Grabbing Not Squishing

During a consultation with Dr. Tomas Teskey, DVM, he said that horses feet should "grab the ground and not go squish." In that instant I got a visual of a perfectly formed hoof capsule with a deeply concave sole thrusting against the ground with the weight of the horse driving it into maximum flexion, heels opening with rear frog impact, the sole flattening as the weight of the horse rolls forward. I froze the screen in that instant. My complete focus went to the next frame...the exhausted phase of flexion (when energy is stored). This immediately turned to gripping as the weight of the horse against the sole began to release and traction took over for an instant. The forward and downward momentum of the horse causes the hoof capsule to break over, releasing the recoiled energy. Finally, the hoof is returned to it's relaxed phase with enough stored energy to repeat the cycle. That particular aspect of hoof function, the gripping, had escaped my obsessive mental scrutiny of hoof mechanics. This visual was great in that it held an excellent visceral effect.

I find myself constantly struggling to find ways to get horse owners to feel what is going on in their horse's feet. True soundness depends on the horses ability to feel the ground under the weight of his body, through all gaits and over all terrain. It's the weight of the horse working for him instead of against him that builds this "grabbing" effect. It takes a considerable amount of concussive forces and contortion of the hoof capsule to develop the foots ability to resist these same forces. We all hear about the importance of concavity to the solar surface of the hoof capsule. Many of us understand that it needs to be built not carved. Fewer know how good it must feel to the horse to have the strength to grab the ground while their flying hooves cover a variety of terrain.

A bad "squishing" hoof.

A staggering amount of domestic horses are experiencing the squishing effects of their enormous body weight crushing the soft tissues in their hoof capsule. Whether a horse is shod or in poorly shaped bare feet, the hoof mechanism is often compromised and the weight of the horse slowly compresses the bony column against the solar surface of the hoof capsule. The sole becomes flat and thin and the soft tissue becomes sandwiched in between. The analogy of a plunger has often been used to describe the function of the hoof capsule. In the case of the shod or poorly shaped bare hoof, the plunger is made of thin poor quality rubber and it is stuck in the depressed phase. In the contrary example of the properly shaped and conditioned bare hoof, the plunger is made of high quality thick rubber that takes an impressive amount of weight and strength to compress and/or flex. This type of hoof becomes continually strengthened over time as the weight of the horse pushes against the ground that it covers simultaneously flexing and resisting this same flexion under the strain, grabbing the earth with every pounding foot fall.

This is easy to identify with. I picture a human having a foot with the following issues: fallen arches, loss of circulation from diabetes, arthritic joints, and/or ingrown toenails. Now picture this person trying to perform any kind of physical task.

A good "grabbing" hoof.

In a different situation I picture a human with an undamaged, healthy, functioning foot wearing brand new, perfectly fitting, expensive running shoes. This would be similar to a horse with a properly shaped fully functioning foot wearing hoof boots. In my experience these "fully functioning" feet are difficult to develop on horses that are being cared for in a traditional manner. Trimming alone can be slow, frustrating, and have a futile outcome. There has to be a foundation for hoof health. These days, before I accept a new client I want to see four things:

  1. A diet of grass hay.
    Every time I've ever removed alfalfa or alfalfa products from a horse's diet I've seen improvement in their feet, as well as their behavior.
  2. Adequate movement.
    This is the biggest problem that I see domestic horses facing. They aren't meant to be alone or in cages.
  3. Stone particulate footings, such as pea gravel, chat, and sand.
    These types of footings, when spread at a depth of 4", offer the hardening qualities of stone while simultaneously providing a "self leveling" cushion that helps horses distribute their weight more evenly throughout the solar surface of their feet, as well as their entire body. Studies by Dr. Robert Bowker show that  standing on 4" of pea gravel improves circulation by as much as 40%.
  4. A well balanced and appropriately timed trim.
    I put this last on the list because it's not fair to the horse to force our best guess, or our idea of a proper trim on them without addressing the previously mentioned elements. We should only remove what is ready to exfoliate. Properly formed feet should be encouraged not carved.

The more we take the time to consider the needs and abilities of horses the more valuable we can be to the horse.

David Landreville, Landreville Hoofcare
 

EasyCare Retail Dealer and Hoof Care Practitioner Work Together

The following is from EasyCare retail dealer Jo Turner of the Roy Frey Western Store in Topeka, Kansas:

"As western store owners, trail riders and wanna-be cowgirl/cowboy, my husband and I are EasyCare dealers and have sold Stowaway Packs for years from EasyCare. We use them ourselves and love their "small footprint" and secure fit on the back of our saddles. In my pack, I carry my hobbles, knife, extra leather for emergency repairs, Kleenex, lunch and water plus tie on a rain jacket or halter as needed.

This past year, we have been studying the virtues of letting our horses go barefoot. A good customer and friend of ours is a barefoot trimmer and also an EasyCare dealer. Terrie Yordy, of It Behooves The Horse, always carries a trunk load of EasyCare hoof boots with her everywhere she goes. We pulled the shoes on our horses last November and have been doing barefoot trimming since. Our hoof care practitioner measured our horse's feet and we purchased the Easyboot Glove Back Country boots. One horse has two different size front feet. The Back Country boots are easy to put on and they stay on.

We have gone trail riding in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Missouri with great results - never losing a boot. We have also been on two cattle drives that were five and twelve miles respectively.

I have participated in a working cow horse clinic using the boots. Again, with the same result - I have never lost a boot.

Back Country boots in action . . .

We couldn't be happier with the results of going barefoot and using the Back Country Boots. Thank you, EasyCare, for designing a great hoof boot that serves many different equine disciplines!"

Thank you from EasyCare to Jo Turner, Dewayne Burgess and Terrie Yordy. It is a pleasure to work with such enthusiastic dealers!

Dee Reiter

easycare-customer-service-dee-reiter

Retail Account Rep

I am the Retail and New Dealer Account Rep for EasyCare. I will be happy to help you with ordering, selecting the most popular styles and sizes of EasyCare hoof boots to stock. Let me help you with suggestions on merchandising and provide training for you and your staff, at your convenience.

 

Old Mac's G2 Easy Installation

If you have ever wondered how long it takes to install the Old Mac's G2 hoof boots, check out this video by Missy Wryn. Missy is a horse trainer who uses the Old Mac's G2 on her horse Paco. You can check out her website for videos of her riding down the trails, through creeks and up hills in her Old Mac's G2 boots with success.

Missy's thoughts on hoof boots: "I hear from people all the time that it takes too long to boot their horses, so I debunk that myth by demonstrating it can go quickly with a little practice. What's seven minutes for the health, safety and comfort of your horse?"

We have many accessories that can be used with your Old Mac's G2 boots to enhance the comfort and success of use. Each pair of boots come with a free pair of EasyCare Gaiters for use to prevent rubbing/chafing. If your horse's hooves are a bit narrow for the size boot that the length measurement fits in, we have Old Mac Inserts that can be used to take up the excess width for a much better fit. Comfort Pads can also be used to provide extra comfort for your horse during riding or turnout. The aggressive tread pattern will take your horse over a wide variety of terrain conditions. Contact EasyCare with your horse's hoof measurements and we will help you find your booting success!

Nancy Fredrick

Nancy Fredrick, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

I have been on the EasyCare team since 2001. I have first hand product knowledge as my horses are barefoot and booted; I also trim my own horses. I can assist you with all of your booting needs.

 

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
.

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 .