Written by Philip Himanka, Not Only Barefoot, LLC, in Erie, Colorado
I was honored by an invitation to teach a hoof care clinic at the foot of the Pyrenees in Catalonia, Spain. The location was magnificent. I was impressed by the scenery, the hosts, and the horses. We had great weather, allowing for both classroom and hands-on, practical instruction on basic hoof care. At the end of the clinic, our hosts invited us to ride their magnificent Spanish Arabian horses along a picturesque trail unique to their region.
The clinic was held at Casanova, a farm that is dedicated to endurance riding and the care of retired endurance horses. Casanova also offers multi-day horse tours, among other activities. The facilities were fantastic and included both classroom and overnight accommodations for attendees, as well as areas where I could demonstrate practical applications with horses. Equally important, our hosts kept us well fed with traditional food unique to this region.
The attendees represented a diverse group including horse owners, farriers, and local distributors of hoof care products. Countries represented included Switzerland, Germany, Norway, France, Spain, and the US. I was able to deliver the presentations and practicals in both Spanish and English, which worked very well to ensure basic understanding of core concepts for our multilingual group.
For the clinic, we divided the two days into four sessions: advanced anatomy, trimming, boot fitting, and gluing. It was gratifying to see how much interest the attendees had in hoof protection alternatives. EasyCare, Inc., for example, offers hoof protection options not only for maintenance and therapeutic purposes (therapy Easyboots) but also for trail riding and competition (pleasure riding Easyboots and performance riding Easyboots).
For the practical sessions, we worked with different types of horses and hooves, half Andalusians, endurance Arabians, and retired horses. We compared different approaches for trimming barefoot horses and covered how to fit and properly use hoof boots such as the Easyboot Glove or the Easyboot Fury.
Regarding glue-on products, it was not difficult to find materials in Spain, including different types of acrylics, epoxies, and urethanes. I thought it was important to demonstrate the process and methodology for gluing shells (such as the Easyboot Glue-On) in real time. I was able to offer some critical tips and tricks to make it easier for the attendees’ specific conditions. The success and value of proper gluing was evident as the attendees saw the horses used for demonstration trot out better and more fluidly after having boots glued on.
In the weeks following the clinic, our hosts and clinic attendees immediately began to implement the hoof care strategies they had learned. Those who used the hoof boots for trail riding reported great satisfaction after completing successful rides following the clinic. Here, I share pictures of the attendees and horses that benefited from these well-engineered hoof care products.