Blaze and the Many, Many Boots

Submitted by Ruthie Thompson-Klein, Equine Balance Hoof Care

I work with a horse named Blaze, a magnificent 18 year-old copper Appendix Quarter Horse gelding. We have played big parts in each others lives over the past 10 years and more recently, EasyCare has played a major role. Blaze’s early life was tough. His dam was rescued from the Florida race track, and moved to Colorado. At age 4 he was “cowboyed” by a thoughtless trainer, sustaining lifetime lameness issues. His owner, Wendy, wanted to give him a better life, moved him to San Juan Island, WA, and began rehabbing his physical and emotional injuries.

When I came into the picture, Blaze’s front-end lameness was evaluated by an equine locomotion specialist. In the process of relieving scarring from a Deep Digital Flexor Tendon (DDFT) injury, Blaze wore prescription padded aluminum Natural Balance shoes and reverse steel shoes to relieve pressure on his sore tendons. He was diagnosed with navicular changes as well. With thin soles and small feet he had difficulties on hard surfaces at anything faster than a walk. However, on a soft grass field he was a gymnastic prodigy.

Blaze could be the unofficial poster horse for EasyCare products. Over the last 7 years, he tested, wore and wore out Bares, Edges, Trails and Back Country boots along with every type of pad combination. Blaze spent some time in Rx therapy boots to help him through an unexpected laminitis bout. His radiographs showed very thin soles and ultrasound pointed out scars on his DDFT. Despite a poor prognosis, we wanted Blaze landing flat and moving comfortably. We made some progress but despite diligent owner care, true soundness wasn’t happening. Then came the Easyboot Glue Ons and glue. Blaze’s open-minded vet agreed to my alternative strategy.

Blaze’s breakthrough came with several rounds of modified Glue On shells beginning in July 2015. This included an enhanced break over bevel added to the shells. In addition, we changed his diet to include balanced minerals and a targeted joint supplement. He got expert chiropractic attention to extend his range of motion. He could trot! He could buck and run! He could play “cutting horse” with his buddy across the fence and pull off a freshly glued shell! We were just happy Blaze felt his old self.

The Glue-on shell strategy along with the dietary changes and a summer of gentle restarting worked. Blaze’s next round of radiographs showed more sole, and it was dense, hard stuff. I transitioned Blaze to custom heat-fitted Easyboot Gloves for work so he could live bootless and bare but have perfect protection for light work. We had addressed the sole sensitivity for now, but Blaze’s next challenge was a bowed tendon and continued soreness from troubled soft tissue. An unscheduled nighttime romp did not help!

Were there any boots to get Blaze comfortable? Yes. Easyboot Clouds had just debuted, but they were in short supply. We compromised with Easyboot Zip boots and Cloud pads. Wendy religiously cleaned, powdered and changed his boots daily so he could keep moving. When Clouds became available Blaze’s footwear closet expanded to hold a pair, a spare pair and a stack of new Cloud pads. If a horse could smile, it would be when those Clouds go on!

Today, Blaze enjoys partial retirement with a small herd of geldings managed with natural horse keeping practices. Wendy likes to tell me, “You and EasyCare boots saved my horse,” but I remind her she and Blaze did all the hard work. Whatever comes next, Blaze has the hoof wear, the fortitude and his dedicated partner Wendy to see him through.

Modifications of Easyboot Gloves and Glue-On Shells: Part I

Submitted by Pete Ramey

Easyboot Glove hoof boots with optional Power Straps added to the top of the lower shell. 

Since they were only prototypes in 2008, the Easyboot Gloves and Glove Glue-On Shells from EasyCare Inc. have been my primary tools for hoof protection. There are many great boots and gluing options out there and I have tried a majority of them but these have remained my favorites.

Easyboot Gloves

These boots are light, compact and durable; but the reason I am so fond of them is that I can modify them in so many ways to suit individual hooves. This is particularly important with flared or rotated hoof capsules or hooves with low heel/long toe syndrome. The toe of the boot can be heat-fitted to expand, allowing the breakover to be placed correctly – critical to correct movement and thus rehabilitation of these hooves.


Glove shell heat-fitted to a rotated hoof capsule. The breakover will also be modified in the sole as shown below. Note the “shiny” areas of the boot – a key part of judging the heating process.

Heat-fitting is useful for more routine fitting on “normal” hooves, as well. The Glove is so light, durable and compact partially because it does not rely on buckles, straps and overlapping layers of materials to keep it on. Instead, it relies on perfect fit. If the boot is touching the foot everywhere, with no excessively tight areas and no areas with air space between the foot and the boot, it will perform like no other. But – and this is a big but – if the boot is tight in some areas and has air space in others, it may be one of the least reliable boots on the market. Fit is everything with this model, and if the foot is changing, the boot will have to change along the way as well. 

That means that this boot is not for everyone and not for every hoof; however a well-fit Glove is the highest-performance option, so each owner must decide whether to go this route. I suppose this is similar to a racing engine that must be pulled apart and rebuilt after every race. Is this a good engine? It depends on your perspective.

This is an easy choice for horse owners who are lucky enough to have a hoof professional who does all this modification for them. But for horse owners “on their own,” the Easyboot Glove may not be the best boot choice.

Heat-Fitting

I use the Digital Heat Gun from Ace Hardware that reaches 1100° (Fahrenheit) although any other brand will work, as long as it reaches this temp. Place the boot (or shell) on the foot and then palpate the boot walls. You will usually find that some areas of the boot are tight against the foot, and some are loose – you can press inward to close the air space inside. Mark any areas that are tight with a Sharpie. When heat fitting, you will generally be moving the foot forward into tight areas until the loose areas become tight. 

As you close these loose areas, you will simultaneously be optimizing breakover and placing the heels in the perfect spot to be snug (but not overly tight) and sitting all the way down on the boot floor (not standing on the heel portion of the shell or the gaiter).
Remove the boot from the horse for the heating process, and be careful to direct the heat away from the gaiters (and your hands). Only the lower shell is heated. You need to heat the boot gradually, so it heats all the way through. The timing varies daily with the power source, heat gun, ambient temperature, and the temperature the boots endured in the back of your truck the previous night. So each time I heat boots, I must determine a new timing. I do this by seeing how long it takes the area I’m heating to develop a sheen.

On the outside of the boot, hold the heat gun parallel to, and ¾” away from the surface, moving the heat gun small in rapid circles to distribute heat. As soon as you see a slight sheen appear on the surface, move the heat quickly to another area. Keep the heat focused only on the tight areas you previously marked, trying to avoid heating areas that were already loose on the hoof wall. Once you have brought a slight sheen to the desired areas on the outside walls of the boot, switch to the inside of the boot. You will not be able to focus heat as accurately or see the sheen on the inside, but instead, apply heat for the same amount of time as you did on the outside. Repeat one more time inside and out for the same amount of time as it took to develop the sheen in the first lap.

Caution: In used boots, you will not see the sheen develop – the ground-in dirt hides the sheen until the boot is over-heated. Learn today’s timing on a new boot before trying to heat up a used one.

