The Challenges of Spring Grass: Laminitis and Founder

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Dawn Willoughby

Original Post June 2, 2011

In most cases, owners can prevent the ravages of laminitis (inflammation of the laminae between hoof wall and coffin bone) and founder (pulling away of wall from coffin bone due to a broken laminae). During my six years as a professional trimmer, I tried to educate owners about preventing this painful situation. Here is a review of what I shared with them every spring.

I live in Delaware where we have a spring that challenges most horses. Beginning in late March, early April, our sugary spring grass starts to grow. Our worst days are cool and sunny. This combination has the effect of creating a surge of sugar in the grass. When the sun goes down, the spring night temperatures are cool, keeping the sugar in the grass, not allowing it to return to the roots. That's a double whammy for the natural herd that is out 24/7. It isn't until July that we reliably dry out and warm up every day and night. When this happens the sugar returns to the roots. I learned about forage growth and pasture management from studying materials and attending clinics by Katy Watts, www.safergrass.org, an agricultural expert and owner of founder-prone horses. She offers wonderful lectures on her site as well.
 

Sunny & Doc

Sunny and Doc, “the bay thoroughbred twins” at Tory Hill Farm in Glen Mills, Pa. Up to their eyeballs in spring grass, these former athletics are not markedly affected.

When I had a trimming practice, I encouraged owners to mark April 1st to July 1st on their calendars and prepare for spring grass for their easy keepers.
  1. First and foremost, adjust the diet. Lower dietary sugar anyway you can. You will need to be especially aggressive if you have a horse prone to laminitis and founder, usually known as an “easy keeper”. Examples: draft horses, native horses and ponies and donkeys. Eliminate grain, molasses, most treats and, if necessary, add a muzzle or put the horse in a dirt pasture or on a dirt path system such as Paddock Paradise. Hay should have 10% or less sugar. Correctly soaking hay can reduce sugar by 30%; leave the sugar water on the bottom of the tub. Most horses do very well on forage diets.
  2. Maintain or increase exercise. I have a friend who ponys her mini off her warmblood mare! This year she is teaching the mini to drive.
  3. A distant third, the trim. Apply a steeper bevel to outer and inner wall in order to avoid any wall pressure on the laminae of a normally well trimmed horse. In other words, apply the “rehab” trim (more info below).
  4. Involve the veterinarian as needed.
In the spring, the grass is nourishing seeds in order to survive. Even if you have an over-grazed area, you can assume it's high in sugar if there is grass. Stressed grass is high in sugar. I use Equi Analytical Laboratories to test hay and pasture. The test costs $26. Then I know the exact sugar content as well as the amount and proportion of minerals in my horse's diet. I have learned to supplement my horse's meals by balancing the minerals in his diet. Dr. Eleanor Kellon, www.drkellon.com, will help you create a plan for your horse or you can take her basic course on-line and learn to balance the diet yourself. Dr. Kellon is an expert in this area, especially working with foundered horses and will help owners with medicinal supplements, as well. She is well educated in homeopathy and herbal treatments.

As for the trim, I put a steeper angle (55 degrees) on the walls and switch from a “maintenance” trim to a “rehabilitation” trim in April, on all horses, founder-prone or not. That means I apply the mustang roll to the outer and inner wall, right to the laminae. I return to the maintenance trim in July when the sugar reliably declines, just beveling the outer wall. By relieving any pressure on the laminae (aka white line) via the wall, I am able to minimize wall flare due to laminitis. I have noticed that in May, my OTTB, Sunny. becomes a bit ouchy on the gravel driveway so clearly he has lamintis. There are other telltale symptoms. He may lose a little bit of concavity, about a half inch from the laminae. If he experiences any wall flare, it is limited to about an inch from the ground. In our 6 years together, he has never gone lame. Another telltale sign is one or more horizontal rings on the outer wall, laminitic rings where the laminae detached, and reattached. When I ride out in rocky areas, I simply boot the front. Padded Epics, Gloves and Generation 2 Old Mac all do a nice job.

Example 1
Tessa is an 8 year old, warmblood mare. She has been barefoot her entire life and has had what I consider a good trim for the past 4 years. Her owner trims her every week or two. She is turned out with a babysitter, Frisco the mini, on 3 acres that wrap around the house. Their diet is mostly low sugar hay. The pair moves a lot, checking on their people. This year Tessa's owner reduced her grain from a couple quarts to a handful. This is the first spring Tessa has not needed boots for cross country rides. I have seen her walk over rocky paths with no problem, just as she does the rest of the year. Tessa maintained full concavity on the bottom of her feet. Her weight has gone down to a healthier level too: you can feel but not see her ribs. Before hand she looked like a “typical” chunky warmblood. She is ridden daily.
 
Tessa & Frisco

Tessa and Frisco, both easy keepers, look great this spring. More importantly, they feel great.

Example 2
Martha learned to trim her two Percheron crosses a few years ago. This is the first spring at her own farm and she can finally control their environment. The horses are on a pasture with no grass. They eat nothing with grain or molasses and have low sugar hay strewn about the pasture. They are ridden most days. Here is the note I received from Martha this past April, 2011:

In that we are trying to save the pasture and have them on only a third of it (with no grass, just hay), we are also doing the boys a huge favor...they have absolutely NO laminitic rings, NO sore feet, NO hardish neck on Squire, etc. wow, all those times you said to keep them OFF the grass in spring and fall and other high sugar times, this really proves that point. Tell all those sorts of non believers who think their laminitic prone horses who are eating little bits of "stressed" grass, aren't getting enough to matter, that they are DEAD wrong and can get in touch with me it they want proof!!!  Bravo Dawn!!!
 
Shawn & Squire

Percheron Crosses, Shawn and Squire, have happy, working feet this spring.

Example 3
Early in my career, I worked on a chronically foundered Friesan who lived on a pasture with short, sad-looking vegetation (I hesitate to call it grass), growing in sandy soil. I couldn't believe it could make any horse sick but I was wrong. The only solution for a sensitive horse like that is to get him off the grass and feed the correct amount, by weight, of low sugar hay (Dr. Kellon can help you with the amount of hay). Although his owner didn't agree, I still believe the horse had been chronically foundered for most of his life. This explained his reluctance to work under saddle at the trot or canter. When I saw him, it was the first time he had gone lame. But I am sure he didn't “suddenly” get sore; he simply couldn't hide it anymore. His body had the telltale fat pad pattern of a lamintic horse: convex, filled in area above the eyes, cresty neck and fat pads on his shoulders and on either side of the tail.
 
Fat pad distribution After

Common fat pad distribution on founder-prone horse, a pure Friesan, and several months later after his diet had been corrected.

It's easy to tell on most horses if the wall is well connected to the coffin bone. Just put your fingers on the hairline of the coronary band and run them down the wall. Begin on one side and work your way around the entire foot. If you feel a flare, the wall isn't connected. This has been the case with almost every horse I have worked on. By correcting the diet, exercise and trim, I routinely grew out well connected feet. The only exception is a horse who has been chronically foundered and the laminae became scarred. There is nothing for the wall to attach to. Typically the wall is well connected for about half the foot and then flares out, even after a year of good care. Some horses do flare right out of the hairline but as you apply the correct trim, you will see the well connected foot at the top of the hoof capsule.
 
