How Barefoot and Booting is Being Used in the Dressage Arena

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo of Wild Hearts Hoof Care

When Shannon Peters contacted me over 6 years ago about one of her Warmbloods in her dressage stables, she knew that a barefoot or booted approach could help. She introduced me to her 3-year-old Dutch Warmblood,with the amazing name of Disco Inferno. Disco had just been imported from Europe and Shannon was concerned that he was already displaying a toe first landing. After discussing his situation and watching him trot back and forth on hard ground, we noted that overall, he wasn’t using his heel properly.

We agreed to pull his shoes and try our best to get a better landing with Comfort Pads and Easyboot Glove boots. That first day we really only got a flatter landing, but our approach is always to strive for positive change and any improvement is improvement. As each step he took became more comfortable he began to load his foot correctly. It was a positive change for him and over time he developed a beautiful and confident stride.

Left photo taken immediately after shoe removal. Right photo demonstrates improvements after only 4 months.

For the first few years Shannon showed Disco barefoot while continuing to train him either barefoot or in Easyboot Gloves. For dressage fans, you may remember a photo of Disco in the February 2013 article in Dressage Today about Shannon taking her horses barefoot. She takes her horses on the trails weekly to keep their minds and bodies fresh and uses Gloves for protection from the hard ground of Del Mar, California. In the last year Shannon felt that Disco was ready to begin showing in the Concours de Dressage International (CDI), an international dressage event recognized by the world governing body of equestrian sports, the Federation Equestrian International (FEI). CDI events require that you present your horse in a veterinary soundness check, aka “the jog.”  The horse is trotted on hard ground on straight lines and hoof boots are not permitted.  They are also not permitted for any dressage competition.   

Disco was shown a couple of times in modified Easyboot Glue-Ons but, he seemed to really find his groove in the Easyboot Love Child. Disco has gorgeous frogs and his feet are a nice overall shape, but he has never grown much sole. Shannon and I were so excited to see the positive changes he made with a couple of cycles in the flexible Love Child showing that beautiful confidence in his landings and improved sole depth! 

In April, Shannon showed him in his first Intermediare I CDI at the prestigious Del Mar National Horse Show. They did beautifully, scoring in the upper 60’s.  Disco even showed off his Grand Prix skills, which unfortunately don’t earn any extra points. Shannon is looking forward to making their official Grand Prix debut this fall.

We are so excited to be a little part of the team for this dancing duo! 

Sharing EasyCare Products at a Local Clinic Helped Grow My Business Network

Submitted by Jon Smedley of Trim and Train

About six months ago, our local farrier supply store asked me to do a clinic for glue on shoes. In the past when the shop owner held Saturday clinics usually only five to seven people showed up. On that particular Saturday, we ended up having 57 attendees. 

In an effort to build on that success, Canoga Farrier Supply planned an Open House for vendors and product distributors to show off their products and perform demonstrations. They’re located in the North East Corner of Los Angeles County. It’s considered the local shop for farriers from LA Equestrian Center, Santa Anita Race Track, Endurance teams in the Valley and Malibu, Jumping and Dressage barns in LA and Ventura as well as many other farriers in the Southern California Area.

Of course, they wanted EasyCare there to demonstrate gluing techniques!

The morning of the Open House was a rare drizzly day in Southern California.

We set up and answered tons of questions on a couple of EasyCare’s newest products, including the Stratus, with its customizable urethane pad, and the EasyShoe Flex urethane shoe. Many of the folks that were interested were from other tables. They were there to show off their products but wanted to learn about the new EasyCare products!

I did a demonstration for gluing on the Easyboot Glue-On shell and the EasyShoe. This is always a lot of fun for me. I often say to myself when I’m done with the demo, “Wow, that was easy,” and then I look at the crowd and I see the same thought in their eyes, “Wow, that’s easy!” The attendance surpassed the initial clinic with over 75 hoof care professionals present.

Events at your local farrier supply store, tack store, or even veterinary clinic can be a great way to learn, share and build your network. 

