Nevada Discovery Ride

On May 25, 2013 Samantha Szesciorka set out on a 452 mile solo horseback ride across the state of Nevada. Samantha’s travel companions were her formerly-wild mustang Sage and her dog Bella. Her goal? To encourage wild horse adoption by demonstrating the trainability and rideability of mustangs on a challenging endurance ride. EasyCare was proud to sponsor Samantha on this journey. Samantha’s horse, Sage, is barefoot and wore Easyboot Epics during the entire month-long adventure. 

Below, Samantha discusses her journey and her experience with hoof boots:

The Nevada Discovery Ride was designed to be as backcountry as possible. We started on the Utah border and traveled straight across the middle of Nevada – up and over fourteen mountain ranges and across every valley in between. Our days began at 4:00 am with feeding and I was saddled and on the trail by 6:00 am to beat the desert heat. Though we only rode an average of 20 miles a day, the terrain could vary wildly – from sand to boulder-size rocks to pavement to loose gravel. Since Sage is barefoot, hoof boots were critical to keep him comfortable and sound.

We used the Easyboot Epics every day. At the beginning of the ride it would take me 20 minutes just to get all four boots on, but by the end of the ride, I had those boots on like a pro! They are designed to have a snug fit so it takes a little work to get them on. I found that tilting the hoof down and twisting the boot back and forth got them on tight and centered. Don’t forget the cotter pins! I discovered early on that the challenging terrain could flip up a buckle. It only took a few rides of hearing the distinct clacking sound and having to dismount to fix the buckle before I buckled down and started using the cotter pins. Once I did, no more flipped buckles.

Fans and followers of my ride were most concerned with how Sage’s feet would hold up after 452 miles. When we rode into Reno at the end of the month, they were surprised to see no chips, bruising or wear. In fact, Sage actually needed a trim! As for the Easyboots, they held up pretty well too. I was curious to see how much mileage we would get out of a boot. Over the course of the ride there was one broken cable, one broken buckle and one torn gaiter. These parts can be easily replaced but while on the ride I opted to use new boots, saving the repairs for when we were back home. One Epic actually made the entire 450 miles but on the last day of the ride I was surprised to see that we actually wore a hole clear through the toe.

Terrain wasn’t the only challenge on the trail. We also had to deal with extreme weather, from thunderstorms to dust storms. There were also wild animals to contend with including elk, wild horses, free-range cattle, and even a few rattlesnakes. It was an amazing adventure – certainly challenging at times but always rewarding. For me, the health of the animals was paramount. I was vigilant about looking for saddle sores, joint inflammation, or weight loss. With all the other things to worry about on the trail, the Epics gave me excellent peace of mind. We even impressed an old rancher who we met on the trail. He was skeptical about us riding all the way across Nevada barefoot and insisted on looking at Sage’s hooves. He was shocked to see how healthy they were. When we rode off he remarked, “You just keep using those boots and you’ll be fine!”

To find out more about the Nevada Discovery Ride and see what Samantha and Sage are up to now, visit www.NevadaDiscoveryRide.com or like our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NevadaDiscoveryRide.

Samantha Szesciorka

The New Baby

As a happy housewarming present to myself, I went crazy and bought myself a baby! A ten month old, gawky, adorable, spindly-legged stud colt was quickly armed up into my trailer before I could change my mind. No worries there, I met this little guy the morning he was born last July 27th and immediately fell in love. I was able to watch him grow up, month-by-month, in the midst of the other colts and fillies much older and larger than he, and I fell hard. When the opportunity presented itself for this chromed-out, flaxen colt to become mine, I jumped. Welcome, Belesemo Magic Marker! 

Mark is a 3/4 brother to my gelding, Belesemo Enchanter, who has proven himself to be one of the funnest horses I've ever had the pleasure of riding. Chant came to me as a late, unstarted four year old, who presented plenty of challenges due to his independent nature and somewhat aloof personality, combined with lack of daily handling. He, himself, was sold as a yearling and grew up on large acreage with a small herd of Quarter Horses prior to his owner having to sell. This has all changed, and Chant and I have been solidifying our partnership through the long, slow distance training miles, as well as thriving under constant attention in my backyard. He's truly blossomed as a seven year old and I am thrilled with the horse that has developed. I see a lot of Chant in this sweet and curious, yet independent and confident young colt. While I am trying not to wish away his babyhood, I cannot wait to see the horse he will become. 

Mark, Chant and project-mare, Anya (who is worth a blog post, herself!)

