Sometimes It Just Works - and Other Understatements of the Season.

Submitted by Tami Rougeau, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

It's been two weeks since I was last in the lovely state of Idaho.  As I sit here at the Boise airport looking out over the mountains I can't believe it was just two weeks since the most amazing of rides.  Since I have not written much this year for various reasons this one might be a bit long.  I only hope I can do the ride justice.  The trail to Fandango was a long one.  This ride has held a prominent spot on my bucket list for the last several years.  Every year I would plan and then a deployment, hurt horse or EHV would come along and smash my well laid plans.  Perseverance paid off and boy was it worth it.

 

May and me showing off our hoof boots at 20 Mule Team.  Photo by Lucy Trumbull.

The story actually begins back in February at the 20 Mule Team 100.  Although I wrote a story about this adventure I never got around to posting it.  Suffice it to say it was a great 65 mile training ride and I learned a great deal.  The hole in my plan for the year became apparent and I knew I had to work on it.  What I really wanted was to get another 100 mile ride on May before August but with the schedule the way it laid out I was not sure how this was going to happen.  We went to the Nevada Derby ride and each of the mares got a lovely 50 mile ride.  Well, that might be a stretch as far as May goes anyway.  My day on her was anything but lovely as she pulled on me and acted snotty all day.  It was not fun and I was hurting at the end of the first day.  Fancy gave me a lovely day two and that sort of made up for it.  But there was an ever growing doubt about whether or not I had set a realistic goal for May this year.

 Lucy Trumbull and me at Nevada Derby.  Gloves all around!  Photo Bill Gore.

Fast forward to May (the month not the horse, although there is a bit of poetic reality in this comment) and we set off for a weekend of fun riding at Forest Hill and the Tevis Fun Ride.  Fun it was!  The week prior I decided to glue boots on May.  We had been fighting a strange case of scratches since three days after Derby (April 25).  We were three plus weeks into topical treatment and she was responding well but considering her history I was taking no chances.  The only problem with this plan was that Fandango was the following weekend and I really did not have time to remove the boots, clean them and reapply them before leaving for Idaho.  Having left boots on for a couple of weeks before I was not terribly worried but my good friends from Easycare reminded me that it really was not recommended.  Oh well, I am just about as stubborn as my mares so on went the boots.

May got a good trim on Monday, 14 May and I glued on her boots on Wednesday 16 May.  To say that the gluing was non standard would be another understatement.  We had the most bizarre weather that day.  I had pretty much decided to put off the gluing and come up with a different plan when the weather seemed to break up.  The wind died down a bit and the rain stopped so I went for it.  All my supplies were already layed out and prepped from the day before and May's feet were clean.  This would be my first experience with using Sikaflex (the new Goober Glue).  It is indeed exactly the same as GG.  I put the Sika in the boots first as it takes such a long time to set up and the Adhere is so fast.  The temps were cooler which was a good thing and I was able to get two boots on without changing tips on the Adhere.  I am not that fast, it just was not setting up quickly.  Before going to the back feet I let the front set up.  It seemed to take forever and it got really hot, way hotter than I have ever experienced but not so hot that it bothered May.  Then the temps leaped up by at least 10 degrees while I got the back ones on, waiting for the Adhere to set up again.  While I was waiting the weather shifted again.  Not exactly perfect gluing conditions.  The wind intermittently picked up and although I was sheltered at the side of the trailer small bits of sand did get on the glue.  To top it off, in my hurry I had not cross hatched the hooves.  By this time I am thinking that I have just wasted my time and products as there is no way these boots are going to stay on.  Oh well, too late to cry about it now, will just have to hope it works out and deal with what happens when it happens.  Did I mention that I was washing May's legs twice a day, treating scratches on one leg and praying that none popped up on the other three?  Good thing I had plenty of gloves I would probably need them, drat.

Tevis Fun Ride. No shortage of creek crossings to test my glue job. With Renee Robinson. Photo by Lucy Trumbull.

Friday morning came along and off May and I headed over to Forest Hill to the Fun Ride (understatement).  I met up with Lucy Trumbull and Renee Robinson.  After shuttling up to Devil's Thumb in the trailer we then proceeded to ride back to Forest Hill.  I just love this trail, its beauty is just indescribable.  We had a lovely ride complete with loads of water crossing.  When we arrived back to Forrest Hill our friends Connie Creech and Gina Hall had arrived and had a lovely ride themselves.  To top it all off Leslie Spitzer and her mom Lynda Taxera brought in the best pizza in the world for dinner!  After a nice evening of socializing (and washing legs don't forget) I went out to check my little brown mare and assess the likelihood of the boots staying on the next day.  Amazingly enough all four boots were solidly in place.  Wow!  We all had a perfectly perfect boot day.

On Saturday we headed out to ride from Forest Hill to Drivers Flat after shuttling trailers.  Leslie was running a bit behind but wanted to ride faster so we knew she would catch us.  What a great day!  Gina, Connie, Lucy, Renee and I enjoyed a great day trundling steadily along what can be a scary bit of trail for some folks.  At one point I think Lucy asked me to take photos and I told her that I could not think about anything except forward (yes, I am not a fan of heights and there are a lot of them here) but maybe when we got in the trees.  I think she may have been a tad disappointed but she was a great friend and did not chastise me too much.  Lots of water crossing and dipping on this day as well.  Leslie caught up with us in the last few miles and we got to ride in together.  Another fantastic day with great friends, great trail, great views and great horses.  May really stepped up and acted like a big horse all day, I was so proud.  Another day down with all four boots firmly attached to the feet.  The Tevis group hosted a wonderful meal complete with live music.  They also had a raffle and Renee even won the coveted Tevis Entry!  Now she has to ride!

So we get through the weekend with boots attached, Monday dawns and my plans to get a tune up ride on Fancy in preparation for doing the 100 mile day at Fandango quickly fade away in the business of life.  That afternoon Leslie brought down her most excellent of all (gelding) horses, Eagle, to stay at my place till we left for Idaho.  I love this horse! Yet another understatement.  It was at some point this day it occurred to me that I should change my plans and ride Fancy on the first 50, see how she did and play day 2 by ear and then plan on putting May in the 100.  Leslie gave the consummate experienced endurance rider advice "go with your gut".  Thanks.  May's boots were still firmly attached even after 35 tough miles and 5 days of leg washing.  Fancy just wants to go somewhere and do something.  She fell in love (understatement) with Eagle in a way I have never witnessed in all my years of mare horse ownership.  Rockett was also very interested in this wonderful visitor who played bitey face expertly.

Leslie came back on Wednesday and we made our trek to Idaho.  It took about an hour longer than we had planned probably due to stopping for supplies and to let the horses out but it was all good.  The only sad thing was arriving at the Teeter Ranch in the dark.  I was so bummed to not be able to see it all and orient myself.  Oh well, nothing to do about that but walk up to the house and say hello.  Steph and John were up to welcome us and show us up the road to where we were to park.  Kevin had said that we needed to be careful on the road as there was turn that needed to be taken wide in order to make it (in my mind this meant that we would fall to certain death down a bottomless crevasse).  Steph showed us up the road and around the death curve (in reality....yeah do the math, we all survived and my nails were intact) where we were met by Kevin Myers, Rusty Toth, Garrett Ford and Gene Limlaw.  Talk about a welcome party!  Steph let us put the ponies in pens since no one else was in yet - are  you getting the idea of the hospitality you get up here in Idaho?  Kevin took Garrett's dare and requested to park my rig - he did a good job and only killed it a couple of times.  Just kidding, it was very nice to have someone with night vision and a knowledge of the field to help out after nine hours of driving.  Ponies settled in and we had a nice social hour (or two).

