Calling all Hoof Care Practitioners!

Would you like to help horses and horse owners worldwide by sharing your experiences from the field?  Now is your chance. Share your knowledge and win!  Enter our Insights from the Inside contest and if we use your story on our blog, we will send you a free pair of hoof boots (you choose the size and style). 

Blog Subject: Anything related to hooves or boots. Tell us about a recent clinic, review a case study or share the ins and outs of being a hoof care practitioner.

Specifics: The most successful blogs are those that are clear and concise (approximately 400-800 words) and identify solutions to challenges of booting or trimming. Each story must have at least two photos included. Stories without photos will not be eligible.

Contest:  The contest will run from February 14, 2013 through March 31, 2013. Email your story and photos to admin@easycareinc.com with Insights from the Inside as the subject.

Multiple Entries: Do you have a lot to say?  You may submit more than one story for the contest.

A panel of judges from the EasyCare staff will vote on the blogs submitted to determine the winners. Note: EasyCare reserves the right to not publish entries if they do not meet the requirements of the contest, or are not in keeping with the style and format of the regular published blogs by EasyCare.

Please contact admin@easycareinc.com  with any questions.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Debbie Schwiebert

easycare-vet-hcp-deaaler-accounts-manager-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.

 

Why the Anger Toward Shod Owners? Why the Hatred Directed at Barefoot Owners?

I've seen many conflicts over the last couple of months between well-meaning horse owners who believe either in the shod horse or barefoot horse, but not both.  The conflicts often escalate and end in heated debate.  Barefoot-Shod, Guns-Anti Gun, Rich-Poor, Old-Young, Liberal-Conservative, Minority-Majority.  The list goes on and on.  Doesn't it seem like the world is becoming more polarized?

I personally find it disconcerting that the barefoot/shod debate often ends with the same red faced, opinionated arguments brought on by religion and politics.  Are the people with barefoot horses really tree-hugging freaks?  Are people that spend years learning to shoe a horse properly really abusive to horses and ignorant?  What about a horse owner who uses hoof protection during the competitive season and then allows the horse to be barefoot during the winter?  What about the horse owner that keeps a horse barefoot and uses hoof protection only when needed? "

"Human beings now face many complex and difficult problems that urgently require solutions.  To deal with issues like global warming, nuclear proliferation and the international terrorist threat we must work together, but we cannot do this if polarizing conflict poisons our discussions.  In polarized conflicts, combatants state and restate their own views while distorting and ridiculing those of their opponents.  As the conflicts get more heated, partisans argue more loudly and their distortions of their opponents' assumptions get more entrenched in their own minds.  We tend to think that the more people discuss their differing views the better they will understand each other.  But when polarizing conflict is involved, the more people talk the less they understand each other." From http://polarizingconflict.buddhismandwork.com/.

There are many farriers that I respect greatly.  At the same time there are barefoot trimmers that I believe have changed the way we think about the hoof.  I believe the better farriers and trimmers share a respect for each other.  Is there common ground, and if so where is that common ground?  Looking at the horse world objectively, I believe the majority of people on both sides of the argument agree that horses should spend time barefoot.  In addition, both sides believe horses need protection for many of the activities that their human partners put them through.  Most owners stall horses in man-made environments; many feed them two meals per day, and the majority of us ask our horses to carry 25% of their body weight in grueling events.  We ask unnatural things of our equine partners.  As events become longer, speeds become greater and the footing becomes rougher we can't expect our equine partners to perform without man made protection?

Photo of my best barefoot horse.  He has great feet and great hoof development but he sure goes better with hoof protection.

Would you agree or disagree with the following statements? 

  1. Both farriers and barefoot trimmers have the horse's best interest at heart.
  2. People that believe all horses should be barefoot all the time are wrong.
  3. People who believe all horses should be shod all the time are wrong.
  4. Educated farriers believe in hoof protection and allowing barefoot time.
  5. Good barefoot trimmers believe hoof protection is needed as horses increase less natural activities. 

Yes, I believe a horse should be well trimmed and barefoot as much as possible.  I believe hoof protection should be used to keep a horse comfortable and used more as we ask our horses to perform athletic events that are outside of their wild horse environment.  I've seen well shod horses compete in the sport of endurance year after year.  I've also seen barefoot/booted horses win the most difficult 100 mile endurance events in the world. 

I've personally found a direction that is working for my horses and I will continue to learn and search for answers.  I also understand what works for me may not be the best solution for others.  I don't believe the answers are black and white and most often there are some ideas or products in the middle. 

I urge you to take some time and listen to the farrier that has been in the business since he was a kid.  At the same time, the trimmer that lives down the street may actually be able to help you with a trick or two. 

