Who Can Concentrate When Sandy Blows In? We Can

This past weekend, as Hurricane Sandy was coming up the coast, we held our 5th Annual Fall Daisy Haven Farm Recognizing Hoof Capsule Distortion Workshop in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania.

Daisy Haven Farm right in the path of Sandy!

It was attended by a large group of apparent die-hard hoof care providers, massage therapists, horse owners, and veterinarians. They brought with them a broad range of experiences and education from many locations across the country. The workshop was geared towards recognizing hoof capsule distortion utilizing a variety of teaching tools to train your eye.

 

As we kept one wary eye on Sandy, the workshop covered a wide variety of subject matter: structure and function of the foot, the impact of environment, the feet/teeth/body connection, amongst many other things. 

 

 

 

However, what stands out to me most after this weekend is the ability of our students to persevere in the face of impending catastrophic weather. Talk about a dedicated group of people. Despite all the juggling we had to do, squeezing a four day course into three days given the impending storm, the participants’ enthusiasm overcame the wind whipping through the trees as the rain started driving through the area at the lead edge of the storm.  

 

 

What makes our workshops unique amongst other hoof workshops is that we’re not here to teach you a trim style. Our goal is to help our students recognize hoof capsule distortions on a large and small scale, orienting the foot around the center of articulation of the hoof capsule. To facilitate this we utilize our extensive database of hoof pictures with corresponding x-rays. We also use the radiograph equipment on cadaver legs throughout the workshop to provide instant feedback to each participant.  

 

At the beginning of the workshop we found most students had a much more difficult time placing the coffin bone (P3) in the hoof capsule than they anticipated. This is typical for most workshops.  We then utilized our case studies to help students build a more diverse range of understanding of how the foot distorts and what is going on on the inside.

 

 

As the clouds came rolling in, we moved on to cadaver hoof analysis, where students applied theory to the foot in front of them. We radiographed each cadaver leg before the course, and then students checked their work with after x-rays.  

 

 

 

 

Whether it was the motivation of Sandy creeping closer, or just the group of exceptionally bright attendees (I believe the latter), after the first few days of the clinic every student was significantly more consistent at placing P3 in the hoof capsule. In fact very consistent, as the plan the students implemented on their cadaver hooves proved to be spot-on when examining the after radiographs.

 

 

We did actually squeeze in some work on live horses, utilizing our farrier shop for work with composite shoes and hunkering down in the back of the barn out of the wind and rain to correct some significant distortion in a few barefoot horses. These were truly die-hard hoof people.

 

 

A few of the students got to experience the full rage of Sandy with us as their travel home was too treacherous. We had a lot of fun “talking hoof” during the storm and were grateful to keep power so the computer was accessible.

 

 

We always ask our students for their feedback after a course, so we know what they found most impactful, not to mention what we can improve on for the next course. Here are just a few comments from this weekend’s participants. I believe they say it better than I ever could.

 

“The most impactful exercise for me was being challenged to visualize the bone and soft tissue placement inside the hoof. Having the cadaver legs already numbered and x-rayed so that we could trim the feet and then have the farrier work reviewed by you and your staff was awesome. Having the legs x-rayed so that we could see the resulting change hoof/laminar relation, palmar angle change, and bone alignment was mind blowing. This had to be the neatest clinic I’ve ever been to.”  Tony H., North Carolina, Farrier

 

“Your format with lecture & discussion and then the mapping and trimming is genius! That combined with digital x-ray "on the spot" plus your feedback was absolutely incredible. One of the things that I am always impressed with is your ability to convey your message without "giving away " all the answers. Causing your students to think and formulate their own plan makes you a very good teacher! One thing that I noticed is your exceptional ability to adapt to change. With the storm coming in, you had to make quick decisions about how to proceed. I observed you "behind the scenes" adjusting the schedule and placing certain members of your team with certain students/personalities so that they would get the most out of the time available. Finally another high point for me was the fact that you draw a diverse crowd. I was able to meet other barefoot people, metal farriers and horse owners, all with seemingly open minds! I was very nice and it has changed my opinion about other areas in hoof care that I was previously close minded to. Thank you again and hats off to you, your team, husband and family!”.  Joe L., New York, Barefoot Trimmer

