October 2012: Wright Hoof Care

Our Dealer of the Month for October is Jeannie Wright of Wright Hoof Care in Ringwood, Illinois.

Jeannie started learning about barefoot hoof trimming in 2005. She said she was fascinated with the difference in her horse’s stride after his first natural trim and that is what got her started. She attended hoof care clinics and says she could not stop asking questions. She first started trimming her own horses, calling them her guinea pigs, while she received supervision from other barefoot trimmers until 2007, when she began trimming professionally. In fact, Jeannie worked in the legal field for 25 years and left that career in 2010 to become a full time hoof care practitioner. Jeannie became certified through the American Hoof Association in 2010. She currently has about 230 horses in her practice ranging from trail horses, jumpers, polo ponies, draft horses, minis, donkeys and one mule.

Jeannie feels her success as a trimmer is directly related to her passion. Helping animals has been a part of her life since she can remember: she attributes her success to proper training and guidance in developing her skills. Jeannie is especially grateful for the support and friendship of Ida Hammer, Eric Knapp and other trimmers, who help and encourage one another. She also spends time studying, especially Pete Ramey’s book, Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Foot, and she likes to carry on educational discussions with other trimmers.

When asked about her successful marketing strategies, Jeannie stated, “The horse world is very small, so an important part of successful marketing comes from personal relationships with my clients. Being punctual and actively listening to the concerns of clients are some the best things a trimmer can do. I work hard to meet my clients when they are with their horses so I can accommodate their individualized needs. In order to make sure that my clients have a great experience with their boots, I carry a range of sizes and styles. I also have the EasyCare brochures so that I can properly educate my clients and thoroughly answer their questions. For my own personal marketing, I also have a website, which is www.wrighthoofcare.com, which features before and after hoof pictures and explains my philosophy, education and background.

Jeannie says that horse owners have the most knowledge about their horses and situations and they love to share that information. She feels that horses also share their stories as to what areas are bothering them by how they travel and how they are ridden. Jeannie feels that listening and learning about each one is critical to her success with every horse and owner. She likes to discuss each horse’s needs, owner expectations and she likes to give her predictions of the hoof until the next time that she visits. She prefers a holistic approach and discusses diet, environment and exercise with the owners.

Jeannie feels that EasyCare has made the hoof boot industry change because its versatile products are exceptionally user friendly and are available to a wide range of riders. She feels that more people are realizing that boots can be a realistic option for them because EasyCare offers so many different types of boots. Plus, she feels that EasyCare has innovative solutions to common boot problems, like using Mueller’s Athletic Tape for additional security. Jeannie says that with boots that accommodate the various needs of horses and riders, EasyCare is on the forefront of the hoof boot industry.

Jeannie started using EasyCare products in 2009. She indicates that the Fill Your Truck program made it very easy for her to get started. She carries different style boots to include the Easyboot Glove, Glove Back Country and Easyboot Trail to accommodate every hoof and she also carries accessories such as Power Straps for the Gloves and Comfort Pads. Jeannie said that the Glove has been her best seller, but the Epics and Trails are popular among horses that are just transitioning out of shoes. When asked which boot was her favorite, Jeannie had to say the Glove was her favorite for natural hoof care. She also feels that the Easyboot Trail is great choice for transitioning out of shoes and for light riding. She feels that the Trail is perfect for horses that are slightly sensitive or working towards a healthier hoof. Jeannie also feels that Trails offer many different options when using the Comfort Pads.

When asked about her most rewarding experience, Jeannie said, “Every day in this line of work is rewarding, but I get really happy when a horse owner tells me that their horse has never moved so well, and that their trainer, friends and/or vet has noticed the improvement.”