 

Ridecamp from one of the inbound trails.  Very spacious and accomodating.

Thursday we woke up and set to settling in for the long weekend.  We met new friends Katrin Levermann from Canada (but she is really German) and her daughter Katya.  What great ladies, we would spend a lot of time with them over the next few days.  Pens rearranged, trailer reparked and properly nested, ponies cleaned up and greetings made to friends old and new.  What a nice day.  We were joined in our little circle by Amanda and Robert Washington.  Amanda arrived along with the rain and assured us that this was just a passing storm and that we would have a lovely weekend.  She was planning to ride the next day on her might steed Breve.  Kevin and Rusty put on a most excellent barefoot and booting clinic that afternoon.  It was soooooo cool (understatement of all understatements) to see these guys in action, up close and get to ask questions.  I learned a ton.  Rusty handed out a sketch of proper foot trimming which should probably be posted to the world.  It is by far the easiest to understand that I have seen and really put a lot together for me.  Thanks Dudes!  Garrett also debuted the new boot/shoe that he would compete in this weekend.  Can't wait to see these things in action!

A lovely reception followed in the gathering area (thank you Easycare!) along with dinner served by a local business Blue Canoe.  Steph gave the briefing for the next days 50 mile ride along with a weather report that was cheerfully optimistic.  Another bit of socializing after yet another bit of leg washing and getting Fancy's Gloves on and we were in bed.  At the last minute I decided to just put Gloves on and not use Sika.  Please don't let me regret this plan.....

Friday morning we were aroused by the sound of rain on the trailer roof.  Really????  Tacking up in the rain is not my favorite part of endurance.  It is also not Fancy's favorite and she was quick to relay her displeasure to me.  But she is one tough mare, seriously the toughest horse I have ever owned, she is tough and focused.  We were very happy to be starting out the ride with my friend from Sunriver and fellow Team Easybooter, Karen Bumgarner who was also in Gloves.  The sun broke out soon after we started and we had a lovely day.  Into the first vet check and big surprise! we were met by crew!  Woohoo!  There was Leslie, Kevin, Rusty and Amanda (who had decided not to ride in the wet that day)!  What a treat!  They had even set up a space apart from the rest which was nice since Fancy is not exactly a social mare.  This was such a huge, special treat.  Thanks guys!  Off with the rain pants for what looked to be a lovely day.  Fancy was really feeling her oats and we had to depart our friends shortly after the vet check.  We proceeded to have probably the best day together on this magical trail.  I dropped her bit and put her in the side pull and she just moved out with the biggest mare horse smile ever.

  Crazy Woman Mine

Along the hills, down to Crazy Lady Mine and back up to the vet check.  This place is amazing!  Yes, it did rain off and on all day but more off than on and the footing was great.

  Day one Gloves on Fancy

              During a break in the weather on day one.

Fancy was strong and forward all day and we ended up finishing 11th in 7 hours and 22 minutes.  Not bad for all the sightseeing we did.  What a great day!  Fancy's boots all stayed on nicely.  I took them off to make sure there was nothing in them and that her feet looked good then reapplied tape and boots.  I was so happy with her.  The only downer was that my knee locked up and I had a bit of a hitch in my giddyup.  At one point Kevin asked me why I was lame...cuz I am broken, drat!  But a bit of walking around and socializing and it was OK.  We would go out again tomorrow.

Once again we awoke to the sound of rain.  Fancy and I discussed it and decided that we really were tough enough to take this on so off we went along with our new friend Katarin riding John's horse Mac also in Gloves.  It was a soggy wet mess all day.  Fancy is such a professional she just took each step as it came, moved when she could  and took good care all day.  She is the most amazing horse I have ever owned and I have tremendous respect for her.  The trail was a slippery mess and there were so many times that I wished I had my Grips on instead of Gloves.  In the end the Gloves really did well and we did not do nearly the slipping that we could have.

 

Katrin on Day 2, smiling through the wet. Thanks for a fun day.

Not as many photos on day 2 but still a fun and lovely day.  Katarin and I shared a few laughs and it was good to have someone to share the trail with.  The sun would peek out for short periods and that really helped keep the mood up.  Then it would start raining again but we were on our way home so it was just a matter of moving forward.  At some point I realized that I was really shivering pretty violently and it was bothering Fancy.  She wanted to move out so bad but the footing would not let her, any opportunity she would trot and make me post but it would only last a few steps.  Then the shivering stopped and I started to feel very peaceful and warm - DRAT! Keen awareness that I was not OK.  Checked the GPS just as the batteries died and we had about 5 miles left.  I had to move about and Fancy knew it too.  She was very tolerant of me moving my arms and legs as she walked as fast as she could in the muck.  Shortly before the finish we hit the actual road and Fancy moved, made me post and got me home in much better shape than I had been just shortly before.  Leslie was at the finish, glory! and really helped me to get vetted quickly and take care of Fancy.  Hot water and a hot shower was the ticket.  Once again, Fancy  took care of me and we got through in 16th place in 7 hours and 35 minutes.

 

Soggy boots for all of us!  Notice all the Bare prints?

We took care of the ponies and attended the ride meeting for the next days 100 mile ride.  May vetted in well but that evening lost her first boot while at the trailer spinning around and having a fit because I had taken Fancy to vet.  Great!  is this a sign of things to come?  So after dinner and a great fundraiser drawing I decided to replace that missing boot.  It had been raining pretty much steady for two days and May had been standing in it the whole time.  Her foot was wet and the likelihood of anything drying out was slim.  After talking to Kevin and Rusty I decided to just go for putting on a Glove.  They very kindly loaned me their heat gun to dry out the foot and I took May over to the driest area I could find.  Of course she proceeded to have a total melt down being separated from Fancy and would not stand.  To say I was frustrated is yet another in a long line of understatements.  Support and understanding came in the way only endurance riders can provide.  Despite my desire to "win" Kevin went to get Fancy, May settled down and we got the foot taped. Of course her boot that had fit perfectly was....too big????really????WT????  Get a smaller boot and I can't get it, at my wits end Kevin again steps in and takes the boot and mallet...it fit just fine.  Loads of reassurance from Kevin and Rusty and the realization that I needed to be done and we headed back to the trailer and I settled in the mares once again.  Thanks to all!

So I had this idea that May needed to get into a nice 8 mph pace and she would do just fine.  Remember back to my earlier comment about "speed ahead to May"?  Well this is where that epiphany comes back.  Come morning it is was drizzling a bit once again.  Really?  can I do this again?  Yes, and this naughty little brown mare needed to go.   So still a bit miffed from her antics the evening prior I decide that I am going to ride away from the trailer and that she would behave like I know she can.  May decides at this point to put on another show of bad attitude, great.  Thankfully Robert was still at their trailer and came over to hold her for me.  So I get on and she begins to dance in place, great.  Robert just takes her halter and leads her away from the trailer to the start.  Great, I am being lead like some sort of pony club neophyte on a silly little brown mare that I think can go 100 miles.  Of course I have to finally admit that this psychotic brown mare is 12 years old, has 1,100 miles and this would possibly be her third 100.  I am going to just have to figure out how to manage her in these difficult situations. 

Thank you Robert for getting us to the start.  So horses start leaving and miraculously May decides it is time to get down to business.  Leslie and Amanda are at the start and we all head out together at a nice steady pace.  Figuring that May will drop back soon I just keep tagging along in the rear.  Eagle decides that he needs to roll a bit faster and Leslie goes ahead (did I mention that Leslie is one tough chic?  Riding a hundred in a borrowed saddle that she had never ridden in before, yes she is that tough).  It was short-lived as Eagle showed that he was indeed ready to go and Leslie demonstrated some seriously great riding skill and we were soon a trio again.  May decided that Amanda's horse Nero (aka the Unicorn) was the love of her life and the pace for the day was set.  We came into the first check with me thinking that May would begin to slow and hold back.  Nope, pulsed in immediately and Robert even had a nice word for my naughty mare.  Amanda had a very good laugh at my desire to set an 8 mph pace as May seemed to be really happy at 10 - her desired "sweet spot" as Amanda put it - with long bursts at 12.  So all you hot shoes at this point are amazed that this is considered "fast" but for some of us who live in the 5-6 range it really is. 

 

Unicorn feet flyin'!  Amanda's Nero setting the pace for the day in fine form.

Next leg includes several miles of Oregon trail complete with wagon wheel tracks.  Amanda is a great guide and points out everything, even taking the camera for a bit so I have some evidence that I actually did this ride.  Then down to the Snake river and the famous petroglyphs.  It was a great day then we come up to the boulders that I had somehow forgotten about.  How on earth is the horse who has spent the last two days trying to kill me going to get me through this?  Like a pro, thats how.  Suddenly her brain settled down between her ears and she showed some serious athletic ability, navigating the treacherous boulders like they were nothing.  Proud and amazed does not begin to describe the feeling.  Across the trestle bridge and into the vet check still with all boots intact.  Really!  We all vet through quick and fine and set to resting and enjoying the scenery.  Celebration Park is a nice little park on the Snake River.  Turns out it was built by Eagle Scouts.  Pretty cool.

Nero reading the petroglyphs for us.  With Amanda and Leslie.

On this ride you basically go 40 miles out and then back to camp.  Some folks might think that this would be boring.  It was not!  Seeing it all from a different angle it all looked different and it gave me a second chance to get photos that I had missed the first time through.  Going through the boulders was no less scary the second time - especially where it looked like you were going right off into the river if you did not make that hidden right turn.  We left a bit of shin on a couple of those rocks.  At this point I was also wondering when those boots would start coming off but they were on there good!

Into the next vet check all is well and the temperature is heading up.  All the layers we wore all day needed to stay behind but there were still some dark clouds out there on the horizon.  We made our way back to camp for the last vet check.  For Amanda this was the end as she was doing the 80 mile ride.  Third place for her, way to go to another Team Easybooter!  Leslie and I would be heading out on the last loop together now that our ponies had settled down and were happy to go along together.  This is usually the point in a 100 when I am adding glow bars and head lamp but on this day it was still plenty early and we only had 20 miles to go so Leslie and I set off to see the last 20 miles of the 2012 Fandango.

Cantering along as the sun sets.  Perfect!

The miles passed quickly even though the horses were happy to take in the scenery and munch the trail grass.  At 9:45 that evening our ride came to an end.  Leslie (yes, yet another Teameasybooter), riding in her borrowed saddle, oh so tough finished 5th and May and I in 6th.  How exciting to finish as the sun set.  That has never happened to me before and I have to say I pretty well liked it.  To top it off those boots that had been on for 11 days were still firmly attached and the one glove that we put on the night before was on tight as well. 

I still can't believe it all worked out so well.  A total of two hundred wonderful miles in this beautiful place.  Two days of riding  and another hundred miles on Fancy in Gloves and a successful hundred on May in three Glue-Ons that had been on for 11 days and one glove.  The first two days of wet icky muck and the last day on some of the best footing ever.  May once again proved herself and most of my doubts were erased.  It was sure all worth the wait to get to this great ride.  The boots did great all weekend and there were loads of successes.  Congratulations to all.  But I think the best part of this adventure was all the friends who were there to share it .  Thanks to Steph and all her gang for putting on such a first class beautiful ride.

Me, Rusty, Leslie, Kevin and Amanda just before we all hit the road.  Great friends are what make this sport so much fun.

Tami Rougeau and the Fabulous Mares Fancy and May

Learning From Teaching the Team Easyboot Way

By Kandace French and Sabrina Liska

One of the greatest aspects of being members of Team Easyboot 2012 means great and abundant questions about boot fit, types of boots and how to use them. To cover more topics and address a wider audience, fellow Team Easyboot 2012 team-mates and buds decided to jump in with both feet and offer a Easyboot Fitting Clinic in Desert Hills, Arizona on June 3, 2012. Due to the warm temperatures, we started early in the morning. But neither the weather nor the early hour deterred people. Unlimited auditors and a ten-horse limit maxed out the crowd. Attendees were encouraged to bring their questions and their current boots if they were using them.

Approximately 20 people and eight horses attended the clinic that included information on Why Bare and Why Boot?. There was a presentation on the types of boots available for every fit and need. There were great questions by the participants about boots in each category of trail riding, endurance and therapy.

What to Use and When to Use It



Hands on view of various boot styles, hints and equipment.

There was a hands-on demonstration and presentation of the Epic, Bare, Trail, Back Country, Glove and Glue-On and a presentation of which boot works best for individual horse's needs and applications. There was also a discussion regarding when to use Glue-On boots. Participants were surprised to know the actual length the Glue-Ons could be left on the horse safely.

Sabrina addressed the importance of a proper trim and we were able to show more than one attendee that their boot fitting problems were actually the result of long toes or improper sizing.



Measuring how-to for fit and accuracy.

The clinic also included the importance of measure in metric for best fit and discussion stressing that different types of boots use different measurements for a proper fit.


 

Detailed information, explanation and demonstrations were provided on how to measure the hoof and the importance of understanding the buttress line. Hand-outs, using information found on the Easy Care, Inc. website and brochures provided the additional information attendees needed to appreciate proper measurements.



Fitting an Epic.
 

Demonstrating the proper taping technique using Mueller Athletic Tape.

Great fun was made of the demonstration of proper boot fitting and removal and guests’ horses gave an excellent live demonstration of what a proper (or improper) fit looked like.

One of the Special Needs hooves. There will be a separate blog about this girl.

Horses were presented with a club hoof, a damaged hoof, shod, unshod and odd shaped.

Information and education was well received regarding Helpful Hints such as Power Straps, Athletic Tape, the use of knee-high panty hose, removing and reusing Glue-Ons, replacing parts, checking screws in new boots and great interest in the use of Loktite threadlocker. Kandace gave all the attendees a view of the emergency kit she keeps in her own pack consisting of extra screws, a short screwdriver and a tube of Loktite.

The clinic concluded with helping attendees with individual measurement and booting fitting/checking.

The greatest impact to the presenters was that a majority of the horses were wearing boots that were too big. Without the clinic and hands-on presentation, users simply don’t realize how to fit a boot or how snug it should be. Even more were happy to learn how to get a boot off without ripping the gator. “Work smart. Not hard.”


 

The clinic was well received and there are already requests for another clinic in the Fall. The audience left with a much better understanding of the product and three horses that were previously shod are going to be taken barefoot.

Thank you EasyCare Staff for all of your support! Your answers and encouragement help to make this little clinic of ours a success!
 

What To Do With That Foot?

