not when we hack out. Early on, I can teach the horse that we C/T in some places but not in others. (Note unlike kid training!)

(4) I don't want a Trick Horse.
While it's true that I couldn't resist teaching my horse a repertoire of tricks during his 1 year rehab from a torn suspensory, it doesn't mean that you must teach tricks. It is fun though. I know that Sunny loves to make me laugh with his slobbery kisses!

The Laugh, on cue.

First Trick: The Laugh on cue. An aside, here Sunny is dark bay in this recent summer photo because he has had his minerals balanced according to his diet. Thank you Dr. Eleanor Kellon for your online course.

The Yawn.

One of My Most Challenging Tricks to Teach: The Yawn on cue. Here Sunny hasn't had his minerals balanced. In the summer, he used to become a dull, blood bay without adequate copper and zinc.

(5) My horse is prone to laminitis and follows a special diet. This is very common. There are many treats you can use for these horses that are low in sugar, like Alam and hay stretchers.

Red practices Head Down.

Red demonstrates a perfect Head Down, a calming stance taught unmounted and mounted. Red is a Quarter Horse x Belgium. Hay stretchers are a healthy reward.

I hope you will check out this positive way of training. It's fun for you and your horse.

Favorite Resources to Get You Started
Peanut in Head Down, on a mounting block.

When cued to Head Down, Peanut drops like a rock and stays and stays and stays. He has the best Head Down I have ever seen. And doing it on a platform, well, that's just The Nut!

Until next time, Happy Trails!

Dawn Willoughby
, new grandma of Matilda Wednesday Villegas. She is getting Panda, A Guide Horse for Ann for Christmas.

Fixing Under-Run Heels

Like most people, I used to depend on my farrier to keep my horse trimmed and did barefoot trims every 6 weeks. Living in Washington, there isn't a big choice of farriers with barefoot trimming experience. Some say they know they barefoot trim, but not all of them do. My mare soon developed under-run heels, so I kept looking for the perfect farrier to deal with this.

Before

Before.

I eventually decided to do it myself. I'm somehwhat of a perfectionist and so I read every book I could find and I and watched every video I could find. Now, a year and half later, my mare is getting perfect feet. We've gone thru a lot together, but I would just read about how to deal with the issues I was having.

After

After.

Education is amazing. We are now in a Size 1 Boa Horse Boot and before she was a 0. Pictures are before and after, and we are still at it.

Name: Shellie
City: Oakesdale, Washington, USA
Equine Discipline: Trail
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove


Thinking Outside the Box (Or is it Bottle?): A Glove Twist/Loss Solution

Are you still twisting those hind hoof Gloves, or, worse yet, losing them completely? Even with the proper use of Mueller Athletic Tape and a good trim and boot fit? I do... Why? Well, look at my mare's legs in the pictures, and you will see why! She is a great horse, but took the philosophy that a little cow-hocked is fine in a horse, and ran with it a bit too far. Thus, she toes out a good bit and with her nice, Morgan/QH rear end (wish her brains were there too: lately the Arab half has come out on that end), she powers along with a good twist to her hind leg movement.

This means every boot (EC styles and competitor brands of all kinds) has not stayed straight on her hoof, and can come off altogether at a canter. Glue-On boots solve that for multi-day rides, but for a single day ride, I don't want the hassle or expense. So I had to come up with a solution for her. I tried varying ones (Goober Glue, Vet Tech products, etc) and finally found a cheap and fairly easy solution: a bottle of Gorilla Glue and some athletic tape.

How it Works
1) Use athletic tape on the hoof as you usually would (see how she toes out? Add a "twist" with every push off of the hoof, and you have a lot of torque on the boots).

GG1

2) Put on the Gloves as usual. I put power straps on the inside here, but also use them on the outside. With Gorilla Glue, the boots are totally re-useable. This is the fourth gluing on these particular boots.

GG2

3) Gather your tools: Gorilla Glue, flat head screwdriver (smallish is better), gloves for your hands, and more athletic tape or duck tape if you prefer.

GG3

4) This is where it can get tricky if your horse is new at it. Having a helper hold up one of your horse's front feet to keep them from picking up the rear one or walking off can help until (like my mare) they figure out you want them to keep the foot down and still.

Insert the screwdriver between the hoof wall and the boot, gently prying hte boot away from the wall and exposing a gap. Start near the back where the gaiter attaches and work all the way around the hoof (see photo below).

GG4

5) Insert tip of the GG bottle into the gap, and squirt glue down into the boot. You will figure out with trial and error how much you need. Just like with Adhere and Glue-On boots, some horses need more or less. Try at home before you go to an event. Do this all around the boot from gaiter edge to the other gaiter edge. I have not needed any in the rear of the boot so far, and a little will flow back there anyway on its own. Using two hands works best. I had to take a picture with one hand, so had to figure out how to balance the bottle and screwdriver in the other.

GG5

Below is a close-up of the glue down in the gap. GG foams up as it dries, expanding and thus filling in some of the gaps that cause the rear boots not to fit as well, as well as providing 'stick factor'.

GG6

6) Take your roll of athletic (or other) tape and wrap it around the top edge of the boot, all the way behind the heels and the front. A few times around is usually plenty. This helps keep things in place while the glue dries (it takes a few hours) and puts a little pressure on the boot to help the glue foam into all the gaps, instead of out the top of the boot. You can see the foamy old glue on the outside of the boot.

GG6

Both feet finished and waiting to dry. Do this after a ride or anything else that will cause your horse to move around too much. Remember, it takes a few hours to really set up nicely, and you don't want it to set up twisted on the hoof. I do this the night before an event and just leave the gaiters loose overnight, then tighten in the morning.

GG7

Removal and Cleanup
Removal works just like with Glue-Ons. Using a flat-head screwdriver and a rubber mallet, carefully pry the boot away from the hoof. This works best if you stick the screwdriver head between the hoofwall and the athletic tape. Once you get the boot off, just pull the tape out of the boot, which removes most of the glue.

I actually like some of the glue to stay in, as it creates a custom shimming in the boot, so I can use the boots on training rides with minimal twist and no glue. Just mark the boots so you know which goes on the right and left hoof. The glue comes out pretty well, and it is 'softish', so leaving some residue in the boot (even on the soles) doesn't bother the horse.

This was a shot of the boots after three gluings, just before I put them on for this one.

GG8

You can see how the glue and some left over tape has lined the inside of the boot, making it somewhat of a custom fit boot.

GG9

And the other boot: much less glue stuck to this one. You can see the power strap a bit better on the inside as well.

GG11

I hope this helps a few of you. It works great on my horse, and we tried it on a little gaited horse that also twists off Gloves. It worked great for her too!

Natalie Herman