Her most memorable hoof boot success story? “I took the shoes off of a newly purchased OTTB mare about a year ago. She was clearly uncomfortable in her back and back legs. Her owner used the Easyboot Trail right from the beginning for riding and turn out. This mare is now a sweet, comfortable and wonderfully-muscled horse. She has the best feet in the barn, according to her owners, and other boarders comment on them regularly. Her Trail boots give her the opportunity to more freely, protected from the sand and gravel outside, which she needed during her transition period. Being part of the team that restored her to healthfulness and usefulness has motivated me to continue to advocate for natural hoof care.”

Jeannie ventured into the horse world when she bought her first pony at age twelve. She laughs when she thinks back and says that her board was only $20 per month. She then had an Appaloosa mare for several years when she was in her teens. Husband, Larry, bought her TWH, Mikey, in 2001, which was when she was first able to really get back into horses since her teens. She now owns two Tennessee Walkers: Count, beautiful and young at age 26; and Mikey, sporty and fun at age 19. She recently purchased Mona, an 8 year old Missouri Fox Trotter mare. She boots her horses in exceptionally rough terrain and feels that she has the most success with her personal horses using the Easyboot Glove.

So, where does Jeannie see the barefoot industry going? “I think the barefoot industry is going to continue reaching into all equestrian disciplines. Barefoot success and education about alternatives to traditional shoeing are going to be key factors. Boots are a key ingredient in a horse’s ability to perform and be comfortable as well as in restoring horses to healthy feet. Right now, I believe that each barefoot success story increases awareness exponentially. A healthy hoof is beautiful in its design and function. I hope that is the norm in the very near future.”

Jeannie has just celebrated her five year anniversary as a Hoof Care Practitioner. Please visit her website at www.wrighthoofcare.com.

Her Guide: Nature is Always Ready to Heal the Foot

My E-friend and trimmer, Maureen Tierney, has just published Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method. She began this journey like so many of us. In 2001, Maureen stumbled on Jaime Jackson’s book in the Loveland, Colorado public library. Then she went on to the Internet to learn more, joined some chat forums and began trimming her horse. Many more books, DVDs, associations and clinics were to follow.

After 5 months of trimming her horse, she wasn’t satisfied with the results, “I was discouraged --- I didn’t see any significant change in my poor horse’s feet, nor was he any sounder, though he wasn’t any worse --- a fact for which I am grateful beyond words now.” Here is where her story takes an interesting twist. In spite of what others told her to do --- Trim More Hoof --- Maureen trusted her instincts and stopped trimming all together! A few weeks after she stopped trimming, she recounts how she truly began learning what the hoof wanted. What a concept! Focusing on what the hooves wanted not what we bipeds think they should look like.

In July, 2002, Maureen purchased a second horse, Huey. “I wanted to record how the feet trimmed themselves without any human interference. The idea came to me when I went to give him his first trim (August 4, 2002), and saw that the bars, that had once covered the entire sole when I first saw him, had already begun to self-trim.” 18 days later, Huey’s frogs looked much better, the false or retained soles had exfoliated on their own and the bars reduced significantly. Except for riding him during that time and 24/7 turnout, Huey was in charge. Neither rasp, knife nor nippers touched his hooves.


Huey's Experiment  Photo 1

Photo 1  August 4, 2002.

Huey's Experiment  Photo 2

Photo 2  August 22, 2012.

By September 2nd, 29 days later, the bars retreated to a near normal position. Remember, initially they actually covered the entire sole. The soles fully exfoliated on their own, revealing a smooth, concave surface. The frogs continued to improve. Yes, the toes are long and some of the walls are too high. But consider all the changes Huey made by simply self trimming. He was sound throughout.

Huey's Experiment  Photo 3

Photo 3  September 2, 2012.

Of the trimmers I know, only Dr. Tomas Teskey supports self trimming as the primary hoof trimming method. Until now, I credited Dr. Teskey’s success to the harsh terrain and hard work his horses deal with on his Arizona ranch. But Maureen now lives two hours west of Lexington, Kentucky, where it is often soft and damp. And most of her forever herd of ten aren’t in work.

