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

Report from Europe

Another European Hoof Care Clinic Tour came to a close last week. This brings the number of these workshops and seminars in Europe up to 12 since starting this program over three years ago. During these trips I have seen remarkable horses, visited great places and met so many interesting people, with most of them I have been in contact ever since.

Although I'm conducting the seminars, teaching and demonstrating various barefoot trimming methods and protective horse boot applications, I feel like it is me who is learning the most. To be able to see and work on a wide variety of horses of all kind of  breeds and to learn new ways to address hoof problems and pathologies in other parts of the world has been an incredible experience.

During these clinics I often start with PowerPoint presentations on anatomy, followed by conformation evaluations and how conformation influences hoof growth. I'm also discussing various pathologies, causes and consequences.

Hoofcare does not stand alone and by itself.  I always emphasize the fact that healthy hooves grow from a healthy environment which encompasses proper nutrition, movement, turnout, exercise, adequate substrate and timely trimming. A hoof, as it presents itself to our eyes, mirrors the horse for better or for worse. The holistic principle is essential and central to all Natural Hoof Care and must never be left out of the equation.

Following the theoretical indoor session, we then move outside to work with horses. Before we  even pick up a hoof, we evaluate the whole horse, teeth, hair coat, muscle development, conformation, overall health and how the horse is standing while being observed. Is it standing quietly and square (a rarity), or with one foot forward or camped under, post legged, shifting constantly from one leg to the other? We then can draw conclusions and  already know how the hooves are going to look like. We understand easier why a hoof grows a certain way and displays certain characteristics. When looking at the actual hooves afterwards, we are then merely confirming our conclusions from our observations.

Participants often bring their own horses to learn with them. Many have been trimming their own horses already and want their job being evaluated and possibly improved. Others want to learn how to trim their horses hooves and will then be given opportunity to practice.

I avoid passing judgment. Instead I try to guide them to look at their trimming from different angles and to open new avenues to help their horses. There are very few absolutes, if any. Every hoof is different, therefore we should treat each hoof as an individual.

Day two starts again with theory and  a detailed presentation about various hoof protection applications. I introduce the different EasyCare Hoof boots together with all the Vettec Glues and their respective application. We then practice together to fit Easyboot Gloves, Trail, Backcountry Gloves, and others like Epic and Glue ons. A presentation of  gluing Glue on shells follows.  Participants often have the opportunity to glue their first boots themselves and even learn how to build a hoof shoe with Vettec Superfast.

This past tour was especially interesting.  Zuerich, Switzerland, was the first stop. Nina Good and Marina Huber, who had just completed a 3 months internship at Global Endurance Training Center in Moab organized the seminar with about 20 participants.  The group consisted of professional trimmers and farriers, beginning trimmers, drivers and riders  in various equestrian disciplines. A great mixture of prior knowledge and skills and horses of all kind of statue and shape. 

Zuerich Group.

 The Bootmeister is demonstrating the application of Easyboot Gloves.

The enthusiasm and participation  was amazing. Everybody was learning and also sharing.

Onward to the Bretagne (or Brittany), the most western part of France. This time I was guest of Christophe and Carole Bogrand, who own and operate Chateau du Launay near Ploerdut.

This 300 year old castle was our place for the clinic. Again, like in Zuerich,  the organization was superb, Christophe and Carole  were the most wonderful hosts one can wish for.

The group was smaller, which gave everybody more opportunity to practice trimming and gluing Easyboot Glue on horse shoes. We even had two American participants, friends and clients of GETC, who flew in from NY to participate in the clinic and enjoy the castle and the outstanding cuisine by Carole Bogrand.

It is awkward to take a Hoof Jack by airplane. So when no hoof stand could be found anywhere, we had to be creative.

We ended up gluing 4 boots.

I have to admit that their first glued boot did not quite look like that, but somewhat close.

On a cultural note, after the clinic we went riding for a day through some magnificent country and rode by a 7,000 year old Druid tomb. I'm always fascinated by history and their remnants. So much we can learn from it.

Last stop was Duesseldorf, Germany. Claudia Bockerman, who undertook a two week hoof trimming and hoof protection internship with me at GETC's facility in Moab a couple of years ago did the onsite organization. Again, we had a mixed group with various background levels and experience in hoof care and trimming. This made it again a learning and sharing experience for everyone.