Hoof Boots And Horse Shoes That Promote Hoof Mechanism

EasyCare has built our hoof protection line around the theory of hoof mechanism. Products that encourage mechanism while protecting the equine hoof.

Hoof mechanism definition from Wikipedia:

"The horse hoof is not at all a rigid structure. It is elastic and flexible. Just squeezing the heels by hand will demonstrate that. When loaded, the hoof physiologically changes its shape. In part, this is a result of solar concavity, which has a variable depth, in the region of 1–1.5 cm. In part, it is a result of the arched shape of the lateral lower profile of the walls and sole, so that when an unloaded hoof touches a firm ground surface, there is only contact at toe and heels (active contact). A loaded hoof has a much greater area of ground contact (passive contact), covering the lower wall edge, most of the sole, bars and frog. Active contact areas can be seen as slightly protruding spots in the walls and in the callused sole.

The shape changes in a loaded hoof are complex. The plantar arch flattens, the solar concavity decreases in depth and heels spread. The hoof diameter increases to a 'dilated' configuration and P3 drops marginally into the hoof capsule. There is some recent evidence that a depression takes place in this phase, with blood pooling ('diastolic phase') mainly into the wall corium. When unloaded, the hoof restores its 'contracted' configuration, the pressure rises and the blood is squeezed out ('systolic phase'). There is a secondary pumping action, with the flexion of the foot, as it is raised.

The hoof mechanism ensures an effective blood circulation into the hoof, and it aids general circulation, too."

EasyCare was the first in the industry to identify this market and manufacture products that both allow for and encourage hoof mechanism. The EasyCare hoof protection line continues to grow and covers most applications and disciplines.  

The EasyCare performance line features strap on and glue on protection built for speed. EasyCare products have won the 100 mile Tevis Cup the last 7 of 8 years.  

The EasyCare pleasure riding line is perfect for the trail and recreational rider. Lot's of choices to fit each horse and style of riding.

When you or your vet need a therapy boot we have you covered. Several options to get your partner comfortable and happy.

The EasyShoe line. The race track, endurance, trail, therapy, police and carriage horses. Horses wanting more of a traditional shoe that promotes hoof mechanism. Glue, nail or cast them in place. Regardless of discipline, EasyCare has your hoof protection covered while keeping hoof mechanism in mind.

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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 protection for the barefoot horse.

 

 

What You Can Expect in the Next Hoof Boot from EasyCare and the EasyShoe Flex

It's easy to make a car when you have the opportunity to copy a car that has already been built. EasyCare was the first company to manufacture a hoof boot in 1970 and we have been going strong for 48 years now. Many of our designs have been used and studied by other hoof boot manufacturers to make their hoof boot solutions. Boots continue to evolve and competition gets you up in the morning.

So what is next in the EasyCare hoof boot line? It's difficult to find a performance hoof boot on the market that fits every hoof. We have been working hard on a new boot style that has the ability to adjust in length, heel height and accepts several different gaiter/securing options. The goal is to give horse owners more options under one chassis. We have a great concept in the works that is testing very well.  

1.  Glue-on option with different heel cushion densities.

2.  A pivoting gaiter option similar to the Easyboot Glove but with a pivoting gaiter. Gaiter can also be adjusted for different length feet.  

3.  We have a heel lock version that adjusts in heel length and heel height. Elongate for a longer foot, shorten for rounder hoof. 

4.  We have a version that locks down the heel but is adjustable in heel length and height.

5.  All versions will be interchangeable. What works on one horse may not work on another. This concept provides many options and many adjustments in each version.    

We currently have 4 sizes in testing. Still in the prototype and patent phase but working hard to add to the EasyCare line during 2018. I'm excited about this one!   

The EasyShoe Flex is almost here. The Flex is in production and will be the next product in the EasyShoe product line. We ended up with several different options in the flexible, urethane shoe. Check out the video of Curtis Burns and I discussing the EasyShoe Flex and what makes the product unique.

Here is what you can expect in the EasyShoe Flex line.  

