Best Foot - Never Been Shod

Boot? Good heavens no! I have Fell Ponies. I'm sure that most of those select few who know what a Fell Pony is are thinking of feathers and nice hock and knee action and wild flowing manes. However, those outside the breed's native Cumbria (the UK's Lake District) might be surprised to know that traditional Fell breeders actually breed for foot conformation and hoof quality.

That's right. At the annual Fell Pony breed show near Penrith, in northern England, the showing classes include the following two: Best Foot Shod, and Best Foot - Never Been Shod. Fell Pony breeders take foot quality seriously, and it shows. My ponies have well conformed feet with excellent quality horn. The concavity and shape is wonderful. These ponies, as long as they are kept and trimmed with foot health in mind, can crunch rocks and gravel all day, day after day, quite happily, without a problem.

If more breeders took foot quality and conformation into consideration when choosing sires and dams, rather than "typey" looks and fancy pedigrees, the foot health of horses would be much better.

No boots needed!

Name: Kris Hughes, Manzanola, Colorado USA
Equine Discipline: Pleasure Riding
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove Back Country


Boot Fit Analysis

A good fit is the number one criterion for determining the best boot for your horse. Whether you are looking for help with your first pair of boots or trying to resolve boot loss/damage, the customer service team at EasyCare is happy to evaluate your horse's boot fit. Although you never want to trim a hoof to fit a boot, boots can expose trims or hoof conformations that are less than ideal. Booting an overgrown or unbalanced hoof and/or using an inappropriate boot style are common factors responsible for poor booting experiences. The pictures below show the views that are necessary for boot fit analysis.

Dorsal with Boot

Dorsal view with boot on.

Lateral with boot

Lateral view with boot on.


Dorsal and lateral views without boot.


Solar view without boot.

When taking pictures for fit evaluation please remember to :

  • clean your horse's hoof.
  • measure your horse's hoof.
  • take photos on a clean and flat surface.
  • take photos in natural light, shaded areas are preferable to full sun.
  • take the dorsal and lateral views from the ground level.
  • take the solar view with the camera parallel to the sole (do not tilt the hoof).
  • label your photos by foot and view (for example "RF lateral" for "right front lateral").

As always, if you have any questions please give us a call at 1.800.447.8836 and we will be happy to assist you.

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

As one of the customer service representatives, I am happy to help get your horse into the right boots. I have plenty of hands on experience since my horses have been barefoot and booted since 2003.


August 2012: Tack Shack of Ocala

Tack Shack of Ocala, as well as Tack Shack Too, are owned by Dave and Marti Haught and have been in business in Florida since 1987. In preparation for their Dealer of the Month article, we spoke with Julie, the General Manager, who has been with Tack Shack of Ocala for over eleven years. Trish, who manages Tack Shack Too, also gave her input and Ola gave us a lot of information from her perspective as the “on-staff” hoof care practitioner for Tack Shack of Ocala.

When asked about changes that they have seen in the hoof boot industry, they all agreed that the hoof boot industry has changed in that more horses are being transitioned out of shoes. “People are realizing that shoes are not the only option for horses with sensitive or poor quality feet. The “rehab” process is not easy for horses. In addition, there are a lot more options in terms of boot styles that will accommodate all horses in hoof boots. We definitely see the barefoot industry expanding. More and more people are realizing that feet can heal and toughen up if given the adequate amount of time. Horse owners are showing more patience because they see how much better their horses are in the long run. The owners are setting their horses up for a life of soundness.”

Julie, Ola and Trish all say that they attribute their success to many different factors. “We really listen to our customer’s feedback about their horses. We guide them to measure their horse’s feet properly and make suggestions on which boots will work best for their horse. Of course, all of this ties in with our great customer service, product knowledge and inventory. It’s exciting with EasyCare because there is always something new coming in.”

As to market strategies, Julie says that one of their best events is their famous “Horsey Yard Sale.” The Famous Horsey Yard Sale occurs four times a year in conjunction with a massive store wide sale at Tack Shack of Ocala and Tack Shack Too, which is their Western store. Their large back parking lot becomes an equine flea market with folks selling used tack, gently used stable equipment and all kinds of other things you never knew you needed! She said they have been doing these yard sales for over fifteen years and always have over a thousand people attending. Ola also added that they tend to feature the boots in high traffic areas, letting the community know that we carry EasyCare products. They do a lot of radio advertising and also post the information on their Reader Board.

