Thinking Glue - Outside the Box of Equine Podiatry

Submitted by Chris Niclas CJF, CLS and owner of Chris’ Farrier Service Inc.

There have been many changes in the hoof-care industry over the last 25 years. One of the changes I have come to appreciate is the use of adhesives and glue-on shoes. From being intimidated by the failures of using glue in the beginning, to becoming comfortable using it in my daily practice, it has been a journey. As a teenager I became interested in hoof-care out of necessity. Almost 25 years later, I still have a passion for the horse and am driven to continue learning new skills as a farrier. 

I met Mark Plumlee, owner and instructor of Mission Farrier School, at an International hoof-care clinic he hosted in the late 1990’s. Mark is a Certified Journeyman Farrier, a Registered Journeyman Farrier, and a Certified Lameness Specialist. Knowing that Mark has been on the leading edge of farrier science, when it comes to farrier education, I approached him last fall and asked if I could attend Mission Farrier School. After 20 years as a professional farrier, I was excited to learn how much information is available in both the art and science of hoof-care. 

During my time at MFS, Mark asked me if I would be willing to partner with his school to go deeper into the emerging market of gluing on shoes in a way that was meaningful for the horse. Since I am currently working on my own certifications for becoming an Instructor and Examiner for the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization (ELPO), I realized this would be a good opportunity for me to thoroughly investigate the Glue-On protocol, as part of my “homework” for the ELPO certification. 

In teaching a glue clinic, I knew I needed to investigate and confirm what the general Glue-On protocol was currently. So last November, after attending a level 5 clinic with the ELPO in Loveland, CO, I drove down to Durango, CO and had the privilege of spending a day with Garrett Ford, CEO of EasyCare Inc. We spent most of the day gluing on shoes, as well as sharing our ideas, inventions, and prototypes. Becoming familiar with using glue and synthetic shoes has given me multiple options to protect and support the equine foot in both performance and therapeutic applications.

I knew I did not want to work with cadaver feet when teaching the glue clinic at Mission Farrier School. I also wanted an easy and simple way students could learn to work with the glue without the added stress of being under a horse. This led me to create a wooden foot that attached to a hoof stand and simulated the working positions needed to both glue on a shoe and remove it, since both are important when working with a glue-on equine clientele.

Garrett Ford and EasyCare Inc. were very generous in donating shoes and glue for the clinic. Additionally, Larkin Greene the Western Regional Sales Manager for Vettec, also donated glue and came up from California to attend the clinic. Larkin was instrumental in sharing his knowledge of chemistry and the structures of how the different adhesives work. His 35 years of experience gave us all many valuable tips in using glue successfully.

The Glue clinic was attended by farriers and students from across the United States. The state that were represented included Alaska, Washington, California, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Massachusetts and even the Netherlands. Everyone at the clinic had an opportunity to glue on 3 different shoes the EasyShoe Performance N/G, EasyBoot Glue-On and the EasyShoe Sport.

After each gluing exercise we would gather as a group and the class would share what they learned. This created a positive learning environment and allowed everyone to learn from others mistakes and successes. For most of the people attending the clinic, this was their first experience using glue. The learning curve often leaves a person discouraged or overwhelmed, which can lead to not using adhesives as a tool in their trade. My goal was to teach the steps of how to clean and dry the foot, so it is prepared for the process of gluing on a shoe and is the key to a successful gluing job. Providing a hands-on experience, students were able to learn firsthand what it looked like if they applied too much or too little glue. Being able to practice both gluing on a shoe and taking it off multiple times, created an environment where each participant could gain confidence in the process.

It is important to remember that each horse is an individual and each foot may have its own special needs. Throughout the two days there were brain puzzles on a dry erase board that challenged all attending to think outside the box. This became an exercise to stretch our minds in creativity and problem solving. For the third project everyone was able to create a problem and a solution for their wooden horse's foot. I really enjoyed watching how creative each team was at putting into practice “thinking outside the box”. Some teams made hoof wall extensions, others created a shoe with a hospital plate that could be glued on and others created ways of doing a hoof wall repair. At the end of the day I did a live demonstration putting all the pieces into practice on a special needs horse.

If you are curious and find yourself inspired to explore the world of adhesives and all the possibilities with gluing on a shoe, checkout the webinars that EasyCare has put together. They are well worth taking the time to watch and study.

Mission Farrier School has been teaching leading edge farrier science for 25 years, and offers a quality Farrier education. Most of their students come with little to no horseshoeing experience, but occasionally you’ll find a few seasoned professionals like myself learning the new science and advancing our own skills, right along-side the newbies.

