Natural Barefoot Trimming; The Hoof Guided Method

A few weeks ago Dawn Willoughby mentioned a new book at the end of her blog on the Masterson Method. As a self-proclaimed hoofohlic I like to read, watch and listen to anything and everything hoof related that I can get my hands on. Natural Barefoot Trimming; The Hoof Guided Method by Maureen Tierney is an easy read at only 56 pages. Although the photos in the book are black and white, there are full color versions of all photos on Maureen's website.

Figure 4

Figure 4 shows the external structures of the hoof. Photo courtesy of Maureen Tierney.

There are a great variety of hoof trimming theories and many people hold strong convictions about which theory is best. This book is yet another resource for the hoofoholics out there. If you are new to barefoot, I believe you should study as many of these theories as you can and in time you will learn to take bits from each based on what works best for your horse(s). The topics covered in the Hoof Guided Method:

  • Natural Barefoot Method
  • Anatomy and Function of the Hoof
  • Trimming Theory
  • The Hoof Guided Method
  • Frog Health
  • Other Considerations
  • The Message - Respect the Foot

Figure 7

Figure 7 shows the internal structures of the hoof. Photo courtesy of Maureen Tierney.

From the Author: "The Hoof Guided Method is truly a less is more method based on the theory that a barefoot trim should mimic – or simulate - the action of the ground on the hoof, and that the true purpose of the trim is to stimulate the foot to grow healthy. Simulate and stimulate. Learn to stop micro-managing the hoof and work with nature instead of trying to force man's ideals onto the hoof. The hoof responds to everything it experiences, and that includes trimming. By trimming only what is indicated, then waiting for the hoof to respond, the foot is allowed to transform itself."

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.


Sundance: Ogden's Dancing Horse

I have owned Sundance for 14 years and he is now 19. He had been mishandled when I purchased him in 1998 and I started his resistance-free training at that time. I used him as a police horse for the first few years but he wore shoes at that time and his hoof walls would crack and chip. His metal shoes didn't give him good footing on the cement sidewalks and asphalt, and the concussion forces on his legs and shoulders were seven times greater than if he had not worn shoes.

I then removed his shoes for good after doing lots of research. His hooves did wear down quickly if I rode him too often on the sidewalk, though. I then heard about the new models of hoof boots that EasyCare was introducing and I liked the Glove when it came out but I had to wait until Easycare came out with the Glove Wide as Sundance's front hooves would not fit the regular Gloves. I now have Glove Wides in several sizes for his front and rear hooves.

Sundance dances to music, plays soccer and performs at farmer's markets, schools, parades, events for our troops and other special events. He is also a therapy horse and has gone every year to the Kid's Rodeo for children with special needs and has gone to the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind. Sundance has even danced on stage with ballet dancers and is decorated with over 70 bicycle tail lights at the annual Christmas Parade and at Christmas Village in the park.

With all of the parades that Sundance performs in and that includes dancing during the entire parade route, I found that he was wearing his front hooves down too much on the asphalt. I started putting the Gloves on his front hooves this year and that solved the problem. Even the spins, side passing and other dancing moves during the parades has not effected the hoof boots. I even performed in a parade during a heavy rain storm and Sundance never slipped even once. The Gloves have held up extremely well and they do not twist at all on the front hooves during the parades. I just use them on the front hooves during parades which has solved the problem as it was the front hooves which were the hooves wearing down in the first place and the rear hooves are ok without the boots. I am very impressed with the look and performance of the Easyboot Gloves and I believe that I will have no problem with the Gloves on the rear hooves when I go on trail rides where no dancing is required.

Sundance has his own website with lots of pictures and a list of up coming events where he will be performing. He also has 24 different trading cards which are given out to every child he meets:

Name: Ron Gardiner
City: Ogden, Utah, USA
Equine Discipline: Other
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove

Boot Gluing Troubleshooting AKA What Are We Going To Do Now?

Being a part of Team Easyboot 2012 is amazing. I love reading Team Easyboot blogs and learning new tricks about booting successfully both for my horses and others who need help. Hopefully my blog will give you comfort about an OMG gluing moment, should you ever have one.