The polarized arguments don't help the horse and they don't help you or me.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

 

Hoof Education IHCS Style

As a hoof care professional, I am always seeking to improve my knowledge and skills to better help the horses I work on.  One of the best venues I have found is The International Hoof Care Summit (IHCS), held annually in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The IHCS is one of the leading conferences for equine hoof-care professionals. Farriers and veterinarians come together to learn techniques and share ideas to address trimming and shoeing horses.  If you look closely at the following video you will catch me and a few others from the Daisy Haven Farm crew in attendance.

I have attended the IHCS each year since 2005, each year benefiting from the experience of the speakers, wide variety of content covered, networking opportunities and the extensive trade show.  This year over 950 farriers attended. 

Some of the broad range of topics covered at the IHCS included:

  • Hoof Morphology
  • Hoof Function
  • Hoof Trimming
  • Shoe Making and Placement
  • Using Glue and Plastics
  • Pathologies: Laminitis, Navicular, Ringbone, P3 Fractures, Flexural Deformities, etc.
  • Business Topics
  • Client Management
  • Body/Hoof Connection
  • Case Study Presentation
  • Locomotion/Gait Analysis
  • Conformation
  • Nutrition

I was honored to be a moderator and speaker at the 2013 IHCS.  I moderated a roundtable discussion on “When to use Barefoot Rehabilitation in Your Practice”, which turned out to be a lively discussion well-attended by a diverse crowd.  While the conversation became heated at times, everyone's opinions were heard and respected.  A lot of good information was exchanged.

I also presented a Hoof Care Classroom on “Maintenance vs. Rehabilitation Trimming and Shoeing and Gaining Your Clients Confidence” which was also well attended with a great Q & A session at the end.  I presented several case studies demonstrating the process by which we make our decisions when to safely apply maintenance work vs. rehabilitation work at Daisy Haven Farm.  Thank you to the American Farrier’s Journal for asking me to speak.  A wonderful group of our students and Team Members helped me rehearse my presentation the day before.

The International Hoof Care Summit has always challenged and expanded my thinking.  I highly encourage you to attend next year!   You may not always agree with every speaker, but there’s always something to take out of the experience to help the horse!  

Just a few among many of the amazing people and groups I’ve had the privilege to connect with by attending the International Hoof Care Summit:


For more information on the International Hoof Care Summit, please see: http://www.americanfarriers.com/pages/International-Hoof-Care-Summit-Homepage.php.

 

Laminitis, with a wild slant

How would you define "normal"? And how would you define "average"? And are they both the same or at least similar in meaning? Who is defining the meaning of these words, let's say, for example,  when describing hooves or gaits of horses?

Webster and Wikipedia defining 'normal' as 'commonly observed', and 'average' as the middle of set values.

And what about the definition of "pathology"? Often referred to as a 'diagnosis of disease'. But what is a 'disease'?  And is a condition that is 'commonly observed' and 'average' still a pathology or is it then just 'normal'?

These kind of questions occurred to me when reading up on Brian Hampson's Australian Brumby Studies.

Brumbies in the Australian Outback

67% of all the desert brumbies examined by Brian Hampson suffered from chronic laminitis. Yet, the external appearance of these hooves was not at all indicative of laminitis. In fact, they all showed the typical "ideal" appearance of desert hooves: short and rounded hoof walls, worn mustang roll, minimal flaring and few , if any, hoof wall rings.

While the wild horse mustang hoof has been proposed by some, e.g. Jamie Jackson, as the ideal model of an equine hoof, little, if any, research had been done by looking inside these hooves. And once again the saying: there is more to it than meets the eye, is proven true yet again.

There is plenty of evidence now that feral horses from hard substrate environment suffer from traumatic laminitis comparable to the well-known road founder of our domesticated horses.

Already in 1993, Robert L. Linford induced traumatic laminitis simply by trimming the hoof wall to the same level of the sole and placing the horses for four month on hard substrate. This procedure caused coffin bone remodeling and sole bruising with lamellar stretching and bruising. It also calcified the ungual cartilages of the navicular bone.

Now, these high incidences of laminitis are probably not only because of the concussion. It can be assumed that a lot of the feral horses are also insulin resistant and might have fed excessively on high sugar content grass, which is abundant in the wild after the first few freezing nights in the season.

Brian Hampson found only 3% of the feral front hooves to be free of abnormality and pathology.

Is this Brumby hoof suffering from laminitis?

This does raise the question whether we always should adopt the feral hoof model  as an ideal and mimic it in our barefoot trimming and natural hoof trimming within our domestic herds. Especially  the feral hard substrate model as pictured above.

Specifically I'm asking myself whether I round the hoof walls too much and whether the sole of the hoof is bearing too much weight. Considering that the often revered mustang roll is only distinctly observable on feral horses that are forced to travel excessively over hard substrate, rocks and mountains and often have to dig for food and water and in the process wearing down their dorsal hoof wall to the extreme of suffering from laminitis. If then the feral hoof is a result of excessive unnatural wear and tear, do I want to imitate that model  on our domesticated horses hooves? Should I maybe allow the hoof wall to bear a little more weight, using that dreaded word 'Peripheral loading'? After all, just like the caudal foot is designed to absorb shock, so is the front part of the hoof, being more rigid, designed to bear weight. The hoof wall tubules are designed to dampen the load before transmitting it to the joints and skeleton. (Compare to my last month post "The Caudal Foot")

This feral horse hoof shown above traveled mostly over sandy soil. Underrun heels, long toe and barely a mustang roll observable. Relative small frog, possibly suffering from thrush. This is a 'normal' hoof among the horses living on mostly sandy soil.

The mustangs in the Nevada desert, the brumbies in the Australian interior, the Taikh horses from Mongolia and the donkeys of the Asiatic interior have to travel excessive large distances to find food and water. When both are abundant, feral horses only travel voluntarily between 3 and 6 miles a day. Needless to say, their hooves look a lot differently and much more similar to our domesticated hooves as the two photos below indicate:

These two photos, same hoof seen from dorsal and plantar aspects, look a lot like many of our domesticated horse hooves. Yet, it is from a feral horse, living in Australia on softer and more fertile ground. This horse does not need to travel long distances for food and water: hoofwall long (peripheral loading?), laminar stretching, no mustang roll, heels underrun, starting to collapse, crack on left heel.

So, what is normal, what is average, what is a pathology? If only 3% of the feral horse populations have ideal healthy hooves, is it fair to say that 97% of all horses hooves are suffering from pathology or do we need to redefine that word 'pathology'?

Hampson also discovered that high incidence of laminitis in four other studies around Australia.

Of his radiographed horses hooves

  • 67% of the 15 rocky terrain horses were laminitic
  • 40% of 15 sandy desert horses were laminitic
  • 93% of 15 prime grazing terrain horses were laminitic
  • 40% of 56 Kamanawa region (New Zealand) were laminitic.

I might add that these horses are the survivors of the fittest. The ones with even more hoof problems already had perished. Putting this thought in the equation, the domesticated brethren are not doing too bad.

Professor Bruce Nock, however, a scientist in its own right with an impressive record of accomplishments, questions the research and findings of Hampson and Chris Pollitt. In fact, he wants the inner pathology disregarded, because it is not obvious to the naked eye and thus it should not matter. True, when a horse is lame on all 4, it is sometimes hard to detect lameness. That is where science comes into place. Hard to understand how a scientist can question science. Come to think of the old question, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it still makes a noise? If a horse is lame on all 4 and one cannot observe it, is it still lame? Is there then a pathology or not? And is it just normal and average?

Nevertheless, there is a verbal cyberspace war ongoing between high caliber scientists. Fascinating to read up on it. Providing a great learning opportunity for us lesser scientific hoof care students and hoof care providers.

Barefoot Trimming and Natural Hoof Trimming, yes, they are good things. But who is setting the standard, which model are we following? There are many options available for choosing, the feral hooves come in all kind of shapes and forms. The environment is mostly responsible for modeling the feral hoof. So, might the answer be again: it depends?

Horse Hoof Trimming should provide the best outcome for our horses, I, for my part, constantly question what I'm doing. Only through critical reevaluation can I make sure that I do not get stuck. Sofar I have never seen anywhere that following an ideology  to be in the best interest of our equine friends.

What do you think?  I would love to hear and read your comments.

Your Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

The Dynamic Hoof Part II

The most enjoyable part of my job is educating owners and seeing them have those aha moments. This is a follow up email I received in regards to the boot fit analysis that was discussed in The Dynamic Hoof.

"Had a new farrier here today and he was surprised at how many things my other farrier had skipped – not just done wrong, skipped!  He was not only shaping the foot wrong, but he was not trimming the sole at all which led to one cavity on each front hoof that had dirt and some thrush in it. Had that not been caught, it would have easily become an abscess. Because of the cavities, he trimmed a bit more than he normally would have liked to. My old farrier was also not completely trimming the frog.  Bottom line is that I am very thankful that you saw the issues and politely pointed me in a better direction. It was so nice to have a farrier that eagerly answered all my questions as I watched him work – something I will be doing lots more of.  

We also discussed how I can keep the mustang roll on his hoofs between trims and he will be checking back on his progress in the coming weeks (he works on my neighbor's horses as well, so its easy for him to stop by)."