The Equine Lameness Prevention Organization offers clinics and classes throughout the year teaching Hoof Mapping, proper Barefoot Trimming and advanced classes for becoming a Certified Lameness Specialist or Certified Farrier Glue Practitioner.

Vettec has countless clinics throughout the year and many helpful webinars and videos available on the internet. Take the time to check them out.

If anyone wants to practice on their own with a wooden horse hoof adapted to fit a hoof jack, mine will be available for sale by special order. I have found the horse is the best teacher of all. At the end of each day, it is the opinion of the horse that guides us to becoming the best hoof care providers we can be.

A big thank you to Mark & Karen Plumlee, Steve Foxworth, Garrett Ford, Larkin Greene, James Klund and my wife Kristi in helping and equipping me to help others.

 

In Love With The Love Child

When working with glue and composite shoes, there are a variety of factors that impact which shoe you might choose. Some of those factors include the horse's job, the type of support/mechanics/protection/traction the horse needs, and more. When setting yourself up for success, there's also a direct relationship between the experience of the person applying the shoes and the amount of glue surface area the shoe offers. The higher the demands on the foot and shoe the more detailed your application needs to be and more glue surface area the better in many cases for added insurance.  

I was intrigued when EasyCare announced trials available for a new shoe, fondly called the Love Child. With so many glue-on composites shoes available, the largest variety of shoe design and application options already coming from EasyCare, I wondered what the Love Child would have to offer that was unique. The Love Child comes from the union of two already fabulous products, the EasyBoot Glue-on and the EasyShoe Performance. The Love Child combines the tread of the Performance with a modified cuff from the Glove Glue-on. Additionally, a full pad was added in the bottom of the Love Child. This pad is softer than the bottom of the Glove Glue-on which allows for more flexibility in the heels. I immediately thought of several horses this hybrid boot/shoe could help, and applied to be a tester.  

Over the last several months I've been able to apply the Love Child to two different horses in two very different situations playing with both acrylic and urethane glues with tremendous success. This first horse is a teenage hunter/jumper thoroughbred who has had chronic lameness in both the front and hind end. He does very well in EasyShoe Performance or Performance N/G on the front, but we've had difficulty getting EasyShoes on the hind feet because he cannot hold his legs up for very long and going weight-bearing in our application process in the past has been difficult.  

The Love Child offered us an excellent option for hoof protection with a greater chance of success. Here are his hind feet before Love Child application, note how badly he wears his toes due to his hind end discomfort.

The Love Child fit his hind feet perfectly.

His feet were prepped well for glue by scuffing and drying all glue surface areas, in this case the wall, from heel to heel. Fungidye is applied in the quarters to prevent infection growing in a bit of wall separation present, then Artimud was applied to the sole side of the foot to prevent fungus and bacteria from growing before next trim/shoeing.

Finally dental impression material was applied to provide sole support, and to help prevent debris from going up under the shoe.   

The Love Child was glued on with acrylic glue, cleaned up and had a final layer of super glue applied over top. They have been on for four weeks and the horse is quite comfortable and sound, schooling low level dressage four-five days/week. We're expecting the shoes will provide him with sole support and protection, as well and prevent the worst of the toe wear over time.  

Here is the Love Child applied to the second horse, an endurance horse. We were able to use urethane glue on the left at the first application, and acrylic glue on the right for the second application. Both glue applications kept the horse comfortable and performed well. There was no reason for the change beyond curiosity of application differences between the two. Both glues worked quite well. We followed the same application details as specified above for each set of shoes, including antimicrobials, dental impression material, and hoof prep protocol.  

This is a horse who is a chronic shoe puller and needs a weight bearing application for glue on work. The Love Child is an excellent shoe for this horse because the large amount of glue surface area helps ensure shoe retention, and with the complete toe cuff, is easy to apply in a weight bearing method. This first set stayed on for seven weeks with no issue even though the horse lives in a wet environment with a lot of mud and rocks. The glue bonds were strong, the shoe expanded at the back as the foot grew, and dental impression material stayed in all but the very back.  

When they were removed for the second application they came off cleanly, with no wall degradation. The shoe had some mud on the inside, but no debris. And the frog, bars and sole cleaned up with no bacteria or fungus present. The slight sole bruising evident in the photo here was on all four feet, even though the fronts are shod and the hinds are barefoot. He's a very sensitive horse.  

Overall we've been very impressed with the performance and ease of application of the Love Child. I definitely see a place for this shoe as a tool to help horses in my practice. Thank you EasyCare!  