Tack Shack of Ocala is relatively new to EasyCare products; however, Julie, Trish and Ola all have their personal preferences when it comes to favorite boots.

When we asked Ola, she said her favorite was the Back Country and the Rx boot, which would make sense because she is a hoofcare practitioner. Julie’s favorite boot is the Easyboot Trail, while Trish said definitely the Back Country. Even though all three have their favorites, you can find the Back Country, Trail, Soakers, Rx boots at the store. And if they don’t have the boot style you are looking for, just ask and they can order it for you.

Ola said one of the most rewarding experiences that she has had is with a horse named, Sassy, who really touched her heart. Sassy was severely foundered and in shoes when Ola started working with her. The owner contacted Ola saying that she wanted to try one more thing before saying goodbye to her baby. Ola took her shoes off and put her in EasyCare Rx boots with comfort pads. Sassy was trimmed every two weeks with small adjustments. After four months, Sassy trotted for the first time with no pain medications. During the whole rehab process, Ola and the owner never gave up because Sassy was always trying and in good spirits.

Combined, these ladies own six horses and have been riding for many years. They know the horse industry, they know the hoofcare industry and they have the expertise to know the horse’s and the owner’s needs. Come see them at Tack Shack of Ocala and Tack Shack Too or visit and let them help you.

Topper's Rockin' Big Day

Holy heck my baby has grown up! It truly seems like just yesterday, I was reluctantly loading an awkward, gangly, frizzy, skinny, head-case of a three-year-old gelding into my trailer. Yesterday it was not, but sometimes it feels like just yesterday, and sometimes it feels like it's been ages. In reality, three years ago, almost to the day, we brought Topper home, and three days ago, he completed his first endurance ride at the City of Rocks Endurance Ride in Almo, Idaho.

Anytime a horse finishes such an accomplishment is huge, but when it's been preceded by years of blood, sweat, broken wrists, broken railroad ties and tears, it's the real deal. I'm not jokin', y'all. This horse was a total freak with a capitol F when we brought him home. He has done more stupid, reactive and dangerous things than all my horses put together. In Topper's defense, he hasn't a mean bone in his body. Just several insecure, reactive and panicky bones. We've added magnesium to his diet. Hope that helps. But really, he has turned into a very nice horse. While there is still that level of anxiety and nervousness just under the surface, he just gets better and better the more we do. I'm pretty sure that by the time he's 19, he'll be awesome. 

Where it all began. Topper at three years old. Plenty of improvement needed.

Throughout the years, I have struggled more with Topper's feet than I have with the others. He came with a pretty significant dish and some wicked long toes, and it's something we have battled since. Luckily, the stronger he gets, the less his feet go wonky, and I've worked hard to keep him even and balanced, in both feet and body. 

Frequent trimming has been imperative in Topper's hoof health, and I've learned more from his problem feet than I would have if he had picture-perfect, textbook hooves. Because of his very long legs, he developed a consistent grazing posture where his right front gets slung back and his left front ahead. Long toe, low heel, yada yada yada, I've gone on and on. The moral of the story is I can't imagine what his horse's feet would look like if they had been shod from the age of three on, or if he had been left out in pasture without frequent trimming. As frustrating as it's been, I am thankful for the lesson and experience. 

Using boots on Topper has been easy. I took advantage of the slow miles I put on him and rode mostly barefoot to develop a strong foot. Fitting him for his Gloves was a bit of a challenge, in that he has very wide front feet. After the development of the Easyboot Glove Wides, it was smooth-sailing in the boot department. Prior to the Wides, I experimented with a few different sizes, but ultimately settled on 0.5W for the fronts and 1s with Powerstraps on the hinds. Start early fitting for boots, don't wait until the last minute. It really pays to do this and is one less thing to fret about when your ready to step your training up. 

Topper in his boots on a training ride at 7,000'.