The riders of the world are very eager to learn about Natural Hoof Trimming and EasyCare boots. And this is just the beginning, I'm convinced of it. More clinics are already being set up in Europe for next year. I will keep you posted.

Your Bootmeister,

Christoph Schork

The Dynamic Hoof

As the seasons change so do horses' hooves. Many people view horses' hooves as static objects that do not change significantly once the horse has reached maturity. In actuality, the hoof is incredibly dynamic and influenced by a multitude of factors including: trim style, length of trim cycle, diet, environment and movement. Earlier this month I received an email from a customer concerned about heel rubs after using the Easyboot Glove Back Country. I asked him to send photos of the boot on the horse's hoof and it was immediately apparent the boot was several sizes too small.

Poor Fit

The bulging shows this boot is several sizes too small.

After further investigation I realized I had done a Boot Fit Analysis for this customer in the spring and I had actually recommended this size. I was very confused; I would have never recommended this fit. After reviewing the photos from the spring it became evident that the hoof had changed drastically since then. The horse had been injured for a few months and the owner had been busy with work and had not used the boots until recently. Also, the horse had been on a 6-7 week trim cycle and was trimmed by the same farrier.

Spring DorsalFall Dorsal

Dorsal views spring (left) and fall (right).

Spring LateralFall Lateral

Lateral views spring (left) and fall (right).

The owner had misplaced the photos from the spring and when I sent them to him he was stunned. He had not realized how much the hooves had changed and trusted his farrier knew what was best. The owner has since decided to use a new farrier and to pay close attention to his horse's hooves. This story illustrates several things. First, understanding basic hoof form and function is vital for every owner. If you do not understand something your hoof care practitioner is doing, ask them about it. A good practitioner should be open to sharing knowledge with the owner. Second, boot fitting is not an activity that you only do once. If you notice changes in your horse's fit, re-measure the hooves to help verify the fit. Finally, keep written records of your horse's measurements as well as photo records. When you see your horse on a daily basis it can be hard to identify changes but viewing photos side by side make them easy to spot.

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.


Horse Hoof Boots Through the Years

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Go back through the endurance time tunnel, way back, to 1977: my first year of endurance riding. I was fresh off the racetrack, Thoroughbreds and ponyhorses. And it was my Appaloosa outride and ponyhorse that I hauled to Vale, OR for my very first AERC ride, the Oregon Trail Endurance Ride. Most of the time my ponyhorses were barefoot and I trimmed my own. But for an endurance ride I found a plater to put on a set of steel training plates and leather pads on Sunny. There were no "cowboy" shoers available as we called them. 

That ride was a big 50 mile loop and at 40 miles I cut out the the ragged remains of my leather pads with a pocket knife. At the finish Sunny's plates were so thin a guy could have shaved with them. This ride was my first introduction to Easyboots. A few people used them over shoes. Hmmmm, have to check into that. I also needed to learn a better way to carry water, that water tank stuff didn't taste very good. But it was better than nothing. We lived without a lot of frills back then, but that's another story.

Sunny Spots R and myself at Mt Burney ride, 1978, in California with his Easyboots. Hughes photo.

At one of the rides I met Neil and Lucille Glass and I got myself some Easyboots. We had a lot to talk about because Neil rode a big Appaloosa gelding too. Good times, as I look back on the many people I met in the early days of the sport.

I used the old style Easyboot on the front of Zapped+/ over his shoes on the multi-day rides for added rock protection. I always carried one for a "spare tire" and often loaned my boots out to others in need. 

Andi and me riding Fort Schellbourne in 2000. Andi rode SH Frisky Affair who lost a shoe in the hind and we booted her bare hoof to finish. Zap had them on his fronts over shoes.

I wasn't always the fastest rider but we often went a lot of miles. Sunny Spots R completed 4,410 AERC miles, Moka's Pat-A-Dott 5,515 miles, Zapped+/ 6,480 miles. Often with Easyboots over shoes. As I look back, I think I should have used them over shoes a lot more often than I did.

Fast forward to just a the 90s when Garrett Ford purchased Easycare, Inc and improved upon Neil's design of Easyboots, with Bares and the Epics, then the Edge. And then what I think is the greatest of all, the Glove. I had tried to use the other models full time when riding, but for various reasons they just didn't quite work out. 