For more information on Daisy Haven Farm, Inc. please see www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com
 

Endurance And EasyCare

The sport of endurance riding is only a small segment of all equestrian sports nationally and worldwide. Maybe 5% of all equestrians engage in endurance. Attending the AERC Annual Convention, one gets the feeling that endurance riders are the center of the horse world. This year's AERC Convention was held in Dallas, Texas.

New AERC officers are being sworn in during the general session at the convention.

Endurance riders from the country and abroad came together for two days of seminars, various board and committee meetings and a trade show that gave participants a glimpse of new products on the market and also the opportunity to buy equestrian products, from EasyCare hoof boots to Vettec glues and various saddles. Specialized Saddles was well represented. EasyCare, Inc. is a Platinum Sponsor of AERC and the Official Hoof Boot Company of AERC.

In the photo above, Larkin Greene from Vettec Company is explaining gluing Easyboot shells on a model hoof during the trade show.

David Kaden and Tracy Webb, owners of Specialized Saddles, are presenting the Rookie Award to the Rookie of the Year. Specialized Saddles made and donated the saddle to the Rookie with the highest achieved mileage in 2016.

After the awards banquet, national awards achieved during the 2016 season were presented for the winners of various categories. I had a very successful year competing mostly on mares of Global Endurance Training Center. Among the most coveted awards is the War Mare National Award. The three mares I was riding placed 1st, 2nd and 9th among the top ten mares in the country. The War Mare Award is bestowed to the mare with most points accumulated throughout the ride season.

These mares also were in 2nd and 3rd place in the National Best Condition Championship standings. The most prestigious award, the National 100 Mile Championship Award, I achieved with GE Pistol Annie. She also won the AHA Half Arabian 100 Mile Championship title. In addition, these three mares took the top three spots in the Mountain Region Point and Best Condition Championships, respectively. 

As the winner, we received a new Freeform Saddle, donated by Paulita Neff from the Treeless Saddle Company. 

Receiving the National Championship Award by Susan Garlinghouse.

Why is this all significant?  And what do all these mares I rode in 2016 have in common?

These winning mares were ridden all season long with EasyCare hoof shoes and hoof boots. To be successful in these national competitions, a rider has to pay meticulous attention to every detail all year long: from nutrition to training and conditioning, from chiropractic work to dental care, from saddle fit to hoof trimming and hoof protection selection. The hoof protection of choice were EasyCare Glue-ons for GE Pistol Annie, Flip Flops for Medinah MHF and a combination of EasyShoes and Glue-ons for GE CCDRUS Star. I do not believe that we would have had that level of success, would it not been for the use of the EasyCare hoof protection. These superior products protect the soles, dampen the concussion for the joints and are lightweight. The horses can travel with more ease and comfort over rocks and hard ground. As we have seen so many times in the past, EasyCare is leading the charge again and can always be found at the forefront of research, development and success in the world. 

Here is another example for the spirit of innovation that has been demonstrated by EasyCare over the years: this new EasyShoe Flex pictured below will be released soon! I wrote in my blog last month about this exciting EasyCare product. I have been testing this new shoe for a while now and I am thrilled about it. 

From the National AERC Convention

By Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

EasyCare Testers are Falling for the Love Child

An upcoming product in the pipeline at EasyCare is beginning its second round of testing to ensure a quality hoof protection device that bridges the gap between boots and shoes. It will be capable to be modified for custom applications, easy to glue, and reliable over all terrain. It’s stirring much excitement within the barefoot hoof care community and EasyCare is pleased with the results in its testing phases.

The EasyCare Love Child, Easyboot Glue-on, and the EasyShoe Performance. Photo credit: Rusty Toth.

Rusty Toth, talented barefoot trimmer and accomplished endurance rider, shares his thoughts on the preliminary product, which is presently referred to as the Love Child.
“Love Child/LC report: I'm simply in LOVE with this new shoe-boot merger. Coming on three weeks post application, many miles covered, numerous river crossings and lots of deep wet sand. Not a budge, holding strong and the tread will outlast the cycle. I'm thrilled, my new favorite! Thank you Garrett and EasyCare.”

Rusty using Artimud and Glue-U Shufill in this application of the Love Child.

The modifications that can be made to the Love Child apply to both performance and therapeutic uses. Sossity Gargiulo of Wild Hearts Hoof Care put her own creative spin on the product, pictured below. She also used Artimud putty to thwart off any microbial infection and dental impression material for additional solar support.

Mario and Sossity's glue applications are truly a work of art.