Maureen’s journey continued, as she studied more hooves. “After trimming hundreds of horses and thousand of feet, it became apparent that the foot was giving clear indicators of where it needed to be trimmed.” She lays out the details in The Hoof Guided Method, HGM, along with hoof rehab photos detailing the healing journey, photos of dissections and internal structures, and radiographs to support her theories. She explains in terms which are easy to understand, how the hoof functions and why healthy hooves are critical to your horse’s health. On her web site you can read these posts, and more:

The Heels – Innocent Victims

How Fast Can a Hoof Decontract?

Founder – Truths and Myths

Some of the case studies in the book are presented in even greater detail on her site, Natural Barefoot Trimming: The healing power of nature. If you are curious about the HGM of trimming, Maureen will continue blogging on her site. The HGM works on all manner of horse: young and old; huge, tiny and in between; healthy and pathological; sound and lame.

“…a natural trim should mimic --- or simulate – the action of the ground on the hoof, and the true purpose of the trim is to stimulate the foot to grow healthy. Simulate and Stimulate. The more I listened to the foot and didn’t try to do more than it asked for, the faster and better the results of my trimming were.”

In the end, it all gets down to results. Her client horses are sound, no excuses. Foundered horses are recovering quickly with the trim and the necessary change of diet. ‘Navicular’ (I hate that term) horses enjoy a heel first landing after years of toe first, ouch!

How often have we heard excuses about why a horse is sore after a trim? It is unfair and indeed cruel to sore a horse in the name of rehabilitation. Sore = Mistake, IMHO.

Because the HGM is easy to understand and apply, owner-trimmers and newbies, my favorite people, will love it. If you are an experienced trimmer, I can already feel your hackles as you looked at the photos above. None of us are used to leaving a horse with such a messy foot. Still, I hope you will put your assumptions aside and see if even some of Maureen’s suggestions might work for you. The transition may not be as pretty as you are used to, but the end result may just be better? Better results means happier horses. That is something we can all agree on.

Every professional has a horse or two who just isn’t coming along in the rehab process. May I encourage you to give the HGM a try for a few months and see what happens. Even send Maureen an e-mail or give her a call if you want to forgo the book purchase. What do you have to loose? I saw improvement with my OTTB in 2 weeks. The back of his foot further decontracted and I had to remove the Power Straps on his Easy Care Gloves! Another 2 weeks later his long and low right front foot shortened from a size 2 to a 1.5! Our journey continues.


I don’t mind hawking Maureen’s services as they are so modestly priced. She is really about helping horses. End of discussion (I have no $$$ interest in any of this! Just interested in happy horses).

Contact Maureen at: maureen@forthehorse.net

Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method is available on Amazon Prime. Yeah! No shipping costs if you are a Prime member. If you are not an Amazon Prime Member, this location may offer a better deal. Compare shipping costs.

Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Healing Power of Nature  is Maureen's web site.

Among her many Services, Maureen offers e-mail evaluations and recommendations for your horse’s hooves, an online course, clinics at her farm in Kentucky, away clinics, and other educational products.

Guidelines for electronic photos.

Maureen just joined Facebook in October. Friend her!

Natural Barefoot Trimming: The Hoof Guided Method is also on Facebook, because every book should have it’s own Face. Friend me.

And don’t miss The Racehorse Experiment, where Maureen follows the natural rehabilitation and barefoot racing of several horses at her farm, Wild Dreams.

And the (infertile) Broodmare Project

Your questions and comments are welcome and encouraged.

Until next month,

Happy Trails my friends,

Dawn, the eternal barnflye

Natural Barefoot Trimming; The Hoof Guided Method

A few weeks ago Dawn Willoughby mentioned a new book at the end of her blog on the Masterson Method. As a self-proclaimed hoofohlic I like to read, watch and listen to anything and everything hoof related that I can get my hands on. Natural Barefoot Trimming; The Hoof Guided Method by Maureen Tierney is an easy read at only 56 pages. Although the photos in the book are black and white, there are full color versions of all photos on Maureen's website.