Recently I wrote about sensitivity due to thin soles. I decided to glue boots on him before the ride, using lots of SikaFlex to cushion and absorb concussion. This worked beautifully, as it always does, and gave Topper the comfort and security to keep on keepin' on! While this ride wasn't exceptionally rocky, there was a fair amount of road and I was psyched to have the extra protection. Topper's boots are still holding strong, and I plan to leave them on for a period of ten days or so. While leaving boots glued on for longer than a week can be somewhat controversial for some, I love the amount of foot that grows after a ride and I find that horses who need the extra growth thrive in properly used Glue-Ons. I am so thankful for this option.

I was so psyched for this ride, not only because it was to be Topper's first, but because we would be doing it with one of my best friends in the world, and Topper's brother! For real! His brother! Because I'm a dork like that, I think animal siblings are too funny. My yorkie has regular playdates with his littermates. My friend's Sheltie has playdates with his brother and my horse is no different. He and his brother were born on the same day, April 1st, 2006. Yeah, the joke's on me on that one! They were sired by the same stallion. Poor Hemi's mother passed away when he was just a little guy, and not only did Topper's mother adopt him, she nursed both boys and cared for Hemi as her own. Topper and Hemi still remember each other when they get together, and I couldn't think of a funner way to spend 50 miles! 

The boys coming into the vetcheck. Jackie and I were trying out each other's stirrups.

Topper and I on our first endurance ride together. I look forward to many, many more rides with him. Steve Bradley Photography.

After the ride. We did it!

Jackie and I had a fantastic ride on the boys. They had a wonderful experience and finished the ride in great shape. We cracked up all day at their similarities, including a propensity to be a wee bit lazy. We'll work on that for the future. Hemi has always worn Easyboot Gloves also, and proudly sports the Kansas City colors, red and yellow on his powerstraps. I would estimate 90% of my friends now use hoof boots which is awesome! It's so fun seeing all the boots around ridecamp instead of steel shoes. Pretty soon, steel will be a thing of the past. 

The Levermann family riding the Teeter horses. They were outfitted with Gloves and Glue-Ons. All three pairs did all four days.

Team Easyboot member Karen Bumgarner and Z Summer Thunder who completed all four days in Glue-Ons. Thunder looked great.

Carol Brand on her gorgeous gelding, August. It is a small miracle in and of itself that Carol has barefoot horses who go in Easyboots. She used to tell me their land was "just too abrasive, dry and rocky to go barefoot." I knew she'd come around. Due to their abrasive, dry and rocky ground, her horses have incredibly functional hooves. 

So keep on keepin' on. Whether your at the beginning whacko, frizzy stages, or nearing the milestone of a big accomplishment, keep at it. Because when you do, you get to look back and remember everything you've gone through to get there. And you get to look forward to all that's coming. 

Role Models

My Mom and Dad tell me that I loved animals before anyone ever influenced me about them. I guess that must be true because animals are my main passion, and what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have so many ideas about building a business around horse and dog care. Maybe it is in making this love into a career that people have influenced me, and in a good way.

Learning all I can about all equines for my future career.

My parents encourage me to have mentors and role models besides them. I am lucky enough to have several.

I think Mom is my first role model where horses are concerned. I guess she is also a mentor, but I just call her Mom. I got my interest in horse hooves from her, though she says I was a natural in the saddle the first time she put me on a horse. I'm glad she goes the barefoot route with horses or I might like shoes. Instead, I get to know early that bare is better.

Mom doing what she loves.

My Mom has been a professional trimmer and EasyCare dealer for several years now. She knows a lot about boots, but her client, Lynn Brunetto, probably knows even more. Lynn has had her horses barefoot for 12 years now and has been booting them for 10. She has tried many different hoof boot styles, but Epics are still her favorite. She is really good at fitting and tightening it and it stays on really well.  Lynn goes on many benefit rides, private rides, ACTRA rides and AERC rides. She always uses hoof boots. I hope I will be as good with hoof boots as she is.

Lynn is riding her Morgan, Ivan, with Epics in front and Bare in back.

Liz Stout is a really cool riding partner. When she was my age, she had an older girl who helped support her love of riding. She wants to pass that along, and has decided to pass it along to me!  Liz is going to be my sponsor in the endurance ride in August because I am too young to ride it on my own. While Liz is a horse-person role model, she is especially a mentoring role model. I hope I will "pass it along" as she has.