Bugsy After

Right off the track, Bugsy, shows off his original shod foot and four months later, half of the great foot he grew in 4 months. His is an example of flaring right out of the hairline, all around. He remained sound throughout. Long toes and underrun heels may be common on racehorses but don't confuse that with the excellent feet we can grow on thoroughbreds!

On sensitive, easy-keepers, owners must go into over drive in the spring and any time the weather is sunny in the day and cool at night, with adequate rain to grow grass. For some horses, I suspect Cushings Disease if they present with founder in the fall. The vet can test for this disease; long body hair is a late stage symptom.

Charlie, a Holsteiner gelding, came to the farm where I boarded in 2010. He had not been at the farm long enough to have well trimmed feet and the owner didn't have any “spring grass” experience with him. She was told he “rotated” in the previous spring. In May 2010, he developed massive abscesses along the hairline and in late May the wall pulled away from the coffin bone, founder. In a typical founder stance, Charlie “sat back” on his haunches to relieve pressure on his front feet where the coffin bone was threatening to push through the sole. When we could pick up a foot, we put him in padded Old Mac's G2. I showed the owner how to “peel” away part of the outer wall on the ground with nippers. We took the toe back to where it should be, giving him some relief. It took 12 months for his owner-trimmer to grow out a good foot.
 
Charlie

Charlie has almost grown out one of the large abscess, the horizontal line near the bottom of the foot from last years bout with founder.

Going into the spring of 2011, the owner decided to see how Charlie tolerated the grass, now with good feet. He did not (it really is about the diet). Abscesses appeared in April. He was put on a sacrifice lot with a friend, full time, with access to two stalls. In mid May, after the abscesses popped, (no one touched him with a knife of course), the owner experiment with muzzled turnout because Charlie moves so much more when he is with the herd of eight retired racehorses. She finally settled on a routine of muzzled turnout by day and sacrifice lot and two open stalls with a friend at night.

Don't tell me you can't keep a muzzle on your horse! Figure it out. Add a leather halter over the muzzle. Vet tape the two together. Add a brow band to the halter. Braid the crown piece into the mane at the pole. Add halter fuzzies everywhere to avoid rubs. I recommend removing the muzzle twice a day to check for rubs. If the horse has “an accomplice”, put that horse in a muzzle too; if he doesn't need it, just make the hole bigger so he can eat grass but not pull off the muzzle.

There is a misconception that once the horse has “rotated”, he can't go sound. This is untrue. In the vastly over-simplified version, the wall disconnects from the coffin bone when the laminae breaks due to a sugar overdose. If anything “rotates”, it's the wall away from the horse. The coffin bone is right where it should be, under the horse. According to Dr. Tomas Teskey, many horses feel better within days of a dietary correction. On most horses you can grow out a good foot in 7-12 months depending on how bad the situation is. Dead lame horses may recover more slowly. Please check Pete Ramey's site, www.hoofrehab.com, for many useful articles written by this well known “founder junkie”. His DVD series, Under the Horse, is excellent. Within that series are a couple of DVDs focusing on laminitis and founder. Shoes and stalling are never a good idea in my view.

The ultimate test? I was able to keep two miniature donkeys healthy in a grassy, 35 acre Pennsylvania pasture by putting Best Friend muzzles on them in mid-March and leaving them on until the first freeze, in December. They never even developed fat pads on their necks, shoulders and rumps. I did take off their muzzles for a half hour at breakfast and dinner to check for rubs. They shared a half cup of “safe” food. They were not fed apples or carrots because the glycemic index, although low for humans, is too high for super easy-keepers like donkeys. This advice came from Dr. Eleanor Kellon, my favorite equine nutritionist.

Clearly it is possible for owners to manage diet and lifestyle for their founder prone horses. I hope this introductory article is just the beginning of your research into learning all you can about preventing laminitis and founder for your best friend.

Good Luck and Happy Trails!

Dawn

My Favorite Resources
  • Equi Analytical Laboratories http://www.equi-analytical.com. The sister laboratory, Dairy One, has additional educational information.
  • Dr. Eleanor Kellon's www.drkellon.com offers reasonably priced consults and great on-line courses. The first course to take is “National Research Foundation (NRC) Plus”. The NRC 2007 recommendations books is available on-line.
  • Pete Ramey's www.hoofrehab.com has articles, DVD's and current research.
  • Katy Watt's http://www.safergrass.org/ offers consults, articles and excellent Power Point lectures on CDs and clinic schedule.

Dawn Willoughby lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, Drew Knox, Annie the Rottweiler and Sunny, OTTB. During her professional trimming career (2004-2010) she focused on teaching owners to trim their horses. She will work with owners online who have no access to trimmers and will conduct owner-focused trimming clinics internationally. She now focuses on equine bodywork along with in-hand and mounted training as physical therapy for the horse. Dawn maintains an educational site, http://4sweetfeet.com/, where you can find free trimming videos and articles on all aspects of natural horse care. The videos and more are also on http://youtube.com/4sweetfeet.

EasyShoe Performance NGs: Another Tool on the Belt

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer, Timothy Prindle of Barefoot Equine.

Atlas, a mustang came into my care about 7 years ago. His owner, Megan, moved to Los Angeles from Seattle and brought Atlas to an eventing barn. What makes Atlas an interesting case is that even with strong mustang hoof walls and soles, he grows ferociously straight forward with long toe/under run heels if not kept in check. So steady, consistent trimming has always been a vital part of his hoof care.

When I began with him, his heels were fairly contracted with a narrow frog that protruded significantly higher than his hoof wall, which I wasn’t thrilled about because I could not reduce heel height safely without risking sensitivity. An on again off again soundness issue was diagnosed as degenerative joint disease within the coffin joint. To reduce stress on that joint, the veterinarian recommended we use shoes in order to cut back toe and enhance breakover.

These were the days before I had given up steel, so I outfitted him with a set (which, of course, I had to grind the heck out of so as not to create excessive pressure on those protruding frog heights). He still struggled with some lameness even after the metal shoes were put on and we found that by keeping the toe back with 4-6 week shoeings was imperative to keeping him sound. Additionally, since his diagnosis, the vet would come out to give injections to his joint every 6 to 8 months. In time, however, I could tell the steel shoes were doing nothing to help a narrow frog and contracted heels. 

As a farrier out of Cornell Farrier School, it seemed natural to progress to the EasyShoe Performance NG for those horses needing a little help beyond barefoot—and to also have another tool in my belt aside from booting. Barefoot was my specialty, so EasyShoes made sense from a natural hoof care prospective and they were slowly beginning to replace steel in my work. Atlas was the last of my horses still in iron.

I mentioned to Megan that the EasyShoe Performance N/G shoes could be a perfect compliment to the veterinarian's prescription, which would allow for better expansion of his foot and provide the freedom for his heels to spread. So we pulled the metal shoes and started with EasyShoes. 