 

“The most helpful thing is learning about how a good trim can effect the center of rotation: if a horse is going to apply all that weight-bearing for 100 miles, you need it to be perfectly balanced and perfectly aligned.” Philip H., New Mexico, Endurance Manager/Trainer, and Barefoot Trimmer

 

“I think [the cadavers] help new trimmers and even experienced trimmers by allowing them to trim without the risk of injuring a live horse. And being able to dissect the foot and radiograph it are some of the best learning tools.”  Tony G., Pennsylvania, Farrier

 

“As a hoof care professional it is a great opportunity to check the internal results of your trim using an on-site radiograph machine.”  Kate S., Pennsylvania, Farrier

 

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the benefit of the digital x-ray machine in my own hoof care practice for the past five years. It has taught me an incredible amount about the foot and how to interpret the external landmarks in relation to the internal structures. I am grateful to be able to share that experience with others and through them, help more horses, apparently regardless of the weather.

 

For more information on future workshops in recognizing hoof capsule distortion please see our website:  www.DaisyHavenFarm.com.

November 2012: Beth's Western Wear

Beth’s Western Wear, in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, became an EasyCare dealer on April 4, 2012, placed their first order on April 10, 2012 and opened the doors to their new store in May of 2012.  Since that time, they have done so well and placed so many orders that they have achieved new pricing level status through EasyCare in six short months.

Beth states, “Before we even opened our doors, EasyCare was on the top of our list as products that we wanted to sell in our retail store. We like to carry products that we have tried and believe in and the Easyboots are, by far, the best!” They have, personally, been using EasyCare boots for four years.

Beth’s Western Wear carries the Easyboot Glove, the Glove Back Country and, of course, accessories such as Power Straps and Gaiters. Beth says that her best seller is the Glove Back Country because it works best for customers that maintain a six week trim cycle. However, the Glove is always her first suggestion for those customers on a four week trim cycle. She says that she loves the sleek design and the “no nonsense” easiness of the Glove. Beth’s Western Wear maintains a Fit Kit in their store for fitting customer’s horses.

Beth’s husband, Steve, is a barefoot trimmer. After years of frustration with one of their horses hoof issues, they just knew there had to be other methods. They started searching for answers and came across one of Pete Ramey’s books, which started Steve on the path to becoming a trimmer. They found that within a couple trims, the same horse that was having the hoof issues, was back up and running. He was sound again and acting like a four year old, which is great because he was seventeen at that time! Steve has been trimming their own horses for four years now and they both say that they will never go back to putting shoes on for any reason. Beth says there is not a place that they have ridden in the United States, from the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming to the thick mud of the Shawnee National Forest, that the boots haven’t provided great protection for their horses. She said the first pair of Glove boots that they purchased for their TWH, Diamond, had approximately 2000 miles on them before the toe wore through. And, they only had to change the gaiters one time on that set.

Beth feels that their most successful marketing strategy is using their products. She said people see them out on the trail and they always ask about the hoof boots. People see that the boots work and that there is no reason for metal shoes. In fact, when packing for a trail ride, they always take their Fit Kit with them in case someone wants a fitting right away and they always carry brochures.

Steve and Beth own two Tennessee Walkers and two Missouri Fox Trotters. All of their horses are barefoot and they all have their own sets of boots. Beth’s personal favorite is the Glove.  Steve and Beth have been in the horse industry for over seventeen years and are avid trail riders, traveling all over the United States.

Beth states that she has watched the hoof care industry even more closely over the last four years and feels that huge steps have been taken to educate horse owners on hoof care and protective hoof boots. She feels that hoof boots have gone from “clunky” to very stream lined and very user friendly. She said that in the last couple of years, they have watched more and more people rethink putting shoes on their horses and letting them go barefoot with the help of boots.

Beth’s Western Wear’s On-Line Store is now open and you can visit them at bethswesternwear.com.
 

The Horse's Hoof Fall 2012

As this year's riding season comes to an end, many members of Team Easyboot 2012 have been reflecting on their experiences over the past year. One thing I can say for certain is it's been a great year for Easyboots! One illustration of this is the Fall 2012 edition of The Horse's Hoof, which features EasyCare's marketing director Kevin Myers riding "Far" in Easyboot Glue-Ons. The Horse's Hoof was created in 2000 by professional trimmer James Welz and his wife Yvonne Welz. For over a year, the quarterly magazine's 32 pages have been printed in full color in addition to being available online as a PDF. This magazine features articles from various practioners and owners as well as industry leaders such as Jaime Jackson, Dr. Robert Bower, Dr. Hiltrud Strasser, Pete Ramey and KC La Pierre. What I find most interesting about this magazine is they do not hesitate to publish varied and sometimes contradictory viewpoints on hoof care. It's a great resource for both horse owners and trimmers.

The Horse's Hoof Fall 2012

Kevin Myers on the Fall 2012 issue of The Horse's Hoof. Photo by Lynne Glazer.

In this issue, Kevin discusses Barefoot-Booted Horses and the Tevis Cup. The Tevis Cup is considered to be the toughest 100-mile horse ride in the world and this year the first four horses to cross the finish line were all in Easyboot Glue-Ons. EasyCare's owner, Garrett Ford, finished first on The Fury followed by Lisa Ford and Cyclone, Kevin Myers and Auli Farwa, and Rusty Toth and Farrabba - who was awarded the Haggin Cup for best condition of the top 10 finishers. Some of the other articles featured in the Fall 2012 issue are: Successful Barefoot Police Horses, Navicular and Entheseophytes on the Coffin Bone, Learning Abrasive Trimming, and The Healthy Hoof. The annual subscription is only $25 for US residents, a bargain for such a diverse and informative magazine.

Garrett and The Fury

Garrett Ford and The Fury finished first at the 2012 Tevis Cup. Photo by Judith Moore.

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.

 

High Heels and Sore Toes, Not Just on Girls Night Out

Submitted by Tennesee Mahoney, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

We all know (directly or indirectly) the often painful results associated with a day or night in high heels.  I remind myself every girls-night-out.  Of course, I love getting spruced up, but I don’t wear pumps every day, and I guarantee I will never go jogging in them. Let's face it, wearing high heels often leads to having sore toes and, depending on the shoe’s fit, usually rubs on our heels, which require band-aids.

High Heels = Sore toes + heel rubs

It's really no different with horses.  This summer, one of the things that I learned, thanks to the bootmeister's expert guidance and several patient equine athletes, is how to get heels done right.  I have always had horses with naturally low heels, so trimming them was easy…I never touched the heels.  Thanks to a barefoot lifestyle, they kept their heels right where they needed to be, or perhaps even a little low, so I would trim everything else and leave the heels as nature intended.

Over the last year or two, however, I have acquired several horses who have naturally higher heels and steeper angles.  Even living and training barefoot, they have too much heel.  The methodology of “don’t touch the heel” no longer worked for me, because they would get too high.  There are many tell-tale signs of high heels, but for the average ‘booter’ there are several things that should easily catch your eye as you go to boot your mount: the plumb line through the cannon bone can be off.

The angle that the boot’s shell creates with the horse’s hoof and hairline become reversed, the angle should open from the heel to the toe (see below,) and not be drastic.

As opposed to an angle that opens from the toe to the heel (see below,) or anything drastic.

And the easiest sign to identify is killer heel rubs.  (I honestly don’t have a picture of that for you!)  Don’t blame the boot, it’s a boot fit/hoof trim issue and not a design flaw.  All that said, every horse is different, and there are extremes at both ends (high heels and low heels,) that are completely natural, functional, and sadly, out of the average range of hoof angles/shapes that boots are designed to fit.  You can see how high this horse's heel bulbs are in the gaiter.

Here is one example I want to share with you.  This horse was tender-footed, equally on both of his front feet before this trim, even in boots.  His heels appeared to be high, but in his defense, he does have a naturally steep hoof angle and pastern.  He may also be a candidate for the ‘wides’ (Easyboot Glove or Glue-On Wide.) Remember when looking at these that I am not a professional trimmer, I am learning, and have much to learn, so take it easy on me. 

The sore-toed-high-heeled hoof.

Clean up the frog a litttle, get your bearings.

Clean up the sole and bars (he was load-bearing on his bars), I used a Merlin for this because he had nice hard sole, but it was thick enough in places that I was afraid it could cause pressure points.

Knowing now how deep I could safely go, and knowing that his heels should be way back at the widest point of his frog, I did the rest of my trim.  

I brought his heels down and back, and touched up the rest of the hoof wall to level everything  out.  I barely took any length off of the toe.  Just behind the white line, significant redness became visible immediatly, after a very light wrasping, where the horse had been toe sore, so I used my hoof knife to relieve the pressure there.  Having high heels was clearly making him bear too much weight on his toes, and his hoof was putting out excess callus on the toe to defend itself.  You can also see where I had to dig out a small rock that was jammed up in his white line causing even more tenderness, there was still some debris up in the hole but that was as far as I fealt comfortable digging, and he let me know that having the rock removed relieved some pain.  

His other front hoof was the same story but without the pea gravel.  The horse was sound after the trim, not tender on his toes any more.  He even went on a ride.  His Easyboot gloves fit his heel bulbs better, so they didn't rub, and were much less likely to flip off.  Remember when adjusting heel hight that you don't want to do anything too drastic since you will be changing the "tension" on the horse's tendons, so if you have a long way to go, do it in steps.  This horse still has a little ways to go.  Here is the previous image with lines drawn in.

I finished this trim by beveling the edge (mustang roll,) and dripping some iodine into his frog and the pea-gravel-hole.  But the moral of the story is; High heels lead to sore toes, and if you're a booter, it will also lead to heel rubs, so if you are having either or both of those problems, you may want to double check your horse's heel height, or kick off your high heels and put on some flip flops.

Tennesee Mahoney

 

Expanding on a Growing Theme

November can be grey and dark, but never when working with hooves. For part of the month, I will be traveling to Europe to continue the program of conducting clinics on Natural Hoof Care, Barefoot trimming, application of  Easyboot Glue-Ons and Easyboot Gloves.

Glue on Easyboot  (This boot will be covering 155 miles during the Moab Canyon Endurance Race).

For the last few years, I have been traveling 2 to 3 times a year to Europe to hold these workshops. Now, one might reckon that Europeans had horses for thousands of years and long before Americans even worked with horses. And one might conclude that it would not take a hoof care professional from the USA to teach Europeans how to shoe a horse or how to handle horse hoof problems.

All true. But Europeans are also more traditionalists and conservative in their approach. For the most part, they had been content with their various metal shoes. After all, they served them well for thousands of years. It was mainly here in the USA where the hoof boot revolution started. German and Austrian companies have been paving the way somewhat with their research and development of polyurethane shoes. Cera and Equiflex stand out and were more progressive in their approach of inventing and using alternate hoof protection methods. Hildrud Strasser started a bare foot trim program in Germany. Yet, most horse owners stayed with metal shoes.

Medieval horse rider in Europe.

It was not till forwar- thinking people like Pete Ramey brought Natural Horse Care into the awareness of the general equestrian community and EasyCare developed an encompassing Protective Horse Boot program that horse communities outside the Northamerican continent took notice.

What makes this trip even more worth mentioning is the fact  that it will lead me to France (Brest) and Switzerland (Zurich). Both countries have mostly been using steel shoes in their equestrian disciplines and pursuits. Even at the highest FEI level, French riders preferred steel shoes on their horses. Now we see that French and Swiss endurance riders want to expand their horizons and learn and study more about protective horse boots.

All the combined efforts by the EasyCare staff and the professional trimmers as well as the Team Easyboot members in educating about the benefits of the EasyCare boots bear fruit worldwide and this expansion is ever continuing.

These boots were applied at the GETC facility in Moab. GETC (Global Endurance Training Center) is also providing funding for this trip.

While Easyboot Gloves, Easyboot Glove Back Country and Trail as well as Epic, Easyboot Bare and Grip and Easyboot have been more popular overseas, the work with hoof glue is not as common yet. My intentions are to make the clinic participants more comfortable with using Vettec Glues and Easyboot Glue-Ons. The demand is there and jointly we will make it happen.

Vettec Glues have proven to work very well with gluing not only Easyboot Glue-Ons, but also to protect bare footed horses with the Soleguard and shaping hoof shoes with the Vettec Superfast. All these glues are going to be used and demonstrated during these clinics.

How will these clinics turn out? How will they get accepted? Watch for the follow up report after my return.

Your Bootmeister,

Christoph Schork

Easycare Hoof Boots – Helping People, Too

There are many articles available with tips and tricks for booting, trimming hooves, natural hoof and horse care, endurance riding with boots, and improving horse’s lives through the use of hoof boots. My story today is a little different. I want to tell you about my husband, and how hoof boots enrich his life.

David has had a long history of knee problems and surgeries. Although he has enjoyed some relief after these surgeries, but nothing makes the pain go away permanently. As such, many of the physical activities he used to enjoy, such as playing soccer, are out of the question. Most outdoor activities, such as hiking, are also just not possible for him.

David and his horse, Jinx, right before a ride.

However, he still really enjoys being outside and the peace and quiet that being out on the trail brings him. Although we don’t have terrain as rugged as in places like Colorado and Montana, Missouri has a wide variety of terrain, much of it rocky and hilly. These factors make it even harder for him to consider hiking. He relies on his horse to reliably, safely, and soundly carry him into the heart of Missouri’s wilderness and back. What would be an inconvenience for most people, a lost boot or shoe, could turn into a dangerous situation for David. 

David on the trail with Jinx, wearing her red Easyboot Gloves. He doesn't like his picture taken.

Depending on the season and the area of the state, we encounter just about every type of booting challenge imaginable: deep mud; large boulders; rock ledges and staircases; loose, rolling gravel; grass; steep hills; river crossings – you name it. Once we had the correctly sized and fitted boots, Easyboot Gloves have performed flawlessly, allowing David to hit the trail confidently and experience all wonders Missouri has to offer.

A more technical section of trail with lots of tree roots.

The view from out on the trail at an overlook. David would not get to experience this without his horse, and Easyboot Gloves.

Easycare hoof boots helps horses and humans alike.
 

October 2012 Newsletter :: Garrett Ford: I'm Going To Hell

EasyCare, Inc Image

Dear EasyCare Customer,

Garrett Ford recaps the steps towards his latest invention.

Dawn Willoughby reviews the Hoof-Guided Method to barefoot hoof trimming.

Daisy Bicking offers guidance on how to best winterize your hoof care program.

And our dealer of the month is Jeannie Wright from Wright Hoof Care.

We're giving away an iPad at the end of the month. All you have to do is sign up for our monthly newsletter, and you're automatically entered in the sweepstakes drawing on October 31, 2012.

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...

"Oh, You Use Easyboots?"

I was recently asked this question at an endurance ride, which made me giggle to myself while answering, "Yup, I sure do." When the individual responded by asking how they work for me, I started reflecting upon my boot use over the past five years. I've ridden over 2,600 endurance miles in Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons. I can't even estimate the number of training miles I have ridden in them, but I would guess it's probably as much or more than my endurance miles. I'd say that they have worked out pretty well to have kept with them that long. I can't imagine using any other boots or putting shoes on my horses at this point in my life or my horses' careers. Thankfully I've passed the learning curve of fighting boots that don't fit, feet that aren't trimmed properly and and less-than-ideal glue jobs. The learning curve was brief, but gave me empathy! 