I had a fellow TE12 member come over to help me glue on front boots as I was still chicken and couldn't do it alone, yet. I am one of those that gets as much or more glue on me and my clothes than on the actual hoof and boot. Everything started out well. We trimmed up the hooves nicely and prepared them for the Glue Ons.

We started the gluing process and bam! the glue gun broke. What? Now what? We are in the middle of carefully handling the Glue-On boots with gloved hands, we have clean hooves and everything is set. No glue gun. Sheesh. The sun will set soon and I feel like I am having one of those days. If it were just me, I would have bailed on the project, gone in the house and pouted for a few days, maybe stomping my feet along the way. My fellow TE12 member/friend/brilliant lady of all time told me not to panic. We would figure something out. That we did.

We got an old plastic type small bowl and some plastic silverware to mix the Adhere solution and just pushed on the ends of the tubes until we had about equal parts of the two mixes. It was a hurried project, but we had nothing to lose at this point. 

The boots went on as normal, and they stayed on just like they were supposed to. I was so impressed with the innovative thinking on my partners' part. Genius.

I highly recommend that if you are a panicker, like I am; buddy up with another team member who isn't. That way if an OMG situation comes knockin', together you can get through it.


Bonus Fun at a ACTHA Ride for This Team Easyboot Member

By Martha Nicholas, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

A gal should not have so much fun at a ACTHA ride. I headed down to another ACTHA (American Competitive Trail Horse Association) competition. This one was down in Mossyrock,Wa at the Mossyrock Horse and Rider Club  on 8-18. It was the third out of four rides in the Cold Post Buckle Series.

Now I tend to have a lot of fun at the ACTHA rides but what was different this time was that through the Adventure with ACTHA in Washington State Facebook group, I was informed that there was a new EasyCare boot dealer that was going to set up a booth at the ride and promote their services and our boots. They were Bob and Laura of Equine Wellness Services from Toledo, Washington.

What a pleasure meeting them. They are the nicest folks, super knowledgeable in boots and will be a great asset to EasyCare. Bob is also a trimmer so what a perfect fit for EasyCare. Bob shared how they went to the Dr. Teskey clinic that was held in our state. We started talking about trimming,etc. and I mentioned needing to soak Curly's feet to soften them up so I could get the bars trimmed better. Well, sweet Bob offered to trim them for me with his much sharper knife. We had fun discussing what he saw in Curly's feet. He pointed out a few things my untrained eye did not know. Now remember Bob was fresh from a Teskey clinic so I was all ears.

Bob has a very calm energy about him, so I am sure he is loved by his clients and their horses. Adding him to my list of trimmers I refer folks to, never know I may be asked if I know of a good trimmer in the Toledo area. Most of the time I was out on the trails competing but I did get to see Laura and Bob in action helping and advising folks before the awards. What a pleasure meeting them.

On the ACTHA ride. The judging gods shined on us again and we won Open by one point (105 out of a possible 120).

Martha Nicholas

Virginia City 100 (In Which I'm Regularly Reminded Why I Love Using Boots)

This was going to be a ride story about Fergus' and my Excellent Adventure at Virginia City 100, but instead I found I had quite a lot to say about gluing, so that story will have to wait. Needless to say, we had a great weekend and Fergus, as usual, impressed the pants off me. He continues to astonish me with his ability, his enormous walk, and the way he takes everything so calmly in his stride (and a very big stride it is, too). Love my borrowed golden boy.

Alas, as part of the original agreement (where I got him on loan to do "NASTR Triple Crown")(and snuck Tevis in there too) I now have to return him to his rightful owner, Patrick. Despite that, I'm already secretly scheming to borrow him back for 20 Mule Team 100 in February. 

Smug Gluers R Us

For once I actually felt ready - Fergus and I drove up to Virginia City on Thursday night after work, arriving after midnight but ensuring I'd have all day to get him glued, get everything ready for the ride, preride the part of the route through town, and still relax and socialize.

