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.

 

A Rookie Went Gluing: Flippin' Success with the Flip Flop

Spring is finally here and that means a lot less snow and ice, more hours in the saddle, sunny weather, long days, cold drinks, sun burns and flip flops. All my life people have been telling me flip flops and horses do not mix, finally they are wrong.  They may have been talking about me wearing flip flops around my horses but that is a moot point, flip flops and horses DO mix. 

As you all know we just recently released the new Easyboot Flip Flop, if you didn’t know this you are really missing out, or living under a rock. Since we have released the Flip Flop I have been dying to give them a try on my horse but the weather had been delaying me from doing so. When the weather started making a change to spring I got all of my supplies ready, let all my cohorts know I was going to be gluing and made a plan to glue on a Saturday. Well, Saturday turned into Sunday and everyone I had invited to help me glue had spring fever and other things they wanted to on the beautiful spring day. Heck, I don’t blame them, I would of ditched me too. 
I will admit, I was slightly worried  freaking out about gluing on my own. Remember our past blog as to how we were unsure who the hot dog was and who was the bun? Ya, we are still not positive, I think I may be the hotdog, as I was quite uneasy about gluing without my security blanket, AKA the bun. I was determined that if I took my time and was very prepared, I would be just fine gluing solo. The weather was perfect for gluing, not too hot, not too cold, the sun was shining and there was only a slight breeze. 

So the gluing process began, well actually it started the day before when I added four quick studs to each Flip Flop. The horse I was gluing these on I use for barrel racing but we do very little to no arena riding. I will be using the Flip Flop to get her fit this spring and wanted a little added traction when I’m out riding, I typically ride her on single track trails and grass at a long trot.

That morning I started out by giving her a fresh trim and cleaning up the hoof with my hoof pick wire brush, then I put the Flip Flops on each foot and marked where I would need to trim them down. I also made sure they were marked left and right since the lengths were slightly different. I then turned her back out, as I was going to take my sweet time making sure the Flip Flop was trimmed correctly and I had all my supplies out before I brought her back up. She and I were both going to need a full tank of patience to make this a success.

I do not own a set of nippers or a power saw so I had to be creative with trimming down the heel of the Flip Flop. I left the plastic bag on the cuff of the Flip Flop to make sure I did not compromise my gluing surface, I then placed a wooden block on the base of the Flip Flop along the line that I needed to cut and secured it with a clamp to the work bench. Using a hand saw I cut along the line I had drawn. The Flip Flop cut very easily once I got it started, I did not even need to clean up the edges. If you wanted to, you could use the fine side of your rasp or a piece of sand paper to smooth everything out.

The thing I liked best about the Flip Flop is that I could do a lot of the hoof prep on the ground. My horse does not mind the Buffy, wire brush or the rasp but the open flame we are still working on. She likes to pull back especially when you have her foot up on a hoof jack, so the more I can leave all four feet on the ground. the safer it is for all parties involved.

Once I had the hoof wall prepped, I cleaned up her sole with my wire brush and also used the torch to make sure it was dry. I then put a Zip on her, which is not necessary, but since I was taking my time and there was a breeze I didn’t want to have to worry about contaminating the hoof with any dust.

I was now ready to actually glue the Flip Flops. I gathered everything up so it was arm’s length from my horse: my glue, the Flip Flop and also my rubber mallet. I put on my rubber gloves, got my Adhere ready, put the tip on, purged a little and then grabbed my Flip Flop.

Applying the glue evenly, only to the upper part of the cuff, I picked up her foot, removed the Zip and slipped on the Flip Flop. One thing I did add to my process was that I tapped the toe of the Flip Flop with my rubber mallet, this is not a make it or break it step, but it did make me more confident that her toe was to the front of the shell. I then placed her foot down, toe first and ran a bead of Adhere around the top of the cuff. I did this all without switching tips on my Adhere, this is a huge deal considering the first few times I glued I would run though at least two tips before I could even get a shoe or boot glued on the horse. I did one full foot at a time, I prepped and glued and then move to the next foot. Once I was done with the second foot, the first was set up and ready to be cleaned up. It is nice that the Adhere sets quickly and there is virtually no down time.

Once I was finished cleaning them up with the buffy, I added EquiPak Soft for my pour in pad. (Side note we do not recommend using Sikaflex as a pad, unless you want to stand with your horse for the next 12 hours so it can set.) Once the EquiPak was set I finished them off with some Super Glue, and bam, we were ready to go. I let her stand tied for about an hour and then took her on a long ride. We crossed water, went through sticky mud, over rocks, sticks, sand and down the paved road. I am lucky enough that where I live I can pretty much cover any terrain I might like right out my door.

