Great Feet Deserve a Great Body: Use the Masterson Method and Watch Your Horse Bloom

This journey never ends, does it? First barefeet, then turnout with a herd, balance the minerals in the diet, throw out the blankets, buy a new saddle. What did I miss? After years of shoes, you can bet there are a host of problems in the body.

 

During the spring, I stumbled upon a book on equine bodywork that I want to share with you: Beyond Horse Massage: A Breakthrough Interactive Method of Alleviating Soreness, Strain and Tension written by Jim Masterson.

 

I particularly appreciated the chapter organization where he first presents a Quick Overview: Step By Step. They are perfect crib sheets for the barn. Then Masterson follows with extensive detail about each movement along with many photos and illustrations. He covers every What If situation too. I am really beginning to understand anatomy. Jim offers an excellent DVD where he demonstrates all the bodywork.  On the Masterson site you will find more detailed information about the technique, Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork.

 

Jim Masterson and world class jumper Sapphire (now retired), ridden by Ward McClain.

Jim and the famous jumper, Sapphire, now retired.

 

Jim Masterson is the Massage Therapist for the USET Endurance Team and works with equine clients competing in the US Hunter-Jumper Show Circuit, including competitors in the USEF and the Macclay Medal Series, as well as FEI World Cup, Pan American, and World Games competitions. He works on about 600 horses a year.

 

Riding Anabelle and ponying Jeremiah

Jim on Anabelle, ponying Jeremiah.

 

And if that weren't enough, Derby winner, I'll Have Another, had Tyler Cerin, a Phase 1 Masterson graduate '08, on staff! (below).

 

Tyler Cerin checks I'll Have Another

 

I read the book and began practicing the Masterson Method this April. By June, folks at Tory Hill Farm began complementing my boy Sunny on his physique! Someone actually called him a brick shit house, not a term you usually hear associated with an off the track thoroughbred! At first I reviewed his training, then diet. “Well he does fill out on spring grass,” I thought. What was new? It had to be the Masterson bodywork. By regularly releasing tension throughout his body, Sunny literally blossomed. (And I achieved these remarkable results using only the first step in the program: The Bladder Meridian Technique.)

 

If you practiced nothing else but the Bladder Meridian Technique on your horse --- on a regular basis --- it would make a noticeable difference in your horse's performance and behavior as a result. The Technique may seem “low energy” but, even alone, is effective in releasing tension in the horse's key junctions.” p.25

 

I was so impressed with the initial results that I signed up for a weekend workshop in October, 2012.  with a Masterson Instructor and Mentor, Marie Riley, CESMT, MMCP. If I can find some extra moola and they have room, I may even stay for the week long training!

 

Jump Right In: When doing the Bladder Meridian Technique you can't do it wrong. You can't damage your horse in any way. If your horse doesn't want you to hover around the eyes or ears, move to the neck instead. You don't have to do the entire horse each time.

 

At Tory Hill, friend Emily Dugan and I recently began working on all 12 geldings. They love it and ask to be worked on whenever they see us! That sure cuts into our riding time but how can I say no?

 

Releasing Tension Along the Bladder Meridian

 

With one hand hovered over the 'Bladder Meridian' as pictured on my horse, Sunny, (below) just move slowly along Meridian Line on the left side, waiting for a reaction. This is an easy-to-find line along either side of the body about 3” below the midline. Masterson calls his hand pressure, 'Air Gap'. In other words, hover over the area about half an inch.

 

The Bladder Meridian End of Meridian is called The Ting Point

The Bladder Meridian from above eye to hind hoof.

 

The Bladder Meridian begins above the eye, down the neck and body to the 'ting points' on hind foot.

 

The Set Up

 

Masterson recommends working in a stall (without hay or grain) where the horse has some freedom. The horse can also be held lightly by someone. I normally have Sunny in the barn aisle where I hold him on a long lead. But honestly after a few moments, he looks like he is sedated, naturally of course.

 

Sunny zoned while I was working on Doc  Doctor Clayton is processing.

A Two-fer. Sunny zoned out while I worked on his pal, Doctor Clayton. (Two-fers are not in the book!)

