Submitted by Christoph Schork of Global Endurance Training Center
Visiting new countries is always such a treat for me; meeting new people, new cultures and tasting local food never loses its fascination. Although my travels over the years have led me to several of the Scandinavian countries, I had not set foot in Norway til last November. Alright, November in Norway does not seem to be that inviting, knowing that the days in the northern latitudes are rather short. And skies are known to be mostly grey during these short days on top of it.
But so be it. I was invited by Christina Bruhn to come and share some of my hoof knowledge with a group of Norwegian endurance riders, hoof care practitioners and equine professionals. The schedule was set to trim various hooves on day one, share my trimming thoughts and experience, and follow up on day two with a workshop on the proven and also newest hoof protections developed by EasyCare Inc. As luck had it, I actually arrived in Oslo on a blue bird day.
Brummundal with Lake Mjosa. Norway's largest lake.
For the following clinic days, though, late fall grey skies prevailed again. Well, not being tempted to take in the magnificent scenery hidden behind low level clouds and fog banks, we could all focus on the task what we all came for. About 20 of us gathered for indoor PowerPoint presentations which I had prepared for the event. During these indoor presentations, we looked at slides detailing the conformation of horses and the resulting hoof development because of it. We also spend a lot of time discussing the role of the caudal hoof on horses performance potential. Afterwards we all went to work in the barn, evaluating various cadaver hooves, followed by trimming. Each participant had opportunity for hands on work.
Discussions regarding bar trimming rounded out the afternoon:
-How long should bars be left?
-How do the seasons and the substrates influence length and growth of the bars?
-Benefit and harm of long and short bars.
November daylight is waning around 4pm in the northern latitudes and temperatures are dropping by then as well, so we moved back to the warmer rooms inside to watch slides of Mongolian horse shoeing, which, I might add, is quite different from our 21st century hoof care in the West. You be the judge.
Comfortable at the fire, discussing horses, hooves and life.
The next day we started with an indoor presentation on EasyCare Inc. hoof boots and EasyShoes. Of particular interest was the new EasyShoe Flex. I did bring a few with me to show and discuss their advantages.
Riders in Norway are always concerned about snow, ice and muddy trails. So traction is of utmost importance for them. For icy roads and thin snow cover, the EasyCare Quick Studs work very well.
Here, one of the Norwegian endurance riders discusses with me advantages and placement of the Quick Studs in the EasyShoe Performance N/G.
Practicing Quick Studs application is shown below.
For the real mud and deep snow conditions, the Norwegian riders prefer heavier armour.
Shown above are a pair of Easyboot Glue-Ons after we placed the snow and mud studs on during the workshop. These boots were then glued on some front hooves with Vettec Adhere and Sikaflex 227.
I also demonstrated the new EasyShoe Flex during the clinic. In a blog last June, The EasyShoe Flex in Action I elaborated on the benefits of the EasyShoe Flex. Garrett Ford also explained the EasyShoe Flex here in a blog last year. Again, I believe that the EasyShoe Flex will be a big and valuable addition to the line of EasyCare products.
Several of the Norwegian National Endurance Team riders joined the clinic.
When visiting Norway, one should take the opportunity to visit Lillehammer, if at all possible. Site of the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, Lillehammer has a special place in Norway. Arguably, these Games were one of the best in the history of the Olympic Games. Here the view from the top of the iconic Ski Jump in Lillehammer, with a great view of the town and Lake Mjosa.
From Norway, my travels led me through England, where I had the opportunity to participate in a traditional English Fox Hunt.
Somewhat unusual outfit for an endurance rider!
From England my travels brought me to Austria and Germany and finally to the Elsass, nowadays a part of France. Here, Mireille Housencroft organized another Hoof Care Clinic for me, geared towards professional Hoof Care Providers and Farriers, as well as the interested equestrians of all disciplines from Switzerland, France and Germany.
Together in a group setting we trimmed, glued and nailed EasyCare Glue-Ons and EasyShoes. For gluing we used mainly Vettec Superfast and Adhere, with Vettec Equipak CS for packing. The whole palette of Vettec glues was introduced and practiced. Here again a big "thank you" to the Vettec Company for helping me setting up the clinics.
These yearly workshops and clinics help to spread the word about the superior EasyCare products throughout the world. I love doing these clinics. Meeting wonderful people and learning at the same time while helping horses and riders. More trips like that are planned for this coming year.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners presented recently a study by Keith Kleine, MS Director of Industry Relations, about the current trends in the horse industry in the USA. The overall picture shows a steady decline of the horse population in the USA, as well as a substantial decline in the horse registrations of all breeds.
