How to Nail the EasyShoe Flex Light to Go the Distance

By Christoph Schork of Global Endurance Training Center

In my earlier blog on the EasyShoe Flex, I demonstrated how to holistically shoe a horse and how the Flex is the perfect shoe for helping horses with asymmetrical hooves. In this blog, I’ll share my findings and test results on the Flex Light. Plus, I’ll show some tricks for nailing the Light.

To summarize, the Flex Light has all the features of the regular Flex, but it doesn’t feature the spring steel core; thus, it’s a lot lighter. A regular Flex #1 with the spring steel and frog support weighs 9 oz., while a Light in the same size weighs in at only 5.5 oz. Reducing the weight of a shoe, especially on the front hooves, delays the onset of fatigue during long competitions, like endurance or extended trail rides. 

Here’s the Flex Light compared to the regular Flex with open heel.

 

Looking at stability, the Light indeed has a little more flexibility overall. That makes it even more suitable for supporting the natural hoof mechanism of the barefoot hoof. The regular Flex gives stability especially for weaker hooves with underdeveloped digital cushions and lateral cartilages, the Light is excellent in working with the natural flex of a strong and well-developed hoof.

 

Some concerns have been expressed that the Light is not standing up to the demands of a difficult and long endurance ride. Also, that the nail holes will not hold the shoe and enlarge throughout the many miles travelled. My testing and findings say otherwise, but more on that below.

Applying the Flex Light

First, highlight the white line with a black marker pen. One advantage of the Light is that the clear polyurethane of the shoe allows us to see the white line clearly.

  

 

Mark the nail holes with a black felt pen. It’s easy to be exact because you can easily see the white line.

 

Next, pre-drill the nail holes with a 1 to 2 mm drill bit for easier nailing. And here’s a handy tip. I mark each shoe with R or L for left and right hoof.

 

Now it’s time to nail the shoes on the hooves. As a little help to get started, tap your index finger or any other finger of your holding hand at that spot that you want the nail tip to exit the hoof wall (red arrow in photo below is pointing to the tapping finger). Your left and right hand will work in unison like magic and your nail will exit at the precise spot you are tapping it.

 

A big advantage of the Flex is that the nail heads are deep seated. As the shoes come into contact with the ground this minimizes vibration, translating to a better hold and tighter fit of the nails. Farriers, be sure to deep seat the nail heads using one of these nail setting tools.

 

Here’s the nail setting tool in action. Notice how the protrusion of the nail setting tool (red arrow) is designed to push the nail head beyond the level plane of the shoe.

 

The nail setting tool will make sure that the nail heads are deep seated beyond the level of the shoe surface. If you skip that step, you could lose the shoe.

 

Six nails are enough for most applications. I prefer to use copper coated nails, which are antibacterial. Regular steel nails will also work.

 

In terms of nail sizes, I prefer the E Head nail heads or the combo nails, rather than a City Head.  For an average Arabian horse hoof, a # 5 slim will work well most of the time. For the quarters, you might want to select a 4.5 slim. For bigger hooves, a regular # 5 or even a # 6 sometimes might be required. This decision is based upon the thickness and condition of the hoof wall. As a rule of thumb, use the smallest nail you can get away with. 

 

When setting the clinches, make sure the nail heads are not being pushed back to the shoe sole level. Use a clinch tool to counter pressure the deep-seated nail head during the clinching work. This keeps the nail heads in place.

 

Here’s the finished hoof. To finish, fine tune the edges with a rasp.

 

If you follow these application steps, being sure to deep seat the nail heads, the Flex Light will stay securely on your horse’s hoof.

A common question is "Do the nails wreak havoc on the nail holes in the shoe?" My resounding answer is "no." After two years of testing the Light extensively during some hard and fast endurance races, and thousands of conditioning miles, I’ve never experienced or seen even one enlarged nail hole within the shoe. In fact, I could reset all the shoes I pulled.

Here’s a Flex Light shoe worn on a horse of mine for seven weeks. After three 50-mile endurance races and about 90 additional conditioning miles the shoe shows signs of wear but has plenty of tread left. The nail holes are still nice and square, the exact diameter of the nails used. There’s no wear or enlargement.

 

 

When I compared the Flex Light to my tested regular Flex (with spring steel insert), the results are about the same. The respective nail holes on both shoes are nice and square.

 

If you’re interested in applying additional filling into the sole opening for more hoof protections, I’ll be covering that in my next blog. Here’s a preview.

 

After almost 2 years of testing the Flex in all its variations, I would say that it’s a well thought-out shoe made with superb material. Both the Flex and Flex Light hold up and stay firmly in place if properly applied. And the shoes can be used more than once - the nail holes remain clean and you’ll have enough tread left.

As an experienced endurance rider, I can also attest that the EasyShoe Flex is great for this type of racing where weight plays an important role. I recommend the Light for the front legs to reduce the lifting factor and conserve energy for the horse. For the hind legs, I recommend going with the regular Flex with spring steel core because a strong and powerful push is important.

To learn more about the EasyShoe Flex, check out Curtis Burns’ blog about the “4 Core EasyShoe Flex Features.” I personally enjoyed his style of explaining the benefits and origin of the Flex.

 

From the Bootmeister
Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

Before and After Hoof Results Using the EasyShoe Flex

By Daisy Bicking of Daisy Haven Farm

Watching and reading about the latest innovations from EasyCare Inc. is always exciting and the release of the final product full of eager anticipation. Now that the EasyShoe Flex is here I find more options available to me as a hoof care provider than I know what to do with! The Flex comes in open heel or with frog support, with a metal plate or without, with quarter clips or toe clip, and can be glued, nailed, or both.  So how do you decide? The only way we knew how to figure it out was to try them and be creative with their use! 

My friend and colleague, farrier Dan Schroeder, direct nailed the Flex (on the right in photo collage below). He's had a lot of success improving soundness in horses with this type of application. I gravitate to glue of some kind, although my teammate Heather Colket did an application with glue and nails (on the left on the photo below) and found this was also beneficial to the horse.

I found most of my personal applications utilize the heart bar versions with glue, dental impression material, and hoof casting. We played with the Flex Light, which has no steel spring core.  For others when more stability was needed, we used the Flex Heart Bar, which has a spring steel metal plate from heel to heel. All were easy to apply and achieve the goals we were aiming for, and the horses maintained or improved their soundness.  

Here's an example of one of my favorite methods of application.

Mollie Rose is a 18-year-old thoroughbred mare with chronic arthritis.  

Both front fetlocks have arthritis however the right front is more significant for lameness than the left.  


When I met Mollie Rose in August this year I was asked if I could help her be more comfortable, if not sound. It was difficult to evaluate the previous farrier's work because she was due to be re-set and therefore her foot was long. One of the biggest challenges impacting the soundness of horses with this mare's problems is leverage on the arthritic joint and surrounding soft tissue. So assessment at the end of the trim/shoeing cycle should be evaluated with caution. The feedback from her owner was that she often galloped around the field but was not sound, and could not be ridden at her current comfort level even though she had been in the past. Despite the farrier's best efforts the horse's comfort level had declined and the owner wanted to try something different.  

Here is her right front foot when I met her, with the radiograph taken at the time of that shoeing.

This style of shoeing, a banana shoe, where the ground surface and the foot surface are both curved with no flat surface, can greatly benefit horses with a variety of problems.  Put simply, the idea is that the horse can select the balance and alignment that is most comfortable to them, especially when arthritic conditions leave us somewhat guessing as to what balance change would most benefit the horse.  You can see this mare, Mollie Rose, chose to rock up onto the front part of the shoe, thereby functionally giving herself a more upright alignment to her foot and distal limb.  

My hypothesis was that this horse would benefit from a shorter trim cycle thereby reducing leverage on her joints and length of her foot over time, easing the wear and tear on the joint and surrounding soft tissue.  (See my blog PHCP Conference 2016: Packed Full of Gold, where Dr. Hillary Clayton discusses leverage on joints and soft tissue). I also wondered if she would like additional caudal support with a heart bar shoe and impression material as well as a change of material to something softer - composites!  

After removing her shoes, I trimmed her and applied Easyboot Clouds for cushion, protection and the mechanical advantage of the internal foam pad being a heel wedge.  




I knew that even with the boots and wedged Cloud Pad, I could not create the maximum leverage reduction this horse needed for long term comfort. By adding the EasyShoe Flex Light, I was not only able to achieve the additional heel support I felt would help her, but also allow her to wear the shoe and hoof casting into even more wedge and leverage reduction over time as she grew.  

I chose the EasyShoe Flex Light because I could really push the modifications she might need.  Here you can see where I really brought the circumference of the shoe in, and while I could make these modifications in the Flex Heartbar pictured on the left, I also thought she'd benefit from the lighter shoe without the metal plate.  I also modified the ground surface further with my cordless grinder before applying hoof casting.  

I prepared the foot by first applying a trim to get as close to my hoof guidelines as possible.



I also cleaned and dried the foot, applying antimicrobial topicals like Fungidye in the quarters, and Artimud around the frog and bars. Then I applied the shoe and packing, using soft dental impression material to cover the contracted heels and build a slight wedge to prevent further contracture. I followed up with acrylic glue, and by pressing down in the toe created a bit of heel wedge with the glue. This further addresses leverage issues and gets me closer to those hoof guidelines above. Finally I added additional impression material at the heels to protect them from the casting.



The entire shoeing package was finished with hoof casting:

It's very interesting to observe how Mollie Rose is adapting to her new shoes, only 2 weeks post-shoeing. She has worn the composite materials, hoof cast, Flex Light shoe, and acrylic glue at the toe, creating more wedge and wearing the break over even further back.  



Her comfort level has greatly improved even though it's been a very short period of time.  

When we compare the radiographs for hoof balance from the banana shoe, to barefoot, to new EasyShoe Flex, there are interesting changes. Why is Mollie Rose so much more comfortable in her new shoes? Certainly the alignment and angles are very similar between the old shoe and new shoe.  

Could it be a subtle aspect of balance? Maybe a shorter trim/shoeing cycle?  Maybe the change of material?   Horses are such complex creatures, I'm just grateful I have the EasyShoe Flex as an option to create dynamic mechanics to help a horse like this one!  

For more information about Daisy and help with glueing composite shoes like the EasyShoe Flex, please see www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com for a schedule of upcoming hands-on workshops!  

 

EasyCare Products are Built on Show Me, Don't Tell Me Hoof Care

Several years ago I decided to focus on results and skip fluffy marketing.  I wanted EasyCare's focus to be on 100 mile races like the 100 Tevis Cup and the Virginia City 100.  Difficult, rocky, abrasive races where you can't fake success.   

In the last couple months EasyCare hoof protection products have once again shined at the 100 Mile Tevis Cup and the rocky Virginia City 100.  Yes, we have boots that are easy to apply for a leisurely trail ride. But our true focus is on hoof boots and EasyShoe designs for aggressive riding in extreme conditions. 

Christoph Schork (Left) and Carla Lakenbrink tackling the 2018 Virginia City 100

Last weekend was the 51th anniversary of the Virginia City 100.  The event was started in 1968 and the footing is often described as "Rocky", "Abrasive" and "Unforgiving."  This is the type of 100 miles that eats a set of iron shoes in one event.  

Best Condition.  Christoph Schork and VA Blizzard of Oz in Easyboot Glue-Ons.

1st Place.  Jacob Cukjati and Melika Kamaaj in Easyboot Glue-Ons.  

2nd Place.  Christoph Schork and VA Blizzard of Oz in Easyboot Glue-Ons.

3rd Place.  Suzanne Huff and SD Expressa In EasyShoe Flex

4th Place.  Carla Lakenbrink and GE Danex in Easyboot Glue-Ons

6th Place.  Samantha Ellis and CA Zanes Dragonflyte In Easyboot Glue-Ons.  Samantha and Dragon also won the NASTR Triple Crown.  

Jacob Cukjati and Melika Kamaaj win the 2018 Virginia City 100

"Show me, don't tell me" is a motto I learned from a great friend and one that we try to emulate at EasyCare.  Best Condition awards at the 2018 Tevis Cup and the Virginia City 100 go to riders in EasyShoes or Easyboots.  Both events have more than 5 riders in the top ten places.   

Greg Kimler of Echo Valley Ranch crews his horse Dragon ridden by Samantha Ellis

The 2018 Virginia City once again shows EasyCare results at a very difficult 100 mile event.  Congrats to all riders, horses and connections.  Thank you for believing in EasyCare hoof boots and EasyShoes.  

Garrett Ford

President 

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

 

 

SNEAK PEAK: Options and adjustability are the theme of EasyCare's next line of hoof boots

By Garrett Ford, President of EasyCare Inc.

I had a friend reach out and ask if we have anything in the works for new hoof boots. He was impressed with the new EasyShoe Flex line but is a barefoot hoof boot guy at heart.  With the EasyShoe Flex complete, I let him know that we are now focusing on new hoof boot concepts and our goal is to bring two very competitive designs to our dealers and horse owners by early 2019. Building on EasyCare's longevity and experience in the horse boot business - over 47 years! - we have two boot prototypes undergoing strenuous endurance tests.

Performance Boot Sneak Peak

The first boot will be part of our performance line. It will be ideal for 50- and 100- mile endurance riders who ride fast, over long distances and through difficult terrain. And it will also be a great trail and recreational boot. The prototype has already placed first in two very rugged 50-mile endurance tests.

A Saturday prototype test. 32 miles to 12,700 feet elevation in 4 hours. The peaks in the background are over 14,000 feet tall.  

Tie for 1st and Best Condition at the SoCo Endurance event. The new design was flawless.  

You can look forward to options, adjustability and heel pivot from this new performance product line. The boot will be sold in 5 different configuration options and all parts will be interchangeable.

Some of the design features:

1. Hoof length and heel height will be adjustable. 

2. Heat fitting can be performed on all parts for exaggerated fit applications.

3. Several of the designs will pivot in the heel area.  

4.  One of the 5 configuration options will be a Glue-On shell. You can not only adjust the length, but also the density of heel cushioning, making this a very unique model.

The Glue-On Shell will have a rubber insert to help cushion the heel.  Shell is molded long and can be adjusted in length.  

5.  Add a gaiter and it's very similar to the Easyboot Glove with one exciting exception - it's a pivoting gaiter.

6. Take a look at the blue heel insert below. You'll be able to fully adjust the heel density with different inserts.

A gaiter that pivots with the heel.  Different density heel inserts.

7.  Easily adjust hoof length and heel height through a Heel Sling and Heel Counter. The two work in tandem to achieve a better fit on more hoof shapes. They're protected by a slip-on EVA cover, which can be replaced as needed.

The "Heel Counter" slides in the sole of the boot to accommodate different hoof lengths. The "Heel Sling" adjusts up and down to accommodate different heel heights. No velcro or cables.

8.  One of the new EasyCare boots will have a rear arching heel bulb to adjust both heel length and heel height. The Australian company Scoot Boot has a similar style and it has some nice features, but lacks the adjustment option.

 

Pleasure Boot Sneak Peak

In addition to the new performance line we are also close to launching a new boot in our pleasure category. It will be a great trail riding boot that's soft, flexible and adjustable. Here's a recent photo just before taking it out on a test ride.

 

We recognize that horses feet come in many shapes and sizes, so our new designs are focused on options and adjustability. Watch for more test results in 2018 and the full line to be available in early 2019. I think we're making great advances in our product innovations and both of these designs offer groundbreaking improvements to the hoof care and protection marketplace.

 

Garrett Ford

President 

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

 

 

 

Game Changing Glue-On Tips

By Sossity Gargiulo of Wild Hearts Hoof Care

There’s no question the process of gluing can be daunting. There are a lot of steps and important skills to master. While I think there’s no better way to learn and build confidence than at a hands-on clinic like the “Glue On Hoof Protection” clinic that I, along with my husband Mario organized and presented at Cañada Larga Stables in Ventura, CA for the Pacific Hoof Care Practitioners, I understand that it’s not always convenient or affordable. That’s why I’m sharing some of the glue-on tips taught at the clinic. One of the participants called them “game changers!”

During the clinic we practiced with EasyCare’s Easyboot Glue-On and the EasyShoe NG. We chose these two products because of their versatility, which increases your chances for success. If you learn how to glue the Easyboot Glue-On and EasyShoe NG, you’ll have the skills necessary to apply almost any glue-on hoof product. 

Sossity heat fitting a modified Easyboot Glue-On

 

Glue-On Game Changers

  • With the Easyboot Glue-On we recommend heat fitting every shell. Getting the foot forward in the shell helps breakover and full contact with the shell on all parts of the hoof increases your glue adhesion success. When the heated shell is on the foot, hold the heated material against the hoof wall as it cools. This helps you feel for any gaps and press them tight.
  • Add slits to the top of a glue-on shell to get better contact and to conform to the hoof shape.
  • Put pressure against the shell when you heat fit and also when you are gluing.
  • For extra hard use or endurance horses, dremel in “glue grommets” around the dorsal wall of the Easyboot Glue-On shell. The glue will seep through the grommet holes and act like a nail, increasing your adhesion success. 

Glue "grommets"

  • Topdressing with a hoof buffy is not just about esthetics; it also eliminates that little trough above the glue bead that can catch moisture. Don’t skip this step!
  • When gluing on a composite shoe like the EasyShoe NG, surface prep is vital. The hoof and shoe both need to be clean, dry and ‘roughed up.’  Before starting the prep process, make sure your work area is clean, dry and dust free. Don’t use fly spray in your work area. 
  • Use a small roll of cellophane to wrap the hoof and shoe in. This helps you hold the shoe in place as the glue cures, speeding and strengthening the glue bond.
  • During the hoof prep, establish a point of “no touching the hoof” and actually announce it! This helps to remind you and anyone helping you not to contaminate the surface. From this point forward you should only hold the hoof by the pastern or leg.
  • Double or triple glove, peeling a layer as you move to the next step. This saves time and frustration! Have you ever tried to put a glove on a sweaty hand, especially when you are literally “under the gun?”
  • Do you know which glue product to use? It’s important to know the difference. For example, an epoxy like Vettec Adhere cures gradually but quickly, and an acrylic glue like EasyShoe Bond cures in one specific moment when the glue suddenly gets really hot. Then it starts to cool down immediately.
  • Add hoof packing after gluing to prevent possible hoof wall contamination.

I hope you’re able to use some of these tips with your own horse and in your trimming business. If you’re interested in learning more about heat fitting, or modifying and applying glue-ons, look for us at a future Pacific Hoof Care clinic.

- Sossity Gargiulo
Wild Hearts Hoof Care

 

What Happens When an Abscess Goes Untreated

By Nancy Frishkorn BA, CHCP (reposted from
 
If you own horses, chances are good that at some point either you or someone you know spent many hours tending to an abscess. An abscess is collection of pus in an area of the body (in this case the hoof capsule) that causes severe pain and swelling due to the body’s immune system’s attempt to fight off the infection. This pus is actually excess white blood cells and tissue (living and dead), fluid, bacteria and other foreign substances. The white cells are the body’s natural defense to infection that release destructive components after identifying and binding with bacteria. Their purpose is to “kill” the harmful bacteria, but in the process healthy tissues are also damaged. In the hoof, this damage most often occurs in the laminae and bony structure within; in other words, if not treated, the coffin bone itself begins to degenerate and weaken, causing small pieces to break away. As part of the inflammation response, more white cells are sent to the site to remove the damaged tissue (the clean-up crew) which actually creates even more inflammation and subsequently more pain. The pieces of broken and damaged tissue are not distinguished by the body and the natural immune system subsequently treats them as foreign objects; hence, the system treats the bone pieces as “foreign objects” - these are what are known as sequestrum.
 
This is the story of Colt, a beautiful gelding purchased by Carla (Pittsburgh Pet Connections CEO) who had poor hoof care before she found him. There are some individuals who believe the hooves can go months without trimming, and others who feel they can trim themselves despite the fact that they have had no training or poor training at best. Colt was one such victim of circumstance, and he came into Carla’s love and devotion in need of immediate attention. His hooves were long and imbalanced, and after two trims he was still experiencing intermittent lameness. Local vets were called and his abscessing was opened, but they continued to fester despite many hours of soaking, draining and treatments with drawing salve. After seeing no improvement, it was decided he needed to seek clinical attention for a second opinion and x-rays. 
 
Colt was sent to Fox Run Equine Center where Dr. Brian Burks DVM diagnosed a lateral sequestrum on Colt’s left front hoof. This first picture shows Colt’s tract on film; you can see some lines coming from the side of the hoof draining down by the back of the heel. 
 
 
This is the site that had been opened from the outside bar (hoof wall beside the frog) but never drained out completely. Inside, there is a piece of broken bone that was damaged due the accumulation of pus for a long period of time. Dr. Burks used a dremel tool to drill a small hole into the quarter (side of the hoof wall) to remove this sequestrum. The second picture shows the piece of bone being removed and just how small the piece of bone was; its removal was imperative for Colt’s recovery.
 
 
The third picture is a shot of this same area after surgery, the quarter area grew out within three months with daily packing with betadine and Sliver Sulfadiazine.  
 
 
Before the surgery, Dr. Burks scraped out all the hard laminae from the bottom of the hoof to ensure there would be no residual bacteria’s invading the capsule that could potentially cause reinfection of the hoof. His intuitions served him well when it was discovered that the very tip of P3 (coffin bone) was extremely brittle. He concluded that this was damaged a long time ago from old abscessing that had caused this area to weaken and nearly break away. By making another “window” in the hoof wall, Dr. Burks was able to preserve most of the wall structure and remove this weakened area as well. He commented to me that the tip “fell away” when he merely touched it with his forceps, so it too was removed and needed packing until it grew out. This fourth picture shows the actual procedure during surgery when the forceps were inserted into the toe wall to remove the sequestrum. 
 
 
I’ve worked with many vets over the years, but I’ve never met one quite as thorough and open minded as Dr. Burks. The traditional protocol for any respective procedure is hospital plates (wide aluminum shoes) that stay on for many months to support the hoof during healing. Because Burks took such care to make minimally invasive openings for removal, Colt was left with adequate hoof wall for support. Carla was adamant in keeping Colt as natural as possible, meaning she wanted him to remain barefoot, and he respected her wishes. I was called to meet with Burks about follow up hoof care and we mutually agreed he could remain in a hoof boot that would not only support his hoof, but also provide better coverage for the opened areas that needed daily treatments. This last picture shows Colt’s open toe area five days after surgery when he was taken out of wraps and placed in a hoof boot. 
 
 
Treating a hoof injury is difficult on the owner as well as the horse. Carla was going to need a boot that would not only cover the entire hoof wall, but also one that could be easily removed and strong enough to withstand several months of continuous wear. Colt was rather stubborn about lifting the hoof for his daily treatment, so ease of application was an absolute necessity. I am familiar with several boots, but the best choice for this situation called for durability, full support and easy removal as well so that no further damage would occur. I could think of only one boot that would serve her purpose, and one that she would be able to keep for years to come in case she ever needed them again - the Easyboot Rx
 
From March to mid-May Colt wore his boots day and night. He was sound at a walk almost immediately after the surgery and because he had a boot he was able to get turnout in the arena and a small paddock every day. We actually booted both front hooves to make sure he wasn’t off balance on the front and this kept him sound while simultaneously avoiding any shoulder pressure or further injury. Carla made sure that his hooves were kept as dry as possible to avoid any rubbing due to excess moisture or sweat by removing them daily for treatments and drying the back of the hoof before replacing it. This movement helped facilitate the healing process and by the end of May the entire wall had grown out completely with no further problems. Within a month Colt was even able to do short rides wearing hoof boots and today he is doing very well. He has not had an abscess in nearly a year and his soles are tough because he has relocated to a facility that enables full turnout and natural wear. Carla has since purchased a pair of Easyboot Trail boots for long rides, and we are grateful to not only EasyCare for their supreme products, but also to Dr. Burks for his open-minded approach to natural horse keeping. Thanks to Carla, Colt has a wonderful life and his hoof issues are no longer…he is happy, healthy, and sound. 
 
- Nancy Frishkorn BA, CHCP

 

Easyboots Battle White Line Disease with DE Hoof Taps. To Tap or not to Tap?

By Rachel Braverman of Polyflex Horseshoes

Shod, glued, booted or barefoot it’s no wonder that our horses end up with some form of compromised hooves when we consider the elements they’re exposed to. Climate extremes, bacteria, abrasive surfaces and athletic demands all influence the health of our horses’ feet - and for many of us the frustration of addressing hoof wall separations, excessive wear and the challenges that stem from them can seem never ending. Just as one problem seems to disappear - another arrives unannounced.

The good news? The answer may be as simple as tapping your feet.

Named after its inventor and longtime farrier Doug Ehrmann, DE Hoof Taps are a product that offers an entirely new approach to hoof care.

DE Hoof Taps in hoof

DE Hoof Taps were inserted to assist this horse with wall separations.

Created because of his need for a real solution, Doug explains “Up where I shoe, inclement weather and abrasive surfaces like stone dust arenas are commonplace. So many horses were having chronic issues with excessive wear, wall separations and overall loss of hoof integrity. I remember thinking to myself - I have to find a better way to help.”

So after years of research, field trials and evolutionary stages Ehrmann formally introduced DE Hoof Taps to the market in 2018 and since then has produced noticeable and exciting results for the future of farriery.

A zinc coated steel tap measuring approximately 1.25 inches in length, DE Hoof Taps are inserted into the foot just outside of the white line. Left in for the duration of the shoeing cycle, DE Hoof Taps are most commonly used under traditional shoes. However, great success has also been seen utilizing the taps under glue on synthetics, in booted horses and the barefoot horse. “I designed them to be versatile,” Ehrmann clarifies, “horses of all disciplines and shoeing methods can at some point face the challenges these taps are meant to combat. That’s why it was so important for me to create a product that could be used as an accessory for any horse.”

DE Hoof Taps with Easyboot Epic

DE Hoof Taps can be a great option for booted or barefoot horses suffering from brittle hooves and wall separations. This horse is shown prepped to ride in an Easyboot Epic. 

This versatility is just one feature that’s made DE Hoof Taps a popular choice among industry professionals. Farriers are reporting significantly tighter white lines, healed wall separations and a marked decrease in excessive wear. Simply visit the DE Hoof Taps Facebook page and a plethora of before and after case studies illuminates the screen. While Doug is no newcomer to product innovation, his ultimate standard remains the same. “If I’m going to bring an idea of mine to fruition - it needs to be a product that I reach for and that I use on a daily basis without having to think about because it works. The DE Hoof Tap has become exactly that product for me.” Based on growing product demands, it’s obvious these taps are quickly becoming a go to product for farriers across the U.S.

While the positive feedback and documentation has been consistent - the inevitable question comes up.

How exactly do DE Hoof Taps work?

The answer, is that the answer is still evolving. What we do know for certain is that the zinc coating plays a major role. On a chemical level, zinc is said to attract existing bacteria and repel new bacteria. Ehrmann’s hypothesis is that if the tap is inserted into a compromised foot, then the zinc coating will draw the bacteria towards itself. In turn, it’s believed that the zinc aids in rerouting the bacteria from traveling up the tubules of the hoof wall. As a bonus the steel makeup of the tap aids in reduction of wear on the hoof.

“We’re continually discovering more about how they work,” Ehrmann admits, “but the exciting part is that we’ve seen over and over again the positive impact they make on horses feet. They produce results too good to ignore.”

Mechanically speaking, Ehrmann designed the taps to mimic the natural curvature of the white line and to remain within the foot at a shallow depth. While the taps are not intended to be shaped, they can be easily modified to match the needs of the foot.

Some examples include shortening the taps to be placed in smaller, more specific locations, inserting the taps at the toe and in the heels. “In some cases you may only choose to use part of a tap, while in others you may decide to use multiple. The decision is ultimately up to the discretion and knowledge of the farrier using them,” Ehrmann explains. He continues “The more skilled you are as a farrier the more you’ll be able to utilize the potential of these taps to their full extent.”

To remove, easily pull or trim the taps out at the end of the horses shoeing cycle. The uncomplicated process just makes taps that much more appealing. However, it’s important to understand that the DE Hoof Tap is not a DIY product.

While the simplicity of the DE Hoof Tap makes it a natural addition to any farrier’s shoeing box, Ehrmann cautions that taps should only be inserted by a hoof care professional. “This product is simple to use, and that’s one of the best parts about it - but it still needs to be respected as a tool. If you think your horse could be a good candidate, have the discussion with your farrier. He or she will be able to place the tap where and how it will benefit your horse the most.”

Designed with the good of the horse in mind, it’s exciting to consider what the future holds for the DE Hoof Tap. Many believe this product could be the representative product of a new generation of hoof care technology to come. It certainly defines out of the box thinking - and offers a new platform from which to approach hoof care. Not to mention it offers a creative addition to any farrier’s toolbox.

But if there is one thing we can count on, it’s for Doug Ehrmann to keep innovating.  So long as there is a horse in need, whether shod, glued, booted or barefoot they will now have the opportunity to tap their feet.

- Rachel Braverman
PolyFlex Horseshoes

Farrier Curtis Burns Describes How Horse Taxis Led to a New Kind of Horseshoe

By Curtis Burns, AFP - I

To truly understand the significance of the Easyshoe Flex you should become familiar first with the origin of its roots. As is the way with all of Easycare’s products, this one has its own interesting backstory.

Not many years ago, a trip to Mexico and Columbia with the IFA (International Farrier Academy) revealed the harsh reality of horse taxis across South America. Garrett Ford and I saw how these horses are exposed to elements on a daily basis that the majority of our horses will never set foot against. With very little farrier education to be had, both the horses and their families whose livelihoods depend on them were suffering.

I believe the purpose of possessing knowledge is to share it. Because of this mutual belief, Garrett and I were inspired to seek out and develop a shoe to help.  We felt we had the knowledge to offer these horses, their families and many in similar situations a feasible solution. That solution turned out to become the EasyShoe Flex.

To be candid, the expectations Garrett and I had for this shoe were (for lack of a better descriptive word) exceptional. Our goal was to create a composite shoe with nail on capabilities that would require minimal training or finances to utilize successfully. This goal resulted in a long list of high expectations. To start, we needed the Flex to effectively absorb concussion and withstand daily exposure to formidable surfaces. We needed the Flex to be as simple as possible to apply while also having the capacity for multiple resets. In addition to offering the structural support of a metal shoe, we also wanted the Flex to provide the forgiving therapeutics of composite material. All of these requirements were essential - and to add to the list of non-negotiables, we needed to create it in such a way that we could offer them at an affordable price.

For anyone less inspired than Garrett and me, this project might have been deemed impossible from the start and ultimately abandoned. But, Garret’s perseverance and drive to provide the best product possible helped us to face each trial as a valuable opportunity to go back to the drawing table. The insights we gained from taking the time to get it right ultimately allowed us to create a better product than we imagined. Three years after we started, the EasyShoe Flex was ready for distribution.

With this in mind, it’s easier to understand that there’s more to the shoe than meets the eye. Below you’ll find an outline of what I refer to as four core “Flex Features” that I hope will leave you more educated and more capable of using the shoe to its full potential.  Speaking from experience, the knowledge you’ll acquire from the utilization of this shoe will not only broaden your horizons as an effective farrier but as a horseman.

4 Core EasyShoe Flex Features

  1. Smooth Transitions: The EasyShoe Flex Open Heel most closely resembles a traditional metal shoe and has a become a natural transitional shoe for farriers to gravitate towards as they begin into the world of alternative shoeing. Not only is it transitional from the viewpoint of user education, but the EasyShoe Flex also serves as a transitional shoe in a physical sense for the horse. We’ve seen this shoe used successfully in a broad spectrum of cases where the horse has needed a crossover shoe as an interim between traditional shoeing and therapeutics.
  2. They’re Hybrids: The EasyShoe Flex is a marriage between a traditional metal nail on shoe and a glue on composite shoe. Most notably, if you were to compare the EasyShoe Flex to previous products and designs the first thing you would notice is the availability of an open heel version. The majority of shoes of similar design were only able to be offered as heart bars. Because the EasyShoe Flex offers a spring steel core, we are able to offer the shoe in a traditional open heel that makes it more compatible for many horses. This option works phenomenally for horses who benefit from natural frog pressure and hoof capsule function. If you examine the design, other hybrid features you’ll notice are its wide web, clear nail slots for easy visualization and distinct tread for traction.
  3. Word of the Day - Diversity: When it comes to selecting a diverse shoe - this hits the nail on the head in its most literal sense. Open heel, heart bar, full heart bar, light, toe clip, side clip…the options list is a long one. While not shaped with a hammer, the EasyShoe Flex has been used successfully amongst a variety of English and Western disciplines, endurance horses, mounted units and trail horses. With as much success as the shoe has had in the performance arena, another point worth noting is the positive impact the Flex has had among horses requiring therapeutics - such as recovering laminitic cases. You can really be creative with the application of these shoes because you have so many styles to choose from to meet the needs of the horse. One of the features that I particularly enjoy having are the toe or side clips. When done properly, clips are highly effective at alleviating pressure on the nails by stabilizing the shoe. If I feel the horse needs them, I can use them, if not they are easy to remove. This one small feature, combined with all of the design benefits of the EasyShoe Flex technology can be a game changer for a horse.
  4. Reset, Reuse, Repeat: Depending on the horse, the EasyShoe Flex can have as many as three resets in its life span. To save its integrity, a tip I like to share is using a punch to back out your nails during resets. This avoids any unnecessary damage to the shoe and& helps to maintain healthy nail holes.

As you begin to explore the possibilities the EasyShoe Flex provides, keep in mind these four core features. While every case is different, the EasyShoe Flex is a product that truly opens doors for the horse.

With the shoe complete, Garrett and I are making plans to revisit the drivers and families we met in Mexico and South America. It will be great to come full circle and share the Flex with the people who inspired our innovation.

- Curtis Burns

100-Mile Tevis Cup: One of the Top Ten Endurance Competitions in the World!

The 2018 Tevis Cup is in the books. Of the 149 horses who started the event, there were only 64 finishers. That 42% finish rate tells us how grueling this 100-mile trail is and why the Tevis Cup ranks as the most difficult horse race in the world.  

Time Magazine compiled a list of the Top Ten Endurance Competitions in the World.  The list contains the 24 Hours of Le Mans, The Tour De France, Dakar Rally, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Cannon Ball Run, Four Deserts, The Tevis Cup, Marathon des Sables, La Ruta de los Conquistadores and the Vendee Globe.  

The Lead Pack at the 2012 Tevis Cup.

As you look through the list of ten competitions there are several that stick out and peak my interest.  The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has always fascinated me because of the difficulty and the bond that the humans have with their dogs.  To travel 1,150 remote miles through difficult winter conditions as a team is hard to fathom.  The Tour De France is another mind bender.  Over 2,000 miles on a bike lasting roughly 20 days.  And on the Marathon des Sables six-day, 150-mile run across the blazing hot southern Moroccan Sahara, runners must carry they own food and water for the entire run. 

The 100-Mile Tevis Cup is the only equine event on the list and is the start of endurance events around the world.  Have you ever wondered why you receive a belt buckle for finishing a 100-mile run or a 100-mile mountain bike race?  The belt buckle awarded at the Tevis Cup has been adopted by events like the Western States 100 Mile Run and the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.   The Tevis Cup helped kick-start many of the events the endurance junkies dream to one day conquer.

My inner legs after the Tevis Cup.

Here's what Time Magazine had to say about the Tevis Cup:

A 24-hour, 100-mile horse ride from Lake Tahoe to Auburn, California, the Tevis Cup was first held in 1955. The important thing to know about this race is found on the Tevis Cup FAQ: "The weather conditions from year to year are mostly the same: HOT and DUSTY." One of the major difficulties here is not just getting your horse to the finish line, but making sure your horse is still "fit to continue" when it reaches the finish line. If you do so, no matter what place you come in, you get a silver belt buckle. That's right: 100 miles in 24 hours. For a belt buckle.

 

Lisa Ford climbs Cougar Rock.  Note the difficult footing.

For EasyCare the Tevis Cup has a special place.  The Tevis Cup is where we go to test our products.  The rocks, dust, distance, climbs and descents put extreme demands on the equine hoof and the hoof protection used.  It's just a matter of time before your horse steps on the perfect sharp rock and your ride is over.  Over the past 63 years roughly 50% of the riders that have started the race have finished.  The majority of the non finishes are because of lameness and the challenges caused by the rough trail.  

EasyCare started placing emphasis on the event in 2009 and used the event to test our urethane hoof protection.  My goal was to have our products excel at the toughest equine competition in the world. It's an event where you can't fake results, and where results trump marketing - it really tells you if something works. 

Easyboot Tread after the difficult 100-mile Tevis Trail.

EasyCare has found that not only have our unique urethane hoof protection products worked, but they have helped horses excel. Since we started recording the stats at the Tevis Cup on horses wearing Easyboots back in the 2009 we have found the following:

1. From 2009 to 2017, horses wearing Easyboots finished 63.64% of the time. Horses not wearing Easyboots finished 50.77% of the time. (We're still finalizing 2018 stats)

2. 6 out of the last 9 Tevis winning horses wore Easyboots.

3. 8 of the last 9 Haggin Cup winning horses used Easyboots.  The Haggin Cup is the horse that is deemed the most fit to continue and able to do the 100 miles again. 

4.  Although we don't have full stats, 2018 was no different. Six of the top 10 horses to cross the finish line were in EasyCare products. Four were in Easyboot Glue-Ons and another 2 were in EasyShoe Performance N/G urethane shoes. And this year's Haggin Cup winner, owned by Mark Montgomery, was in EasyShoe Performance shoes. The Haggin Cup winners in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were all outfitted in EasyCare products. Not a bad run!

 

The 2018 Haggin Cup winner in EasyShoes, owned by Mark Montgomery.
Congratulations to MM Cody ridden by Mykaela Corgnell.

 

EasyCare is very proud to have our products tested and trusted by the Tevis competitors in the US and around the world. Thank you for believing in our urethane hoof protection products.   

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoeing The Hoof Or Shoeing The Horse?

By Christoph Schork of Global Endurance Training Center

Horses hooves do have "big shoes to fill," pun intended. Not so much because of previous great shoeing experiences but more so because of their responsibility to carry a heavy body through life's travels. Whether it's just hanging out as a backyard horse, competing on the track, dressage, versatility, trail riding, endurance racing or competing on demanding 100 mile races like Big Horn, Old Dominion, Biltmore or Tevis.

GE Blizzard of Oz, wearing the new EasyShoe Flex during the Old Pueblo Ride in Arizona, finishing in First Place and winning Best Condition

When talking about shoeing or booting horses, are we shoeing a hoof or are we shoeing the horse? Now, what does that question entail? In the definition of a farrier's job description, he or she is engaging in 'horse shoeing.' Nobody refers to a farrier as a 'hoof shoer.' For the sake of an argument, let's look at the term 'hoof shoeing' first.

Shoeing a hoof means that we are looking specifically at a hoof, trimming it according to our parameters and then booting or shoeing that particular hoof. We might be looking at live sole, medial and lateral balance, point of rotation and midpoint balance. We are evaluating and trimming and shoeing a hoof!

When trimming and shoeing a horse, I follow an holistic approach to hoof care. First I evaluate the conformation and posture of the horse, then I consider the weight and the alignment.

As an example of how we trim and shoe to provide support for the whole horse, not just a single hoof, we'll look at the horse below.

This image shows an untrimmed hoof. We can observe that the hoof is pretty symmetrical in appearance from the dorsal view point. If we draw a red line through the center of the fetlock we can see that both halves of the hoof are equal in width.

Here's a similar observation on a horse with a trimmed hoof.

In both cases the horse's body is supported by the hoof. The whole hoof is equally loaded and receiving equal ground pressure.

In the next case, however, the hoof cannot fulfill its job of properly supporting the horses weight. The plum line drawn from the center of the canon bone does not divide the hoof capsule in equal halves. Notice how it's offset to one side. The lateral half of this front right hoof is quite a bit wider compared to the medial half. (Blue horizontal line vs green line.)

My next question is how can I mitigate that conformation fault and center that hoof better under his leg? For starters, when trimming, I'll rasp the lateral wall a little more and the medial wall somewhat less, to try and move the hoof more underneath the bone column. 

Look at the two blue vertical guide lines coming up from the supporting area of the sole. The leg is now more centered over the sole. I shifted the support area medially.

When shoeing or applying hoof protection to this hoof EasyCare provides the tools to center the hoofs ground bearing surface even more under the leg. The new EasyShoe Flex is the perfect shoe to help horses with asymmetrical hooves.

Here's how the Flex can be used to help center the hoof under the limb.

In this photo, I moved the Flex more to the medial side (see the red arrow), to center the bone column over the supporting surface.

The weight baring surface of the Flex is now centered under the red plum line, and both lateral and medial (yellow lines), are equidistant between the two blue vertical guide lines again. 

The protruding edge, red arrow, can easily get beveled off so a horse would be less likely to step on it and pull the shoe off.

With a grinder or even a rasp the shoe can get easily modified. The spring steel insert can also get rasped without any problems. 

Stay tuned, because I'll be sharing more information on the Flex. You'll learn how easy it is to nail on the Flex, get some DOs and DONT's, and see my test results on their performance during long and hard endurance races up to 100 miles in length. I'll also be including the Flex Light, the version without the spring steel core.

In the photo below, the Flex Light, in a size 3, is shown on top. It comes with the heart bar for frog support. Below the Light is the Flex Open Heel with spring steel core, also in a size 3. The steel inside gives it enough rigidity so that a heart bar isn't necessary. It's also available in a heart bar version.

The Flex is opening a lot of new doors for the riders, farriers and trimmers alike. 

From the Bootmeister
Christoph Schork

www.globalendurance.com