1.  Open Heel, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.

2.  Heart Bar, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.

3.  Full Heart Bar, Toe Clip and Side Clip patterns.  

4.  Flex Light: Heart Bar, no metal inside. 

Excited about these products and working hard to get them to our dealers and customers. 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

I have been President 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.

 

 

Glue-On Without Glue: Part Two

Submitted by Product Specialist, Jordan Junkermann.

This is an extension and follow up from my blog, “Glue-Ons Without Glue.”

In February, I experimented a few different times with the Glue-On shell and Mueller tape. I took Pistol, my 6-year-old half Arabian, out on two trail rides with front boots on and ran my barrel horse Billie, a 19-year-old Quarter Horse, in a race also with front boots. The Monday after the barrel race, when I had shells still on both horses, there was our first big snow storm. Better late then never right? It provided an opportunity to see how the shells would stay on in the snow and mud.

The horses are on full turn out to pasture and have access to the paddock and run in shed. The total they have access to is about 3 acres. Generally, this would be a situation were boots see a lot of wear and tear. Some of our riding boots such as the Easyboot TrailOld Mac G2 , or Epic have shown success in turn out situations. Our therapy boots like the Easyboot Cloud and Rx have a harder time withstanding the pressures of a frolicking horse. However, many people do see success in small pastures or large paddock areas. Our newest release, the Easyboot Stratus, may be a game changer in the Therapy aspect. But a boot like the Glue-On is durable, low profile, and below the hairline so it shouldn’t face the challenges that full coverage boots face. Keeping them on is definitely a concern.

What I found was that the Mueller tape with the Glue-On shells held up to snow, mud, full turn out, and stayed on for multiple days. I am pretty happy with this experiment. They stayed on for four days through a variety of weather changes. Of course, the Glue-On shell has the same restriction it has always had of not being able to be on for a longer trimming cycle. That shell fits best on a four week trimming cycle, which my horse's are not currently on. It should not be left on, especially in moist environments, for longer then 10 days at a time. Using a packing material that has anti-fungal properties like EquiPak Copper Sulfate or Artimud will greatly reduce risk of thrush build up. Because the shell doesn't expand as the hoof grows, it will interfere with hoof growth if left on for too long.

I do recommend checking on the shells every day, especially with snowy, wet environments. I didn't check them very well after the first few days and once I did I noticed that after those initial four days of moisture having contact with the Mueller tape, the adhesive wore off. Only one shell after the fourth day stayed on. The other three boots (both of Billie's and one of Pistol's shells) fell off. Luckily I found two in the paddock and one in the pasture after searching for a while. Keeping that in mind, I think this application will be the most successful in drier environments. But as I said the shells did stay on with full pasture access and snow for four days.

At this point this type of application would work best for short periods of time when the horse needs added hoof protection. There has been some success in cutting a hole in the sole of the shell to provide airflow to the hoof and allowing the shell to stay on longer. However, this allows rocks access to the sole of the foot and other materials can get packed into that area. I don’t think it would be a good solution when using Mueller tape. I will definitely be using this type of application process again to continue testing the success rate in a variety of situations. Hopefully this gives some of you an alternative option to try out if your horse fits into the Glue-On shells! Happy booting!

February Share Your Adventure Blog Contest: If It Was Easy It Wouldn't Be An Adventure.

Submitted by Easyboot user Joe Ford.

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with boots. Basically, I love to hate them. Smiling, happy people and “ever so enthusiastic” manufacturers make them sound super-duper. However, for those of us out here plodding along on our own, the learning curve is a bit steep. Lots of trial and lots of error.

Due to issues with farriers I finally started taking matters into my own hands and trimming my own horse. I haven't gotten to nails yet but I am getting decent with trims. After more laps around sandy Broxton, SC AERC ride barefoot than I care to admit, I decided that if I was going to expand my ride venues I needed to give hoof boots another go. After some trial and error I settled on the Easyboot Gloves. Mine were getting a bit ‘long in the tooth’ so I figured it was time for an upgrade.

