Not All Composite Shoes Are Equal

One of the biggest advantages of composite shoes and glue is the wide variety of styles and application methods that are successfully used to help horses! However, if you talk to 100 Hoof Care Providers you'll get 99 different opinions about what you can and can't do with these materials.  

"You can't glue to the sole." I glue to the sole all the time.

"Dental impresson material doesn't stay in composite shoes." It does for me every day!  

And the best one....

"Glue-on shoes can only be used for a short period of time because the glue breaks down the hoof and wall." Tell that to the dozens of horses I have in glue-on shoes every month with no break for over 10 years! Their feet are perfectly healthy with no wall defects or problems.

But there are definitely nuances to these materials that can make or break your success! What is it that I'm doing specifically to lead to success? I believe that comes down to the quality and selection of materials being used in each situation, as well as the education, experience and skill of the person applying them.  

I have worked hard to develop my skills in using these materials over the last 13 years. I study every shoe and every glue and every nuance of application I can. There is no reason to believe that just because you trim or shoe horses, that using glue and composite shoes, wouldn't have as many nuances as variations in trim styles, or in metal shoe selection and application!  

Here is an example of someone who had good intentions to help this foundered horse, but their selection of materials and lack of experience in applying them led to problems for the horse.



The well-meaning farrier had applied a home made composite shoe that he glued on and the horse became lame. 

I was called in to see if I could come up with a different solution to the horse being sore footed. The idea of Glue-On composite shoes was excellent for this horse. By selecting the EasyShoe Performance, Acrylic Glue, Dental Impression Material and some hoof casting, this horse had a very different response.

This is right after shoeing with EasyShoes and hoof casting.

The hoof casting was beneficial in the beginning to stabilize this horse's hoof capsule. We removed the wings off the EasyShoe and used casting to add stability to the horse's foundered foot. After he was more comfortable and the inflammation had calmed down, we eliminated the casting and went with EasyShoe Performance applied with the attached wings.

After a short period of time, the horse was back to work in his EasyShoes.

This is just a quick example of how small details can make or break your success when using glue and composite materials! Maybe the difference for this horse was adding frog support, or the acrylic vs. urethane glue. My recommendation is like anything, the more you study and learn, the more tricks you have in your toolbox, the better prepared you are to help the horse! Not all Glue-on composite shoe applications are created equally. They are just a tool in the person's hands!  

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

Glue On Clinic at Canoga Farrier Supply, Canoga California

Submitted by Jon Smedley, Trim and Train

Hosted by Jon Smedley and Sarah Smedley of Trim and Train as well as Larkin Greene of Vettec

We don’t need to go to the farrier supply store because we get most of our supplies from EasyCare Inc. but I do like to go to look around and stay connected to the local shop. I’m like a kid in a candy store and my wife Sarah gets super anxious as the nice lady at Canoga Farrier Supply rings up the small stack of tools and toys that I just cannot leave without.

Last year, Julie, the store manager, suggested we have a glue-on clinic because a few of her regular customers where asking a lot of questions about EasyShoes. Those that had tried them were having a lot of failures. I figured it was just ‘small talk’ and she was not really serious. When she asked again a few months later, I realized she was serious.

Julie and, the shop owner, Bobby helped open the clinic to the public for FREE. Larkin Greene of Vettec is always offering to help at an event so I knew we’d have a great clinic. EasyCare was kind enough to send a box with some Glue-On shells and EasyShoe Performance N/Gs that fit our hoof buddies as well as some EasyShoe Bond for demonstrations and practice. Bobby and I estimated around 12 people would attend the clinic. 

Larkin’s display of Vettec products

Other manufactures got wind of our clinic and wanted to get involved. We had Epona, Sound Horse, and Renegade send products for us to play with and Hawthorne paid for breakfast and lunch.

On Saturday morning, 21st of October at 9am, the shop was packed. I counted 53 people at one stage, not including presenters. At introductions, we found that the crowd was made up of professional farriers with over 30 years experience that were there to expand their knowledge and skill base, as well as horse owners that just wanted to learn more about the glue on options.

Larkin led off with a great presentation about glue and a lot of information to keep you thinking. I wrapped things up with an overview of the processes that I have found to be helpful in keeping glue-on products on successfully! 

After the class room portion we adjourned to the parking lot for hands-on demonstration and practice. Sarah and I had a wonderful time answering more specific questions and spending some individual time outside with a great group.

My favorite question of the day, “How long have you been working for EasyCare?” which I was asked multiple times. (Jon is not an employee of EasyCare, but rather a valued dealer of EasyCare products since 2014).