Daisy Bicking of Daisy Haven Farm is focused on hoof rehabilitation and uses several EasyCare products for unique therapeutic cases. Daisy is a farrier that primarily utilizes composite materials to treat and heal her horse clients. We are excited to have her on board to provide quality feedback. All of our testers out there contribute to a product that will help many horses in all disciplines, from stall to pasture to arena. 

Daisy's application of the Love Child presenting a modified breakover.

EasyCare does not yet have a date that this product will be ready for public sale. It is priority to make all necessary revisions to this product to ensure an A+ experience that EasyCare has been known to provide in the hoof care community. Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook for updates on the EasyCare Love Child. Interested in testing new and upcoming products? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be in the loop on new products and upcoming trials.

Best Practice: What Glue Work Works?

In the horse world there are “ways to do things”. Some of of these things we do because it is grounded in science and based on research and objective information.  Other things we do, maybe even most things, we do because “that’s the way it’s always been done”. This even applies to glue-on shoes. If you ask 10 farriers how to prepare the foot and apply a glue-on shoe, you’ll get 20 different answers. Many of them claiming this is the “way to do things”. Not only are there different kinds of glue, but difference kinds of shoes, and many variations on application methods!  So how do you know what to do to be successful?  What is the "best practice" when it comes to your glue-on shoe application? There are several ways to set yourself up for success.

Start with following manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. If you pick a certain brand of shoe and they have recommendations for glue application, the best place to start is the foot preparation and glue method that they recommend. The manufacturer wants you to be successful so it’s a great place to learn best practices. 

Many of you know I LOVE acrylic glue, EasyShoe Bond/Equilox, yet in applying shoes like the the Flip Flop and product testing the new “Love Child” I’m following manufacturer instructions and using urethane glue, Vettec Adhere, with the application.   

Next idea for learning best practices with your glue work: contact a practitioner who uses the shoe/glue and intended application method you’re looking to utilize. Many farriers are glad to share the tips and tricks of their successful glue work with other practitioners who want to learn. Best is to do a ride along and watch them work if possible. But many will be glad to answer questions over the phone, via email, or on social media.  

Another great way to learn is to attend a clinic. There are many learning opportunities out there for those who want to learn different glue and shoe methods. A clinic situation is often a stress free way to learn different glues and shoe applications and gain hands on practice with supervision from a trained professional.

Lastly, be meticulous in your own work. Write down the steps you’re using and keep your work space neat and clean. Practice your process in your mind and consider walking through the steps with each foot before applying the actual glue to the shoe…that’s GO time!  Additionally, take photos of your work, and track objectively how the horse's foot responds to the application you're using.  

Glue work is 99% preparation and only 1% actually doing it. The more thorough your preparations, the easier your applications will go, with less chance of failure.  And that way, on the small chance you do have a failure at one point or another, you’ll be able to pin down why and resolve it very easily. 


www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

New Hoof Protection Products in the R&D Phase at EasyCare

I was recently looking at the last seven years of statistics from the Tevis Cup 100 mile horse race.  Although I'm a big believer in hoof protection products that give the hoof the ability to move as nature intended it's nice to see real numbers from the most difficult and demanding horse event in the world that support my beliefs. Results for the Tevis Cup show that EasyCare's products not only work but they outperform other types of hoof protection.  

Here are some interesting numbers from the last seven years of the Tevis Cup.   

1.  53.07% of starting riders finished the event, 61.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event, 50.36% of starting riders not using Easyboots finished the event. In 2011, 75.68% of starting riders in Easyboots finished the event!

2.  6 of the last 7 Haggin Cup (Best Condition) winners used Easyboots.

3.  5 of the last 7 Tevis Cup (race winner) winners used Easyboots.

4.  In 2016 the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers used Easyboots.  

2016 Haggin Cup Winners.  Lisa Ford and GE Cyclone.

I'm not a statistician but those numbers tell me that flexible, urethane hoof protection excels at the most demanding 100 mile horse race in the world.  You are more likely to finish if your horse starts in Easyboots, you are more likely to win the Haggin Cup and you and more likely to win the Tevis Cup if your horse is fitted with Easyboots.  Yes, there are many that still want to argue that hoof boots don't work, are a fad, are for tree huggers, etc. but just looking at numbers from the last seven years, it's a hard argument to win.

So what's next?  We believe in our products, we believe we have a nice range that covers many types of disciplines and EasyCare can accommodate Mini horses up to some of the smaller draft breeds.  Although we are happy with our line there is always room for new products that can help horses, are easier to apply or are more economical. Below is a short list of what we have in the works and some quick thoughts on each.

