Endurance And EasyCare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Receiving the National Championship Award by Susan Garlinghouse.

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

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

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

From the National AERC Convention

By Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

Freedom Movement

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

Someone recently asked me how to convince their clients to schedule their horse(s) on a shorter trim cycle. One of my clients had this horse's leg bone and I haven't been able to get the shape and function of the fetlock joint out of my head. Talk about no margin of error. There is no room for error. Trimming  is meant to be done daily in nature. Horse's feet grow 1/16th of an inch every four to five days (3/8" - 1/2" per month). If they are naturally a little crooked due to conformation flaws (which every horse has to some degree)  then the longer their walls get, and the more crooked the foot gets. Their feet are their foundation. If they are crooked the horse must compensate in their body. This is typically where leg, shoulder, neck, back, hip, hock, stifle, knee and jaw pain comes from. The horse is a living kinetic structure. Any imbalance in any joint affects every other joint. 
 
I think the biggest thing that is overlooked in horse's hooves is how much the horse is affected by minute imbalances in the hoof. Here is an example: take a four foot builders level. Fix it vertically to the jamb of a door. Check it for plumb. The bubble should be centered between the lines at the center of the level. Slide a penny between the bottom of the level and the floor, on the jamb side of the level. You should notice the top of the level come away from the jamb about an inch and half. 

A penny is about 1/16 of an inch thick. That's how much the hoof walls grow in about five days. If the leg of a horse isn't plumb then one side of the hoof gets longer than the other from lack of wear. The weight of the horse gets distributed more to the short side of the hoof. The longer this condition persists the more the short side of the hoof gets excessive wear and crushed, the more crushing, the less circulation, the less circulation the less growth, etc. Horses can compensate for years, silently, until their lameness becomes obvious. Most often this appears as a "mystery" lameness or gets diagnosed as a neurological issue, or even disease. The cure is the same as the prevention; keep the heels level, don't just eye ball it. Use a gauge. Remember that a 1/16 inch off at the ground equals an inch and a half at the shoulder. This is pretty significant to the horse when they are trying to keep 300 lbs (per leg) balanced four feet above a four inch diameter circle. Problems are compounded with the addition of a rider.

The cadaver leg in the photo below is crooked and shows uneven wear.  The live foot is properly balanced. 

Horses feet can't be left to go to hell for several weeks and then brought back for a few days. They're designed to be perfectly balanced, always.
People still don't want to admit that this is supposed to be done daily by nature. Domesticated horses rely on humans for this and the real problem is that too many people set trim schedules according to their pocket book instead of the rate of growth, or empathy for the horse. 

Positive Changes

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo, Wild Hearts Hoof Care

I was recently asked by EasyCare to write up a few words about our trimming theory and approach. This always ends up being quite difficult to be succinct with, as there are so many ways depending on the horse. But, at our foundation we believe that the hoof is a highly adaptable “smart structure” as said by Dr. Taylor of Auburn University. The hoof is capable of positive change given the opportunity with supportive trims, diet and lifestyle. We have seen it over and over and over again in our hoof care practice.

This left front hoof made the visual changes above, as well as an internal coffin bone angle change from negative to positive angles (-2.45 degrees to positive 3.25 degrees) in 6 months

We have found that if you help the hoof a little bit with your trim, by setting it up to grow better between cycles, making sure the horse is comfortable to move properly with minimal or no compensative movement, and then get out of their way, they can develop a pretty awesome hoof. It may not be the picture in some people’s mind of The Perfect Hoof, but it can be a pretty awesome, functional, sound and improving hoof for that horse.

This right hind hoof made a positive change (literally) to the angle of his coffin bone, which we can see by observing the angle of the hoof wall and the hairline. In the October image, the hairline is much steeper, the heel is lower and forward and the dorsal wall is bulging in a bull nosed shape. By January, his hairline is more shallow and relaxed down, the heel is in a more supportive position under the bulbs and his dorsal wall is straight. (Please note that this was not straightened with the hoof buffer, which we used to only very lightly scuff the walls.) 