Liz and me last fall. She is riding Bella and I am on a very dirty Nanny.

After Mom started trimming, she also learned more about equine teeth and body balancing. She hired Krystin Dennis of to come and be our Balance Equine Dentist. Krystin is really good with teeth, and she is really good at teaching others about teeth. She taught me to do a pre-dental exam last summer and I got to help her with all of our horses. She also taught our whole 4H Club at an "All About Balance" Camp/Clinic last June. Krystin practices Balanced Dentistry and is a barefoot enthusiast. I hope I can become as good a dentist as she is!  (I want to do it all!).

Watching Krystin work her magic on Nanny last summer. Nanny loves Krystin.

Sonya Penson was our equine 4H leader until this year. She still stays active and helps us when she can. She is the only person on this list who is not 100% barefoot. Even so, she is a wonderful teacher and horse person and neighbor, and she does go at least partially barefoot. Her first pair of hoof boots were Epics. When Sonya got a new horse this spring, she remarked to my Mom, "I need to get his shoes pulled so I can ride him!" Sonya is a role model to me for always taking excellent care of horses on a daily basis, working hard, and always being a good leader/neighbor.

Sonya loves teaching kids how to take care of horses.

Erica Janes is a newer role model for me. She recently gave a clinic to my 4H Club on ground work with your horse based on her studies with Buck Brannaman. I learned from her that I need to soften my approach and listen more to Nanny, Bella and Phoenix. She also taught us that people sometimes bully horses, which we should not do of course, and that everything with our horses is our responsibility. Erica has Glove Back Countries on backorder and can't wait to try them out.

Erica is in pink, demonstrating with one of our 4H horses.

The next to the last role model I will list is also the most important, the most imporant mentor as well. She has influenced my horsemanship the most. She is my long-time riding instructor, Carol Burdick. Carol is a certified Centered Riding Instructor. Carol has taught me how to use my whole body to ride, not just my hands or heels. She has taught me to feel. She has also taught me to "just do it" without getting frustrated. Learning not to get frustrated has not always been easy, but I am getting better at it. Carol also hosted the first barefoot trimming clinic in North Central West Virginia at her Terra Alta Lake Farm. All of her horses are barefoot and she has a variety of EasyCare hoof boots. Carol is a role model and mentor for me in so many different ways, especially as a wonderful, all around horse woman.

Carol (with Nanny) sharing her love of horses with the youngest 4H members, the Cloverbuds.

Finally, I want to list my Dad as a role model. He is kind of a funny one for this blog because he does not really like having so many horses and animals around. But he loves us, so he tries to be good-natured about it. And he helps out in a pinch when we need it, especially with late night hay runs in winter. He has come to appreciate at least one thing about our horse craziness: They give him "black gold" (composted manure) for his garden! He is a role model because sometimes we have to support what our loved ones enjoy, even when we do not.

My Dad and me at the 1st Annual Equine Wellness Clinic at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Waynesburg, PA.

Thanks for reading! Who are your role models and mentors?

4 Lessons Learned From the 2012 Big Horn 100

There are four lessons to remember when embarking on the transition to a barefoot/booted protocol for your horse. As I rode a horse through his first 100 at Big Horn last weekend, each of those lessons came back to me, one after the other.

The halfway point between vet check 1 and vet check 2 at Big Horn.

1. Preparation is Key to Success

Do your homework. Getting a horse successfully through a first 100 is dependent upon a thorough training and nutrition program. If you take short cuts, the chance of failure is high. The same is true if you fail to properly understand the principles of a barefoot lifestyle. Successful transition requires proper diet, proper trim and the right living environment.

2. Evaluate Fit and Re-Evaluate Fit

Tack has to fit correctly or it won't work. And tack fit changes over time. Does your saddle fit properly? Does it fit as well today as when it was evaluated a month, six months or one year ago? Has something in the mechanics of the tack changed during use? Have you used the tack or equipment before you came to the event? Gone are the days of vague sizing for hoof boots. Today's designs rely on accuracy of fit: don't underestimate the importance of getting it right.

