Changing Environment = Changing Hooves

Last time, in Horsekeeping - The Way the Other Half Does It, I described the changes that my gelding had undergone after a pasture injury. Everything about his life would change, aside from me, and even then I have found myself significantly more neurotic than what I consider to be normal. Poor guy didn't have a chance. So far we're five weeks into the rest/controlled exercise period, and I am starting to see some marked changes in his hooves. Oh, and he's fat. Real fat. 

Fat horse! It's funny to see this horse pudgy as it's been work to keep him at a good weight for the past three years. Enjoy it, Topper, your vacation is quickly coming to a close! 

Currently Topper and I are five weeks in our two month period of pen-rest with daily controlled exercise. His pen is about 20x30 and filled with sand. I wasn't sure how this was going to impact his feet, but from what I've seen, there is definitely good and bad.

New sand = horsey bliss

Because I'm a turn-lemons-into-lemon-drop-martinis-kinda-girl, I'll start with the positives:

The sand buffs the hoof wall smooth and seems to assist in self-trimming despite the drastic reduction in movement. While it is winter and hoof growth slows dramatically, Topper is usually on an every two week schedule due to the fact he flares like a cowboy hat at the NFR, but recently he's gone four weeks with no flare and isn't screaming for a trim. His hoofs are showing concavity like never before. Ever. 


The disgusting green stuff is the only thrush product I had on hand, and most likely over ten years old. His frogs look pretty nasty, but look at that scoop! A better thrush product should help immensely

Now while this all sounds like rainbows and roses, I'm not going to lie about the challenges. Unfortunately, living in soft sand makes the hard-pack road-mix ground painful when walking around. I notice this immediately after taking Topper out of his pen, if I haven't cleaned out his feet when the sand is damp and packs in his hooves. If I clean them out, he's good until he hits a rock- ouch! Those sand-balls that gather create a snowball-type effect and is just too much pressure on his soft soles. I have also noticed some actual thrush starting, which is also a new thing! So many new things, grin and bear it, and learn from it. At least I have an excuse to try out White Lightening to fight that thrush! 

Last week we were blessed <sarcastic> with a deluge of rain and His Highness decided standing in the puddle at the uncovered end of his paddock was a good idea. The false sole that had packed in began exfoliating and Topper was pretty sensitive over the rocks. Easyboot Gloves to the rescue! After a thorough cleaning, out came my old friends, Easyboot Glove Wides, came out and immediately Topper strode out over the rocks like they always do with their boots. Everyone should have a pair for those "just in case" moments. I left his boots on overnight, and the next day, he was comfortable bare. It's all about having the right tools, at the right times. 

Some of our walk-abouts are over some pretty decent rock. Who would have thought boots might be needed around the barn!

I'm curious to see what the next couple weeks hold for us at our temporary home. Even bigger changes ahead, but we'll be ready for whatever comes! How do you deal with the changes from stall to harder footing at your barn? 

The Caudal Foot

A big and healthy frog is desirable, but why? What is hiding above it and what makes it so important?

This nice specimen of a big frog on this Irish Cobb stands in stark contrast to the narrow and underdeveloped frog below:


The caudal or plantar foot (back half) is designed to not only support the weight of the horse and distribute it within the foot, but also absorb the landing force of the moving horse which can be 10 greater than the mere weight of the animal.

To understand the importance of form and function of the frog, let's have a look inside the hoof capsule, more specific, the inside just above the frog.

Rear view of the interior of the horse hoof (From the Glass Horse).

The collateral cartilages are composed of hyaline cartilage with vascular channels inside for energy dissipation, while the digital cushion consists mostly of fibrocartilage.

With continuous stimulation (through the frog's ground contact) and exercise, these tissues will adapt and become bigger and thicker, as more collagen is deposited within them, thus developing a fibrocartilaginous tissue of glycoproteins and proteoglycans.

In strong hooves, the thickness of the lateral cartilage is up to 1/3 of the width of the hoof, in weaker hooves a  lot less. So by palpating the lateral cartilage, one can determine if a hoof is strong or weak, fully developed or pathologically atrophied. Furthermore, the collateral cartilages themselves should be connected with each other by a strong floor upon which the digital cushion sits. The stronger and thicker this floor becomes, the more it can protect the navicular bone and its two ligaments which connect it to the third and second phalanx. So we can see a direct correlation between the navicular syndrome and a thin and underdeveloped collateral cartilage.