I titled this blog “Hoof Love Not War” because I hope to embrace all aspects of horse and hoof care here. In my own hoof care practice, I believe it is critical that we maintain an open dialog, even if all we do is agree to disagree. I have learned never to say 'never” when it comes to my horses and their care no matter how foreign the idea may seem. We are constantly learning and growing, and in order to do that we have to be receptive to new ideas. Even if sometimes all you learn is what you don't like!  

 

Recently I had a fellow hoof care practitioner tell me that she was afraid to do certain things to a horse’s foot because she didn’t want to experiment on the horse. My question is, aren’t we always experimenting to some degree? How do we make value decisions for our horses since what we’re doing to the foot is based primarily on anecdotal evidence? How can so many people be wrong about an idea and yet so many people be right with the same idea? At the end of the day, the horse tells us what they like and don’t like, and yet they tolerate so much. How do we decide?  

 

The only way I feel I have any confidence in my hoof care protocol is to study everything. I take nothing for granted and document everything I do. That way I can evaluate the impact of the decisions I make for the horses I work on over time. I am completely accountable for the results of the choices I make for the animals I work on.  

 

 

In my opinion, there are no rules when it comes to hoof care, more like guidelines. And when it comes to the actual work on the horse’s foot, I have only 2 guidelines:

  1. a 3-8 degree Palmar P3 Angle  (bottom of the coffin bone angle in relation to the ground which allows for healthy soft tissue in the back of the horse’s foot)
  2. a 50/50 base of support from toe to heel around the center of rotation of the hoof (which allows for neutral input from the proprioceptive nerves of the foot to the body of the horse)

Here is an example of a healthy sound foot on a horse in our practice that demonstrates these basic principles:

 

 

 

How you achieve those two guidelines is open for discussion. Ideally you would achieve the guidelines in the trim on the foot, however sometimes you need a prosthetic support to get there, like a hoof boot and hoof pad, a glue on horse shoe, metal horse shoe etc. 

June 2012: Wild Hearts Hoof Care

Wild Hearts Hoof Care is based in Ventura Country, California. Sossity Gargiulo believes the hoof care industry is changing in such a positive way because there are so many more choices and the innovation is exciting. "I think it shows that alternative hoof protection is not a fad and is here to stay -- it works." She believes hoof boot designs are prioritizing a horse’s rehabilitation and comfort at the same time as ease of use for the owners.

Sossity owns two horses – a 13 year old Arabian/Trakehner mare named Faith out of her beloved (now passed away) first horse, an Arabian mare Hope. She also owns a 12-year old Oldenburg gelding named Jordan. "Faith is an amazing teacher," says Sossity, "and was the original reason I got into hoof care – and then all of the related elements of holistic horse care such as diet and lifestyle as well." Both horses have been ridden and shown in dressage, and have some trail riding experience.
 
She attributes her success in part to lessons learned from Pete Ramey through clinics, articles, videos, etc. "I feel like his approach has the right blend of science and art, and incorporating all of the pieces of the puzzle so to speak. I didn’t feel like I had to ‘unlearn’ certain things, which has been really helpful in moving me forward." She has also benefited from being a founding member of Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners, where she can learn from, bounce ideas off of and commiserate with other trimmers and members, participate in clinics and share case studies. "It’s a friendly group dedicated to helping horses and each other, with a holistic approach to hoof care. She is a board member of the American Hoof Association. 

Wild Hearts consists of Sossity and her husband, Mario. "Having a trimming partner has been a great experience overall: I love having the help, support, sharing and camaraderie. We each have our specialties and talents that we bring to trimming, and we hash out and debate theories and ideas, share tools, hold horses for each other, talk to clients together, and generally I just think we make a good team."

She says she could not be successful in this career without hoof boots and attributes a sizeable portion of her success as a trimmer to the boot industry for helping horses heal.

When asked about successful marketing strategies, Sossity says clients love seeing before/after shots of their horse’s feet. It also provides good educational opportunities for her as a trimmer. She gets compliments on her website regularly. "It may be homemade, but the information is from my heart and what is important to me, and I think people pick up on that. The main thing people like is all of the before/after photos, because they can recognize their own horse’s issues and see what types of changes are possible."

Sossity also distributes a monthly newsletter with articles relevant to her trimming business in some way. She includes a featured client or case study of the month, update on clinics she has attended or are upcoming, nutrition information, booting tips and tricks. "I've been doing them for about a year and a half now and even though they can be time consuming to do, they’ve given me a chance to talk about and highlight important, fun or interesting things." The largest portion of her customers is via word of mouth: the horse world is small and loves to share.

Wild Hearts has been an EasyCare dealer for four years. They primarily stocks Easyboot Gloves but also carry Easyboot Trails, Easyboot Rx and some Glove Back Country boots too.  She stocks Power Straps and assorted Comfort Pads. Easyboot Gloves are her best seller and her favorite hoof boot: "I love how sleek and low profile they are, while still offering great protection."

Sossity got her first horse when she was 19. Since then, most of career has been spent working in the horse industry - not in the field but rather in offices. Her most recent job before becoming a full-time hoof care practitioner was with a large biotech company. Her formal hoof care trimming training started in 2005 through the AANHCP and then PHCP. She was subsequently accepted by AHA in 2008.  

When asked about her most rewarding experience as a hoof care practitioner, Sossity tells the story of a severely foundered mare she had been trimming for several months. "We got her as a client when she was already foundered, and I had never seen her walk normally: it was always a pained crawl and only if she was really required to move." The mare had been in shoes with a club foot, metabolic and hormonal issues, and had subsolar abscessing. Even the normally optimistic vet was concerned she was not going to make it. "One day we showed up to trim her, and she just walked up to me like a normal horse, and pressed her head against my chest. It was so incredibly rewarding to have been able to be a part of her road to recovery."

To learn more about Wild Hearts Hoof Care, go to http://wildheartshoofcare.com.

 

Live Sole and Then Some

Springtime trimming can mean uncovering the past winters secrets. During the spring months, horses hooves grow about twice as fast compared to the growth we see in the middle of winter. Sometimes hooves can grow so fast, that the dead sole does not get shed, even when the horse is ridden bare over rocks.

This hoof below is scheduled for a trim.

Previous trim 5 weeks ago. Horse was ridden about twice a week, always bare, without any protective horse boots. Footing was sandy with rocks. On first sight it looks like low heels, maybe underrun, toes somewhat long. Let's examine that sole a little closer.

Heels now look high, grew forward quite a bit. The sole looks polished and like live sole. The front part of the frog has grown together with the sole.

The collateral grooves have  disappeared in the front third of the hoof, but soil and water have found a way below that overgrown part (red arrow). Notice the heel height again (blue arrow) and how polished the whole sole appears, just like live sole (black arrow).

It is necessary to open the collateral groove and break the adhesions from the tip of the frog to the sole. Bacterial growth could fester below. The frog cannot function properly when grown into the sole.

The visible sole looks like the live sole, yet, when evaluating the whole picture, it just doesn't seem right. The sole is way too thick, the bars are mostly straight, but appear too high. I'm suspecting a false or double sole.

Exploring between the sole and the bars with the hoof knife, it now becomes more obvious. There is a visible separation between the bars and the sole. Possibly a  bacterial invasion. Confident that we are dealing with a false sole, I start lowering the heels in increments to the widest part of the frog. It looks like live sole, yet we are still far away from the actual live sole.

Slowly peeling away with nippers and hoof knife, we finally reach the real live sole.

Where the tip of the nail points, there is the separation line.