3. Solutions Are Not As Elusive As They Might Seem

Think carefully and fastidiously. If something isn't working or if things just don't seem right, go back to square one. Go carefully through each of your evaluation steps. The solution will almost certainly reveal itself.

4. Keep in Touch With Your Community: Locate Your S.M.E.

The knowledge and expertise of a community is very powerful. There are hundreds of people in your extended communities who are Subject Matter Experts. They have experienced the successes and challenges of a transition and are more than willing to share with others.

Easyboot had a 100% success rate at Big Horn this year: not one Easyboot was lost. Do you want help in getting to 100%? Drop us a line: you can do this.

Kevin Myers


Director of Marketing

I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your equine partner.


Gluing. Simplified.

Gluing boots is probably the biggest concern I hear from friends and acquaintances wherever I go. While there are plenty of ways gluing can turn into a disaster, there are a few simple steps that can make the process pain-free and downright easy! 

Yesterday I decided to glue boots on Topper for the upcoming City of Rocks endurance ride. We have been having trouble with him this summer as he has been abnormally sore-footed. I was concerned enough to have digital radiographs taken a while back, which showed very thin soles. On a positive note, his angles looked GREAT and his coffin bones are lovely. While I can probably be blamed for his thin soles, I can also take credit for balancing him nicely, keeping his toes back and his angles correct. I can be pretty hard on myself so it is a good thing his feet weren't a total disaster! He has since grown some foot and with some pointers from a few different and very talented trimmers, we're looking better and better all the time. I still wanted to offer him as much protection, concussion relief and stability as I could, so gluing it was! I don't know what I ever did without Easyboot Gloves and Glue-Ons! Oh right, I had someone else shoe them. Those days I do not miss. 

Unfortunately, the weather didn't get the memo. Like many parts of the country, we are suffering through a pretty significant heat wave, on day five of 100+ temps. No worries, we could do this! The biggest thing I was concerned about was my Adhere setting up in .002 seconds, instead of the normal .2 seconds. To prevent this, I put the cartridge of Adhere in a box with an ice pack to keep the temperature cooler. It worked  like a charm and my Adhere set up at a reasonable rate without giving me any anxiety attacks. 


While gluing takes a little work and preparation, the more organized and prepared you are, the better the outcome. I repeat- get yer shit together first! Running around like a chicken with its head chopped off is not ideal!

Here is how I make things work: 

First off, gather all of your supplies. By all, I mean *all." The last thing you want is to realize you forgot your mallet as the Adhere is drying in the boot and you have no way to fully seat it on the foot. No bueno! My box has the shells I need (extras if you're really good, sometimes you just never know what's going to happen!), a tube of Adhere, Vettec gun, plenty of tips, a tube of Sikaflex, a box of latex gloves (never underestimate how many you might need. For real.), hoof pick with brush, rasp to prepare the foot, hoof knife to trim up necessary frog/bars/etc, nippers to open the glue, rubber mallet to whack on the boot, a towel to wipe up and a partridge in a pear tree. 


The next thing I do is prepare my area. I like to glue on a flat surface with rubber mats, and obviously today, shade was NECESSARY! Thanks Sally, the use of your trailer for shade was muuuuuuch appreciated. I owe you. I also hang a full hay bag, put out a bucket of water and sweep up all the debris that mostly just irritates me. After preparing the horse part, I lay out all my stuff so it's within easy reach and do a double check to make sure I have everything. Today on my double check I realized I forgot to bring over my mallet and my gloves! After my third check, I go get my horse. 

Ready to rock! You can DO IT!

I set right to work when I bring the horse over by thoroughly cleaning up the feet that are going to be glued, and after cleaning the feet, I score the hoof wall with the edge of the rasp in a diagonal pattern to create a better bond between the glue and hoof wall. I then try on my shells, to make SURE they fit! I was incredibly embarrassed when EasyKev was gluing boots on Nero at the Owyhee Fandango ride and I realized the size boots I thought fit his back feet didn't actually fit! The last thing you want to do is find this out with a boot full of glue. Not ideal! After confirming your fit, you are good to go and on the downhill slope. 

