At Least Once

Yes, I truly believe that each Hoof Care Professional should attend the yearly International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio at least one time in their life. It is an event packed to the brim with lectures and seminars. Organized by the AFJ, this year attendance was in the thousands. Farriers from all over the world attended and it is a great opportunity to meet them and exchange experiences. 

EasyCare Inc and Polyflex Horseshoes had partnered up and shared a booth side by side at the Summit. Great experience to work with Curtis Burns, in my opinion, the most experienced and best Hoof Care Professional in terms of gluing synthetic and polyurethane horse shoes.

EasyCare and Polyflex booth at the trade show.

 The Bootmeister explaining the advantages of the EasyCare products to visitors from all over the world.

Curtis Burns demonstrated quarter crack repair in front of many trade show attendees. 

Garrett Ford had some airline problems, so unfortunately he did not make it to the Trade Show. Some of the newest products developed by EasyCare, and meant to be showcased in Cincinnati, also fell victim to flight cancellations. Therefore the EasyCare Booth did not have all the new products at hand. Nevertheless, we had some of the newest and exciting EasyCare products on display and in cooperation with Curtis, I made it a go.

One of my all time favorite boots, the EasyBoot Flip-Flop, on display on the blacksmith buddy.

A joint production with Polyflex Horseshoes, the EasyShoe Flex is scheduled to get released onto the market in March. Watch this video here that explains the benefits of the Flex. The EasyShoe Flex will first be released in four sizes: 0, 1, 2 and 3. With a springsteel core, this shoe will flex just about like a hoof, like nature intended. The Flex is meant to be nailed on. Options are a dorsal clip or side clips. Another option is open heel or closed heel for frog support. Garrett Ford talked a little bit more about this in last weeks blog.

Not only was the Trade show a huge success with products on display from companies all over the world, the lecture series was filled with capable and iconic speakers like Mike Wildenstein, Simon Curtis, Dave Farley and my all time favorite: Brian Hampson. Brian has done extensive research on the Australian Brumbies and the Mongolian Takh horses like no other scientist in the world. His research has influenced the way we are looking and judging horse hooves in recent times. 

In Brian's lectures, you can learn a lot about the wild horses of the world. For example, did you know that 46% of all wild horses with hooves that we often consider ideal suffer from laminitis?

Photo from Brian Hampson's lecture. 

Looking at these hooves of wild mustangs in the image below, one might think of these being the ideal hooves everybody is striving to achieve.

What Brian Hampson found out in his numerous studies puts a damper on this illusion: these hooves might look appealing from the outside, yet inside these hooves have the highest percentage of pathologies. Specifically founder, laminitis, white line disease, navicular etc.

In the slide below, Brian is detailing the percentages of the pathologies found in his studies of the wild horse hooves in Australia:

Compare the wild horse hooves in the image above to this one below, taken from a horse in a wetter environment and representing hooves we see more commonly among our domesticated herds:

On first sight, we all would probably agree that this hoof is somewhat neglected and unhealthy. 

Yet, when checking more closely with digital radiology, nuclear scintigraphy and ultrasound the inside of hooves looking like this, one is astonished to find out that these hooves were among the healthiest in Hampson's studies. So the first impression is not telling us the whole truth or might actually totally fool us. Take home message is that the external looks of a hoof will not allow us to draw conclusions and pass judgement on how "healthy" the actual hoof, its internal structures and the digit inside really are. Interesting, isn't it? It sure taught me a lesson. That is the kind of invaluable stuff you learn at the Summit.

The learning experience all around was just amazing and, quite frankly, there is no better way to learn about Hoof Care, the newest scientific findings, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones but by attending the "Summit". See you there next year!

 

From the desk of The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

Best Practice: What Glue Work Works?

In the horse world there are “ways to do things”. Some of of these things we do because it is grounded in science and based on research and objective information.  Other things we do, maybe even most things, we do because “that’s the way it’s always been done”. This even applies to glue-on shoes. If you ask 10 farriers how to prepare the foot and apply a glue-on shoe, you’ll get 20 different answers. Many of them claiming this is the “way to do things”. Not only are there different kinds of glue, but difference kinds of shoes, and many variations on application methods!  So how do you know what to do to be successful?  What is the "best practice" when it comes to your glue-on shoe application? There are several ways to set yourself up for success.

Start with following manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. If you pick a certain brand of shoe and they have recommendations for glue application, the best place to start is the foot preparation and glue method that they recommend. The manufacturer wants you to be successful so it’s a great place to learn best practices. 

Many of you know I LOVE acrylic glue, EasyShoe Bond/Equilox, yet in applying shoes like the the Flip Flop and product testing the new “Love Child” I’m following manufacturer instructions and using urethane glue, Vettec Adhere, with the application.   

Next idea for learning best practices with your glue work: contact a practitioner who uses the shoe/glue and intended application method you’re looking to utilize. Many farriers are glad to share the tips and tricks of their successful glue work with other practitioners who want to learn. Best is to do a ride along and watch them work if possible. But many will be glad to answer questions over the phone, via email, or on social media.  

Another great way to learn is to attend a clinic. There are many learning opportunities out there for those who want to learn different glue and shoe methods. A clinic situation is often a stress free way to learn different glues and shoe applications and gain hands on practice with supervision from a trained professional.

Lastly, be meticulous in your own work. Write down the steps you’re using and keep your work space neat and clean. Practice your process in your mind and consider walking through the steps with each foot before applying the actual glue to the shoe…that’s GO time!  Additionally, take photos of your work, and track objectively how the horse's foot responds to the application you're using.  

Glue work is 99% preparation and only 1% actually doing it. The more thorough your preparations, the easier your applications will go, with less chance of failure.  And that way, on the small chance you do have a failure at one point or another, you’ll be able to pin down why and resolve it very easily. 


www.DaisyHavenFarm.com

www.IntegrativeHoofSchool.com

Frog Talk, Part II

In Frog Talk, Part I last month, we discussed frog trimming and looked at various frog pictures of all kinds of shape and form. In this second part of Frog Talk, we are going to discuss the following:

- Crooked frogs

- Frog pathologies/diseases

- Treatment options

Crooked frogs:

This frog of a left front hoof had moved to the lateral side, the right side from the bottom seen here. The question is, why did it do that? In many cases where a side movement of the frog can be observed, it moves to the higher side of the hoof, in this case the higher side is lateral, where the green arrow points. Comparing heel height by means of the red horizontal line, we can see that the lateral heel has moved forward and needs to get trimmed shorter. Notice that little crack in the heel (blue arrow). That is one of the markers the hoof tries to tell us that the heel is too high in this area. In my blog from July 2014 I talked about Daniel Anz and the F Balance. These markers help us decide how far we can or should trim the heels down. A very interesting concept.

Here as well, the frog tip moved to the higher side of the heels. This hoof being front left, the higher side is the medial side. The red arrow at the heel shows how far that heel has moved forward compared the the lateral heel (blue arrow). Even the heel bulb was pulled forward with it, meaning that this imbalance had existed for a while. 

In both cases the higher heels need to get shortened and the hooves balanced. I would not trim anything off the frog and artificially realign it with the hoof's center line, just for optical reasons so it would look 'pretty'. By doing so, I would rob the frog of its protective callused skin and make it vulnerable for pathogens to invade. If the hoof is balanced, these frogs will realign themselves again without any trimming.  

This one throws us a curve ball, telling us that it will not play by these rules. Indeed, the frog tip moved to the lower side of the heel. The green horizontal line indicates level heel height, clearly the blue arrow shows the higher heel, while the red arrow the movement of the frog tip. 

What gives? Looking at the high and long bar on the higher (left) hoof side within the red arch could give us the clue: the bar could have pushed the frog to the side. 

The outer shape of the frog matches the inner shape of the frog's corium. Looking at these cadaver hoof capsules with huge bars, one can easily imagine how these overgrown bars (below the red semicircle) can create havoc inside the hoof capsule. 

Here the bar had grown so large and long, that it created a dorsal hoof wall crack (red arrow tip). Again, easy to imagine how much damage this bar did to the frog corium and subsequently the actual visible frog.

This neglected hoof and frog does not want to play ball either. Here the frog tips point in two different directions, the older frog, ready to shed, in one direction, the newer frog in the other. With these way overgrown heels it is even hard to decide which one is higher or if both are similar height.

Where does that leave us? Well, the famous answer: it depends. Heel imbalance can be a reason, long bars can be a reason, the way a horse moves, lands, breaks over, all can be reasons. I like to look at the frog deviations as indicators that something is amiss and that I need to get exploring and finding out what it is and what to do about it. But I leave the frog itself mostly untouched. Then I also can get confirmation at the next trim, if I balanced the hoof correctly so the frog was able to self correct. 

Frog pathologies and diseases:

We can differentiate between frog yeast, the white powdery or smeary substance, fungus, a black layer of frog decay, and thrush, which combines fungus and anaerobic bacteria to really attack the frogs substance. Thrush is the most destructive form and if untreated, can migrate deep into the corium, laming up a horse in a big way. 

This frog certainly harbors all all three. There are holes everywhere, the frog is literally falling apart. Double sole, long bars, long heels and hoof wall. The frog is trying desperately to get some kind of ground contact, and although it is very sick, it does not want to shed anything. Now it is time to cut the decayed matter, find out how bad the damage is, treat it accordingly and give that hoof some relief.

After a preliminary trim of the neglected hoof, the frog damage becomes visible: red arrow points to yeast, blue arrow to fungus.

On this frog tell tale signs:

Typical 'butt crack' indicating thrush infestation. 

Recessed, thrush infected frog. Very often frogs that do not receive enough ground stimulation recede and suffer from thrush and other infections. Notice also the contracted heels and negative hoof wall angles. A totally dysfunctional frog, crying out for help.

Another prime example of a recessed frog, contracted heel, thrush infestations. This frog is dysfunctional and sick, cannot handle any load bearing. Bell shaped hoof capsule (Glockenform). The steel shoes he was wearing did not allow the heels to spread and be load bearing. 

Treatment Options:

There are many thrush treatments available, from Thrushbuster to White Lightning, Kopertox, Iodine, bleach, vinegar, sugar betadine solutions, copper sulfate solutions and paste etc.  Some of these mentioned above are toxic and kill healthy tissue as well. Others are complicated to apply, you have to soak the hooves for a time period in solutions. For all these options, the EasySoaker works excellently. Not a better boot can be found on the market. It will take time and effort, though,  to treat thrush with liquids. 

A quicker and more effective way to treat thrush are pastes. Specifically I like these two formulas:

-  Hypozin, an effective paste developed in the Netherlands

- Antibiotic and antifungal cream mixed 50/50.

(This can be Neosporin, triple antibiotic, mixed with with Athletes Foot Cream)

   

Either one of these two pastes will do an excellent job of killing thrush within a few days. Monoject curved syringes work best for the application.

Arguments have been made that thrush is caused by bacteria that thrive in an anaerobic environment. True enough. Conclusions have been drawn that it is therefore better to cut the frog clean, so air or oxygen can reach the frog and thus kill the bacteria. The reality is that oxygen seldom, if ever, reaches the frog in the best of cases. Most of the time the horse stands in soft ground, the sole and frog filled with soil, mud and manure. No oxygen is able to penetrate there. So, unless a horse is moving fast over gravel, sand or other abrasive terrain, there just is no oxygen reaching infected soles and killing any thrush bacteria. I would much rather keep the callused frog with all its little pockets and niches. These will allow me to fill these with anti thrush cream. There the cream will stay and keep working 24/7 without getting worn off or worked out. 

Back to our contracted heels. Daisy Bicking wrote a very informative blog over a year ago about heel slippering. I found it to be a great way to aid with rehabilitating contracted heels and recessed frogs. A very worthy read. 

After slippering heels and treating thrush with paste mentioned above, what is left to accomplish is frog stimulation. If the frog is pressure sensitive, we need to proceed slowly and with baby steps. Sand and pea gravel are preferred ground cover for healthy frogs to move over. Lacking any of these grounds, we then can look into the usage of Vettec products like Equipak or Equipak CS. 

 

This frog pictured above was sensitive to pressure and only marginally functional. It actually appears stronger than it was. After cleaning and drying thoroughly, I supported it with Equipak CS. This soft cushion (Strahl Polster, frog support, pour in, caudal support) allows the frog to accept more load bearing while at the same time guarding against thrush with the CS (copper-sulfate) addition. The small recessed frog in the photo above would also greatly benefit from an Equipak cushion.

Of course, none of this will work in the long run, unless we use a holistic approach in our horsemanship and hoof care. Only then can we guarantee long lasting success. The elements of this holistic system are:

  • Nutrition (up to par)
  • Strong immune system
  • Proper footing/stratum
  • Movement and plenty turnout
  • Barefoot as much as possible.

But that last part we all know anyway. Am I not correct with this assumption?

 

From the desk of the Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

2016 Didn't Suck!

We are still here after 46 years! 23 years under the direction of Dr. Neel Glass and 23 years under my direction. 

96% of businesses fail in the first ten years! EasyCare has been making hoof boots and hoof protection for 46 years! It's been a great year but has come with some learning experiences.  The death of Kevin Myers has helped the entire EasyCare staff put things into perspective and look at things a bit differently. EasyCare continues to make an impact in the equine industry, help horses and have some fun in the process. It's been a great year!

Here is a quick summary of how 2016 looked: We lost Kevin Myers; farriers now stop at our booth while at the Hoof Care Summit; our hoof protection products dominate at the toughest 100 mile race in the world; we successfully launched many new unique products and we have some great products in the works for 2017. EasyCare and our urethane hoof protection products were once on the fringe of the equine industry. Our products are now carried by most equine retailers, mail order companies, farriers and veterinarians. In short the Easyboot and EasyShoe products continue to develop and improve the lives of our equine partners.  

1.  In February EasyCare returned to the International Hoof Care Summit in Cincinnati Ohio. EasyCare and Polyflex share a booth at the Summit and display alternative urethane hoof care solutions. The booth is often packed with farriers looking at our non traditional hoof protection solutions. Non traditional seems to be turning traditional.  

Curtis Burns and Garrett Ford demonstrate application methods.

2.  California Chrome relaxes in Easyboot Clouds. The Easyboot Cloud created a big challenge for EasyCare as it's sales were much better than anticipated. The Cloud caused us a couple grey hairs and put us in catch up mode after release. It's taken some work and forecasting but our inventory levels are much stronger for 2017.   

California Chrome chilling in Easyboot Clouds.

3.  The Easyboot Mini makes an impact on the smaller breeds and foals. The mini boot has made a massive impact with the small breeds and horses.  These smaller feet are often very hard to protect and the Easyboot Mini has provided an economical solution.  

Easyboot Mini's and Easyboot Epics in competition.

Easyboot Mini fits a hoof only 44mm in width.

4.  Easyboot Elite storms the 2016 Tevis Cup. Nine total team members booted 50 of the horses starting the most difficult 100 mile race in the world. No reported boots were lost during the race and completion statistics were impressive. 30.3% of all starting horses were in Easyboots. 41.3% of all finishing horses were in Easyboots. This is the most difficult 100 miles in equine sport, not only do Easyboots work, they dominate.  

-1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, 4th place and 6th place finishers at the 2016 100 mile Tevis Cup were in Easyboots on all four feet.

-Ten of the top 20 finishers were in Easyboots.

-Easyboot completion rate: 72%  (50 Easyboot riders started, 36 Easyboot riders finished).  Historical finish rate at the event is less than 50%.

-Non-Easybooted completion rate: 44.35%  (115 Non-Easybooted riders started, 51 Non-Easybooted finished). 

2016 Easyboot Elite from left to right.  

Pete Van Rossum, Daisy Bicking, Christoph Schork, Garrett Ford, Deanna Stoppler, Steve Foxworth, Derick Vaughn, Jeremy Ortega and Josh Bowles.

5.  Karen Donley and Royal Patron win the 2016 Tevis Cup. Easyboots have now won the Tevis Cup in years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

7.  Lisa Ford wins the 2016 Haggin Cup. Easyboots have now won the Haggin Cup in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

8.  Easyboots excel in many equine disciplines. From dressage, flat track, endurance, to trotters. Easyboot products do more than the other brands! 

New models are hard to detect!

Easyboot Glue-On shells in a fawn color.  Hard to tell they are even there.  

Easyboot Gloves trotting fast!

EasyShoe Competes can be seen on many of the racetracks around the world.

9. The Easyboot Flip Flop also makes a huge impact. Easy to apply, stays in place very well and allows the back half of the hoof protection and complete hoof mechanism. Most said it would not work but it's winning endurance races and helping save foundered horses.  

Easyboot Flip Flop application.

10.  EasyCare said goodbye to one of our own. "I've had some difficult moments in my life but Kevin's passing has ripped my heart out. Kevin had amazing friends and was loved by everyone he touched. It's ironic that Kevin took his life because he didn't want to go forward lonely. Those close to Kevin have been through a bunch of emotions since Wednesday June 29th, 2016. Disbelief, sorrow, guilt, hours of tears, anger and numbness. I've personally had a very difficult time trying to accept his passing and know we will never be able to replace him." Rest in peace my friend. I plan to go forward in 2017 with more smiles, laughs, will practice more patience, will listen more, will give better hugs/hand shakes and be more generous.

Rest in peace Kevin Myers!

To 2017 we go. Expect a new EasyShoe model, the Easyboot Slipper, the Easyboot Sneaker, a boot shell that accepts two or three gaiter solutions and the Old Mac's G2 will come back. EasyCare and the Easyboot/EasyShoe lines will continue to help many different breeds in numerous disciplines. Thanks for your business and continued support.   

 

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

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

Patience is a Virtue

Submitted by Tanya Robertson, EasyCare Customer

With the purchase of a new horse in June 2016, I set out with a purpose. In my mind my aim was simple, transition my new gelding from metal shoes to boots. I am not the most patient person in the world and I never will be. When I get something in my mind I want it done right away, now, if not yesterday. Instant success is addicting! This partnership with my horse is a journey that I continue to learn from and teaches me patience.

I have tried other boots on other horses. Everything from boots that when the wire broke you had to make sure you were carrying spare zap straps with you, to big clompy boots that flew off into the bush when cantering. I read the reviews, searched the forums and decided on the Easyboot Gloves. Only one local tack store had them and they were over priced. I was already getting impatient. I didn't bother ordering the sizing kit and instead traced my horses feet on cardboard, measured, re-measured and jumped on buying a set of four size #1.5's online at a reasonable price. I found a farrier willing to work with me and who understood my purpose. When the hauler arrived and my new horse came off the shipping trailer he was barefoot in the hind and had metal shoes with clips in the front. I have no idea why. First things first, off with the metal shoes! 

After a few trail rides in the wet West Coast over bridges, on rocks and through rivers I was very happy with my new Easyboot Gloves. They stayed on, didn't rub or fill up with rocks and debris. We could walk, trot, canter and the boots didn't go flying off into the bush! Success, or so I thought. Another visit from my farrier and he pointed out some stone bruises. I questioned if I should put metal shoes back on. Was I doing the right thing? Was my horse uncomfortable? I cringed every time I watched him walk barefoot across rocks like he was walking on egg shells. My horse came to me with a thin hoof wall and feet that barely grew between the eight week visits with my farrier. I knew I had to get his feet stronger so I changed up his diet and started adding Biotin.

After less than a month of riding in size #1.5's the gaiter stitching ripped from the boot while cantering on the road. EasyCare was fantastic to deal with and I received a replacement under their 90 day replacement warranty. I started venturing out on rides with friends and kept having a boot come off. I would have to ask everyone to stop and wait while I put the offending boot back on, usually while teetering on a small winding mountain trail with a drop off. I was getting frustrated.  The gaiter was staying on but the shell of the boot was coming off, dangling around my horses leg. So while the boot didn't go flying off into the bush it was still coming off. 

I questioned the process the whole way. Always asking myself if I was doing what was best for my horse. I posted on forums asking others for insight on how long this transition would take and if I should just give up and go back to metal shoes. Questioning my farrier and the process, hovering over his every move. Contacting EasyCare looking for answers. You always get a plethora of opinions from horse people but the majority encouraged me to continue on. All the support I had helped me go from one failure to the next without giving up. 

Another visit with my farrier and he told me I was using the wrong size. The same day I ordered half a size smaller and put my existing boots up for sale. When the new size arrived I continued to strap them on like I had the larger size. Another mistake. The Velcro gaiter was now overly tight and started to rub and cause blisters. I had to give my horse time off the trails to heal and could only go barefoot in the hog fuel arena. I was itching to ride the trails again. A couple emails with EasyCare and I decided to try doing up the Velcro gaiter much looser. Success! No more rubbing! I really learned the difference of a correct fitted boot and in hindsight should have ordered the sizing kit

Six months after the start of our Easyboot, journey I am a happy customer with a happy horse with healthy feet. Many said it would take longer. I almost gave up.  At first they will ask you why you are doing it. Later they will ask how you did it. 

 

 

Frog Talk - Part I

What do frogs and bars have in common?  Answer: they are both most controversial among hoof professionals.

Bars and frogs of the equine hoof are the most discussed tissues and there are about as many opinions out there as there are hoof care professionals. Bars and frogs are always a hot discussion topic. (I had written a blog about bar trimming a couple of years ago.)

Personally, when trimming the frogs, I am a minimalist. I remove as little as possible from any frog, unless special considerations require it. But more on that later.

The frogs of the equine hoof have many functions, one of them being shock absorption. Generally speaking, a large, wide and thick frog is better suited for that task. A frog that contacts the ground upon landing of the hoof is a healthier frog compared to a recessed frog or one that is not able to contact the ground because the hoof is shod with a horse shoe that loads the hoof wall only peripherally. 

Not sure what it is, but many hoof trimmers just have an urge to trim something of the frog. Even if it just a tiny little piece. I mean, what good is a hoof knife when one cannot use it. And frogs just cut so nicely and soft, quite contrary to most soles and bars. They just cannot help it, something has to be cut of the frog, even if it is not necessary.

During my recent hoof care clinics in Europe, one of my group of hoof care professionals discussed trimming and preparing hooves for gluing various hoof protections like the EasyCare Glue-Ons, Flip FlopsEasyShoes and Equiflex horse shoes. Every year for the last ten years I have been traveling to Europe to conduct these clinics and workshops. Most of the time by myself, but occasionally also with EasyCare Staff and Garrett Ford. 

A participant had asked me a question and just in that moment I had turned around to answer, one of the others who held up the hoof could not resist the urge to slice a little piece of a very healthy and nicely callused frog. Nothing needed to be taken off here, but it is just so typical of us trimmers. Something needs to be cut, even if only a tiny little bit.

Now, this will not do much harm, however, that little piece taken off robbed unnecessarily the sensitive frog tip from its callused skin.

The calluses are a front line shield and defense against fungi, bacteria and parasites. Remove it and the frog is weakened and harmed. Before cutting any tissue off a horses hoof, I always ask myself the two questions:

- Is the removal of that tissue helpful to the horse or will it be harmful? 

- Will the horse travel better or worse afterwards?

These are two quite different questions, the second question building upon the first.  What decision I ultimately make in terms of hoof trimming depends a lot on whether or not the horse is being ridden, over what terrain, for how long,  and is it bare footed or with hoof protection

For me, the ultimate test is riding a horse over varied terrain bare footed. Below I am sharing a few photos of different frogs and my trimming thoughts on them.

Let's start with an easy one: This Tinker frog is perfect for its job of landing and shock absorption. I think we can all agree that any trimming of this frog would harm the horse.

Another healthy frog that should not encounter a hoof knife at all.

A desert hoof: thick sole and thick frog. Hardened by the elements and terrain. The outer layers are showing signs of cracks and shedding. I won't help that process, but leave it alone and let nature do its job. There is no thrush anywhere, so I do not see any reason to start cutting anything off.

Thick callus with a deep central sulcus. Thrush? Unlikely, no smell, no sensitivity, just a deep sulcus because of summer dryness. I am leaving it as is.

Looks like the outer callused layer of the frog was just shed. Whether by terrain or with help of a trimmer, I do not know. Obviously the hoof trimmer followed the principle of trimming the heels to the widest part of the frog. That hoof now is compromised and probably not a good candidate to be ridden without hoof protection, frog and sole will be sensitive for a while now.

Good one above. Analysis: thick sole, probably a double sole. Frog tip connected to sole. Frog flaps with thick callus. Horse travels sound over rocks without any hoof protection for many many miles. Admittedly, that frog does not look "nice". But it certainly is functional, tough and thick. Cutting anything off that frog would compromise his bare footed travel. I leave it as it is, even that connection with the sole on the tip is not harming the hoof, but protecting it even further.

That hoof needs some trimming, some of the overgrown bars already were shortened. But let us just look at the frog now: cracked, thick callused frog with dry central sulcus. I do not trim anything off here. At red arrow tip: flap material is growing laterally to hold soil and to increase heel support area. These flaps are useful, I will leave them in place as they have been growing.

Frog tip is starting the renewal process and peeling. Do I help and cut it off or let nature do its job? Obviously it is not quite ready to peel itself, if I cut it, the frog tip will be sensitive and I will have potentially harmed the hoof. 

On the opposing hoof of the same horse, the tip has shed itself of already, next part is also trying to come off. I do nothing and leave it alone.

Now to an interesting question: 

What to do about flaps and fold overs that are often observable on the frog? Generally these flaps are there to hold dirt which in turn again stimulates the tissue. Often they grow there where the hoof considers them most useful. I am always amazed on how nature takes care of the areas in need. Building materials are expediently sent there.

 Lets have a look at these frog flaps:

Same hoof with slightly different photo angles for better understanding. That hoof shows very low heels, in fact the heel bulbs are so low that they are running the risk of getting bruised and injured when encountering rocks. These flaps grew at the right place to protect the bulbs. In the second frame the red arrow shows a slight abrasion from the movement of the flap against the heel bulb. Possibly also from soil or sand rubbing against the skin. Removal of these flaps would endanger the bulbs. These frog flap extensions also increase the load bearing surface area of the whole foot. 

But, these flaps also can harbor bacteria and fungi, one might object. True enough. How to safeguard against this and more about frog pathology, crooked frogs, recessed ones and how to deal with them and correct them all I will cover in next months blog, Frog Talk - Part II

 

From The Bootmeister

Christoph Schork

Global Endurance Training Center

 

 

Easyboots Changed My Life

First Place Honorable Mention Story Winner

Submitted by Jesse Caswell, EasyCare Customer

I was raised on a cattle ranch. Steel shoes on horses was a way of life. My Grandad would say “I can’t ride that horse until get I get shoes on him.”

In 1960, I became interested in endurance riding. Steel shoes were all we had. All of my friends were riding the Tevis. It became my dream and goal, but due to my occupation, there was never time to condition my horse properly. No time, no money. But I dreamed of retirement. 

By the time retirement age came, my health was so bad I could not ride. I had rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. The more doctors I went to, the more medicine they gave me. At my worst, I was finally bedridden. I was in excruciating pain. I decided to go with all natural care and threw out all the medicine.

Nine months later I was back riding horses and pursuing my dream. I soon found out that endurance riding was no fun. I kept getting pulled for lameness. I had five horses, no matter which one I rode, I would get pulled. I went through a dozen different farriers. The horses would get hoof abscesses and were always fighting thrush. The worst part of steel shoes was when I would lose one and the nails would tear out half of the hoof wall. 

I went to 29 races and got pulled 19 times for lameness. The last race I did with steel shoes was the 2013 Tevis. I went 85 miles, only to get pulled.  That was it.  I quit, came home and pulled the shoes off all my horses and said, no more. I did not race for the next two years. I spent all my time getting my horses healed from the ground up.

I did go back to endurance racing.  It was with Easyboot Glue-Ons. I could not believe how my horses performed. They trotted so smooth. Just seemed to float. They just naturally went in to extended trotting. 

I did two day rides, 50 mile races, and each day on the same horse. I never tried to win, just stay up in front all the way.  I was in the top five in most of my races.  I did 21 races, all 50 miles and had seven Best Conditions.  The biggest success was at Chalk Rock. This was a two day, 50 mile ride each day. Saturday placed 2nd and got Best Condition, and Sunday, on the same horse,I placed 1st and Best Condition! 

I knew I was Tevis ready. Tevis 2016 I finished 6th place!

I tell everyone that EasyCare changed my life.  Easyboots are the secret to my success. Only took me 75 years to get on the right track.

Thanks EasyCare!

It's Been an Amazing 10 Years

CHANGE is a big word. Change can be exciting and change can be unsettling. Whether we like it or not we all know change is inevitable. Perhaps a necessary evil. It seems most of us have a love-hate relationship with change; we hate it yet crave it at the same time. EasyCare and its owner Garrett Ford have never been afraid of change. As a team we pursue it and as a company we thrive on it. As the leaders in hoof boot technology, the dust never settles.

As my career at EasyCare draws to a close, I can't help but reflect on the past 10 years and all that has changed. When I joined the EasyCare team in 2006, there wasn't a hoof care and veterinarian dealer representative. It didn’t exist. No one person truly specialized in handling this diverse group’s needs. Garrett believed I could fill that void and I leapt at the chance to become that person. Back then it was all about the Epic, Bare, Boa and Old Mac's. The Epic and Bare were the performance boots of choice.

The early years! At home in the Tucson office. 

This was also the year EasyCare hosted a five day clinic in Tucson, AZ.  It was my big debut. People not only came from across the US but from around the world. Pete Ramey and Dr. Bowker presented lectures and EasyCare had a booting day. It was a sell out at over 150 people and despite the SNOW, I think everyone had a great experience. Many of those attending I have not seen since but many of the relationships I built during that time remain strong to this day.

2007 saw the launch of our unprecedented Fill Your Truck program. The brainchild of Pete Ramey and Garrett Ford. This generous program continues to be tremendously popular and an incredible benefit to hoof care professionals.

Big changes came in 2009 with the launch of the Easyboot Glove and Glue-On. These products speak for themselves and forever changed the way the world looked at barefoot horses and booting. Proving grounds from the likes of Tevis, to the rigors of the highest caliber dressage and virtually everything in between. These products proved they could help a horse perform at the highest of levels or help a horse out of it’s lowest of lows. Today these boots along with many of our other products are utilized by some of the best and brightest hoof care professionals, veterinarians and trainers in the word.

Helping out at Tevis!

2014 brought on one of the most controversial changes in EasyCare history. The launch of the EasyShoe. Although hotly contested by some, EasyCare's owner Garrett Ford's persistence and hard work produced a product that changed the way many viewed shoes and how they could actually allow full hoof function. The EasyShoe has won over the critics and from my side of the fence it is the one product that delivers the most dynamic feedback. Farriers, trimmers, veterinarians and most importantly horses love EasyShoes.

This same year we decided to roll the dice and attend the International Hoof Care Summit. This is a tough crowd of professionals and we joked that Kevlar helmets and vests may be in order. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Our timing couldn’t have been better to bring our “change” to the Summit. The response was overwhelming. In fact at times it looked as if we stole the show!

Garrett demos the application process at the International Hoof Care Summit. 

Change came swift and hard in 2016 as new boots were introduced and some received new looks and improved features. None of this compared to the changes and challenges we faced as a company in losing one of our own. Kevin Myers you are missed and continue to live in our hearts.

The gang and I at Strawberry Fields. Two days of 50s. It was rough on the body but I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Yes, as I reflect on my time at EasyCare it has been full of change. Keeping a barefoot horse is no longer an oddity. You rarely hear a comment like “Wow, what’s on your horses feet?” They know. It is not uncommon for me to speak to just as many vets and farriers in a day as barefoot trimmers. Big change. The past decade has has brought enormous changes and with it an enormous acceptance of alternative hoof care. I am proud to have played a small role in helping professionals help horses.

Pacific Hoof Care Practitioner's annual conference. Mario Gargiulo and I send a high five to Garrett. 

 I was very honored and excited to be included in several of EasyCare's catalog shoots.

There is nothing like seeing the beauty of Durango horseback. I definitely had a permagrin going! 

This was amazing! I had never ridden in the snow before that day. 

As I say goodbye and my time at EasyCare comes to a close, I encourage you in EasyCare fashion to be fearless and embrace change. Follow that small voice in your heart and live like somebody left the gate open. Thank you all for an amazing 10 years. It’s been an honor and a privilege to know and and work with each of you.

So long my friends.

"How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

Quoted from none other than Mr. Winnie the Poo.

 

Take a Chance and Flippin Run With It

Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative

One of the great things about working for EasyCare is that I have the opportunity to use and experiment with all of the products. By doing this, it allows me to give better guidance to anyone who may call-in looking to use EasyCare products in a nontraditional way. With all of our products we do hours, months, even years of testing to perfect them, however, as anyone involved with horses knows there are countless disciplines. As much as we would like to test every one of our products for every discipline it just cannot happen, and that is where a little commonsense and my experimentation comes in. By just looking at some of our boots and shoes you can tell they will not work. This is where the commonsense part happens. For example, using the EasySoaker on a trail ride, it’s not going to work. Unless you are taking it to use as a bucket or cup. Then go for it, it will work for that! Or trying to use the Easyboot Trail to condition a Race Horse. If you are conditioning that race horse by trail riding, this is absolutely an option. However, if you are conditioning him at Churchill Downs in Trails you may need your noggin checked.

All of us at EasyCare have come from different horse backgrounds which allows for us to bounce ideas back and forth or even ask what certain terminology means. I was lucky enough to grow up around horses and have had the opportunity to dabble in quite a few different areas. The majority of that, has been Western or stock type horses, cow horses, barrel racing, roping, ranch horses and the list goes on. The western world, while wide-ranging, I believe tends to be very traditional. Many things have been done the same exact way for hundreds of years. I love tradition and treasure it, but I also believe there has to be progression. At least one person will jump out of the box and try something new. It may work or it may not, but at least someone tried. Whether that progression is in nutrition, training, rehabilitation, health, or hoof care, I believe taking chances in moderation, can most certainly be worth it.

We have had quite a few people curious if you can barrel race in any of our products, especially with the release of the Flip Flop and the increased popularity of the EasyShoes. That curiosity is sparked by many different reasons but I believe the top three are: 1. Owners looking for another option, 2. Referral from a friend or farrier and/or 3. The horse will not hold a traditional steel shoe. Since I barrel race, these inquiries are passed my way and I truly enjoy helping to find a solution. This also sparks my interest in trying different things on my horse. Just so this is known: I am not a farrier, trimmer or hoof care professional. I do have access to great resources that allow me to confidently try these products on my horses. Acknowledge I know my horses well, I know the products well and I do my research by reading different articles, blogs and listening to feed back. I am also not a professional barrel racer, horse trainer or anything like that, nor do I claim to be. I am a weekend warrior barrel racer at best. I do not venture far from home, typically compete in open 4D barrel races as well as open rodeo’s that are within a short driving distance. My horse on the other hand is nicer than I deserve, when everything is clicking she will make a 1D run and when I am being a terrible jockey she clocks in the 2 or 3D. If this whole “D” business is making absolutely no sense click here to better understand the D system that is used in barrel racing.

Ok enough of my banter, I am sure the suspense is killing everyone as to what I took a chance on. There were two items or procedures I ended up testing out. I had toyed with the idea most of the summer to run my horse in the Flip Flop and finally took that chance. I applied Flip Flops on her hind feet and modified Glue-On shells on her fronts along with modifying the gluing process for the front Glue-On's. I followed all of the gluing protocol for gluing the Flip Flops but did not add the optional pour-in pad. I had used the Equipak Soft when previously using the Flip Flops but wanted to see how my mare would do without the pad. The reason I did not use the Flip Flop all the way around is because I did not have the size she needed on hand for her fronts. I can without a doubt say that the Flip Flop can be used for barrel racing. She had plenty of traction and worked awesome which told me she was feeling good. We also were a 10th of a second faster than our previous run, made in the same arena on the same pattern. I know a 10th does not seem like much, but in any speed event it is. I also believe that she was just as comfortable without a pour in pad as she would have been with a pour in pad. The need of a pad really depends on the individual horse. I would not hesitate at all to make a run with the Flip Flops on her fronts as well. Next spring with out a doubt that is what she will have on all four. I can understand potential users concern as to the horse over reaching and possible pulling of the Flip Flop or tripping them self, it is always a possibility that a horse can over reach with a boot, a steel shoe, Glue on shoe, and yes even a bare foot horse. The Flip Flop is no different, since it is trimmed to fit it actually might be a better option for those horses that over reach since you can trim it to the exact length needed. If you are on the fence about using the Flip Flop for any event, I say go for it! This product is much more versatile than users first tend to believe and in my opinion can be used in just about any situation. It is also a great choice for someone that wants to try gluing for the first time because of how easy and successful the application process is.

The modification I made to the Glue-On was cutting holes out of the sole. I elected to use the modified Glue-On shells on her fronts for added traction. This modification would make the Glue-On similar to a rim shoe. I used a past blog as guidance for putting a hole in the Glue-on written by Christoph Schork. The major risk I took was gluing the shells on with only Sikaflex, I have talked to quite a few people that were wondering if it was indeed possible. I had success on two different occasions gluing the shells with the sole cut out with only Sikaflex. I did prep the hoof the same as I would if I were going to use Vettec Adhere. I did use more Sikaflex then I would if using Adhere as well, making sure to completely cover the base of the boot that was still intact and then also adding Sikaflex up the wall of the Glue-On. When applying the Glue-On to her hoof, I made sure to have my rubber mallet handy and was diligent in making sure the hoof was seated well in the boot. I then put her foot into the plastic sack that the shell came in and put an Rx boot on, this was to insure that the shell would say in place until the Sikaflex was somewhat set.

She hung out with all of this on her feet for most of the day either tied up or in a small turn out. One could also leave the Gaiter attached overnight and then remove the Gaiter once the Sikaflex is set, one of our team EasyBoot members shared how to use Sikaflex with the Gloves and then remove the gaiter. Gluing with only Sikaflex is not something you would want to do if you are going out on a long ride, unless you were to have an extra boot handy. Since my trailer was right there and I have everything I would need to reapply a Glue-On or just put one of my Gloves on I was not concerned with the possibility of losing a Glue-On. When I went to remove the Glue-On's that I only had used Sikaflex they were very secure on the hoof, very similar to when I apply them with Vettec Adhere. The first time I used Sikaflex only to glue, I left the shells on for 3 days, the second application I left them on for over 6 days (secretly hoping they would fall off), they did not fall off I ended up have to pull them, and they were undeniably glued well and not going to be falling off anytime soon.

I would love to be able to run my horse barefoot but after attempting to last summer and seeing what I was up against with the conditions outside of the arena I came to the conclusion she is not a great candidate to be left bare all the time and needs protection when we are coming in and out of the arena where I am likely to be on anything from grass to asphalt. Being able to experiment with our different products has been and will be a way for me to better help anyone looking for that other option with their horse. Keep in mind I have a lot of great resources at my fingertips along with the products, this allows me to take a chance with much less risk involved than if our customers were to try the same things. If you are in doubt about doing something off the beaten path with one of our products give us a call, we will do our best to answer any questions, tell you it won’t work or get you in contact with someone that will have answers you are looking for. For success with any EasyCare product we always recommend to follow our application guidelines. We have a plethora of detailed, videos, print outs and blogs to help guide users through the application of each product that we are constantly updating. If you are wanting to try a product in a situation that you are not positive it will work contact us we are more than happy to speak with you about it. I would only recommend to experiment and modify if you have time, resources and an open mind. The first time I experiment or modify anything it is always with a used item that I am not concerned about losing or ruining, this is a great second life for my pile of stinky, torn up, worn out boots.

Bringing the Foot Back to Life

Submitted by David Landreville, Landreville Hoof Care

Many horse owners find themselves in a situation where their horse isn't necessarily lame but they know that their horse's feet could be healthier. They find themselves in the uncomfortable state of not wanting to settle for "what is" and not knowing how to achieve "what can be". In my own opinion this is where change often starts and where I suggest:

  • A change of footing.
  • Then a change in trim protocol and diet.
  • And finally to give the horse room to move because that's where the real change occurs.

I recently had someone ask me what my take on frog contact with ground surface is. In my opinion, frog contact is the heart of hoof development and the key to bringing a foot back to life. One thing I will say to begin with is that it all depends on:

1. The stage of development of the foot

2. The type of footing that the horse lives on

Success will be limited unless you can control these two factors. The footing needs to be brought up to the frog or the frog needs to be lowered to the footing. One way or the other, or both.  Sand/chat/pea gravel and/or boots with appropriate pads can be used to accomplish this.

I consider this ( photo above ) to be a well developed foot (eight years in a small track system and micro managed on a 1-3 week trim cycle).  You can see that there is less heel height (ends of collateral grooves to ground contact points) and more heel depth (ends of collateral grooves to hairline).  The frog is fully alive and in the same plane as the heels (blue line). This relationship doesn't change much when the foot is weight bearing due to the strength of the back of this foot.  This frog and digital cushion are well developed and they can take a lot of weight bearing. This, in turn leads to further development.

I believe the frog needs to make contact with the ground but it's actually a very specific area of the frog and a very specific percentage of the horse's body weight that it is supposed to support. It's slightly different for every horse, in every environment, and for various stages of development. Proper frog contact provides proper stimulation to the digital cushion and lateral cartilages. These tissues are regenerative. In my experience this is true even in older horses, although this can be limited by the extent of the damage done over time. Once the proper frog/heel/back of sole relationship is achieved, development can begin and the frog can begin to gradually take a heavier load. When a foot gets to this point, development can be continual. The key to frog development is pressure. The frog thrives on pressure.  It is like a muscle in that way.  It can be developed at any age, just like an old man who decides to get fit in his 70's. It's not easy but it's possible.  Needless to say, starting younger is better, but better late than never. 

 The key to success here is in controlling the environment, movement, diet, hoof shape (trimming/wear) and especially movement.  The horse should always be kept as comfortable as possible because it's the proper weight bearing over the hoof structures while standing and during movement that build the foot.

Above is the progress on a hoof made over 5 months of trimming on a 2-3 week cycle. The heels have been properly lowered and shaped (for the stage of development) and brought closer to the level of live horn, following the contour of the growth corium. The goal here is to keep the horse comfortable while gradually getting the frog reactivated by making proper ground contact; bringing the living tissues that thrive on stimulation closer to the ground. This horse was living part time in a grass pasture and part time in a 12'X12' stall bedded with shavings. The black arrow shows an abscess eruption that I used as a land mark to track the progress.

Here's another photo showing the foot before, and directly after, a trim. Here, I set the heels according to the horse's poor stage of development and the terrain she lives on, which is a 10 acre natural desert, grass pasture (dry and hard footing). My decision to "set the heel height" comes from carefully listening to the horse. By that I mean that she is untied and not being held when I trim her so she is free to leave if she doesn't like what I'm doing. 

I almost always trim to just above the live sole in the seat of corn (back of sole forward of the heel purchase) and use this as a gauge for heel height. I've learned to respect the live sole plane and wait for change. This is the horse's response to readiness for change. The dead sole will exfoliate more easily when the horse is weighting the heels properly. Then I just remove the dead tissue and follow the same protocol for the frog. Removing the dead tissue on the frog exposes the live tissue that has feeling. When the toughened surface areas of the living heel walls, seat of corn, and frog are all in a proper tight relationship the back of the foot will become naturally more stabilized. This allows the horse to willingly set their weight into the back of their feet. When this is done correctly the horse will typically show signs of relaxation like licking, chewing, yawning, eye rolling, lowering their head, engaging with the trimmer, etc. 

I work over time to close the gap between the ground and the frog until the frog is taking its fair share of the weight bearing. This can take a few years. These same techniques can be applied to horses that are being transitioned out of steel shoes with distended frogs.


Left: just out of steel shoes. Right: two years later after making all the changes mentioned above.