The camp for Virginia City 100 is on the south side of town and the trail exits on the north side of town. Because of this, we repeat the through-town section four times - always in the dark. The ride starts on the main street and within two blocks drops down a steep paved road to the next terrace below. Judging by the amount of yelling going on at the start of the ride, this steep drop is not much fun in steel shoes. Fergus, on the other hand, marched right down the middle of the road, causing us to appear at the front of the pack and, very briefly, be in third place overall. Awk. Not where I wanted to be at all.

Following shod horses through town later in the evening, every time they hit some repaired asphalt or a painted part of the pavement, their back feet were slipping out from under them.

In boots? Nope...

Fergus and I pre-riding through town on Friday afternoon.


Friday morning's gluing went very well and I was extremely satisfied with the outcome. The fact that I ended up completely covered in glue, including a gob all down one leg and a large blob in my hair is neither here nor there - so long as the boots went on well, I don't care what I look like.

A freshly-glued Fergus gazing down at Virginia City. Thanks to my assistant volunteer, Lorri Stringfield (who also used Glue-ons for her first 100 with her horse, Cruiser), for keeping him as still as she could during the proceedings.

New Things I Learned About Glueing

1. Using a Cooler 

After a discussion with Kevin Myers during which I whined about not being able to get the Glue-ons on the horse before the Vettec Adhere glue set up (approximately 0.7 seconds during California summers), he pointed out that even if I kept my glue cool, if I was applying it to a warm boot that might have an impact. I flashed back to my Glue-ons sitting in the warm sun before my last gluing experience and could see where I might have been going wrong.

Accordingly, I arrived at Virginia City with an enormous cooler filled with ice packs and boots and glues and alcohol and disposable gloves and tips and knives and paper towel and ... well, you get the picture. 

Keeping everything in a cooler was a stroke of genius. I was actually able to "take my time" (this being relative - you still can't hang around, but at least you don't have to have the powers of the Silver Streak to get the job done). It still required everything to be laid out ready (albeit inside the cooler), and you had to prethink what you were going to do ahead of time, but the resulting experience was positively relaxed. 

2. Sikaflex Application

Unfortunately, I wasn't there when the EasyCare Glue Crew put Fergus' boots on for Tevis, so I didn't get to see whatever ludicrously effective system they used to get those suckers to stay on so well. The only thing I had to work from was a quick blurry photo that my husband, Patrick, was able to sneak before being shouted at for not keeping Fergus completely immobile (not actually possible when he's bellowing at the world).

The resulting pic showed a curious difference in how they applied the Sikaflex (formerly Goober Glue) sole packing. Instead of a small bead all the way around the inside edge, followed by a blobby triangle-shape mimicking the frog (see left), they made a large fat "I" shape (see right). This is much quicker to squeeze out and judging by the Tevis results, just as effective.


Fergus had been a little footsore on some of the harder footing during our pre-ride, so I wanted to make sure that he had as much cushioning as possible. As a result, it's possible that I overdid the Sikaflex "slightly"... ...and it's possible that's how come I ended up covered in glue as it proceeded to ooze out of every possible exit. Apparently I still need to perfect that aspect of glue application. Different sized feet with different amounts of concavity will require adjustment accordingly.

3. The Twist

The third thing that I suspect I've been missing out on (probably related to the aforementioned fact that I seldom had time enough to get the boot on the hoof before the glue was set up solid), is to give each boot a slight twist back and forth once they're on, to get the glue to really stick well to both hoof wall and Glue-on wall. 

4. The Growth

And now we come to the only mistake I made during the whole proceedings. As mentioned, perhaps I was a little overenthusiastic with the Sikaflex - witness below the golf-ball sized glob of glue that oozed out of the back of the first Glue-on that was stuck on Fergus' right front foot (and I suspect I also forgot to give it that smearing twist).

In my defence, I did pull at the blob slightly just after glueing, but was worried I'd pull out the entire back part of the squooshy glue which so nicely plugs the heel area, so I left it alone to cut off later ...and never went back to it. So as a result Fergus went over 40 miles with a bobble on the back of his foot. 