1.  EasyShoe Flex.  A flexible steel core over molded in urethane.  Intended to be nailed on the hoof.  Yes, many people do not like nails but at the same time complain of the costs associated with glue.  We believe this shoe will be a healthier alternative to many of the nail-on products in the market.  Open heel, full heel with frog support and different clip options.  The open ended nailing slots are very unique and make the product much easier to apply.  Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the EasyShoe Flex.  

EasyShoe Flex Ground Surface.

2.  Easyboot Slipper, Easyboot Love Child or BFM.  A cross between the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and the EasyShoe Performance.  It allows more movement in the heels than the Easyboot Glue-On Shell and is easier than the EasyShoe Performance to apply.  In the future we plan to integrate a gaiter on this shell. Take a look at a recent Easyboot Facebook post on the product.  In 48 hours we received 200+ applications to help test the new design.  

Easyboot Slipper/Love Child/BMF

3.  Easyboot Sneaker.  A new multidimensional boot for riding, turnout and therapy.  The boot has a unique strap system that hugs the heel bulbs and prevents boot rotation when tightened.  The sole is a rubber/urethane blend and is more flexible than a total urethane product.  We will be looking for riders to help test this product in a new BETA release program.  More information to follow.

4.  The Old Mac's G2 is back.  We have brought back the G2 for 2017.  In addition we are testing a wide version that is wider than long. 

Old Mac's G2 Wide in testing.

5.  Easyboot Fly.  Features a shell that accepts three different gaiter types.  The design allows for adjustment in length, heel height and allows for heel pivot.  It's testing well and we will be reaching out to include testers soon.  

Easyboot Fly from the back.

We look forward to getting these products tested and to market.  In the near future we will be reaching out to horse owners, vets and hoof care professionals that would like to be involved in BETA releases and product testing.

We are excited about these products and feel they work in conjunction with the "Smart Structure" of the hoof.  What product do you believe will be the most helpful in the horse industry?

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.

2016 Didn't Suck!

We are still here after 46 years! 23 years under the direction of Dr. Neel Glass and 23 years under my direction. 

96% of businesses fail in the first ten years! EasyCare has been making hoof boots and hoof protection for 46 years! It's been a great year but has come with some learning experiences.  The death of Kevin Myers has helped the entire EasyCare staff put things into perspective and look at things a bit differently. EasyCare continues to make an impact in the equine industry, help horses and have some fun in the process. It's been a great year!

Here is a quick summary of how 2016 looked: We lost Kevin Myers; farriers now stop at our booth while at the Hoof Care Summit; our hoof protection products dominate at the toughest 100 mile race in the world; we successfully launched many new unique products and we have some great products in the works for 2017. EasyCare and our urethane hoof protection products were once on the fringe of the equine industry. Our products are now carried by most equine retailers, mail order companies, farriers and veterinarians. In short the Easyboot and EasyShoe products continue to develop and improve the lives of our equine partners.  

1.  In February EasyCare returned to the International Hoof Care Summit in Cincinnati Ohio. EasyCare and Polyflex share a booth at the Summit and display alternative urethane hoof care solutions. The booth is often packed with farriers looking at our non traditional hoof protection solutions. Non traditional seems to be turning traditional.  

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford demonstrate application methods.

2.  California Chrome relaxes in Easyboot Clouds. The Easyboot Cloud created a big challenge for EasyCare as it's sales were much better than anticipated. The Cloud caused us a couple grey hairs and put us in catch up mode after release. It's taken some work and forecasting but our inventory levels are much stronger for 2017.   

California Chrome chilling in Easyboot Clouds.

3.  The Easyboot Mini makes an impact on the smaller breeds and foals. The mini boot has made a massive impact with the small breeds and horses.  These smaller feet are often very hard to protect and the Easyboot Mini has provided an economical solution.  

Easyboot Mini's and Easyboot Epics in competition.

Easyboot Mini fits a hoof only 44mm in width.

4.  Easyboot Elite storms the 2016 Tevis Cup. Nine total team members booted 50 of the horses starting the most difficult 100 mile race in the world. No reported boots were lost during the race and completion statistics were impressive. 30.3% of all starting horses were in Easyboots. 41.3% of all finishing horses were in Easyboots. This is the most difficult 100 miles in equine sport, not only do Easyboots work, they dominate.  

-1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, 4th place and 6th place finishers at the 2016 100 mile Tevis Cup were in Easyboots on all four feet.

-Ten of the top 20 finishers were in Easyboots.

-Easyboot completion rate: 72%  (50 Easyboot riders started, 36 Easyboot riders finished).  Historical finish rate at the event is less than 50%.

-Non-Easybooted completion rate: 44.35%  (115 Non-Easybooted riders started, 51 Non-Easybooted finished). 