Figure 4

Figure 4 shows the external structures of the hoof. Photo courtesy of Maureen Tierney.

There are a great variety of hoof trimming theories and many people hold strong convictions about which theory is best. This book is yet another resource for the hoofoholics out there. If you are new to barefoot, I believe you should study as many of these theories as you can and in time you will learn to take bits from each based on what works best for your horse(s). The topics covered in the Hoof Guided Method:

  • Natural Barefoot Method
  • Anatomy and Function of the Hoof
  • Trimming Theory
  • The Hoof Guided Method
  • Frog Health
  • Other Considerations
  • The Message - Respect the Foot

Figure 7

Figure 7 shows the internal structures of the hoof. Photo courtesy of Maureen Tierney.

From the Author: "The Hoof Guided Method is truly a less is more method based on the theory that a barefoot trim should mimic – or simulate - the action of the ground on the hoof, and that the true purpose of the trim is to stimulate the foot to grow healthy. Simulate and stimulate. Learn to stop micro-managing the hoof and work with nature instead of trying to force man's ideals onto the hoof. The hoof responds to everything it experiences, and that includes trimming. By trimming only what is indicated, then waiting for the hoof to respond, the foot is allowed to transform itself."

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.


Boot Gluing Troubleshooting AKA What Are We Going To Do Now?

Being a part of Team Easyboot 2012 is amazing. I love reading Team Easyboot blogs and learning new tricks about booting successfully both for my horses and others who need help. Hopefully my blog will give you comfort about an OMG gluing moment, should you ever have one.

I had a fellow TE12 member come over to help me glue on front boots as I was still chicken and couldn't do it alone, yet. I am one of those that gets as much or more glue on me and my clothes than on the actual hoof and boot. Everything started out well. We trimmed up the hooves nicely and prepared them for the Glue Ons.

We started the gluing process and bam! the glue gun broke. What? Now what? We are in the middle of carefully handling the Glue-On boots with gloved hands, we have clean hooves and everything is set. No glue gun. Sheesh. The sun will set soon and I feel like I am having one of those days. If it were just me, I would have bailed on the project, gone in the house and pouted for a few days, maybe stomping my feet along the way. My fellow TE12 member/friend/brilliant lady of all time told me not to panic. We would figure something out. That we did.

We got an old plastic type small bowl and some plastic silverware to mix the Adhere solution and just pushed on the ends of the tubes until we had about equal parts of the two mixes. It was a hurried project, but we had nothing to lose at this point. 

The boots went on as normal, and they stayed on just like they were supposed to. I was so impressed with the innovative thinking on my partners' part. Genius.

I highly recommend that if you are a panicker, like I am; buddy up with another team member who isn't. That way if an OMG situation comes knockin', together you can get through it.


All About Heels

What does it actually mean, that often heard advice by farriers and hoof trimmers, natural, bare and otherwise:

"Trim your horses heels to the widest part of the frog!"

Easy, just do it!

What is the importance of that heel landing and why does a short heel help with that?

Looking at the anatomy of a horses hoof, we can clearly see that nature intended a horse to land heel first:


The yellow part shows the digital cushion, a tissue designed to absorb shock. Notice that the digital cushion does not extend to the tip of the coffin bone and the front of the hoof.

Can we draw the conclusion from this simple image that the horse is not intended to land toe first?

(Of course, when we talking about heel landings, we are considering only level ground. Any horse climbing steep hills will, just like humans, get ground purchase by digging in the toes first.)

Dr. Robert Bowker, Professor of Anatomy and Director of the Equin Foot Laboratory at Michigan State Univeristy believes the heel area of the hoof is THE most important part of the hoof. His studies focus on the hemodynamic flow theory, which proposes that blood flow through the network of tiny capillaries the in heel region plays a vital role in shock absorption. He also discovered the proprioreceptor sensory cells in the heel region who transmit information to the horse's central nervous system and allow to 'feel' the way across the ground.

