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. 

Under Pressure – Dealing with an Abscess (Part Two)

Submitted by EasyCare Product Specialist, Kelsey Lobato

After discovering an abscess and finding out the cause, start treatment and possibly a prevention program. The treatment program will depend on the type of abscess your horse has and what your vet and farrier have determined. It's important to remember that each approach to treating an abscess is unique and varies from others.

Here is my experience.

My first step in treating a hoof abscess is to gather supplies and medications. This way it's handy in the barn aisle or stall. 

  1. A bucket
  2. An Easyboot Soaker
  3. Epsom salt and Betadine
  4. Epsom salt poultice (if you cannot soak)
  5. Hydrogen peroxide
  6. A syringe
  7. Hoof pick
  8. Duct tape
  9. Gauze
  10. Vet wrap
  11. Easyboot Trail or Easyboot Cloud
  12. Gold Bond Powder

Note: If your vet has prescribed antibiotics and Bute, follow your doctor's instructions as long as the abscess has blown and you are seeing drainage. 

After gathering all your supplies, clean the hoof gently using a hoof pick and squirt hydrogen peroxide in the infected area. Make sure the pus and debris is cleaned out thoroughly for soaking. Next, place the Soaker boot on your horse and fill the boot with Epsom salt, betadine and hot water. Soak the hoof for about 10-15 minutes once a day for 3-4 days. If you can't soak the horses foot, use an Epsom salt poultice. Put a generous amount around the abscess/hoof, wrap and then leave on for 24 hours. Repeat for 3-4 days.

Once you have soaked the hoof, keep the hoof dry and clean. For my horse Summer Flame, I also packed the hoof with betadine/Epsom salt soaked gauze. I wrapped it with duct tape and vet wrap for 3 days until I could put her out with the other horses in boots.

Photo: Summer Flame in her makeshift boot

Keep the hoof clean, packed, and bandaged for several days, depending on how long it takes for the lameness to disappear. If the infection is deep in the hoof, the process of eliminating the infection and relieving the horse of pain will take longer.

In Summer Flame’s case, because the abscess was slow to heal and she still had swelling, I stopped wrapping her hoof and put her in the Easyboot Trails with medicated padding. I also continued with her prescribed antibiotics. She did very well turned out 24/7 in the boots. I checked them once a day to make sure they were staying on and not causing additional issues. She wore them for another week until the vet gave the "okay" for them to come off.

Note: if you leave the boots on for long periods of time, add Gold Bond Powder or a copper sulfate mix to prevent bacteria growth.

Photo: Summer Flame in the Trail boot

Here are the preventative measures I follow:

  • Maintain a regular farrier schedule
  • Feed a quality hoof supplement
  • Clean the hoof daily (If I can't get to the barn, I clean the hoof every two days)

In addition, keeping your pastures and paddocks clean as well as not over bathing your horse should reduce the risk of abscess development. If you have rocks in your paddock, removing them can help keep your horse from a stone bruise, which can lead to an abscess.

No matter how much you take preemptive steps to ensure no abscesses, there still might be a day when one does appear. Stay calm and act promptly in consulting your veterinarian and farrier. Be prepared and have the provisions you will need on hand to treat the problem.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Solutions For A Hoof Abscess

Treating an Abscess Using the Easyboot Rx

The Challenges of Spring Grass: Laminitis and Founder

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Dawn Willoughby

Original Post June 2, 2011

In most cases, owners can prevent the ravages of laminitis (inflammation of the laminae between hoof wall and coffin bone) and founder (pulling away of wall from coffin bone due to a broken laminae). During my six years as a professional trimmer, I tried to educate owners about preventing this painful situation. Here is a review of what I shared with them every spring.

I live in Delaware where we have a spring that challenges most horses. Beginning in late March, early April, our sugary spring grass starts to grow. Our worst days are cool and sunny. This combination has the effect of creating a surge of sugar in the grass. When the sun goes down, the spring night temperatures are cool, keeping the sugar in the grass, not allowing it to return to the roots. That's a double whammy for the natural herd that is out 24/7. It isn't until July that we reliably dry out and warm up every day and night. When this happens the sugar returns to the roots. I learned about forage growth and pasture management from studying materials and attending clinics by Katy Watts, www.safergrass.org, an agricultural expert and owner of founder-prone horses. She offers wonderful lectures on her site as well.
 