2016 Easyboot Elite from left to right.  

Pete Van Rossum, Daisy Bicking, Christoph Schork, Garrett Ford, Deanna Stoppler, Steve Foxworth, Derick Vaughn, Jeremy Ortega and Josh Bowles.

5.  Karen Donley and Royal Patron win the 2016 Tevis Cup. Easyboots have now won the Tevis Cup in years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

7.  Lisa Ford wins the 2016 Haggin Cup. Easyboots have now won the Haggin Cup in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

8.  Easyboots excel in many equine disciplines. From dressage, flat track, endurance, to trotters. Easyboot products do more than the other brands! 

New models are hard to detect!

Easyboot Glue-On shells in a fawn color.  Hard to tell they are even there.  

Easyboot Gloves trotting fast!

EasyShoe Competes can be seen on many of the racetracks around the world.

9. The Easyboot Flip Flop also makes a huge impact. Easy to apply, stays in place very well and allows the back half of the hoof protection and complete hoof mechanism. Most said it would not work but it's winning endurance races and helping save foundered horses.  

Easyboot Flip Flop application.

10.  EasyCare said goodbye to one of our own. "I've had some difficult moments in my life but Kevin's passing has ripped my heart out. Kevin had amazing friends and was loved by everyone he touched. It's ironic that Kevin took his life because he didn't want to go forward lonely. Those close to Kevin have been through a bunch of emotions since Wednesday June 29th, 2016. Disbelief, sorrow, guilt, hours of tears, anger and numbness. I've personally had a very difficult time trying to accept his passing and know we will never be able to replace him." Rest in peace my friend. I plan to go forward in 2017 with more smiles, laughs, will practice more patience, will listen more, will give better hugs/hand shakes and be more generous.

Rest in peace Kevin Myers!

To 2017 we go. Expect a new EasyShoe model, the Easyboot Slipper, the Easyboot Sneaker, a boot shell that accepts two or three gaiter solutions and the Old Mac's G2 will come back. EasyCare and the Easyboot/EasyShoe lines will continue to help many different breeds in numerous disciplines. Thanks for your business and continued support.   

 

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.

And Then I Tried EasyShoes

Submitted by Jo Harder, EasyCare Customer

Thoroughbreds are well known for their less-than-stellar hooves, and a great solution for endurance riding has been outfitting my two Off-the-Track Thoroughbreds with EasyShoes, including a 22-year-old mare that still loves to do limited distance rides.

I’m a rider that’s just out to have fun at endurance rides. I’ve come in first, last, and everything in between at endurance rides, and my goal is always to complete a ride with a happy, healthy horse. I live and train in an area about 200 miles south of where most Florida endurance rides are held, and my local terrain is clay and sand, with very few rocks, so my horses can train barefoot. 

After one of my mares sustained a painful stone bruise several years ago at a ride that had significant areas of rocks, I vowed to provide protection for my horses’ feet. As I searched for the right solution, a key criteria was no metal, i.e., no nails and no steel/aluminum. After watching numerous videos about Glue-Ons, I tried them. 

At first, there were some failures, largely because I didn’t follow the directions. Initially, I didn’t understand the importance of thoroughly drying the hooves, especially in a humid climate, and avoiding all sources of oils (yes, that includes fly spray). But, I learned from my mistakes and made positive strides. 

For me, Glue-Ons were good but not the best solution. I struggled with getting some glue under the hoof, the moisture that built up in the hoof after a few days due to the humid climate, and then getting them off.

And then I tried EasyShoes... 

...And then I loved EasyShoes.

With the exception of one experiment wherein I didn’t put the toe bead of Adhere, I haven’t lost an EasyShoe at a ride (moral of the story: always, always do the toe bead!). My EasyShoes may not look pretty, but they are functional.

I put on my EasyShoes a bit different than the videos show. Rather than use the 180cc tube of Adhere and glue gun, I use one 50cc tube and the small glue gun from Vettec. It fits in my hand much better, requires much less hand effort, and is more precise. 

Plastic knives are for more than just camping!

In addition, I fit the EasyShoe on the hoof with popsicle sticks or plastic knives and then glue them in place. I pull out the lip of the EasyShoe just a little and insert the Adhere tip and squeeze. It drips down plenty and never goes under the sole. No hoof to hold up, no twisting. My horses seem to love getting their EasyShoes glued on because they stand perfectly still. I’m by no means a pro, but I can glue on a front set of EasyShoes in about 30 minutes total.

One of my horses is a high/low, and sometimes I feel it best to insert a very short wedge in her left EasyShoe to keep her balanced. No problem!  A Castle wedge cut to shape the EasyShoe, a little SuperGlue, and the same gluing process works perfectly.

A wedge in an EasyShoe?  Yes!

I have been trimming my own horses’ hooves for about six years now, and my horses go no more than three to four weeks between trims. Trimming with the Electric Hoof Knife makes the trim much easier, as well as scuffing up the hoof wall in preparation for the glue. It also makes it easy to pretty up your glue job as much or little as desired.

I’m not in a hurry to take off EasyShoes after the ride because the hoof has plenty of exposure and stays healthy.  When I am ready to take them off, that’s much easier too.  I purchased a Tekton upholstery tack lifter, and removal takes all of five minutes with a rubber mallet.  

Easily removing EasyShoes with an upholstery tack lifter.

My horses are in much better shape after completing a ride with EasyShoes.  No more stone bruises, and more confident trot outs at rides.  Because EasyShoes are so easy to put on and take off, my back feels great when starting a ride, so I am able to ride looser and my horse subsequently feels better.  Win/win for all!

 

Retracted Soles: A Broader Perspective

In 2012 I wrote a blog about retracted soles, describing an appearance of the sole with seemingly "good concavity and sole callus" that in reality can be quite dysfunctional, and lead to lameness:

"Retracted soles are when the sole retracts, or 'sucks up' into the arch of the coffin bone. Usually this happens to horses when they are in a wet or muddy environment. The external appearance of the foot will have good concavity (usually excessively good), and even sole/toe callusing. However the horse is often footsore with low grade pulses, sensitive to hoof testers and even manual palpation. These horses often get diagnosed with low grade laminitis and/or sub solar abscesses."

 

Since then, we've learned a lot about retracted soles: 

  • Not all horses with retracted soles are lame
  • Retracted soles can be observed on horses in wet and also dry environments
  • With horses of similar type, breeding, and management in the same living situation some individuals develop retracted soles and some don't.  

It's interesting to see retracted soles all over the world.  I've observed retracted soles in all environments and many different continents: North America, Europe, Africa and Australia.  Here is an example of a foundered pony whose rehabilitation was complicated by a retracted sole in Melbourne Australia under the care of farrier Sarah Kuyken of Innovative Hoof Care Australia:

We still have more questions than answers about retracted soles: Why are some horses sore with retracted soles and some aren't?  Maybe something to do with the quality or the density of the sole, as we see that in non-retracted soles as well: a thin sole doesn't necessarily mean a sore horse!  So even if the sole is retracted if it is dense or hard enough the horse may be able to resist getting tender.  

Also, why some animals in the same herd develop retracted soles and not others, even when variables for breed, type, discipline, nutrition and management are controlled?  Could retracted soles have an immune component where the affected horses have a compromised immune system for some reason?  Could there be underlying inflammatory illness in these animals?  

We'll just have to keep gathering data and making observations!    

Until we have more definitive information, retracted soles are important to recognize because it is a reason to think cautiously about the trim you are applying to the horse's foot.  When you see the characteristic concavity, with large toe callus, where the concavity meets the callus at a sharp almost 90 degree turn, recognize that the horse's sole is thin and may become quite sore with an aggressive trim.  

In order to minimize the risk of lameness from the trim, consider leaving more vertical height in the foot, as well as not rolling the toe back too far into the callus.  And if the horse is lame, and you suspect from a retracted sole, please consider hoof protection, either a boot with a soft pad, like the Easyboot Cloud, or a glue on shoe with frog support, like the EasyShoe Performance or NG for these horses as well. 

For more information about Daisy Haven Farm please see:
www.DaisyHavenFarm.com
www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

Frog Talk - Part I

What do frogs and bars have in common?  Answer: they are both most controversial among hoof professionals.

Bars and frogs of the equine hoof are the most discussed tissues and there are about as many opinions out there as there are hoof care professionals. Bars and frogs are always a hot discussion topic. (I had written a blog about bar trimming a couple of years ago.)

Personally, when trimming the frogs, I am a minimalist. I remove as little as possible from any frog, unless special considerations require it. But more on that later.

The frogs of the equine hoof have many functions, one of them being shock absorption. Generally speaking, a large, wide and thick frog is better suited for that task. A frog that contacts the ground upon landing of the hoof is a healthier frog compared to a recessed frog or one that is not able to contact the ground because the hoof is shod with a horse shoe that loads the hoof wall only peripherally. 

Not sure what it is, but many hoof trimmers just have an urge to trim something of the frog. Even if it just a tiny little piece. I mean, what good is a hoof knife when one cannot use it. And frogs just cut so nicely and soft, quite contrary to most soles and bars. They just cannot help it, something has to be cut of the frog, even if it is not necessary.