No harm done, right? 


The bobble acted like a handle, so when he stepped on it while climbing a long hill at 42 miles, the boot popped right off and we left it behind. 

Lesson learned and luckily I noticed not too long later as we crested the long hill we'd been trudging up. I always carry sparesies, so on went a Glove and off we went and I never really thought about it again.

The long 2000' climb at around 40+ miles - Washoe Lake on the left, rocks on the right. At the top of the climb I noticed we were missing something

Other Reasons You'd Want to Boot at Virginia City 100

Nevada is well-known for its rocks. Luckily, for the most part you can step in between them. Of course, there are exceptions - like Bailey Canyon that occurs between 25 and 35 miles. It's actually a lot of fun, so long as you aren't the type who likes to travel at warp speed at all times. You take your time and you enjoy the challenge:

Although there isn't much water on the trail to lubricate your boots, there are a few really steep climbs that cause you to pray you've got your booting protocol down. Here Fergus is at the top of the first (and steepest) "SOB" and is explaining to me that it's time for me to get off and walk:

and here we are scrambling up the other side looking back at Connie and Pam who yelled across to me that she found my lost glue-on (they are the tiny dusty things about half way down the descent):

You also spend quite a bit of time on old mining roads that take you all over the mountains. There are plenty of places to trot, but you have to be ready to slow down when necessary. Connie (in the blue ahead) found an old oxen shoe not far from here while marking the trail:


Part 3 of the Triple Crown - Mission Accomplished

And so Fergus and I completed VC100 around mid-pack which is where I wanted us to be - slow and steady is going to get the job done since neither of us are likely to break records in the fitness department. But by doing so, we received the NASTR Triple Crown award (NV Derby 50, NASTR 75, and VC100) we hoped to achieve back in March when we set out on this journey. Like Uno before him, Fergus wasn't necessarily expected to do much more than slow 50s, which is why it's all the more satisfying that he has turned out so well.

As I said at the beginning - love my big golden borrowed boy, mush face and all.

The Purgatory Pucker

Sitting here on my couch this Tuesday night, it's funny to think that just a week ago this morning, I was galloping an awesome horse up and down amazing trails in Durango, Colorado. I was so incredibly lucky to be invited by Rusty Toth and Kevin Myers to ride the 1st (annual??) Purgatory 60 Endurance Ride, held at the Durango Mountain Resort in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. I can't say I was invited because I'm *that* cool, but mostly because Rusty wanted to see an experienced endurance vet as the head vet of his ride and my husband fit the bill. No matter, I was stoked to be a part of it. 

Part of the Hermosa Creek Trail just a few miles into the start of the ride. Beautiful. 

We arrived in Durango about 11am on Friday, the morning before the ride. We were quickly shuttled by friends up to ride camp where I got to spend a few minutes watching The Bootmeister expertly adhere Glue-Ons to patiently waiting feet, and I remembered once again how dang LUCKY these people are to not have to do the gluing by themselves! I would loooove to have someone else glue boots for me and hope these guys appreciate what they've got! Christoph is amazing- always with a smile and dealing with what's dealt without a negative word. Top notch. I have to admit, I thought all the gluing was a bit overkill- after all, it was only a one-day, 60 mile ride. But I won't lie, I was pleased that my horse had all his boots glued-on and was looking good. I wouldn't know how thankful I would be to have those boots glued until the next morning. Sue Summers, from Washington, was also there and she and I went for a quick spin to work out tack kinks that afternoon, and we were ready for the next day. 

As I'm sitting here a week later, on the couch, with a margarita, I laugh at the description of the trail that's noted on the ride website- "This ride has no road: You will travel on single track with sections of wider trail and open meadows." Pretty clear, yes? Well for some reason my mind did not compute "you will travel on single track" to "you will actually ride 60 miles of single track trail." Yes, I know. I can be slow sometimes. To me, this was the best (and worst, at times) part of the whole ride- 60 miles of single track! 