But the Glove. Ah, love the Glove. Easy to apply, easy to fit, easy for me to become even more independent. I love indpendence

Z Summer Thunder getting his 3,000 miles at Owyhee Canyonlands, Steve Bradley photo.

The horses that I have today have completed most of their rides in Gloves or Glue-Ons. The problems encountered with the Gloves have been few and far between, and it seems as though Easycare or a Team Easyboot member is always there to help us think it through. A huge thanks for that.

Z Blue Lightening, getting his 1,000 miles at Owyhee Halloweenies, another Steve Bradley photo.

Could we have done the miles without Easyboots of any kind over the years? Maybe yes maybe no. I do know that with using boots that my horses have less leg filling after the rides because the frog can still circulate blood through the hoof. The hoof can also flex, contract and expand just as it does when barefoot without a boot. I am very happy to tell you that my horses have healthy happy hooves and no problems, and I have no intention of returning to shoes. You just can't beat a recipe that helps keep a good horse sound for the miles.

Karen Bumgarner

Reflections On Booting Lessons Learned

Submitted by Leslie Spitzer, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

It's hard to believe that yet another ride season is wrapping up. It seems like it just started. Also along with the end of ride season another year of participating in Team Easyboot is coming to a close. It was a great year and for me, I feel like my knowledge of hoofcare and booting increased immensely. I feel like I've come to a point where I can truly help out others with confidence and share that knowledge all while realizing I am still a student and always will be. There is always something new to learn or something that can be made better.

This was my third year with barefoot/booted horses. I found myself coming into the season still struggling with booting challenges with my main horse, Eagle. I've always been fully open about the fact that I consider him to be the worlds most difficult horse to boot due to his extreme movement, power and his hoof shape. I fully believe in the choice I've made for him to be barefoot/booted so even though I've been tempted, I've stuck with the boots always trying to find solutions to make it work better for us.

Glue-Ons - our standard boot for endurance rides.

I'll always prefer Glue-Ons for 100's but I won't lie, I was tiring of having to use them for 50's. I was quite envious of those who could just slap boots on and go and fantasized about how lovely that would be. Stubborn streak in full operation, I decided I was going to work on that problem and try and solve it. First of all, I made sure I was working with a properly trimmed hoof. I then took Mueller Athletic Tape and wrapped it around the hoof 4 times in the front and 5 times in the rear. I applied Sikaflex to the sole of the hoof with a spatula. I then worked and got the boots on and seated correctly. I then took a hoofpick and pried the boot open at the quarters just enough to get a tip from the Adhere gun in there and I squeezed a bit in. I then did a top bead of Adhere around the boot.  So, it wasn't exactly as easy as slapping on a boot and going, but it was easier than gluing shells - kind of a happy medium. I was extremely happy with the result as my boots stayed on.

Easyboot Gloves on the evening before the ride. Unfortunately, there were no pics of the process.

At the next ride we went to I decided to go this route again, only I decided to use Glove Back Country Boots in the front and Gloves in the rear. I'd been having pretty good luck with the Back Country in training and I thought it would be fun to see how they did. I wasn't even sure if anybody else had actually done a 50 mile ride in them. The procedure I used for the fronts and Back Country was just Sika Flex in the sole and 4 wraps of Mueller Athletic Tape. I used Sika on the soles in the rear and 5 wraps of tape. I then quickly realized my half empty tube of Adhere was not mixing properly so I ditched it and just squeezed some Sika in the quarters and did a top bead around the boot. It worked fabulously - no lost boots.

I have to say I am quite impressed with the Glove Back Country boots. I think it is going to be more of an endurance boot than previously thought. It never budged and I am sized up half a size from our normal Glove size. We traveled at all gaits and at competitive speeds. I had not previously used the Back Country in deep footing or lots of sand (both of which there was a lot) so I did wrap some duct tape around the boot to make sure I would not have to worry about sand affecting the velcro. One thing to note, if riding in deep sand, check at the stops for any accumulation in the gaiters we did have some. At home we do not have really deep footing and I've never had anything accumulate in them. 

Cantering along in our Back Country/Glove combo (Baylor/Gore photo).

Eagle showing off his big trot in the Back Country/Glove combo. (Baylor/Gore photo)

Post ride. The duct tape is a nice touch, don't you think?