During my recent hoof care clinics in Europe, one of my group of hoof care professionals discussed trimming and preparing hooves for gluing various hoof protections like the EasyCare Glue-Ons, Flip FlopsEasyShoes and Equiflex horse shoes. Every year for the last ten years I have been traveling to Europe to conduct these clinics and workshops. Most of the time by myself, but occasionally also with EasyCare Staff and Garrett Ford. 

A participant had asked me a question and just in that moment I had turned around to answer, one of the others who held up the hoof could not resist the urge to slice a little piece of a very healthy and nicely callused frog. Nothing needed to be taken off here, but it is just so typical of us trimmers. Something needs to be cut, even if only a tiny little bit.

Now, this will not do much harm, however, that little piece taken off robbed unnecessarily the sensitive frog tip from its callused skin.

The calluses are a front line shield and defense against fungi, bacteria and parasites. Remove it and the frog is weakened and harmed. Before cutting any tissue off a horses hoof, I always ask myself the two questions:

- Is the removal of that tissue helpful to the horse or will it be harmful? 

- Will the horse travel better or worse afterwards?

These are two quite different questions, the second question building upon the first.  What decision I ultimately make in terms of hoof trimming depends a lot on whether or not the horse is being ridden, over what terrain, for how long,  and is it bare footed or with hoof protection

For me, the ultimate test is riding a horse over varied terrain bare footed. Below I am sharing a few photos of different frogs and my trimming thoughts on them.

Let's start with an easy one: This Tinker frog is perfect for its job of landing and shock absorption. I think we can all agree that any trimming of this frog would harm the horse.

Another healthy frog that should not encounter a hoof knife at all.

A desert hoof: thick sole and thick frog. Hardened by the elements and terrain. The outer layers are showing signs of cracks and shedding. I won't help that process, but leave it alone and let nature do its job. There is no thrush anywhere, so I do not see any reason to start cutting anything off.

Thick callus with a deep central sulcus. Thrush? Unlikely, no smell, no sensitivity, just a deep sulcus because of summer dryness. I am leaving it as is.

Looks like the outer callused layer of the frog was just shed. Whether by terrain or with help of a trimmer, I do not know. Obviously the hoof trimmer followed the principle of trimming the heels to the widest part of the frog. That hoof now is compromised and probably not a good candidate to be ridden without hoof protection, frog and sole will be sensitive for a while now.

Good one above. Analysis: thick sole, probably a double sole. Frog tip connected to sole. Frog flaps with thick callus. Horse travels sound over rocks without any hoof protection for many many miles. Admittedly, that frog does not look "nice". But it certainly is functional, tough and thick. Cutting anything off that frog would compromise his bare footed travel. I leave it as it is, even that connection with the sole on the tip is not harming the hoof, but protecting it even further.

That hoof needs some trimming, some of the overgrown bars already were shortened. But let us just look at the frog now: cracked, thick callused frog with dry central sulcus. I do not trim anything off here. At red arrow tip: flap material is growing laterally to hold soil and to increase heel support area. These flaps are useful, I will leave them in place as they have been growing.

Frog tip is starting the renewal process and peeling. Do I help and cut it off or let nature do its job? Obviously it is not quite ready to peel itself, if I cut it, the frog tip will be sensitive and I will have potentially harmed the hoof. 

On the opposing hoof of the same horse, the tip has shed itself of already, next part is also trying to come off. I do nothing and leave it alone.

Now to an interesting question: 

What to do about flaps and fold overs that are often observable on the frog? Generally these flaps are there to hold dirt which in turn again stimulates the tissue. Often they grow there where the hoof considers them most useful. I am always amazed on how nature takes care of the areas in need. Building materials are expediently sent there.

 Lets have a look at these frog flaps:

Same hoof with slightly different photo angles for better understanding. That hoof shows very low heels, in fact the heel bulbs are so low that they are running the risk of getting bruised and injured when encountering rocks. These flaps grew at the right place to protect the bulbs. In the second frame the red arrow shows a slight abrasion from the movement of the flap against the heel bulb. Possibly also from soil or sand rubbing against the skin. Removal of these flaps would endanger the bulbs. These frog flap extensions also increase the load bearing surface area of the whole foot. 

But, these flaps also can harbor bacteria and fungi, one might object. True enough. How to safeguard against this and more about frog pathology, crooked frogs, recessed ones and how to deal with them and correct them all I will cover in next months blog, Frog Talk - Part II

 

From The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center