The chalky layer between is dead sole. Beneath that layer is the actual and true live sole. We can trim the hoof walls then to about 1/8th to 1/16 longer than the live sole. That depends on your preference, some of you might want it trimmed to the same level as the live sole or even let the sole protrude some. I will not get into the middle of that discussion, there are just too many real strong opinions out there and I'm sure all of them are based on some good reasons.

A valid question, however, might get asked: What's wrong with a false sole, can we not just do true Natural Hoof Care and let nature take care of it till it wears or falls out on its own? Here are some possible detrimental side effects when failing  to remove the false sole:

- The hooves will be getting too long, increasing breakover and compromising their ability to support the scelettal structure

- Bacterial invasion with considerable damage to the sole and frog

- Bruising of the live sole through the harder false sole, the horse might come up lame

- White line separation, because the long bars and false sole are pushing laterally against the hoof wall from the inside.

If in doubt, consult an experienced Hoof Trimmer or farrier. Always remove hoof material in small increments and take your time. You might be wrong. I certainly have been sometimes.

Good luck with spring trimming!

Your Bootmeister

Gloves Conquer Mud and Steeps at Cache Creek Ridge

Submitted by Christina Kramlich Bowie, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Last weekend my friend Pascale and I packed up two horses, my 13 year old standard poodle Nuala, and ourselves and headed about 120 miles miles north and central to the HOT part of northern California - Williams - where the Stalleys put on the Cache Creek Ridge Ride. It was going to be a scorcher. Pascale was patient while I conducted business the entire drive, and bless her, she even claimed to find it entertaining (I suppose negotiations can be fun to listen to if you don't have skin in the game!). Anyway, I've been to this ride three of the four years they've held it and it is beautiful, tough, and hard on footwear. There are lots of steep hills and tons of muddy water crossings, and the mud is of the boot- and shoe-sucking variety.

For a little history on using boots for this ride: In 2009 I was riding my mare in Renegades and must have done at least 6 extra hilly miles of backtracking having lost boots without realizing it immediately. It was an exhausting day, and I was so frustrated with the boots coming off a million times that that ride was actually the end of my trial of Renegades, at least on that horse. By last year, I was using tape in Gloves on 50s in general and did that for this ride as well.  With two toddlers, a job, a husband, and four going endurance horses, I just don't have time to glue!  Plus I like having the gaiter, especially when traversing as much mud as Cache Creek has.

Last year, we had to stop and reapply the boots a few times just because the mud made the boots incredibly slippery, but overall it worked well. Late last year I started using a bit of Goober Glue (now Sikaflex) in the frog and tape around the hoof wall for 50s, and it has worked incredibly well. A quick application the night before the ride, and voila, one has a Glove affixed to the hoof that will stay on for the day, then come off easily at the end of the ride. Love that. It is just not a big deal to apply nor to remove, and the boots are easily reusable because the glue peels right out. I put them on in camp, and it literally takes less than 3 minutes a hoof. I do find that with terrain and mud added to the mix, a powerstrap on all the boots helps keep them on. Mud can really make a boot stretch out. As always, I make sure everyone has a recent trim to assure the best fit of hoof in Glove.

So, for this ride, Pascale and I were riding my young-ish ponies, Billy and Brigadoon (aka Briggs). Billy has more experience than Briggs but they are well matched and we just wanted to take it easy and get through the day. We knew it would be hot and humid, and it's all hill and a full 50 miles. The start goes straight through a big muddy bog, so we waited a bit for the front runners to leave so we could get through it without pressuring Briggs. He was fine and we started on our way.  

Billy and Pascale on an early climb

We climbed up up up to the ridge as the sun came out and then went down the other side, where we had the first vet check. 

 

Photo taken while trotting! Billy along the ridge

The location of this ride is parallel to the Mendocino national forest, but it's quite a bit inland from the coast, so it's an interesting mix of steep hills and beautiful grassy valleys.

Briggs having a snack in a pretty valley

Then we went back up to the ridge, and down another hill into the lunch stop. Coming back to the ridge after the second vet check, we ran into Janet Mumford, who was riding her gelding in the 25, and was quite happy to be heading back to camp. She's the one off her horse saying hi as we approach.

Yet another welcome water trough!

We continued on our hilly way, heading up a gigantic climb then a back down another hill into the last out vet check. We took our time at the last vet check, as it was hot and we wanted the horses to rest, eat and drink. Heading back into camp, up and down several more hills, we went through a gorgeous valley with lush grass and a little breeze that we were very grateful to have. What a beautiful day!

Billy and Pascale

Christina Kramlich Bowie

That Andalusian Can't Go Barefoot

Submitted by Lisa Morris, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

Has anyone ever told you that your horse has hooves that can’t be barefoot? 

I was contacted earlier last year to help out a very experienced horse person, Jennifer D, who had a lovely new Andalusian, Amigo, with some serious soundness issues. Her hope was to use him for Classical Dressage and Pleasure Riding. He certainly had the conformation and the breeding for the discipline, except he wasn’t sound. He looked like he could star in a movie as a Spanish Baroque Warhorse but I wonder if anyone would notice that he wasn't sound? Jennifer was deeply concerned for her new friend.

Amigo in CA

Trying out Amigo in California. His training was California Charro and Pleasure riding.

Jennifer D purchased the horse after flying from San Antonio, TX to California in late 2010 to see him based on sales pictures that took her breath away. He wasn’t in great physical shape (unless round is considered a shape), nor was he totally sound, but her gut instinct was to bring him back to Texas and to help him. He is gorgeous and he has a wonderful mind. She couldn’t wait to work with him. When she got him back to Texas she began working with him to develop relaxation, his previous riding had been rather opposite of the supportive classical foundation she was providing Amigo.

Amigo seemed sore in his rear end, he would twist in his hocks rather than moving solidly. He had very unbalanced shoulders with one much larger and higher than the other, this made saddle fit very challenging. Amigo was in steel shoes and was being maintained by very well respected farriers, but he had a lingering high/low issue in the front hooves.

Jennifer D working on relaxing Amigo at the canter in Texas.

To Jennifer D’s credit she was very open and persistent about getting to the root of Amigo’s his physical problems. During this period she worked with vets to monitor his hooves with x-rays, and documented his hooves by photographing them after each farrier visit. She kept meticulous records. She worked with bodywork and saddle fit professionals to try to get him as comfortable as possible physically while remaining in work.

This was Amigo's "flat" under-run hoof shortly after Jennifer bought him.

This was Amigo's upright hoof - quite a difference in these two hooves, but both toes are quite stretched.

When she contacted me, she said that her gut instinct was that he would be better off like their other Andalusian, Paz who is sound barefoot. The response she received was that Amigo couldn’t go barefoot. The first time I saw them, we met for a consult at the local soundness wiz-vet for a full workup. The Vet confirmed the twisting in the hocks as being possible arthritis. He also blocked the LF (low) leg and confirmed that he had joint pain in his fetlocked. He performed Shock Wave Therapy on the affected fetlock. Amigo was prescribed with injectable or oral joint supplements. The X-rays that were taken of Amigo that day were a good guide in developing a plan to take Amigo barefoot.  We made no hasty changes, I simply offered some suggestions.  Meanwhile, the treatments didn't seem to help much.

Here is the LF low hoof - How do you pull these shoes and remain in work? Look at the unhealthy central sulcus butt crack in the frog. This is never a healthy situation. Jennifer treated the suspected central infection effectively with cattle mastitis medication. Amigo was sore if you inserted a hoof pick into that crack.