Below some graphs of the present make up of horses and horse owners within the USA and their development trends:
Now to the present trend that has been observable for the last decade and a half:
These stats paint a sad picture of the horse industry. Surveys among horse owners reveal some of the reasons for the overall decline:
If interested in the whole detailed presentation of Mr. Keith Kleine, you can visit this site: Current Trends In The Horse Industry
Besides the economic stress factors, the horse industry has other challenges to deal with:
- Younger generations have multiple other interests besides horses and riding
- Increased public concern about horse welfare
- Decreased public knowledge about horses and what constitutes good horsemanship
For all of us who love horses and their companionship, these statistics above give reasons for concern. How can we, the national and international horse community, stop and maybe reverse that trend? A few ideas come into my mind:
- Education of the public about the horse sports and animal welfare
- Setting an example for good animal husbandry and horsemanship
- Working at the community level within local horse clubs
- Lobbying at state and federal level for horse trails, facilities and equestrian sports
- Joining equestrian clubs and associations
- Writing blogs, articles, letters to the editors
EasyCare has been a leader in the horse industry in terms of innovation of horse and rider products that makes the life of horses and riders easier and healthier. But more than that, though, EasyCare has been setting an example for horsemanship, horse welfare and public education. EasyCare has been involved in various equestrian disciplines as sponsor, contributor, educator, blogger and their staff is competing in many disciplines. If we look for guidance, the staff of EasyCare has been setting a shining example in the whole equestrian world.
The hoof care clinics EasyCare and I have been conducting for many years now, serve as an example on how to use hoof trimming methods and hoof protection that serve the horses well and additionally show the public that we all care about horse welfare. Taking a stand against horse abuse, cruelty, excesses in the show world and on the endurance circuit gives us all more credibility and we can show the world that we, the horse owners, hoof care practitioners and riders, are concerned and caring. Hoof care is holistic. In our clinics we always stressed that point.
To proof my point, just read some of Daisy Bicking's blogs, or of Landreville Hoof Care, or one of my previous blogs about my clinics I am teaching every year. November this year, I will be traveling to Norway and Switzerland for all encompassing Hoof Care Clinics, where I will not only show and demonstrate EasyCare's broad spectrum of hoof protection but also lobby for the horse industry and the welfare of the horse throughout. Reports will be coming up.
Despite the dismal and somewhat sobering graphs I showed earlier, I remain optimistic that with joint effort we can reverse that declining trend and make a difference in the world.
From the Bootmeister
Lately a lot of time and energy has been invested by the EasyCare staff in the the improvement and testing of the new EasyShoe FLEX. In my February blog about the new FLEX, At Least Once, I had promised that more testing will follow and that I will report on the results here in the future.
Some fellow farriers and riders asked me why we need yet another EasyCare product. After all, EasyCare is already offering so many boots and shoes: from the various strap-on boots for all equestrian disciplines and all levels of riders to Glue-on shells, half shells like the Flip Flop, four different EasyShoes for gluing and nailing. So, really, why even more EasyShoes?
Foremost, EasyCare is an innovator in hoof protection. That means that the staff of EasyCare, led by the CEO Garrett Ford, will always do R&D to make ever better products that will help the horses and make the job for Farriers and Hoof Practitioners easier. Read Garrett Ford's Blog from earlier this year explains all his R&D work recently. This specific new shoe is actually a joint venture with Curtis Burns and his company, Polyflex Horseshoes, No Anvil LLC.
The FLEX offers distinct advantages compared to other EasyShoes:
- full urethane body with spring steel core
- promotes hoof mechanism
- the yielding steel core allows flex in heels, quarters and toe
- modifiable length of heel support
- available with open heel, frog support, dorsal and side clips
- can get easily modified and shortened with rasps or belt and wheel grinders
- high degree of shock absorption
- easy to nail on
- slots in steel core allow for precise nail placement on white line
The following photos explain these paragraphs above more graphically:
The nailing slots and dorsal clip of the steel insert.
Arrows point to the slots of the steel insert within the polyurethane body. The clear material allows the farrier to easily identify the white line.
With a grinder, the shoe can get modified in little time, e.g. the dorsal clip removed, sides and heel area shortened and adjusted.
Not a problem if some of the steel is getting removed as well.
Open heel model nailed on.
Model with heel support and dorsal clip.
A model with dorsal clip nailed on a horse named Starlit way of GETC. With this shoe he won a 50 mile endurance race and also won the BC Award.
Another example of a nailed FLEX.
Here is a short video on EasyCare's Facebook page explaining the application and modification possibilities: https://www.facebook.com/Easyboot/posts/10154780166780853
How did the FLEX perform in the field? What results did horses get that were shod with the new FLEX?
Nothing tests hoof care products of all kind more thoroughly than endurance rides and races over various terrain. Endurance is a relatively small segment of all the equestrian disciplines, yet it provides the best testing ground for shoes and boots. In 2017 alone, the FLEX was applied to several horses of Global Endurance Training Center and these horses were ridden by up to 4 riders in 23 separate endurance races. The results speak for themselves:
-14 Wins in 50 Mile races
- 9 Second Place finishes
- 15 Best Condition Awards
No horses shod with the FLEX were pulled for any kind of lameness.
A win and BC Award for the FLEX at the recent Spanish Peaks Endurance Race, organized by SoCo Endurance and Tenney Lane in Colorado.
GETC's Starlit Way on his way to victory and BC award earlier this year at Antelope Island 50. (photo credit: Merri Melde)
GE Stars Aflame on her way to first place and BC at Mt Carmel this spring. (photo credit: Steve Bradley)
Now lets look at some of the shoes AFTER they had been used over various terrain:
This shoe was tested in 2 endurance races over decomposed granite and gravel roads. 100 race miles and 40 training miles, 4 weeks old.
150 endurance competition miles over varied terrain. The sole opening was optionally filled with Vettec CS to prevent any accidental sharp rocks to bruise the somewhat flat sole of this horse.
An open heel version, filled with Equipak for extra protection. If the soles are hard and well cupped, this step is not necessary for most applications.
The FLEX with steel insert is scheduled to be released sometime later this summer or fall. Later this year or early next year, these shoes will also get offered without the steel insert. The FLEX LIGHT is, as the name suggests, even lighter in weight. I also tested quite a few of these shoes as well and was able to compare to the ones with the steel insert. Results: The FLEX LIGHT wears as well as the FLEX and has as much stability. A great option for riders looking for very light weight hoof protection.
No steel insert. Next image below after 150 endurance miles over varied terrain:
Optionally filled the sole area with Vettec Equipak.
The LIGHT does not sport the steel insert, but the nails were just as secure and never loosened. So, how do the nail holes look after 6 weeks and with one hundred and more miles of endurance races? In all cases, the nail holes were nice and square, no loosening or widening of the holes. Provided there is enough profile left, these shoes could get reset.
As mentioned above, the FLEX are easier to nail on compared to steel shoes and even the Performance N/G. For the future, EasyCare and Global Endurance Training Center are considering offering clinics for nailing these shoes to anybody interested in learning this skill. Stay tuned for updates on this topic.
Let us have a final look at the nail holes after the shoes were removed. The sample below was nailed on with 6 nails, the horse did 155 endurance competition miles and 60 training miles. These shoes were on the hooves for 5 weeks. There is a lot of profile left and they certainly could get reset. What impresses me most, though, are the clean and crisp square nail holes. Through all the wear and tear of the hundreds of thousands of foot falls, the nail holes did not enlarge at all. They are exactly the size and shape of the nail shaft. Impressive. It bears testimony to the toughness of the polyurethane material that EasyCare is using and to the quality of the product itself.
From the desk of the Bootmeister
The sport of endurance riding is only a small segment of all equestrian sports nationally and worldwide. Maybe 5% of all equestrians engage in endurance. Attending the AERC Annual Convention, one gets the feeling that endurance riders are the center of the horse world. This year's AERC Convention was held in Dallas, Texas.
New AERC officers are being sworn in during the general session at the convention.
Endurance riders from the country and abroad came together for two days of seminars, various board and committee meetings and a trade show that gave participants a glimpse of new products on the market and also the opportunity to buy equestrian products, from EasyCare hoof boots to Vettec glues and various saddles. Specialized Saddles was well represented. EasyCare, Inc. is a Platinum Sponsor of AERC and the Official Hoof Boot Company of AERC.
In the photo above, Larkin Greene from Vettec Company is explaining gluing Easyboot shells on a model hoof during the trade show.
David Kaden and Tracy Webb, owners of Specialized Saddles, are presenting the Rookie Award to the Rookie of the Year. Specialized Saddles made and donated the saddle to the Rookie with the highest achieved mileage in 2016.
After the awards banquet, national awards achieved during the 2016 season were presented for the winners of various categories. I had a very successful year competing mostly on mares of Global Endurance Training Center. Among the most coveted awards is the War Mare National Award. The three mares I was riding placed 1st, 2nd and 9th among the top ten mares in the country. The War Mare Award is bestowed to the mare with most points accumulated throughout the ride season.
These mares also were in 2nd and 3rd place in the National Best Condition Championship standings. The most prestigious award, the National 100 Mile Championship Award, I achieved with GE Pistol Annie. She also won the AHA Half Arabian 100 Mile Championship title. In addition, these three mares took the top three spots in the Mountain Region Point and Best Condition Championships, respectively.
As the winner, we received a new Freeform Saddle, donated by Paulita Neff from the Treeless Saddle Company.
Receiving the National Championship Award by Susan Garlinghouse.
Why is this all significant? And what do all these mares I rode in 2016 have in common?
These winning mares were ridden all season long with EasyCare hoof shoes and hoof boots. To be successful in these national competitions, a rider has to pay meticulous attention to every detail all year long: from nutrition to training and conditioning, from chiropractic work to dental care, from saddle fit to hoof trimming and hoof protection selection. The hoof protection of choice were EasyCare Glue-ons for GE Pistol Annie, Flip Flops for Medinah MHF and a combination of EasyShoes and Glue-ons for GE CCDRUS Star. I do not believe that we would have had that level of success, would it not been for the use of the EasyCare hoof protection. These superior products protect the soles, dampen the concussion for the joints and are lightweight. The horses can travel with more ease and comfort over rocks and hard ground. As we have seen so many times in the past, EasyCare is leading the charge again and can always be found at the forefront of research, development and success in the world.