Sunny & Doc

Sunny and Doc, “the bay thoroughbred twins” at Tory Hill Farm in Glen Mills, Pa. Up to their eyeballs in spring grass, these former athletics are not markedly affected.

When I had a trimming practice, I encouraged owners to mark April 1st to July 1st on their calendars and prepare for spring grass for their easy keepers.
  1. First and foremost, adjust the diet. Lower dietary sugar anyway you can. You will need to be especially aggressive if you have a horse prone to laminitis and founder, usually known as an “easy keeper”. Examples: draft horses, native horses and ponies and donkeys. Eliminate grain, molasses, most treats and, if necessary, add a muzzle or put the horse in a dirt pasture or on a dirt path system such as Paddock Paradise. Hay should have 10% or less sugar. Correctly soaking hay can reduce sugar by 30%; leave the sugar water on the bottom of the tub. Most horses do very well on forage diets.
  2. Maintain or increase exercise. I have a friend who ponys her mini off her warmblood mare! This year she is teaching the mini to drive.
  3. A distant third, the trim. Apply a steeper bevel to outer and inner wall in order to avoid any wall pressure on the laminae of a normally well trimmed horse. In other words, apply the “rehab” trim (more info below).
  4. Involve the veterinarian as needed.
In the spring, the grass is nourishing seeds in order to survive. Even if you have an over-grazed area, you can assume it's high in sugar if there is grass. Stressed grass is high in sugar. I use Equi Analytical Laboratories to test hay and pasture. The test costs $26. Then I know the exact sugar content as well as the amount and proportion of minerals in my horse's diet. I have learned to supplement my horse's meals by balancing the minerals in his diet. Dr. Eleanor Kellon, www.drkellon.com, will help you create a plan for your horse or you can take her basic course on-line and learn to balance the diet yourself. Dr. Kellon is an expert in this area, especially working with foundered horses and will help owners with medicinal supplements, as well. She is well educated in homeopathy and herbal treatments.

As for the trim, I put a steeper angle (55 degrees) on the walls and switch from a “maintenance” trim to a “rehabilitation” trim in April, on all horses, founder-prone or not. That means I apply the mustang roll to the outer and inner wall, right to the laminae. I return to the maintenance trim in July when the sugar reliably declines, just beveling the outer wall. By relieving any pressure on the laminae (aka white line) via the wall, I am able to minimize wall flare due to laminitis. I have noticed that in May, my OTTB, Sunny. becomes a bit ouchy on the gravel driveway so clearly he has lamintis. There are other telltale symptoms. He may lose a little bit of concavity, about a half inch from the laminae. If he experiences any wall flare, it is limited to about an inch from the ground. In our 6 years together, he has never gone lame. Another telltale sign is one or more horizontal rings on the outer wall, laminitic rings where the laminae detached, and reattached. When I ride out in rocky areas, I simply boot the front. Padded Epics, Gloves and Generation 2 Old Mac all do a nice job.

Example 1
Tessa is an 8 year old, warmblood mare. She has been barefoot her entire life and has had what I consider a good trim for the past 4 years. Her owner trims her every week or two. She is turned out with a babysitter, Frisco the mini, on 3 acres that wrap around the house. Their diet is mostly low sugar hay. The pair moves a lot, checking on their people. This year Tessa's owner reduced her grain from a couple quarts to a handful. This is the first spring Tessa has not needed boots for cross country rides. I have seen her walk over rocky paths with no problem, just as she does the rest of the year. Tessa maintained full concavity on the bottom of her feet. Her weight has gone down to a healthier level too: you can feel but not see her ribs. Before hand she looked like a “typical” chunky warmblood. She is ridden daily.
 
Tessa & Frisco

Tessa and Frisco, both easy keepers, look great this spring. More importantly, they feel great.