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning. Well, not exactly bright but pretty early. I started tacking up Quake and was pleased with how not cold it was. Unfortunately, after about a mile of trail, the rain started. And continued. Conveniently the rain fell, making the trails slippery and the narrow trails on steep hillsides even more slippery and steep. Oh my gosh, what did I get myself into?!?! I I watched with my breath held while the horses in front of me kept on keeping on, miraculously keeping all four on the floor. My horse? He was a rock star and never bobbled. All day long. If he ever comes up missing, he WON'T be in my pasture. Just sayin'. 

I was quickly (very) thankful for the boots that were glued on Quake. Not only would it have been inconvenient to lose a boot on one of the scary trails, but the rocks were plentiful and I know Quake appreciated the extra cushion of the Sikaflex. As quickly as it started, the rain stopped and before I knew it we were at the first vetcheck. Quake passed his check with flying colors and I caught my breath from the altitude. Yes, it does make a difference. Off we went again, this time by ourselves, just Quake and I enjoying the INCREDIBLE trail that would take us from about 8,000' to 11,000'. About halfway through our second loop, we caught up to my new friend, Jo Pavlis, who owns and operates Mile Makers. Jo was riding an impeccably behaved and painfully beautiful stallion who appreciated having some company. I also enjoyed the company and pretty soon we were cruising into the second vetcheck and only a few 15 miles away from finishing back at camp. We've got this, we thought. 

Jo and her handsome stallion, Ramone. Beautiful horse, fun girl. 

Very shortly after leaving the vet check, wet stuff again began falling from the sky. I think my boots had *just* begun to fully dry at the same time the hail came. And came harder, and harder. Pretty soon our hands were stinging, our horses were trying to stop with their heads down and the ground turned while. Awesome. Once again we were soaking wet and slipping and sliding down the trail. But what a beautiful trail it was! Of course I can say that now. And then,  just as soon as it started, it was over and the trail was as dry as if it had never happened. Amazing high mountain storms. 

Quake and I and Jo and Ramone navigated the steep downhills and admired the breathtaking scenery on our way back to camp. After a quick oops moment (I was so turned around I didn't know whether we were coming or going), we were just a few miles from camp! Almost done! The last few miles of trail seemed to be the rockiest, and I was again thankful for the cushion that the Sikaflex gives these horses. While Gloves are appropriate for 95% of single day, 50-ish mile rides, there are times where the extra protection is worth it. This was one of those times. 

Quake looking off the trail to this... 

We finished the ride in the top ten of the limited 40-mile entries. I know the first and I believe second place horses were booted, as well as the 4th place horse who is new to boots and also won BC! As the BC award was a custom-made saddle donated by Mile Makers, this was one of the more hotly contested BC's I have ever witnessed. I believe there were seven booted horses in the top ten, which is a dramatic percentage. The top ten blankets were an incredible bonus and the 38 out of 44 riders who completed were ecstatic to have finished such a challenging course. This was one of those rides where you know you did something the next day. One of those rides that stay with you for months. One of those epic adventures you never forget about. One of those rides riders joke about having to change their shorts and text messages to friends like "I didn't die!" 

Thank you, Rusty and Kevin, and mostly Quake. It was an experience I won't likely forget. The Purgatory Pucker. I hope to be back! 


Buster and Bobbi Get the Easyboot Trail

Meet Buster, our nine year old Appendix gelding showing off his Easyboot Trails.

Bobbi and Buster
The Bus is recovering from laminitis caused by Insulin Resistance. With Dee's expertise and guidance, we have been able to keep him sound and comfortable.
Bobbi and Buster

Easy on and off, his feet are protected with protective horse boots while healthy horn grows. No nails, no pulled shoes and no set backs.

Thank you EasyCare for giving him his best chance. We hope these Trail Boots will soon do just that - go out on the trail.
Bobbi and Buster

Dee Reiter


Customer Service

When you call EasyCare, I’m one of the folks that will answer. I’m also one of the cowgirls in the group. (Heck no, I don’t show, I Rodeo!) When it comes to life’s adventures – never pull back on the reins, and remember: the world is best-viewed through the ears of a horse!