That was 3 years ago, and now Atlas is a much happier horse. His heels have spread astonishingly, more than I had anticipated, and he has a wide frog to match his thick, mustang hoof walls and sole. His injections last almost twice as long and he doesn’t miss a step on the jumping course with the EasyShoe’s tread. As his owner says, "Atlas lives for the cross country portion of the eventing discipline. And he’s now becoming proficient in stadium jumping as well—novice level (3’3’’  jumps)."

As for me, I put my last steel shoe on 3 years ago and now use the EasyShoe Performance N/G’s regularly in my craft. They have proven to be an excellent tool for rehabbing as well as providing support within specific equine disciplines that typically require steel shoes. 

Adventures of Winter Hoof Keeping: Challenges and Solutions in the Pacific Northwest

Submitted by Ruthie Thompson-Klein, Equine Balance Hoof Care

Here at 48 degrees North, off the coast of Washington, our winters are usually mild and temperate, with lots of wind, occasional brief snow, and plenty of sideways rain. This is a wimpy winter compared with many across the country. Best management strategy for healthy hooves is usually “a dry place to stand out of the wind.”

This 2018 out-of-character winter has brought multiple days of below freezing temps following epic rainfall. What we got was impromptu skating rinks, slippery slopes and nail-sharp footing. During a typical couple months of winter appointments I cataloged some of our challenging conditions and ways owners cope.

My clients are on 5 to 6 week trim rotations through winter and most feed high-quality forage supplemented with balanced minerals. High immunity and tight keratin bonds only go so far. Two places we fall short for healthy hooves are movement and moisture balance. When daily hoof care slips that adds to the problem. Despite best efforts, some horse owners are coping with thrush and abscesses by February. Clients with heavy-use tracks had other challenges: wind-thrown trees, flooding, mud slicks and ice rinks.

Here are some examples of hooves, environments, puzzles and solutions:

Heavy use track with mud and drainage issues.

This becomes a hazard when the temperatures drop.

Our islands are “piles of rock” with a clay layer and thin topsoil reaches saturation point early in winter. Though annual rainfall in this part of Washington averages 25 inches, rainfall either drains slowly or creates new pasture lakes. Hooves tend to be sponge-like unless owners invest in mud control or hard-scape footing.

Solution: scrape topsoil away and apply 5/8” gravel with fines. Horses will compact surface. Adding a Geotex fabric layer between soil and gravel would improvesurface durability.

January with 6 inches of gravel, snow and mud are no longer a hazard.

Heavy use track with serious mud and flooding.

Same heavy use track, now with drainage swale (right) and deep wood chips from trees removed.

Before making footing and diet improvements, this thoroughbred’s right front is unraveling despite routine hoofcare.

Same horse this February: left front before trim at 4 weeks, a much more resilient hoof on the improved footing shown above.

Arabian Belle lives on deep medium-size gravel withlimited pasture turnout.

Belle before trim at 6 weeks in February. She needs attention to that frog crevice, but this could be a poster hoof for successful winter hoofkeeping.

Quarter horse Lucy before January trim at 6 weeks. Check out those solid heels and bars.

Lucy shelters in pea gravel, and spends winter in a sand and rock chip sacrifice area.

Sandy sacrifice area is gently sloped and slow draining, but deformable surface encourages movement and gentle hoof abrasion.

Easily available wood chips make a forgiving, drainable surface as long as they don’t become saturated. Composting wood chips are acidic and may unravel hoof wall. Wood chips or “hog fuel” are a semi-permanant solution, as they degrade over a few seasons.

Before trim at 6 weeks. Two horses who get regular trims, but sporadic daily hoof care, no balanced minerals and no respite from saturated conditions. Bacterial and fungal opportunists have prevailed and we have problems.

What’s going on? Horses on abrasive footing maintained beautiful distal hoof wall, plump frogs, and many grew robust bars for extra support. Horses with no respite from the constant moisture developed deep central sulcii and white line voids. Horses with excellent diets housed 24/7 in large muddy pastures had amazingly healthy hooves. Horses kept in sacrifice areas without daily hoof care did okay until mid-winter when thrush took hold. Thin-soled horses did all right in soft conditions until the freeze, when they needed boot support. In all cases owners used Gloves or Back Country for trail riding. Sometimes they added Quick Studs for mud and slushy conditions.

A solution for frozen footing is temporary use of Cloud boots to prevent bruising. I found Clouds kept thin-soled horses moving all winter despite treacherous frost heave and rough going.

What I see is proof that the 3-pronged approach of diet-movement-trim makes a significant difference in how well hooves adapt to changing conditions. Whatever winter threw at you, Happy Spring!

Sister, the Mule, and her Boots.

Submitted by EasyCare Dealer and Hoof Care Practitioner, Eric Knapp.

A journey of 130 miles starts with the first step and a good pair of hoof boots. Each year I take a horseback journey, with a group of friends, from Central Illinois to a rodeo in Fort Madison, Iowa. The trek usually takes us about five and a half days to complete and includes crossing the Mississippi river. Needless to say, whatever animal I’m riding, takes a whole lot of steps from start to finish. For the past two years I’ve taken my wife’s mule, Sister. Yes, that’s the name she came with. You know what they say, “bad luck to change the name.”

I know that mules have gotten a bad wrap over the years about not being able to keep their boots on. I’ve never had any problems with mine staying put. In fact, this year I put her EasyCare Glue-On boots on a week before we left and they stayed on for about six weeks. You know what they say about cobbler’s kids not having shoes to wear? Well farrier’s horses are the last to be trimmed. I don’t typically leave them on that long, but I just didn’t have the time to remove them. When I did take them off, they were still on good and tight.

Being a mule and having a mule hoof, doesn’t mean that they can’t wear boots. Nor does it mean that those boots can’t be glued on and stay put. I really think the magic lies in the prep work. Whether you’re painting a car or painting glue on a mule’s foot, it all starts with the prep work. I believe in prep work so much so that I don’t use (or let my clients use) fly spray for 24 hours before I glue on a boot. The oils from that spray will run down onto the hoof and it won’t allow for a proper seal. I also need to have a clean, dry hoof. If an animal has been standing in mud and slop, that glue will not stick. But with a dry, clean, properly trimmed hoof even a mule can walk over 100 miles in an Easyboot Glue-On.

I rough up the hoof with my rasp and put a little Sikaflex in the bottom for a bit of cushion. I also run a line of Vettec glue around the outer edge for a good tight seal. I wouldn’t take that Iowa ride if I didn’t have a boot on my animal. The blacktop road is just too slick with a traditional metal shoe. Throw in some rainy days and it’s a recipe for disaster. The boots also keep road debris out of Sister’s feet. You would be amazed at what people will throw in a ditch and you don’t want to walk over that barefoot, no matter how hard the sole. Before you say it, I can hear what you’re thinking. “Well, sure. You only traveled on a flat road. You didn’t have any rugged terrain.” Got you covered.