I knew I would like the Flip Flop, but I did not realize how much. The Flip Flop was extremely easy to glue without any assistance. It actually made me feel like an old pro, I didn’t glue myself to anything my horse wasn’t covered in black Adhere and I didn’t feel like drinking a pitcher of margaritas after. Really, the part that I valued the most was how comfortable and well my horse moved with these on. I firmly believe in every single one of our products and love them all in their own way. It may be that I have spring fever, but the Flip Flop is certainty my new favorite.

Jump in Feet First

Submitted by Sally Tarbet, Team Easyboot 2016 Member

Last year we sold the ranch and moved the horses off 160 acres of dry rolling hills to 5 acres of green, irrigated pasture.  Two of my four horses had never been on green pasture before and one had never even seen green pasture before so hoof maintenance has been different. I have come to rely on Easyboot Gloves even more for riding.

DA Desert Hawk, my Arabian, was born on 860 acres of dry rolling hills.  He ran with a band of mares until they finally rounded up the mares and brought them into the barn when he was three months old.  He should have the best hooves of all my horses.  Nope, he has been the tender foot of the herd and requires hoof protection while riding. Hawk loves his Easyboot Gloves

So this Spring I decided to glue on the EasyShoe Sport, without frog support, so I could get to Hawk’s frogs and central sulcus to treat them for thrush; plus give him some 24 hour sole relief/protection until the weather changes and the mud dries.  Last night at about 4:30pm I decided I needed to get this done, so I drug out my box of supplies and neatly lined up my Adhere, tips, EasyShoe Sports, an old towel (of course I can’t find a roll of paper towels anywhere, better put that on my shopping list…), disposable gloves, my new Hoof Buffy, hoof pick/brush, rasp, Hoof Jack, and nippers.

The aftermath of scattered tools.  I need a helper!

The aftermath of my tools spread all over.

I had just trimmed Hawk a couple days ago so I didn’t need to do much but freshen up his trim, check his bars, check/trim/treat his rotten frog, and clean the gluing surface.

Parker, my Shetland Sheepdog, supervising my work.

Parker, my Shetland Sheepdog, supervising my work.

The EasyShoe Sports went on really easily, though the gluing job isn’t as pretty as Christoph’s. This was my first attempt at gluing on Sports, although I have glued on tons of Glue-Ons and can do those in my sleep now.  And, it helps to have a helper available to hand you the Adhere gun that is just five inches from your finger tips.  Do you put the hoof down or lay on your side while holding up the hoof to grab the glue gun with your foot?  Safety first.  HA!  Of course I didn’t put the hoof down, it was prepped and ready to glue!  LOL

Taaadaaa! My finished product.

Taaadaaa!  Hey, that was really easy!

Helpful Hints

  1. Enlist a helper to entertain your goofy gelding while gluing.
  2. Enlist that helper to pour you a glass of wine if you get stressed out thinking you can’t glue these on yourself, it’s really easier than you think…(refer to #1).
  3. Enlist a helper to hand your Adhere when it’s five inches from your reach.
  4. Make sure you have plenty of disposable gloves and lots of paper towels handy if you are as messy as I am.
  5. Ask your husband to drag your heavy rubber mats to the tie post so you aren’t working on soggy ground. (I can see a Easyboot Zip boot will be in my future.)
  6. Have some hay entertainment/reward for your goofy gelding ready so he will stand quietly to let the glue set soundly.
  7. Wipe up your purged Adhere before your 4-legged assistant steps in a glob.

Whoops, Parker stepped my purged Adhere.

Whoops, Parker stepped my purged Adhere glob.

 Thank you EasyCare for all your great hoof protection solutions!

A Hoof Work Day

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

My real hope for today was to ride. The reality was no sun, frost, clouds, and yes I'm whining. But I also know that a great way to warm up is to get busy and work on some hooves. So I got out my hoof jack, tools and a box of boots to see which boots still fit which horse. My plan was to check out the conditions of all my used boots and decide which boots are good enough for training rides and put together a shopping list for a new ride season.

It's still frozen around here half the time with new snow only a couple days ago. So I don't want to trim anyone very short. I feel their soles and frog need some protection from bruising on the frozen ground. 

I trimmed up Brass and I was thinking that he is a bit between sizes as last year a size #1 Easyboot Glove would turn a bit on him, and he didn't fill the toe out very well. I used a Power Strap to make it more secure. It was suggested to me that the boot wanted to turn and the toe didn't V out because the boot was too small and the hoof didn't sit down into the boot. So after trimming I tried a bigger size boot, a #1.5. 

