Broken Down May Not Be So Broken

As hoof care providers we often get calls to help horses as a last-ditch effort before euthanasia. The owner calls with a laundry list of problems and a history of solutions that have been tried and fallen short.  

This is the case of a 19-year-old Quarter Horse gelding whose laundry list was a mile long. He had been diagnosed with:

  • bowed right front tendon
  • left front coffin bone fracture
  • sidebone
  • ringbone

His current diagnosis was navicular disease. When I first saw him he was barely walking on his left front leg. Many options had been tried to resolve his lameness but with minimal long term success. The owner was tired of watching him in pain and was considering euthanasia. The veterinarian who referred me to the case told the owner "Call Daisy, she may be able to perform a miracle for you"...no pressure!   

Anytime I come across a horse with arthritic conditions, navicular, etc my goals as a farrier are to minimize the range of motion the joints have to articulate through, hopefully minimizing the impact any soft tissue problems or rough bone surfaces may have as the horse moves. The more compact the foot, the shorter the distance the joints have to move in locomotion.

I have discussed my basic trimming and shoeing goals in previous blogs. The same goals apply in this situation as the other case studies I have highlighted.

My goals are:

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

Here is the horse's left front foot when I came to see him:

Goal:
P3 Palmar Angle: 3-8 degrees
Toe Support % (50/50) 50% toe

May 8th Old Shoe:
P3 Palmar Angle: NEGATIVE -1.70 degrees
Toe Support % (50/50) 59.17% toe

I really respect what the previous farrier was doing with this horse. The shoe is well fit, and the rolled toe was working to help this horse with his lameness issue. However the internal and external hoof alignment was not quite to my parameters, so I felt increasing the palmar P3 angle and getting closer to a true 50/50 support base would have a good chance at helping this horse become more comfortable if not sound.  

Here is the same foot, same day, with the shoe pulled:

May 8th No Shoe:
P3 Palmar Angle: NEGATIVE -3.69 degrees
Toe Support % (50/50) 63.51% toe

So without the shoe the hoof capsule and internal alignment was worse.  

Here is what we were able to do in our first trim the same day:

 

 

Goal:

P3 Palmar Angle: 3-8 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 50% toe

 

May 8th After Trim:

P3 Palmar Angle: POSITIVE 2.90 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 56.70% toe

 

So we were getting much closer to our ideal parameters. I felt I had pushed this foot as much as possible at this time. We left him barefoot in a dry lot paddock. The horse became much more comfortable and at a walk was sound. But at a trot, especially on firm ground or on turns he was still off.  

 

I felt I had achieved as much improvement as I could achieve in his internal and external hoof alignment through trimming. I wondered if he even could become sound at the trot and on turns, especially on hard ground. We decided to use leverage testing to determine where his discomfort was coming from. An easy way to do leverage testing is with the KrossCheck leverage testing system:

 

 

The leverage testing revealed that the horse hated his toe elevated (functionally decreasing his palmar P3 angle) and was very happy with additional heel elevation (increasing the palmar P3 angle) which made a lot of sense. However, it was interesting to find that he also hated his foot being tipped from side to side, medial/lateral. I decided to try a glue on shoe to create ease of range of motion from side to side as well as add a bit more heel height.  

 

Here is what his foot looked like with the addition of the composite shoe:

 

 

June 14th New Composite Shoe:

P3 Palmar Angle: POSITIVE 5.74 degrees

Toe Support % (50/50) 50.20% toe

 

With the additional mechanics created in the shoe, and the shock dampening effect of the plastic, this horse went completely sound and is now back in work being ridden for trail riding, light dressage lessons, and some therapeutic riding five days a week. The leverage testing was an invaluable tool in getting this horse, with his laundry list of problems, back in work and sound. Here is his very happy owner enjoying her horse!  

 

 

Daisy Bicking, APF

www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

May 2013: Ernest Woodward

Movement: purely a moment in time, simple yet so complex.

Farrier and EasyCare dealer of the month, Ernest Woodward, knows movement is everything.

Ernest is passionate about movement and displays his talents for capturing it here.

You could say it was destiny. Growing up his stepfather was a veterinarian; his mother a dressage trainer. While in college, physics was his focus. As a farrier of 17 years, Ernest Woodward attributes his success to outside the box thinking and strives to push the envelope from the norm of farrier work and service. Ernest finds great interest in the challenge and detail needed in working with show horses and spends most of his time today dedicated to the needs of the dressage sport horse and therapeutic work.

Ernest joined the EasyCare dealer network in July of 2012, and says discovering the Easyboot Glove has changed everything. Previously, he felt there was not a boot on the market that could meet the demands of a competitive horse. Now he says he has that boot with the Easyboot Glove and can confidently recommend it to his sport horse clients. He also finds tremendous value in utilizing the Easyboot Rx and EasySoaker.

Tips for Success
Hoof care is a highly service based industry and Ernest feels whether you are a trimmer or farrier, professionals need to increase their connection with their clients and make more time to individualize each horse and client. A significant part of his business strategy is staying very involved in his realm of the horse community, from managing horse shows to serving on a local non-profit board. He spends thousands of dollars each year on research, time and tools, and fully utilizes social networking. The bottom line is simple - do great things for your clients and horses and make sure people are aware of what you are doing.

Rewards
One of Ernest's most rewarding experiences was recently teaching one of his clients from Canada to trim, enabling her to care for her own horse and maintain it barefoot when home. Ernest says, "To watch her not only take her competition horse barefoot, but to have the dedication to learn what was necessary to perpetuate her success was tremendously inspiring." He adds that his most memorable hoof boot experience was taking a horse from a $500 shoeing to barefoot and quickly seeing the results of a sounder horse and happier client. He does preface that it doesn't happen every time but when it does it is tremendously satisfying.

When we talk about the future of the barefoot competitive horse, Ernest feels the door has been kicked wide open for the dressage sport horse industry. He believes there are a lot of people that will have the courage to break conventional thought and try something new for their horse. Sometimes it may not be the right fit, but sometimes they might find a whole new direction for the horse.

Ernest resides in Cardiff-by-the Sea, California, with his wife and four-year old daughter while maintaining a practice of about 250 horses. He is also currently working closely with EasyCare on the EasyShoe project. Life is full for Ernest Woodward and we could not be more pleased to have him on the team!

To learn more about Ernest visit his Facebook page at Ernest Woodward - Farrier.

Give Shoes the Boot - You're Still a Cowboy

Over the years, we have seen many trends with horses - from the dos and don'ts of feed, to the method in which we train. The one thing that has stayed consistent is people moving towards doing what is best for their horse, and not what is simply habit passed down. Back in the day, it was not uncommon to get the youngest, craziest guy near the barn and have him hop on and "break" the colts. Obviously, we know there are better ways to skin that cat.

Being married to a ranch raised roper, I am immersed in the "cowboy tough" world. Surprisingly, these same guys that used to "break " horses are now deliberately trying to ride with a nice soft loop to warm up. Given that the mark of a "cowboy" used to mean climbing up on a bronc and surviving, I am happy to see the transition into a more sensible approach. So why the hang up with hoof boots?

My husband specializes in natural hoof care and so most of our clients are open to boots but there are those who still insist on shoes. Of course we try to show the advantages of allowing the horse to have a natural foot. We try to educate on the simplicity and versatility of boots. And yet, most of the time we meet resistance, usually justified by the old thinking that shoes are needed for traction and balance. Really? I beg to differ. I have a theory - it is not that shoes are really needed, it is that boots may be just a little too trendy for the "cowboy" crowd. I pose it in a different way when I talk to these guys. I point out the logical side. Who really is a smarter guy? The one who lights $80+ on fire every 6-8 weeks for shoes or the guy who invests a little chunk up front (far less than repeated shoeings) for the year.