We have also taken Sister to Shawnee National Park for several week long riding vacations. If you’ve never been to Shawnee, it’s one of the most scenic rides in the world. Sister has been there in both hot, humid summer weather and in brisk fall weather. Her boots do fine either way. She’s worn both the EasyCare Glove boots and the EasyCare Glue-On boots there. She’s also gone barefoot. She has good, strong feet and she does just fine on the rocks. Shawnee has very rugged, steep, rocky terrain. We were also there after several days of rain so it had some incredibly boggy areas. I was a little nervous about going through some of the bogs because I was afraid the animals could pull a muscle. But, in some spots, there was just no other way around. We had to go through and the boots did just fine. We took a couple of seven hour rides and several shorter ones while we were in Shawnee and we left with those glue on boots still in place. On one particular day, we were temporarily misplaced. Otherwise known as lost. We ended up walking in some non-horse areas that were nothing but large rocks and boulders. Through all of those twists and turns, she did just fine. Like I said, I don’t think Sister being a mule makes a difference with boots. The difference comes in the proper trim, fit, and prep work. If you don’t have that, don’t use boots because you aren’t giving them a fair shake. You’re just setting them up to fail.

But it’s not all about the boot. Sister walked a lot of miles through Shawnee and many other state parks barefoot. We have a paddock paradise at home and she does a lot of walking on small rocks, lime, and dirt. In addition to providing better digestion of her food, I think this really helps to toughen up her feet and get her physically conditioned. With proper nutrition, environment and trimming, I think nearly any horse can go barefoot. However not all horse hooves will have the same toughness and durability as a good ol’ mule hoof. So, I wouldn’t recommend going to Shawnee or anywhere else without carrying some “just in case” boots. I never leave home without a back-up pair of boots. I have a bag that ties on to my saddle that I use to store them in. EasyCare also has the Hoof Boot Stowaway that works well for carrying boots. You just never know what’s going to happen on a trail and you need to be responsible for your animal. Whether on the road or on a trail, Sister has walked all over Illinois and Iowa. She’s done it barefoot, in EasyCare Gloves and with EasyCare Glue-On boots. She’s never given us a misstep and I would love to ride that mule in her boots from Texas to Canada. For some reason, my wife doesn’t want to do that. I can’t imagine why. But if that day ever comes, I have no doubt that the mule and the boots will do just fine not matter what the terrain.  

Still Going

Submitted by David Landreville of Landreville Hoofcare.

Sera, the buckskin mare in the video below was going to be euthanized for chronic lameness before she had reached the age of two. We found out about her through a client and brought her to our place. She was wearing steel shoes and pads that had been on so long that all the nails were gone and the walls had grow over the shoes keeping them fixed in place. She has been a tough rehab case due to the extensive damage done to her feet by poor and neglectful shoeing while her feet were still growing. Although I've never be enable to restore her feet to a sustainable shape and function I've been able to help her make slight but steady progress in form and function over the past 10 years. I can typically rehab most horses with minimal time in boots and pads but this mare has been a lesson in exhausting all options. Since originally pulling her steel shoes and plastic pads I've tried many different protective applications including: hoof casts, boots with Comfort Pads, and EasyShoes.

I've even tried combinations of these products. While I have had success keeping her comfortable from time to time (she's even been ride-able through some periods), I never had any good long term results improving the form and function of her feet. The biggest challenge that I've had with her is that her coffin bones were so badly remodeled at such an early age that I haven't been able to figure out how to fully eliminate wall flare or get her to produce an adequate thickness of live sole. I read some of Dr. Bowker's research on bifurcation of the lamina and I feel that this is one of the reasons that she can't produce a wall that has enough integrity to hold up her muscular 1100 lb Quarter Horse frame. The solar corium needs to be non-load bearing to produce healthy, thick, live sole and with such little support from the wall she is set up for continual crushing of her solar coriums and further bone loss. Due to the extreme wall flare from the bifurcated lamina, her toes grow super fast and require weekly trims. This is one reason that EasyShoes haven't been the right solution in the past. Her feet simply out grow them in a weeks time. Another problem that she has may be hormonal. One vet mentioned to me that there may be a connection to mares with bad feet and hormone issues. Every summer, after several months of progress building sole thickness and reducing distortion, her feet would collapse after our rainy season. The combination of heat, humidity, and possibly hormone imbalances would undermine all the progress made in the months prior. This has been a constant cycle for 9 years.

I've kept up on her on weekly trims for 10 years. This has helped minimize further structural damage. I tried something new about a year ago. I started using the Easyboot Cloud almost like you would use a shoe. I leave them on her 24/7 with frequent brief periods out of them. She has thin hoof structures but they are mostly live tissue due to the style and frequency of my trimming. Her feet stay clean and dry in the boots and she has no trouble getting around in any gait she pleases. The thick wedge shaped pads make up for her atrophied digital cushions and this was the first year that she didn't lose concavity over the summer. I'm always looking for continual progress with horse's feet, no matter what the rate of progress. I've never been comfortable with just making a horse appear sound and I'm careful when it comes to using boots for rehabilitation. It needs to be done thoughtfully. If there's no structural integrity it's not true soundness. To me, form and function are interdependent. Hoof distortion is just a problem waiting to happen. I'm still hopeful that Sera can have sustainable sound bare feet sometime in her future. I don't believe in quick fixes or keeping horses around with a poor quality of life. In my opinion, we are all here to express ourselves, including horses.

This is Sera expressing herself in our track system with her herd mates.

Glue On Clinic at Canoga Farrier Supply, Canoga California

Submitted by Jon Smedley, Trim and Train

Hosted by Jon Smedley and Sarah Smedley of Trim and Train as well as Larkin Greene of Vettec

We don’t need to go to the farrier supply store because we get most of our supplies from EasyCare Inc. but I do like to go to look around and stay connected to the local shop. I’m like a kid in a candy store and my wife Sarah gets super anxious as the nice lady at Canoga Farrier Supply rings up the small stack of tools and toys that I just cannot leave without.

Last year, Julie, the store manager, suggested we have a glue-on clinic because a few of her regular customers where asking a lot of questions about EasyShoes. Those that had tried them were having a lot of failures. I figured it was just ‘small talk’ and she was not really serious. When she asked again a few months later, I realized she was serious.

Julie and, the shop owner, Bobby helped open the clinic to the public for FREE. Larkin Greene of Vettec is always offering to help at an event so I knew we’d have a great clinic. EasyCare was kind enough to send a box with some Glue-On shells and EasyShoe Performance N/Gs that fit our hoof buddies as well as some EasyShoe Bond for demonstrations and practice. Bobby and I estimated around 12 people would attend the clinic. 

Larkin’s display of Vettec products

Other manufactures got wind of our clinic and wanted to get involved. We had Epona, Sound Horse, and Renegade send products for us to play with and Hawthorne paid for breakfast and lunch.

On Saturday morning, 21st of October at 9am, the shop was packed. I counted 53 people at one stage, not including presenters. At introductions, we found that the crowd was made up of professional farriers with over 30 years experience that were there to expand their knowledge and skill base, as well as horse owners that just wanted to learn more about the glue on options.