The #1.5 slipped on too easy and was obviously too big.

The #1 fits pretty darn good. He's V'd out more at the toe than it used to be and it sits well. I'll keep him in a #1 and make a note to replace this gaiter. Along with two others I found. Thank goodness I have a pair of new ones just waiting for the new ride season. 

Next was Thunder's turn. After I trimmed him down a little I used my new toy, or tool, a Radius Rasp II Pro. This has a unique curved stainless steel blade and it puts a nice mustang roll on the hoof very easily. These are really cool! I should've gotten one of these from Evolutionary Hoof Care long ago. If you don't have one then I highly recommend it. Then I tried some boots on Thunder. 

The #1.5's still look like a good fit for his front hooves. They are snug with a nice V in front.  I've upped him to a slightly bigger boot in the hind as the #0.5 just wasn't wide enough. The last two rides of the season were a big struggle to get the hind boots on.

One by one I brought a horse up to the trailer. I went over the hooves, trimmed what needed trimming, and checked for any sign of thrush or bruising. Plus I rechecked all their boots. Now when I go to ride I know which boots go with what horse. Brass and Rio use Power Straps on their front boots and they use different sizes. Thunder and Blue do not use the Power Straps and they too use different sizes. I use the mechanics paint pen to put the size on the boot so they are easy to find. With the size differences and Power Straps it is easy to determine what boot belongs to which horse.

Now then, tomorrow I ride!

 

Farriers Crowd The EasyCare Booth at the 13th Annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio

Submitted by Deanna Stoppler, Team Easyboot 2015 Member

This week I attended the 13th Annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio.  More than 1,100 farriers attended the four-day event with more than 130 vendor booths set up in the Duke Convention Center.

EasyCare, Inc. and Polyflex Horseshoes booths were crowded with farriers and offered a unique opportunity for farriers who signed up in advance to compete in one of two horseshoe glue-on competitions. EasyCare offered the Flip Easyboot Flop Flop Glue-On Division and Polyflex Horseshoes offered the Polyflex Horseshoe Glue-On Division.

Prizes in each division were $500 for first place, $300 for second place, and $200 for third place. Competitors were scheduled by the hour and only had an hour to complete the application. All competitors finished in the allotted time.

Derick Vaughn, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Second Place Winner of the Flip Flop Glue-On Division.

Hoof preparation for both glue-on applications were very similar; in fact EasyCare’s Garrett Ford adopted many techniques developed by Curtis Burns, owner of Polyflex Horseshoes.

The Polyflex horseshoe was applied using the steps outlined below.

Hoof Preparation

  • Rasp solar surface of foot to clean any debris off foot after your trim.
  • Treat all bacterial areas with Thrush Off and seal with Polyflex Seal-It.
  • Use a drill and buffy attachment (60 grit buffy paper) to clean and rough up the outer hoof wall and heel area.
  • Use a wire brush to clean the outer wall.
  • Use a handheld torch to dry the hoof wall. Torch then brush. Repeat three times.
  • Use a wire wheel to remove dust and debris from the solar surface of the hoof.
  • Dremel the heels (removing all overgrown periople) and bar region.
  • Use a handheld torch to dry the sole then remove all dust with a wire brush.

Shoe Preparation

  • Shape your shoe using a stall jack or by hand. Do not use a hammer to shape the shoe.
  • Clean the sole side of the shoe with a Dremel (use 9931 bit), roughing up the glue surface of the shoe. Be sure to get the inside and outside of the heel area roughed as well.
  • Use Keratex putty mixed thoroughly with copper sulfate crystals to pack any bacterial areas in the hoof, preventing glue from entering the depressions.

Polyflex Horseshoe Application

  • Dispense 2 oz of Polyflex Bond in a plastic rimless cup and mix with a 1/4 tsp of copper sulfate crystals.
  • Mix glue and copper sulfate with a wooden tongue depressor (cut one end of the depressor at a 45’ angle to use later).
  • Once glue is completely mixed, apply evenly on the sole surface of the shoe.
  • Set the shoe on the foot and use the remaining glue from the cup to blend in the heels and quarters. 
  • Use the angled end of the depressor to remove glue from the sole surface of the foot.
  • Do not wrap the foot with plastic wrap.
  • Hold the foot until glue is completely cured.

Finish

  • Once the glue has completely cured, use the buffy to smooth the glue and create a nice transition from hoof wall, glue, to shoe.
  • Use the Dremel to clean up excess glue from around the heel and bar area of the shoe.

First Place Polyflex Division Pete Van Rossum prepping the sole side of the polyflex horseshoe

1st Place Polyflex Division Winner, Pete Van Rossum, prepping the Polyflex Horseshoe.

The Easyboot Flip Flop was applied using the following steps:

Hoof Preparation

  • Use a drill and buffy attachment to clean and rough up the outer hoof wall.
  • Use a wire brush to clean the outer wall.
  • Use a handheld torch to dry the outer hoof wall then brush with a wire brush.
  • Repeat three times.

Flip Flop Application

  • Load a cartridge of Vettec Adhere in the Vettec glue gun.
  • Make sure Flip Flop is clean and free of debris.
  • Cut the tip off the Vettec Adhere cartridge.
  • Purge a squirt of glue before attaching the Vettec tip and purging another squirt of glue.
  • Dispense glue on the cuff of the Flip Flop, filling only about 2/3 of the cuff from the top with glue so that glue does not get under the solar surface of the foot, creating sole pressure.
  • Apply the Flip Flop to the hoof making sure that the toe is completely set into the cuff.
  • Once the glue has set for about a minute, place the foot on the ground.
  • Use more glue to trace the outer cuff of the boot, creating a smooth seal between the hoof wall and boot cuff.

Finish

  • Once the glue has completely cured, use the buffy to smooth the glue and create a nice transition from hoof wall, glue, to cuff.
  • Be sure not to sand down the sides of the cuff where it ends and transitions to hoof wall.  Sanding this area too much could weaken the glue bond.

When the hoof preparation and shoe application methods are followed as listed above shoe failure will almost never occur.

Flip Flop Glue-On Division Completed Shoes

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford judging all entries

The winners of this year’s glue competition are as follows:

Polyflex Horseshoe Glue-On Division

1st Place: $500 - Pete Van Rossum, Farrier and Owner of Pete Van Rossum Natural Hoofcare, Ramona, California.

2nd Place: $300 - Steve Norman, Farrier, Georgetown, Kentucky.

3rd Place: $200—Ashley Gasky, Farrier and Owner of Precision Hoof Care, Ballston Spa, New York.

Polyflex Horseshoe Owner, Curtis Burns, with Polyflex Horseshoe Division Winner, Pete Van Rossum

Flip Flop Glue On Division

1st Place: $500 - Jeremy Ortega, Farrier and Owner of From The Ground Up, Mokelumne Hill, California.

2nd Place: $300 - Deanna Stoppler, Farrier and Owner of Horse & Sole Hoof Care, Fairfax, Vermont; tied with Derick Vaughn, Farrier at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky.

3rd Place: $200 - Daisy Bicking, Farrier and Owner of Daisy Haven Farm: School of Integrative Hoof Care, Parkesburg, Pennsylvania.

4th Place—Shawn Skorstad, Farrier Apprentice for Kendra Skorstad, Owner of Connected Healing Hoof Care, Rochester, Wisconsin.

Jeremy Ortega, First Place Winner of the EasyShoe Glue-On Division, with the EasyCare crew, Kevin Myers, Garrett Ford, and Debbie Schwiebert

Ashley Gasky, Jeremy Ortega, Deanna Stoppler, and Pete Van Rossum

Along with the competition, EasyCare displayed the new EasyCare Therapy Click System. Choose from a five degree or ten degree wedge pad that clicks into place on the bottom of the Easyboot Flip Flop and uses screws to lock the wedge into place. The Therapy Click System can also be used in conjunction with the Easyboot Cloud and eight other hoof boot models.

The cutest displays in the booth were the new Easyboot Mini Horse Boots. The boots have a simple construction and are easy to adjust. They can even be used as a therapy boot if your mini suffers from a hoof abscess or has an injury that requires the hoof to be wrapped and kept in a clean environment while healing. I already have clients lining up to purchase these boots for their minis. 

The booth was fun, interactive, and exciting. I can’t wait to see what EasyCare has in store for us at the 13th Annual International Hoof-Care Summit.

SOS February 2016: Trail and New Mac Boots-What's Not to Love?

Valentine's Day is upon us and our boot crush is versatile, durable, and uncomplicated. While we can't promise that stocking New Mac's and Trail boots will bring you romance, we can say that your customers will love you for it. With this month's sale on Trail and New Mac boots (not to mention all the upgrades we've made on each), maybe it's time to take a look at how these adaptable styles can complement your lineup.

  • Therapy! Riding! Turnout! -Trails and New Macs are jacks of all trades!
  • Use with a thick 12mm pad. Even the toughest bare feet can exhibit sensitivity on frozen uneven ground.
  • Easy on/off for weaker hands or hurried barn staff.
  • Forgiving fit accommodates a wide variety of hoof conformations.
  • Aggressive tread provides better grip on mixed surfaces and is compatible with Quick Studs.
  • Plastic shield keeps snow and muck away from hooves. Protect healing abscesses, white line, or thrush.
  • Nix those pesky frozen snow/mudballs in turnout or on rides.
  • Pair with socks and Gold Bond powder for long term therapeutic use.

Call or email your hoof boot matchmakers at EasyCare to make a date with the Trail or New Mac boots!

Debbie Schwiebert 800-447-8836 ext 2224 dschwiebert@easycareinc.com or Rebecca Balboni 800-447-8836 ext 2232 rbalboni@easycareinc.com - See more at: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/horse-boots-customer-help/secrets-of-the-savvy-december-studs#sthash.l2Twb409.dpuf

Debbie Schwiebert dschwiebert@easycareinc.com 800-447-8836 ext 2224

Rebecca Balboni rbalboni@easycareinc.com 800-447-8836 ext 2232

See you next month here at Secrets of the Savvy!

XOXO,

Secrets of the Savvy

Secrets of the Savvy: your source for inside information on all things EasyCare. See you next month!

Transitioning to Barefoot- A Sappy Reflection on Change

For me and others, the New Year is a prime opportunity to reflect on the past and gain some insight on how to go forward. This year, much of the reflection has been centered around my horse's (and my own) move into the barefoot camp. While trimming my horse this week, a deep appreciation of how far she and I have come in the last two years came over me. As I picked up and looked at each foot, I saw a timeline of recent history, an organic written record, a tiny natural history, a crystal ball for seeing forgotten moments, and a road map. Whoa. Weird, right?

I chuckled to myself remembering my old (read: limiting, uninformed, and close minded) views on barefoot trimming and hoof boots. Never before forced to think outside the shoe, I was once overwhelmed by the myriad options available for booting. Little did I know EasyCare was to transform me into a wizardess of booting solutions for most any situation.

I relished the feelings of gratitude and satisfaction as I took my sweet time on those familiar feet, pausing every couple of rasp strokes to observe and assess. First observation is of a dexterity with the rasp that somehow snuck its way into my clumsy hands over the last year. Second observation is that these are completely different feet. Gone are the splatted out shelly walls, enormous flares, and flopped over bars. The hoof wall no longer swerves like a drunk on it's way to the ground from the coronet band. No more ragged chipped hoof wall, no stretched white line, and no bruises. No nail holes either. I admired my horse's "new" feet: tight white line, big beautiful frog, well developed digital cushion, straight hoof pastern axis, and toe:heel ratio balanced 50:50 around the center of rotation. Sure, there's plenty worse out there, but that was one ugly clodhopper!

My big mare stood quietly for me as I worked my way around all four legs, a far cry from the "wheelies" she did on Garrett's hoof jack the day of her first real barefoot trim. That was the day that I learned that the bars aren't just places to drink whiskey and tell lies. That same week I fumbled through measuring hooves for the first time and discovered that my horse would need four different sized boots. What?! But her feet are perfect!! Right?? They aren't?? Oh. What do we do?? We put her in the forgiving and secure Old Mac's to start, trimmed a little at a time, tweaked diet, and eventually got her fit perfectly into a set of off the rack Gloves.

I am far from an expert, but I have learned enough to have a few tricks up my sleeve. I've learned enough to see how much I don't know. I love the daily opportunity to pass my experience of transition along to our customers and being able to learn from each of their experiences.

So here I am, with open arms at an open door, inviting 2016 and all it's potential for growth and change to come right on in and stay a while. Of course I know that the more things change the more they stay the same. The horses still provide unlimited opportunity for learning and improvement as a rider and horsewoman. It's still those quiet moments spent with a good horse that keep me working through the frustrations and setbacks. The crunch of fresh snow under hooves, a sweet nicker "hello," the tickle of frosty whiskers on steaming nostrils, the sweet smell of good grass hay, a soft trusting eye, and the feeling of unbridled euphoria that accompanies that elusive yet occasional perfect ride.

Here's to embracing innovation, having (and recognizing) the knowledge, tools, and skills to keep our equine friends going strong in 2016 and for many years to come!

 

Rebecca Balboni

easycare-customer-service-representative-rebecca-balboni

Customer Service Representative

A lifetime of riding and showing sport horses has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of soundness and comfort on performance. Let me help elevate your equine experience by finding the right boot for your horse and unique situation.

Got a Barrel Horse? Get Some Clouds

"A barrel horse is like a dirt bike, but with a mind of his own, weighing half a ton."

(If you're not afraid of speed, you're not going fast enough . . .)

And, even though he weighs a half ton, his legs and feet still need protection and stability in the trailer during all of those miles of traveling, standing on hard surfaces at the fair grounds and recovery after strenuous exercise. He needs Cloud boots:

 

Read more about the Easyboot Cloud's first rodeo. 

This summer, the Cloud boots went to the Pro-National Mounted Shooting Finals and Team Roping events in Las Vegas. And the Clouds will be at the NFR in November, worn by some of the top barrel horses and team roping horses in the country.

The Cloud boots have already gone to many barrel races. In fact, EasyCare is a sponsor for NBR.

Since the Cloud was released, EasyCare has added more dealers than ever in the barrel racing and rodeo industry. Contact one of these fine dealers for your Clouds boots:

(In alphabetical order)

Besthorsegear.com

Chasing Time Tack and Performance Horses

Coats Saddlery

Crazy Horse Tack (Picture below is owner, Paula)

Hadley's Tack (picture below is Jack Hadley doing a fitting)

Klutch Tack

Jag Tack and Feed

L & W Saddles & Tack

North Country Mercantile

R Bar B Saddles & Tack

Thar's Feed and Ranch Supply

Top Barrel Tack

Walz Performance Horses (Picture below is Sonya Walz, Owner)

Wheeler's Tack and Feed

Click here to find Dealers in your area.

Turn and burn!

 

Dee Reiter

easycare-customer-service-dee-reiter

Retail Account Rep

I am the Retail and New Dealer Account Rep for EasyCare. I will be happy to help you with ordering, selecting the most popular styles and sizes of EasyCare hoof boots to stock. Let me help you with suggestions on merchandising and provide training for you and your staff, at your convenience.

Smooth Hauling; Tips to Make Your Next Trip More Enjoyable

Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

With the summer months upon us, we horse people always have a place to go, whether it be to a competition or going for a trail ride with some friends. Over the years, through trial and error I have learned to be very organized when it comes to hauling my four legged friends. It makes the whole process much less stressful for me and my horse. I have composed a few tips that make my trips much more enjoyable. 

First, I always make sure my truck is taken care of because I normally haul alone and I’m not the most mechanically inclined person. I change the oil frequently and use a shop that I trust will tell me if something else is going on. Tires are also very important, if you have ever had to change a tire on a pickup while you have a trailer full of horses you know what a pain it is, if you haven’t experienced this you are lucky, it is awful. Making sure all four tires are in good condition, balanced and the pressure is correct. Check your spare too; having a flat spare is pointless and frustrating. During the summer months I always make double sure I have washer fluid to get all the lovely bug particles off my windshield. Don’t forget about all the lights; turn signals, brake lights, headlights and of course the dome lights. Just in case I always carry a flash light in my pickup and I can’t tell you how many times I have been thankful for having it. Before my trailer is hooked up I try to make sure my tank is full, that way my horses do not have to spend any extra time in the trailer and there are not very many fueling stations that accommodate for horse trailers. 

Once I have the trailer hooked up I check all the lights, inside and out, digging through your tack room in the dark is time consuming. Tires are extremely important on any trailer, I feel as if they get forgotten about. All four tires need to be in good condition along with being at the correct pressure. Adequate tire pressure is extremely important in trailer tires; I have learned this the hard way. If the pressure is incorrect you will run a much greater risk of getting a flat and it also causes the tires to wear much faster. Also make sure you have a jack and four-way wrench handy in case you do get a flat. Oh, and don’t forget to check that spare!

Packing the trailer, my favorite part! This will vary with what type of event I am going to and for how long but the basics are, for the most part, the same. I make sure all the tack I will be using is clean and ready to go, anything that was broken or not working properly I fix immediately. Saddles, bridles, saddle pads, Easyboots, leg wraps and anything else you may use. I also look over all my grooming supplies; shedding blade, soft and hard brushes, some detangler, mane and tail comb, hoof pick and fly spray. My vet kit is something I keep stocked and in my trailer at all times it contains; chlorhexidine solution , betadine scrub and solution, a few different types of wound dressings, plenty of wound dressing materials, gauze pads, a thermometer and stethoscope, bandage scissors and as expected some duck tape. I always keep buckets in my trailer and haul water from home, many times whether I’m going to a barrel race or on a trail ride finding a water spigot is almost impossible. I keep two six gallon camping canteens in my trailer at all times. They work awesome and are very easy to pour the water out of. I make sure my trailer is cleaned out and has fresh shavings. If I am leaving for a few days I will make sure there is plenty of feed, if only going for a day trip I fill a hay bag for the trip home or if they might have to stand at the trailer for an extend amount of time.

Now that the truck and trailer are ready its time to head out. I always like to make sure my horse is cleaned up before loading in the trailer, checking for anything unusual. This will also give me an idea if something happened during the trailer ride. I always pick out my horses feet before loading them in the trailer and put Easyboots on for added traction, stability and shock absorption. During the spring and summer months there will be dew in my trailer and even with that fresh bedding it is still slick, having the Easyboots on gives them that much more grip in the trailer and I never worry about any of them falling. I am so excited about the Easyboot Cloud! That will be what I haul in, without a doubt, once I get a set. If my horses are going to be on the trailer for an extended about of time I will also poultice their legs and use standing bandages. I also apply fly spray or a fly sheet if the bugs are bad. If I am heading out for a long trip I always try to leave early enough in the morning that I will arrive to my destination when it is still light out. That way I can get the horses settled and not be trying to finding my way in the dark. If I am only hauling in for the day I will still attempt to leave early so I can have a good parking place that is comfortable for my horses and myself. The Easyboot Cloud will make stalling over night and hauling for the day much more comfortable for my horses. There are many times I will not attend an event just because I know my horses are going to have stand on concrete whether it be for the day or overnight. With the new Easyboot Cloud I will not have to be nearly as concerned about hauling, stalling or parking. Did I mention how excited I am about the new Easyboot Cloud?

As you can tell my hauling regiment is quite extensive when laid out but after doing this a few times it comes easily. Having everything organized and prepared has saved me countless hours and massive amounts of money. It has made my horses and I enjoy every trip that much more. One downfall of having everything always in working order is that all your friends are going to want to come with you on your next trip because they will know that there will be no flat tires, broken down pickups or missing tack when you arrive to your destination. I hope these few tips will help with your future hauling plans.

 

Collection: From the Ground Up

I never did formal riding in any discipline, but the topic of “collection” is one that comes up (and I’m not referring to my tendency to hoard horses). WARNING: This is A view on collection, not the be-all, end-all reference article for all things equitation.

What I appreciated from an anatomical view, was the amount of elevation and elasticity the horse put into his movement. His potential for action was put into becoming lofty and potentially explosive. In a wild horse fight, explosive might translate into a barrage of attacks. In a controlled explosion, we are seeing extended trots and jumps of massive heights being cleared. But in every picture I included here (and many more that I found) you can clearly see the horse engaging that hind end, tucking his rear under him so that he was ready for any variety of movements. It’s not surprising to see horses do this at liberty, as they are deciding on a whim where they want to move next. Dancing by themselves in their pastures, racing imaginary friends or shying away from horse-eating butterflies.

The deep digital flexor tendon and the suspensory ligament are huge players from the ground-up approach to collection. 

The balls of our feet are important to our ability to spring. Try this: Do a jumping jack. Now lean back on your heels and lift the fronts of your feet off the ground. Do a jumping jack starting and landing on your heels. You will have to exaggeratedly absorb the shock of your jump with your legs, back and torso. Now do it from the balls of your feet. Easy peasy.

So while a jumping jack can literally be the act of "jumping out and back in", knowing how you start and finish it and where the power comes from will change how easy it is and how graceful it looks. Sort of like collection. In fact, you can’t do high knees, jumping jacks, side shuffles or out-and-backs without using the balls of your feet. If you tried to do it with your heels, you would feel quite ungraceful.

Now, if a person was jumping from their heels and landing back on their heels, I could say,

“Higher. This time don’t make so much noise when you land, it was clunky.” and you could practice.

“More arms, you are not using enough arms. You look clumsy.” and you could practice.

“Your feet need to land further apart. Try again.”

“Your knees are wobbly, tighten them up.”

“You are moving your torso too much. I see others doing jumping jacks and they don’t have such movement.”

And on and on. What I really should say is, “You are launching and landing from your heels. Start from the ball of your foot.”

Similarly, I’ve seen horses “fitted into frame” for collection, instead of corrected from the ground up. “His legs should pick up higher, he should be more animated, his headset is not right, his back legs need to more lift and to be more under him.”