Now I know this seems a bit ornery but the truth is, if you are going to put you foot down about not following the new trends, then put your foot down about not following the old ones and see where you actually end up. I challenged my father-in-law to do this. After almost 60 years of holding his ground on shoes, his horses are now booted in the latest and greatest Easyboots. He even changes them up to meet his needs. He uses the Easyboot Trail for everyday mountain riding and the Easyboot Epic or Easyboot Glove (depending on his mount) for the competitions and his older boys that have special needs. As it turns out, he is no less of a "cowboy" than he was in his shoeing days. As for our performance horses, we too ride with "trendy" hoof boots and yet, my husband is still the big tough guy he has been raised to be. When you are ready to set the bar for your own horse, make sure you have these crucial elements in place:

  1. A competent practitioner capable of properly trimming the barefoot horse.
  2. The proper fit, acheived by a simple fitting session.
  3. The proper boot for the needs you have.

When you have checked that list off, you will be well on your way to optimal performance. Give shoes the boot! Soon you may find you are more of a horseman than the stubborn guy next to you.

Amanda Peterson, Peterson Approach Equine Services

Watch My Back!

Actually I'm just kidding. What I really meant to say is: Watch your back!

The human knee is not well designed for all the sport and work activities we expose it to. Anyone who has suffered from a knee injury can testify how crippling this injury can be. However, with an injured knee, we can usually still somewhat function and should it go out, knee replacements are available.

The situation with our backs is quite different. Any injury to our backs can be extremely painful and often we are flat out. Our backs are our life lines. Without a healthy back we do not function, it's as simple as that.

Photo by Susan Kordish, Cowgirl Photography.

Hoof trimming and applying hoof boots like the Easyboot Glue-Ons is hard on our backs. Back pain and compressed discs are all too common among professional and amateur hoof trimmers and farriers. When our backs are sore, it takes the fun out of trimming our horses feet and we cannot do a good job. There are some practices that will save our backs for years and allow for pain free work.

In my blog last month I wrote about the benefits of using a hoof jack. If you missed last month's blog, you can read it here: Five Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Hoofjack.

Using a Hoofjack, I can keep my back straight and relaxed.

One of the most important things to remember is to always use proper posture. That means keeping your toes pigeon toed, your ankles and knees flexed and your back straight. We want to balance over our feet and work our quads to keep us in the posture, not bend our backs.

With a straight  lower back, I can trim all day long without suffering any back pain.

Let's look at a couple of images of the same trimmer and compare the two different postures:

Flexing from the lower back causes strain on the spine. The red arrow points to the place
where the back is bending forward, purple line helps evaluate the bending of the back.

Flexing from the femur (hinging torso forward). The green arrow shows the origin of flexing.
The back is much straighter which results in less strain on the lower back.

Remember to keep your muscles toned. A lot of joint injuries happen because agonist and antagonist muscles are not balanced and not of equal strength. With skiers many knee injuries happen, because their quads are so much stronger compared to their hamstrings. They overpower the hamstrings and under the right circumstances the uneven forces acting upon the knees result in a torn ACL. Their is a similar relationship with our backs. Our back muscles should be of equal strength to our core or stomach muscles. Plank exercises are great to strengthen our core muscles.

Stretching the body is equally important. Even when doing our best to save our backs, strains will occur. The vertebras of our spine are cushioned with discs made of cartilage. When bending, loading or twisting the spine repeatedly only in one direction, these discs will get compressed in one direction which can lead to pinched nerves, lack of flexibility and arthritis.

A regular exercise program that incorporates pilates or yoga can be extremely beneficial. Not all of us have the opportunity to do that so here are some of my simple stretching exercises. They only take minutes and allow for a healthier, pain free back.

1. Between trimming, I place my hands on my hipbone and push my pelvis forward. Hold for 30 seconds, the relief is instant.

2. After trimming I hang from a bar or tree branch. This lets the weight of your body stretch and elongate your back. For better effect, stretch your heel towards the ground while hanging.

3. Do the plow. In the beginning, you might not get your feet to touch the ground. With time you will become more flexible and your back will loosen up. Do not force this stretch, work up to it as far as your body allows.

The beginning plow. Start easy.

Your goal is to eventually have your feet touch the ground behind your head.

The Plow is one of the best back stretches you can do: it creates space between the discs to allow for cellular exchange. Toxins are being flushed out and you are feeling rejuvenated. Hold it for up to two minutes for maximum benefit.

4. Spinal twist and side bends round out my program.

 

I hope you benefit from my tips and tricks for a healthy back.

The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

From Seaside to Sagebrush

This time last year, my horses and I were enjoying ocean views, redwood trees, and lush green grass. If you ask me, there really is nothing quite as beautiful as Humboldt County California’s redwood coast. Add some of the best trail partners around and it’s really hard to beat. But for some reason, my husband and I had this itch to see new places and try something different. So in December (perfect timing to avoid another wet Humboldt winter), we packed up our family of two dogs and three horses and moved ourselves to Reno, Nevada. It’s taken some adjusting, but it’s turned out to be a great move for us and even better for the health and happiness of our horses.

As luck would have it, this winter has turned out to be one of the driest on record for our former stomping grounds, and one of the coldest and wettest Reno has seen in years (“wet” is relative, it’s still a desert). We've adjusted to the colder temperatures and we have settled in with the help of some awesome friends. We thought the horses would protest -2 degree mornings coupled with 20 mph winds but they really didn’t seem to notice. In fact, they seem to be thriving in the desert environment. My sweet, retired old girl, Sere, in particular seems happier than ever.

Before we moved to Reno, I was considering euthanizing Sere. Sad, I know. And trust me, I cried just thinking about it. This is a horse I've had 15 years! But she was laminitic and dull and some days she really had a hard time getting around. On her bad days, she’d need to wear Easyboot Epics with Comfort Pads just to be comfortable in the pasture. I decided to wait to make a decision, and see if moving her to a completely different environment would improve her quality of life.

Ouch. Sere's California feet.

Four months after moving to Reno, we’re still using Easyboot Epics with Comfort Pads but now we’re using them on 10-12 mile trail rides. Sere is comfortable, bright eyed, and happier than ever. I have my horse back!

Sere's Nevada feet. Much better.

I’m amazed and delighted with the changes I’ve seen in Sere in the last four months. This move has turned out to be exactly what she needed. A dry environment has been a huge help for her formerly thrushy feet. Now she has those rock hard desert hooves that horse owners love and hoof rasps hate. Taking the sugar out of her diet has been an important change too. Even though she only had access to small amounts of green grass in California, that was still enough to cause her to have frequent bouts of laminitis. Now she’s on a big, two acre dry lot so she has plenty of room to move around but absolutely no grass. To make up for the lack of grazing time, the horses have access to grass hay in slow feeders at all times. In addition to the diet and climate changes, I've also gotten help from a natural hoof care provider. I feel like I was doing okay trimming her myself but it's always helpful to have a professional eye to point out any little things that can be improved (and FYI, if you're in need of a barefoot trimmer, Jeremy Procopio, from Foresthill, CA, does a wonderful job and is building a clientele in Reno).

So, my four month evaluation of Reno is pretty great! I’m thankful to have my horse back and I’m very excited to get out and explore new trails with her. As always, I’m very grateful to EasyCare for making products that allow me to take the best care of my horses and their feet.

Renee Robinson

BIG Hooves, BIG Boots

Many horse lovers today are opting for drafts and draft cross breeds to satisfy their need for owning a gentle giant. These horses are being used very successfully in many different disciplines. Even for just plain pleasure trail riding they make a great mount. Mounted police units use them for street patrol and crowd control scenarios. They are the perfect match with their great temperament and size to make any unruly person move back and step out of their way. The ever popular carriage or wagon ride would not be the same without the massive pulling machine leading the way!

EasyCare has the perfect solution for your hoof booting needs with our popular Easyboot Epic and Easyboot. This line of boots will accommodate some really large hooves. We even have the Easyboot Rx therapy boot and EasySoaker boots to take care of the larger, heavy horse. We recently had some Phoenix horse owners come to visit our office in Tucson, Arizona to fit their beautiful black Percheron, Samson. We fitted Samson in our Easyboot Epic boots and they worked out perfect for him.

Samson and his family.

We can assist you with your selection for your draft sized booting needs, just contact us with your fresh trimmed measurements. Give us a call at 800-447-8836 and let's talk about your large booting needs.

Pete Ramey has a great DVD series out and one of the DVD's, That's My Horse #3, is specific to draft horse trimming and care of the hooves. It provides great information on some of the challenges of the large hooves and what to do for them.

So don't get discouraged with the need for those large sized boots...call us and we will see how we can help you succeed in your booting journey.

Nancy Fredrick

Nancy Fredrick, EasyCare CSR

Customer Service

I have been on the EasyCare team since 2001. I have first hand product knowledge as my horses are barefoot and booted, I also trim my own horses. I can assist you with all of your booting needs.

 

 

Team Easyboot 2013 Members Announced

Thank you to everyone who applied for Team Easyboot 2013. The panel of EasyCare staff members selected this year's team based on diversity of representation in geography, discipline, age and skill set. Our goal for TE13 is to have engaging members who are enthusiastic and communicative both online and in person. Team Easyboot 2013 members are listed below.

Kim Abbott
Amy Allen
Sharon Ballard
Ashlee Bennett
Daisy Bicking
Laurie Birch
Karen Bumgarner
Mikayla Copenhaver
TJ Corgill
Angela Corner
Karen Corr
Carol Crisp
Q DeHart
Kandace French
Susan Gill
Natalie Herman
Nonee High
Leanna High
Kim Hudson
Brigit Huwyler
Christina Kramlich Bowie
Mary Lambert, DVM
Gene Limlaw
Sabrina Liska
Tennessee Mahoney
Stacey Maloney
Elaine McPherson
Lisa Morris
Martha Nicholas
Rachael Parks
Raina Paucar
Grace Pelous
Amanda Petersen
Buck Petersen

Heather Reynolds
Jeremy Reynolds
Carla Richardson
Vanessa Richardson
Renee Robinson
Tami Rougeau
Christoph Schork
Leslie Spitzer
Susan Summers
Steph Teeter
Lucy Trumbull
Mari Ural
Jennifer Waitte
Carol Warren
Amanda Washington
Kevin Waters
Kicki Westman

Congratulations! Team member photos and biographies will be posted on the Team Easyboot page. Team members are available to inform others about EasyCare products and assist in boot fitting. Keep an eye out for TE13 members at your next event.

Returning applicants were asked: "What do you feel was your greatest contribution to the team?" Tennessee Mahoney's humorous and inspirational response is below.

I feel like I help gal's like myself realize that "they can do it." I encounter a lot of people who have an, "it must be nice!" attitude. I guess they they think I have a Fabio, live-in, professional natural hoof care practitioner and booter. Spoiler alert - I trim, boot, and glue-on by myself. This industry is filled with women who love horses but their horse's hooves are akin to their truck's engines, a "black-box" area. Sure, every now and then you come across a gal who can change her own oil...or at least check the oil. Your horse's hooves and his hoof care and protection should not be a "black box" area. Yes, I do in fact have a wonderful husband (Sean) who helps me immeasurably but he has never trimmed a hoof. With some basic education and some experience, the women of this industry can take their horses' hooves into their own hands. Let's just say, you can get as involved as you want and do a good job.

Tennesse Mahoney returns to Team Easyboot for 2013!

Alayna Wiley

Alayna Wiley, EasyCare CSR

Marketing and Sales

I assist the marketing and sales departments at EasyCare with a special interest in hoof care practitioner and veterinarian dealer accounts. My horses have been barefoot and booted since 2003.

 

Abundance!

Whoever has the most knowledge is always a step ahead.

An exciting spring season is upon us. There are abundant opportunities to learn about hoof trimming, breaking research, hoof protection possibilities, and fitting hoof boots of all kinds. There are many clinics available this spring being held with the support of EasyCare, Vettec, Global Endurance Training Center, Remuda Run, Endurancenet, and The Bootmeister. All are working together to provide educational clinics for you. Some of them are basic, while others go deeper and explore subjects including: factors that influence a horse's movement, cause and effect of pathologies, the connection between conformation and hoof development, and how to perfect the gluing procedure for Easyboot Glue-Ons.

Conformation and hoof development, where is the connection?

The first clinic will be held by myself, aka the Bootmeister and GETC. This is a short free clinic at the Antelope Island 25/50/100 ride that will take place on the afternoon before the race on the 12th of April. We will offer a demo on fitting various Easyboot hoof boots.

Next, at the Mt Carmel XP Ride from May 1st through May 5th, I will be available every afternoon for a free one hour session for trimming advice. Please RSVP by emailing at info@globalendurance, time will be limited as I will be riding every day as well. On the afternoon of the 30th of April, I can assist with hoof boot gluing.

At the Owyhee Fandango Pioneer Ride on the 24th of May, I will conduct a free 3 hour clinic with gluing demos. This clinic is sponsored by Vettec, who is inviting the attendees to a wine and cheese party after the clinic. Free giveaway prizes are also being handed out, donated by EasyCare, GETC, and Vettec.

Clinic participants enjoying culinary delights.

Checking for lateral cartilage development.

A more advanced weekend clinic is being organized by Tennessee Mahoney from Remuda Run on May 11th and 12th. The Performance of the Barefoot Hoof clinic will give insights into topics including: the four main hoof trimming theories, how shoeing and booting are influencing hoof development, caudal foot problems, and exploring the connection between dental pathologies and hoof development. I'm really happy to work with Remuda Run on these topics and share them participants. Sign-ups for this clinic can be done by either contacting GETC at info@globalendurance.com or Tennessee Mahoney at ten@remudarun.com.

For the pros among you, we will discuss problem hooves such as those shown in the image below.

What is the plan of action when encountering these hooves?

On a more pleasant note below: SBD (the horse) is happy that his rider Carla Laken (here seen tailing), attended a hoof care clinic at GETC.

Easyboot Glue-Ons protecting hooves from the sharp rocks in Mill Creek Canyon near Moab, UT.

Looking forward towards the summer, the big event in the west is going to be the National Championships at the City of the Rocks in Idaho in September. Details will be forthcoming in a timely fashion. We are organizing another great educational hoof care clinic during this event.

Group photo with clinic participants in Switzerland last year.

Check frequently for updates at:
GETC: www.facebook.com/globalendurance , www.globalendurance.com/blog/
EasyCare, Inc: www.facebook.com/Easyboot , www.easycareinc.com/blog/

Hope to see you all at least one of all the upcoming events.

So long

Your Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

April 2013: Green's Feed

Green's Feed is a family owned and operated company in Reno, Nevada. The store was started by Bill and Mary Green 27 years ago and is managed by their son, Scott Green. The store sells everything from propane to western tack. The Green's goal was, and still is, to best serve their community with a wide variety of feed and farm products.

Left to right: Scott Green on Cuervo, Bill & Mary Green, Loren, Kathy, Cyndy, Joe and Pablo on Jitana

When we asked Scott how the hoof boot industry has changed over the years, he responded, "We started selling Easyboots in 1988. At the time, standard black was the most popular (now there are red and blue Gloves!) and hoof boots were primarily used if a horse was injured or lost a shoe. Since that time, we have seen the hoof boot market move toward every day, trail use and more."

Green's Feed attributes their success and takes pride in knowing their customers and their customer's needs. They offer an extensive line of hoof care products that include five different styles of EasyCare boots, the original Easyboot, the Epics, the Gloves, the Easyboot Trail and Soaker boots. Scott says the Easyboot Trail is his favorite boot because it is so easy to put on and is built for riding. They also carry Comfort Pads, replacement gaiters and cable kits. They emphasize that special orders are gladly taken. Some of their more successful marketing strategies are horse owner clinics. In addition, they have an extensive farrier clientele that rely on Green's Feed for specialty and therapeutic products. Overall, they attribute their 27 years of success to providing excellent customer service, which keeps their loyal customers coming back.

The Green's own six horses and the Green crew has the combined experience of over 100 years of horse ownership. The folks that work at Green's have done endurance, roping, parades, pack trips, cutting, ranch work, racing and trail work, so their combined areas of expertise covers most every riding discipline.

When asked where he sees the barefoot industry going, Scott's reply was, "Trimming to maintain barefoot horses has become very popular in the Reno area. However, some horse owners are not necessarily being educated by their hoof care practitioners as to proper hoof care. Horse owners in our dry climate can end up with severe hoof problems. With this unfortunate situation happens, we are here to help with feed supplements and EasyCare products to protect the hoof as it heals."

Scott says their favorite event each year that they look forward to is the American Endurance Ride Conference. Visit Scott and the staff of Green's Feed at 75 Bailey Drive in Reno, Nevada or on their website at http://www.greensfeedinc.com/.

Free With Every Horse - New Zealand Trek Part I

One man, two horses, 3,000 km.

On November 1, 2012 Pete Langford embarked on a 3,000 km (1,800 mile) trek across the length of New Zealand. What inspired Pete to undertake such a challenging journey? His love of horses and nature were the main catalysts, along with a desire to raise money for Air Rescue Services in New Zealand. EasyCare and our New Zealand distributor, the Institute for Barefoot Equine Management (IBEM), are proud to sponsor Pete on this journey. Pete's horses, Two-Shoes and Cloud, are barefoot off the track standardbreds and they are traveling over the varied New Zealand terrain wearing Easyboot Gloves. The trip started at the bottom of the South Island in Bluff and will end at Cape Reinga on the North Island (you can follow their progress on this SPOT Adventure page). Pete and his horses are just finishing their route on the South Island and are currently near Picton.

How are the Easyboot Gloves holding up to such a demanding journey? Below, Pete describes his initial experiences using hoof boots:

Time for some words about hoof boots, specifically, boots used in place of steel shoes. Now this always seems to raise the emotions of some of those who sit on either side of that particular fence. Some seven odd years ago I got off the fence and opted to go down the barefoot route, using boots when the terrain demanded it and neither I nor my horses have looked back. The boots I used were Old Mac's from US manufacturer EasyCare and they did me well on the limited distance riding I did as a "weekend rider". When preparing for this trip I looked to see if they had a boot that could cope with all that my "long ride" could throw at it. After a couple of emails, EasyCare gave me various options and after a discussion with Thorsten at IBEM it was determined that the Easyboot Glove would be the most suitable boot.

Ready to ride! All photos by Pete Langford.

The first thing I had to do to use these boots was to get a good barefoot trim and then measure the hooves. Getting a perfect fit was a bit challenging since neither Cloud nor Two-Shoes had symmetrical hoofs - both had flare and Two-Shoes is a little pigeon toed on the forehand. With corrective trimming, their hoof shape should improve which will make fitting easier. In the meantime, I have been persuaded to use a couple of tricks to ensure boot retention. I had initially ignored the advice to use these tricks and as a result had boots come off when scampering up the sides of mountains or having a run down the occasional suitable tracks...live and learn.

On top of the world, the saddle crossing the Dampiers.

Now these boots are good, there's no doubt about it, having covered nearly 1200 km (750 miles) so far I reckon I'm well placed to comment on them! The sizing/fitting must be as close to perfect as possible for reliable performance and for staying put on the hoof, anything less will see boots being discarded in really demanding terrain. Having said that, there are a couple of tricks to ensure boot retention which are particularly useful if your four legged friends hoof walls are not symmetrical (most aren't). Trick one, power straps, these little gadgets are used to close the slot at the front of the boot which really helps with getting a nice snug fit around the hoof wall. Trick two, using some sports tape around the hoof to get extra grip between hoof and boot. Since I have used these two tricks, I haven't lost a single boot - they have stayed put crossing rivers, scampering up mountains, running along tracks and they even stayed on in quicksand...yes I did just say that! Whilst crossing the Rakaia River we hit a patch of this deadly stuff and were very lucky to get out. If we had been a meter more to one side then there's a good chance I wouldn't be around to write this. Happily I am and can report that even in that instance, the boots stayed firmly put and let's face it, that's important as no one would be keen to start fishing around in quicksand to recover a lost boot!

Rakaia River quicksand.

If you want to know more about what myself, Two-Shoes and Cloud are up to, visit us at www.freewitheveryhorse.com, on facebook (Free With Every Horse) and twitter (@3witheveryhorse). Hopefully we are done the quicksand - once was enough!

Pete Langford