Brule Lake CTR - Where My Boots Sat In The Trailer

Submitted by Stacey Maloney, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

The third annual Brule Lake Combined Ride was just east of Jasper, Alberta, Canada on a trail that will take your breath away. It was almost a month ago already and I can't stop thinking about it; next year's version can't come soon enough!

We came, we saw, we had had an awesome time (with terrible scores).

It had been the first weekend of August and the organizers had held an Endurance Ride on the Saturday and a Competitive Trail Ride which we were there to compete in on the Sunday.

The drive is always a killer for me, nearly six hours in the cramped truck with enough stuff for three people and one smelly dog.

We arrived and found a spot to camp although it wasn't ideal as the mares were stuck up on a hill in their pens. Because we came in a day late, all the endurance riders and volunteers who had showed up the day before had the ideal camp sites. Oh well, it happens every year.

Our initial vet-in went great as well as the ride meeting where they briefed us on which way to go so we would hopefully not get lost, trail hazards, places to expect some difficultly, etc. The mentioned parts of the trail were rocky but there was always somewhere you could ride off to the side that was softer. The previous day's endurance ride had been won by a barefoot horse and rider team and most barefoot/booted competitors I spoke with said boots were unnecessary.

Fast forward to the next day. 5:00 AM always comes early which is when I get up to feed the horses, the dog, myself and start trying to get organized for the day.

The previous day's conversations with fellow riders about footwear had me thinking. I usually train in boots because we have nothing but gravel roads to train on but I knew from past rides that this ride had lots of sandy two track trails with just the odd rocky area. What to do? What to do! Were my mare's feet up to the barefoot challenge? We were only going 25 miles and we'd done it in the past before we discovered the true merits of Easyboots and particularly our Epics. I decided to go barefoot as one of my boot cables was just starting to fray and it would just be one less thing I had to worry about. This decision would come back to bite me later.

For once we were tacked up in enough time to get a little warm up in before we hit the trail. Katchina was misbehaving as much as is possible for her, spinning and trying to bolt in the direction of the trail head where she had seen other horses leave from. We were partnered up with our usual riding buddies and finally our numbers were called and we were off.

80% of the trail was new this year and it was just beautiful running through rolling hills with the mountains in the background. About seven miles in we hit our first vet check and came though that with no points lost. My Mare Katchina was feeling good and pulsed down no problem. We headed off down the road again and ducked back into the bush where we started heading up up up the Burn Trail and then the Prime Mine trail.

It had either rained a lot in the days previous, or there was a spring somewhere at the top because there was a constant flowing little "stream" of water coming down the trail making it pretty slick. Add to that the incline and we were not going fast up that trail. As we reached the top we figured we were a bit behind schedule and started the down down down through some really thick brush faster than I am accustomed to. I couldn't very well watch where we were going as I was ducking branches and Katchina didn't seem to be watching where she was going either as she ducked her head to avoid the brush as well; but she kept on keepin' on down that hill at quite a good clip, slipping here and there, but guiding us safely to the bottom; at least she knows what she's doing!

Once at the bottom, we crossed the river quite a few times and picked our way along the trail back through the meadows and past the pet cemetery where we had an awesome view of Brule Lake below. We raced across a narrow little path that traveled parallel to the road but about 50 yards down on the steep slope. We chugged up a hill and sneakily placed just where we didn't want it was another vet check. We weren't so lucky this time and got some pretty terrible numbers for our P&R. The day was getting hot at this point, the hill was short but steep and obviously my horse just wasn't in good enough condition to pulse down quite in time. We weren't bad enough to get held up so off we went again for the last seven miles of trail.

I wanted to have time to walk in the last few miles so we booked it along the meadow in the grazing lease and around the far east side of the trail loop. Then we came to the big hill. Two and a bit miles of 20-degree pitch up and up and up. Rocky quad type trail, just what we all love after having gone 20 miles. Katchina was a trooper and marched up that sucker with more enthusiasm than I had expected from her.