Larkin led off with a great presentation about glue and a lot of information to keep you thinking. I wrapped things up with an overview of the processes that I have found to be helpful in keeping glue-on products on successfully! 

After the class room portion we adjourned to the parking lot for hands-on demonstration and practice. Sarah and I had a wonderful time answering more specific questions and spending some individual time outside with a great group.

My favorite question of the day, “How long have you been working for EasyCare?” which I was asked multiple times. (Jon is not an employee of EasyCare, but rather a valued dealer of EasyCare products since 2014).

Jon demonstrates how to heat fit a glove shell in the beautiful California sun.

Jon explaining the importance of using the Dremel 9931 bit and some techniques.

Trim and Train, based out of Ventura, California, are a husband and wife team that specialize in providing hoof care and protection for performance and leisure horses. The pair got their start in the barefoot community with PHCP and are enjoying facilitating training opportunities for other hoof care professionals.

Tevis Glue Ons

Submitted by Sossity Gargiulo of Wild Hearts Hoof Care.

The Western States Trail Ride, more popularly known as the Tevis Cup, probably needs no introduction. Being one of the top endurance competitions in the world, where 100 punishingly rugged miles are completed by qualified horses and their riders in a single 24 hour period.

For mere mortals such as myself, I can really only imagine the time, effort, money, blood, sweat and tears that go into preparing and qualifying a horse for an event like this. 

However this year, as a hoof care practitioner, we were able to do Tevis Easyboot Glue-On shells for the first time! In the last few years since we began working with endurance rider Kristine Hartman, we have glued on for many 50’s, a couple 100’s and even a few back to back rides where our skills were tested for 150 miles in a set! But when it came to gluing for Tevis, in previous years we happily handed off our freshly trimmed, barefoot clients to the amazing skills of Easy Care’s Team Elite. This year the task fell to us and I would be lying if I said it didn’t add a bit of pressure to our application!  

Cruising through, photo by Dominique Cognee

EasyCare has an impressive record with the Tevis Cup. (To read the stats check out Easyboot Success at the 2016 Tevis Cup- Statistics the Haters Won't Like!”) The Glue-On shell has served the horses well, providing cushion, traction and protection for 100 truly grueling miles of rocks, water crossings, roads, steep climbs, descents and MORE rocks!

For Kristine Hartman and her Arabian mare Tess (Count on Tessie Flyin’) we wanted to be certain her mare’s footwear helped her continue her streak of completions and excellent placings. As luck would have it, the day we were scheduled to apply our Glue-On’s for Tess, we got a visit from none other than farrier Daisy Bicking. Daisy was a member of the 2016 Tevis Team Elite. It was a group affair as farrier Chris Beggs from Australia and Sarah and Jon Smedley of Trim & Trainwas were also in attendance!

For endurance Glue-On prep, one of the steps we never miss is using the Hoof Buffy sand paper on the entire outer wall. This removes surface dirt and oils and the scratchy dry finish really helps grip the glue. We also put in shallow horizontal grooves into the wall with the side of the rasp, to provide additional grip – making the hoof wall groovy helps with glue traction as well.

We like to heat fit all of our Glue-On’s, and our Tevis-bound Tess was no exception. Heating the boot and helping it shape to the hoof wall allows excellent surface contact with no gapping, which helps with overall retention. For more information about heat fitting take a look at Pete Van Rossum's blog, "Applying Easyboots Using the Heat Fitting Method." We additionally recommend holding the heated boot against the hoof wall as it cools, feeling for any small gaps and pressing the shell into them - this really assists the boot shaping process. 

An extra step we do is to drill in small “glue grommets”, little circles around the wall area of the boot, into all 4 shells. These allow the glue to ooze through and over the shell upon its application to the hoof, adding several other anchor points for our best chances at retention.

Daisy assisted us with the Sikaflex 227 application, Team Elite style! The Sikaflex adhesive has an amazing 600% elongation memory, making it a wonderful stretchy soft cushion for use on the sole with the added benefit of it being adhesive. It is messy, slow setting business, so you use the much harder, quick setting Vettec Adhere for shoe retention on the walls, while the Sikaflex sole/frog application cures over about 24 hrs. Daisy’s application went perfectly, with Sikaflex oozing out the heel area in just the right amount that we knew the sole and frog were well cushioned.

A bead of Adhere along the top lip of the shoe helps form a strong seal to the boot, and finishing that with the Hoof Buffer really blends it so that there is no hard edge to snap of. It blends the material together for a smooth transition that looks nice but most importantly resists removal. We also use the buffer all around the toes to soften the breakover point. 

Cantering into the finish, photo by Dominique Cognee

This year’s Tevis included a new and difficult canyon, not to mention high humidity, hot temperatures, and even some rain!  Kristine reports that it was her hardest Tevis of her nine so far! That is impressive in itself, but some of you may recall a rider that broke her arm at a fall during Tevis last year. A woman who actually went on to complete the race in an amazing 25th place, that was none other than our own brave, (and yes, crazy) duo Kristine and Tess! Despite the sweltering, steamy weather and extra challenging canyons this year, Kristine and Tess rode a great ride, and finished safely and soundly in 24th place!  

We are grateful for the opportunity to do Glue-On’s for Tevis and are so proud to have been a part of this team and their success!  

Rounding the Corner Part 2

Submitted by David Landreville of Landreville Hoof Care

This article is a continuation of my previous article, Rounding The Corner. The following photo collage is a good example of how I encourage a lower heel on a high heeled horse. These are two slightly different views of a before and after trim on a small pony with very tall heels. He grows this much heel in 3-4 weeks. I've been trimming Rio for over two years now. He used to have tall hoof capsules with a lot of retained dead and woody tissue. The owner and I have worked as a team to make the following changes:

~diet (Bermuda grass hay only)
~increased movement (owner designed and built a small track system for Rio and two other herd mates)
~footing (track system is in a desert area with sandy loam footing and the owner mucks regularly)
~frequent meticulous trimming (owner calls me at 3 weeks like clock work.)

The heels may still be too tall for this pony or they may come down some more, however, they are fully alive and supple (dead woody tissue gets removed at each trim interval leaving thick, supple, healthy tissue. This is an important distinction between a hoof that is unhealthy due to the heels being too high, depriving the regenerative caudal structures of the stimulation that is needed for continual development, and a hoof that is healthy and normal for the horse's individual conformation. I refer to this as "bringing the life into a foot."

Here are my personal heel trimming parameters as illustrated (fairly well) in these photos:
(In other words, I'm not telling anyone how to trim, I'm just showing how I trim.)

~lower and bevel the heel wall very close to the seat of corn around its entirety, being careful not to take them lower than LIVE frog tissue. This step can be confusing when there is an excess of dead retained sole at the seat of corn. In my experience, dead sole is retained where there is thin live sole. In these cases, I gauge the depth of each collateral groove and carefully try to achieve the same measurement on each heel without invading live sole or causing unbalanced pressure to the frog bulbs. For more information read Chapter 19, in "Heel Height: The Deciding Factor, Care and Rehabilitation, of the Equine Foot."