For myself, one of the most exciting parts of getting such a youngster is knowing I have full control of his hoof care, which is incredibly important during this stage of growth and development. Too many young horses are left with improper and infrequent trimming, which can lead to permanent conformational deformities. While I haven't gotten to fully trim him yet, I have been working with him on picking up his feet and preparing him for frequent trims and leg handling. We've had a couple rasp strokes here and there, and he's nearly dependable enough for a real trim. The little punk is pretty good about his front feet, but would rather keep his hind feet to himself. No worries, I am persistent and he is little, thankfully.

Next post will be a trimming update with pictures of the little tiny hooves. Unlike the other grown-up ponies, I can't take pictures without two extra hands which seem to come in short supply during the busy summer months. I am excited to get the imbalances I see from the top fixed, and back those little toes up. It's amazing how you can see what could potentially become larger problems if left unaddressed. In the meantime, I'm going to go smooch on that adorable little face! 

Hoof Boots "Rescue" a Rescue

I recently became an EasyCare dealer and I received my first order of hoof boots a month ago. The following week I had my first experience with boots and it was a rather dramatic one. On June 10, a client brought home a new horse named Noah. Noah is a two year old gelding that she rescued from Fallon feedlot in Nevada. Like many rescues, his feet had been neglected and were in desperate need of a trim.

Noah's feet were quite overgrown.

Later that day, I received a phone call from the client - Noah was sore and hesitant to walk. Movement is a key ingredient to developing healthy hooves so this was not good news. It is not uncommon for a horse with neglected/overgrown hooves to have some sensitivity after a trim, especially with long toes/low heels but it should not effect their desire to move around. The next day, I drove to Noah's barn in the morning to fit his hooves with Easyboot Trails and Comfort Pads. I was so glad I had boots and pads on hand. I walked into Noah's corral and had to convince him first to get up, then to give me a foot and not wiggle long enough for me to apply the boot. Once he put weight on that booted foot, I did not have any trouble putting the remaining boots on.

Above is baby Noah with his new boots. Within minutes he went from "I don't want to get up and you can't make me" to following me around his corral accepting horse cookies as my apology. Thank heavens for hoof boots.

Ilona Chodnicka

UK Laws On Hoof Trimming Under Review

In the United Kingdom, owners of barefoot horses are facing an uncertain time as it has come to light that the FRC (farriers registration council) are seeking to regulate hoof care in its entirety and are proposing a change to the current law. Currently, the FRC regulates farriers (the definition of farrier in the UK being a person trained and qualified to trim and fit a metal shoe) but currently anyone can trim their own or someone else's horse or pony. Everyone that trims is governed by the animal welfare laws within the UK, and hoof care professionals must also demonstrate they are in line with the NOS (national occupational standard) which ensures that anyone working with horses feet has a duty of care and can be prosecuted if negligent. The proposed changes appear to challenge the right of horse owners to trim or maintain their horses hooves, and seeks to regulate any professional trimmer no matter where they learned their skill. 

However, the National Farrier Training Agency has lost its funding from the Skills Funding Agency after an appalling Ofsted report in June this year, and the NFTA is not currently taking on new apprentices (http://www.farrierytraining.co.uk/news-and-publications/publications/joint-press-release-on-the-future-of-the-delivery-of-farriery/). It should also be noted that there is currently no module in the course to cover the trim and importantly the diet and management of barefoot horses. This obviously raises the concern as to how qualified the FRC are to regulate non-farriers. 

We also have great concern that they wish to control the types of hoof protection we are allowed to use, they already deem an Easyboot Glue-On hoof boot to be a 'shoe' and hoof casts have also recently been added to the list of prohibited footwear (http://www.farrier-reg.gov.uk/information-and-resources/farriery-and-modern-materials). At present, removable hoof boots are allowed but with all the exciting developments in the world of hoof protection we feel it is important to maintain the freedom to protect our horses as we see fit. Sadly, the EasyShoe is one such new development that only a registered farrier is allowed to fit in the UK, yet the trim ideally suited to its use is clearly different from that required to fit a metal shoe!

In order to keep people informed, and form a case if required to defend our right to choose how we manage our barefoot horses, we have created a Facebook group and invite anyone from any country that has an interest in barefoot in the UK or feels they could help with our cause to join The Right to Trim:  www.facebook.com/groups/TheRightToTrim.

Lucy Nicholas
Easycare's UK distributor and owner/ trimmer of five happy barefoot horses
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Red Boot and Blue!

Save 15% on Red and Blue Easyboot Gloves purchased from EasyCare during the month of July! This form-fitting, seamless boot hugs the hoof and responds like a natural foot. Like a glove, this boot provides protection without stifling mobility. The Easyboot Glove material stretches over the hoof and clings to the hoof wall so debris stays out of the boot, even in sandy or muddy conditions. There is no external hardware so there is no need to worry about replacing cables or buckles.