The images below  of a cut section through the hoof just above the frog, parallel to the ground reveal  the difference between thin and thick cartilages clearly:

Above fotos and script by courtesy of Dr. Robert Bowker (Bowker files)

A schematic three dimensional drawing of a strong foot vs a weak (underdeveloped) foot helps visualizing the interior of the hoof capsule:

Drawing by Dr. Robert Bowker (Bowker files).


X-rays do not show the non bony interior of the hoof capsule  very well. So how can we simply and easily determine, by observation and palpation, what kind of hoof we are dealing with?

First we can observe and feel the lateral cartilage with our fingers:

Large and well developed lateral cartilage on this hoof, feeling firm and thick, not mushy.

Compare the above to this underdeveloped hoof of a 4 year old mare with a small and thin lateral cartilage:

Next we compare the length of the collateral cartilage to the length of the coffin bone. In a strong hoof, the cartilage should be longer than the coffin bone. Judge for yourself in the foto below how this hoof stacks up. Red line indicates the length of the cartilage, green arrow the approximate length of the coffin bone.

Next, we feel for the thickness and denseness of the digital cushion:

Medium density and thickness observed in this hoof.

Compare again to the underdeveloped hoof of the 4 year old mare:

The digital cushion feels soft and mushy.

The digital cushion is also very thin. Observe how easily my thumb can press into it. This foot lacks sufficient structure in supporting the forces and loads when traveling and standing.

Next we check for the strength of the connectivity (the floor) between both lateral cartilages. For this test, we place thumbs of both hands on the heel bulbs and index fingers on the heel. Then we try to move the medial and lateral heel sections in opposite directions. We want to feel and observe very little, if any, movement whatsoever, an indication of a well developed and thick connection (floor) and corium. Both heel halves should feel solidly and firmly connected. Best is if no movement is felt.

Blue arrows indicate direction of push.

Natural Hoof Trimming considerations: It is advisable to refrain from any frog trimming (There are exceptions). Professor Robert Bowker found in his research that  the front 1/3 of the frog is activating fibrocytes to produce this important fibrocartilage in these ligaments. This fibrocartilage is essential for strength, protection and shock absorption as well as shock dissipation. He calls it the 'swollen' part of the frog, which begins about 1 cm behind the apex.

He also believes that the foot should get more centrally loaded by carrying about 80% of the load, while the actual hoof wall should carry only about 20%. Trimming should reflect this percentage.

We can determine the probability of long term soundness in large part by evaluating the digital cushion and collateral ligaments. A young untrained horse (3-5 years) with underdeveloped caudal foot needs to be judged differently than an older one displaying the same weakness. The younger horse has a lot of potential to develop a robust caudal foot, while there might be inherently less of a chance with an older horse that does not sport a thick and large collateral ligament and digital cushion.

Exercise, palmar hoof and sole stimulation, and proper diet are essential for hoof development. It will be interesting to see how the hoof of that 4 year old will look in 2 years from now.

For hoof stimulation, best surface is still pea gravel.

When placed in areas the horses like to hang out the most, for example at their feeding places, the constant stimulation will not only toughen the sole and frog, but greatly help develop this important fibrocartilage in the palmar foot.

With this last blog of the 2012 season, I hope to give some more insights and food for thought in Natural Horse and Hoof Care, so that our horses can benefit from it through soundness and longevity.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Your Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center


Complacency (And Why You Shouldn't Have It)

Submitted by Carla Richardson, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Complacency. Defined as "self satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies." Hmm.  Well ok, I'm guilty.

Some of you probably know that my horse Khid and I have accumulated a lot of miles in AERC endurance, and almost all of those miles have been in Glue-On boots. In 2011, we did 50 rides (2,525 miles) and Khid never lost a boot. Well, that was because I had the Bootmeister to thank for gluing Khid's boots on, perfectly. When Christoph puts on the boots, they just don't come off. In 2012, I decided I needed to start gluing boots on for myself. You can probably see where this is going. 