~remove dead frog tissue

~smooth and round all surfaces to simulate wear for comfort and precise weight distribution. 

In the before trim photos, there is a noticeable "re-curve" in the transition from soft heel bulbs to hard heel horn. I refer to this in the above mentioned blog. My immediate heel trimming goal is to get as much of the re-curve out so there is a single curve from the heel bulbs to the heels without compromising comfort or movement, which would be counter productive. To me, this only makes functional, anatomical, and humane sense. I try to never invade LIVE sole or LIVE frog because my long range trimming goal is to build these structures. I do come as close as I can though, depending on the footing that the horse lives on and the stage of development of the foot. 

This pony rockets around his track system constantly developing better feet. He used to be edgy, timid, and bracey when being handled. In my experience, these are all signs of constant stress from the following CHRONIC conditions:
 
~tendon/ligament strain (throughout the entire body)
~joint misalignment (throughout the entire body)
~muscle strain (throughout the entire body)
~crushing of the hoove's solar and coronary coriums
~tearing of the hoove's dorsal lamellar connection


(Above) White arrow points to the apex of the recurve from Rounding the Corner (part 1)


Heels can be trimmed with the intention of achieving preconceived, desired angles which only last for a short time due to the hoof wall's rapid growth rate (1/16" every 4-5 days). Or heels can be trimmed with the intention of enhancing stimulation in order to increase blood flow and subsequent soft tissue development. The latter method is regenerative and requires frequent attention, and allows each horse the ability to evolve their individual true angles over time.

Get more information and keep up with what David is doing through the following links:

On The Verticle

David Landreville

Tips and Tricks for Gluing and Removing Shells Using Acrylic

Submitted by Philip Himanka, Not Only Barefoot LLC

The preparation before the application of a Glue-On is what makes a difference in longevity and strength of bond between product and the hoof. Contained in this blog are some things to take in consideration.

I will start with at the end with the removal process: If you are not thinking about how difficult it is going to be to remove the Glue-On shells, then you will do a better job gluing. I've found that the best way to pull them off is with a pair of dull nippers. If you take your time and your horse does not wiggle then the shell might peel off intact enough to reuse it. Usually, when you are ready to pull/peel them off, there will be a small separation towards the heels.

First, get the corner of your nippers and wedge it in. If its not cracked like in this picture you might need to rasp the edge a bit.

Second, close your nippers and use the leverage outwardly in a peeling motion.

Third, the edge of the shell will start to separate so work your way forward until you get to the center. Go back and keep peeling deeper until the rim at the lower edge of the shell pops. You will usually hear a sound. Move yourself to the other side of the limb and repeat the process.

The shell has more flexibility than the glue so if you peel it off instead of prying it will leave the glue adhered to the hoof wall and then you can just buffer out the glue gently.

I think this process is very important in order to conserve the integrity of the hoof wall. I find that if you buffer/sand instead of rasping you can do consecutive gluing applications without taking a significant layer of thickness of the hoof wall. Note: This process will work also for the gluing of shoes like the EasyShoe Performance.

Now I will discuss the application process. It is important for you to consider, regardless of the kind of riding you will be doing, the length of time you are planning to leave them on.

If you are planning to leave them on for less than one week you can use either glue types such as acrylics, EasyShoe Bond and urethanes, Vettec Adhere. For sole protection and comfort a silicon base or dental impression material, such as Shufill dental impression, is a good idea. Note: For short periods of time, the Sikaflex has proven to be the best in any kind of condition because of its sticky, flexible and sealing properties.

If you are going to leave them glued for 6 weeks or so, the process I recommend is more specific (leaving the shells/shoes glued more than 7-8 weeks can be detrimental to the angles of the hoof). My experience has been that the acrylic works best for longer applications due to the following properties:

- It's more flexible and is less likely to crack or become brittle over time, so it moves with the hoof. This is great because you want the heels to expand and move independently from each other (that is what I love about the Love Child).

- Seals better from water and moisture.

- You can add copper sulfate when you are mixing the glue in order to prevent thrush.

I've also found very important when you are going to leave them glued for a longer time to consider this:

- Leave the back of the foot open so the softer caudal tissue can be in contact with air.

- If you are applying any kind of sole support including pads, it is important to apply thrush prevention products. What I do is after the glue is set, I sprinkle some copper sulfate powder or granules in the heel, then I pack in a clay based anti-thrush product, Artimud is a good option.

You really want to use clay based products regarding thrush not only because they have a better prevention effect but they also keep their properties longer. Note: If you want to be successful regarding thrush and your horse lives in a wet environment it will be very helpful to pack anti-thrush clay at least once a week from the heel into the collateral groves of the frog and central sulcus.

Modifications of Easyboot Glove and Glue-On Shells: Part II

Submitted by Pete Ramey

Glove Glue-On Shells    

The Industry’s Shift to Synthetic Horseshoes 
In my opinion, the increasing popularity of synthetic shoes – both for rehab and for high performance – is a very good step in the right direction. During the time that metal was the only material we had that would hold up under a horse, metal made a lot of sense as a horseshoe material. But these days we have a wide array of materials that will do the job, and most of them are much better for energy dissipation and shock absorption. These materials are also more flexible, which can allow the foot to function more normally, perhaps leading to increased health of internal structures when compared to more rigid shoes. 

I do worry that synthetic shoes will become just another thing that people leave on horses’ feet 365 days a year. Healthier than steel, perhaps, but still degrading the foot with their constant presence. I use these tools in my everyday work, but for most situations I remain a “barefoot and boot man,” as I think this combination yields the best hoof health in a majority of situations. 

My Love Affair with the Glove Shells
There are times, though, that long-term or even permanent hoof protection is needed. For these horses, I usually turn to the Glove Glue-On Shells, simply a Glove without the gaiter (instead of other synthetic shoe models) for several very specific reasons:

  • All of the glue bond is on the side wall, instead of on the bottom of the wall. This frees me up to unload areas of separated walls, making these shoes ideal for growing out hoof capsule rotation, toe flaring, and quarter flares (and thus wall cracks).
  • Almost as well as a hoof boot, if applied properly, they can allow total release of pressure to the sole during hoof flight. This allows you to get away with more sole pressure/support than any other fixed shoeing method I have seen, heard of, or tried.
  • There is no need to trim the foot “flat” in preparation for shoeing. The horse’s foot, when viewed from the side, is naturally arch-shaped, mirroring its internal structures. The only ways to level this arch for shoe prep are to, 1) thin the sole at the toe, 2) thin the sole at the heels, 3) leave the quarter walls too long, or some combination of those three. I can’t abide any of those, as each causes damage. Note: When floating the quarters above the shoe floor, be careful not to let glue run beneath the wall and harden under the sole.
  • The glue bond area is 3-5 times larger than typical glue-on shoes. There is also no need to prep or protect the prep of the ground surface of the foot. For beginners, this makes it easier to succeed with them. For seasoned veterans, this makes the bond as close to bombproof as a shoe can get.
  • I can pad in them! Most permanent shoe modifications accommodate padding or impression material under the arch of the sole, but not under the wall or the outer periphery of sole. This little trick is a true life-saver for thin-soled, splat-footed horses.
  • Using heat-fitting, this shoe can easily adapt to any almost any hoof shape, and be adapted to any breakover or heel support needs.
  • Economics. I can stock only this shell and, by trimming it down to shape, duplicate a wide array of products. If I want an Easyshoe, a Flip-Flop, a lower cuff, a direct glue shoe with no cuff, M/L or D/P wedge, better traction, heels in, heels out, open sole, closed sole, frog support… I can make one by removing unwanted material from this single product. This helps maximize precious storage space in my truck and, of course, dramatically cuts the expense of carrying extra stock. 

Heat-Fitting 
It is equally important to achieve a close fit with the Glue-Ons as it is with the Gloves. We have the same breakover and heel support needs. Large gaps between the wall and shoe will be difficult to fill with glue, and tight areas may push the shoe out of place before (or after) the glue dries. 

Better fit can be achieved with the Glue-Ons than the Gloves when large quarter flares are present since the gaiter is not in the way of quarter fitting. During the heating process, you will find that it is better to hold the shell with something besides your hand, particularly if you have opened the sole (discussed below). I use my shoe pull-offs or crease nail pullers.

As an end result, you want a snug but relaxed fit with little-to-no air space, and no pressure attempting to push the shoe out of place. Prior to gluing, you should be able to put it on the foot with no glue, walk the horse around on concrete, and it should stay in place.

Other Modifications

All of the modifications I discussed in Part I with the Glove boots can also be done to the Glue-On Shells. Below are additional options I use only when gluing.

Venting the Back of the Shoe
Gluing allows you to cut out the heel section of the boot completely. I almost always do this as it allows the foot to breathe, keeping the back half of the foot relatively free of the black, foul funk. I tend to do this simply with my pocket knife, and then I finish by rounding the top of the cuff with my nippers or shears. 


Opened heel of Glove shell, done with knife and nippers. I’m doing this to 90-something % of my glue-on shells.

Venting the Bottom of the Shoe
If there is adequate sole and frog in the center of the foot and if I don’t perceive a need to use impression material or padding, I often vent the bottom of the shoe. Using a jigsaw or Dremel, you can follow the contour of the shoe tread, mimicking the frog support and look of an EasyShoe. The material is strong and difficult to cut. Most tools actually burn their way through it, rather than cutting, and it can be a long process. 

So in most cases, I simply use a drill and hole saw (thank you Leslie Carrig!), usually 2 ¼” diameter, occasionally larger, to vent the bottom of the foot. This takes seconds to do, with no burning or clogging, though the end result may not look as cool as other designs, the horses never notice. As with almost any open-bottom shoe, there is some risk of a stone lodging between the shoe and the sole, causing problems. But the access to air can be worth the risk, particularly if the owner routinely picks and checks the area.

Pads and Impression Material
All of the padding methods discussed for the Glove boots will work with the Glue-On version, plus several additional options -- Dental Impression Material (DIM), pour-in pads, and Sikaflex 227 adhesive, to name a few. Generally, when using any type of pad, I leave the shoe’s stock sole intact (forgoing the sole vent). I also fill the collateral sulci and cover the sole with a thin layer of Artimud to keep infection at bay.

Prep and Glue
Gluing instruction is best done in person or at least via DVDs or YouTube (start here)  – not in writing – but here is my basic protocol in a nutshell, and in a very specific order:

  1. Trim the feet, clean out any infected areas in the white line or frogs, wire brush debris from the walls and bottom of the foot. This, and the other steps are each done to all four (or two) feet that are being glued in sequence, rather than doing each foot start-to-finish. This saves time.
  2. Heat-fit and do all shoe modifications. If using DIM or a felt pad, it is prepared at this point. If using a pour-in pad, decide if you need a hole or holes in the shoe to inject the pad.
  3. Sand all the gluing surface of the sidewall, yielding a rough finish. I cut 50 grit belt sander belts into small squares and do it by hand, or more recently, use a cordless drill buffer/sander. I then use the rough corner of my rasp to add fine grooves to the gluing surface. Take care to prep all the way to the back of the heels. This area can be hard to reach, easy to forget, and is the most critical area of glue bond. 
  4. With a small hand-held butane torch, I heat the outer wall for 1 or 2 seconds in each individual spot, moving the torch around very quickly while avoiding melting the hair at the coronet. Most of this, I do with the foot on the ground, but be sure to pick up the foot and prep the heels. I do the same to the inside of the shoe’s gluing area. This step eliminates dust, oils, and moisture, and is critical to success. After this step, take great care not to re-contaminate the glue surfaces of the hoof and shoe. Arm sweat, oils from impression materials and bacterial treatments are the most common culprits, as well as the grubby little hands of curious onlookers and well-meaning horse owners with a bottle of fly spray in hand (yep, it happened to me).
  5. Using a painter’s digital moisture meter, verify that all parts of the hoof’s gluing surface read 0.0% moisture. If not, repeat step #4. If a horse just came in from dry stall shavings or a dry pasture, one lap with the torch will usually do the trick. If the horse just came in from the rain, it may require three or more laps. Resist the temptation to heat longer as this could harm the horse. Instead, heat more times. Be patient – this is the most important step, particularly if you live in a damp climate.
  6. Glue. Keep it warm in winter, cool in summer. I like to use the guns and mixing tips – personal preference. Sometimes I use the acrylic, EasyShoe Bond Fast Set (Equilox, Equibond – all the same, with different labels) because it may be better glue for wet environments, and sometimes I use the urethane Vettec Adhere because it is less noxious and may do less damage to the walls. Adhere is also more user-friendly, and thus may be easier for beginners to succeed with.
  7. Purge the glue before installing the tip. For Adhere, be sure equal amounts of both agents are flowing freely. For EasyShoe Bond Fast Set, be sure the (white) bonding agent is flowing constantly, about 1/10th the volume of the pigmented agent. If so, wipe the glue from the end of the tube, being careful not to mix the agents, and apply the mixing tip.  
  8. If using DIM, place it on the foot. If using felt (or other) pads, place them in the shoes.
  9. Purge a grape-sized ball of glue onto the ground or paper towel, then apply the glue to the shoe. I avoid the sole, the ground surface of the wall, and the lower ½” of the cuff. The concern here is getting a glob of glue on the sole, which will then act as a stone in the shoe. To the rest of the cuff, I apply the glue liberally with a continuous ¼”-thick bead covering most of the gluing surface by the time I am done. In warm weather, I then put the shoe on immediately. In cold weather, I may stall for a bit, waiting for the glue to begin to cure. I repeatedly touch the glue with my gloved finger – at first the glue will attach a small “string” as I pull my finger away. As the glue starts to cure, this will not occur, and it is time to apply the shoe. As you do this, be careful not to drag glue from the sidewall onto the sole.
  10. Wait. For some applications, I want to cure the glue while I am holding up the foot (less sole pressure, less compression of pads – I generally do this on thin-soled horses). On other applications, I want to cure the glue with the foot on the ground (easier for lame or impatient horses; may yield a more snug “performance fit.”). If the shoe is to be cured in the air, put the shoe on, put the foot down on the ground, have an assistant pick up the off foot, then quickly put it back down (this spreads any glue that might have ended up on the sole). Pick up the foot you are gluing, check shoe placement, wipe off any excess glue, then hold the foot up until the glue dries. If the glue is to be cured with the foot on the ground, place the shoe, have your assistant pick up the off foot, and then watch the glued foot carefully as the glue dries. At some point partway through the cure, I switch places with the assistant, as I will want to be the one holding the foot during the latter (and more trying) minutes of the cure.
  11. Repeat for the other feet. You will need to clean, purge, and apply a new mixing tip for each shoe.
  12. Go around with a hoof pick and check the shoe heels to be sure they are bonded. If not, attach a new mixing tip and re-glue these areas. At this point, you can also seal the tops of the shoe cuff with a thin bead of glue. If you are slick, you can get all this done to all 4 feet with one mixing tip.
  13. If you are using pour-in pads, inject them now. Decide whether you want a lot of sole pressure, a little, or none. If you completely cure the pad while you are holding the foot off the ground, there will be a lot of support/pressure. If you put the foot down to let the pad cure, there will be none. It varies case-by-case, but I tend to do something in-between.
  14. When all the glues are cured, watch the horse move. Make final adjustments to breakover and heel rockers, if needed, based on movement.