In reflecting back on the year in general, I am pleased to say I am noticing a real paradigm shift to boot usage in my local area. I have traveled to rides in different regions over the past few years and had been really surprised at how many boot users I saw compared to my own area. I don't know why this was the case, it just was. I can only assume it's shifting because people cannot ignore the statistics and the successes. It is a very valid option and becoming quite mainstream. I like to think maybe, possibly I have had a small influence in this shift on my local level. I am an advocate of barefoot/booted and I do believe it to be best. My most important lesson has been to approach softly, use few words, lead by example and success and be available to help and answer questions. Plant the seed, nurture it and wow - suddenly people are calling and asking for the help to transition to barefoot/booted. 

I'm really excited and proud to say there are quite a few horses transitioning local right now that I've had a hand in helping out. It's a huge responsibility but I credit being a member of Team Easyboot as an excellent resource. I've made the connections I need so I can get help or ask a question or opinion on my work.

A horse we are helping transition with Navicular Syndrome. This was about 6 weeks ago the day these shoes were pulled.

Same foot six weeks later.  He's got a long way to go but we are seeing some changes.

It's exciting and fulfilling to me to be helping in change and progress. I don't know that I'd have the confidence, the knowledge or the feeling of challenging myself to learn more if it were not for my involvement with Team Easyboot and the resources and folks I've met through Easycare. I'm thankful for that and I can't wait to see what's in store for next year.

What I am looking forward to next year. This is four year old Finney, my first home-bred, never shod horse. 

Leslie Spitzer

Horse Sports, Why Participate If You Can't Influence The Results?

What we are all really looking for is an experience that lets us feel the rapture of being alive” - Joseph Campbell

Nouveau Rich getting ready for The Delaware Park Arabian ClassicWow, was I nervous!

In sport, there is nothing that compares to the feeling you get before, during and after your horse competes on the race track.  The adrenaline, the nervous energy and the sense of hope is like few feelings in life.  Flat track racing definitely makes you feel alive!

I got involved with the sport of racing flat track Arabians for several reasons.  First, many of the best endurance horses come from the track and I wanted to be able to select some of my future endurance horses early and personally be involved in their progress and early training at the track.  Second, I wanted to develop and shoe/boot option that would both conform to track traction rules and still allow the hoof to expand and contract as nature intended.  Having my own horses at the track would be the quickest way to test these new designs and make modifications.  Finally, I wanted to see the inside of a new industry and learn as a horseman. 

Pass Play in a new prototype design before heading to Lone Star to race. 

I've grown up with endurance horses and the sport of endurance gives riders and participants the opportunity to be involved with horse selection, conditioning, feeding, tack selection, hoof protection, hoof trimming, race pacing, race selection, etc.  If you are unhappy with your results in an endurance race, the person in the mirror is the only place to point blame.  If you are unhappy with your horse's feet or your horse's body condition, there is no one to fault but yourself. 

EasyCare horses definitely had some success at the track in our first year but I guess my biggest take away from the first year with horses on the track is the lack of control.  The biggest question I continue to ask myself is, as an out-of-state owner how can EasyCare participate and improve the chances of our personal horses and at the same time insure they have a life after racing?  I don't have all the answers but my thoughts as a new owner are listed below. 

1.  Start with the best racing stock you can afford.  In the Arabian track game there are many great breeders.  I personally hit it off early with Dianne Waldron and Leah Bates of Rosebrook Farm.  I purchased several horses from Rosebrook and I've been very happy with the quality and advice.

2.  Pick a trainer that you trust, a trainer that has the horses best interest at heart and communicates well with you.  In the first year I had the opportunity to learn from three trainers and see the differences in each. 

3.  Demand good hoof care and don't settle for hoof shape or length that your don't agree with. 

4.  Base training: do some of the base training at home.  Get them legged up so they can go to the track or your trainer with base.  This base will keep them more sound and cut your training bills.

After a year racing Arabians at Delaware Park, Arapahoe Park and Lone Star Park, EasyCare has learned a great deal and only scratched the surface.  We have followed the rules and raced at each track in the the new EasyCare shoe/boot.  If our new shoe/boot can be part of extending the careers and soundness of a handful of these horses the project and time at the races will be a success. 

What are your suggestions that would give an out of state owner the ability to participate more in the results?

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.


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: