Submitted by Pascale Winckler, Team Easyboot 2015 Member
I had been happily using Easyboots as a pleasure rider when friends initiated me into endurance riding. With competition came the need to have a boot that stays on the hoof in difficult riding conditions (speed, mud, etc). Gloves work well, but sometimes, I will lose one, especially on the right front, where the hoof does not have a very good shape. My second horse is far from an endurance breed, but we compete in endurance at the lower level for fun.
At first I thought about using the Glue-On, but I was a bit reluctant because I like to let the horse be barefoot when I'm not riding. Then I saw an old post on the blog about the EasyCare Cuff System. It is an insert glued to the hoof wall, with embedded t-nuts to screw the boot shell on it. I was very disappointed when I found out it did not go into production. I decided to try it myself, but I had no cuff insert. For my use, I was happy with the gaiter, I just wanted to be sure one boot didn't come off in the middle of my ride. So, I decided it would be enough to glue "something" in front of the boots to increase grip to the hoof wall, and leave the gaiter at the rear.
I was still reading the blog when I saw a photo where someone fixed the power strap inside the boots, instead of the outside standard way. That is how the idea came to me. Why not glue the power strap and use it as a cuff? Power straps are made of a good gluing material and it seemed easy to glue just this small piece. As a beginner in the gluing process (I had never used Sikaflex or Vettec before), it appeared to be a secure and cheap way to start.
Power strap inside the boots, ready to be glued.
The challenge was to have the right alignment between holes in the boots and holes in the cuff after gluing. So, I made two holes in the strap, in the recommended position for normal use. I put the boot on my horse, and used the drilled power strap and a permanent marker to locate where to punch holes in the boots. I didn't use intended marks in the boots since I didn't want constraint in the boot shell. Holes have to match before using the screws, to be able to put boots on and off. Then I screwed the power strap inside the boot, put the glue on the inside of the strap, and the boot on the horse using my rubber mallet.
As the strap was not perfectly plated against the hoof for my first try, I use some paper wedging to ensure a good gluing bond. For my second horse I did a better job and didn't need that wedge.
As a gluing beginner, I choose to use Sikaflex, to have plenty time to work. I had some trouble finding Sikaflex 227 in my area (I am live in France), but I found Sikaflex 221, that is very similar. A representative from Sikaflex confirmed that it would make no difference for my use, although he was a bit surprised with what I planned to do with the glue.
Gloves with power strap glued.
I left the horse for 45 minutes with a hay net and then one hour again in the field, before removing boots by removing the screws.
Boots removed, power strap glued.
The day after, I was very happy to be able to put the boots on relatively easily. The holes matched well with aid of the rubber mallet to achieve good alignment. I left for three days of fast trail riding with friends. The boots, especially the right one that was causing trouble, stayed nicely in place, even with a fast gait and muddy trail. I lost screws on one boot, but I wasn't using Loctite glue as recommended. Next time, I will add it.
Then I was gone for 8 days of slow trail riding in the Morvan hills with my two horses, and more spare time, I just applied the Gloves as usual, without screwing the glued strap.
Trek in the wooded Morvan Hills (France) wearing Gloves and Epics.
When I came back at home, 10 days after gluing my cuff, the holes still matched. Dust in the nuts was not a problem, and they were easy to remove with a nail.
After removing the cuff, one can see the bed of the T-nuts in the glue.
So, it is spring again, and this year I planned to do more orienteering competition. As there are two or three weeks between each event, it will be nice to let the horse go barefoot between rides, with the hoof just wearing the glued strap. Can't wait for a nice new riding season in Easyboots!