Example 2
Martha learned to trim her two Percheron crosses a few years ago. This is the first spring at her own farm and she can finally control their environment. The horses are on a pasture with no grass. They eat nothing with grain or molasses and have low sugar hay strewn about the pasture. They are ridden most days. Here is the note I received from Martha this past April, 2011:

In that we are trying to save the pasture and have them on only a third of it (with no grass, just hay), we are also doing the boys a huge favor...they have absolutely NO laminitic rings, NO sore feet, NO hardish neck on Squire, etc. wow, all those times you said to keep them OFF the grass in spring and fall and other high sugar times, this really proves that point. Tell all those sorts of non believers who think their laminitic prone horses who are eating little bits of "stressed" grass, aren't getting enough to matter, that they are DEAD wrong and can get in touch with me it they want proof!!!  Bravo Dawn!!!
 
Shawn & Squire

Percheron Crosses, Shawn and Squire, have happy, working feet this spring.

Example 3
Early in my career, I worked on a chronically foundered Friesan who lived on a pasture with short, sad-looking vegetation (I hesitate to call it grass), growing in sandy soil. I couldn't believe it could make any horse sick but I was wrong. The only solution for a sensitive horse like that is to get him off the grass and feed the correct amount, by weight, of low sugar hay (Dr. Kellon can help you with the amount of hay). Although his owner didn't agree, I still believe the horse had been chronically foundered for most of his life. This explained his reluctance to work under saddle at the trot or canter. When I saw him, it was the first time he had gone lame. But I am sure he didn't “suddenly” get sore; he simply couldn't hide it anymore. His body had the telltale fat pad pattern of a lamintic horse: convex, filled in area above the eyes, cresty neck and fat pads on his shoulders and on either side of the tail.
 
Fat pad distribution After

Common fat pad distribution on founder-prone horse, a pure Friesan, and several months later after his diet had been corrected.

It's easy to tell on most horses if the wall is well connected to the coffin bone. Just put your fingers on the hairline of the coronary band and run them down the wall. Begin on one side and work your way around the entire foot. If you feel a flare, the wall isn't connected. This has been the case with almost every horse I have worked on. By correcting the diet, exercise and trim, I routinely grew out well connected feet. The only exception is a horse who has been chronically foundered and the laminae became scarred. There is nothing for the wall to attach to. Typically the wall is well connected for about half the foot and then flares out, even after a year of good care. Some horses do flare right out of the hairline but as you apply the correct trim, you will see the well connected foot at the top of the hoof capsule.
 
Bugsy After

Right off the track, Bugsy, shows off his original shod foot and four months later, half of the great foot he grew in 4 months. His is an example of flaring right out of the hairline, all around. He remained sound throughout. Long toes and underrun heels may be common on racehorses but don't confuse that with the excellent feet we can grow on thoroughbreds!

On sensitive, easy-keepers, owners must go into over drive in the spring and any time the weather is sunny in the day and cool at night, with adequate rain to grow grass. For some horses, I suspect Cushings Disease if they present with founder in the fall. The vet can test for this disease; long body hair is a late stage symptom.

Charlie, a Holsteiner gelding, came to the farm where I boarded in 2010. He had not been at the farm long enough to have well trimmed feet and the owner didn't have any “spring grass” experience with him. She was told he “rotated” in the previous spring. In May 2010, he developed massive abscesses along the hairline and in late May the wall pulled away from the coffin bone, founder. In a typical founder stance, Charlie “sat back” on his haunches to relieve pressure on his front feet where the coffin bone was threatening to push through the sole. When we could pick up a foot, we put him in padded Old Mac's G2. I showed the owner how to “peel” away part of the outer wall on the ground with nippers. We took the toe back to where it should be, giving him some relief. It took 12 months for his owner-trimmer to grow out a good foot.
 
Charlie

Charlie has almost grown out one of the large abscess, the horizontal line near the bottom of the foot from last years bout with founder.

Going into the spring of 2011, the owner decided to see how Charlie tolerated the grass, now with good feet. He did not (it really is about the diet). Abscesses appeared in April. He was put on a sacrifice lot with a friend, full time, with access to two stalls. In mid May, after the abscesses popped, (no one touched him with a knife of course), the owner experiment with muzzled turnout because Charlie moves so much more when he is with the herd of eight retired racehorses. She finally settled on a routine of muzzled turnout by day and sacrifice lot and two open stalls with a friend at night.