We came to the two-mile marker and this is usually where my riding buddy and I split. She likes to come in at optimum time but I'll take the extra 15 minutes thank you very much. So I got off Katchina and we watched Tara and Pratt disappear over the hill. Usually Katchina is so tired by this point that she doesn't care she's alone; but not this time. She called and screamed and spun circles, it was all I could do to get back on my horse and not have her leave without me. We walked fast enough to catch up to our friends, not by my choosing though. She tucked her chin to her chest (the I'm going to buck type of tuck) in such a way that I no longer had any control of the brakes. She did only walk but fast enough that we caught up with our friends and we all walked in together.

Our final vet check didn't go so hot either with the vet letting me know Katchina was lame on one of her hind legs. She had slipped on quite a few roots and scuffed up her fetlocks a bit, but it's also possible she may have gotten a sole bruise a bruise somewhere along the way. Either way I wasn't sure so I took her back to the trailer and doctored up all her possible ailments.

The next day at awards I was shocked to hear we had gotten fourth place. I figured we would have been ineligible for placing due to our lameness but it seems someone showed us mercy. Granted we were fourth out of four; a.k.a. last place; but that's ok. Just placing still keeps us in the running for year-end awards which is my ultimate goal.

Things I learned:

  1. Prairie hill training does not equal mountain hill competing.
  2. My horse needs to be in better shape.
  3. I need to ride smarter and be more aware of impending vet checks.
  4. I need to make my own decisions when it comes to footwear.

I should have ridden in my boots and just taken the one off it the cable did happen to snap during the ride. Having conditioned in them so much it's likely my mare's feet were not as tough as they once were when we were conditioning without boots making sole bruising more likely. The boots may have even saved us the scrapes from the tree roots by giving her pasterns a bit of protection. Hindsight is very much 20/20.

In the end we had fun. It was a good ride, a tough trail and although I was feeling some CTR burnout heading up to this one I'm ready to go again, give me another shot at it, I know we can do better.

Stacey Maloney


All About Heels

What does it actually mean, that often heard advice by farriers and hoof trimmers, natural, bare and otherwise:

"Trim your horses heels to the widest part of the frog!"

Easy, just do it!

What is the importance of that heel landing and why does a short heel help with that?

Looking at the anatomy of a horses hoof, we can clearly see that nature intended a horse to land heel first:


The yellow part shows the digital cushion, a tissue designed to absorb shock. Notice that the digital cushion does not extend to the tip of the coffin bone and the front of the hoof.

Can we draw the conclusion from this simple image that the horse is not intended to land toe first?

(Of course, when we talking about heel landings, we are considering only level ground. Any horse climbing steep hills will, just like humans, get ground purchase by digging in the toes first.)

Dr. Robert Bowker, Professor of Anatomy and Director of the Equin Foot Laboratory at Michigan State Univeristy believes the heel area of the hoof is THE most important part of the hoof. His studies focus on the hemodynamic flow theory, which proposes that blood flow through the network of tiny capillaries the in heel region plays a vital role in shock absorption. He also discovered the proprioreceptor sensory cells in the heel region who transmit information to the horse's central nervous system and allow to 'feel' the way across the ground.

A hoof capsule will always grow forward at  the same angle as the dorsal hoof wall shows in the upper half. With time then, the heels will have grown forward as well and will not be at the same level as the frog anymore.

This untrimmed hoof: the green arrows show the heels where they should be, the red arrows show the heel where they presently are. They have grown forward almost an inch.


I have marked the heels with a purple line to show how far they should get shortened.

Shortening the heels to the widest part of the frog seems now a no brainer, but first I want to make sure, we are not cutting into live sole doing so. Step one is therefore finding the live sole in the heel area.

Using a hoof knife, we can scrape off the dull and powdery looking dead sole first.

On the left heel, we still can see the dead sole. I just started to remove it. On the right, the shiny live sole is visible. I do not want to shorten the heel any further than that level. In fact, it might be advisable to keep the wall in the heel area about 1/8 to 1/4 th of an inch longer than the live sole.

Why is the level of the live sole so important?