A hoof capsule will always grow forward at  the same angle as the dorsal hoof wall shows in the upper half. With time then, the heels will have grown forward as well and will not be at the same level as the frog anymore.

This untrimmed hoof: the green arrows show the heels where they should be, the red arrows show the heel where they presently are. They have grown forward almost an inch.


I have marked the heels with a purple line to show how far they should get shortened.

Shortening the heels to the widest part of the frog seems now a no brainer, but first I want to make sure, we are not cutting into live sole doing so. Step one is therefore finding the live sole in the heel area.

Using a hoof knife, we can scrape off the dull and powdery looking dead sole first.

On the left heel, we still can see the dead sole. I just started to remove it. On the right, the shiny live sole is visible. I do not want to shorten the heel any further than that level. In fact, it might be advisable to keep the wall in the heel area about 1/8 to 1/4 th of an inch longer than the live sole.

Why is the level of the live sole so important?

Without taking a X-ray of the hoof, we do not know whether the coffin bone is parallel to the ground or to the visible sole. The coffin bone might be laterally tilted a few degrees within the hoof capsule. Finding the live sole first, will give me that answer, because the live sole will not lie. It will be of the same thickness to the sensitive structures on both sides.


After finding the live sole on both heels, the blue arrows show the present end of the heel compared to the the purple line, indicating the widest part of the frog, where the heels should get  trimmed to, ideally.

On a side note, the red arrow shows bar bruising, caused by a bend over bar, exerting pressure onto the sole.

We can also apply a third parameter to check for depth of sole and distance to the palmar processes or wings of the coffin bone. By measuring from the bottom of the collateral grooves close to the heel area,  we can  get information on  how level the coffin bone is situated within the hoof capsule. From studies on cadaver hooves we found that the distance from the bottom of the collateral grooves to the sensitive corium is always 1/2 inch. If the distance measured now from the bottom to the collateral groove to the heel area is equal distally and medially, we can draw the conclusion that we trimmed the horse level to the coffin bone within the hoof capsule and the horse's hoof lands parallel to the ground surface on level ground.

Measuring the distance from the bottom of the collateral grooves to the live sole and untrimmed heels.

After trimming the heels, cross checking for equal distance from the bottom of the collateral grooves to heel level.

Before shortening any heels, it is a good idea to cross check these three parameter against each other:

-where is the widest part of the frog?

-where is the live sole in the heel area?

-how deep are the collateral grooves and are they equal to the heel level?

Following these parameters, we might not always be able to trim to the widest part of the frog on both sides.  A laterally tilted coffin bone, an occurence not as rare as one might think, requires leaving one heel longer than the the other one. Each horse is unique, each hoof is unique.

Professor  Bowker came up with compelling anatomical reasons for trimming the heels to the widest part of the frog. I might add humbly a mechanical one: support of the movement apparatus and skeletal system.

Compare both images: the red arrow indicates the heel in the untrimmed hoof as it compares to the plum line through the center of the canon bone. The heel is not supporting the skeletal apparatus in this image. The hoof is not supporting the horse, resulting in added stress to the tendons and ligaments.

In this image, the green arrow points to the trimmed heel. The plum line through the center of the canon bone goes right through the heel: the heel is now supporting the skeletal system, therefore less stress on the tendons.

I might add that this horse is not displaying an ideal of conformation in the lower leg. Better would be if the end of the heel would extend back further from the plum line.

Whether we are practicing Natural Hoof Trimming, Natural Hoof Care, Barefoot Trimming or Trimming for Protective Horse Boots, Easyboot Gloves or Easyboot Glue ons or for shoeing, the principles of anatomical and mechanical correctness remain the same. The hoof is supposed to support the skeletal system and movement apparatus and the horse should land heel first.

Food for trimming thought by

The Bootmeister.

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.


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.


Dorsal and lateral views without boot.


Solar view without boot.

When taking pictures for fit evaluation please remember to :

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

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

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

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