A couple weeks ago I took my now-grown-up boy, Topper, to the 10th Anniversary Owyhee Canyonlands endurance ride. Because I was planning on riding more than one day and have been hit with scratches 100% of the times I have gone to this 5-day, I decided to glue on Topper's boots. Not only does gluing help prevent further irritation by removing the gaiter-part of the equation, but there is nothing so supportive and cushioning as Sikaflex in the sole of your Easyboots. It would be the first time Topper went more than one day at a ride and the first time he's had a full set of Glue-Ons. He felt incredible! 

Topper and I cruising down the trail. Steve Bradley Photography

The two days I chose to ride were both the days that offered trail winding through the bottom of the beautiful Sinker Creek Canyon. While these were the most beautiful days, they were very rocky and wet being that we rode UP the creek! Unfortunately we were missing our paddles but had some badass horses to navigate with ;-)  The first day we rode had only a couple miles through the creek at the bottom of the canyon, but the second day we rode between six and eight miles through the canyon, up and over, and then into the high desert where we enjoyed the beautiful juniper trees and incredible views. Riding at the bottom of the canyon, under the high rock walls, through beaver ponds up to some horses bellies and marveling at the fall colors and laughing with friends just doesn't get much better. 

Splashing through the water for another Steve Bradley great. I was thankful for my Glue Ons once again during this ride. It's been several years now of using them during this great 5-day. 

Team Easyboot member Karen Bumgarner and Z Summer Thunder braving the maiden voyage through the beaver pond. This was secretly my favorite part of the ride! Karen rode Thunder all five days in his Easyboot Gloves with no rubs, no losses, no problem. 

More Sinker Canyon

And up into the high country..

Obligatory dueling camera shot

Riding constantly through the creek and ankle-twister rocks make for a pretty good test of one's glue job and I was happy Topper's boots stayed secure and tight on his feet. I was surprised when a friend of mine showed up in boots that her hoof care practitioner glued on for her, only he used Adhere on the walls with no Sikaflex for extra cushion and stick-factor. Needless to say she lost three of her four boots after riding four days back-to-back. I wish more professionals would utilize the recommended gluing protocol designed and tested for the extreme conditions of endurance riding. Fortunately for her, she was able to slap on her Gloves and finish the journey. 

I ended the week thrilled with the two days Topper gave me. It is the most amazing feeling to take a young, gawky, gangly horse, mostly resembling an elk for his former years, and developing them into the "perfect" (to each his own) horse. I couldn't be happier with him and it is now up to me to care for him and slowly continue bringing him along. It's been a long journey to this point, I am hoping for many, many more years with him. As far as my boots, well they aren't going anywhere. With the different options in the Gloves, Epics and the new Glove Back Country boots (which I love!), it seems that there are options for just about every horse and every rider at this time. After every new advancement in the Easyboot line-up, I find myself thinking, this is as good as it gets! And it's good! And then Garrett Ford goes on to surprise, create controversy and make things better and better. It's a good time to have high performing barefoot and booted equine athletes. 

Another great shot by Steve Bradley

Thank you, Easycare, you have made the tough miles that much easier on my horses. We ALL thank you! 

"Fall" Is Nearly Here (Which I Don't Believe)

This time of year is always confusing to my "european" body - the sun gets low in the sky, but the temperatures are still in the 90s. Twenty-eight years of living in Europe tells me to put on warm clothes in the morning and I feel ill at ease pulling on summer clothes "just in case it should turn chilly" (I wish - during September Sacramento had 26 days over 90°F (32°C) and it wasn't much cooler up in the foothills).

The pones are also reacting to the light change - I've noticed the beginnings of coat changes, either large amounts of shedding (only on the white haired horses, of course), or just thickening of fur.
 
I don't remember the last time it rained, but all the vegetation is dull brown (and dust-covered) and green is a distant memory. The ground in the horse paddocks is rock hard with a thick layer of duff on top. Everything is ridiculously dry including the horses' hoof walls. Trimming — even with sharp nippers — has become a bicep-bulging fight. I've tried presoaking but it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference and, in any case, with my organizational skills, the interval between me deciding to trim and actually doing it could be termed "instant" and if I waited until the hooves were pre-soaked, I've usually wandered off and found something else to do.
 