 

The Work: Search-Response-Stay-Release

 

I began above his left eye, then moved slowly (Search) to the ear and then the poll. I kept an eye on his face. As soon as I saw any reaction like a blink or nose wiggle (Response), I hovered (Stay) until he offered a Release. This normally comes within a minute but there were times I waited longer. The Bladder Meridian Technique is nicely explained in the video collection on You Tube. (See More Resources at the end).

 

The Release

 

Normally Sunny releases with a yawn, a roll of the eyes, or a head or body shake. I have seen as many as 6 yawns! After the release I often take a seat, and let his nervous system process. He zones out; his head drops down and his eyes soften. After a few minutes, I resumed the work. Hovering over the next section, moving slowly, looking for a reaction.

 

Initially Sunny had a release every 2 inches! I didn't have time to do the entire meridian so I just put in a book mark! Over time, he released less and I was able to do the Meridian line on both sides and actually move on to the bodywork.

 

Other Reactions

 

Sometimes a horse may start to fidget just before a big release. Masterson says, “Keep him in the neighborhood,” and continue doing the work until the horse releases. Occasionally the horse chooses not to release. It is fine to move on.

 

Some horses, like our Percheron Daniel who spent the first half of his life with the Amish, are stoic. When I worked on him, I would get a blink but no release; I slowly moved on. After 3 blinks with no release, I walked away and took a seat on the nearby bench. At that point, Daniel yawned and released gas, then zoned out. Stoic horses are not uncommon.

 

On the DVD, Masterson talks about one of his equine clients who actually hid his head under a blanket to yawn! Phew!

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum is, Jeffrey, an imported racehorse from Germany, now retired at 7 years. After a few sessions, he dropped his head as I approached. When I began the work his tongue hung out! Once, after a short hover, he blinked and lifted his chest and neck for a huge stretch with sound effects. Another time he stretched his hind leg. I have even seen him do the Yoga pose, downward dog!

Emily working on her new horse, Koda  Emily massages Koda's poll

 

Emily is working on her new pony/horse Koda who just arrived. He is a 3 year old Arab x Paint.

 

If your horse won't let you work on his head or poll, just begin in a more comfortable place along the neck. Remember do whatever you can that day. Even in 10 minutes you will see release of tension. After a few sessions your horse will no doubt cooperate. A release in the poll will result in releases you may or may not see, throughout the body.

 

The Rest of the Work

 

Beyond the Meridian Bladder Technique, Masterson focuses on these 4 areas. He constantly watches the horse for reactions and works with him.

  • The Poll-Atlas Junction**
  • The Neck-Shoulders-Withers
  • The Hind-End (Sacroiliac) Junction
  • The Back

 

** Masterson claims that most problems throughout the body, are also reflected in the poll.

 

Pain and tension anywhere in the horse's body is reflected in the poll. Conversely when tension accumulates in the poll, things start going wrong in the rest of the body.” p.35

 

It won't surprise any of us to hear that Masterson believes that a majority of equine physical problems begins with the feet, especially the front feet. Working with the USET endurance team, he must be aware of the wonders of great barefeet with Easy Care boots when needed. No doubt that's a hard sell to some of his clients but not us!

 

There's much more in the book about additional body work. Beyond the book and DVD, you can take a weekend workshop. If that appeals, students may follow a certification program. On the Masterson site, there's a link to a free anatomy course, a monthly newsletter, advance reading and links to Masterson's You Tube series. (BTW, the out-takes in the DVD are hilarious. This fellow has a great sense of humor.)

 

At the monthly Tory Hill June bonfire (in the boys' field), Sunny was passaging back and forth, trying to make sense of the kids playing frisbee. Farm owner Jill Willcox looked up from the fire and remarked “That's the best moving horse on the farm.” Not bad for a rescue. Thank you Jim Masterson!

 

More Resources

It stands to reason that one of the inevitable, next steps for us barefoot enthusiasts is to rehabilitate and maintain our horse's body. If you try the Masterson Method, Sunny and I would love to hear your stories.

 

Until then,

 

Happy Trails!

 

Dawn Willoughby and Love Sunny Days

 

My Educational Site: 4 Sweet Feet

 

My 3 You Tube Videos on Trimming

 

A recent article about us: Mean and Lean is Barefoot and Happy

 

Hot Off the Press: Natural Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method by Maureen Tierney. Just when I thought I had trimming down, I saw some of Maureen's hooves. Amazing! Totally pro horse and pro soundness. Never accept soreness in the name of a "correct trim"!