Easyboot has come out with a couple new designs that are worth looking at. For Skymont, TN AERC, I went with a combination of home, “pieced together” boots and the 2016 rubber Glove gaiters. If you are familiar with the older neoprene gaiters, the new gaiters are much sturdier. Although the same basic design, my boots were assembled with some basic T nuts and pieces of dog collars for Power Straps. New gaiters and a pair of complete Glove boots from Distance Depot. One of the boots was actually a Glue-On shell left over from earlier experiments that didn't go so well, I am not great at gluing. Have you ever seen a horse running around with a boot glued to his tail?

Placing holes in the Glue-On shell are easily made with a soldering iron. One dog leash is about $10 and can make a bunch of power straps.

I am about 12 hours away from this ride so I arrived Wednesday afternoon for the Friday ride. I think this worked very well for us and will be my plan from now on. Just so much less stressful not having to cram in camp setup, vet check in, ride meeting, ride preparation all in one evening. Plus it is better for the horse. Sunny was happy pigging out all day.

Although the shells are the same ones that come on the 2016 Glove, the new stiffer gaiters are quite a bit harder to get on. I learned my lesson at an earlier ride about putting the boots on the night before instead of the morning of the race. I discovered at 4 am that it was going to be more difficult to get the 2016 Glove on while my horse was dancing around excited and wondering what all the commotion was about. For Skymont, I decided to boot the night before the ride. People leave the Glue-On shells on for multiple days and these boots are about the same thing. So figured couldn't hurt anything. I have to say this worked way better, horse was relaxed, I was relaxed, it wasn't dark and I was able to take my time.

A technique I picked up from a neighbor at Leatherwood, NC AERC ride involves wrapping the hoof a few times with cotton sport tape, then putting the boots on with a big rubber mallet. The heat from the hooves bleed through the tape and basically glue the boots on. I had been using CVS and Target store brand tape, figuring tape was tape, and that brand had serrated edges making it easy for my nerve damaged fingers to tear. Nope, not tape is created equal. EasyCare recommends Mueller brand. I haven't tried it yet but did end up with a roll of Johnson's “Coach” Sports tape. I now have a case of it. After the ride it was all I could do to get the boots off. I had to use an 8-inch pry bar I fabricated from a tack puller for just this issue.

The ride itself, consisted of gentle hills, over all about 2k feet of up, 2k feet of down, four pretty even loops. There was only a trot by and no hold after the first loop. Trails were a mix of single track trails, cross country non-trails in the woods, a bit of dirt roads and some pipeline clearings. One area I was glad to be on a 14.2 hand horse as there were some tunnels of tree branches to traverse. Last couple miles of last loop had some really nice green grass we took advantage of. Having dialed in foot gear, an in shape horse (both mentally and physically), and non-brutal weather and trail conditions, all contributed to this being my most enjoyable, relaxed ride ever. Trails weren't brutally rocky but I don't think I’d want to do a 50 mile barefoot. Probably wouldn't stress over trail riding barefoot there though. We were just off the “midpack” time and all and all had a great time at a great ride. Thank you EasyCare for your hoof protection. See you next year Skymont.

UC Davis 32nd Heumphreus Lecture and the EasyShoe Flex

Submitted by Daisy Bicking of Daisy Haven Farm Inc.

There are some moments in your life when you know you’re part of a very special, very unique opportunity. Some of those moments are personal, like graduating from high school, your wedding day, or even the birth of your child. Professionally, these moments are a little different but, in many ways, equally as special. For me, one of the most special opportunities I’ve been given is gluing for Team Easyboot at Tevis in 2016. I am fortunate to have many occasions like these so far in my life.

Recently I was given another incredible opportunity, when I was asked to present the 32nd Annual Heumphreus Memorial Lecture at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine alongside Dr. Nick Frank of Tufts University in MA.

The Heumphreus Memorial Lecture honors Charlies Heumphreus, a farrier at UC Davis for 19 years. Charlie’s legacy was the importance of the veterinarian-farrier relationship. The memorial lecture honors that legacy by choosing veterinarians and farriers to present on topics that follow that theme.