I’m not a student of dressage, so don’t string me up, but I tried finding two nearly-the-same images of horses doing a piaffe, riderless. The horse on the top clearly has lovely height to his feet, but nothing about his “collection” looks “collected”. He looks less likely to launch forward or sideways and more likely to just start walking after he’s too tired to keep doing it. The horse on the bottom is in a slightly different stride of the move, so it’s hard to say how high his hooves move, but would that really be the standard to judge him by? Look at his whole figure! He is collected, waiting to move at a moment’s notice, ready to launch forward into men wielding swords or wheel to the left or right to carry an owner to safety or to leap over a barricade and bolt up a mountain. All the while the horse on the top is doing a piaffe as gracefully as I could do ballet while pregnant. He’s waddling and strung out and all he knows is, “Tom wants my feet higher and my head just so. And I need to look exuberant while doing it. Gosh collection is hard!”

It’s like doing downward dog wrong. You don’t get better at practicing it wrong, you just get better at doing it incorrectly. Yet, there are higher yoga poses to attain, which depend on your being limber enough to correctly do downward dog. You see where I’m going with this? Your chance of lucking into a Flying Monkey Spider Crane Position while feeling nirvana are slim to none.

And just in case you’re not all “Namaste” with me, the girl on the top is doing it right. Her head to her butt is a straight line, You can see her line break at the hip in a clean cut. The girl on the bottom doesn’t have a line from her head to her butt. You can see the small of her back is bending so that she “can” do the position. This would all be fine if downward dog was the end of your yoga path. Visibly, she's close, structurally, she's not. To go to upper levels, you need the basics to be correct.

As soon as she tries to go on to the next advanced movement, she will struggle. When your back is humped, getting that open chest twist is nearly impossible. It's like slouching and trying to open up your shoulders. It requires a lot of effort to do it wrong (which is super fun and rewarding). For some of us, the word "Yoga" is Sanskrit for, "Super-difficult, tortuous stretching".

Good. Luck. With. That.

Entry level jumpers need to learn how to clear meter fences with correct form and build jumping musculature. Sloppy jumping at lower levels means you are never making it to Rolex.

I stumbled upon this video the other day. While Pedro Torres is a medalist for Spain and does World level dressage with this mount, look at his collection work put into action. This horse will blow you away.

(Please don’t mind the music!)

Now look at that horse doing equitation in an arena (with no obstacles to navigate).

While he’s running an obstacle course through poles, he’s doing flying lead changes. While he’s in a blank arena, he is also doing them. When you can see the correlation between movements that were trained for purpose, for a real life function, you can appreciate what you are looking for when merely testing those movements. It would be silly to take a horse and have it do flying lead changes when all it was doing was “memorizing” that every other stride needed to flip and not actually listening to his rider, wouldn’t it? As soon as you set a horse into real life application, he’d fall apart.

Let’s look at some horses that look “forced” when in collection:

Then I look at the body lines of these horses:

Again, we look at our nimble grey in those videos. He’s wound, bound and ready for action. He doesn’t care if the action is forward, backward, sideways or over a jump. The horses above look coiled, prepared, ready to do whatever the next command is.

So my first point, in all this rambling is: training with purpose, use and intention. Training to not shortcut. If you are training for a “look” alone, you end up with a tired pony who isn’t building each movement and will never reach the higher movements without a lot of strain.

And here’s my second point: There was a study done in England. https://www.facebook.com/EquitationScience/posts/10152231176856097?fref=nf

They took 20 Irish Sport Horses that were used for riding and dressage and videoed their movement. The selection had horses that had either been shod for 12 consecutive months or barefoot for 12 consecutive months.

You can read it (and you should) but the summary conclusion is that shod horses had diminished stride length, increased concussion and had more tendon flexion than their unshod counterparts. Unshod horses had less concussion, longer strides and their tendons had to flex less to absorb impact.

So, if shoes don’t give you an advantage, but DO shorten stride length and cause the tendons to have to “give” more to support your horse, then give barefoot equitation a try. Lateral movements would be a cinch if a horse had an ankle like ours, but he doesn’t. He’s going to need his hoof to be his first point of shock absorption. Reining, barrels, dressage, jumping etc. all athletic sports have lateral movement.

We pick the right saddle, the right bridle and the right pad because they fit our horse and enable us to communicate more clearly and make our horse’s job easier. It only makes sense to make sure he’s able to the job from the ground up.

While we can’t all do what THIS guy does:

Or what Stacey Westfall does (I could watch her bareback and bridles demonstrations all day!), we can try to start our horses right, continue to work with them with purpose and hope they have a saddle (or not), a bridle (or not) and now…. shod OR NOT, to be able to better perform what we ask of them.

Holly Jonsson

easycare-sales-director-holly-jonsson

Director of Sales

Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!