The first thing I do when I'm ready to actually start gluing, is put on four pairs of latex gloves. Serious guys, I put two pairs on each hand, which makes it really easy to just peel one layer off for a fresh layer if necessary. I abhor glue on my hands! I then open up my Sikaflex and apply a thick bead around the inside where the wall of the boot connects to the sole, as well as a frog-shaped triangle on the sole of the boot. Then I squish the Sikaflex on the wall making sure there is enough, and peel off that first layer of glued gloves. The beauty of Sikaflex is that it takes forever to cure, so doing this all at once doesn't hurt anything. I then take whichever boot will be going on first over to the side of the horse, as well as my ready-to-go Adhere. Squeeze some Adhere onto the upper wall of the boot and get ready to move fast. 

Boots with Sikaflex. I leave the yellow stickers in for good luck!

Place the boot on the foot, taking care not to let the toe of the foot drag the Adhere further down, twist on and whack with your mallet. I like to make sure the boot is fully set on the foot and then put the foot down and immediately pick up the opposite foot. When watching the EasyCare crew glue, I saw they hold the foot up until the Adhere cures, which may be a better method, but I've always put the foot down. While holding up the other leg, I spread the oozing Adhere around the top of the boot, creating a seal. If there isn't enough at this time, I'll do a seal on all my boots when I'm done with the gluing process, in order to save Adhere tips. I can be cheap when I want to be! Rinse, repeat and set. 

The actual gluing process takes minutes and goes quickly. I know I'm not the only one with ridiculously impatient geldings, so in order to save patience I like to get the horse right before I'm ready. Because the horse needs to stand quietly (HAH!) tied for about an hour or so after your done gluing, it can make for a long time tied and crabby ponies if you get them out too soon. If you were short on time or heavy on fidgety horses, you could increase the amount of Adhere used to really set that boot. Luckily, when it's over 100*, even impatient young geldings stand quietly in the shade munching their hay. Positives in everything, ya'll!! After letting Topper stand for an hour and a half, I turned him out and cleaned up my small mess. 

I know I said this before, but it deserves to be repeated: A little PRE-organization and preparation can make or break your day. Make it! Don't break it! You can do this!

Join the Crowd

If you ask me, it's more than a crowd: it's a stampede. More and more horse owners are discovering the overwhelming benefits of maintaining their horses in a natural life style and barefoot and booted has become more than just the" talk of the town".

HCP and EasyCare dealer Vickey Hollingsworth and friends.

Pictured above is Vickey and friends. The TWH on the far left is now happily shoeless and booted.
Hoof Care Practitioner  Vickey Hollingswoth, of Clintonville, Wisconsin, shares her thoughts on how things are changing. Vickey writes, "One of the most common conversations I have with friends/trimming customers on trail rides is how great boots are and how none of us could ever imagine going back to iron shoes.

At this ride there were more than 500 horses on the trail, and I saw probably a dozen horses that I didn't know in Easycare boots. Yes it's a tiny percentage, but this trail was OK to ride barefoot so I did see a lot of barefoot horses. So there may have been more that just didn't have their boots on.

Five years ago, I almost never saw a set of boots on these group trail rides up here, except on my own horses. And people would ask me what are those things on the horse's feet. Now, nobody asks anymore, so I assume they are more familiar with boots.

Last year at the Colorama ride (largest trail ride in the Midwest with over 3,000 horses), I saw boot prints in the mud all over the place.  I could see the tread patterns from Epics, Old Mac's G2, Edge and Glove boots. I was actually surprised how many hoof boot prints I saw all over the camping corrals, sides of the roads, and on the trail.

Things are changing and changing fast!"


If you've been thinking about making a change give us a call we'd love to help you join the crowd and discover the ultimate in hoof boot protection from Easycare.

Debbie Schwiebert


Vet Dealer & Hoof Care Practitioner Accounts

I manage the hoof care practitioner and veterinarian dealer accounts at EasyCare. An integral part of my job is to stay current in all areas of barefoot hoof care, which enables me to serve this vital group of EasyCare dealers at the next level.


Do I Boot? You Bet I Do

My Arab gelding, Faris, came to me already shod. Thinking I needed to keep him shod, I spent lots of money on trimmings and new shoes. And for what? So that he was like everyone else in the show ring? So that he wouldn't hurt himself on rocks?