My first attempt to glue on boots was for the five day ride in May at Mt Carmel XP in southern Utah. I glued on the boots at home a couple of days before the ride. I struggled with an old rasp that my farrier had given me, and I admittedly did not do a very good job at preparing the hoof wall. My trimmer had trimmed Khid a few days before so the "hard work" had already been done -- all I had to do was clean the hoof, prepare the wall, and glue on, right? Ok, so I had seen this done like a gazillion times, so I knew how to proceed. However, I didn't have a hoof stand. I used an upside down bucket to rest Khid's hooves on while I tried to rasp the wall to get a good surface for gluing. I can imagine some of you laughing at this, and yes it was kind of funny, because Khid's hoof kept falling off the bucket. He is a very patient horse, though, and we got through it, all four hooves had some form of "scratching" on them by the time I finished.

So the next step was to put the Sikaflex in the bottom of the boots, check, no problem there, that's easy. I only got a little bit on my shorts and shirt, no problem. Next, clip off the tip of the Adhere I had purchased the new and improved application gun, and yes it does work better than the old one that I had tried several years before, but it was still not an easy thing. I used a new tip for each boot. I didn't get too much Adhere on me, and I didn't get any glue on Khid's legs.

I arrive at the ride, and the first day of the ride goes without a hitch, all the boots stayed on. By the end of the five-day ride, the failure rate of my first attempt at gluing on boots was pretty high because I had not used enough Adhere, and I definitely had not prepared the hoof wall correctly.

My next attempt to glue on worked much better. I was much more thorough with preparing each hoof, and with practice it was much easier to apply the glue. This ride was my favorite ride, the 5-day Grand Canyon XP in September. I wanted to use the Glue-Ons and I knew what I needed to do. I was thrilled with the result, all my boots stayed on. Just in case, I had carefully carried two Gloves every day, in case I lost a boot. We never lost a boot, and finished all 5 days. Success! 

Complacency: it will bite you hard if you don't watch out. The moral of the story is: your prep work is all important.

Khid finished his 2012 ride season doing the 3 day Desert Gold Pioneer in California. He wore Gloves, and they were wonderful. The ride has some very hard gravel roads, very hard footing for our horses, and Khid handled them with ease in his Gloves. I have truly come to appreciate the Glove as the superior boot. I can put all four on in less than 10 minutes, in  the dark, at the trailer, and Khid has had zero rubs this year from the gaiters. What I love about the Glove is after the ride, I can take them off and he's barefoot instantly. My trimmer says his hooves have never looked better.

Khid and I did 2,135 AERC endurance miles this year, all in Easyboots, most of those miles in the Glove

Carla Richardson

Having a Barefoot Clinic is as Easy as 1 2 3

Submitted by Charmain Q De Hart, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Having a barefoot clinic is not an easy task. Although we have done numerous presentations and several clinics, I still had that anxious feeling I get when I really don’t want to forget anything. That would include every type of boot you have to display (thanks to EasyCare for providing single boots for display purposes), brochures on different types of boots and boot accessories, brochures on barefoot services, handouts on what your lecture is covering, banners and posters of anatomy and a white board to draw on.

You never know exactly what people expect when they attend a Barefoot Clinic. Starting out with nutrition always seems like a good idea; get people while they are fresh and can take as much as they can in before we move on to what they really think they came for. Next would be the anatomy of the hoof and trimming and last but not least boots.

Six years ago when we first ventured out spreading the barefoot word, utilizing boots for barefoot horses was pretty much unheard of here in our part of the world. Sure people pulled their horses shoes off during the winter, but in a true barefoot person’s mind we don’t consider this truly going barefoot. Barefoot to us is no metal shoes, completely barefoot 24/7, 365 days out of the year and booting when needed. The only boot that anyone really heard of was the Original Easyboot. Oh yes, the infamous Easyboot, the boot that people still say didn’t stay on if ridden on tough uneven terrain.  

Fast forward to 2012 where boots have come a long way. The options are greater and the quality of the products has changed two fold. There are many types of boots for different types of disciplines.  There are low profile boots like the Glove, the Glue-On or the Epic for people that put 25+ miles a week on their horse. If they are the casual trail rider their boot of preference could be the Trail or maybe the Old Mac's.  And of course for rehab purposes the Rx. Easycare is on the cutting edge of new, improved boot selection.