If, at any point in the heating process, you see tiny bubbles emerge on the surface, move on from that spot and don’t return – that area is slightly over-heated (but may still need more heat from the inside of the boot).

After this process is complete, move quickly to the horse and put the boot on. You may need a rubber mallet to drive the boot back far enough. When the heels are in the perfect spot in the boot, put the foot down, let the boot cool for two minutes, and evaluate your fit.

Evaluating Boot Fit

The key to Easyboot Glove success is at the heels. If the heels are too tight, the boot will be constantly trying to “squirt off” the foot (plus heel rubbing is likely, as is gaiter failure). If a mallet is required to put the boot on, the heels are probably too tight. The boot should slide on readily in hand. 

If the heels are too loose, the foot can twist in the boot. If it can twist with hand pressure, it will twist when you ride. So to combine these two extremes, the perfectly fitted Glove will slide right into place with firm hand pressure (no percussion), but then “suck” into place with no turning of the boot on the foot.

Secondary to heel fit is the percentage of boot wall touching the foot. Ideally, the boot will be touching the hoof wall everywhere with no air spaces. But this perfection is sometimes impossible to achieve – particularly with wide feet or feet with large quarter flares. The boot can perform well with about 30% airspace, but always strive for “the best you can get.” At this point, I often reheat small, tight areas to close more air spaces, particularly at quarter flares.

Hind Feet

I fit hind feet the same way, but it usually looks very different. Hind feet tend to be more pointed than the rounder front feet. The Gloves (and all other hoof boots) were designed to fit the front feet. This is why hind boot fit issues are so common, and this is where the Gloves can really shine. I generally pick a hind boot size by its width.

This usually means the foot is way too long for the selected size. I then heat the center of the boot toe, allowing the horse’s more pointed hind toe to hang over the front of the boot, much like a laminitis case. This, of course, locks the foot in place within the boot, preventing the twisting so common with hind boots.

Boot Sizing

Sometimes, by the time you get the toe area fitted, the heels have become too loose. This boot will not function well because the heel fit is the most important aspect. You simply need to go down a size (or two) and start over. This is not a big deal for professionals, who can simply sell the other boot to someone else who needs that size, but can be really bad news to a horse owner who has one horse and one set of Gloves. With experience, you can learn to prevent this (usually) by simply thinking things through before you heat. If, during the initial assessment, I see that I have significant changes that need to occur at the toe, but my heels already fit nicely, I automatically know I need to start with a smaller size. 

It usually works well to size the boot for the width the foot would be if there were no quarter flares, and then heat-fit to accommodate toe length and any wall flares. At best, with distorted feet, this will take some experimentation, so it is always best to have several different sizes around to simply try on.


One Foot, One Boot 

Like your own shoes, horse boots adapt to the foot with use. For best results and performance, designate one boot to one foot (I “earmark” them with nippers and/or a hole punch, as writing on them doesn’t last). While this will help with the performance of any boot model, it is particularly critical with the Gloves. If you need to share boots between horses, I recommend you choose a different model – one with buckles, straps and overlapping layers of materials. 

 

Other Glove Modifications

Insoles

The most common modification I make is the addition of padded insoles to the boots. This puts the sole, bars and frog to work, thus relieving strain on the laminae and provides a cushier ride to the solar corium. A weakness of the Gloves (vs. some other models) is that they generally won’t accommodate pads thicker than 3/8-inch. When I need thicker padding for extreme rehab cases, I use a different model.

But for most horses, 1/4”-3/8-inch pads are all we need, and these work well in the Gloves. A wide array of pad choices are available – your imagination is the limit – but the best pad is the one that makes the horse feel the best. Particularly with lameness cases of any kind, it is wise to experiment with multiple pad choices and pick the one that yields the best movement of the horse.

I am a big fan of the EasyCare Comfort Pads (as I should be, since I originally picked out the materials). They come in two thicknesses and three densities that cover most needs. It can be a big money-saver, though, to find large quantities of raw foam/rubber from other sources. Horses with thin or otherwise painful soles tend to choose this type of padding over other options.

Another favorite of mine is synthetic felt in 1/4" or 3/8” thickness (thanks Sossity and Mario of Wild Hearts Hoof Care). Horses with caudal foot pain tend to prefer these. They are also better for moisture management, so I really like them for boot turnout and in glue-on shells. Sourcing the material has been a bit of a problem. It is readily available online but seems extraordinarily expensive. So far, I have continually found new saddle pads and liners at clearance sales for my own use, and I am always sticking my nose into clients’ tack rooms looking for a deal on an unwanted felt saddle pad. I have also found the thick (1”-1 ½”) felt pads can be easily cut/torn into thinner pads, as the material is put together in layers.

Some horses show no preference between the foam/rubber pads and synthetic wool felt. For these, I tend to use the felt, as it is cheaper and more durable (always a good combination).

Thick leather is another durable pad choice. Go to a leather shop and buy tanned, full thickness cowhide. These pads offer less shock absorption so may not be the best choice for most thin-soled horses. But for sound horses that you simply want to provide more load distribution, leather is a great choice. I also prefer leather when I need to unload an area of the sole by cutting a relief hole in the insole. This comes up with surgery sites on the bottom of the foot, and with “sole penetrations” or other exposure of the solar corium. 

Regardless of the material selected, you will need to cut it to shape. With Easyboot Gloves, I place the boot on the pad material with ½” of boot heel tread hanging off the edge of the pad. Then, using a Sharpie, I trace the boot outline onto the pad. I cut the pad with large shears or a razor knife, following the inside of my mark, leaving the mark and 1/8” of extra material on the unused portion of the pad. The desired end result is a pad that fits the inside of the boot well, with no wiggle room, and no lapping up onto the sides in any area.


Power Straps

These are stretchy rubber additions to the top of the Glove boot, available as add-ons from EasyCare. They are very handy for eliminating boot fit/performance issues, but they do make boot application more difficult for the average horse owner. When I first started using the Gloves, I knew nothing about heat fitting them and found I needed Power Straps on about 20% of front feet and 80% of hind feet. As I got better at heat-fitting, I use about two sets per year.

Their best use may be for economy. When you fit Gloves to a flared or rotated foot and then succeed in growing in better-connected walls, the foot size is generally smaller. This means the boot fit will have become loose and sloppy. The correct thing to do at this point is fit a new set in a smaller size but adding the Power Straps can be a cheap alternative that extends the life of the old boot.

Power Straps come with cut and punch marks labeled for each boot size. I have found that, rather than using these marks literally, I do better thinking my way through it and punching the holes where I think they need to be for the individual fitting needs.

Add-On Buckles

As an extension of the Power Strap idea, you can add buckles to the boots to gain even more adjustment. The buckles in the picture below are replacement buckles for O’Neal motorcycle boots I ordered from Amazon. Of course this eliminates some of the compact nature I love about the Gloves, but the result is still more compact than most types of boots.

 


Replacement buckles for O’Neal motorcycle boots I ordered from Amazon (part #0290-095 and #0290-091) added to the Power Strap attachment points. Apply buckles so that they are on the lateral sides of the boots to avoid interference.

Drainage Holes

In other models of boots, I usually drill drainage holes in the sole to quickly drain the boots after creek crossings. Due to the close fit of Gloves, particularly if insoles are being used, I find there is no need to do this – there is not really any room for sloshing water in the well-fitted Glove. But opinions (and fitting) vary, so if you feel the need to drill drain holes in your boots, there are certainly no problems with it. I generally like to use a ½” drill bit and place multiple holes in the tread over any open areas inside the boot. This hole size seems to be a good compromise – large enough to resist clogging and small enough to minimize the entry of pebbles.

Trim Cycle

By nature, Easyboot Gloves are probably more sensitive to a tight trim cycle than other models. This works to some horses’ advantage because boots have been used by many owners as a tool to allow neglect. 

The boots should be fitted to a freshly trimmed foot. There is generally enough stretch in the Glove shells to accommodate a six-week trim cycle if there is minimal wall flaring on the hoof. But for horses with significant wall flares, the foot gets much larger in circumference during the trim cycle. By six weeks, you usually will not be able to get the Glove on. These horses will need a shorter trim cycle until most of the flaring is successfully grown out – but again, this is a good idea, anyway. It is worth noting, though, that the bulkier types of boots with buckles and overlapping layers of materials will be more accommodating to long trim cycles on flared hooves. The Gloves aren’t for everyone.

Modifications to Tread

Breakover Adjustment

The stock bevel built into the toe of the Glove is generally just right for horses with perfect wall attachment at the toe except that since horses need to turn, I feel that same shape should continue from a 10:00 to 2:00 position around the toe. This modification, I do to almost every pair I fit. I use a brand new Heller Legend hoof rasp that has never trimmed a foot for this (and most other modifications to the boot soles). Many types of sanders and grinders work well, too – your choice.

In horses with separation of the toe wall from the coffin bone, I generally accommodate most of the needed breakover adjustment with heat-fitting of the boot’s toe, but an additional inch of breakover change can be trimmed into the boot sole as well. This is handy for joint, muscular and other problems with locomotion as well.


At 2:00, the typical rounding of the breakover I do to most Gloves and Glue-Ons. Additional breakover adjustment can be added – I often rasp it back to the second traction groove at the toe, taking care not to rasp up to the tiny seam between the boot tread and sidewall. 

At 7:00, I have added a typical heel rocker I like for chronic toe walkers, hoof capsule rotations, and some club feet. This shape and size can vary as needed. Center, is a common vent (discussed below) I do, only on Glue-Ons – not Gloves. This is a size #1.5, the hole was made with a 2 ¼” hole saw and drill.

Heel Rockering

There are countless reasons (I won’t go into here) that rockering of the heels can create an advantage for the horse – club feet, forging issues, chronic toe-walkers, joint problems, caudal foot pain, hoof capsule rotation to name a few. I often do this, both to bare feet and to any appliance I add to the foot, including hoof boots. The Gloves accommodate this very well.

Wedging

Occasionally, there is a therapeutic need for mediolateral or dorsopalmar wedging of the foot. If no more than 3/8” of deviation is needed, I prefer to simply remove the unwanted material from the boot tread. If more were needed (rare), farrier wedge pads (up to 3/8”-thick) can work in the Gloves. 


Traction modification for deep footing. Be sure to leave an adequate “shelf” for the toe to stand on. Because of the increased likelihood of gripping the ground too well or snagging on something, use this with Glue-On applications or with Mueller Tape added to a Glove as discussed below. Also, of course, consider the safety of the horse – this is suitable for loose arenas or tracks but not trail work.

Traction Modifications

Two types of add-on studs are available from EasyCare – a large nut/bolt type stud and smaller ice studs. I have also experimented with using a hole saw to drill out and open the bottom of the boot, leaving a narrow rim of shoe at ground level and an exposed sole. This gets great traction in muddy and most arena conditions but may have the same disadvantages of a thick metal shoe; clogging and carrying too much weight of dirt, which could limit performance and hasten fatigue.

A better modification for deep or muddy footing is to use an electric router and guide to thin the boot tread to ½” wide. Next, heat up the remaining boot sole and push it up into a dome shape (I press the boot sole onto one of my daughter’s softballs to achieve this shape. The prototype traction sole shown below was simply a computer duplication of a Glove shell I modified in this fashion.

The idea (much like a bare foot) is that the tread will clean out with every stride (spray with WD-40 or Pam for better results). I believe that these get better traction on mud, wet grass, arena surfaces, tracks, etc. than cleat-type treads or a metal perimeter shoe because of this resistance to clogging. An additional advantage from a performance standpoint is not carrying the added weight of the dirt/mud.

Prototype Glove traction sole. You can build one from a standard Glove (except that the outer rim of tread will be slightly more shallow) using a router with a guide and square bit, a heat gun, and a softball.

This boot will, of course, wear out faster on hard terrain but as with human athletic cleats vs. track shoes, I don’t think it will ever be possible to optimize turf traction with the same tread pattern that is perfect for road work. You’ll need to own both.

Boot Turnout Done Right

The Gloves are designed and intended for riding and other work, with the assumption that the boots will be removed when the horse is turned out. In spite of that fact, after trying countless options, I have found Gloves are my favorite turnout option for horses that are temporarily lame in their own turnout environment. Boot turnout is no picnic for the horse owner – there is work involved – but, in my experience, padded boots tend to provide more pain relief and quicker healing than any other shoeing option. If increased movement and a lack of compensative movement are achieved while simultaneously “doing no harm,” the result is healthier growth of every part of the foot. So boot turnout tends to be the quickest path to feet that are healthy enough to be comfortable barefoot in their own turnout environment.

This is most critical with laminitis cases. Only in a padded boot (or sometimes bare on the most perfect terrain) can you hope to get away with unloading the walls (and thus the laminae), carrying the load on the sole while healthy laminae are re-grown. This is beacause only boots offer a full release of pressure to the sole when the hoof is in flight.

The primary reason I like the Gloves best for turnout is that with heat-fitting, I can adjust breakover to the correct area on horses with flared or rotated walls – a key feature of most horses who are unsound at turnout. For caudal foot pain cases, assorted pads can be tried in the boots to achieve flat or heel-first impacts – the key secret to success with these cases. The Glove tread readily accepts modification, as discussed above, often critical to rehab cases. In my experience, a well-fitted Glove is less likely to cause rubbing of the bulbs or hide than any other boot I've used. All this and more can be done in a lightweight, very compact package, which also very important to me.

Turnout is hard on boots. Constant exposure to UV rays break down the nylon and plastics. Generally the same boot that might last an endurance rider 450 miles (or the average trail rider five years) will be destroyed by 2-3 months of turnout. The Gloves are no different except the only part that gets destroyed is the gaiter. Replacing the gaiter is much cheaper than buying a whole boot.