It's always interesting to see how the season changes affect the state of the horses' feet. Every horse I've trimmed in the last month or so has been sporting about a quarter inch of dead sole and shedding frog - practically falling out and begging to be chomped on with my nippers. Under normal circumstances I try to be fairly conservative with sole removal to maintain that tough, calloused surface, but this stuff needed to come off.
 
Below is Hopi's long-overdue-for-a trim front foot. He's currently on vacation, so not self-trimming on abrasive surfaces. The missing sole on the right easily fell out on it's own when I started picking out his foot and the area around the toe (usually left alone - the toe callous area) could be easily prised out with a hoof pick. This stuff is more than ready to come off. Nom, nom, go the nippers...
 
 
Although I'm not finished, I've started tidying up his frog in the above photo. The area circled by blue will also get trimmed back to prevent crud getting stuck in there and getting thrushy. The trick with frogs is avoiding getting carried away and making them look like something turned out by Martha Stewart, but trimming off any nooks and crannies that could harbour junk. 
 
Below (not terribly good photo, sorry) I've poked my hoof-pick under a flap of shedding frog. When this is removed, the area circled in blue (above) may well come with it. Again, you don't want to take off too much - this is a supportive structure - but enough to keep it healthy.
 
 
With the protective callous gone, the result can sometimes be a horse that's a little tenderfooted for a few days. Popping on boots is an easy way to get around this problem - with no mud to deal with, boot application takes seconds. But with our current climate the newly-exposed sole on most horses dries and toughens up in a few days as if nothing had happened (except, perhaps, that they're no longer walking on lumpy soles).
 
Here's Hopi's other front foot - about three days after trimming - when freshly-trimmed, this sole looked a lot like the exposed area shown above. Now it's hard and tough again.
 
 
Small Thing and I have been going out for 1-2 hours excursions the last few weeks and I haven't bothered to boot him once - he just hasn't needed it. His little feet are hard as hard things right now and he rarely bobbles on rocks. He does need trimming - or more specifically his ever-enthusiastic pony heels need trimming - but I'm loath to do it for fear of encroaching on his toughened soles. It's become a balance - can I ride him enough on rough surfaces to keep him "self-trimmed" or do I need to resort to a trimming session? 
 
Small Thing and me above Hwy-49 and the Confluence of the North and Middle Forks of the American River
 
 
Unfortunately, most of the time he's running around [persecuting the other horses] on the layer of paddock duff that is luxurious to roll in but doesn't do much by way of abrading feet. I have a feeling Small Thing and I have a trimming date in the near future.
 
 
 
Small Thing and Fergus visit the train on "No Hands Bridge", put there for the 100th Anniversary.
 
At a time when many people's riding seasons are coming to an end, I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures and therefore more energy for riding. Right now, a dry winter is being predicted - good for lack of mud and clear trails, and good for hard little feet to stay that way. If it wasn't for the early onset of dark, this would be the perfect time of year.
 
--
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California

 

I'm Going To Hell

After over 20 years in the horse business and making protective hoof wear for horses I've finally been told by a horse owner via e-mail that "You're going to hell".

My decline and direction toward the underworld started when I purchased an Arabian race horse named Clunk.  I purchased Clunk with the goal of trying to make a urethane form of hoof protection that absorbed concussion, allowed the hoof to flex as nature intended and provide the traction needed to win flat track races.  I was pretty naive going into the project and found out very quickly that the flat track industry wasn't going to allow just any Easyboot model and making a product to comply with the rules would not be easy.

The first design that I tried to use on Clunk.  Clunk was not allowed to race in this design.

I caught a break when Fran Jurga told me to contact Curtis Burns of No Anvil. No Anvil makes a flexible horse shoe called the Burns Polyflex Shoe that has been used with great success on the race tracks around the world.  The Burns Polyflex Shoe was used by Shackleford during his 2011 Triple Crown bid.  Shackleford placed 4th in the Kentucky Derby, Won the 2011 Preakness Stakes and finished 5th in the Belmont Stakes. The list of horses that have used the Polyflex successfully is impressive and includes greats like Curlin.  Curlin is the highest North American money earner with over $10.5 Million earned and many of his most successful years performed in the Burns Polyflex Shoe.  Because Curtis' urethane shoe absorbs concussion and allows the hoof to expand and contract it has proven it has a place in the equine world and will continue to used by the best flat track horses for years to come. 

What makes the success of the Polyflex shoe so intriguing is that Curtis Burns usually gets called in to work on a horse when the horse isn't going right.  "The horse's attitude has changed",  "He's a bit footsore", "The horse has a bad quarter crack and has a major race coming up".  Although Curtis is a true craftsman with urethane and adhesives, It's rare these days for Curtis to work on horses himself as he refers the work to farriers that are skilled in the art.

The Polyflex has been used by trainers and horse owners as a tool in their bag of tricks to improve the performance of a horse.  When horses are racing at the Preakness, Derby and Belmont levels performance matters, millimeters matter and the difference between 1st and 5th is fractions of a second. 

Curtis coming off a Hawker Jet.  The plane was chartered by a horse owner that needed Curtis to come quickly and fix a quarter crack.

Curtis went through a difficult process getting the Polyflex accepted into the racetrack industry and Fran Jurga thought Curtis could steer me in the right direction with our desire to run a flat track in a modified urethane hoof boot design.  Curtis and I hit it off immediately, and started talking about new urethane hoof shoe/boot designs that could benefit horses on the track and in other parts of the equine industry.  We are now partnering in a lightweight glue-on urethane shoe that absorbs concussion, allows heel flex, gives the hoof the opportunity to expand and contract.  A tool and an option for not only the race track horse but the backyard trail horse as well. 

The Easy Boot/Shoe project continues and we are now testing several different urethane options, urethane densities, sole and frog support options and tread patterns.  I'm not yet sure where the whole project will go or if it will ever hit the consumer market, but it's shown me that the horse's hoof and the beliefs that surround it are often hotter topics than politics and religion.  I find it fascinating when I get hate e-mails from customers for potentially making a peripherally-loaded hoof protection device that could give them an option toward better hoof function and improved soundness.

A close race to the finish.  One horse in the EasyShoe prototype; the far horse is in an aluminum plate. 

Several different EasyShoe prototypes ready for testing.

In a perfect world the horse would be barefoot as nature intended.  Horses would live on thousands of acres and self trim their hooves as they searched for food.  In a perfect world horses would not be stalled or fed two high-calorie meals per day or be asked to carry a rider that is 25% of their weight over terrain their hooves are not conditioned for.  In a perfect world we wouldn't drink soda, we would all exercise more, we would watch less TV, we would all have a garden, we would smile at strangers and say please and thank you more often.  In a perfect world we would spend less time on the internet and more time with our family, friends and four-legged creatures.  In a perfect world, we would put our health and the heath of our loved ones (all with a heartbeat) first. In a perfect world, rules would not be written to prevent barefoot horses and hoof boots from competition.  Rather than tell someone it's a "sad day" in the horse industry they may say "I applaud you for your efforts but I would prefer your device to load more of the hoof".  In a perfect world an internet lurker that has yet to touch, feel or use a new prototype device may say that is a "interesting idea but not for me" rather than "You're going to hell".

The world is not perfect and will never be perfect.  Companies, products and ideas are born to bridge the gap between perfect and the human race. 

People are funny but in the end we are all in charge of our own health, the health of our equine partners and making the world a better place for our children.  We are all wired differently and look at products, solutions and ideas from a variety of viewpoints. The critics won't stop me and many others from tinkering. I'd rather get the occassional hate mail than be one of the folks who during their life "knew neither victory nor defeat."  The haters in life just bring me back to one of my all time favorite quotes and after reading it I just smile and continue:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-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.