Jon demonstrates how to heat fit a glove shell in the beautiful California sun.

Jon explaining the importance of using the Dremel 9931 bit and some techniques.

Trim and Train, based out of Ventura, California, are a husband and wife team that specialize in providing hoof care and protection for performance and leisure horses. The pair got their start in the barefoot community with PHCP and are enjoying facilitating training opportunities for other hoof care professionals.

Tevis Glue Ons

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo of Wild Hearts Hoof Care.

The Western States Trail Ride, more popularly known as the Tevis Cup, probably needs no introduction. Being one of the top endurance competitions in the world, where 100 punishingly rugged miles are completed by qualified horses and their riders in a single 24 hour period.

For mere mortals such as myself, I can really only imagine the time, effort, money, blood, sweat and tears that go into preparing and qualifying a horse for an event like this. 

However this year, as a hoof care practitioner, we were able to do Tevis Easyboot Glue-On shells for the first time! In the last few years since we began working with endurance rider Kristine Hartman, we have glued on for many 50’s, a couple 100’s and even a few back to back rides where our skills were tested for 150 miles in a set! But when it came to gluing for Tevis, in previous years we happily handed off our freshly trimmed, barefoot clients to the amazing skills of Easy Care’s Team Elite. This year the task fell to us and I would be lying if I said it didn’t add a bit of pressure to our application!  

Cruising through, photo by Dominique Cognee

EasyCare has an impressive record with the Tevis Cup. (To read the stats check out Easyboot Success at the 2016 Tevis Cup- Statistics the Haters Won't Like!”) The Glue-On shell has served the horses well, providing cushion, traction and protection for 100 truly grueling miles of rocks, water crossings, roads, steep climbs, descents and MORE rocks!

For Kristine Hartman and her Arabian mare Tess (Count on Tessie Flyin’) we wanted to be certain her mare’s footwear helped her continue her streak of completions and excellent placings. As luck would have it, the day we were scheduled to apply our Glue-On’s for Tess, we got a visit from none other than farrier Daisy Bicking. Daisy was a member of the 2016 Tevis Team Elite. It was a group affair as farrier Chris Beggs from Australia and Sarah and Jon Smedley of Trim & Trainwas were also in attendance!

For endurance Glue-On prep, one of the steps we never miss is using the Hoof Buffy sand paper on the entire outer wall. This removes surface dirt and oils and the scratchy dry finish really helps grip the glue. We also put in shallow horizontal grooves into the wall with the side of the rasp, to provide additional grip – making the hoof wall groovy helps with glue traction as well.

We like to heat fit all of our Glue-On’s, and our Tevis-bound Tess was no exception. Heating the boot and helping it shape to the hoof wall allows excellent surface contact with no gapping, which helps with overall retention. For more information about heat fitting take a look at Pete Van Rossum's blog, "Applying Easyboots Using the Heat Fitting Method." We additionally recommend holding the heated boot against the hoof wall as it cools, feeling for any small gaps and pressing the shell into them - this really assists the boot shaping process. 

An extra step we do is to drill in small “glue grommets”, little circles around the wall area of the boot, into all 4 shells. These allow the glue to ooze through and over the shell upon its application to the hoof, adding several other anchor points for our best chances at retention.

Daisy assisted us with the Sikaflex 227 application, Team Elite style! The Sikaflex adhesive has an amazing 600% elongation memory, making it a wonderful stretchy soft cushion for use on the sole with the added benefit of it being adhesive. It is messy, slow setting business, so you use the much harder, quick setting Vettec Adhere for shoe retention on the walls, while the Sikaflex sole/frog application cures over about 24 hrs. Daisy’s application went perfectly, with Sikaflex oozing out the heel area in just the right amount that we knew the sole and frog were well cushioned.

A bead of Adhere along the top lip of the shoe helps form a strong seal to the boot, and finishing that with the Hoof Buffer really blends it so that there is no hard edge to snap of. It blends the material together for a smooth transition that looks nice but most importantly resists removal. We also use the buffer all around the toes to soften the breakover point. 

Cantering into the finish, photo by Dominique Cognee

This year’s Tevis included a new and difficult canyon, not to mention high humidity, hot temperatures, and even some rain!  Kristine reports that it was her hardest Tevis of her nine so far! That is impressive in itself, but some of you may recall a rider that broke her arm at a fall during Tevis last year. A woman who actually went on to complete the race in an amazing 25th place, that was none other than our own brave, (and yes, crazy) duo Kristine and Tess! Despite the sweltering, steamy weather and extra challenging canyons this year, Kristine and Tess rode a great ride, and finished safely and soundly in 24th place!  

