Though a longtime advocate of hoof boots and natural hoof trimming, MileMakers took the leap, in January 2011, to become an EasyCare Dealer. Therefore, we are probably one of the newest dealers in the EasyCare network, and one of only a handful in Colorado.
On Saturday, April 9th we held a free natural trim and boot fitting clinic for folks in our local area. We had 18 people attend, and they brought seven horses to be trimmed, fitted, and purchase boots.
Here is how we organized the clinic. Sara Graves, natural hoof trim farrier, and I gave a brief history on horse shoes, Easyboot, and the evolution of the hoof boot.
Sara used a three year old Australian Stock Horse, that is in my training program, as a demo horse. He is very club footed in the hind and has less then perfect feet, but, we have been making progress over the last six weeks, with gradual corrections. She talked extensively about conformation and a balanced foot. We pulled my horse, Dancers Starliner, out of the stall to show how nice and balanced he looks (thanks to Garrett Ford and Duncan McLaughlin) as a comparison to what direction you can go with a barefoot horse. An extensive question and answer period followed, which revealed many misconceptions, distorted facts, and misinformation that the crowd had prior to coming to the clinic.
After that, we had the horses to trim and fit for boots, and others that already had boots, but were having fitting problems. In all three of the problem cases, the reason was the same: a poor fit from the beginning. Each of them was told (by whomever they consulted) to measure and order the boots from EasyCare's website, or they were given the fit kit and told to pick the size that fit best, and then they were just handed the boots.
Obviously, without any other education or direction (none were told to view the fitting videos on the EasyCare/YouTube sites), the horse owners picked a size that was too big. This was because the customers all fitted the boots to their horses in much the same fashion they would fit themselves for a pair of shoes. They told stories of the boots coming off, the gaiters spinning around the foot, horses going ballistic, and riders coming off with injury. We found that the biggest thing is getting people to touch the boots, feel the snug fit, look at the snug fit, and if they are an in between sizes, giving them the options, and tips (i.e. athletic tape, etc) and demonstrating the methods, for a better fit.
I taught them how to put the boot on and take it off, and then had them practice the same in front of me, while I coached. Most importantly, teaching people that there is a complete process which involves hoof care, and good boot fit, and that one hoof may be different from the next, even if the size is the same. We also told the crowd about the added benefit of all the education that can be found on the website, blogs, and contained within the YouTube videos. Everyone went home knowing the addresses of each site.
At any rate, I think that visiting horse facilities/barns and providing "free" education, as we did at our facility, will work out really well. I have offered to do this at other barns and facilities for people in our area. Now, I just have to follow up and set the dates, since the offers have been accepted. I also like that I can have a hoof educator with me and I can talk more about the boots and the fit, while she addresses the importance of the hoof trim, balance, and case studies from her experiences, and those of her father, John Graves. The dynamics are great and allows the audience the experience of two different professionals. In the end, we were told by the crowd that they were amazed how much they learned and how many "old school" beliefs had been updated, erased, and/or corrected.
18 more Boot supporters!
MileMakers, LLC, in addition to being an EasyCare Master Dealer, specializes in the education, training, and conditioning of Endurance horses and Endurance riders. Also, they provide confidence building and training for Pleasure Trail Riders. The company motto "Not just a destination, but a journey taken one hoofbeat at a time." reflects the overall philosophy of MileMakers training methodolog.