I was asked to do two lectures, followed by a live horse demo and hands-on for participants. The lectures were: “Hoof Mapping for Laminitis” and “Laminitis and Synthetics: Solving Old World Problems Using Modern Materials.” It was an honor to share my ideas and experience with veterinarians, students, and a broad range of hoof care providers.

I am always grateful to Garrett Ford and EasyCare Inc. for their support of educational events around the world. Providing free or discounted products like EasyShoesGlue-On boots, glue, tips, and more has helped me share the benefits of glue-on composite EasyShoes, Easyboots, etc with many over the years. And now, with the Heumphreus Memorial Lecture, EasyCare supported education again and generously provided the new EasyShoe Flex for my demo and hands-on for participants for this event, as well!  

This shoe, the EasyShoe Flex, is exciting to me for many reasons - maybe not the same reasons as other hoof care providers. Clearly, it is an easy choice as a nail-on application to help a lot of horses. I also see the wide web with heart bar frog support option and metal plate incredibly beneficial to horses in rehabilitation applications especially when glued with hoof packing and a hoof cast applied on top. While I use many EasyShoe Performance and Performance N/Gs, I see the Flex as another integral tool in my toolbox to help horses.

I was excited to get my hands on the Flex and see how it helps me help horses. I was not disappointed. 

By giving this 32nd Annual Heumphreus Memorial Lecture and the accompanying demo, I join a very short list of amazing farriers and veterinarians who have presented at this prestigious event. It truly is one of those incredible life moments when you realize the honor being given to you and the responsibility that goes with it. The live horse demo featured a foundered horse who had significantly distorted hoof capsules. The University was very supportive of our educational endeavors and provided progressive radiographs of the horse’s feet before trim, after trim, and after shoeing. There was fabulous discussion and everyone had an opportunity to examine and explore the EasyShoe Flex and the ideas I shared with the group. 

Thank you EasyCare Inc. for your continued support of education around the world! 

For more information about Daisy and the Continuing Education courses available about glue-on composite shoes please see:

www.daisyhavenfarm.com

www.integrativehoofschool.com

Glue-On Without Glue: Part One

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Jordan Junkermann

I am sure each Easyboot user out there has endless stories, good and bad, about booting. Applying boots each time you go out to ride can be troublesome, especially if you have some of the tight-fitting boot styles such as the Easyboot Glove or Easyboot Epic. Many of us have just adapted to it, making it part of our saddling routine. Others go barefoot as much as possible and only use the boots on rare occasions. For those who want a longer hoof protection, gluing on products is a great option. We have a wide variety of EasyShoes to serve multiple hoof shapes and purposes as well as the Easyboot Glue-On and Love Child. However, if you don’t have access to a hoof care practitioner or if you don’t have experience with preparing the hoof for glue, using this method can be more hassle then temporarily booting. There are customers out there who have learned to modify our products to fulfill their specific needs. In this blog, I am going to talk about my experiences with modifying the Easyboot Glue-On using Mueller tape.

As the manufacturer, we prefer to stick to strict guidelines on how boots and shoes are used in order to get the best results. But as customers provide feed back on personal experiences, we are able to pass that information along. One of these modifications I have decided to try on my horses. I wanted to be able to say I have seen this method work successfully with my own eyes. Of course, this isn’t an EasyCare recommended modification but it is something that has been successful in a few cases with our customers and I have personally seen success up to this point.

In some instances, you want below the hair line contact you get out of a Glue-On product but you don’t want to actually glue it on. An example could be a two or three-day event, a barrel race, a trail ride, or an event that requires hoof protection below the hairline (dressage/jumping). The design will prevent any rubbing from occurring since it sits below the hair line. A boot would provide protection in this service but let’s just say you don’t want to use a boot in this situation.

If your horse’s hoof fits within the measurement of the Easyboot Glue-On you may want to give this experiment a shot. What you will need are a few items: two Easyboot Glue-On shells, Mueller tape, a hoof pick, and a mallet.

I started by cleaning out my horse’s hoof.

I then applied Mueller tape as shown in this Application of Mueller tape video.

This tape has been proven successful to create a suction with the Easyboot Glove which is the Glue-On with a Gaiter allowing it to become a boot.

Here I took the Glue-On shell and placed her toe into the shell and make sure to line it up straight. I pulled and wiggled the shell on as much as I could.

Next, I took the mallet and tapped the shell on at the toe and again on the sole to make sure the foot was seated squarely in the shell. I set the foot down to make sure the “V” was spread correctly and the boot looked snug.

With the colored shells in the pictures above you are able to see the process clearly. It turned out that those were a half size too small for Pistol at this point in her trimming cycle. There is clearly bulging at the sides of the shells. I did end up taking her out on the trail and I experienced no problems with the shells coming off. However, I ended up ordering the next half size up and have posted those pictures below. You can see a much more comfortable fit in the proper fitting shell. With those shells I applied them the night before the trail ride and didn’t worry about them coming off even once during my trail ride.

Although it is only February, it is already time for the barrel racing season to begin. Southern Colorado has had dry weather up to this point so it made it an easy choice for me to decide if I wanted to run in this first race. In the first full week in February there was still hardly any snow anywhere. This made conditioning and preparing my barrel horse Billie the week before more enjoyable. She is barefoot for the winter but she has been experiencing some tenderness. I had been keeping her in the Easyboot Clouds so that she could comfortably move around the paddock. I rode her the week prior barefoot in the pasture so she wouldn’t have to move out on hard ground. But I did want to make sure she had protection for the barrel race as the area outside the arena is all gravel.

The day of the race came and, luckily, my Easyboot Glue-On shells and Mueller tape arrived the day before. Before loading her up I applied the shells to her front feet with Mueller tape using the method described above. My original plan was to boot all four feet, but in all best laid plans not all follow through to completion. The size shells I was going to use on her hind feet ended up fitting better on her front feet. Sizing is definitely trial and error with this snug fitting boot. I ended up only booting the front feet. I loaded her up and away we went.

Both front feet.

Side view.

Frontal view. The above three pictures were taken by EasyCare Product Specialist, Devan Mills (iPhone 8).

Before getting on after tacking up I made sure to take a mallet to the toe area one more time for good measure. I walked and trotted her for a while to allow her to warm up slowly and in hopes of heating the foot up to allow for better traction between tape and boot before my run.

My run was a success. She felt like she had good traction in the arena and the Glue-Ons stayed on no problem! It was probably the smoothest run I have had on her, especially at the start of a season. It was a great start to the year! Don't be afraid to get creative and make modifications to make the boots work for you. We would love to hear your stories about how your boots are working for you, whether you try this method or another. You can click here to tell us your booting story!

Sister, the Mule, and her Boots.

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer and Hoof Care Practitioner, Eric Knapp.

A journey of 130 miles starts with the first step and a good pair of hoof boots. Each year I take a horseback journey, with a group of friends, from Central Illinois to a rodeo in Fort Madison, Iowa. The trek usually takes us about five and a half days to complete and includes crossing the Mississippi river. Needless to say, whatever animal I’m riding, takes a whole lot of steps from start to finish. For the past two years I’ve taken my wife’s mule, Sister. Yes, that’s the name she came with. You know what they say, “bad luck to change the name.”

I know that mules have gotten a bad wrap over the years about not being able to keep their boots on. I’ve never had any problems with mine staying put. In fact, this year I put her EasyCare Glue-On boots on a week before we left and they stayed on for about six weeks. You know what they say about cobbler’s kids not having shoes to wear? Well farrier’s horses are the last to be trimmed. I don’t typically leave them on that long, but I just didn’t have the time to remove them. When I did take them off, they were still on good and tight.

Being a mule and having a mule hoof, doesn’t mean that they can’t wear boots. Nor does it mean that those boots can’t be glued on and stay put. I really think the magic lies in the prep work. Whether you’re painting a car or painting glue on a mule’s foot, it all starts with the prep work. I believe in prep work so much so that I don’t use (or let my clients use) fly spray for 24 hours before I glue on a boot. The oils from that spray will run down onto the hoof and it won’t allow for a proper seal. I also need to have a clean, dry hoof. If an animal has been standing in mud and slop, that glue will not stick. But with a dry, clean, properly trimmed hoof even a mule can walk over 100 miles in an Easyboot Glue-On.

I rough up the hoof with my rasp and put a little Sikaflex in the bottom for a bit of cushion. I also run a line of Vettec glue around the outer edge for a good tight seal. I wouldn’t take that Iowa ride if I didn’t have a boot on my animal. The blacktop road is just too slick with a traditional metal shoe. Throw in some rainy days and it’s a recipe for disaster. The boots also keep road debris out of Sister’s feet. You would be amazed at what people will throw in a ditch and you don’t want to walk over that barefoot, no matter how hard the sole. Before you say it, I can hear what you’re thinking. “Well, sure. You only traveled on a flat road. You didn’t have any rugged terrain.” Got you covered.

We have also taken Sister to Shawnee National Park for several week long riding vacations. If you’ve never been to Shawnee, it’s one of the most scenic rides in the world. Sister has been there in both hot, humid summer weather and in brisk fall weather. Her boots do fine either way. She’s worn both the EasyCare Glove boots and the EasyCare Glue-On boots there. She’s also gone barefoot. She has good, strong feet and she does just fine on the rocks. Shawnee has very rugged, steep, rocky terrain. We were also there after several days of rain so it had some incredibly boggy areas. I was a little nervous about going through some of the bogs because I was afraid the animals could pull a muscle. But, in some spots, there was just no other way around. We had to go through and the boots did just fine. We took a couple of seven hour rides and several shorter ones while we were in Shawnee and we left with those glue on boots still in place. On one particular day, we were temporarily misplaced. Otherwise known as lost. We ended up walking in some non-horse areas that were nothing but large rocks and boulders. Through all of those twists and turns, she did just fine. Like I said, I don’t think Sister being a mule makes a difference with boots. The difference comes in the proper trim, fit, and prep work. If you don’t have that, don’t use boots because you aren’t giving them a fair shake. You’re just setting them up to fail.

But it’s not all about the boot. Sister walked a lot of miles through Shawnee and many other state parks barefoot. We have a paddock paradise at home and she does a lot of walking on small rocks, lime, and dirt. In addition to providing better digestion of her food, I think this really helps to toughen up her feet and get her physically conditioned. With proper nutrition, environment and trimming, I think nearly any horse can go barefoot. However not all horse hooves will have the same toughness and durability as a good ol’ mule hoof. So, I wouldn’t recommend going to Shawnee or anywhere else without carrying some “just in case” boots. I never leave home without a back-up pair of boots. I have a bag that ties on to my saddle that I use to store them in. EasyCare also has the Hoof Boot Stowaway that works well for carrying boots. You just never know what’s going to happen on a trail and you need to be responsible for your animal. Whether on the road or on a trail, Sister has walked all over Illinois and Iowa. She’s done it barefoot, in EasyCare Gloves and with EasyCare Glue-On boots. She’s never given us a misstep and I would love to ride that mule in her boots from Texas to Canada. For some reason, my wife doesn’t want to do that. I can’t imagine why. But if that day ever comes, I have no doubt that the mule and the boots will do just fine not matter what the terrain.  

Foreign Field Notes

Submitted by Christoph Schork of Global Endurance Training Center

Visiting new countries is always such a treat for me; meeting new people, new cultures and tasting local food never loses its fascination. Although my travels over the years have led me to several of the Scandinavian countries, I had not set foot in Norway til last November. Alright, November in Norway does not seem to be that inviting, knowing that the days in the northern latitudes are rather short. And skies are known to be mostly grey during these short days on top of it. 