Use promo code: RB13. May not be combined with any other offer. Offer valid 7/01/13-7/31/13.

Due to its form-fitting nature, the Easyboot Glove is only recommended for horse's on a four week or shorter trim cycle (or horse's that have maintenance rasping if on a longer trim cycle). The Glove must be carefully sized and fitted to the hoof. After taking your horse's hoof measurements, EasyCare recommends getting a Fit Kit to ensure you select the correct size.

Team Easyboot member Karen Corr using Red Easyboot Gloves at an endurance ride.

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

Marketing and Sales

I assist the marketing and sales departments at EasyCare with a special interest in hoof care practitioner and veterinarian dealer accounts. My horses have been barefoot and booted since 2003.

 

Foxhunt - Which Boot?

For a long time I have wanted to foxhunt my 1500 pound 16h Percheron/Quarter Horse mare in Easyboots but have just been too chicken to try it. I have been trail riding in EasyCare hoof boots for many years and I know how great they are. I have just never done any riding at speed or tried jumping in Easyboots but I know it can be done. Harvard Fox Hounds hunter pace takes place every May at the Flint Creek Farm. It's a gorgeous ranch owned by the Hayes family located in the Ozarks in NE Oklahoma. This was a great first test to try out my Easyboot Epics on my mare with some speed and jumping. They've been proven at speed on Arabians in the endurance world. Knowing that now I have to figure out which boot will work for my big boned heavy footed plow horse. I feel very lucky to have been chosen for the 2013 Team Easyboot. It is amazing to have access to all this knowledge. Not only of boots but, knowledge of barefoot trimming and everything hoof. This is the push I needed to give this thing a try. Venus has Easyboot Epics that she trail rides in. The size 4's aren't a really tight fit and the 3 is too small so EasyCare suggested I try adding a comfort pad to tighten the fit up. That seemed to help a lot. I am not sure which boot is going to work best for this big girl but, since we already have the Epics we are going to start here.

We started out down the trail with our team mates at a trot. It was a horribly humid Oklahoma morning but, Venus was keeping right up and ready to go. Some times the big gal isn't as motivated as she could be when it's hot.

Flint Creek runs throughout the farm. It's breath taking. We crossed the creek and headed down the trail to the polo field and the first set of jumps. Venus was unusually strong...usually I'm kicking not pulling. She jumped two jumps great with some half halting to keep her off her friends.

Then after the third jump I heard the unmistakable sound of a boot flopping. Dang. Only 10 minutes in. It was very frustrating. I'm not sure if it was the boot fit wasn't quite right or she stepped on herself while she was pulling to keep up with her friends at the beginning. I got off and put the boot in my saddlebag. In hindsight I should have had a spare because she ripped the gaiter on that boot. My theory is she stepped on herself because the other boot stayed on just fine for the rest of the time. We continued on with lots of cantering and jumping until we reached the rocky trails and I stopped and put the boot back on even with the ripped gaiter and just went slower at a walk and some trotting and it stayed on.

The remaining boot stayed on great even over all the cross country fences. Now, the question is do I continue trying the Easyboot Epic and just make sure I carry a spare or do I try the Easyboot Glove or one of the other Easyboots and see if I can get a better fit? I think regardless of which one I certainly learned that having a spare boot is a must.

The purple team had a great ride regardless of a boot problem. My teammates Bess Livingston and Doris Degner-Foster where very patient in my quest to find the right boot. Thanks ladies....and Venus. This was just the first try - we will continue on in our quest for the right boot for the Big Girl.

Rachael Parks

Going Where Help is Needed - DHF on the Road

One of the most rewarding things I get to do in my life is help horses who are in desperate situations. Many times what the owner is trying hasn't been working for one reason or another and the horse is out of options. Sometimes helping these horses requires me to travel great distances from home. I have been all over the country helping all types of desperate horses. I feel very grateful to be involved in their care and see them get well.

On my latest trip, I had the pleasure of working with two amazing veterinarians, Dr. Linnea Theisen and Dr. Emily Gilmette of Eastern Equine Associates in New Bern, North Carolina. I met Dr. Gilmette several years ago at the International Hoof Care Summit in Cincinnati, OH, and we have since consulted with each other on a variety of cases. When I got the call from these ladies and they asked me to come south, I knew the situation must be bad.  

Here were the radiographs Dr. Theisen sent me of their initial evaluation of the horse:

I talked with the owner and he was glad to have me come and work with the veterinarians to help his horse. Here is what he looked like when I arrived:

As a team we worked on the horse for four hours. We gave him many breaks and took our time with each foot in order to do as much corrective trim work as possible that day. We used hoof boots and pads to protect the opposite foot while we were working which made it easier for him to stand.  

As I've described in other blog entries here in the past, my goals for rehabilitation with these types of horses is based on DDT/E: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/hoof-love-not-war/rehabilitation-of-the-insulin-resistant-foundered-horse-dhf-style.

Here are the horse's feet before and after trim work that day:

While all of us were together that day: two veterinarians, two farriers, the horse's caretaker, and my brother, we worked as a TEAM to help this horse get on the path to wellness:

  • We applied a rehabilitative trim aimed at correcting the capsular and phalangeal misalignment.
  • We discussed diet changes that would help the horse's uncontrolled metabolic condition.
  • We assessed the horse's environment and recommended management practices to support him through the rehabilitative process.

While this is just the first step in helping this horse get sound and happy, I feel really good about we achieved this first visit. Since then Dr. Theisen and Dr. Gilmette have been back to see the horse. While there, they soaked his feet with Clean Trax and worked on his teeth which needed attention. I look forward to the next visit in a few weeks and continuing our team effort to help this horse get well!  

For more information about the work we do at Daisy Haven Farm, Inc please see: www.DaisyHavenFarm.com .

Measuring Mishaps

As an EasyCare customer service representative I spend much of my day assisting customers with boot sizing. There are many different factors that should be taken into account when fitting boots, especially the accuracy of the measurements. Fit is easily the most important factor in selecting boots and should not be taken lightly, a bad fit can cause a variety of issues such as rubbing, boot loss, and product failure. Accurate hoof measurements are the essential first step in the fitting process.

Believe it or not, getting accurate hoof measurements is not that easy! Ask my own mother, who for the record, agreed to "star" in my blog. I recently moved from Phoenix to Tucson to work at EasyCare but my horse Skippy is still located in Phoenix under the care of my very supportive mother. She took his measurements so that I could select the correct boot. 

My mom and Skippy.

So far she has sent me the following measurements:

  • April 16th: 127 mm x 146 mm  and 132 mm x 165 mm
    RED FLAG: a difference of 20-30 mm between length and width is highly unusual.
  • May 2nd: 1013 mm x 1015 mm and 1011.3 mm x 1014 mm
    RED FLAG: 1000 mm = 39.37 inches or more than 3 ft, this is a horse hoof not an elephant foot!
  • May 7th: 130 mm x 130 mm and 115 mm x 120 mm
  • June 13th: 110 mm x 130 mm and 115 mm x 110 mm 

What's wrong with these measurements? There are huge variations between the length and width on the first measurement, she probably included the heel bulbs. The second set of measurements, well those are just WAY too big to be horse feet. The last two sets of measurements she provided might be close. However, since there is no consistency, I am not convinced that any of these measurements are accurate. 

The point of my blog is not to poke fun at my mother, she's actually a very intelligent, educated horsewoman; my point is that getting accurate hoof measurements is not as easy as most people think and no one is perfect.

Helpful Measuring Tips:

  • Follow the EasyCare measurement guide.
    • Measure after a fresh trim.
    • Measure to the heel buttress line, not the heel bulbs.
    • If possible, use a metric ruler since millimeters are more precise than inches.
  • Do NOT trace.
  • Take pictures.
  • Watch for RED FLAGS such as unrealistic measurements and large variances between length and width.
  • Have someone else take measurements and compare them to your measurements.

If you have any questions or need help feel free to call EasyCare's customer service team at 1.800.447.8836.

Maggie Molever

Maggie Molever, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I am a strong believer in the benefits of barefoot and am currently transitioning my own horse.

 

Easyboot Glove: Hoof DOs and DON'Ts

EasyCare loves all hooves equally but we do have a boot style called the Easyboot Glove that is very picky about what hooves can wear it. Below, I have listed the "DOs" that will increase your chance of success with the Easyboot Glove. I have also listed some "DON'Ts" for when the Easyboot Glove is not suitable. Don't worry, if your horse's hooves don't work with the Glove, EasyCare has numerous other boot styles. Just to prove that we don't discriminate, we also have some styles available in a wide version for the "fuller hooves"!

 

Easyboot Glove DOs:

  • use on a bare hoof
  • use on a hoof free of pathology
  • use on a hoof with a four week or shorter trim cycle (or maintenance rasping if on a longer trim cycle)

Easyboot Glove DON'Ts:

  • use on a hoof with high heels
  • use on a hoof with flare
  • use on a hoof with long toes
  • use on a hoof with a trim cycle longer than four weeks

Since the Glove is measured for in millimeters, it needs to fit the hoof snugly (like a Glove). If you are interested in this boot style, we strongly recommend ordering a Fit Kit. The cost to use a kit is only $12.00 and it is well worth every penny. The kit will help you determine the perfect fit without having to pay to return boots that are not the correct size. If you have any questions regarding our products or sizing please feel free to contact our customer service department at 800.447.8836.

Shari Murray

easycare-customer-service-shari-murray

Customer Service

If you call the customer service help desk, you’ll probably get me on the phone! I process repairs, returns, credits and exchanges that come into EasyCare.

 

Gloves and Pads? It Can Work!

I have a sensitive princess mare. Do you know the type? Hates to get wet, doesn't like to get dirty, is very expressive about what she thinks her minions (humans) should or should not being doing, etc. And she loves shoes (aka hoof boots)...lots of them. Her collection of Easyboots is vast and takes up two gear bags! She has winter mud boots (Easyboot Gloves with studs), summer boots (Gloves without studs), gravel/rock running boots (Easyboot Bares converted to the Epic buckle system with dome pads), black boots, red boots, Back Country boots, all in multiple sizes depending on if her feet are wet and bigger/dry and smaller, trimmed/untrimmed, etc. At least she is not into purses, right? She also shows her sensitive side in that she loves her padded boots, especially if the footing is not 100% ideal and may have some rock or gravel in it. She does ok in her Gloves, but really moves so much bigger and carefree when she has her padded Bares on.

I have always had the thought in the back of my mind, that I would like to have more frog stimulation in boots. The flat surface inside can mean not enough frog stimulation, unless they are really big, healthy, dropped down frogs. Sadly, many of our horses do not have awesome frogs, and the only way to get them is by stimulating them with lots of movement/ground contact. The best way to get this, is to ride in padded boots, especially dome pads if the horse tolerates them (I have met a few with thin soles, or painful frogs, that find dome pads to be too much pressure). I love the simplicity of the Glove though, and the fact that she never interferes in them which she does occasionally with her hinds when wearing Bares. I always wondered if I could just put dome pads in the Gloves. I decided a new one was out of the question since it took up half the space in the boot, and I highly doubted they would stay on. So then I thought about taking some older, already squashed down ones out of my current padded boots - that looked much better. Then the testing began. First I went on a trail ride, mostly on flatter terrain with decent footing and mostly walking with some light trotting. I applied Mueller athletic tape to the hooves as I suspected the boots would not stay on otherwise.

That experiment was a success, with the boots staying on and in place (no twisting). I did this a few more times, adding a bit more trotting, some cantering, and a little more distance. Then I decided to them on a 35 mile training ride in Redwood National Park. This involved a good amount of elevation change, mud, creek crossings, downed branches, and a decent amount of trotting and a little cantering. Of course when we were all tacked up and ready to go, I realized I had forgotten to tape the boots - I decided it would be a good experiment to see what happens. So I stuffed a role of tape into my saddle pack and off we went. Sure enough, once up the fist two miles and a long, really big hill, we stopped for an evaluation at a nice, grassy spot. Boot fail - all four had twisted.

Front (left) and hind (right), you can see the gaps left by the twisting.

So out came the tape, and the boots went back on (after much ado about finding the right rock to smack them on with). Then off we went again to continue our ride. Every now and then I would check them, but they did not budge. I had quite a good time riding the beautiful redwoods that day, with my friend Jo on her horse Beetle. Beetle also uses Gloves or Epics with pads, and has been developing much nicer frogs.

.

Eowyn taking a snack break.

It sometimes felt like a fairy world...tree blossom petals all over and little wild flowers blooming all around.

The majestic Redwoods towering above us.

The traditional picture spot, a burnt out redwood tree is big enough for horse and rider!

One of my favorite trees in the park. Its roots grew over an old redwood stump.

After eight hours on the trail, and taping them up after the first fail, the boots worked great all day. In fact, I almost had to break out the screw driver to pop them off. This has been a reoccurring theme when I tape Eow's Gloves. My next experiment (without pads) is to tape only with power straps and no gaiters...

I love how the dome pads take on the shape of the bottom of the foot. It fills in all the hollow spaces, moves away from the loaded ones, and supports everything, much like how dirt would naturally fill in the hoof. Compare it to one of the 'dirt pads' I often find in Eow's paddock.

If you'd like to check out the "Fairy Woods" too, our local endurance club, Redwood Empire Endurance Riders, host a ride there every year. This year we will be having it in September. Come on out and join us! http://redwoodendurance.com/

Natalie Herman