We are grateful for the opportunity to do Glue-On’s for Tevis and are so proud to have been a part of this team and their success!  

Tips and Tricks for Gluing and Removing Shells Using Acrylic

Submitted by Philip Himanka, Not Only Barefoot LLC

The preparation before the application of a Glue-On is what makes a difference in longevity and strength of bond between product and the hoof. Contained in this blog are some things to take in consideration.

I will start with at the end with the removal process: If you are not thinking about how difficult it is going to be to remove the Glue-On shells, then you will do a better job gluing. I've found that the best way to pull them off is with a pair of dull nippers. If you take your time and your horse does not wiggle then the shell might peel off intact enough to reuse it. Usually, when you are ready to pull/peel them off, there will be a small separation towards the heels.

First, get the corner of your nippers and wedge it in. If its not cracked like in this picture you might need to rasp the edge a bit.

Second, close your nippers and use the leverage outwardly in a peeling motion.

Third, the edge of the shell will start to separate so work your way forward until you get to the center. Go back and keep peeling deeper until the rim at the lower edge of the shell pops. You will usually hear a sound. Move yourself to the other side of the limb and repeat the process.

The shell has more flexibility than the glue so if you peel it off instead of prying it will leave the glue adhered to the hoof wall and then you can just buffer out the glue gently.

I think this process is very important in order to conserve the integrity of the hoof wall. I find that if you buffer/sand instead of rasping you can do consecutive gluing applications without taking a significant layer of thickness of the hoof wall. Note: This process will work also for the gluing of shoes like the EasyShoe Performance.

Now I will discuss the application process. It is important for you to consider, regardless of the kind of riding you will be doing, the length of time you are planning to leave them on.

If you are planning to leave them on for less than one week you can use either glue types such as acrylics, EasyShoe Bond and urethanes, Vettec Adhere. For sole protection and comfort a silicon base or dental impression material, such as Shufill dental impression, is a good idea. Note: For short periods of time, the Sikaflex has proven to be the best in any kind of condition because of its sticky, flexible and sealing properties.

If you are going to leave them glued for 6 weeks or so, the process I recommend is more specific (leaving the shells/shoes glued more than 7-8 weeks can be detrimental to the angles of the hoof). My experience has been that the acrylic works best for longer applications due to the following properties:

- It's more flexible and is less likely to crack or become brittle over time, so it moves with the hoof. This is great because you want the heels to expand and move independently from each other (that is what I love about the Love Child).

- Seals better from water and moisture.

- You can add copper sulfate when you are mixing the glue in order to prevent thrush.

I've also found very important when you are going to leave them glued for a longer time to consider this:

- Leave the back of the foot open so the softer caudal tissue can be in contact with air.

- If you are applying any kind of sole support including pads, it is important to apply thrush prevention products. What I do is after the glue is set, I sprinkle some copper sulfate powder or granules in the heel, then I pack in a clay based anti-thrush product, Artimud is a good option.

You really want to use clay based products regarding thrush not only because they have a better prevention effect but they also keep their properties longer. Note: If you want to be successful regarding thrush and your horse lives in a wet environment it will be very helpful to pack anti-thrush clay at least once a week from the heel into the collateral groves of the frog and central sulcus.

Who is Kelsey and why is she important?

My name is Kelsey Lobato and I just started my journey here at EasyCare Inc. I am excited to be a part of the EasyCare Product Specialist Team. Helping to provide fellow equine enthusiasts and competitors achieve a higher level of performance with their barefoot horses is something that I am proud to do. Whether it is out on the trail or discussions over the phone, I look forward to assisting horses and their human counterparts with EasyCare products. I also look forward to further educating individuals about barefoot practices.

I have a Bachelor's Degree in Art, Minor in Art History, and an Associates in Equine Studies from Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO. I was able to achieve my certification in Equine Studies with a full scholarship appointed by the director of Weasel Skin Ranch and Fort Lewis College Agriculture program. I studied, trained and worked at Weasel Skin Ranch, as well as worked and trained at Mountain High Ranch. Most, if not all, of the horses I have worked with are barefoot horses.

My Warrior Horse, Summer Flame at Cowboy Poetry Charity Ride Rapp Corral .

In my second week working at EasyCare Inc, I was given the opportunity to work with the Easyboot Glue-On shoe. Below are some pictures of our owner Garrett and I working together to get his horse Cyclone, fitted to his new Glue-On shells. Jumping right on in!