But so be it. I was invited by Christina Bruhn to come and share some of my hoof knowledge with a group of Norwegian endurance riders, hoof care practitioners and equine professionals. The schedule was set to trim various hooves on day one, share my trimming thoughts and experience, and follow up on day two with a workshop on the proven and also newest hoof protections developed by EasyCare Inc. As luck had it, I actually arrived in Oslo on a blue bird day.

Brummundal with Lake Mjosa. Norway's largest lake.

For the following clinic days, though, late fall grey skies prevailed again. Well, not being tempted to take in the magnificent scenery hidden behind low level clouds and fog banks, we could all focus on the task what we all came for. About 20 of us gathered for indoor PowerPoint presentations which I had prepared for the event. During these indoor presentations, we looked at slides detailing the conformation of horses and the resulting hoof development because of it. We also spend a lot of time discussing the role of the caudal hoof on horses performance potential. Afterwards we all went to work in the barn, evaluating various cadaver hooves, followed by trimming. Each participant had opportunity for hands on work. 

Discussions regarding bar trimming rounded out the afternoon:

-How long should bars be left?

-How do the seasons and the substrates influence length and growth of the bars?

-Benefit and harm of long and short bars.

November daylight is waning around 4pm in the northern latitudes and temperatures are dropping by then as well, so we moved back to the warmer rooms inside to watch slides of Mongolian horse shoeing, which, I might add, is quite different from our 21st century hoof care in the West. You be the judge.

Comfortable at the fire, discussing horses, hooves and life.

The next day we started with an indoor presentation on EasyCare Inc. hoof boots and EasyShoes. Of particular interest was the new EasyShoe Flex. I did bring a few with me to show and discuss their advantages.

Riders in Norway are always concerned about snow, ice and muddy trails. So traction is of utmost importance for them. For icy roads and thin snow cover, the EasyCare Quick Studs work very well. 

Here, one of the Norwegian endurance riders discusses with me advantages and placement of the Quick Studs in the EasyShoe Performance N/G.

Practicing Quick Studs application is shown below.

For the real mud and deep snow conditions, the Norwegian riders prefer heavier armour. 

These heavy duty studs can get easily placed into the EasyCare Glue-Ons, Gloves or any other type of EasyCare hoof boots. 

Shown above are a pair of Easyboot Glue-Ons after we placed the snow and mud studs on during the workshop. These boots were then glued on some front hooves with Vettec Adhere and Sikaflex 227. 

I also demonstrated  the new EasyShoe Flex during the clinic. In a blog last June, The EasyShoe Flex in Action I elaborated on the benefits of the EasyShoe Flex. Garrett Ford also explained the EasyShoe Flex here in a blog last year. Again, I believe that the EasyShoe Flex will be a big and valuable addition to the line of EasyCare products.

Several of the Norwegian National Endurance Team riders joined the clinic.

When visiting Norway, one should take the opportunity to visit Lillehammer, if at all possible. Site of the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, Lillehammer has a special place in Norway. Arguably, these Games were one of the best in the history of the Olympic Games. Here the view from the top of the iconic Ski Jump in Lillehammer, with a great view of the town and Lake Mjosa. 

From Norway, my travels led me through England, where I had the opportunity to participate in a traditional English Fox Hunt.

Somewhat unusual outfit for an endurance rider!

From England my travels brought me to Austria and Germany and finally to the Elsass, nowadays a part of France. Here, Mireille Housencroft organized another Hoof Care Clinic for me, geared towards professional Hoof Care Providers and Farriers, as well as the interested equestrians of all disciplines from Switzerland, France and Germany.

Together in a group setting we trimmed, glued and nailed EasyCare Glue-Ons and EasyShoes. For gluing we used mainly Vettec Superfast and Adhere, with Vettec Equipak CS for packing. The whole palette of Vettec glues was introduced and practiced. Here again a big "thank you" to the Vettec Company for helping me setting up the clinics.

These yearly workshops and clinics help to spread the word about the superior EasyCare products throughout the world. I love doing these clinics. Meeting wonderful people and learning at the same time while helping horses and riders. More trips like that are planned for this coming year.

Christoph Schork

The Bootmeister

Global Endurance Training Center