 The yellow and green line overlays were copied and pasted unchanged from each of the images to show the shape changes that took place over 11 weeks.

The owner may have to make some changes for the horse’s sake, and in fact, it is pretty much guaranteed.Often this involves things like changing the footing in the horse’s pen to be cleaner or more dry, perhaps treating for thrush, changing from sweet feeds to a lower carb vitamin/mineral supplement and almost always learning how and when to use hoof boots

It also often involves educating owners as to what a healthy hoof looks like. When an owner learns to recognize signs of hoof distortion they can, for the rest of their horse owning life, step in and know when to make necessary changes before things get too out of whack.    

You could say that the frog’s change in width, in this right hind hoof, over 11 weeks was simply due to a style change of trimming less from the sides, but how to explain the change in the heel bulb shape? This cannot be cut to shape, the horse makes this change.  

We tell our clients that it takes around eight months to one year to grow a whole new hoof. Some horses need to grow two or more hoof cycles to really develop into more like what we like to see, but I think it is important to be aware that the horse, and his feet, are always in motion. They are always growing, and they can be growing for the better every moment. Sometimes we are gifted with quick visual changes, the heels open up, or maybe the wall quality improves right away.  But even if we don’t see huge changes externally, we can know that the horse is moving better, perhaps a longer stride, more confident loading their heels. This tells us that internally, things are improving, realigning, developing and strengthening.

Finally, we feel strongly that you need to look holistically at the situation. The horse’s feet may be better aligned with some modifications to their trim, and that is wonderful, but that’s not all. That change then impacts the way he stands and moves, which impacts the angles of his joints and the way he uses his soft tissues.  It is a whole horse change.

Left front, 11 weeks between images.

What does your horse have going on that could be improved upon?  Could he benefit from a change?  How much more could you see from your beloved partner in terms of comfort and performance? 

Sossity and Mario of Wild Hearts Hoof Care.

 

Frog Talk, Part II

In Frog Talk, Part I last month, we discussed frog trimming and looked at various frog pictures of all kinds of shape and form. In this second part of Frog Talk, we are going to discuss the following:

- Crooked frogs

- Frog pathologies/diseases

- Treatment options

Crooked frogs:

This frog of a left front hoof had moved to the lateral side, the right side from the bottom seen here. The question is, why did it do that? In many cases where a side movement of the frog can be observed, it moves to the higher side of the hoof, in this case the higher side is lateral, where the green arrow points. Comparing heel height by means of the red horizontal line, we can see that the lateral heel has moved forward and needs to get trimmed shorter. Notice that little crack in the heel (blue arrow). That is one of the markers the hoof tries to tell us that the heel is too high in this area. In my blog from July 2014 I talked about Daniel Anz and the F Balance. These markers help us decide how far we can or should trim the heels down. A very interesting concept.

Here as well, the frog tip moved to the higher side of the heels. This hoof being front left, the higher side is the medial side. The red arrow at the heel shows how far that heel has moved forward compared the the lateral heel (blue arrow). Even the heel bulb was pulled forward with it, meaning that this imbalance had existed for a while. 

In both cases the higher heels need to get shortened and the hooves balanced. I would not trim anything off the frog and artificially realign it with the hoof's center line, just for optical reasons so it would look 'pretty'. By doing so, I would rob the frog of its protective callused skin and make it vulnerable for pathogens to invade. If the hoof is balanced, these frogs will realign themselves again without any trimming.  

This one throws us a curve ball, telling us that it will not play by these rules. Indeed, the frog tip moved to the lower side of the heel. The green horizontal line indicates level heel height, clearly the blue arrow shows the higher heel, while the red arrow the movement of the frog tip. 

What gives? Looking at the high and long bar on the higher (left) hoof side within the red arch could give us the clue: the bar could have pushed the frog to the side. 

The outer shape of the frog matches the inner shape of the frog's corium. Looking at these cadaver hoof capsules with huge bars, one can easily imagine how these overgrown bars (below the red semicircle) can create havoc inside the hoof capsule. 

Here the bar had grown so large and long, that it created a dorsal hoof wall crack (red arrow tip). Again, easy to imagine how much damage this bar did to the frog corium and subsequently the actual visible frog.

This neglected hoof and frog does not want to play ball either. Here the frog tips point in two different directions, the older frog, ready to shed, in one direction, the newer frog in the other. With these way overgrown heels it is even hard to decide which one is higher or if both are similar height.

Where does that leave us? Well, the famous answer: it depends. Heel imbalance can be a reason, long bars can be a reason, the way a horse moves, lands, breaks over, all can be reasons. I like to look at the frog deviations as indicators that something is amiss and that I need to get exploring and finding out what it is and what to do about it. But I leave the frog itself mostly untouched. Then I also can get confirmation at the next trim, if I balanced the hoof correctly so the frog was able to self correct. 

Frog pathologies and diseases:

We can differentiate between frog yeast, the white powdery or smeary substance, fungus, a black layer of frog decay, and thrush, which combines fungus and anaerobic bacteria to really attack the frogs substance. Thrush is the most destructive form and if untreated, can migrate deep into the corium, laming up a horse in a big way. 

This frog certainly harbors all all three. There are holes everywhere, the frog is literally falling apart. Double sole, long bars, long heels and hoof wall. The frog is trying desperately to get some kind of ground contact, and although it is very sick, it does not want to shed anything. Now it is time to cut the decayed matter, find out how bad the damage is, treat it accordingly and give that hoof some relief.

After a preliminary trim of the neglected hoof, the frog damage becomes visible: red arrow points to yeast, blue arrow to fungus.

On this frog tell tale signs:

Typical 'butt crack' indicating thrush infestation. 

Recessed, thrush infected frog. Very often frogs that do not receive enough ground stimulation recede and suffer from thrush and other infections. Notice also the contracted heels and negative hoof wall angles. A totally dysfunctional frog, crying out for help.

Another prime example of a recessed frog, contracted heel, thrush infestations. This frog is dysfunctional and sick, cannot handle any load bearing. Bell shaped hoof capsule (Glockenform). The steel shoes he was wearing did not allow the heels to spread and be load bearing. 

Treatment Options:

There are many thrush treatments available, from Thrushbuster to White Lightning, Kopertox, Iodine, bleach, vinegar, sugar betadine solutions, copper sulfate solutions and paste etc.  Some of these mentioned above are toxic and kill healthy tissue as well. Others are complicated to apply, you have to soak the hooves for a time period in solutions. For all these options, the EasySoaker works excellently. Not a better boot can be found on the market. It will take time and effort, though,  to treat thrush with liquids. 

A quicker and more effective way to treat thrush are pastes. Specifically I like these two formulas:

-  Hypozin, an effective paste developed in the Netherlands

- Antibiotic and antifungal cream mixed 50/50.

(This can be Neosporin, triple antibiotic, mixed with with Athletes Foot Cream)

   

Either one of these two pastes will do an excellent job of killing thrush within a few days. Monoject curved syringes work best for the application.

Arguments have been made that thrush is caused by bacteria that thrive in an anaerobic environment. True enough. Conclusions have been drawn that it is therefore better to cut the frog clean, so air or oxygen can reach the frog and thus kill the bacteria. The reality is that oxygen seldom, if ever, reaches the frog in the best of cases. Most of the time the horse stands in soft ground, the sole and frog filled with soil, mud and manure. No oxygen is able to penetrate there. So, unless a horse is moving fast over gravel, sand or other abrasive terrain, there just is no oxygen reaching infected soles and killing any thrush bacteria. I would much rather keep the callused frog with all its little pockets and niches. These will allow me to fill these with anti thrush cream. There the cream will stay and keep working 24/7 without getting worn off or worked out. 

Back to our contracted heels. Daisy Bicking wrote a very informative blog over a year ago about heel slippering. I found it to be a great way to aid with rehabilitating contracted heels and recessed frogs. A very worthy read. 

After slippering heels and treating thrush with paste mentioned above, what is left to accomplish is frog stimulation. If the frog is pressure sensitive, we need to proceed slowly and with baby steps. Sand and pea gravel are preferred ground cover for healthy frogs to move over. Lacking any of these grounds, we then can look into the usage of Vettec products like Equipak or Equipak CS. 

 

This frog pictured above was sensitive to pressure and only marginally functional. It actually appears stronger than it was. After cleaning and drying thoroughly, I supported it with Equipak CS. This soft cushion (Strahl Polster, frog support, pour in, caudal support) allows the frog to accept more load bearing while at the same time guarding against thrush with the CS (copper-sulfate) addition. The small recessed frog in the photo above would also greatly benefit from an Equipak cushion.

Of course, none of this will work in the long run, unless we use a holistic approach in our horsemanship and hoof care. Only then can we guarantee long lasting success. The elements of this holistic system are:

  • Nutrition (up to par)
  • Strong immune system
  • Proper footing/stratum
  • Movement and plenty turnout
  • Barefoot as much as possible.

But that last part we all know anyway. Am I not correct with this assumption?

 

From the desk of the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

Clouds in the Rain: The Water Wicking Properties of a Thick, Concave Sole

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

When I was a landscape designer/contractor I loved the rain. I prayed that it would come and water my newly created landscapes because the water from the hose never had the same effect as a good rain. The plants would grow a few more inches, foliage filled in and greened up, and the dust was washed off of the boulders and stones in a way that softened the look of the landscape and heightened the subtle colors of the desert. The rain would freshen everything it touched. My love for rain quickly went away when I started trying to rehab horses feet. 

In the beginning, just when I felt like I was making progress with a horse, the rains would come and I'd have horse owner's calling me worried about their horse being sore. I'd do my best to convince the owner that their horse was just temporarily rain sore and to help them keep their horses as comfortable as possible until it dried out, often driving out to see if there was something else I could do. Many times the drive wasn't wasted and all I needed to do was clean the hard packed mud clod off of their soles. This usually provided immediate relief, however mud would accumulate again and the owner would have to keep their feet clean. Over the years I tried everything to prevent rain soreness:

  • Leaving the walls a little longer
  • Boots and pads
  • Creating positive drainage
  • Adding pea gravel

I did everything I could think of, including warning the owner up front that they would likely experience soreness during the rains for the first year or two.

After about 10 years of dreading the rains, and just when I was starting to get used to warning the owners before we started the rehabilitation process, I started having much better results. At first I attributed that to being prepared with boots and managing the environment, but some horses were still having trouble even when their owners were being proactive. After a long time of trying to figure out how to predict and prevent this problem I realized that some of the horses were getting along fine with big old mud clods on their soles while others were lame and the horses that were getting along fine had better feet at the end of the rainy season while the lame horses feet looked worse. I really wanted to understand what the difference was.

Over time I became aware of a pattern. After things dried out, the improved feet had a tremendous amount of crumbly sole that easily exfoliated, revealing even more concavity than they went into the wet season with, while the the horses that went in with flatter feet had even flatter feet by the end of the season. This realization caused me to try to help horses build as much sole as possible during the dry seasons. Convincing the owners to do their part was a challenge but I had a much better success rate with the ones that cooperated. 

First I had to get the owners to see and understand when the feet were improving and when they were declining instead of just riding their horse until they broke down, and then freaking out. Next I had to get them involved in the process so they felt more like it was a collaboration. After they knew what progress looked like and they realized that the changes were happening after they improved the footing and/or started using boots and pads they began to take even more ownership of the rehab process. Once it started feeling like team work, their horse's feet started getting even better.

I know 2016 was a bad year for a lot of folks but I had some of the toughest founder cases with the quickest and best turnarounds that I've ever seen. One of the biggest reasons for this was the arrival of the EasyCare Cloud boot. I used this boot extensively to get foundered and rain sore horses through the wet weather. I went through more than one pair in a few months time with several horses. In many of the extreme cases the boots were left on until the sun was shining. Sometimes they only had them off for an hour or two for the feet and the boots to dry out. I was able to trim frequently enough to keep the dead tissue to a minimum. This kept the feet from getting infected and allowed extra comfort after a trim. I taught the owners to use the boots as much as needed, but as little as possible, and to gently graduate their horses out of them until their horses were moving around comfortably totally bare. 

Over the last few years I've learned to love the rain again. I've also learned some interesting things about horse's feet. In wet weather the mud that collects in a concave sole works somewhat like a sponge. When a healthy concave hoof with thick live sole gets packed with mud, the weight of the horse squeezes the moisture out of the mud and keeps the sole dry. An old fashioned orange juice squeezer might be a better analogy. The mud ball elevates the foot off of the  ground just enough to let the weight of the horse squeeze the water out. They can go for weeks and maybe months like this if they have adequate concavity in the beginning. Once a horse is acclimated to their weight bearing being distributed between their heels and the peripheral edge of their sole at the toe, the sole will thicken and form a bowl (concavity). Achieving this is possible for most horses if they have the right owner/trimmer team. These horses are the ones that benefit from the rain. For the horses that go into the wet season with thin, flat, or even prolapsed soles, Easyboot Clouds used responsibly in conjunction with well timed and properly balanced trimming, should at the very least get a horse comfortably through the wet weather.

 An added benefit is that the rocker effect of the mud clod on a properly balanced, thick, concave sole helps to develop the digital cushion and lateral cartilages because the weight bearing is over the back of the foot where it belongs. This puts the center of the mud ball directly under the soft regenerative tissue in the back half of the foot, and increases flexion in the hoof capsule, while the rocker effect on a thin flat sole caused by excessive weight bearing on the toe puts the center of the mud ball directly under the coffin bone in the front half of the foot. This causes excruciating pain and magnifies the strain on the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon along with the ligaments and joints in the leg. Flexion of the hoof capsule is increased this way too, but in a harmful way.

I believe some of the founder cases from this year (pictured above) may not have been as successful without the Easyboot Cloud

And Then I Tried EasyShoes

Submitted by Jo Harder, EasyCare Customer

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

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

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

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

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

And then I tried EasyShoes... 

...And then I loved EasyShoes.

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

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

Plastic knives are for more than just camping!

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

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

A wedge in an EasyShoe?  Yes!

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

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

Easily removing EasyShoes with an upholstery tack lifter.

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

 

Retracted Soles: A Broader Perspective

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frog Talk - Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Will the horse travel better or worse afterwards?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now to an interesting question: 

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

 Lets have a look at these frog flaps:

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

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

 

From The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

 

Stuff that Stocking!

Submitted by Rebecca Robbins, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

It’s time for that song, “You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you re-call, the most famous reindeer of all…

In order to do a long trek around the globe, those Reindeer needed healthy foot care and the right equipment! Don’t forget to help out your horse lover in need with stocking stuffers from EasyCare, Inc! We have a great variety from hoof picks, stowaway bags, rasps to everyday boot needs!

A robust wire brush on one end, with an ergonomically designed   wooden handle and integrated steel hoof pick at the other end.   Two tools in one.

 

A robust wire brush on one end, with an ergonomically designed wooden handle and integrated steel hoof pick at the other end. Two tools in one.

 

 

 

 

Our Stowaway line is the most advanced innovation in “no-bounce” saddle pack design. Maximum storage with minimum bulk, these packs will work for every riding style. Several compartments allow for better organization and quick, easy access to what you need when you need it. Superior fabric and heavy-duty adjustment systems make these packs the most durable, user- friendly pack you'll ever own.

 

 

 

 

The Save Edge 14" rasp has been the industry standard for many years. It is famous because of unmatched sharpness and longevity. It is a top choice of professional farriers and anyone who does their own trimming. Rasp teeth on one side, file on the other. Handles available in white, black, blue and red (sold separately).

 

 

 

 

Nitrile Tough. Fits like a second skin, Wears like Iron! These gloves are the result of years of research and development; ergonomically shaped, knitted without seams, flexible, durable, and comfortable. A breathable nylon liner coated with a tough Nitrile layer gives you all the protection you need! Machine washable

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget! In order for those Horses to handle those icy conditions like Santa’s Reindeer, we have a large variety of Boots that can be used with Quick studs to handle those icy conditions! Keep in mind boot style matters when it comes to this added level of traction!

 

EasyCare Horse Boot Studs (set of 4) Length is 3/4" Use in up to size 4 for Easyboot, Epic, Glove and Back Country style boots

 

 

 

EasyCare Horse Boot Studs (set of 4) These Studs are 1" long to fit Easyboot and Epic sizes 5, 6 and 7, and all sizes of New Mac and Easyboot Trail boots                 

 

 

 

 

Quick Studs for hoof boots and urethane shoes.

 

 

 

EasyCare and its team wish you a very Merry Christmas!

It's Never Too Late To Go Barefoot

First Place Story Winner

Submitted by Shannon Bossung, EasyCare Customer

Manni, my dressage horse has overcome many obstacles. He came into my life 12 years ago, after he had been rescued from mental and physical abuse.  He was 11 years old at the time.

I had been told by vets and farriers that he would always need shoes.  Over the next ten years, he made a good recovery mentally, (he will always have a few issues) but his feet were another story.  I tried different varieties of shoes, heart bar shoes, shims, but his hooves were never "good".  I had shown him through Grand Prix dressage, but this had taken its toll on him.  By the time he was 21, shoes were no longer able to keep him sound. My vet and farrier had no further suggestions as to what I could do; they never felt barefoot would be an option for him, but Manni had come so far, and he was telling me that he was not ready to retire.  I felt he deserved every chance I could give him. 

I learned about the different EasyCare hoof boot varieties at a barefoot trimming clinic and decided it was worth a try to transition Manni to barefoot in stages. I began by pulling Manni's shoes and using the EasyShoe Performance N/G for eight weeks. After that, for six months I used the Easyboot Glove with pad inserts while he was turned out and for short rides, and stalled him barefoot.  Now, about a year and a half later, he is barefoot and sound!  I use the Easyboot Glove for trail riding on rocky soils, he is barefoot for arena schooling, field turnout and stall.  I use the EasyCare Glue-Ons on the front hooves only, for the occasional competition.  Today, his hooves are beautiful and still improving. This would not have been possible without the variety of EasyCare boots and shoes used to transition him in stages.  

We recently celebrated another success story with Manni.  This past summer he took a student of mine, a young dressage rider (Sammi Burke) to the CBLM Championships. He also helped Sammi earn her USDF bronze medal and got her halfway to her USDF silver medal (Silver Medal scores in both Fourth Level and FEI Prix St Georges)!  Mannie turned 23 years old this year. He is sound and happy, and currently enjoys scenic trail rides along the Potomac river. He is slowly retiring but still enjoys tormenting the occasional student. He is a special horse. He has taught many students about perseverance; he's not flashy but he tries hard, and he expects the same of them. He has his quirks, and teaches his students to have a sense of humor.  He will spook at himself spooking!  He doesn't tolerate bad riding from an experienced rider, but is infinitely patient with a green rider. Myself, my students, and many friends that know Manni is "family". We are all so pleased that Easyboots helped Manni not only recover but thrive, when others told us he was "done". We hope that you can share his story and possibly help other horses get another chance to be happy and sound, no matter what their age.