Here is another example for the spirit of innovation that has been demonstrated by EasyCare over the years: this new EasyShoe Flex pictured below will be released soon! I wrote in my blog last month about this exciting EasyCare product. I have been testing this new shoe for a while now and I am thrilled about it.
From the National AERC Convention
By Christoph Schork
Yes, I truly believe that each Hoof Care Professional should attend the yearly International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio at least one time in their life. It is an event packed to the brim with lectures and seminars. Organized by the AFJ, this year attendance was in the thousands. Farriers from all over the world attended and it is a great opportunity to meet them and exchange experiences.
EasyCare Inc and Polyflex Horseshoes had partnered up and shared a booth side by side at the Summit. Great experience to work with Curtis Burns, in my opinion, the most experienced and best Hoof Care Professional in terms of gluing synthetic and polyurethane horse shoes.
EasyCare and Polyflex booth at the trade show.
The Bootmeister explaining the advantages of the EasyCare products to visitors from all over the world.
Curtis Burns demonstrated quarter crack repair in front of many trade show attendees.
Garrett Ford had some airline problems, so unfortunately he did not make it to the Trade Show. Some of the newest products developed by EasyCare, and meant to be showcased in Cincinnati, also fell victim to flight cancellations. Therefore the EasyCare Booth did not have all the new products at hand. Nevertheless, we had some of the newest and exciting EasyCare products on display and in cooperation with Curtis, I made it a go.
One of my all time favorite boots, the EasyBoot Flip-Flop, on display on the blacksmith buddy.
A joint production with Polyflex Horseshoes, the EasyShoe Flex is scheduled to get released onto the market in March. Watch this video here that explains the benefits of the Flex. The EasyShoe Flex will first be released in four sizes: 0, 1, 2 and 3. With a springsteel core, this shoe will flex just about like a hoof, like nature intended. The Flex is meant to be nailed on. Options are a dorsal clip or side clips. Another option is open heel or closed heel for frog support. Garrett Ford talked a little bit more about this in last weeks blog.
Not only was the Trade show a huge success with products on display from companies all over the world, the lecture series was filled with capable and iconic speakers like Mike Wildenstein, Simon Curtis, Dave Farley and my all time favorite: Brian Hampson. Brian has done extensive research on the Australian Brumbies and the Mongolian Takh horses like no other scientist in the world. His research has influenced the way we are looking and judging horse hooves in recent times.
In Brian's lectures, you can learn a lot about the wild horses of the world. For example, did you know that 46% of all wild horses with hooves that we often consider ideal suffer from laminitis?
Photo from Brian Hampson's lecture.
Looking at these hooves of wild mustangs in the image below, one might think of these being the ideal hooves everybody is striving to achieve.
What Brian Hampson found out in his numerous studies puts a damper on this illusion: these hooves might look appealing from the outside, yet inside these hooves have the highest percentage of pathologies. Specifically founder, laminitis, white line disease, navicular etc.
In the slide below, Brian is detailing the percentages of the pathologies found in his studies of the wild horse hooves in Australia:
Compare the wild horse hooves in the image above to this one below, taken from a horse in a wetter environment and representing hooves we see more commonly among our domesticated herds:
On first sight, we all would probably agree that this hoof is somewhat neglected and unhealthy.
Yet, when checking more closely with digital radiology, nuclear scintigraphy and ultrasound the inside of hooves looking like this, one is astonished to find out that these hooves were among the healthiest in Hampson's studies. So the first impression is not telling us the whole truth or might actually totally fool us. Take home message is that the external looks of a hoof will not allow us to draw conclusions and pass judgement on how "healthy" the actual hoof, its internal structures and the digit inside really are. Interesting, isn't it? It sure taught me a lesson. That is the kind of invaluable stuff you learn at the Summit.
The learning experience all around was just amazing and, quite frankly, there is no better way to learn about Hoof Care, the newest scientific findings, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones but by attending the "Summit". See you there next year!
From the desk of The Bootmeister
In Frog Talk, Part I last month, we discussed frog trimming and looked at various frog pictures of all kinds of shape and form. In this second part of Frog Talk, we are going to discuss the following:
- Crooked frogs
- Frog pathologies/diseases
- Treatment options
This frog of a left front hoof had moved to the lateral side, the right side from the bottom seen here. The question is, why did it do that? In many cases where a side movement of the frog can be observed, it moves to the higher side of the hoof, in this case the higher side is lateral, where the green arrow points. Comparing heel height by means of the red horizontal line, we can see that the lateral heel has moved forward and needs to get trimmed shorter. Notice that little crack in the heel (blue arrow). That is one of the markers the hoof tries to tell us that the heel is too high in this area. In my blog from July 2014 I talked about Daniel Anz and the F Balance. These markers help us decide how far we can or should trim the heels down. A very interesting concept.
Here as well, the frog tip moved to the higher side of the heels. This hoof being front left, the higher side is the medial side. The red arrow at the heel shows how far that heel has moved forward compared the the lateral heel (blue arrow). Even the heel bulb was pulled forward with it, meaning that this imbalance had existed for a while.