I suggested that one of Amigo’s biggest problems were his hoof form. He had always been in steel shoes, probably without a break. Horses like this often have very little digital cushion development. He had very flared hoof walls and his toes were very long and his heels under-run. He had deep cracks in the central sulcus of his frogs that made me suspect there was an infection in his frogs, despite frequent use of that purple thrush treatment. The vet prescribed a wedge pad in the front hoof to try to match the higher hoof. I suggested that she begin treating Amigo’s frogs for infection using an off-label product that treats mastitis in cattle. I suggested that she should request that her current farrier should back up the toes, while preserving the height of the toes from the bottom. I also suggested that we could try removing the back shoes first, and try to get him comfortable in that situation before removing the front shoes. 

We  discussed his feeding program.  Andalusian horses are typically “easy keepers” and can not tolerate high starch diets. Amigo had been maintained on a diet that was too rich for his metabolism in his prior home. Jennifer D changed his diet to a very low starch ration balancer that would compensate for what was lacking in coastal Bermuda hay. Our typical hay needs to be balanced with more Copper, Zinc, Biotin, Amino Acids, etc to encourage healthy hoof growth.  

Lf sorta oblique

7 months later, this frog is still a bit stretched forward in the "flat" LF hoof, but it is so much healthier!  The good, balanced, low starch nutrition and movement has helped as well.

This would be a process over time rather than a quick fix. The ultimate goal was to grow in new, healthier hooves that were better lamina attachment. We wanted to keep him sound for work and help him develop a stronger digital cushion so he could comfortably land heel first and flat in a correct manner. Easyboot Gloves would be prescribed to help him to stay comfortable as needed during this process.

Easyboot Gloves are a suitable hoof boot for dressage training.

When the rear shoes were removed, we noticed that Amigo was growing the medial (inside) of his right rear hoof much longer than lateral (outside) of his hoof wall. This was the hock that was twisting upon landing when he moved. The farrier suggested using Superfast to build an extension of the shorter wall. That was not a lasting solution, so I took over care of the rear hooves and the farrier maintained the fronts. For a time, we met frequently to tweak the back hooves as needed. I put a steeper bevel on the lateral (outer) hoof wall so it wore a bit faster and started to keep up with the wear on the inner wall. With keeping the hoof balanced, Amigo started to become much more comfortable in his movement and the twisting hock began to resolve. We were very encouraged. I do think the joint supplements and bodywork were helpful in this regard as well.

6/11 - Amigo's front shoes were pulled after 2 cycles in a corrective frog/heel support pad shoeing package. His back hooves had the steel shoes pulled a month prior and naturally trimmed in preparation for going fully barefoot. Transitioning in steps is a great conservative way to approach going barefoot.

Eventually, it was time to remove the front shoes. I gave Amigo a conservative set-up trim, focusing on bringing the toes back so the rest of the hoof could grow in more correctly attached, rather than forward.  We fit him in Easycare Glove hoof boots and I encouraged Jennifer to use them anytime that she was going to ride outside of the well groomed indoor arena. His soles were very flat. I also suggested that she consider riding him in the indoor for a time with boots to offer him additional comfort and support so he would use the back of his hoof correctly. 

We tested the boots at all gaits with Amigo at liberty in the lovely indoor arena. He put on a show that proclaimed he felt great with gorgeous Spanish movement, playing in the indoor. We asked him to make frequent gait changes, rollbacks at the canter, etc to test the boots and to accustom Amigo to wearing them before asking him to use them under saddle. I suggest everyone test new boots this way before saddling up.

lf 3.2012

This is the LF about 7 months after we pulled his shoes. We took the X-ray when he was due to be trimmed in case the vet needed us to tweak things. This is his flat hoof and he has grown in a much better attached hoof wall. Because he is due for a trim, his toes need to be backed up. I would like to see him grow a bit more heel, but it is still much improved. He trots sound across gravel for the vet for his check up lameness exam. No more hock twisting unsoundness issues were noted in the rear end at this checkup!

RF later

This is the LF about 7 months after beginning this barefoot journey, again he is due for a trim so his toes need to be backed up/break over trimmed. This is a much healthier hoof than the first  X-ray.

Over the past few months, we have continued with monthly hoof trimming and Amigo is no longer a lame horse. His saddle fit is no longer an issue because his shoulders match better. His high/low syndrome is no longer problematic as each hoof has grown in toward it’s potential, although they will never be a perfect match. Amigo is progressing beautifully in his classical dressage work and he is a pleasure for Jennifer D to own.

I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them and I give credit to Glove boots for being a tool to help Amigo's successful transition from steel shoes. Jennifer D was tireless in finding the solutions to help her horse.

This horse can go barefoot! 

Amigo Stars

How have Easycare boots helped your horse through a tough transition? Do you have any other tips to consider for those that are thinking of trying to go barefoot with their horse?

Lisa Morris

Endurance Using Easyboots in the UK

Submitted by Karen Corr, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I love reading the reports from endurance riders from other parts of the world but there seems to be a lack of reports coming from the UK, so I thought it was about time I put fingers to keyboard and attempt a blog for the first time.

I've been competing in endurance rides for about 15 years and have only managed to sample endurance outside the UK once - the President's Cup in Abu Dhabi, crewing for a British rider, whose horse was spun after 25 miles. But we got to see the rest of the race in full flow and followed some of the horses along the course in the desert - an experience I'll never forget. We have travelled the length and breadth of the UK to compete in endurance rides but with the ever-soaring price of diesel, we are becoming more selective as to where we go and how far we're willing to travel. The furthest we'll travel now is a maximum of three hours to get to an event. That's probably just down the road for a lot of riders in the USA. My favourite rides are in the North of England - they tend to be a lot hillier and more varied in terrain and generally more of a challenge.

Over the years, I've tried a number of different boots for endurance riding and until 2010 I was undecided as to which worked best. However, in 2010 I was sponsored by the UK distributor for Easyboots - Trelawne Equine - this was an amazing opportunity to try out the Gloves and Glue-Ons throughout the season. My gelding was eight years old and at Advanced Level - in the UK this means he had completed two 65km rides and one 80km ride at a set speed. The aim for that year was to introduce him to some faster work at this level and aim for his first race rides. Upping the speed was no problem for him - he had the base of distance work behind him and at the beginning of July he completed his fastest 65km ride to date at the Wirral (fast and flat on the West Coast) in Easyboot Gloves (see picture below).

Looey completing 64kms at the Wirral in the UK

One month later, we decided to try Glue-ons for an 84km Performance Formula Competition in North Yorkshire - the results are based on a formula of HR and speed, so the faster you go and the lower your horses HR at the end and the more points you achieve. Despite being covered in glue (us not Looey), the boots stayed on really well and we came 3rd in much more experienced company. In fact, the boots were glued on so well that we left them on for a week afterwards - they then began to separate from the hoof wall and it was easier to prise them off. We weren't worried about thrush since we'd used Equipak CS to pack the gaps between the boot and his sole/frog. We used Adhere around the cuff on the boot. The farrier at the ride predicted that they'd stay on for about two miles and once we hit the thick red clay they would all come off - fortunately he was very wrong. We had lots of interest from other riders of barefoot and shod horses - none of them had ever seen Glue-Ons in use before.