Note: Gaiter life is greatly extended by wrapping the gaiter with Vet Wrap (or other tape) when using the Gloves as turnout boots. It blocks UV rays, and helps prevent horses from nibbling on the Velcro closures.

The Gloves do also have weaknesses as turnout boots, compared to other models. Some cases will need thicker padding than the Glove can accommodate. I use ½”-thick pads in Gloves on lame (lower performance) horses, and it works well. But if you need thicker padding, you will need to select a different boot model. 

Another issue already discussed is that with the Gloves, you are more likely to need 2-3 boot sizes as you grow out a 20+ degree rotation than if you were using a boot with buckles and layers of overlapping material. But since you generally can’t get breakover right on a rotated foot with those other types of boots, I feel you are much more likely to grow out a rotation if you use heat-fitted Gloves. The extra money is well-spent.

Regardless of the boot you choose for turnout, the primary problem is the rotten “funk” that quickly builds up inside the boot. This can complicate infections in the white line and frog. It can also get in the way of growing a healthy sole, one of the key features of a horse that can be sound for barefoot turnout. To eliminate these problems, the boot must be removed and washed daily. During this time, clean the horse’s feet and place him in a dry area suitable for whatever problem he has (deep shavings, a deep bed of pea rock, etc.).

During this time, inspect the bulbs and legs for rubbing. If this occurs, it is probably because the boot is too tight at the heels (jamming), or too loose (twisting/movement is occurring). Re-fit your boots and/or bandage or use a man’s tube sock on the horse prior to booting.

After – ideally – two hours of drying time, powder the inside of the boot with Gold Bond Medicated Powder (available from most pharmacies) and replace the boots. Re-wrap the gaiters with Vet Wrap (or other tape).

Yep, this is a lot of work for the horse owner. But for many problems, particularly laminitis and caudal foot pain/navicular syndrome it works better and is way-cheaper than any shoeing option I know of. I expect/demand horse owners with a horse with the above problems to give me 2-3 months of good boot turnout. During this time, my goal is comfortable, non-compensative barefoot turnout. If I cannot achieve this, I let the horse owner off the hook and seek other options.

Some problems are permanent. Others may take years to fix. This is when I reach for glue-on shoes. The healing rate is slower, compared to booting, but the daily maintenance by the owner is more reasonable for the “long haul.”

Please stay tuned for EasyCare's July newsletter for Part II of Pete Ramey's "Modifications of Easyboot Gloves and Glue-On Shells". Don't miss out! Subscribe to EasyCare's newsletter today.

Clouds in the Rain: The Water Wicking Properties of a Thick, Concave Sole

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

When I was a landscape designer/contractor I loved the rain. I prayed that it would come and water my newly created landscapes because the water from the hose never had the same effect as a good rain. The plants would grow a few more inches, foliage filled in and greened up, and the dust was washed off of the boulders and stones in a way that softened the look of the landscape and heightened the subtle colors of the desert. The rain would freshen everything it touched. My love for rain quickly went away when I started trying to rehab horses feet. 

In the beginning, just when I felt like I was making progress with a horse, the rains would come and I'd have horse owner's calling me worried about their horse being sore. I'd do my best to convince the owner that their horse was just temporarily rain sore and to help them keep their horses as comfortable as possible until it dried out, often driving out to see if there was something else I could do. Many times the drive wasn't wasted and all I needed to do was clean the hard packed mud clod off of their soles. This usually provided immediate relief, however mud would accumulate again and the owner would have to keep their feet clean. Over the years I tried everything to prevent rain soreness:

  • Leaving the walls a little longer
  • Boots and pads
  • Creating positive drainage
  • Adding pea gravel

I did everything I could think of, including warning the owner up front that they would likely experience soreness during the rains for the first year or two.

After about 10 years of dreading the rains, and just when I was starting to get used to warning the owners before we started the rehabilitation process, I started having much better results. At first I attributed that to being prepared with boots and managing the environment, but some horses were still having trouble even when their owners were being proactive. After a long time of trying to figure out how to predict and prevent this problem I realized that some of the horses were getting along fine with big old mud clods on their soles while others were lame and the horses that were getting along fine had better feet at the end of the rainy season while the lame horses feet looked worse. I really wanted to understand what the difference was.

Over time I became aware of a pattern. After things dried out, the improved feet had a tremendous amount of crumbly sole that easily exfoliated, revealing even more concavity than they went into the wet season with, while the the horses that went in with flatter feet had even flatter feet by the end of the season. This realization caused me to try to help horses build as much sole as possible during the dry seasons. Convincing the owners to do their part was a challenge but I had a much better success rate with the ones that cooperated. 

First I had to get the owners to see and understand when the feet were improving and when they were declining instead of just riding their horse until they broke down, and then freaking out. Next I had to get them involved in the process so they felt more like it was a collaboration. After they knew what progress looked like and they realized that the changes were happening after they improved the footing and/or started using boots and pads they began to take even more ownership of the rehab process. Once it started feeling like team work, their horse's feet started getting even better.

I know 2016 was a bad year for a lot of folks but I had some of the toughest founder cases with the quickest and best turnarounds that I've ever seen. One of the biggest reasons for this was the arrival of the EasyCare Cloud boot. I used this boot extensively to get foundered and rain sore horses through the wet weather. I went through more than one pair in a few months time with several horses. In many of the extreme cases the boots were left on until the sun was shining. Sometimes they only had them off for an hour or two for the feet and the boots to dry out. I was able to trim frequently enough to keep the dead tissue to a minimum. This kept the feet from getting infected and allowed extra comfort after a trim. I taught the owners to use the boots as much as needed, but as little as possible, and to gently graduate their horses out of them until their horses were moving around comfortably totally bare. 

Over the last few years I've learned to love the rain again. I've also learned some interesting things about horse's feet. In wet weather the mud that collects in a concave sole works somewhat like a sponge. When a healthy concave hoof with thick live sole gets packed with mud, the weight of the horse squeezes the moisture out of the mud and keeps the sole dry. An old fashioned orange juice squeezer might be a better analogy. The mud ball elevates the foot off of the  ground just enough to let the weight of the horse squeeze the water out. They can go for weeks and maybe months like this if they have adequate concavity in the beginning. Once a horse is acclimated to their weight bearing being distributed between their heels and the peripheral edge of their sole at the toe, the sole will thicken and form a bowl (concavity). Achieving this is possible for most horses if they have the right owner/trimmer team. These horses are the ones that benefit from the rain. For the horses that go into the wet season with thin, flat, or even prolapsed soles, Easyboot Clouds used responsibly in conjunction with well timed and properly balanced trimming, should at the very least get a horse comfortably through the wet weather.

 An added benefit is that the rocker effect of the mud clod on a properly balanced, thick, concave sole helps to develop the digital cushion and lateral cartilages because the weight bearing is over the back of the foot where it belongs. This puts the center of the mud ball directly under the soft regenerative tissue in the back half of the foot, and increases flexion in the hoof capsule, while the rocker effect on a thin flat sole caused by excessive weight bearing on the toe puts the center of the mud ball directly under the coffin bone in the front half of the foot. This causes excruciating pain and magnifies the strain on the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon along with the ligaments and joints in the leg. Flexion of the hoof capsule is increased this way too, but in a harmful way.

I believe some of the founder cases from this year (pictured above) may not have been as successful without the Easyboot Cloud

Patience is a Virtue

Submitted by Tanya Robertson, EasyCare Customer

With the purchase of a new horse in June 2016, I set out with a purpose. In my mind my aim was simple, transition my new gelding from metal shoes to boots. I am not the most patient person in the world and I never will be. When I get something in my mind I want it done right away, now, if not yesterday. Instant success is addicting! This partnership with my horse is a journey that I continue to learn from and teaches me patience.

I have tried other boots on other horses. Everything from boots that when the wire broke you had to make sure you were carrying spare zap straps with you, to big clompy boots that flew off into the bush when cantering. I read the reviews, searched the forums and decided on the Easyboot Gloves. Only one local tack store had them and they were over priced. I was already getting impatient. I didn't bother ordering the sizing kit and instead traced my horses feet on cardboard, measured, re-measured and jumped on buying a set of four size #1.5's online at a reasonable price. I found a farrier willing to work with me and who understood my purpose. When the hauler arrived and my new horse came off the shipping trailer he was barefoot in the hind and had metal shoes with clips in the front. I have no idea why. First things first, off with the metal shoes! 

After a few trail rides in the wet West Coast over bridges, on rocks and through rivers I was very happy with my new Easyboot Gloves. They stayed on, didn't rub or fill up with rocks and debris. We could walk, trot, canter and the boots didn't go flying off into the bush! Success, or so I thought. Another visit from my farrier and he pointed out some stone bruises. I questioned if I should put metal shoes back on. Was I doing the right thing? Was my horse uncomfortable? I cringed every time I watched him walk barefoot across rocks like he was walking on egg shells. My horse came to me with a thin hoof wall and feet that barely grew between the eight week visits with my farrier. I knew I had to get his feet stronger so I changed up his diet and started adding Biotin.

After less than a month of riding in size #1.5's the gaiter stitching ripped from the boot while cantering on the road. EasyCare was fantastic to deal with and I received a replacement under their 90 day replacement warranty. I started venturing out on rides with friends and kept having a boot come off. I would have to ask everyone to stop and wait while I put the offending boot back on, usually while teetering on a small winding mountain trail with a drop off. I was getting frustrated.  The gaiter was staying on but the shell of the boot was coming off, dangling around my horses leg. So while the boot didn't go flying off into the bush it was still coming off. 

I questioned the process the whole way. Always asking myself if I was doing what was best for my horse. I posted on forums asking others for insight on how long this transition would take and if I should just give up and go back to metal shoes. Questioning my farrier and the process, hovering over his every move. Contacting EasyCare looking for answers. You always get a plethora of opinions from horse people but the majority encouraged me to continue on. All the support I had helped me go from one failure to the next without giving up. 

Another visit with my farrier and he told me I was using the wrong size. The same day I ordered half a size smaller and put my existing boots up for sale. When the new size arrived I continued to strap them on like I had the larger size. Another mistake. The Velcro gaiter was now overly tight and started to rub and cause blisters. I had to give my horse time off the trails to heal and could only go barefoot in the hog fuel arena. I was itching to ride the trails again. A couple emails with EasyCare and I decided to try doing up the Velcro gaiter much looser. Success! No more rubbing! I really learned the difference of a correct fitted boot and in hindsight should have ordered the sizing kit

Six months after the start of our Easyboot, journey I am a happy customer with a happy horse with healthy feet. Many said it would take longer. I almost gave up.  At first they will ask you why you are doing it. Later they will ask how you did it. 

 

 

Easyboots: Always There When You Need Them

Second Place Story Winner

Submitted by Jennifer Dey, EasyCare Customer

It was only just about four years ago that I had finally taken the leap into removing my older geldings shoes once and for all. He had shoes of various type since racing as a three year old. He was in aluminium, bar, plastic, steel, and wedges. You name it, he's probably tried it. His feet just never seemed to like what was on them. Despite diligent hoof care every four weeks like clockwork and an array of hoof supplements, they always had some sort of crack or problem. Now most would think, well he's a thoroughbred they all have bad feet, but I don't accept things like that. I always try to find a way to fix things and so I did.

We had started our journey to barefoot despite many negative comments and opinions that had gone along with it. I'm not one to care about others and their criticisms. Once I make up my mind, I hit it full throttle with everything I have. This was no different. I purchased his first pair of hoof boots, the Boa model,and they worked great. We trail rode in them since footing on trails is not always obvious. After awhile his feet began making improvements and the shape changed, no longer fitting the Boa boots.

We then went with the Easyboot Trail model. This was a great boot and was very simple to apply since his patience in holding his feet up was not always accommodating. This boot model we kept for many years and it provided support when he had a minor tendon irritation. He wore them 24/7 for at least a week with regular checks daily to be sure of no problems. We never had any issues with them. As time passed his hooves grew stronger and he no longer required boots for riding. He was able to trail ride comfortably with what he was born with. The farrier that pulled his shoes told me it was the best decision I had made for him. He was sounder than he had ever been with all those fancy shoes and it was on his own feet. He tripped less and became more sure footed with the steps he took.

More recently, back in late winter, he had to be trailered to the hospital a few times. He doesn't come off the trailer very well and he ended up flying backwards so fast he fell and bruised his heel badly. After everything he had been going through with his illness he now had to walk around in pain. I immediately began frantically searching for something that would help cushion his movement on the hard winter grounds.

I came across the Easyboot Cloud. It looked like just what he could use. I quickly placed my order and had them shipped overnight. As soon as they arrived I rushed to the barn and tried them on. A perfect fit. He immediately began walking better. The relief that swept over me was immeasurable. Though not 100% sound even with the boots he was moving much more comfortably than before. He wore the boots outside 24/7 and they held up beautifully. Not a single issue with twisting or falling off, nothing, just comfort. It took over a month for the bruise to heal. Between his vets recommendations and any medications he needed for his bruise, along with the Easyboot Clouds, he was getting what he needed.

Now eight months later he is back to health and full soundness with his own bare toes providing him with just what he needs. EasyCare has been such a big part of being there just when we needed it. From the Boa boot to the Trail boot to the Cloud we have used and love them all. Thank you for your dedication to helping all horses make that leap and everywhere in between. My gelding is now retired at 27 and enjoying his life living outdoors, sound and barefoot the way it should be. 

It's Been an Amazing 10 Years

CHANGE is a big word. Change can be exciting and change can be unsettling. Whether we like it or not we all know change is inevitable. Perhaps a necessary evil. It seems most of us have a love-hate relationship with change; we hate it yet crave it at the same time. EasyCare and its owner Garrett Ford have never been afraid of change. As a team we pursue it and as a company we thrive on it. As the leaders in hoof boot technology, the dust never settles.

As my career at EasyCare draws to a close, I can't help but reflect on the past 10 years and all that has changed. When I joined the EasyCare team in 2006, there wasn't a hoof care and veterinarian dealer representative. It didn’t exist. No one person truly specialized in handling this diverse group’s needs. Garrett believed I could fill that void and I leapt at the chance to become that person. Back then it was all about the Epic, Bare, Boa and Old Mac's. The Epic and Bare were the performance boots of choice.

The early years! At home in the Tucson office. 

This was also the year EasyCare hosted a five day clinic in Tucson, AZ.  It was my big debut. People not only came from across the US but from around the world. Pete Ramey and Dr. Bowker presented lectures and EasyCare had a booting day. It was a sell out at over 150 people and despite the SNOW, I think everyone had a great experience. Many of those attending I have not seen since but many of the relationships I built during that time remain strong to this day.

2007 saw the launch of our unprecedented Fill Your Truck program. The brainchild of Pete Ramey and Garrett Ford. This generous program continues to be tremendously popular and an incredible benefit to hoof care professionals.

Big changes came in 2009 with the launch of the Easyboot Glove and Glue-On. These products speak for themselves and forever changed the way the world looked at barefoot horses and booting. Proving grounds from the likes of Tevis, to the rigors of the highest caliber dressage and virtually everything in between. These products proved they could help a horse perform at the highest of levels or help a horse out of it’s lowest of lows. Today these boots along with many of our other products are utilized by some of the best and brightest hoof care professionals, veterinarians and trainers in the word.

Helping out at Tevis!

2014 brought on one of the most controversial changes in EasyCare history. The launch of the EasyShoe. Although hotly contested by some, EasyCare's owner Garrett Ford's persistence and hard work produced a product that changed the way many viewed shoes and how they could actually allow full hoof function. The EasyShoe has won over the critics and from my side of the fence it is the one product that delivers the most dynamic feedback. Farriers, trimmers, veterinarians and most importantly horses love EasyShoes.

This same year we decided to roll the dice and attend the International Hoof Care Summit. This is a tough crowd of professionals and we joked that Kevlar helmets and vests may be in order. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Our timing couldn’t have been better to bring our “change” to the Summit. The response was overwhelming. In fact at times it looked as if we stole the show!

Garrett demos the application process at the International Hoof Care Summit. 

Change came swift and hard in 2016 as new boots were introduced and some received new looks and improved features. None of this compared to the changes and challenges we faced as a company in losing one of our own. Kevin Myers you are missed and continue to live in our hearts.

The gang and I at Strawberry Fields. Two days of 50s. It was rough on the body but I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Yes, as I reflect on my time at EasyCare it has been full of change. Keeping a barefoot horse is no longer an oddity. You rarely hear a comment like “Wow, what’s on your horses feet?” They know. It is not uncommon for me to speak to just as many vets and farriers in a day as barefoot trimmers. Big change. The past decade has has brought enormous changes and with it an enormous acceptance of alternative hoof care. I am proud to have played a small role in helping professionals help horses.

Pacific Hoof Care Practitioner's annual conference. Mario Gargiulo and I send a high five to Garrett. 

 I was very honored and excited to be included in several of EasyCare's catalog shoots.

There is nothing like seeing the beauty of Durango horseback. I definitely had a permagrin going! 

This was amazing! I had never ridden in the snow before that day. 

As I say goodbye and my time at EasyCare comes to a close, I encourage you in EasyCare fashion to be fearless and embrace change. Follow that small voice in your heart and live like somebody left the gate open. Thank you all for an amazing 10 years. It’s been an honor and a privilege to know and and work with each of you.

So long my friends.

"How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

Quoted from none other than Mr. Winnie the Poo.

 

Take a Chance and Flippin Run With It

Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

One of the great things about working for EasyCare is that I have the opportunity to use and experiment with all of the products. By doing this, it allows me to give better guidance to anyone who may call-in looking to use EasyCare products in a nontraditional way. With all of our products we do hours, months, even years of testing to perfect them, however, as anyone involved with horses knows there are countless disciplines. As much as we would like to test every one of our products for every discipline it just cannot happen, and that is where a little commonsense and my experimentation comes in. By just looking at some of our boots and shoes you can tell they will not work. This is where the commonsense part happens. For example, using the EasySoaker on a trail ride, it’s not going to work. Unless you are taking it to use as a bucket or cup. Then go for it, it will work for that! Or trying to use the Easyboot Trail to condition a Race Horse. If you are conditioning that race horse by trail riding, this is absolutely an option. However, if you are conditioning him at Churchill Downs in Trails you may need your noggin checked.

All of us at EasyCare have come from different horse backgrounds which allows for us to bounce ideas back and forth or even ask what certain terminology means. I was lucky enough to grow up around horses and have had the opportunity to dabble in quite a few different areas. The majority of that, has been Western or stock type horses, cow horses, barrel racing, roping, ranch horses and the list goes on. The western world, while wide-ranging, I believe tends to be very traditional. Many things have been done the same exact way for hundreds of years. I love tradition and treasure it, but I also believe there has to be progression. At least one person will jump out of the box and try something new. It may work or it may not, but at least someone tried. Whether that progression is in nutrition, training, rehabilitation, health, or hoof care, I believe taking chances in moderation, can most certainly be worth it.

We have had quite a few people curious if you can barrel race in any of our products, especially with the release of the Flip Flop and the increased popularity of the EasyShoes. That curiosity is sparked by many different reasons but I believe the top three are: 1. Owners looking for another option, 2. Referral from a friend or farrier and/or 3. The horse will not hold a traditional steel shoe. Since I barrel race, these inquiries are passed my way and I truly enjoy helping to find a solution. This also sparks my interest in trying different things on my horse. Just so this is known: I am not a farrier, trimmer or hoof care professional. I do have access to great resources that allow me to confidently try these products on my horses. Acknowledge I know my horses well, I know the products well and I do my research by reading different articles, blogs and listening to feed back. I am also not a professional barrel racer, horse trainer or anything like that, nor do I claim to be. I am a weekend warrior barrel racer at best. I do not venture far from home, typically compete in open 4D barrel races as well as open rodeo’s that are within a short driving distance. My horse on the other hand is nicer than I deserve, when everything is clicking she will make a 1D run and when I am being a terrible jockey she clocks in the 2 or 3D. If this whole “D” business is making absolutely no sense click here to better understand the D system that is used in barrel racing.

Ok enough of my banter, I am sure the suspense is killing everyone as to what I took a chance on. There were two items or procedures I ended up testing out. I had toyed with the idea most of the summer to run my horse in the Flip Flop and finally took that chance. I applied Flip Flops on her hind feet and modified Glue-On shells on her fronts along with modifying the gluing process for the front Glue-On's. I followed all of the gluing protocol for gluing the Flip Flops but did not add the optional pour-in pad. I had used the Equipak Soft when previously using the Flip Flops but wanted to see how my mare would do without the pad. The reason I did not use the Flip Flop all the way around is because I did not have the size she needed on hand for her fronts. I can without a doubt say that the Flip Flop can be used for barrel racing. She had plenty of traction and worked awesome which told me she was feeling good. We also were a 10th of a second faster than our previous run, made in the same arena on the same pattern. I know a 10th does not seem like much, but in any speed event it is. I also believe that she was just as comfortable without a pour in pad as she would have been with a pour in pad. The need of a pad really depends on the individual horse. I would not hesitate at all to make a run with the Flip Flops on her fronts as well. Next spring with out a doubt that is what she will have on all four. I can understand potential users concern as to the horse over reaching and possible pulling of the Flip Flop or tripping them self, it is always a possibility that a horse can over reach with a boot, a steel shoe, Glue on shoe, and yes even a bare foot horse. The Flip Flop is no different, since it is trimmed to fit it actually might be a better option for those horses that over reach since you can trim it to the exact length needed. If you are on the fence about using the Flip Flop for any event, I say go for it! This product is much more versatile than users first tend to believe and in my opinion can be used in just about any situation. It is also a great choice for someone that wants to try gluing for the first time because of how easy and successful the application process is.

The modification I made to the Glue-On was cutting holes out of the sole. I elected to use the modified Glue-On shells on her fronts for added traction. This modification would make the Glue-On similar to a rim shoe. I used a past blog as guidance for putting a hole in the Glue-on written by Christoph Schork. The major risk I took was gluing the shells on with only Sikaflex, I have talked to quite a few people that were wondering if it was indeed possible. I had success on two different occasions gluing the shells with the sole cut out with only Sikaflex. I did prep the hoof the same as I would if I were going to use Vettec Adhere. I did use more Sikaflex then I would if using Adhere as well, making sure to completely cover the base of the boot that was still intact and then also adding Sikaflex up the wall of the Glue-On. When applying the Glue-On to her hoof, I made sure to have my rubber mallet handy and was diligent in making sure the hoof was seated well in the boot. I then put her foot into the plastic sack that the shell came in and put an Rx boot on, this was to insure that the shell would say in place until the Sikaflex was somewhat set.

She hung out with all of this on her feet for most of the day either tied up or in a small turn out. One could also leave the Gaiter attached overnight and then remove the Gaiter once the Sikaflex is set, one of our team EasyBoot members shared how to use Sikaflex with the Gloves and then remove the gaiter. Gluing with only Sikaflex is not something you would want to do if you are going out on a long ride, unless you were to have an extra boot handy. Since my trailer was right there and I have everything I would need to reapply a Glue-On or just put one of my Gloves on I was not concerned with the possibility of losing a Glue-On. When I went to remove the Glue-On's that I only had used Sikaflex they were very secure on the hoof, very similar to when I apply them with Vettec Adhere. The first time I used Sikaflex only to glue, I left the shells on for 3 days, the second application I left them on for over 6 days (secretly hoping they would fall off), they did not fall off I ended up have to pull them, and they were undeniably glued well and not going to be falling off anytime soon.

I would love to be able to run my horse barefoot but after attempting to last summer and seeing what I was up against with the conditions outside of the arena I came to the conclusion she is not a great candidate to be left bare all the time and needs protection when we are coming in and out of the arena where I am likely to be on anything from grass to asphalt. Being able to experiment with our different products has been and will be a way for me to better help anyone looking for that other option with their horse. Keep in mind I have a lot of great resources at my fingertips along with the products, this allows me to take a chance with much less risk involved than if our customers were to try the same things. If you are in doubt about doing something off the beaten path with one of our products give us a call, we will do our best to answer any questions, tell you it won’t work or get you in contact with someone that will have answers you are looking for. For success with any EasyCare product we always recommend to follow our application guidelines. We have a plethora of detailed, videos, print outs and blogs to help guide users through the application of each product that we are constantly updating. If you are wanting to try a product in a situation that you are not positive it will work contact us we are more than happy to speak with you about it. I would only recommend to experiment and modify if you have time, resources and an open mind. The first time I experiment or modify anything it is always with a used item that I am not concerned about losing or ruining, this is a great second life for my pile of stinky, torn up, worn out boots.

My Favorite Horse Boot Just Got Better- The Launch of the New Easyboot Glove 2016

The hoof boot that redefined hoof boots.  Most people associated hoof boots with bulk and galoshes strapped to a horse's hoof before the Easyboot Glove was released in 2009.  The Easyboot Glove was the first boot that allows you to watch a horse moving down the trail and not focus on the boots.  The stretch fit hugs the hoof wall and adds a 3 mm protective cap to the hoof wall.

When the Easyboot Glove was introduced, most people were skeptical about its success.  The boot not only worked, but quickly became our best-selling boot.  I've personally done countless endurance races in the Easyboot Glove and continue to condition my endurance and track horses in the boot.  It's my boot of choice and my personal tack is packed with 100+ Easyboot Gloves of various sizes.  The stretch fit makes it the closest-fitting hoof boot in the world.

Video of the 2009 Strawberry Fields Endurance Race.  Muddy conditions, two best conditions and a first place award made me a believer in the Easyboot Glove. The Easyboot Glove redefined bulky hoof boots.

Although the form fitting design continues to sell well, the Easyboot Glove Gaiter has been the weak link for some horses.  The gaiters work well, but don't last as long as the Glove urethane base. We have been working for almost a year on a new gaiter design that will wear longer, will flex and conform to the various heel shapes and will fit on the current urethane shell.  The key to the new design is a molded cap at the rear of the gaiter that fits the contours of the heel bulb and at the same time offers large amounts of elongation and strength.  

The new Glove Gaiter has a injection molded urethane/rubber cap molded to fit the heel bulb area of a horse and offers tremendous elongation to accommodate movement.

When I look back at each boot project and think about the hours involved, I feel proud of the end result as I know the hard work of so many that made it possible.  The early drawings, SLA's,  shelves of prototypes that didn't work, the molds that didn't make the cut, the hours on airplanes and in the saddle testing.  After the designs get done, its on to photos, instructions, videos, price sheets, barcodes, brochures, and entry into our accounting system and website.  Then the product needs to be manufactured, received and shipped. It takes a whole team and a bunch of hours.  In the end and after many different designs, failures and successes, we have arrived at new gaiter design and a new Easyboot Glove 2016.  The new Easyboot Glove 2016 design has the following improvements:

1.  We have eliminated the rear elastic material of the gaiter and have replaced it with a new blended urethane that has been injection molded to conform to the horse's heel area.  The new material is very pliable and stretches to fit the contours of each hoof.  The material will elongate to 500% of its original shape and come back to form.  In addition, the blend will come back to the original shape after thousands of delegations.  

2.  The gaiter pattern has been updated and improved based on many hours of distance riding.  The center seam has been eliminated.  

3.  Improved hook and loop with a fabric layer added for strength.  

Several photos of the new design.  

 

 

 

 

 

Testing over the last year has shown great results.  The new gaiter will take the Easyboot Glove 2016 to the next level.  The close fitting boot gets as close to the bare hoof as possible.  The protection of a boot without the bulk.  

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

EasyCare and AERC

It is a yearly occurrence for EasyCare to display their newest products at the yearly AERC Convention and Tradeshow. So again it happened last weekend in Reno, Nevada.

Kevin Myers and Garrett Ford at the EasyCare booth working with customers.

The visitors at the Convention this year were especially intrigued by the new Easyboot FlipFlop, a very innovative hoof protection device that only hit the market a couple of weeks ago.

 

 

Displayed here on the left is the Easyboot FlipFlop, together with the Easyboot Glue-On. The FlipFlop has the new Therapy Click System attached.

This new glue-on boot is a flip-flop design with a conventional upper that extends to the widest point of the hoof. This part of the hoof has the least amount of movement in both the vertical and horizontal planes. Because of this lack of movement, the bonds between the shoe and the hoof hold much tighter and are less likely to fail than at the heel.

The result is a hoof protection device that is more durable than composite shoes bonded along the entire sides of the hoof wall. The absence of an upper in the rear half of the shoe ensures that the heel and the entire back portion of the shoe are not connected to the hoof. The heel is afforded greater movement in all directions, which increases durability of the bond between the upper and the front portion of the hoof. The long-term effect of increased hoof flexion is a highly developed vascular system and a healthier hoof.

This product is the easiest of the glue-on boots and shoes to apply, and stays on the hoof better than any glue-on product. The product has won several 50-mile distance races.

  • Easy to apply and it stays on well.
  • The back of the foot is protected but still functions as a bare hoof, allowing the hoof to function better than in full shell products.
  • Debris goes in and comes out easily. For those with concerns, it's easy to add a pour in packing in the toe area.
  • May be used in conjunction with the EasyCare Therapy Click System.

Here is an applied FlipFlop. Notice how free the heel area is and how much heel support the FlipFlop can provide.

Below a FlipFlop glued on from the front and side:

Another hot new item to be viewed was the new Easyboot Mini Horse Boot. Everybody loved this new boot. Garrett Ford wrote a nice blog about this new boot, very worth reading up on it.

This boot really is filling  a void in the market. Prior to now,  there just wasn't a small enough boot available for the mini horses used a lot for driving.

The EasyCare Therapy Click System, a very innovative system for rehabbing foundered hooves, found a lot of interest by visitors. This simple, yet very effective system can be easily applied to a lot of EasyCare boots. For a complete list of the boots and a detailed description of this product, you can read up on the EasyCare website here.

Visitors also had a chance to practice gluing boots on the Blacksmith Buddy. The Blacksmith Buddy is a close replica to a horse leg and hoof and allows easy practice for trimming and gluing. EasyCare takes this useful tool to many trade shows.

The "Buddy" together with useful hoof prep and gluing tools.

Nice gluing job performed by a visitor applying an Easyboot Glue-On for the first time.

When not busy with AERC BOD and Committee meetings, I was able to support Garrett and Kevin in the booth and answer questions by the many interested customers visiting the booth during the two days of the AERC Convention. As always, this trade show was a first class act with first class products brought to the horse world by Garrett Ford and the EasyCare Company.

Garrett Ford, Kevin Myers and Christoph Schork

 

From the Bootmeister at the AERC Convention

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

The Illusion of Heel Height

Submitted by David Landreville, Guest HCP

Many people don't know this, but horses aren't "stuck with the feet they have". Over time, their feet can be restored and can reach a state where continual development is possible. Don't say "That's just what they have." Hoof development is not necessarily limited by age, conformation, or even tissue damage. I believe it's mostly limited by knowledge and perception. For instance, someone can have a lot of success keeping horses sound with their trimming and booting protocol, but when they teach someone else that student has their own experience and interprets it a little differently than the teacher. When that student teaches someone else, the same thing happens and this goes on and on until the details of the original protocol get lost in translation. It becomes very unreliable, like the telephone game. If the founder of the original method is unfortunate enough to have their name attached to it, they will most certainly get as much blame as praise. The success rate may become uncontrollable and a new method will eventually arise.

Photo credit: Daisy Bicking.

There have been plenty of good trimming methods developed by good practitioners, and the best ones are constantly evolving (methods and practitioners). What you don't hear so much about is hoof development. I believe this is because everyone is too busy arguing about trimming methods to realize the incredible regenerative qualities of the horse's hoof. Almost any hoof, whether the horse is young, old, or debilitated. The challenge is methodology. There is a certain relationship that the hoof structures have to be in for the hoof to reach growth equilibrium and for the structures to reach a state of continual development: a relationship that must be maintained constantly. This is one of the lessons of the Mustang Model. It's nothing new. Horses have been doing it for themselves for eons.

Many hoof care practitioners realize the advantage of self wear for establishing individual physiologically correct hoof conformation. For some, including myself, it is a source of great frustration. I'll admit that when I first heard claims of achieving barefoot soundness from acres and acres with 24/7 movement on varied terrain my reaction was "What about the rest of us who only have small acreage or just a rented stall?" After I brooded on this for a while, the thought crossed my mind, "Why not simulate the wear?" The only thing I had to change was the frequency of my trim. I had noticed on my own seven horses that within one week of beveling the wall in order to load the peripheral border of the sole, they had already grown enough wall to transfer the weight from the peripheral border of the sole back to the wall. 

All the photos of wild hooves and the self trimming domestic hooves that I had seen looked more like my horses directly after a trim, so I decided to increase the trim frequency to once a week. This isn't an original idea. There are plenty of horse owners that ride regularly, do their own trimming, and dress their horses feet up a little just before or after a ride to keep the chipping and cracking down or to keep their boots fitting optimally.

I just decided to do it on seven of my own horses for as long as I saw favorable results. That turned out to be about seven years. Most of my horses were rescues with hoof/body issues and less than favorable conformation. I found that when I kept their feet perfectly balanced, the structures began to develop and take on a shape of their own. This contributed to the overall unique shape of each foot and transferred into the improvement of the horse's conformation. They were all standing more square and this, in turn, transferred into their hooves, maintaining their balance. The longer I kept at it, the less I had to do at each trim interval and the better their feet and bodies looked. And the better they were moving. They all fit nicely into Easyboot Gloves, and though they could be ridden bare foot, they went even better when booted. It's been about ten years since I started my simulated self wear experiment. A few years ago, I completed my track system and imported tons of sand. The extra movement and forgiving footing has allowed me to reduce the trim frequency to 2-3 week intervals with out compromising hoof development. 

Caudal hoof development can be measured by assessing the ratio of vertical heel depth compared to vertical heel wall length. A well developed heel has more heel depth than heel wall length. Here are three examples of of heel development.

I've measured the vertical heel depth from the pink line at the hairline to the blue line at the termination of the collateral grooves and the heel wall length from the blue line to the green line at the ground bearing surface of the heel wall. 

David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care