Prepping for the Glue-On.

After personally doing and seeing how the EasyCare Glue-Ons are applied, I can say that the most important thing is being consistent and precise with prep work on your horse's hooves, before gluing on the shoes. Taking your time to prep, being attentive to your horse and following the proper protocol is the best way to succeed at gluing on your horses new shoes.

I consider myself one of the lucky people in this world as someone who owns horses and is able to work with horse people from all different backgrounds. I have always been head over heels in love with horses. My mother use to go around telling folks that I was a kid twenty-five percent of the time and the other seventy-five percent was spent being a horse. Now as an adult, with the knowledge and career that I have gained through training my own horses, teaching lessons, working on ranches and continuing to grow in my passion and career, I can better access what each EasyCare customer will need for their horses.

“Let your dreams run wild and be brave enough to follow” –Aguas Caliente Apache 

Modifications of Easyboot Glove and Glue-On Shells: Part II

Submitted by Pete Ramey

Glove Glue-On Shells    

The Industry’s Shift to Synthetic Horseshoes 
In my opinion, the increasing popularity of synthetic shoes – both for rehab and for high performance – is a very good step in the right direction. During the time that metal was the only material we had that would hold up under a horse, metal made a lot of sense as a horseshoe material. But these days we have a wide array of materials that will do the job, and most of them are much better for energy dissipation and shock absorption. These materials are also more flexible, which can allow the foot to function more normally, perhaps leading to increased health of internal structures when compared to more rigid shoes. 

I do worry that synthetic shoes will become just another thing that people leave on horses’ feet 365 days a year. Healthier than steel, perhaps, but still degrading the foot with their constant presence. I use these tools in my everyday work, but for most situations I remain a “barefoot and boot man,” as I think this combination yields the best hoof health in a majority of situations. 

My Love Affair with the Glove Shells
There are times, though, that long-term or even permanent hoof protection is needed. For these horses, I usually turn to the Glove Glue-On Shells, simply a Glove without the gaiter (instead of other synthetic shoe models) for several very specific reasons:

  • All of the glue bond is on the side wall, instead of on the bottom of the wall. This frees me up to unload areas of separated walls, making these shoes ideal for growing out hoof capsule rotation, toe flaring, and quarter flares (and thus wall cracks).
  • Almost as well as a hoof boot, if applied properly, they can allow total release of pressure to the sole during hoof flight. This allows you to get away with more sole pressure/support than any other fixed shoeing method I have seen, heard of, or tried.
  • There is no need to trim the foot “flat” in preparation for shoeing. The horse’s foot, when viewed from the side, is naturally arch-shaped, mirroring its internal structures. The only ways to level this arch for shoe prep are to, 1) thin the sole at the toe, 2) thin the sole at the heels, 3) leave the quarter walls too long, or some combination of those three. I can’t abide any of those, as each causes damage. Note: When floating the quarters above the shoe floor, be careful not to let glue run beneath the wall and harden under the sole.
  • The glue bond area is 3-5 times larger than typical glue-on shoes. There is also no need to prep or protect the prep of the ground surface of the foot. For beginners, this makes it easier to succeed with them. For seasoned veterans, this makes the bond as close to bombproof as a shoe can get.
  • I can pad in them! Most permanent shoe modifications accommodate padding or impression material under the arch of the sole, but not under the wall or the outer periphery of sole. This little trick is a true life-saver for thin-soled, splat-footed horses.
  • Using heat-fitting, this shoe can easily adapt to any almost any hoof shape, and be adapted to any breakover or heel support needs.
  • Economics. I can stock only this shell and, by trimming it down to shape, duplicate a wide array of products. If I want an Easyshoe, a Flip-Flop, a lower cuff, a direct glue shoe with no cuff, M/L or D/P wedge, better traction, heels in, heels out, open sole, closed sole, frog support… I can make one by removing unwanted material from this single product. This helps maximize precious storage space in my truck and, of course, dramatically cuts the expense of carrying extra stock. 

Heat-Fitting 
It is equally important to achieve a close fit with the Glue-Ons as it is with the Gloves. We have the same breakover and heel support needs. Large gaps between the wall and shoe will be difficult to fill with glue, and tight areas may push the shoe out of place before (or after) the glue dries. 

Better fit can be achieved with the Glue-Ons than the Gloves when large quarter flares are present since the gaiter is not in the way of quarter fitting. During the heating process, you will find that it is better to hold the shell with something besides your hand, particularly if you have opened the sole (discussed below). I use my shoe pull-offs or crease nail pullers.