Minimizing Hoof Capsule Distortion: How Minor Matters?

When laminae is healthy and the attachment between bone and hoof strong, the foot will maintain a compact form, without distortion. A healthy hoof will fit tightly around the coffin bone and other healthy internal structures without defects such as rings, cracks, flares, bull nose, etc.  

 

Many factors can contribute to a horse getting hoof distortions:

  • How the horse loads their feet, their stance
  • Environment
  • Diet
  • The trim applied to the foot
  • Occupation
  • Pathology

Here in Pennsylvania, with our very wet climate, it is very common to see horses with good feet overall still have minor hoof capsule distortions, prevalent due to the high moisture content of the foot and horn. On healthy maintained feet we most commonly see small flares on the wall that are addressed in one trim without overly thinning the wall.  

 

 

So how should hoof capsule distortion be addressed? There are many different techniques and many pros and cons to each method. The biggest concern I come across is how high up should a wall distortion be addressed. Some people feel removing flare higher up the wall would thin the wall too much, while others feel by addressing flare on the bottom 1” or so of wall leaves distorted tubules higher up the foot that continue to contribute to flare. Pros and cons both ways!

 

My approach to addressing hoof capsule distortion comes from working on so many laminitic and foundered horses. Laminitis, being inflammation of the laminae, can happen systemically, metabolically, or mechanically. When inflammation of the laminae gets significant enough, intercellular edema occurs and the laminae fail causing rotation and/or sinking of the coffin bone within the hoof capsule. Especially during and after laminitis, it is critical that the load of the foot be transferred off the compromised laminae and onto the structures at the back of the foot. While we can accomplish this in several different ways, the ultimate goal is to realign the coffin bone and hoof capsule as quickly as possible, thereby getting leverage off the damaged laminae. My experience has led me to trim the foot aggressively, removing any distortions and re-centering the hoof capsule around the displaced coffin bone as much as possible even in the very first trim.

 

Here is an example of a foundered horse with a coffin bone and hoof capsule that were out of alignment, then several months later showing the corrected hoof capsule alignment.  If I hadn't removed the disortion at the toe on this horse, the new growth coming in at the coronary band would continue to pull away from the coffin bone.

 

 

 

Compare that case of laminitis to the feet in this case. Is this laminitis or flare? Just a long toe? When does the mechanical leverage become detrimental to the horse?  

 

 

 

I would imagine we would all agree that a healthy foot should have minimal distortions. If mechanical damage to the laminae is the potential end result of flare, I choose to be more aggressive in addressing it.  

 

This idea can be applied to the smallest of distortions. Here is an example of an Irish Sport Horse who we trimmed for several years. This horse has a history of chronic quarter cracks and white line disease which we eradicated over time.

 

 

 

He then moved to a different state and had a different farrier. These are his feet more recently:  

 

 

 

It's interesting to me to see the difference in one method of addressing flare compared to another. You make a value decision as to which method you feel is helping this horse minimize hoof capsule distortions and defects. Personally, I don't like that his cracks are coming back and he has separation in the white line in his quarters again.  

 

My experience leads me to address flare by matching the wall growth approximately 1” below the coronary band all the way to the ground in a cone shape. I believe that the benefits of straightening the horn tubules outweigh the potential drawbacks of thinning the wall higher up the foot. Through photo documentation of our clients' horses over the last nine years, we have seen a significant reduction in hoof capsule distortion and defects based on addressing flare this way without apparent detriment by thinning the wall higher up the foot.  

 

The best part of getting rid of flare on your horse's feet?  Your hoof boots fit better!  

Gluing On The Ghetto Way - An Alternative for The Slight of Hand

This blog should peek the interest of Easyboot users like me; you use a lot of Gloves, you love using Glue-On boots and are comfortable gluing boots on on a regular basis with assistance, and you wish you were comfortable doing it alone.

I'm not entirely proud of this method but hey, it works, in fact it works really well. I'm also sure others have done this but I want to make sure everyone knows it's an option, even if it's not as pretty as the classic glue job.

Background

When I need to glue boots on, I enlist the help of my husband: literally for his hand strength. It's strange really because I have, on many awkward occasions, been complimented or high-browed (for the lack of better words) for my hand strength. I grew up on a working ranch, working horses and doing everything else that goes with the territory of raising cattle and making hay; I've got strong hands... for a girl. But on a 90 degree day, I fail to win the race against time with Adhere (I think half the problem is also mental, or "frenzy syndrome," which is also associated with, but not limited to, my gender.)  I just can't squeeze the gun fast enough to get the job done. I make it through one hoof like a champ and then my hand falls off.  

So I trim the horse (I use a hoof jack to save my back,) prep the hooves, lay everything out, put the goober glue in bottoms of the shells, then call Sean in for back up. Sean squeezes the adhere into the shell and hands it to me, I do the classic smack'n'twist, and move expeditiously to the next hoof, at which point Sean is handing me another shell and we make our way around all four hooves. After squeezing Adhere in the last shell, Sean kneels down and puts a bead around the top rim and I follow, hoof-by-hoof, smoothing the bead and tidying up with my ever-shedding-latex-glove-clad-fingers. We do this Merry-Go-Round-and-Round the horse often. It's a delicate, planned and well-practiced dance, very carefully executed. We know the drill. We often only use one mixing tip for one horse, and it very rarely goes awry but there is the occasional horse-related interruption or adhere tube switcharoo.

Moxy and me finishing Tevis 2012 with all four Easyboot Glue-On boots firmly in place, they were still difficult to pry off 3 weeks later. Proof of a successful gluing operation/Merry Go Round dance with my husband.

The problem is hunting season: Sean's gone. 

So here's my ghetto alternative, aka "goober booting it." Pick out some of your fairly-trashed-yet-usable-Gloves (the sizes you need, obviously,) and wash them up, scrub them out, set them out to dry, perhaps even spray alcohol in them to ensure they are as clean and dry as you can get them. Fear not, they don't need to be surgically clean, just relatively clean. Prep your horse's hooves, set everything out, but add a popsicle stick to your tool kit. Do your usual triangle of Sikaflex on the bottom of each boot, plus a ring on the walls (have a seat on a bucket while you work, take your time, it's Sikaflex, not Adhere, so chill.) Now take your popsicle stick and use it to paint/smear a thin layer of the Sikaflex on the walls where you would usually put Adhere. Pop them on the hoof like you always put Gloves on; tap the toe in, put the foot down, put the velcro straps on tight.

Be aware that the wet glue also acts as a bit of a lubricant at first, so the boots are more likely to slide around on the hoof or twist. Don't panic, this hoof glue is very forgiving. I hung out with my horse for that first hour (drink a beer, do some chores) to make sure things stayed straight and there were a few times I thought the hoof was twisting or sliding back in the boot (so his toe wasn't quite all the way in,) but I just picked the hoof up and banged the toe back in to the front or twisted it straight again. The glue is still wet, it's no problem. I was surprised how well it went. I found that after an hour, the thin layer around the hoof wall was fairly set up, so I put him in his run for the night. He did his usual in there, standing to eat, pacing, twisting, whatever, it was nerve wracking but the next morning the boots were on perfect. The glue set up over night, and they looked great.

From there I just unscrewed everything and removed the gaiters. And voila! Glue-On boots minus the frenzy-associated adhere set up time.

You can leave old power straps on or rip them off.

The cool thing is now you have a pile of spare parts to recycle for your other Gloves, and you didn't even use any of your new Easyboot Glue-On shells. So technically this process is green. Go green baby!

I do not recommend doing this on horses that will paw or jig, this method simply isn't an option for bajiggity horses. In fact, I took my horse for a workout ride, washed him off, and then trimmed his hooves etc.  and once I had all the boots glued on I fed him so he would stand there calmly for an hour (consider doing this whole drill where the horse usually stands and eats if he is nervous).

The not so cool thing is that these are even harder to remove than the adhere ones because the glue stretches instead of cracking. But another cool thing is that all the glue is flexing with the hoof, on top on bottom, everywhere, au natural.

I definitely recommend the classic glue on procedure, but in a pinch, "goober booting" is an excellent alternative.  

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.

DorsalLateral.

Dorsal and lateral views without boot.

Solar

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 tackshackocala.com 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 www.horsefloss.com 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

easycare-marketing-director-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!