In both cases the higher heels need to get shortened and the hooves balanced. I would not trim anything off the frog and artificially realign it with the hoof's center line, just for optical reasons so it would look 'pretty'. By doing so, I would rob the frog of its protective callused skin and make it vulnerable for pathogens to invade. If the hoof is balanced, these frogs will realign themselves again without any trimming.
This one throws us a curve ball, telling us that it will not play by these rules. Indeed, the frog tip moved to the lower side of the heel. The green horizontal line indicates level heel height, clearly the blue arrow shows the higher heel, while the red arrow the movement of the frog tip.
What gives? Looking at the high and long bar on the higher (left) hoof side within the red arch could give us the clue: the bar could have pushed the frog to the side.
The outer shape of the frog matches the inner shape of the frog's corium. Looking at these cadaver hoof capsules with huge bars, one can easily imagine how these overgrown bars (below the red semicircle) can create havoc inside the hoof capsule.
Here the bar had grown so large and long, that it created a dorsal hoof wall crack (red arrow tip). Again, easy to imagine how much damage this bar did to the frog corium and subsequently the actual visible frog.
This neglected hoof and frog does not want to play ball either. Here the frog tips point in two different directions, the older frog, ready to shed, in one direction, the newer frog in the other. With these way overgrown heels it is even hard to decide which one is higher or if both are similar height.
Where does that leave us? Well, the famous answer: it depends. Heel imbalance can be a reason, long bars can be a reason, the way a horse moves, lands, breaks over, all can be reasons. I like to look at the frog deviations as indicators that something is amiss and that I need to get exploring and finding out what it is and what to do about it. But I leave the frog itself mostly untouched. Then I also can get confirmation at the next trim, if I balanced the hoof correctly so the frog was able to self correct.
Frog pathologies and diseases:
We can differentiate between frog yeast, the white powdery or smeary substance, fungus, a black layer of frog decay, and thrush, which combines fungus and anaerobic bacteria to really attack the frogs substance. Thrush is the most destructive form and if untreated, can migrate deep into the corium, laming up a horse in a big way.
This frog certainly harbors all all three. There are holes everywhere, the frog is literally falling apart. Double sole, long bars, long heels and hoof wall. The frog is trying desperately to get some kind of ground contact, and although it is very sick, it does not want to shed anything. Now it is time to cut the decayed matter, find out how bad the damage is, treat it accordingly and give that hoof some relief.
After a preliminary trim of the neglected hoof, the frog damage becomes visible: red arrow points to yeast, blue arrow to fungus.
On this frog tell tale signs:
Typical 'butt crack' indicating thrush infestation.
Recessed, thrush infected frog. Very often frogs that do not receive enough ground stimulation recede and suffer from thrush and other infections. Notice also the contracted heels and negative hoof wall angles. A totally dysfunctional frog, crying out for help.
Another prime example of a recessed frog, contracted heel, thrush infestations. This frog is dysfunctional and sick, cannot handle any load bearing. Bell shaped hoof capsule (Glockenform). The steel shoes he was wearing did not allow the heels to spread and be load bearing.
There are many thrush treatments available, from Thrushbuster to White Lightning, Kopertox, Iodine, bleach, vinegar, sugar betadine solutions, copper sulfate solutions and paste etc. Some of these mentioned above are toxic and kill healthy tissue as well. Others are complicated to apply, you have to soak the hooves for a time period in solutions. For all these options, the EasySoaker works excellently. Not a better boot can be found on the market. It will take time and effort, though, to treat thrush with liquids.
A quicker and more effective way to treat thrush are pastes. Specifically I like these two formulas:
- Hypozin, an effective paste developed in the Netherlands
- Antibiotic and antifungal cream mixed 50/50.
(This can be Neosporin, triple antibiotic, mixed with with Athletes Foot Cream)
Either one of these two pastes will do an excellent job of killing thrush within a few days. Monoject curved syringes work best for the application.
Arguments have been made that thrush is caused by bacteria that thrive in an anaerobic environment. True enough. Conclusions have been drawn that it is therefore better to cut the frog clean, so air or oxygen can reach the frog and thus kill the bacteria. The reality is that oxygen seldom, if ever, reaches the frog in the best of cases. Most of the time the horse stands in soft ground, the sole and frog filled with soil, mud and manure. No oxygen is able to penetrate there. So, unless a horse is moving fast over gravel, sand or other abrasive terrain, there just is no oxygen reaching infected soles and killing any thrush bacteria. I would much rather keep the callused frog with all its little pockets and niches. These will allow me to fill these with anti thrush cream. There the cream will stay and keep working 24/7 without getting worn off or worked out.
Back to our contracted heels. Daisy Bicking wrote a very informative blog over a year ago about heel slippering. I found it to be a great way to aid with rehabilitating contracted heels and recessed frogs. A very worthy read.
After slippering heels and treating thrush with paste mentioned above, what is left to accomplish is frog stimulation. If the frog is pressure sensitive, we need to proceed slowly and with baby steps. Sand and pea gravel are preferred ground cover for healthy frogs to move over. Lacking any of these grounds, we then can look into the usage of Vettec products like Equipak or Equipak CS.
This frog pictured above was sensitive to pressure and only marginally functional. It actually appears stronger than it was. After cleaning and drying thoroughly, I supported it with Equipak CS. This soft cushion (Strahl Polster, frog support, pour in, caudal support) allows the frog to accept more load bearing while at the same time guarding against thrush with the CS (copper-sulfate) addition. The small recessed frog in the photo above would also greatly benefit from an Equipak cushion.
Of course, none of this will work in the long run, unless we use a holistic approach in our horsemanship and hoof care. Only then can we guarantee long lasting success. The elements of this holistic system are:
But that last part we all know anyway. Am I not correct with this assumption?
From the desk of the Bootmeister
What do frogs and bars have in common? Answer: they are both most controversial among hoof professionals.
Bars and frogs of the equine hoof are the most discussed tissues and there are about as many opinions out there as there are hoof care professionals. Bars and frogs are always a hot discussion topic. (I had written a blog about bar trimming a couple of years ago.)
Personally, when trimming the frogs, I am a minimalist. I remove as little as possible from any frog, unless special considerations require it. But more on that later.
The frogs of the equine hoof have many functions, one of them being shock absorption. Generally speaking, a large, wide and thick frog is better suited for that task. A frog that contacts the ground upon landing of the hoof is a healthier frog compared to a recessed frog or one that is not able to contact the ground because the hoof is shod with a horse shoe that loads the hoof wall only peripherally.
Not sure what it is, but many hoof trimmers just have an urge to trim something of the frog. Even if it just a tiny little piece. I mean, what good is a hoof knife when one cannot use it. And frogs just cut so nicely and soft, quite contrary to most soles and bars. They just cannot help it, something has to be cut of the frog, even if it is not necessary.
During my recent hoof care clinics in Europe, one of my group of hoof care professionals discussed trimming and preparing hooves for gluing various hoof protections like the EasyCare Glue-Ons, Flip Flops, EasyShoes and Equiflex horse shoes. Every year for the last ten years I have been traveling to Europe to conduct these clinics and workshops. Most of the time by myself, but occasionally also with EasyCare Staff and Garrett Ford.
A participant had asked me a question and just in that moment I had turned around to answer, one of the others who held up the hoof could not resist the urge to slice a little piece of a very healthy and nicely callused frog. Nothing needed to be taken off here, but it is just so typical of us trimmers. Something needs to be cut, even if only a tiny little bit.
Now, this will not do much harm, however, that little piece taken off robbed unnecessarily the sensitive frog tip from its callused skin.
The calluses are a front line shield and defense against fungi, bacteria and parasites. Remove it and the frog is weakened and harmed. Before cutting any tissue off a horses hoof, I always ask myself the two questions:
- Is the removal of that tissue helpful to the horse or will it be harmful?
- Will the horse travel better or worse afterwards?
These are two quite different questions, the second question building upon the first. What decision I ultimately make in terms of hoof trimming depends a lot on whether or not the horse is being ridden, over what terrain, for how long, and is it bare footed or with hoof protection.
For me, the ultimate test is riding a horse over varied terrain bare footed. Below I am sharing a few photos of different frogs and my trimming thoughts on them.
Let's start with an easy one: This Tinker frog is perfect for its job of landing and shock absorption. I think we can all agree that any trimming of this frog would harm the horse.
Another healthy frog that should not encounter a hoof knife at all.
A desert hoof: thick sole and thick frog. Hardened by the elements and terrain. The outer layers are showing signs of cracks and shedding. I won't help that process, but leave it alone and let nature do its job. There is no thrush anywhere, so I do not see any reason to start cutting anything off.
Thick callus with a deep central sulcus. Thrush? Unlikely, no smell, no sensitivity, just a deep sulcus because of summer dryness. I am leaving it as is.
Looks like the outer callused layer of the frog was just shed. Whether by terrain or with help of a trimmer, I do not know. Obviously the hoof trimmer followed the principle of trimming the heels to the widest part of the frog. That hoof now is compromised and probably not a good candidate to be ridden without hoof protection, frog and sole will be sensitive for a while now.
Good one above. Analysis: thick sole, probably a double sole. Frog tip connected to sole. Frog flaps with thick callus. Horse travels sound over rocks without any hoof protection for many many miles. Admittedly, that frog does not look "nice". But it certainly is functional, tough and thick. Cutting anything off that frog would compromise his bare footed travel. I leave it as it is, even that connection with the sole on the tip is not harming the hoof, but protecting it even further.
That hoof needs some trimming, some of the overgrown bars already were shortened. But let us just look at the frog now: cracked, thick callused frog with dry central sulcus. I do not trim anything off here. At red arrow tip: flap material is growing laterally to hold soil and to increase heel support area. These flaps are useful, I will leave them in place as they have been growing.
Frog tip is starting the renewal process and peeling. Do I help and cut it off or let nature do its job? Obviously it is not quite ready to peel itself, if I cut it, the frog tip will be sensitive and I will have potentially harmed the hoof.
On the opposing hoof of the same horse, the tip has shed itself of already, next part is also trying to come off. I do nothing and leave it alone.
Now to an interesting question:
What to do about flaps and fold overs that are often observable on the frog? Generally these flaps are there to hold dirt which in turn again stimulates the tissue. Often they grow there where the hoof considers them most useful. I am always amazed on how nature takes care of the areas in need. Building materials are expediently sent there.
Lets have a look at these frog flaps:
Same hoof with slightly different photo angles for better understanding. That hoof shows very low heels, in fact the heel bulbs are so low that they are running the risk of getting bruised and injured when encountering rocks. These flaps grew at the right place to protect the bulbs. In the second frame the red arrow shows a slight abrasion from the movement of the flap against the heel bulb. Possibly also from soil or sand rubbing against the skin. Removal of these flaps would endanger the bulbs. These frog flap extensions also increase the load bearing surface area of the whole foot.
But, these flaps also can harbor bacteria and fungi, one might object. True enough. How to safeguard against this and more about frog pathology, crooked frogs, recessed ones and how to deal with them and correct them all I will cover in next months blog, Frog Talk - Part II.
From The Bootmeister
What a privilege it has been for me being able to join Tennessee Lane, ride manager and dear friend, together with other well known riders for the inaugural Spanish Peaks 100 mile endurance ride last week. The location was very close to La Veta, Colorado; in fact, just a few miles outside of this marvel of a small town in southern Colorado. After the National Championship Ride in Utah three weeks ago, (I wrote a Blog about it last month) this ride was another highlight of the season.
The base camp is situated at over 8000 ft with the magnificent Spanish Peaks as a background. I am using the present tense, because this base camp has been permanently installed with buildings, water wells and electricity by the Lane family and will serve as base camp for all future rides there. All pertinent info for present and future events there can be found on the SoCo Facebook page.
The Ride Manager and Team Easyboot Member Tennessee Lane at Base Camp
As to be expected, the management and organization were first class, trails perfectly marked. Exquisite catered dinners for riders and crew were the reward for everybody's efforts and labor.
An LD, a 50 miler and a 100 miler were offered. Trails were tough, no doubt. Many vertical feet had to be climbed and descended to reach the finish line. Lots of rocks on the trails forced riders to really go slow and take good care of their horses. Many got off and walked the really steep and rocky sections. Truly an endurance adventure, somewhat opposite to the just recent WEC in Slovakia.
Slow going during the third leg of the course.
The scenery is truly unique, even for the spoiled Colorado crowd.
Where do you get to see a sight like this? An old lava formation that has pushed up through some cracks in the ground millions of years ago to build this great wall we can see today.
A Mini arch or hole within that lava wall.
The geology is just fascinating:
"The Great Dikes were formed during the same period of volcanic activity as the Spanish Peaks, Mt. Mestas and Silver Mountain.
At the time these vertical granite formations were formed by molten rock, they were located several thousand feet underground, below and among many layers of sedimentary rock. Over time, as the ground rose and the softer rock was eroded away, these igneous intrusions were exposed.There are essentially three different sets of dikes in the area. One set emanates radially from the West Spanish Peak. The second set emanates radially from Silver Mountain. The third set crosses the landscape in a roughly N80E direction. The dikes in this third set are roughly parallel to one another and are the longest and oldest of the dikes. This third set of dikes was formed about the same time as the Sangre de Cristo Uplift, the event that pushed up the Sangre de Cristo Mountains." (Excerpt from the Geology Formation Site).
Completion rates were average for the distances, 90% for the LD, 80% for the 50 and 55% for the 100 miler. Personally I elected to withdraw after 60 miles from the 100 miler because of a slight inconsistency in my mare's gait, but this decision did not take anything away from the fact that this ride is a 'must do' in my book. What really made it so special is the fact that the first place award for the 100 miler was the Wahatoya Cup, donated by Nelson and Neecee Lane, and the Best Condition Award was the Kevin Myers Memorial Cup, named after our dear friend Kevin Myers, who left us all way too early. We miss you, Kevin and will always remember you now with this Trophy named after you.
The BC winner this year and in the future years will have their names engraved into the cup. Kerry Redente, riding Bluff, received these honors.
First Place Winner again here with the Wahatoya Cup:
In the end, only 5 riders finished the 100. Four out of the 5 were equipped with Easyboot Glue-On hoof boots. With the abrasive terrain and footing, these boots were the hoof protection of choice. These results were another testimony in favor of the Easyboot Glue-Ons. Kevin would have been proud.
Tina Gottwald from Germany and visiting Global Endurance Training Center in Moab, receiving her Completion Buckle from Tennessee. She was riding TC Mounshine, a veteran 100 Mile horse from the GETC stable. TC Mounshine was also equipped with EasyCare Glue-On boots, just like the overall winner and BC Award winner.
A group photo with all the finishers of the 100 mile ride.
A memorable endurance event came to a happy ending. We are looking forward to next year, where Tennessee Lane will again be organizing three endurance races, one in each month of June, July and August. I, for sure, will attend all three again. Hope many of you will as well.