Don't tell me you can't keep a muzzle on your horse! Figure it out. Add a leather halter over the muzzle. Vet tape the two together. Add a brow band to the halter. Braid the crown piece into the mane at the pole. Add halter fuzzies everywhere to avoid rubs. I recommend removing the muzzle twice a day to check for rubs. If the horse has “an accomplice”, put that horse in a muzzle too; if he doesn't need it, just make the hole bigger so he can eat grass but not pull off the muzzle.

There is a misconception that once the horse has “rotated”, he can't go sound. This is untrue. In the vastly over-simplified version, the wall disconnects from the coffin bone when the laminae breaks due to a sugar overdose. If anything “rotates”, it's the wall away from the horse. The coffin bone is right where it should be, under the horse. According to Dr. Tomas Teskey, many horses feel better within days of a dietary correction. On most horses you can grow out a good foot in 7-12 months depending on how bad the situation is. Dead lame horses may recover more slowly. Please check Pete Ramey's site, www.hoofrehab.com, for many useful articles written by this well known “founder junkie”. His DVD series, Under the Horse, is excellent. Within that series are a couple of DVDs focusing on laminitis and founder. Shoes and stalling are never a good idea in my view.

The ultimate test? I was able to keep two miniature donkeys healthy in a grassy, 35 acre Pennsylvania pasture by putting Best Friend muzzles on them in mid-March and leaving them on until the first freeze, in December. They never even developed fat pads on their necks, shoulders and rumps. I did take off their muzzles for a half hour at breakfast and dinner to check for rubs. They shared a half cup of “safe” food. They were not fed apples or carrots because the glycemic index, although low for humans, is too high for super easy-keepers like donkeys. This advice came from Dr. Eleanor Kellon, my favorite equine nutritionist.

Clearly it is possible for owners to manage diet and lifestyle for their founder prone horses. I hope this introductory article is just the beginning of your research into learning all you can about preventing laminitis and founder for your best friend.

Good Luck and Happy Trails!

Dawn

My Favorite Resources
  • Equi Analytical Laboratories http://www.equi-analytical.com. The sister laboratory, Dairy One, has additional educational information.
  • Dr. Eleanor Kellon's www.drkellon.com offers reasonably priced consults and great on-line courses. The first course to take is “National Research Foundation (NRC) Plus”. The NRC 2007 recommendations books is available on-line.
  • Pete Ramey's www.hoofrehab.com has articles, DVD's and current research.
  • Katy Watt's http://www.safergrass.org/ offers consults, articles and excellent Power Point lectures on CDs and clinic schedule.

Dawn Willoughby lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, Drew Knox, Annie the Rottweiler and Sunny, OTTB. During her professional trimming career (2004-2010) she focused on teaching owners to trim their horses. She will work with owners online who have no access to trimmers and will conduct owner-focused trimming clinics internationally. She now focuses on equine bodywork along with in-hand and mounted training as physical therapy for the horse. Dawn maintains an educational site, http://4sweetfeet.com/, where you can find free trimming videos and articles on all aspects of natural horse care. The videos and more are also on http://youtube.com/4sweetfeet.

Easyboot Stratus - The New Standard in Equine Therapy Boots!

The Easyboot Stratus is in the warehouse and ready to ship!  We are excited about this unique design and feel it will help many horses.  

What makes the Easyboot Stratus unique?

1. The TheraPad is a patent pending design that is intended for therapy situations. The pad is made in a medium range durometer, has a fabric layer to wick moisture from the hoof, and incorporates a pattern of holes on the underside. The holes reduce the weight of the pad and allow the insertion of TheraRods. Although the TheraPad is molded to fit into the Easyboot Stratus and Easyboot Cloud, it can be cut to fit into other EasyCare boots. In addition, a large pad can be used without a boot to provide cushioning and comfort while trimming a sore horse.

2. TheraRods are used to add additional density to regions of the TheraPad. Although the majority of horses will find the density of the TheraPad perfect without the TheraRods, the rods can be added to increase the stiffness of the pad. TheraRods allow each TheraPad to be customized.

3. The internal heel sling locks down the heel and prevents twisting.

4. We chose leather for the upper after testing many different materials. Leather held up the best and conforms to the hoof and lower leg better.  

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford talk about why the Stratus is Unique.

Fitting the Stratus is easy. Measure for the correct size, fold the back of the boot out of the way, insert the hoof and tighten the strap system.  

 

Fitting the Stratus.  