The owner wanted to verify what size he should use for the Easyboot Glove Back Country now that his horse had been properly trimmed. He sent some new photos with the same size boots on and it was amazing to see the difference in fit after only one trim. I did recommend that he purchase a half size larger boot for the right hoof (not shown) because there was still some bulging in the 2.5. The owner was glad that he only needed to purchase one new boot and was thrilled with the knowledge he gained through this experience.

Caudal before trimCaudal after trim

Caudal views before (left) and after (right) trim.

Dorsal before trimDorsal after trim

Dorsal views before (left) and after (right) trim.

Lateral before trimLateral after trim

Lateral views before (left) and after (right) trim.

 

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.

 

Rehabilitation of the Insulin Resistant Foundered Horse: DHF Style

We at Daisy Haven Farm, Inc, focus our practice on rehabilitation of the equine foot.  We do our best to be objective about the work we do on the horse’s foot and refrain from following trends or fads.  We are committed to continuous education and remain open minded for the good of the horse.  

One of the most influential tools we use to remain objective is our CR digital radiograph system.  Think of it as a fancy hoof gauge.  For the work we do in rehabilitation, it is invaluable in facilitating accuracy of the trim.  I am constantly amazed at how the external landmarks of the foot are misleading when I am able to check my evaluation of the foot with digital radiographs.  

 

We are usually referred to rehabilitation cases by the veterinarian directly.  The veterinarian has already done the diagnostic work and calls us to help with rehabilitation of the horse’s feet.  We work closely with the veterinarians while working on these cases.  It is very rewarding, great teamwork and is critical for success.

 

Here is an example of a case where progressive series of hoof radiographs played a key part in rehabilitation.  This is the case of an Arabian mare who had foundered initially five years ago.  She had been maintained well until two years ago when she fell apart again.  

 

I was called in to help in April of 2012.  The mare’s owner had worked diligently with the veterinarian to control her insulin resistance (IR).  She was acutely lame (Obel Grade 3), and while the previous farrier had been doing the best job he could, her feet were not improving over time.  Hoof boots were helping keep her somewhat comfortable day to day.  The veterinarian did not own a digital radiograph machine and asked me to use my radiograph system to assist with trimming decisions.  This was the horse's body condition in April.  Her weight here is 1057 lbs. 

 

 

Note her cresty neck, channel down her back, and fat pads at her shoulder and tail head.  She also has fat pads above her eyes, but you can't see them in this picture because of her beautiful forelock.

 

I have had abundant success in returning these horses to long term soundness: a 99% success rate over 10 years, working on 1,008 insulin resistant foundered horses to date.  

 

The protocol I have found the most beneficial comes from Dr Eleanor Kellon, Equine Nutritionist, and co-owner of the Yahoo Group: Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance.  Dr Kellon recommends a formula to help regulate the horse’s insulin resistance, and let the feet heal.  DDT/E:

  • Diagnosis: the veterinarian plays a critical role in providing an accurate diagnosis for the underlying cause of the laminitis and providing any measures required medically  
  • Diet:  reducing and eliminating insulin rising carbohydrates out of the horse’s diet is critical to healing the feet
  • Trim:  whether you leave the horse barefoot or apply a hoof boot or shoe, realigning the coffin bone with the hoof capsule is critical to healing
  • Exercise:  when appropriate, implementation of exercise will help keep the horse healthy long term.  One of the biggest failures I see in long term soundness of the insulin resistant horse is hesitation to get the horse back in work (when they’re ready!).  

Please see www.ECIRHorse.com for more information on this protocol.

 

In this horse’s situation, the owner had only 1/4 of this 4 part equation:  

 

Diagnosis: the veterinarian provided an accurate diagnosis and supportive care.

 

However she was missing the other 3/4 of the equation:

 

Diet: her diet had room for improvement based on Dr Kellon’s protocol. 

 

 

Seeing all the grass available to this horse on the farm, even with the muzzle at times, it’s no wonder she was having problems.  Her owner created a small dry lot with this round pen until a bigger dry lot could be added.   She also began weighing the forage provided and switched to Triple Crown Safe Starch, a safe forage for IR horses.  

 

Trim: Here are her feet when I arrived. There was definite room for improvement here:  

 

 

Note the dish in her wall, and stretched white line.

 

Our goal with trimming a foundered horse is realigning the hoof capsule with the coffin bone.  There are two types of rotation that we feel are important to address with our trimming:

  • capsular rotation:  when the hoof capsule is not aligned with coffin bone, but the bones of the lower limb are in alignment (coffin bone, short and long pastern)
  • phalangeal rotation:  when the hoof capsule is centered around the coffin bone, but the bones of the distal limb are out of alignment.  

Most horses have some combination of the two types of rotation. This horse was one of those cases.  In order to correct both types of misalignment with our trimming, our goals are:

  • 3-8 degree palmar P3 angle: the angle of the bottom of the coffin bone in relation to the ground
  • a 50/50 base of support from toe to heel around the center of rotation of the hoof capsule
  • hoof wall in alignment with the dorsal surface of the coffin bone

The benefit of being able to take a progressive series of radiographs is accuracy in our trim with those goals in mind.   Many times I’ll come in and trim a foundered horse, re-take the lateral radiographs after the trim and realize even though I felt that I had removed a ton of distortion from the horse’s foot, there was still more room in the foot to improve the alignment.  We feel being able to be this accurate in our work shortens recovery time and facilitates the return to soundness of the foundered horse.  

 

Here are the mare’s feet with the progressive series of digital pictures and radiographs from April 2012 to Nov 2012.  Digital pictures were taken at every visit, however, digital radiographs were only taken in April and November.  

 

 

 

 

Radiographs are from April 18th 2012 before and after trimming and again on November 28th after trimming.  Hoof measurements as follows for those of you who love the numbers:

 

Goal:

 

Hoof/P3 Angle Difference 0 degrees

P3 Palmar Angle 3-8 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 50% toe

 

Right Front

April 18th Before Trim:

Hoof/P3 Angle Difference 15.15 degrees

P3 Palmar Angle 14.77 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 67.79% toe

 

April 18th After Trim:

Hoof/P3 Angle Difference 5.38 degrees

 

P3 Palmar Angle 9.19 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 58.92% toe

 

November 28th After Trim:

Hoof/P3 Angle Difference 0.60 degrees

 

P3 Palmar Angle 3.67 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 54.62% toe

 

 

 

Left Front

April 18th Before Trim:

Hoof/P3 Angle Difference 17.60 degrees

P3 Palmar Angle 19.76 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 68.11% toe

 

April 18th After Trim:

Hoof/P3 Angle Difference 2.82 degrees

P3 Palmar Angle 10.90 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 55.38% toe

 

November 28th After Trim:

Hoof/P3 Angle Difference -1.08 degrees

P3 Palmar Angle 5.11 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 50.94% toe

 

On April 14th, upon seeing the After Trim radiographs, I was able to adjust the trim a little further in order to get closer to our goal.  I now had a more complete understanding of what my trim was specifically doing for this horse's feet, which enabled me to be more accurate and effective in future trims as well.  

 

Her white line even grew back tight as of October 2012:

 

 

Exercise:  Immediately after the first trim, this mare was much more comfortable.  After the first month she was able to be turned out in the field with a sealed muzzle for a period of time each day.  I believe the exercise facilitated her recovery.  She is currently 100% sound and has been since June 2012.

 

This past fall a larger dry lot was completed for her to have more consistent movement all day.

 

 

At the 2007 Laminitis Conference in West Palm Beach FL the predominant message was to monitor insulin resistant horses based on their body condition. 

 

This mare's weight is now 848 lbs as of January 2012.  Now that her body condition is more healthy, the horse owner can watch for any return of fat pads as a red flag to call the veterinarian before her feet act up again, hopefully preventing future laminitic episodes.  

 

 

If your horse has fat pads, please talk to your veterinarian about the risk of insulin resistance and be proactive to improve his body condition before laminitis occurs.  

 

The advantage of progressive series of hoof radiographs, meaning radiographs taken before the horse is trimmed, then right after the horse is trimmed, then potentially again after any changes are made, and again after any prosthetic device is added is immensly valuable to the farrier.  If you are dealing with a foundered horse, please talk to your farrier and veterinarian about utilizing radiographs this way.  We truly feel being able to be this accurate in our work not only shortens recovery time and facilitates the return to soundness of the foundered horse, but is also why we've been successful on some really difficult cases and have such success overall.  

 

For more information about other horses we have rehabilitated using this protocol, please see  www.DaisyHavenFarm.com.

A New Year, A New You, A New Hoof

The New Year is always an appropriate and marked point in time to take stock and make adjustments that will better yourself, your life and the world around you. It's always a time I look back at what I've accomplished throughout the year, but mostly I look ahead to what ideas I can put into action to make things better. I am not one big on resolutions, I think I've posted that before, but I do like to make goals and generally always meet them. Of course the key to meeting goals is to make them achievable and realistic, but challenging enough to be satisfying to work towards. I try to develop better habits throughout the year that will stay with me for a lifetime. I won't bore anyone with all of my goals for the year, but here are a few you can borrow that will make life with your barefoot performance horse a little nicer. 

1) Four Week Maximum Trim Cycles

Stop being lazy and just do it. Seriously. I have had my competition horses on a four week cycle for the past year and haven't regretted it once. This year I plan to keep everyone on a four week cycle despite the horse being in full work or not. Yes, I know sometimes it's hot. Yes, it can be cold. Sometimes it's rainy, windy or muddy. Build a bridge and get over it! Trimming is easier when it's done frequently, boot retention becomes a non-issue with a consistent, constant hoof shape and you are able to bypass many common hoof problems such as high heels, low heels, long toes and medial-lateral imbalances. 

This foot would take months and months to fix on a regular eight week trim cycle. Take three steps forward every time you trim.  

2) Back Up Those Toes

This is difficult to maintain without frequent trims and goes hand-in-hand with #1. Back up those toes until you think they are short enough, and then go further. I made a point to get aggressive with Topper's toes last year and am thrilled with the results. We have more concavity, thicker soles and no flare. I used to think I had a good handle on appropriate break-over, but I didn't. If you're scared, invest in a couple digital radiographs the next time your veterinarian is out. The pictures will be invaluable and a good reference point for future changes and improvements.

3) Trim Frogs

This is something I have never put much stock into and usually quickly skimmed over during my trims. Unfortunately I have been doing a disservice to my horses by skipping this as it is also one of the easier things to do. In just the short time I have been doing this, I have noticed good things. By cleaning up the edges of the frogs, both the outside edge and the central sulcus, you prevent nasty stuff being stuck in there under various flaps and dead material. By keeping this area open, I haven't seen any thrushy-type stuff and the frogs just look healthier. 

4) Ditch Your Bar

Branch out to new bars down the road. Ok, that's not really the kind of bar I was talking about, but to each his own, eh? The bars have always been one of those things for me. Do I leave 'em? Do I take 'em? Do I pretend like they aren't there and just kinda ignore them? The answer is no. So sharpen up your hoof knife, charge up your power tools, whatever, but take care of those bars. Letting them overgrow and lay over will not only create pressure and pain for your horse, but the bars can influence the hoof wall by creating flares and can trap debris if left untrimmed. 

5) If It Isn't Working, Fix It and Don't Give Up, EVER.

This is a general goals that can be applied to every aspect of my life. Maybe what you're doing is working OK. Sure, you could get by. You could skate along with mediocrity like so many do, so many different ways, but you're better than that! Strive for greatness, not "meh." Stop making excuses and go for broke. Don't forget that most decisions you make aren't permanent and can be changed. But no one ever achieved greatness by laying in bed, eating junk and making excuses. Get up, get going and make good things happen. This is a permanent goal of mine and I'm a better person for it. 

When All Else Fails, Try a Few Fit Kits

I've written several blogs about Julie from Action Rider Tack and her and her horse, Kalena. Our discussions have taken us to a whole new area and, thus, together we have created another blog. Thanks Julie.

Dialogue:

Julie: Here are the pix. Easyboot size 0 Glove Regulars bruise her (Kalena) heel bulbs. Size 0 Glove Wides are much better, but a bit too wide. I think that I will try them anyway with (Mueller's Athletic) tape. I measured her three times and her measurements don't fit into either boot - 106W by 105L. I think what happened is that with the trim that I was doing before,the 0 Glove Regular worked just fine. Now, I am trimming a little differently and her hoof is wider and shorter.

Julie - Kalrena's heel bulbs

Dee (that's me): It's hard to tell from the pictures because we just have the back of the boot; however, I think (with these measurements) that an 0 Glove Regular would fit width wise, but would be sloppy in length. That is probably what is causing the bruising. You know, like when people wear shoes that are too long, it causes blisters because the shoe is slipping up and down on the heel?

But, with these measurements, I don't know why she's fitting into an 0 Wide, it seems way too big.

Julie: I guess it shows how subjective measurements are. The 0 Wide is a little too big,but I am going to try it. I will let you know what happens. Her back feet, which are longer, of course fit with no rubbing into a 00.5.

 

Julie - Kalena 0W
 
Dee:  You are so correct. That's why we always suggest Fit Kits before actually purchasing the Glove boots. We (at EasyCare) are dealing with a flat size chart and our customers are dealing with a round hoof. With EasyCare's other styles of boots, like the Epic or the Trail, the boots are more forgiving in fit and they can be adjusted. But, with the Glove, it is so dependent on what the hoof looks like and the way the horse is trimmed. And, obviously, we can't see through the phone and even pictures can be misleading depending on camera angle and distortion.

The weekend comes and goes and now it's Monday morning:

Julie: I tested the 0 Glove Wide over the weekend in mud and wet riding conditions. I used the knowledge that we gained before and put a comfort pad in the boot. Even though her hoof measurements say there is no way - the boot stayed on just fine and there was no heel rubbing. Up hill, mud, down hill - it all worked just fine.
 
JULIE CAMPBELL
 
Dee: Are you kidding? How is that possible with your measurements, that the 0 Wide Glove would fit? Did you use (Mueller's Athletic) tape?

Julie says: (smugly) (just kidding Julie) No, I only used a comfort pad, although I carry the tape with me.

Julie goes on: I think the take away lesson here is to keep trying, even if your horse doesn't fit into the charts. I won't give up because I will never put shoes back on her (Kalena) again and she needs hoof boot protection.
 
The moral of this story: You may have to try multiple Fit Kits to get a good fit. And if all else fails, call Customer Service at EasyCare and let our friendly, helpful staff help you.
 

Dee Reiter

easycare-customer-service-dee-reiter

Customer Service

When you call EasyCare, I’m one of the folks that will answer. I’m also one of the cowgirls in the group. (Heck no, I don’t show, I Rodeo!) When it comes to life’s adventures – never pull back on the reins, and remember: the world is best-viewed through the ears of a horse!

 

Giving My Horse the (EasyCare) Boot

The following are excerpts from an article by Laurie Knuutila of Fairbanks, Alaska, that she wrote for her competitive trail riding newsletter.

In the past issue of this newsletter, I promised to report on my use of Easyboots over the course of the summer. So, here it is - My open, honest, no-holds barred experience using hoof boots instead of shoes.

I own a half Arabian gelding named Bo (Indy's Midnight Sun) that I use for competitive trail riding. He tends to travel close in both front and rear and sometimes interferes. During the course of the last four years of condidtioning and competing him, I found that he tends to interfere less when he is barefoot than when he is shod. I've worked closely with my farrier to correct the problem. This year I decided to try hoof boots and see how he traveled in them.

After looking at many, many websites, offering all types of boots, I settled on Easyboot Gloves as my choice of boot to try. After a fresh trim, I took the recommended measurements to get the correct size. I found that my horse's feet did not fit perfectly into any of the boot sizes. He has rather oblong hooves, not the best shape to fit boots, but I decided to try them anyway.

I purchased four Easyboot Gloves from a vendor at an NATRC National Convention, two size one boots for the fronts and two size 0s for the rears. Having never used boots before and not ever seeing anyone put them on a horse (except in YouTube videos on EasyCare's website), I managed to get them on without too much trouble. They did not fit like the video showed, there was a bit of a gap between the boot and the hoof wall around the sides. But, the boots appeared to be the correct length based on EasyCare's photos.The fronts fit somewhat looser than the rears.

I started out using just the front boots. The first week, I rode about 30 miles and had no rubs anywhere. The boots stayed on just fine. At the end of that first week, I did a longer ride of about 22 miles in one day. When I took the boots off, there were small rubs on the outside of both front pasterns. I did some research on the internet concerning boot rubs and found lots of suggestions, some of them quite complex. I decided to try the simplest fix first: loosen the gaiter a little. I had no more rubs for the rest of the summer.

During the course of riding, my horse and I tackled all types of footing, from gravel roads to dirt trails, to water, to swamp, to really bad muck. I did not lose a boot in any of it. I was really impressed with how well they stayed on. That's not to say that I didn't ever lose a boot. I actually had one come off on three different occasions. And it was always the same boot - the left hind.

During the course of the summer, the boots and gaiters showed wear and tear. The gaiter on a front boot began to come apart on the outside edge. Since I have a heavy duty sewing machine, I took the gaiter off the boot and stitched the loose part back together. It held up for the rest of the season. In preparation for the competitive trail ride in July, I ordered an extra gaiter for both boot sizes.

I also ordered QuickStuds for all four boots and the QuickStud Tool for installing them. I knew that the trails could be really slick if they were wet and I also knew that the area had been receiving a lot of rain.

It rained both days. At the end of the first day, I was pleased that I had not had any boots come off, despite the challenging conditions and deep footing; however, I did discover that one gaiter had ripped on that left hind foot. When I went to install the new gaiter for the second day, I discovered that the velcro on the new gaiter was considerably shorter than on the old one. I didn't think it would hold together, but I didn't have a choice at that point.

When I returned home after the ride, I phoned EasyCare and explained what happened with that left hind boot and gaiter. She immediately shipped me a new Glove boot with gaiter and it fit just fine.

My conclusion: I like the boots just fine and would recommend them to anyone interested in using boots. And, since EasyCare treated me right when I had a problem, I would recommend them. Additionally, they are a national sponsor for NATRC.

I would definitely recommend using the Fit Kit that EasyCare sends out before you purchase the Glove boots. I did not do that at first, but when the boots didn't seem to be fitting like I thought they should, I ordered two different Fit Kits. I used the same sizes that I had purchased originally; however, using the Fit Kits removed any doubt that I had the right size.

Talk to an EasyCare representative before you purchase boots. I was thinking about getting a different style boot in the EasyCare line than the Gloves. But, after talking to a rep and telling her the mileage and terrain that I ride, she recommended staying with the Gloves, stating that the other boot I was considering, though probably a better fit for my horse's hoof shape, was not the best choice considering the miles that I ride.

My horse interfered about the same with boots as he did with shoes, so that didn't change anything in that area for me. The boots were somewhat of a hassle to deal with during competition, but not so much that I wouldn't do it again. 

My horse was very comfortable in hoof boots and didn't seem to mind them at all. I noticed a difference in how he traveled barefoot versus booted. Although he was equally forward either barefoot or booted, he seemed more confident in his boots.

As a side note, my horse, vetted out sound and was the first place horse (best conditioned) for the Open Heavyweight class, he was also the high point Half Arabian, and he and I together were the overall high point horse and rider team (horse and horsemanship) for the entire ride (56 riders).

Who Trims? We Do

Submitted by Nonee High, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

 

Oh, yeah. We may be kids, but we take care of our own horses.

 

Meet the girls of my 4H Club, the High Riders, who are learning to trim their own horses. This is our group at our barn with my Mom’s horse, Reighny. Mom is one of our Club leaders and she is a professional barefoot trimmer. These kids and their horses are her clients and the girls are going to learn to trim this year.

 

 

I have already been trimming since last year. On my Mom’s Facebook page, this picture of me trimming Nanny got the most hits of any other post. I was only 11 then, and Nanny was a great pony for me to learn on.

 

 

So let’s see who we are: This is me, Nonee.  I’m 12. I’m getting ready to finish off a mustang roll. That's Mikayla holding.

 

 

This is Kodi. She’s 16. She is picking out a hoof. I'll get a better picture of her next time, sorry Kodi.

 

 

This is Mikayla. She’s 14. She is getting ready to rasp a hind foot. Her mom Wendy is in the background holding.

 

 

This is Ashlee. She’s 14. She is getting ready to finish a mustang roll, too.

 

 

Thanks Reighny. Mom wanted to get some pictures of all of us together, so we used Reighny as our pretend trim model horse.  he was great. We have lots to learn and practice.

 

While we all will be learning similar techniques, Mom will be working with us each with our own horses specifically.  Let’s take a look:

 

This is Kodi and Zippo he is part quarter horse. Kodi absolutely loves this horse.  He used to wear shoes and have long toes, but now he is doing pretty well barefoot and in boots.  He has flat feet and needs to be trimmed regularly.  Kodi will be learning to roll and bring back his toe. Mom will still be helping to stimulate the back of his foot. Kodi’s favorite Easycare boot is the Glove.

 

 

This is Mikayla and Bug.  Bug is a quarter horse. She has taught many kids in our county how to ride. She is just such a nice horse. Before Mikayla got her, she was a barrel horse, a trail horse, a brood mare, a lesson horse. She too wore shoes most of her life. She is 21 now and has a possible diagnosis of early navicular. By keeping her toes short and supporting the back of her foot similar to Kodi’s horse, Bug is doing great. She is on some supplements for arthritis and joint health. Bug wears boots when ridden and does great. Mikayla started learning to roll toes and pull back breakover last year. She hopes to be Bug’s primary trimmer within the next year. Mikayla’s favorite Easycare hoof boot is the Edge.

 

 

This is Ashlee with Sasha. Sasha is a quarter horse x Arabian. They are new to one another. Sasha, 16, was a rescued horse we took in a year and a half ago. We easily found her a new home with a friend.  Unfortunately, this friend, who loved her, has had a life change and so Sasha has come back to us. We are actually pretty excited because she is such a nice mare. She has nearly perfect feet and does not need frequent trimming. She and Ashlee will get to know one another and Ashlee will use her as her project horse this 4H year. Sasha does not need booted, but if she ever does, Ashlee’s favorite Easyboot is the Glove Back Country.

 

 

Finally, this is Bella and me from last spring. Bella, 5, was also rescued, originally by a woman in Virginia from a PMU farm in Canada. We got her when she was two. Mom helps me more with her feet than with Nanny’s because she has some whole body balance issues that are reflected in her feet. We are also working with an equine dentist and body worker to help balance her better. I really love this horse. My favorite EasyCare hoof boot is also the Glove Back Country

 

 

So, that is us, the hoof trimming team from the High Riders 4H Club. We are determined to be responsible for our own horse care, including learning to trim them properly.

 

If anyone reading this would like to help out a great group of girls, we are in need of some more basic trimming supplies, such as chaps, rasps, and a hoof stand or two. My mom is providing everything now. Eventually, we will learn to use hoof knives and nippers, but only I am starting to use them at this point and I can always use Mom's. 4H is a registered non-profit and we can provide a tax letter to you if you would like to donate any of these items to our Club. Thank you for considering.