The turnout was great and we received a lot of positive feedback which makes all the work of putting a clinic together worth it! If one person can be convinced “to come to the dark side”, I feel we have accomplished something good. After a 3 hour lecture, one person pulled shoes off of her gelding and another person left exclaiming she was going to try and go barefoot with her horse. The consensus was that most people got most out of nutrition lecture. 

Knowing when the best time for their horse to be on pasture to how to test their hay for any lacking minerals and sugar levels. Another person that had been going barefoot for quite some time spoke with us after the clinic in regards to boots. She felt she had gotten a ton of info in regards to diet, pasture management and trimming but at the point of us talking about boots she said the “light” went on and she said that was the piece of the puzzle she was missing to be able to ride her horse comfortably on the trail.

Basically what it all boils down to is proper trimming on a regular schedule, movement and a good environment build good hooves. These things combined with proper nutrition build great hooves.

Charmain Q De Hart


December, 2012 Newsletter: Garrett talks about his discoveries of maintenance hoof trimming

Dear EasyCare Customer,

EasyCare Article Image

Garrett talks about his discoveries of maintenance hoof trimming.

Daisy reviews the condition of contracted soles in hooves.

The December 2012 dealer of the month is Crazy Horse Saddles & Tack.

Alayna reviews the new 'The Barefoot Horse' book by Lucy Nicholas.

If you're looking for some deeply discounted holiday shopping, go to our Bargain Bin. Make sure you do it on or before Friday, December 21: the EasyCare offices will be closed until Monday, January 7, 2013.

Do you need support in making boot choices or troubleshooting? You can contact us at the EasyCare offices for free advice, no matter where you purchase your Easyboots.

Please keep in touch: our goal is to help you succeed with EasyCare products and your booting needs.


Read More

Are You Stupid Or What?

I recently told one of my horse friends that the best equine gift I've ever given myself and my equine partners in the ability to do my own hoof trimming! In return my friend gave me an "are you stupid or what?" look.  Yes, I believe the ability for a horse owner to do their own trimming maintenance, or at least be involved in the trimming of their horses is the best gift you can give yourself and your equines.

Not only will trimming maintenance make you a much better horse person, trimming is an excuse to buy all kinds of cool hoof care tools and accessories. 

Although I've just scratched the surface of hoof trimming, I trim my own heard of 17+ horses on a 4-5 week cycle.  I rarely do trimming for others and just concentrate on horses I own. I wouldn't say I have any formal training but doing my own horses I've developed enough expertise and enough skill to keep them all sound.  Several of my horses compete at a high level of endurance racing. 

Trimming is one of the many things that really puts you "in Sync" with your equine partners.

I've had the opportunity to watch and learn first hand from some of the best hoof care professionals in the world.  People like Pete Ramey, Jaime Jackson, Duncan McLaughlin, David Landerville, Christoph Schork, Curtis Burns, Jeremy Reynolds, Ove Lind, Susan Summers and Rusty Toth.  I'm far from the skill level of any of these people but have picked up enough knowledge to really like what I see after I trim.

We all have the ability to learn.  Here is a learning experience we put together in my barn.  Left to right: Curtis Burns, Jeremy Reynolds, Kevin Lange, Susan Summers, Christoph Schork, Garrett Ford, Rusty Toth, Dr Ben Hufnagle, Dr Hufnagle's assistant.  We are all surrounded with opportunities, it's up to us to make them happen. 

Don't get me wrong, the purpose of the blog is not to brag about my trimming skills or to take work away from the hoof care professional.  The purpose is to convince horse owners that you can, and should, maintain trims yourself.  Learning to do it yourself will help your horses, improve your knowledge and ironically help your hoof care professional. For many years I looked at trimming as this difficult task that only a select few could accomplish.  Not only is it easy to learn but I truly believe it's makes horse owners much more complete horse owners.  The payback is much larger than I ever anticipated. 

Here are a couple of the many reasons to learn the trimming skills required to trim or provide maintenance trims on your horses. 

1. Trimming your own horses forces you to get under and close to each horse.  You get to touch, feel and inspect each horse every 4-6 weeks at a minimum.

2.  The more horses you trim the more you learn.  The more you learn the better you trim.

3.  The finger points right at you.  If there is anything wrong with my horses feet there is no one to blame but me.  The old blame your trimmer or farrier is a standard in the equine world. Learn enough to place the blame on yourself even if you pay a hoof care professional.  When your hoof care professional leaves you should both agree on the results and share in the success or failure.  Don't point fingers. 

4.  Trim your horses when you want or when it's needed. 

Maintenance trimming is hard on me.  At 6'4" I'm the kind of guy who looks very odd trimming feet.  My back hurts like heck after trimming 3-4 horses and I often wonder if a hoof care professional would do a better job on my horses.  But in the end I think of the reasons why I trim my own horses and they always outweigh the reasons not to. 

In 2013, give yourself and your equine partners the gift. Ask your hoof care professional to help: ask them to give you the knowledge to perform maintenance trims.  Although I wouldn't say it, I often look at my friend and her horse's feet and smirk to myself about who is really being stupid. 

Give trimming a try. You won't regret it. 

Garrett Ford


President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.


My Horse Has Retracted Soles?

Ever have a horse with pretty healthy feet, and yet after a normal trim, just like you’ve given the horse a dozen times before, they are very footsore? Of course the horse is miserable, and you’re scratching your head wondering what went wrong?

Or a horse who has been suffering some sort of sub solar abscess that is not resolving after weeks and weeks? And every time you or the vet checks the horse you each get different reactions to hoof testers? And you wonder why won't this abscess resolve already?  


Or a horse with seemingly low grade laminitis that isn’t a metabolic type, didn’t have any illness, and hasn’t gotten into the grain bin? Poor horse just has hot feet, mild digital pulses, and sensitive feet?  


All of these situations could actually be retracted soles.  


Retracted soles are a hoof condition documented by Esco Buff APF, Ph.D CF, Hall of Fame Farrier from Webster, NY.  He presented on the subject at the 2012 International Hoof Care Summit, and has published an article on retracted soles in the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of the American Farriers Journal. I also spent five days with Dr Buff at his Summer Summit this past August where we further studied retracted soles.


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. As stated by Dr Buff in the AFJ article: “The appearance of the sole cannot be mistaken for any other sole issue. Instead of having a nice sole concavity, the sole appears to drop off from the white line. Retracted soles that get unnoticed by the farrier during trimming can result in over trimming of the hoof wall, causing the horse extreme pain due to sole pressure.” (Buff, E. 2012, Recognizing and Treating Retracted Soles, American Farriers Journal, Sept/Oct 2012)



Since learning about retracted soles, we have observed several horses in our own practice that the diagnosis clearly fits. Horses that previously we would have been scratching our heads along with the veterinarian as to the cause of the problem.





Our protocol for resolving retracted soles has followed the recommendations of Dr Buff and worked quite well. Retracted soles seem to have to grow out, as opposed to resolve, usually over 6-24 weeks. So long term care is needed.


The key to helping the horse seems to be:

  • Eliminating the wet/mud in the horse’s environment.  

When eliminating wet/mud in the horse’s environment isn’t possible, putting the horse in a dry stall with shavings or pelleted bedding for a period of time each day will help a lot.

  • Leave extra wall length when trimming.

Horses with retracted soles get very sore with sole pressure.  You can help the horse a lot by leaving a bit more wall length if you observe a retracted sole.  

  • Protect the sole. 

In mild cases just drying the feet out might be enough to grow out a retracted sole.  


In advanced cases Dr Buff recommends transferring load off the sole and to the back of the foot with a heart bar shoe. We have used EponaShoes, a plastic heart bar, with a lot of success in the advanced cases. These horses are much more comfortable immediately and often quickly go back to work. After each hoof care visit, we observe the sole regaining normal appearance.  



If the horse is footsore, you may find judicious use of a hoof boot and pad helpful, however, remember while a boot is a good protective device they can also hold in moisture. If you chose to use a hoof boot please also use a drying agent like Gold Bond powder liberally in the boots daily, and avoid boots in muddy turnout. Also, remember the horse may not tolerate much sole pressure so adjust your pad accordingly.



When evaluating your horse before trimming, please observe your soles for any retraction. You can save yourself from having a very sore footed horse. And if you’re dealing with a currently sore footed horse, please consider retracted soles as a possible cause. We have been able to benefit many horses in our practice with this information. I hope it helps you, too.

The Barefoot Horse

EasyCare has a new addition to our educational materials, The Barefoot Horse: An Introduction to Barefoot Hoof Care and Hoof Boots by Lucy Nicholas. Lucy is the co-proprietor of Trelawne Equine, the UK distributor for EasyCare Hoof Boots. With 94 color pages, it is an easy read and covers a considerable amount of information including: the history of hoof protection, hoof anatomy, various trimming methods, what to expect while a horse is transitioning out of shoes, and the key components that lead to successful management of a barefoot horse. One thing that sets this book apart from the others on my bookshelf is the detail it goes into regarding hoof boots. It begins by discussing the benefits of hoof boots, then outlines how to choose the right boots for your horse, and concludes by discussing common booting problems and their solutions.

The Barefoot Horse

This book is an excellent resource for all owners with barefoot horses as well as those contemplating removing their horse's shoes. I have long believed that barefoot and boots is the way to go but I am careful not to push my opinions on friends with shod horses. Instead, my goal is to be a barefoot ambassador and let the actions of my horse and his ability to thrive barefoot speak louder than my words. Without fail, these friends often begin to get curious about keeping a horse barefoot and when they do I am happy to answer their questions. Over the years I have accumulated several books on the subject and gladly lend them out to anyone interested. I'm thrilled to add The Barefoot Horse to my collection.

From the publisher: "An easy to read book that will enlighten novice and experienced horse owners about keeping a horse barefoot, and the use of hoof boots as a highly successful, healthier and modern alternative to metal shoes. The author, a natural hoof-care exponent, provides straightforward, impartial advice on making the transition from shod to barefoot, and discusses the importance of diet and exercise in the maintenance of healthy hooves. She describes the main different schools of trimming and offers guidance on choosing a hoof-care professional. Barefoot boots are discussed in detail, along with how to choose and fit them. A number of case studies are included and there are helpful notes on troubleshooting."

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I have plenty of hands on experience since my horses have been barefoot and booted since 2003.


Gimps R Us (In Which Lucy Plays Nursie)

After a pretty intensive year, the arrival of a new puppy, and the desire avoid burn-out, this fall I'm taking a timeout from riding - a few weeks off for me and the horses won't do any of us any harm. They are cheerfully covering themselves in mud and enjoying the cooler weather while I get on with some indoor quilting and knitting projects that have sat in the corner all year.

New puppy Finn "helping" me feed the horses - why does the hay net have to be the bestest dog toy ever?

Unfortunately, the horses didn't get the memo about this break and have continued to try and maim themselves. Fergus managed to slice open his muzzle - caught on what, I have no idea - but he couldn't have worn a bit if I'd wanted him to. 

And then last weekend two horses turned up gimpy. One hasn't been ridden in a year and the other has been retired for six years, so I've no idea why they even bothered with this extra effort.

First Provo, my 24-year old ex-endurance horse was so stocked up in the back that he couldn't move. It turned out that he was unwilling to put weight on his right rear so the left was doing all the work and had thus turned into an elephant-leg, making him even less willing to move around. A few days of bute, plus the lure of grazing in the orchard finally got him moving and judging by yesterday's mayhem (he got into the chicken feed and the [sealed behind a door, in a bin, with a bungee cord over it] [no-longer unopened] sack of beet pulp), he's on the mend now - but still no clue as to what the problem was to start with. 
Provo, also known as Black Button Eyes, enjoying his new digs - no sharing, no mud, endless supply of food...
On Sunday it was Uno's turn. Uno seems to think that it's his duty to produce an abscess around this date every year, whether we need one or not. So looking at the calendar, I could easily guess what the cause of his gimpiness was likely to be.
While trimming his right front foot a week or two ago, I'd noticed a black line between bar and sole. Uno grows a lot of bar which likes to lie over, trapping bacteria. I dug a little with my hoof knife but unfortunately, it went deeper than I was willing to pare, so at that point I left it alone. 

I don't have a photo of the current problem, but here's one I prepared earlier:
Uno's foot in February 2011. Same problem, different month/year.  (see black line on the right side of the photo where the bar meets the sole). And yay for records: according to my notes, he also abscessed on this same foot in January 2010... I'm picking up a pattern. 
Sure enough, upon investigation this time, the black line was still evident and some gentle probing with the hoof knife produced some black ooze. Hah.
Looking out at the squishy mud, I needed to figure out a way to keep it clean and poulticed. Easyboot Glove to the rescue! Uno's sole got slathered in ichthammol, duct taped, and slipped into a size 2  Glove.
This morning I cleaned everything up and discovered that the abscess had other ideas about coming out the same way it went in, and it looks like it has chosen to come out of his heel bulb. So yet more extensive glopping of ichthammol, more wrapping, more duct tape, and Glove boot back on. 
He's now ensconced in his own stall which he enjoys greatly because it means he doesn't have to share hay. We shall call him The Little [OK, Fat] Prince.
A few horses got juggled around this morning to accommodate their new disabilities and I'm running out of out-of-the-mud spaces to put them. Not to mention the added fun of a torrential downpour predicted for later this week. So much for taking a break from horse activities.
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California


Natural Hoof Care Confession and Compromise

Submitted by Carol Warren, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I have a confession to make. I have tried to trim my horse's hooves myself. I had a great natural hoof care specialist show me several times what to do and how to do it. I tried to do as she showed me and I did fairly well. My confession is this--I hate hoof trimming. I am sorry, but that is the truth of the matter. My problem is there are no known natural hoof care specialists within a 3 hour drive of where I live. I have tried to do all the trimming, balancing, shaping of the hoof myself. Lack of confidence and lack of skills are big factors in my dislike of hoof trimming. I have improved in these areas tremendously, but I still hate doing it. My horse is really tolerant of me working on his hooves. I feel like I have a decent understanding of what and how to do a natural hoof trim for my horse, but I do not like hoof trimming!

My compromise. I have my regular farrier trim every 4 weeks. He knows I prefer the natural hoof method, but he is really not a believer. He does a great job of balancing the hoof. I have to beg him to take the heels down a little more than he likes. Then I follow up by taking the toe back and adding the mustang roll. I do this a few days after his trim and at about 2 weeks into the growth cycle. And you know what--that toe crack Newt has had for years is almost gone! Between the two of us, we are managing to do our version of natural hoof care.

Now the funny part of the story. I was telling my farrier of how I was going to write this blog, and he did the best natural hoof trim he has ever done!  Not perfect, but I did not have to rasp the toe back or add the mustang roll right after he trimmed. But I will keep rasping the hooves every 2 weeks.

The moral of my story is this. I do not have reasonable access to a great natural hoof care specialist. I hate doing all of the hoof care myself (confession). But I have found a way (compromise) to provide the best hoof care possible for my horse and it is working. He is sound, and his hooves are healthier than they were at the first of the year when we began this journey. You just have to take the time to find what is available and works for you in your life.

Photo above of left front taken April 2012, a few days after a  natural hoof care specialist trimmed Newt for the first time. In this photo the hoof crack looks markedly better than before the trim. Sorry I did not get a before photo. You can also see the smaller crack on the right front toe. Just before this trim, my farrier wanted to put shoes on to correct the worsening toe cracks. I knew shoeing was not the answer. I kindly told him he could not put shoes on because I had just been selected to Team Easyboot 2012. Thus began our journey of Natural Hoof Care and although it was a twisted path, we are finally arriving.

Photo above taken October 2012, just before the trim by my regular farrier. Note the crack is better, but still present. The right front toe crack has been gone for a couple of months.

Photo above of left front taken April 2012 a few days after the first natural trim. Notice how far the unhealthy tissue extends into the sole. Also notice how far back the wall of the toe is rolled back, taking much of the weight off the toe wall.

Photo above of left front toe taken just prior to trimming in Oct 2012. Notice the improvement in the health of the toe. Almost no toe crack left.

Photo above taken right after trim October 2012. No toe crack. I still need to roll the hoof wall some, but the toe is so much healthier.

Could this be the end of that frustrating toe crack?

Carol Warren