Boy, I knew nothing back then. Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to move my horse to a place that did not allow shoes. And not only that, I left the show ring and got involved in endurance riding. So now what do I do? I guess I boot.

After many Facebook questions and answers, I decided Easyboot Gloves were the best product for us. So I had a rep meet me at the stables to size up Faris and show me how to put on and remove them. A week later I received my boots and the rest is history. Now I only pay for routine hoof care and use the boots during my rides. I LOVE them. Thank you EasyCare, and Easyboot Gloves.

Name: Tracy Johnson
City: Cambridge, Wisconsin, USA
Equine Discipline: Endurance
Favorite Boot: Easyboot Glove

Is Your Horse Really a Goat?

With all the different trim styles out there it can be difficult to make value decisions for your horse’s feet. Every horse is different, and depending on the environment, the horse’s job and where you get your hoof care knowledge, there are a lot of nuances to navigate.


One of the most influential paradigms for my hoof care work is Postural Rehabilitation. This is a therapeutic modality that is based on gravity’s influence on the nervous system and how to help the animal overcome postural compensations that are detrimental to the system. Taught by Judith Shoemaker, DVM of Nottingham PA, Karen Gellman, DVM, PhD of Ithaca NY, and Liz Reece, Alexander Technique Teacher, of Chester NY, Postural Rehabilitation has given me a higher order of priorities to the health of the horse that has changed the way I trim and shoe my horses.  


For the most part, domesticated horses stand 20+ hours per day, so how they stand is very influential to their bodies. Neutral posture, meaning posture that is least detrimental and the most energy efficient, is cannon bones perpendicular to the ground, the horse standing a leg at each corner. 



Horses receive information on how to stand from proprioceptive nerves in the feet, teeth and body. That’s why how we trim the feet so influences the horse’s posture.


The most common compensatory posture the horse assumes is called “Goat-on-a-Rock”:



In the words of Dr Karen Gellman:


“Goat on a rock posture is a term coined by Dr Judith Shoemaker for a horse who is "camped in": front legs pointing back, hind legs pointing front, as if they were standing on a small rock or circus ball. There can be multiple causes of this abnormal compensatory posture, but one of the primary ones is hoof imbalance. When there is too much weight-bearing surface in front of the center of the foot (center of rotation of DIP joint), break-over is delayed and excessive tension is created in the deep digital flexor (DDF) during stance and stance phase of locomotion. The postural centers of the brain interpret this DDF tension as a pattern encountered while on an uphill slope, and respond by leaning up the "imaginary" hill. However, since there is no hill, leaning forward would result in falling on its nose! The body responds by counterbalancing with the hind end, essentially "sitting" on its butt while leaning forward!


In order to maintain this crazy posture, the horse has to recruit muscles normally used for locomotion, because they are the ones in the right place to do that job. However, these muscles were never designed to be "on" all the time, like the postural maintenance muscles, so they fatigue and start generating painful muscle spasms. That's why most horses who stand "goat on a rock" have sore backs and haunches. For many horses, if they do not have concurrent problems with their teeth or neck, correctly balancing their feet will instantaneously fix their posture, and let them stand neutrally - square like a table, with cannon bones perpendicular to the ground. That way, they get to use minimal muscular effort to support a body that needs to stand for 20+ hours a day”.


Here are a few examples of horses we work on that have demonstrated a change in posture from “Goat-on-a-Rock’ to neutral, cannon bones perpendicular to the ground, by just changing the way the foot was trimmed to a 50/50 base of support from toe to heel around the DIP joint:



The above pictures were taken on the same hoof care visit, before and after trimming. The horses are not "posed" rather asked to stand and photos taken of the position they assume on their own.  
Another horse:
As a hoof care provider, my influence on the posture of the horse comes from how I trim and support the foot. Because we understand how detrimental compensatory posture is to the horse, we want to provide neutral input from the horse's feet as quickly as possible. Therefore we will often use hoof boots and pads and other support devices to aid us in achieving our goals.  
So start watching how your horses stand. For more information about compensatory posture, please see: