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.

 

Winterizing Your Hoof Care Program

We’ve all heard that pulling our horse’s shoes for the winter can be a good idea.  But we’ve also heard how many pitfalls there are when we pull them.

 

 

Here is a breakdown of how we at Daisy Haven Farm in the Northeastern USA, a fairly wet, humid environment, help our clients who want to pull shoes for the winter.

 

Some of the challenges to pulling shoes:

  • Chances are your foot may have minimal height once the shoe is pulled off.  Some farriers advocate not trimming anything once the shoe is removed and instead prefer to allow the foot to grow. This has pros and cons.
  • Your horse may be more sensitive or even considered painful when walking without shoes.  
  • You may have some foot infection to deal with around the white line or nail holes.
  • If you wait too long the ground may be frozen and make pulling shoes more difficult.
  • You may have to reduce the amount or kind of work your horse is doing until your feet are stronger barefoot again.  

Fortunately we have many resources available to us to help minimize the challenges and set us up for success with this process.

 

First of all, work as a team with your farrier.  Determine together if your horse is a good candidate to be shoeless over the winter.  We interview our horse owners carefully before deciding if now is good time to pull those shoes.

 

 

Next tip for success: be willing to interpret your horse’s potential discomfort being newly barefoot as increased sensitivity and not necessarily being in pain.  When a horse has a shoe on, he is receiving information from the ground differently then when barefoot.  When shoes are newly pulled, we often see a horse will walk short-strided over uneven or abrasive footing.  As long as your horse does not have heat in his feet or strong digital pulses, we believe it is safe to interpret the horse’s careful gait as just that, being careful. 

 

That being said, it is VERY important that you are able to offer your horse some kind of temporary foot protection while she is adjusting.  We carry a full line of EasyCare hoof boots in our truck to help ensure our horses don’t go from being just careful, to being bruised and truly painful.  There is a very fine line between allowing your horse to condition his feet on the ground, versus causing trauma to his feet over terrain he’s not ready for.

 

Horse using an Easyboot Trail to transition from shoes:

 

 

The success of your hoof boot for turnout or riding is dependent on picking the a well-fitting hoof boot.  Also, in our environment, the foot gets too wet and soft in the boot when worn 24/7.  So make sure to give your horse time out of his boots in a dry area each day.  We also recommend using Gold Bond powder in the boots on a daily basis to prevent the hoof from sweating in the boot.  

 

As long as you have foot protection available, we believe it is safe to moderately trim the feet when they come out of shoes.  Applying a roll on the wall will help minimize chipping and cracking over time until the nail holes grow out.  Keep in mind that the more hoof material removed, the more the chance of your horse being footsore.  

 

One way many of our owners help us minimize the chances of the horse being footsore after pulling shoes is by maintaining the roll on the wall in between our visits.  That enables us to do less at our visit and yet still maintain the integrity of the foot as much as possible.  We coach our owners to apply a bevel to the wall at a 45-60 degree angle in relation to the sole.  Any chips should be gently removed as well.

 

Chips in the wall around the nails holes can be smoothed with the rasp.

 

 

Another important step to success is making sure to thoroughly disinfect the foot after the shoes are pulled and continue to treat any cracks, white line defects and nail holes until they are all grown out.  Pick topicals that are non-necrotising, meaning they wont kill healthy tissue.  We like to do a one time soak of Clean Trax and then continue with products like Fungidye in small cracks and defects and Artimud in larger separations and around the frog to help minimize breakdown of the foot due to infection.

 

Common defects in the wall that should be disinfected.

 

 

A horse soaking in Clean Trax.

 

 

And lastly, if your horse doesn’t seem to be tolerating being barefoot very well, please call your veterinarian and get them involved.  We find hoof topicals such as Venice Turpentine, Sore No More: The Sauce, and even Magic Cushion can be helpful to the transition process.  Your vet can tell you if more intervention is warranted.  

 

Pulling your horse’s shoes for the winter can be super easy, or quite complex really depending on the style of trim applied to the foot, the environment your horse lives in, and the health of your horse’s feet when the shoes are pulled.  Working as a team with your farrier will help ensure your success.

 

October 2012: Wright Hoof Care

Our Dealer of the Month for October is Jeannie Wright of Wright Hoof Care in Ringwood, Illinois.

Jeannie started learning about barefoot hoof trimming in 2005. She said she was fascinated with the difference in her horse’s stride after his first natural trim and that is what got her started. She attended hoof care clinics and says she could not stop asking questions. She first started trimming her own horses, calling them her guinea pigs, while she received supervision from other barefoot trimmers until 2007, when she began trimming professionally. In fact, Jeannie worked in the legal field for 25 years and left that career in 2010 to become a full time hoof care practitioner. Jeannie became certified through the American Hoof Association in 2010. She currently has about 230 horses in her practice ranging from trail horses, jumpers, polo ponies, draft horses, minis, donkeys and one mule.

Jeannie feels her success as a trimmer is directly related to her passion. Helping animals has been a part of her life since she can remember: she attributes her success to proper training and guidance in developing her skills. Jeannie is especially grateful for the support and friendship of Ida Hammer, Eric Knapp and other trimmers, who help and encourage one another. She also spends time studying, especially Pete Ramey’s book, Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Foot, and she likes to carry on educational discussions with other trimmers.

When asked about her successful marketing strategies, Jeannie stated, “The horse world is very small, so an important part of successful marketing comes from personal relationships with my clients. Being punctual and actively listening to the concerns of clients are some the best things a trimmer can do. I work hard to meet my clients when they are with their horses so I can accommodate their individualized needs. In order to make sure that my clients have a great experience with their boots, I carry a range of sizes and styles. I also have the EasyCare brochures so that I can properly educate my clients and thoroughly answer their questions. For my own personal marketing, I also have a website, which is www.wrighthoofcare.com, which features before and after hoof pictures and explains my philosophy, education and background.

Jeannie says that horse owners have the most knowledge about their horses and situations and they love to share that information. She feels that horses also share their stories as to what areas are bothering them by how they travel and how they are ridden. Jeannie feels that listening and learning about each one is critical to her success with every horse and owner. She likes to discuss each horse’s needs, owner expectations and she likes to give her predictions of the hoof until the next time that she visits. She prefers a holistic approach and discusses diet, environment and exercise with the owners.

Jeannie feels that EasyCare has made the hoof boot industry change because its versatile products are exceptionally user friendly and are available to a wide range of riders. She feels that more people are realizing that boots can be a realistic option for them because EasyCare offers so many different types of boots. Plus, she feels that EasyCare has innovative solutions to common boot problems, like using Mueller’s Athletic Tape for additional security. Jeannie says that with boots that accommodate the various needs of horses and riders, EasyCare is on the forefront of the hoof boot industry.

Jeannie started using EasyCare products in 2009. She indicates that the Fill Your Truck program made it very easy for her to get started. She carries different style boots to include the Easyboot Glove, Glove Back Country and Easyboot Trail to accommodate every hoof and she also carries accessories such as Power Straps for the Gloves and Comfort Pads. Jeannie said that the Glove has been her best seller, but the Epics and Trails are popular among horses that are just transitioning out of shoes. When asked which boot was her favorite, Jeannie had to say the Glove was her favorite for natural hoof care. She also feels that the Easyboot Trail is great choice for transitioning out of shoes and for light riding. She feels that the Trail is perfect for horses that are slightly sensitive or working towards a healthier hoof. Jeannie also feels that Trails offer many different options when using the Comfort Pads.

When asked about her most rewarding experience, Jeannie said, “Every day in this line of work is rewarding, but I get really happy when a horse owner tells me that their horse has never moved so well, and that their trainer, friends and/or vet has noticed the improvement.”

Her most memorable hoof boot success story? “I took the shoes off of a newly purchased OTTB mare about a year ago. She was clearly uncomfortable in her back and back legs. Her owner used the Easyboot Trail right from the beginning for riding and turn out. This mare is now a sweet, comfortable and wonderfully-muscled horse. She has the best feet in the barn, according to her owners, and other boarders comment on them regularly. Her Trail boots give her the opportunity to more freely, protected from the sand and gravel outside, which she needed during her transition period. Being part of the team that restored her to healthfulness and usefulness has motivated me to continue to advocate for natural hoof care.”

Jeannie ventured into the horse world when she bought her first pony at age twelve. She laughs when she thinks back and says that her board was only $20 per month. She then had an Appaloosa mare for several years when she was in her teens. Husband, Larry, bought her TWH, Mikey, in 2001, which was when she was first able to really get back into horses since her teens. She now owns two Tennessee Walkers: Count, beautiful and young at age 26; and Mikey, sporty and fun at age 19. She recently purchased Mona, an 8 year old Missouri Fox Trotter mare. She boots her horses in exceptionally rough terrain and feels that she has the most success with her personal horses using the Easyboot Glove.

So, where does Jeannie see the barefoot industry going? “I think the barefoot industry is going to continue reaching into all equestrian disciplines. Barefoot success and education about alternatives to traditional shoeing are going to be key factors. Boots are a key ingredient in a horse’s ability to perform and be comfortable as well as in restoring horses to healthy feet. Right now, I believe that each barefoot success story increases awareness exponentially. A healthy hoof is beautiful in its design and function. I hope that is the norm in the very near future.”

Jeannie has just celebrated her five year anniversary as a Hoof Care Practitioner. Please visit her website at www.wrighthoofcare.com.

Her Guide: Nature is Always Ready to Heal the Foot

My E-friend and trimmer, Maureen Tierney, has just published Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method. She began this journey like so many of us. In 2001, Maureen stumbled on Jaime Jackson’s book in the Loveland, Colorado public library. Then she went on to the Internet to learn more, joined some chat forums and began trimming her horse. Many more books, DVDs, associations and clinics were to follow.

After 5 months of trimming her horse, she wasn’t satisfied with the results, “I was discouraged --- I didn’t see any significant change in my poor horse’s feet, nor was he any sounder, though he wasn’t any worse --- a fact for which I am grateful beyond words now.” Here is where her story takes an interesting twist. In spite of what others told her to do --- Trim More Hoof --- Maureen trusted her instincts and stopped trimming all together! A few weeks after she stopped trimming, she recounts how she truly began learning what the hoof wanted. What a concept! Focusing on what the hooves wanted not what we bipeds think they should look like.

In July, 2002, Maureen purchased a second horse, Huey. “I wanted to record how the feet trimmed themselves without any human interference. The idea came to me when I went to give him his first trim (August 4, 2002), and saw that the bars, that had once covered the entire sole when I first saw him, had already begun to self-trim.” 18 days later, Huey’s frogs looked much better, the false or retained soles had exfoliated on their own and the bars reduced significantly. Except for riding him during that time and 24/7 turnout, Huey was in charge. Neither rasp, knife nor nippers touched his hooves.

 

Huey's Experiment  Photo 1

Photo 1  August 4, 2002.

Huey's Experiment  Photo 2

Photo 2  August 22, 2012.

By September 2nd, 29 days later, the bars retreated to a near normal position. Remember, initially they actually covered the entire sole. The soles fully exfoliated on their own, revealing a smooth, concave surface. The frogs continued to improve. Yes, the toes are long and some of the walls are too high. But consider all the changes Huey made by simply self trimming. He was sound throughout.

Huey's Experiment  Photo 3

Photo 3  September 2, 2012.

Of the trimmers I know, only Dr. Tomas Teskey supports self trimming as the primary hoof trimming method. Until now, I credited Dr. Teskey’s success to the harsh terrain and hard work his horses deal with on his Arizona ranch. But Maureen now lives two hours west of Lexington, Kentucky, where it is often soft and damp. And most of her forever herd of ten aren’t in work.

Maureen’s journey continued, as she studied more hooves. “After trimming hundreds of horses and thousand of feet, it became apparent that the foot was giving clear indicators of where it needed to be trimmed.” She lays out the details in The Hoof Guided Method, HGM, along with hoof rehab photos detailing the healing journey, photos of dissections and internal structures, and radiographs to support her theories. She explains in terms which are easy to understand, how the hoof functions and why healthy hooves are critical to your horse’s health. On her web site you can read these posts, and more:

The Heels – Innocent Victims

How Fast Can a Hoof Decontract?

Founder – Truths and Myths

Some of the case studies in the book are presented in even greater detail on her site, Natural Barefoot Trimming: The healing power of nature. If you are curious about the HGM of trimming, Maureen will continue blogging on her site. The HGM works on all manner of horse: young and old; huge, tiny and in between; healthy and pathological; sound and lame.

“…a natural trim should mimic --- or simulate – the action of the ground on the hoof, and the true purpose of the trim is to stimulate the foot to grow healthy. Simulate and Stimulate. The more I listened to the foot and didn’t try to do more than it asked for, the faster and better the results of my trimming were.”

In the end, it all gets down to results. Her client horses are sound, no excuses. Foundered horses are recovering quickly with the trim and the necessary change of diet. ‘Navicular’ (I hate that term) horses enjoy a heel first landing after years of toe first, ouch!

How often have we heard excuses about why a horse is sore after a trim? It is unfair and indeed cruel to sore a horse in the name of rehabilitation. Sore = Mistake, IMHO.

Because the HGM is easy to understand and apply, owner-trimmers and newbies, my favorite people, will love it. If you are an experienced trimmer, I can already feel your hackles as you looked at the photos above. None of us are used to leaving a horse with such a messy foot. Still, I hope you will put your assumptions aside and see if even some of Maureen’s suggestions might work for you. The transition may not be as pretty as you are used to, but the end result may just be better? Better results means happier horses. That is something we can all agree on.

Every professional has a horse or two who just isn’t coming along in the rehab process. May I encourage you to give the HGM a try for a few months and see what happens. Even send Maureen an e-mail or give her a call if you want to forgo the book purchase. What do you have to loose? I saw improvement with my OTTB in 2 weeks. The back of his foot further decontracted and I had to remove the Power Straps on his Easy Care Gloves! Another 2 weeks later his long and low right front foot shortened from a size 2 to a 1.5! Our journey continues.

Resources:

I don’t mind hawking Maureen’s services as they are so modestly priced. She is really about helping horses. End of discussion (I have no $$$ interest in any of this! Just interested in happy horses).

Contact Maureen at: maureen@forthehorse.net

Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method is available on Amazon Prime. Yeah! No shipping costs if you are a Prime member. If you are not an Amazon Prime Member, this location may offer a better deal. Compare shipping costs.

Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Healing Power of Nature  is Maureen's web site.

Among her many Services, Maureen offers e-mail evaluations and recommendations for your horse’s hooves, an online course, clinics at her farm in Kentucky, away clinics, and other educational products.

Guidelines for electronic photos.

Maureen just joined Facebook in October. Friend her!

Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method is also on Facebook, because every book should have it’s own Face. Friend me.

And don’t miss The Racehorse Experiment, where Maureen follows the natural rehabilitation and barefoot racing of several horses at her farm, Wild Dreams.

And the (infertile) Broodmare Project

Your questions and comments are welcome and encouraged.

Until next month,

Happy Trails my friends,

Dawn, the eternal barnflye