As an end result, you want a snug but relaxed fit with little-to-no air space, and no pressure attempting to push the shoe out of place. Prior to gluing, you should be able to put it on the foot with no glue, walk the horse around on concrete, and it should stay in place.

Other Modifications

All of the modifications I discussed in Part I with the Glove boots can also be done to the Glue-On Shells. Below are additional options I use only when gluing.

Venting the Back of the Shoe
Gluing allows you to cut out the heel section of the boot completely. I almost always do this as it allows the foot to breathe, keeping the back half of the foot relatively free of the black, foul funk. I tend to do this simply with my pocket knife, and then I finish by rounding the top of the cuff with my nippers or shears. 


Opened heel of Glove shell, done with knife and nippers. I’m doing this to 90-something % of my glue-on shells.

Venting the Bottom of the Shoe
If there is adequate sole and frog in the center of the foot and if I don’t perceive a need to use impression material or padding, I often vent the bottom of the shoe. Using a jigsaw or Dremel, you can follow the contour of the shoe tread, mimicking the frog support and look of an EasyShoe. The material is strong and difficult to cut. Most tools actually burn their way through it, rather than cutting, and it can be a long process. 

So in most cases, I simply use a drill and hole saw (thank you Leslie Carrig!), usually 2 ¼” diameter, occasionally larger, to vent the bottom of the foot. This takes seconds to do, with no burning or clogging, though the end result may not look as cool as other designs, the horses never notice. As with almost any open-bottom shoe, there is some risk of a stone lodging between the shoe and the sole, causing problems. But the access to air can be worth the risk, particularly if the owner routinely picks and checks the area.

Pads and Impression Material
All of the padding methods discussed for the Glove boots will work with the Glue-On version, plus several additional options -- Dental Impression Material (DIM), pour-in pads, and Sikaflex 227 adhesive, to name a few. Generally, when using any type of pad, I leave the shoe’s stock sole intact (forgoing the sole vent). I also fill the collateral sulci and cover the sole with a thin layer of Artimud to keep infection at bay.

Prep and Glue
Gluing instruction is best done in person or at least via DVDs or YouTube (start here)  – not in writing – but here is my basic protocol in a nutshell, and in a very specific order:

  1. Trim the feet, clean out any infected areas in the white line or frogs, wire brush debris from the walls and bottom of the foot. This, and the other steps are each done to all four (or two) feet that are being glued in sequence, rather than doing each foot start-to-finish. This saves time.
  2. Heat-fit and do all shoe modifications. If using DIM or a felt pad, it is prepared at this point. If using a pour-in pad, decide if you need a hole or holes in the shoe to inject the pad.
  3. Sand all the gluing surface of the sidewall, yielding a rough finish. I cut 50 grit belt sander belts into small squares and do it by hand, or more recently, use a cordless drill buffer/sander. I then use the rough corner of my rasp to add fine grooves to the gluing surface. Take care to prep all the way to the back of the heels. This area can be hard to reach, easy to forget, and is the most critical area of glue bond. 
  4. With a small hand-held butane torch, I heat the outer wall for 1 or 2 seconds in each individual spot, moving the torch around very quickly while avoiding melting the hair at the coronet. Most of this, I do with the foot on the ground, but be sure to pick up the foot and prep the heels. I do the same to the inside of the shoe’s gluing area. This step eliminates dust, oils, and moisture, and is critical to success. After this step, take great care not to re-contaminate the glue surfaces of the hoof and shoe. Arm sweat, oils from impression materials and bacterial treatments are the most common culprits, as well as the grubby little hands of curious onlookers and well-meaning horse owners with a bottle of fly spray in hand (yep, it happened to me).
  5. Using a painter’s digital moisture meter, verify that all parts of the hoof’s gluing surface read 0.0% moisture. If not, repeat step #4. If a horse just came in from dry stall shavings or a dry pasture, one lap with the torch will usually do the trick. If the horse just came in from the rain, it may require three or more laps. Resist the temptation to heat longer as this could harm the horse. Instead, heat more times. Be patient – this is the most important step, particularly if you live in a damp climate.
  6. Glue. Keep it warm in winter, cool in summer. I like to use the guns and mixing tips – personal preference. Sometimes I use the acrylic, EasyShoe Bond Fast Set (Equilox, Equibond – all the same, with different labels) because it may be better glue for wet environments, and sometimes I use the urethane Vettec Adhere because it is less noxious and may do less damage to the walls. Adhere is also more user-friendly, and thus may be easier for beginners to succeed with.
  7. Purge the glue before installing the tip. For Adhere, be sure equal amounts of both agents are flowing freely. For EasyShoe Bond Fast Set, be sure the (white) bonding agent is flowing constantly, about 1/10th the volume of the pigmented agent. If so, wipe the glue from the end of the tube, being careful not to mix the agents, and apply the mixing tip.  
  8. If using DIM, place it on the foot. If using felt (or other) pads, place them in the shoes.
  9. Purge a grape-sized ball of glue onto the ground or paper towel, then apply the glue to the shoe. I avoid the sole, the ground surface of the wall, and the lower ½” of the cuff. The concern here is getting a glob of glue on the sole, which will then act as a stone in the shoe. To the rest of the cuff, I apply the glue liberally with a continuous ¼”-thick bead covering most of the gluing surface by the time I am done. In warm weather, I then put the shoe on immediately. In cold weather, I may stall for a bit, waiting for the glue to begin to cure. I repeatedly touch the glue with my gloved finger – at first the glue will attach a small “string” as I pull my finger away. As the glue starts to cure, this will not occur, and it is time to apply the shoe. As you do this, be careful not to drag glue from the sidewall onto the sole.
  10. Wait. For some applications, I want to cure the glue while I am holding up the foot (less sole pressure, less compression of pads – I generally do this on thin-soled horses). On other applications, I want to cure the glue with the foot on the ground (easier for lame or impatient horses; may yield a more snug “performance fit.”). If the shoe is to be cured in the air, put the shoe on, put the foot down on the ground, have an assistant pick up the off foot, then quickly put it back down (this spreads any glue that might have ended up on the sole). Pick up the foot you are gluing, check shoe placement, wipe off any excess glue, then hold the foot up until the glue dries. If the glue is to be cured with the foot on the ground, place the shoe, have your assistant pick up the off foot, and then watch the glued foot carefully as the glue dries. At some point partway through the cure, I switch places with the assistant, as I will want to be the one holding the foot during the latter (and more trying) minutes of the cure.
  11. Repeat for the other feet. You will need to clean, purge, and apply a new mixing tip for each shoe.
  12. Go around with a hoof pick and check the shoe heels to be sure they are bonded. If not, attach a new mixing tip and re-glue these areas. At this point, you can also seal the tops of the shoe cuff with a thin bead of glue. If you are slick, you can get all this done to all 4 feet with one mixing tip.
  13. If you are using pour-in pads, inject them now. Decide whether you want a lot of sole pressure, a little, or none. If you completely cure the pad while you are holding the foot off the ground, there will be a lot of support/pressure. If you put the foot down to let the pad cure, there will be none. It varies case-by-case, but I tend to do something in-between.
  14. When all the glues are cured, watch the horse move. Make final adjustments to breakover and heel rockers, if needed, based on movement.

Removal
After 5-6 weeks, Vettec Adhere will become brittle enough that shoe salvage is not terribly difficult (though it is still cheaper to buy a new shoe than it is to pay me to clean an old one up for you). I take a ¼” flathead screwdriver and work it between the shoe and the hoof, separating the bond.

With EasyShoe Glue (Equilox, Equibond…) at 5-6 weeks, the glue will not be brittle – the screwdriver method rarely works. Instead, using my hoof knife, I cut ½”-long slits in the top of the cuff, dividing the cuff into 6 sections around the circumference of the foot. I then use my shoe pull-offs to peel and rip each of the sections down and off the hoof wall individually. 

Tape-On Application
A hybrid between the on-off hoof boot and a glue-on application is the tape-on boot/shoe. Many people trail ride in this setup, and I use it for rehab cases when I need to cover the foot for 24-48 hours and then gain access. 

Warning: Results of this vary wildly. If a horse steps on his own shoe, they will pull right off. But I have also seen them stay on for a week and heard of them staying on even longer. I think it really depends on the way the horse moves and perhaps the environment. I have found that I can count on them for 48 hours as well as about anything – so this is how I use them. 

If a horse absolutely must have 24/7 protection, use a boot or a glue-on instead. I like to say, “Tape-ons are for when you kind-of need a shoe and only need it for a short period of time.” All that said, this is still a very commonly useful tool, and has the distinct advantage that you can keep re-using the same shell over and over, often for years to come. This can also be the only option (for turnout or riding) when the bulbs or coronet has been injured and permanent shoeing is not desired. This method also works for use similar to a hospital plate when daily access is needed to dress a wound or surgery site. 
This method is ideal for post-trim tenderness. A conscientious trimmer (with a stock of glue-on shells) who inadvertently causes post-trim soreness, can do a tape-on application to cover the foot for a few days, then pick up the boots at the next visit, clean them up and sell them to a gluing client. All it costs is the purchase of the tape and the time to clean up the boot.


Mueller Athletic Tape Application. Used alone with Glove Glue-On shells or as extra insurance with Glove hoof boots.

Mueller Athletic Tape
Note: Several years ago, I bought two cases of Mueller Athletic Tape, which I am still using. Apparently, it has since changed, and the material is now thinner (thanks, Amy Diehl), so these instructions may warrant some experimentation with the newer version of tape. I will update as I learn more. And, no, I will not sell you any of my tape. 
Here is my method:

  1. Heat-fit a Glove shell – and strive for perfection. Do not cut the back out of it or open the sole for this method – just use a stock shell. As always, the better the fit, the better this will work. You want to end up with no excessively tight spots and as little air space as possible. The shoe should be difficult to pull off, once applied. Be sure the boot is clean – free of dirt and moisture.
  2. No additional prep to the foot is required; just trim normally.
  3. Wrap the foot with Mueller Athletic Tape as if you were applying a hoof cast. I generally use 3-4 rounds/laps of tape, wrapping so that I cover all of the side wall that the boot shell will cover and also lapping under the wall and slightly onto the sole. 
  4. Drive the boot shell onto the foot with a rubber mallet (or for trail use, a big stick). For the first 30 minutes, the extra friction provided by the tape will make this shoe very difficult to remove. After 30 minutes, the heat and pressure will have caused the tape’s own glue to wick through the fabric and there will be a pretty decent glue bond. During the first 24 hours, it is almost as hard to get off as it would be if it were glued with hoof adhesive.
  5. The bond seems to disappear within 48 hours. I think dust simply works its way in and absorbs into the glue. I believe that when I (and others) have seen these stay on longer, it was simply because of good fit, the added friction, and a horse that never interferes or trips. Either way, removal after 36 hours is not an issue – you can generally pull them off by hand.

Mueller Athletic Tape in Gloves
The above wrapping method is even more useful as “Glove boot first aid.” If you are using Glove boots, carry a roll of Mueller Tape in your trail pack; it doubles as first aid tape, so shouldn’t take up extra precious space. If you rip a gaiter on the trail (or develop any other boot fit/performance issue) you can add the tape to the foot, knock the boot on with a stick, and ride on for the rest of the trip without a gaiter.

I even had one client who was using a #2 Glove when her friend threw a #0 horseshoe. They kept wrapping tape around the #0 foot until the #2 Glove fit and got the horse off the trail without further incident. My client discovered, at the same time, that her horse no longer needed boots for that particular trail anyway. Now, this is not a recommended application by any stretch of the imagination, but it did work.

Smoothing Boot Fit Problems
I like for my booting clients to have a roll on hand in case booting issues pop up mid-cycle. This is particularly common when I am in the process of growing out hoof capsule rotation or wall flares. The boot fit will get sloppy over time. I do try to adjust for this at routine visits, but sometimes I misjudge. Hopefully, when I arrive for my scheduled visit, I can de-bug the boot fit, but having a way to keep my clients riding saves me some unscheduled trips.

I recall two instances where I had to use the tape application with the Gloves as a permanent fix. I didn’t like it, but it was the best I could do. Both were on the hind feet of horses with hip problems that rotated their foot on the ground under load. After several boot-fitting fails, I left both clients applying one wrap of tape prior to booting the hind feet. Sloppy, yes, but better than nothing, I suppose. 

Race Day
This method, combined with adding Vet Wrap to the gaiter is how to make a bombproof Glove application. I don’t like to see clients train this way. I want to work through any booting bugs during normal rides. But on race day, show day, or that big group trail ride – that day when you want to be absolutely sure you don’t have any problems, it is worth the extra 3 minutes to put Mueller Tape on the foot, boot, then wrap the gaiter with Vet Wrap. Optionally, an added bell boot seals the deal.

And the List Goes On…
That’s the best thing about these two platforms (the Glove and Glove Shell). Your own imagination is the limit. While every boot and shoe can be modified to some extent, none other lends itself to so much possibility. In the past, I had to haul around a wide variety of options. Now, I find that I can get by with a full stock of only these two products – well – except that we do need them in larger sizes… and with some different tread options. 

For a complete article in PDF format, please follow this link to be redirected to Pete Ramey's website: http://www.hoofrehab.com/Glove%20Mods.pdf 

The EasyShoe FLEX In Action

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

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

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.

Learning, Adapting and Growing.

Submitted by Steve Foxworth, President of the E.L.P.O.

Equine hoof care: an industry with great tradition, experience, and information that has been passed down from generation to generation; from Father to Son, from Grandfather to Grandson, and, in some cases, Great Grandfather to Great Grandson with one important mission: the comfort of horses. 

It amazes me that, for centuries, horses have played such important roles in human lives. The role today that horses play is definitely different than the role they've played in the past. Horses used to be more of a tool for transportation or that of a tractor or truck and even used as weapons for war. Today, they are more often used for pleasure, sport, or companionship. Regardless whether a horse is used as a tool or as a companion or both, the importance of hoof care is more evident now than ever. A horse’s ability to learn, adapt, and change is truly incredible. Horses do so many different things with little to no objection i.e. racing, dressage, jumping, cross country, vaulting, roping, barrel racing, bulldogging, reining, cutting, endurance, competitive trail, mounted shooting, crowd control, driving etc. and on multiple different surfaces (dirt, clay, rock, gravel, sand, artificial surfaces, grass, asphalt, concrete) and in wet and dry environments. No matter what we come up with the horse is willing to TRY!

As hoof care providers, it is beneficial if we can be more like the horses in our ability to adapt and change. Our mindset as hoof care providers is key in achieving this. Without putting “right” and “wrong” or “good” and “bad” but instead using an observation of what the horse wants or responds favorably to can only help these amazing animals continue to TRY. It is not necessarily what we are using as a tool to care for them (metal, wood, or composite shoes that are nailed, screwed, strapped or glued) or leaving them barefoot, but the continued education of how all of these tools work, and then the practice in becoming proficient with them. Understanding it is a journey, not a destination, and allows us to learn, adapt and grow just like the horse.

The E.L.P.O. (Equine Lameness Prevention Organization) works toward such a journey. The organization’s goal is to question, monitor, and improve upon practices regarding hoof care. With great respect for tradition and the centuries of information that have been passed down, the members of the E.L.P.O. also strive to be like the horse with a willingness to learn, adapt and grow. With the help of Daisy Bicking and Garrett Ford over the last 3 to 4 years, the E.L.P.O. has seen the importance and the benefits of glue-on composite shoes. In 2016, the E.L.P.O. held the first CFGP (Certified Farrier Glue Practitioner) exams in Pennsylvania. With Daisy as a lead in designing, instructing, and assessing this exam, farriers have a strong base in which they can build from. The many different things that can be accomplished both with urethane and acrylic glues and the innovation of a multitude of shoe possibilities is proving to be very beneficial.

For the last 2 years, one of the Board of Directors of the E.L.P.O., Matt Staples, has been asking for this certification to be brought to the United Kingdom. In March of this year, Daisy and I led a glue course and CFGP exam in conjunction with a Level 5 Examiner/Instructor course in the U.K.. Instructors and examiners from the U.K., France, Holland and the U.S. came together to learn. Participants sat through 6 hours of lectures and discussion ranging from leadership and communication, to glue types, composite shoes and applications. Participants evaluated and graded several cadaver feet using the E.L.P.O. Hoof Evaluation Protocol. The frog, heels, bars, and toes all get assessed with a 0-5 scale (0 meaning non-distorted and 5 being the greatest distortion) while taking turns assessing each other as well. Cadaver feet were trimmed using hoof mapping as a guide along with what was assessed in the Hoof Evaluation Protocol. Daisy then did a demonstration on glue prep on the foot with explaining what we understand today as best practice including moisture control, dirt and debris, scuffing, feathering and common things that could cause glue failure. Participants were then able go through the process on multiple cadaver feet.  At the end of the second day, five instructors who had previous glue experience and were prepared to take the practical exam completed it and passed. Having these instructors pass this exam is paving the way to start having CFGP qualifications in the U.K. and Europe.

Seeing the willingness to learn and continue gathering information from these farriers where tradition runs as deep as any place in the world, was extremely rewarding. These farriers are adding to an already enormous amount of information of hoof care. This group of practitioners are not making things “right” or “wrong”, they are looking to learn and become proficient at hoof care so that they can service horses in a manner that horses have served humans for centuries with a want to learn, adapt and grow.

Many thanks to Garrett Ford and EasyCare as you continue to donate material so that many more horses and people can benefit from an education of the possibilities of glue-on composite shoes. Another thank you to Red Horse Products who also sponsored the course and provide a line of products to help maintain healthy hooves.