Without taking a X-ray of the hoof, we do not know whether the coffin bone is parallel to the ground or to the visible sole. The coffin bone might be laterally tilted a few degrees within the hoof capsule. Finding the live sole first, will give me that answer, because the live sole will not lie. It will be of the same thickness to the sensitive structures on both sides.


After finding the live sole on both heels, the blue arrows show the present end of the heel compared to the the purple line, indicating the widest part of the frog, where the heels should get  trimmed to, ideally.

On a side note, the red arrow shows bar bruising, caused by a bend over bar, exerting pressure onto the sole.

We can also apply a third parameter to check for depth of sole and distance to the palmar processes or wings of the coffin bone. By measuring from the bottom of the collateral grooves close to the heel area,  we can  get information on  how level the coffin bone is situated within the hoof capsule. From studies on cadaver hooves we found that the distance from the bottom of the collateral grooves to the sensitive corium is always 1/2 inch. If the distance measured now from the bottom to the collateral groove to the heel area is equal distally and medially, we can draw the conclusion that we trimmed the horse level to the coffin bone within the hoof capsule and the horse's hoof lands parallel to the ground surface on level ground.

Measuring the distance from the bottom of the collateral grooves to the live sole and untrimmed heels.

After trimming the heels, cross checking for equal distance from the bottom of the collateral grooves to heel level.

Before shortening any heels, it is a good idea to cross check these three parameter against each other:

-where is the widest part of the frog?

-where is the live sole in the heel area?

-how deep are the collateral grooves and are they equal to the heel level?

Following these parameters, we might not always be able to trim to the widest part of the frog on both sides.  A laterally tilted coffin bone, an occurence not as rare as one might think, requires leaving one heel longer than the the other one. Each horse is unique, each hoof is unique.

Professor  Bowker came up with compelling anatomical reasons for trimming the heels to the widest part of the frog. I might add humbly a mechanical one: support of the movement apparatus and skeletal system.

Compare both images: the red arrow indicates the heel in the untrimmed hoof as it compares to the plum line through the center of the canon bone. The heel is not supporting the skeletal apparatus in this image. The hoof is not supporting the horse, resulting in added stress to the tendons and ligaments.

In this image, the green arrow points to the trimmed heel. The plum line through the center of the canon bone goes right through the heel: the heel is now supporting the skeletal system, therefore less stress on the tendons.

I might add that this horse is not displaying an ideal of conformation in the lower leg. Better would be if the end of the heel would extend back further from the plum line.

Whether we are practicing Natural Hoof Trimming, Natural Hoof Care, Barefoot Trimming or Trimming for Protective Horse Boots, Easyboot Gloves or Easyboot Glue ons or for shoeing, the principles of anatomical and mechanical correctness remain the same. The hoof is supposed to support the skeletal system and movement apparatus and the horse should land heel first.

Food for trimming thought by

The Bootmeister.

Can He Fill Those Hoof Boots?

Sue Clauss runs a rescue, primarily for horses, but she rescues anything that needs rescuing. The blog is about two very kind-hearted ladies: Sue, who runs the rescue; and Maggy, who wanted to donate her boots to a worthy cause. You can see my blog at

The picture below was the picture in the blog of Sugar, who was half-starved and severly abused, who gave birth shortly after Sue rescued her - to Rudy. It was really touch and go for both Sugar and Rudy.

 However, Sue has brought them around and look at Rudy now!

Trying to fill "Uncle" Chance's Boa boots that were donated by Maggy.

Uncle, Chance's Mom, arriving at Sue's Rescue.

Chance's Mom (looking much, much better) after Chance was born.

And this is "Uncle" Chance and Rudy right after Rudy was born.

Rudy's looking to grow into these Boa boots.

If you have protective hoof boots that are laying around your tack room or trailer, why not donate them to your local rescue? Or email me at and I will give you Sue's contact information.

Dee Reiter


Customer Service

When you call EasyCare, I’m one of the folks that will answer. I’m also one of the cowgirls in the group. (Heck no, I don’t show, I Rodeo!) When it comes to life’s adventures – never pull back on the reins, and remember: the world is best-viewed through the ears of a horse!