He looked so good after this we entered him for his first race two weeks later. This race was to be held over the fells and ancient turf hills of Cumbria. The one thing I'd learned was that the tread on the Gloves/Glue-Ons was quite slippy on short wet grass, so we decided to increase the traction on the sole by routering some extra tread - a bit rough and ready but he didn't slip!

Easyboot glue-on with extra tread

This would hopefully give us the extra traction and be able to compete side by side on a more level playing field with the shod horses. We used Glue-Ons again and had slightly less glue make-up this time! The farrier at the ride was very interested in the Glue-Ons and said he'd be watching with interest as to how we got on.

I was a nervous wreck on race-day - I hadn't raced for a few years, since I'd started Looey from scratch four years previously and had lost my FEI horse to cancer. Loo is normally a pretty chilled character (he is 50% Bahraini which helps!), although no-one can predict how they are going to react to a mass start. My original plan was to warm him up out of the way of the other horses - watch them set off down the field and then follow on at a distance and settle him into a nice pace. However, he was being such a good lad, I threw caution to the wind and set off with the leading group. The pace set was reasonable but started getting out of hand over some rough going into the first vetgate, so I pulled back - the leading group disappeared into the distance very quickly. The landscape had changed, the fells were now littered with slabs of limestone which is like riding on a surface covered in soap when it's damp - so if you hit one of those at speed you're a goner!

We had just got through this stretch and started to pick up speed again when I saw a group of riders and horses in front of me - someone had fallen. No-one could get hold of an organiser on their mobiles, so I rode to the next road crossing and collared a crew to send for help, they were in a 4x4, so headed out over the fells to see what they could do. Luckily, both horse and rider were fine - just badly bruised. In situations like this, whoever stops to help is given a time allowance - this makes things a little complicated when trying to work out who is now in the lead during a race.

So I continued on to the vetgate knowing there were two horses in front of me and some behind, who in theory could still be ahead. Looey passed the first vetting, and made good time to the second vetgate - both lead horses were vetted out here - so I was in first place. Or was I? Two riders had retired on course, one due losing a shoe and ripping off a big chunk of hoof and the others were miles behind. It turned out that the second place rider was in first but only just if you took the time allowance into consideration.

So back out onto the last loop on our own, with riders constantly heading towards us going home - Looey made a stirling effort to keep going on his own and picked up when we turned round and headed for home. We crossed the finishing line first and vetted well, but it all depended on how far behind the next rider was - she ended up beating us by two minutes. It would have been so different if we'd been riding together but was still exciting in a very different way. Again my horse and proved himself in good company and the glue-ons worked a treat. Interestingly, the winning horse was completely barefoot, so a well-deserved win.

The new style gaiters have made life a lot easier, we no longer have to think of ingenious ways of wrapping his pasterns to stop rubbing from the rolled edge - I still do trim the lower edge of the new gaiter just to make sure we don't have any pressure points. Another learning point for us in 2010 was using athletic tape round the hoof under the boot. The tape sticks to the hoof wall, heats up and then the glue seeps though and sticks to the boot. You do need to use good quality tape, we've found that cheaper alternatives tend to disintegrate. We always put power straps on each boot too.

2011 was a very different endurance year, we were selected to represent Team Easyboot for the first time and were now able to keep in touch with other members of the team from all over the world, pick up tips and share our experiences with other Easyboot users in the UK. The recession hit us pretty bad in the UK last year and my partner and I made a decision early on to have a year off endurance. We had two four-year old arab fillies to back and start, so that took up a lot of our time.

Looey and I had dressage lessons to improve his way of going and work on his core muscles to help him recover and hold himself better. We both loved the lessons and he is a different horse this year. I also had the opportunity to crew for my filly's dam, whom I used to own. Shannon's owner lives in the South of England, but wanted to attempt her first race ride in Southwell which is mid-way between where we both live.

I couldn't wait to see her again. Shannon has always been barefoot, I did her first endurance ride on her in boots, but since moving to live with Janet she has never had boots on - much to the disgust of some of her mentors in the Endurance world down where she lives. Shannon looked very fit and was definitely up for the job in hand. Janet needed a bit more organising, though, and this was a big learning experience for her.

She nearly blew it at the first trot up - Shannon sort of waddles like a duck if her trot isn't moving forwards from behind - I did the next one and the rest of the trot-ups throughout the vettings and she was fine scoring A's for action. There were only three starters - the race was open only to horses who had never raced before, we call them a Tyro. The three competitors stayed together all the way round the first loop.

However, at the vetgate the temperature soared and the other riders struggled to get their horses HR's down below 64bpm. Shannon's recoveries are amazing and I knew we'd make up loads of time and get out in front of them. She ended up with a lead of nearly 20 minutes going onto the second loop. But, Janet let her do her own thing and said she wanted to go slower (she was actually doing a " I can't be bothered cos I'm on my own now" stunt!) - at the frist crew point she had nearly lost all of her lead - but after some motivation from me which consisited of "if you don't get your act in gear, you'll be doing the rest on your own!" - they both upped the pace and came into the last vetgate in the lead.

Again, Shannon vetted very quickly and they set out on their last loop which they flew round at their fastest speed all day, finishing first on the all weather racecourse and walking calmly over the line. Shannon vetted straight away and passed with flying colours - I was so proud of them both.

Shannon & Janet at the start of their first 80km race

One thing I noticed was how many more people were now competing in hoofboots - the majority being Easyboot Gloves - and at a high level in races. More people were also trying the Glue-Ons, so there was much discussion about technique, how long are they left on for etc. So despite not competing myself, I still managed to get out and about and help and advise others on using boots.

2012: again I've been most fortunate and have been selected onto Team Easyboot. Again, funds are tight, we're trying to sell our house and have lots of other projects on but due to the winter in the UK being a lot milder than the previous two years, I've managed to keep Looey quite fit. He did blow two massive abscesses (one hind, one fore) in early January which put him back a few weeks - but boy do those boots come in handy when they are growing out - they provide such great protection.

My partner has been getting his five year-old quite fit and our little coloured cob has been getting out and about a bit more too. When the Easyboot Glove Back Country was launched we decided to get a pair and give them a go.To be honest, at first we thought they were great on Squiggle (our cob) but she has so much feather, that it was impossible to tuck it all in or let it stick out the top of the boot and so we've been using them on the five year-old mare's hinds with Glove on her fronts. Again, we've adapted the Back Countrys slightly by extending the velcro to ensure debris doesn't creep under the straps and stop them sticking together. Hamra moves extremely well in them and considering this is the first year she has worn boots, she doesn't seem to realise they are there.

Of course, there is always something which happens to scupper your plans - the first one was when Bond took Hamra out on a hack with his mate riding Squiggle - they were having a mad dash round the woods (no boots) and disaster struck when Hamra punctured her sole on something very sharp but blunt. So that was one down and big lesson for Bond about wearing boots for protection. Then Squiggle started coughing during a training ride - she picked up some sort of lurgy and ended up with swollen glands and snots. She had a course of treatment but has only just stopped coughing. I've been watching the others like a hawk especially Looey since he was entered into his first competition for 18 months! Looey has stayed clear of infection - he went and did his first ride of 40kms in April and stormed round with the fastest speed of the day - see picture below of him relaxing after the ride - his boots are still on since I'd taped his hooves and couldn't get them off after the ride!.
 
Looey relaxing after his first competition of 2012
 
 
What's missing?
 
I was lucky with the boots - another lesson, remember to tighten all the screws before setting off.
 
We try to vary our training and occasionally take the horses to a cross country ride where they can jump obstacles. The course is very undulating, so is great for fittening.
 
Great hills for fittening work
 
It's approximately eight miles long, I go round once with Looey and do the jumps (which he loves) and then go round again passing the jumps but up the speed and use it for hill training. On our last trip, Hamra even had a go at some small jumps for the first time - we do get some strange looks jumping cross country jumps in endurance gear.
 
Hold on tight! Hamra's first time jumping...
 
Our other filly has now come down with the lurgy - swollen glands, cough, snots, so she's getting away with murder. Touch wood the rest are still fine, so we're taking each day as it comes - if all goes well Looey will do a 65km ride soon and then be entered for races depending on what choice there is at the time.
 
Unfortunately, a lot of rides hosting races have been cancelled in the UK this year, so choice is limited. Hopefully, I'll be able to do some more blogs reporting on our successes in boots later in the year As yet we have to try the Goober Glueing technique, so must give it a go soon. Watch this space.
 
Karen Corr

Our Second Natural Hoof Trim

Submitted by Carol Warren, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I rasped Newt's hooves for the first two weeks after his first trim as planned. I don't know if I really did much, but his cracks did not get worse. We had a big ride the third weekend so I did not want to rasp that weekend. By the time I was able to get to him, it was ten days after our last rasping. I knew we had an upcoming ride about two hours from Trista's normal trimming territory the following weekend.

I called Trista to see if she could trim Newt while we were at the Valley Mills Texas Trail Challenge. Turns out Trista had to give a demonstration at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine Open House and could not meet us there. Since we were both planning to travel through Waco, Texas on that Friday, we decided to meet up in Waco. We met in the parking lot of Office Depot at the corner of I-35 and Hwy 6. Now if any of you know the area, that is a high traffic interchange. We decided to meet there since it was easy to get our loaded horse trailers in and out of there and plenty of places to eat lunch. 

The new hoof growth. This picture was taken four days before I met Trista in Waco for the trim. The hoof cracks are smaller.

We got Newt's feet trimmed with only a few stares from people.  Not sure if people were used to seeing horses in general or if we were not as "out of the ordinary" as we thought. Trista said Newt was only one of a few horses she would ever attempt to trim with so much activity around - he is such a good horse.  Trista said he was getting a little sole concavity already. She really worked on getting his toes back to the water line to help get rid of the toe crack. I had not been rasping off as much as I thought. Trista showed me again how to rasp at a 45 degree angle and how far to go back.  We could see about 1/2 inch of new growth from the coronet band and could tell his hoof angle was already beginning to change some.  

Trista Lutz trimming Newt in the Office Depot parking lot in Waco, Texas. I normally hold the horse, but just could not pass up the photo op.

Newt was a little sensitive over the rocks during the ride, even with his boots on. I have ordered pads to see if that helps until his his soles have a chance to toughen up.  I have been rasping once a week since then, and he seems to be doing well. I am gaining more confidence in how I am rasping. Newt is gaining more confidence and patience with me as well. It is now taking me about half of the time to rasp as when I first started. He is not as sensitive on hard, uneven ground so hopefully he is adjusting well.   

We are going to try our first NATRC ride and ride in the novice division. We have been training pretty hard for the last six weeks: lots of trotting and trying to figure out our pace.  I'm sure glad we have our Easyboot Gloves.

Carol Warren in Goliad, Texas

Good Reasons to Easyboot

Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I always have people asking me "Why do you use boots and not shoe?"

Before EasyCare invented the Gloves I mostly booted over shoes for rock protection on rocky rides like XP and a few others. My shod horses were all successful. Tonka had 1,895 AERC miles plus ride and ties. Sunny completed 4,410 AERC miles, Speedy had 5,515 and Zapped+/ had 6,485 miles. All those miles included 100's and multi-days and no LD's. However if there were a few weeks inbetween rides we would pull shoes and trim to give the hoof a rest. After the last ride at Thanksgiving until the first ride in April, all of our horses were barefoot. We conditioned bare and the horses got shod just before the first ride of the season. That was always our standard procedure for the hooves and our horses were healthy and sound so we were pretty sure that we were doing something right. 
 
So if we had success why switch to all boots? I won't deny that saving money is not one of the reasons. After all, the boots last for several hundred miles and I do all my own trimming so I do save money. But it isn't the most important reason.
 

Barefoot tracks with the frog making ground contact, in a shod hoof track you only see the imprint of a shoe and no frog. 

I suppose the most important reason is hoof health. It really is hard to deny that a bare hoof, when properly cared for on a domestic horse, is a healthy hoof. Why? Because the hoof is allowed to contract and expand with each step. As the frog comes in contact with the ground it pumps blood through the hoof which increases circulation. The old adage of "out with the old and in with the new" applies to blood in the hoof and legs as well. Fresh blood helps keep the horse sound, warding off inflammation as well as possible navicular conditions, contracted heels and other lamenesses. Even when the hoof does sport a boot it is only for a few hours, and that hoof can still work with the boot on.

So besides saving money and improving my horse's well being what is left?
 
Enter the mighty "Thunder" into the picture. A veritable shoer's nightmare who at six weeks of age developed a badly turned out foot requiring continual trimming to get it corrected. It turned due to a mineral deficiency. Thunder also grows very fast so he simply continually needed trimmed. In four weeks he needed reshod as his hoof wall would quickly grow over the outside edge of the shoe (yes he was left with plenty of expansion) and he would get a bit unbalanced as the outside of the hoof grew faster than the inside. So it was easier to leave him bare as much as possible, maintain balance through trimming and ride in regular boots.
 
 
This picture is dated fall 2009 his first Gloves in back, Epics in front. You can see the rear Gloves are too big, part of the learning curve because at the time I thought they fit.
 
In 2007 I was introduced to Team Easyboot and a couple new boot designs entered the scene, the Bare and the Epic. Up until that time I had only used Original Easyboots so I could see some new promise of success. He didn't pull off the front Epics with the gaitor, that was an improvement over regular boots. Only he also over-reaches so the hardware clamp on the hinds would get a bit beat up and it wasn't the best option. The Easy Up clamp worked better for him but it was best for trail riding and not endurance. So I would have to shoe at the last minute and then pull shoes again between rides to maintain the hooves. The Bare was hard to get on so I wasn't crazy about it for Thunder. We kept fumbling along though in our practice of alternating shoes and barefoot with boots until the Gloves came along.
 
The Gloves were wonderful and Amanda Washington helped me secure the fit and gave me a few pointers. Now I believe we are into our third year of using Gloves. I love them and so do the horses and we have had very few problems with rubs or loss. Thunder is a bit hard on the gaiters, but believe me when I say Thunder is simply hard on everything. He has around 2,000 AERC miles in Gloves and Blue has around 700 AERC miles in Gloves.
 
 
Steve Bradley took this on Day Four of Owyhee Canyonlands as we waded through Sinker Creek Canyon with our Gloves.
 
But besides all of that, I really do like trimming the hooves and doing all this myself. It is more work but so satisfying. If their hoof is unbalanced or I fail I have no safety net - no one else to blame. But I learned to trim as a kid, was married to a farrier and I'm not saying I am an expert, but I know enough to get by. I love it when people ask me, "You horse's hooves look great, who is your trimmer?" And I get to say 'Me!"
 
So those are all my great reasons for booting and I have to say thanks EasyCare for great products and for Team Easyboot.
 
 
My grandaughter McKenzie and me with Scarlet and Thunder in their Gloves.

Karen Bumgarner