EasyCare is excited to add the Stratus to our Therapy line. The Stratus is the premium counterpart to the Easyboot Cloud. Between the Stratus, the Cloud, the Easyboot Rx and the Easyboot Zip we have your therapy boot needs covered.

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.

 

Equine Therapy Boots: Why Leather?

EasyCare has been working on robust version of an equine therapy boot. A boot that will last much longer and hold up to the daily punishment that a therapy boot may go through when on a laminitic horse: the constant use, the twisting, the horse getting up and down, the routine washing. After testing many materials we found that a high grade leather tested the best.

The Easyboot Stratus will have a leather upper.

Why did we choose leather? One of the tests that brought us to leather was a horse named "Chubby". Chubby was a tough founder case that Curtis Burns helped with over a 18 month period. Chubby was in boots 24/7 and needed the support and comfort therapy boots offered. Boots were worn for a day and then removed, washed and set out to dry. Another pair was used for a day while the first pair dried. Boots were used everyday for 6 months.  

One of the boots Chubby used was leather up front and tough Cordura in the back. We quickly saw a difference in the leather. The leather formed to the hoof, held up and didn't fray. Take a look at the photos below and see why we chose leather for the new Easyboot Stratus. 

Front is leather. Back is high end Cordura Fabric.  

Leather held up very well and took on pleats to form to the hoof.

The Cordura was no match for the leather. Same boot, same wear, different results.

We are excited about the new Easyboot Stratus: a better equine therapy boot, leather upper, TheraPad, TheraRods and an internal heel sling to prevent twisting and heel lift. The Stratus will be ready to ship on March 1st.

 

 

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.

 

 

Still Going

Submitted by David Landreville of Landreville Hoofcare.

Sera, the buckskin mare in the video below was going to be euthanized for chronic lameness before she had reached the age of two. We found out about her through a client and brought her to our place. She was wearing steel shoes and pads that had been on so long that all the nails were gone and the walls had grow over the shoes keeping them fixed in place. She has been a tough rehab case due to the extensive damage done to her feet by poor and neglectful shoeing while her feet were still growing. Although I've never be enable to restore her feet to a sustainable shape and function I've been able to help her make slight but steady progress in form and function over the past 10 years. I can typically rehab most horses with minimal time in boots and pads but this mare has been a lesson in exhausting all options. Since originally pulling her steel shoes and plastic pads I've tried many different protective applications including: hoof casts, boots with Comfort Pads, and EasyShoes.

I've even tried combinations of these products. While I have had success keeping her comfortable from time to time (she's even been ride-able through some periods), I never had any good long term results improving the form and function of her feet. The biggest challenge that I've had with her is that her coffin bones were so badly remodeled at such an early age that I haven't been able to figure out how to fully eliminate wall flare or get her to produce an adequate thickness of live sole. I read some of Dr. Bowker's research on bifurcation of the lamina and I feel that this is one of the reasons that she can't produce a wall that has enough integrity to hold up her muscular 1100 lb Quarter Horse frame. The solar corium needs to be non-load bearing to produce healthy, thick, live sole and with such little support from the wall she is set up for continual crushing of her solar coriums and further bone loss. Due to the extreme wall flare from the bifurcated lamina, her toes grow super fast and require weekly trims. This is one reason that EasyShoes haven't been the right solution in the past. Her feet simply out grow them in a weeks time. Another problem that she has may be hormonal. One vet mentioned to me that there may be a connection to mares with bad feet and hormone issues. Every summer, after several months of progress building sole thickness and reducing distortion, her feet would collapse after our rainy season. The combination of heat, humidity, and possibly hormone imbalances would undermine all the progress made in the months prior. This has been a constant cycle for 9 years.

I've kept up on her on weekly trims for 10 years. This has helped minimize further structural damage. I tried something new about a year ago. I started using the Easyboot Cloud almost like you would use a shoe. I leave them on her 24/7 with frequent brief periods out of them. She has thin hoof structures but they are mostly live tissue due to the style and frequency of my trimming. Her feet stay clean and dry in the boots and she has no trouble getting around in any gait she pleases. The thick wedge shaped pads make up for her atrophied digital cushions and this was the first year that she didn't lose concavity over the summer. I'm always looking for continual progress with horse's feet, no matter what the rate of progress. I've never been comfortable with just making a horse appear sound and I'm careful when it comes to using boots for rehabilitation. It needs to be done thoughtfully. If there's no structural integrity it's not true soundness. To me, form and function are interdependent. Hoof distortion is just a problem waiting to happen. I'm still hopeful that Sera can have sustainable sound bare feet sometime in her future. I don't believe in quick fixes or keeping horses around with a poor quality of life. In my opinion, we are all here to express ourselves, including horses.