From the desk of the Bootmeister
Last weekend the AERC National Championships were held at Antelope Island in Utah. Every year, endurance riders compete for national honors in 50 and 100 mile endurance events. The locations rotate from the eastern half of the USA to the western half. So during odd calendar years the Nationals are held in the East, during even years in the West.
Antelope Island, a Utah State Park within the Great Salt Lake, had the honors to be the host of this years Nationals. Some riders prepare all year for this event. It might not draw the numbers that Biltmore or Tevis can showcase, but it is a prestigious event, no doubt.
Jeff Stuart was the Ride Manager and with a wonderful support group, he put on a first class event. Top notch veterinarians helped horses and riders to get through. As a result the completion rate was high and there were absolutely no treatments necessary.
At the vet in: Suzy Hayes and Atlas and Christoph with GE Pistol Annie.*
The trails were a mix of flat and rocky stretches with some substantial climbs. A lot of riders chose hoof protection to safe guard against stone bruises. As always at important events, EasyCare boots were seen on many horses. And among the various EasyCare hoof protection, the Glue-Ons were the most used boot among the riders.
Some of the more rocky uphill sections of the trail.*
Antelope Island is a relatively small island, but home to 600 buffalo and hundreds of antelopes.*
When the buffalo came to close to the Vet check to snatch some hay or feed, the ride managers job included keeping them at a safe distance from the horses.
Team Easyboot member, Kevin Waters giving his horse Rio a break during one of the uphill sections.*
Kevin and I leaving vet check two during the 100 Mile race. Both horses wearing Easyboot Glue-Ons.*
For the readers who keep stats, here are the numbers of the finishing riders wearing Easyboots:
Now these are stats that no one can argue with. Numbers speak!
The jewel award, the National 100 Mile Champion title, was earned by Team Easyboot Member Leah Cain, riding OT Dyamonte Santo.
Leah Cain with the National Championship trophy and her crew. Congratulations to an awesome job done.
Jill Haunold accepting her winning trophy from AERC president Michael Campell and RM Jeff Stuart (left).
Kevin Waters won the Heavy Weight Championship title in the 100 miler, myself the Middle Weight, Anya Leverman the Junior title; all wearing the Easyboot Glue-Ons. In the 50, similar picture: Jill Haunold was the overall and Featherweight champion, Barry Waitte the Heavy Weight champion, myself the Middle Weight Champion, so all the weight division winners were also wearing Easyboot Glue-Ons.
Any more questions?
From the desk of the Bootmeister
*Photo credit for photos 1,2,3,4,6,7,8 goes to Merri Melde from endurance.net
Tevis is arguably the most prestigious and toughest endurance race in the world. Even people who have never heard of the sport endurance riding have heard of the Tevis. The ride is being followed all over the world. This year marks the seventh year that EasyCare has provided a free gluing service for interested riders at the Tevis. In December 2008 Garrett Ford and I rode the Easyboot Glue-Ons at the Las Cienega Ride in Arizona for the first time ever in an endurance race. Garrett and I finished first and second that day and GE Cyclone, this years Haggin Cup winner, received the BC honors.
From then on, we never looked back. We knew that the Glue-Ons would have a future. Starting in 2009 EasyCare organized and provided the Tevis gluing service. The numbers of interested riders are increasing every year and it became harder and harder for Garrett and I to glue boots on dozens of horses before Tevis and then ride the next day. Often we both were so tired and suffered of aching backs before the ride even started that I was surprised we even made it through and finished at all.
Last year, Garrett had the great idea of forming an Easyboot Elite Team for Tevis, consisting of qualified farriers and hoof trimmers who would not enter the Tevis themselves. Interested individuals filled out applications, these were then screened and after interviews, the Elite Team members were selected.
Kevin Myers wrote a blog last year after Tevis with some stats on how Easyboot Glue-On riders fared compared with riders using various other hoof protection methods. You can read up on this by clicking on this blog. Just a short statistic here, last year the completion rate for non Easyboot riders was 42%, Easyboot riders finished at 55%.
So, how does it compare to this year? This year, the completion rate was an astonishing 76% for Easyboot riders! The highest percentage ever! Haggin Cup winner was again in Easyboots. You can see the full history of results in Garrett's Tevis recap.
The Easyboot Glue-On is certainly an outstanding product. But without the proper application of these boots, the numbers would certainly not be that good. Only the professional and meticulous glue on procedure guaranteed this success. There is no better group of hoof care professionals in this country than the Easyboot Elite Team, with this years members being listed alphabetically here:
Pete Van Rossum
These individuals did such an outstanding job gluing boots on, it was a pleasure for me to watch. If my memory serves me right, not one single Glue-On boot applied by this team was lost during Tevis.
Elite Team members worked at three stations, gluing three horses at the same time.
The hoof is structured with the rasp to increase the adhesion of the glue.
An Elite Team member is checking the size for proper fit.
After the glue is applied and the boot attached, the borders are sealed and smoothed out. With a hoof buffy, the boot is then finished for a crisp and clean look.
Tevis has come and gone. We are all looking forward now to the National Championship in September this year at Antelope Island. Will riders with Easyboots again take home top honors?
From the desk of the Bootmeister