This is Sera expressing herself in our track system with her herd mates.

5000 Miles of Hope

Submitted by Chris MacLuckie

Roxy has never been shod. She uses Easyboot Gloves. I love them, she loves them, and it gives us the freedom for her to be barefoot every night during our 5000 mile solo horse ride fundraiser.

We first got the Gloves in April to replace another brand that didn't fit Roxy's wide hooves. Until this point, I rode Roxy barefoot in the roughest of terrain. The only reason I needed boots was to ensure her hooves weren't worn raw when I increased the mileage in preparation for the trip.

We tried the Gloves in a range of situations: swamps, roads, trails, rocks, gravel, at all speeds and with rough transitions. I even did a sliding stop on pavement once! They never came off. I like the simplicity of the design, less parts to break or replace.

The first four boots I bought were a little large, so I just kept Roxy's hooves longer to make sure the fit was snug. I knew that when it was time to replace the first set, I would go a size smaller. The 3rd week of September we went from the size 2 and 1 Wide in the front and the size 2 and 0 Wide in the back, to size 0 Wide in the front and size 0 in the back. This set works great with Roxy fully trimmed. I use them with the Power Straps, and most recently, the firm Comfort Pads and the Quick Studs for extra traction and longer wear. The Comfort Pads help a lot with concussion absorption. The studs help prolong tread by taking some of the direct pressure and wear off of the sole. They also give a bit more traction in some situations.

The second set of boots have been used exclusively during our trip on pavement and gravel. We currently have 600 miles on them. I expect to get another 150 miles at least. The next set will be used with the Quick Studs right from the first day. I'll report back on my blog at a later date to give an account of how long that set lasts, as well as future observations. From what we've noticed so far, the boots last longer the tighter they fit on the fully trimmed hoof. This includes walls, heel bars and mustang roll edging.

I encourage you to visit our blog to learn more and follow our story.
5000milesofhope.org

We are doing a 18 month solo horse ride fundraiser for Maya Pedal, a Guatemalan NGO that builds pedal powered machinery.

Our GoFundMe page for Maya Pedal is here:
https://www.gofundme.com/Maya-Pedal-Horse-Ride-Fundraiser

Fitting the Back Country

The new and improved Back Country boot has evolved into what I like to call the “Black Knight” of boots.

With it’s rugged, warrior-like good looks, tough as nails rubberized upper, and extra-thick neoprene comfort cup cradling the heel bulbs, this boot is the best of both worlds. It combines the fit, comfort and convenience of the Glove with the ease of application of the Trail. At the back of this boot is the Snug Strap and its job is to hold everything together in a strong, but tender, embrace. This strap is now standard equipment on every Back Country boot, ensuring a super-secure fit.

Though this boot begins its life as a Glue-On shell, the fit requirements for the Back Country are vastly different from those of the Glue-on shell or for the Glove boot.

Thanks to the Back Country’s innovative design and robust construction, even if your horse’s hoof measurements don’t fall perfectly into the parameters of the sizing system, the forgiving qualities of this boot’s 3-lap Velcro closure system can make up for various hoof shapes, conditions and pathologies.

Here's an excerpt from the Fit Kit application guide:

"Although the size chart for the Easyboot Back Country is the same as one for the Easyboot Glove, the fit does not need to be as snug. Customers who are unable to use the Easyboot Glove due to length of trim cycle or lack of hand strength should consider the Easyboot Back Country. If your horse is on a trim cycle longer than 4 weeks, we recommend using a 1/2 size larger than the snug fit required for the Easyboot Glove. Sizing up a half size also allows for ease of application." 

Therefore, when using a Fit Kit to fit your horse for the Back Country, find the boot shell that “fits like a Glove”, where the "V" at the front is spreading and it's like a second skin. Then, try the next ½ size up. Keep in mind that the actual Back Country boot, with the upper and comfort cup gaiter attached, adds to the strength and rigidity to the boot, making it seem a tiny bit smaller than it actually is.

That being said, here's some more food for thought:

If your horse's measurements fall in at the low end of the sizing system, it IS possible that it will be a good fit for the Back Country. This is especially true if your horse's hooves fall into the wide sizes. This is why I always recommend using a Fit Kit whenever somebody expresses interest in either the Glove or the Back Country boot.

FYI, whenever a horse's hoof width measurement meets or exceeds the length measurement, we consider that a wide foot. 

Here’s my horse in his size 1 Gloves. 

He is a rock-solid size 1 in Gloves, measuring 114mm x 123mm after a fresh trim. I've had these boots for about a year. I'm thinking of adding Power Straps pretty soon. I normally apply Mueller Tape to the hooves when I ride in Gloves and have never lost a boot.

Shown below, I am trying to stuff his right hoof into a size 1 Back Country. It's a bit of a struggle, but I got it on.

After I set his hoof down, I noticed he caught the Comfort Cup Gaiter between his heel and the boot, creating the dreaded "wedgie effect". His heels could not seat properly into the boot. Even after I fixed it, I am not happy with this fit, so I will go up a 1/2 size to the 1.5 and add a Comfort Pad if necessary.

From the back, you can see that the closure system of the size 1 on the right only has about a 1/2" of Velcro overlap, while the size 1.5 on the left has a much better purchase. The Snug Strap on the size 1.5 is also getting a better overlap compared to the size 1. See what a difference 4 mm makes? That’s the difference from one boot size to the next.

 

Size 1

 

Size 1.5

I like to maintain a left and a right with my boots and pads, so I will switch the Snug Strap on one of the boots so that, at a glance, it's easy to see which is which. Plus, it keeps me safer because as I tighten that strap, I'm pulling away, keeping my body out from under my horse. 

Here is the final test to be sure your boots are fitted properly:

After applying the boots securely, walk your horse a bit, then come to a stop and pick up each hoof and try to twist the boot.

Give it a good hard twist. If you can feel a small amount of twisting around the hoof inside, you may need to add a comfort pad at the beginning of his trim cycle to snug things up a bit. If there is more twist  than an inch or two, you may be better off with a 1/2 size smaller.

Fitting your horse for hoof boots can sometimes be a challenging process. Once you find that perfect boot, though, it’s all worth it.

 

Jean Welch

Jean Welch, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

Originally from New England, I finally heeded the advice of my inner cowgirl, packed up my horses and moved west to Arizona. Here I learned the finer points of hoofcare and successful booting techniques. I can help you select the right EasyCare product for your specific needs. 

New Medical Boot System Coming to Market: Easyboot Stratus

Several months ago, Curtis Burns and I sat down and challenged each other to come up with a better medical hoof boot. We both felt the products on the market could be improved to better serve the laminitic and foundered horses. In addition, we felt a product line could be improved to give professionals more options during a treatment cycle. Our main goals were to develop a new boot with the following features:

The Easyboot Stratus in the prototype area.

1.  High quality materials.

2.  Soft internal materials to prevent rubbing.

3.  Fastening system and sole shape to prevent twisting.

4.  Tread system that accepts the EasyCare Therapy Click System.

5.  Each boot will come with a pad system.  

Easyboot Stratus.  Getting Close. 

One of the features of the boot that I'm most excited about is the fastening system. The system has an internal piece of webbing that hugs the contours of the horses heel when fastened. The webbing runs between the layers of the boot, doesn't actually touch the horse but places pressure in the right areas. This strap keeps the heel down and prevents twisting.   

Cut away view of the heel area.  Easy to see how the internal webbing strap holds the boot in place.

Non cutaway version shows how the webbing exits the boot. 

Each boot will come with a the Stratus Pad System and 15 stabilization rods. The system will allow professionals to custom design a pad for each horse and change the pad during the treatment cycle.  Rods are made of different densities and are inserted into the pad to add/change or remove cushion.  

The pad with 15 comfort rods. Different colors for different density.  

We are excited about the Stratus project and believe it will help horses and the professionals that treat them. Looking at a late 2017 or early 2018 launch.  

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.