Removal
After 5-6 weeks, Vettec Adhere will become brittle enough that shoe salvage is not terribly difficult (though it is still cheaper to buy a new shoe than it is to pay me to clean an old one up for you). I take a ¼” flathead screwdriver and work it between the shoe and the hoof, separating the bond.

With EasyShoe Glue (Equilox, Equibond…) at 5-6 weeks, the glue will not be brittle – the screwdriver method rarely works. Instead, using my hoof knife, I cut ½”-long slits in the top of the cuff, dividing the cuff into 6 sections around the circumference of the foot. I then use my shoe pull-offs to peel and rip each of the sections down and off the hoof wall individually. 

Tape-On Application
A hybrid between the on-off hoof boot and a glue-on application is the tape-on boot/shoe. Many people trail ride in this setup, and I use it for rehab cases when I need to cover the foot for 24-48 hours and then gain access. 

Warning: Results of this vary wildly. If a horse steps on his own shoe, they will pull right off. But I have also seen them stay on for a week and heard of them staying on even longer. I think it really depends on the way the horse moves and perhaps the environment. I have found that I can count on them for 48 hours as well as about anything – so this is how I use them. 

If a horse absolutely must have 24/7 protection, use a boot or a glue-on instead. I like to say, “Tape-ons are for when you kind-of need a shoe and only need it for a short period of time.” All that said, this is still a very commonly useful tool, and has the distinct advantage that you can keep re-using the same shell over and over, often for years to come. This can also be the only option (for turnout or riding) when the bulbs or coronet has been injured and permanent shoeing is not desired. This method also works for use similar to a hospital plate when daily access is needed to dress a wound or surgery site. 
This method is ideal for post-trim tenderness. A conscientious trimmer (with a stock of glue-on shells) who inadvertently causes post-trim soreness, can do a tape-on application to cover the foot for a few days, then pick up the boots at the next visit, clean them up and sell them to a gluing client. All it costs is the purchase of the tape and the time to clean up the boot.


Mueller Athletic Tape Application. Used alone with Glove Glue-On shells or as extra insurance with Glove hoof boots.

Mueller Athletic Tape
Note: Several years ago, I bought two cases of Mueller Athletic Tape, which I am still using. Apparently, it has since changed, and the material is now thinner (thanks, Amy Diehl), so these instructions may warrant some experimentation with the newer version of tape. I will update as I learn more. And, no, I will not sell you any of my tape. 
Here is my method:

  1. Heat-fit a Glove shell – and strive for perfection. Do not cut the back out of it or open the sole for this method – just use a stock shell. As always, the better the fit, the better this will work. You want to end up with no excessively tight spots and as little air space as possible. The shoe should be difficult to pull off, once applied. Be sure the boot is clean – free of dirt and moisture.
  2. No additional prep to the foot is required; just trim normally.
  3. Wrap the foot with Mueller Athletic Tape as if you were applying a hoof cast. I generally use 3-4 rounds/laps of tape, wrapping so that I cover all of the side wall that the boot shell will cover and also lapping under the wall and slightly onto the sole. 
  4. Drive the boot shell onto the foot with a rubber mallet (or for trail use, a big stick). For the first 30 minutes, the extra friction provided by the tape will make this shoe very difficult to remove. After 30 minutes, the heat and pressure will have caused the tape’s own glue to wick through the fabric and there will be a pretty decent glue bond. During the first 24 hours, it is almost as hard to get off as it would be if it were glued with hoof adhesive.
  5. The bond seems to disappear within 48 hours. I think dust simply works its way in and absorbs into the glue. I believe that when I (and others) have seen these stay on longer, it was simply because of good fit, the added friction, and a horse that never interferes or trips. Either way, removal after 36 hours is not an issue – you can generally pull them off by hand.

Mueller Athletic Tape in Gloves
The above wrapping method is even more useful as “Glove boot first aid.” If you are using Glove boots, carry a roll of Mueller Tape in your trail pack; it doubles as first aid tape, so shouldn’t take up extra precious space. If you rip a gaiter on the trail (or develop any other boot fit/performance issue) you can add the tape to the foot, knock the boot on with a stick, and ride on for the rest of the trip without a gaiter.

I even had one client who was using a #2 Glove when her friend threw a #0 horseshoe. They kept wrapping tape around the #0 foot until the #2 Glove fit and got the horse off the trail without further incident. My client discovered, at the same time, that her horse no longer needed boots for that particular trail anyway. Now, this is not a recommended application by any stretch of the imagination, but it did work.

Smoothing Boot Fit Problems
I like for my booting clients to have a roll on hand in case booting issues pop up mid-cycle. This is particularly common when I am in the process of growing out hoof capsule rotation or wall flares. The boot fit will get sloppy over time. I do try to adjust for this at routine visits, but sometimes I misjudge. Hopefully, when I arrive for my scheduled visit, I can de-bug the boot fit, but having a way to keep my clients riding saves me some unscheduled trips.

I recall two instances where I had to use the tape application with the Gloves as a permanent fix. I didn’t like it, but it was the best I could do. Both were on the hind feet of horses with hip problems that rotated their foot on the ground under load. After several boot-fitting fails, I left both clients applying one wrap of tape prior to booting the hind feet. Sloppy, yes, but better than nothing, I suppose. 

Race Day
This method, combined with adding Vet Wrap to the gaiter is how to make a bombproof Glove application. I don’t like to see clients train this way. I want to work through any booting bugs during normal rides. But on race day, show day, or that big group trail ride – that day when you want to be absolutely sure you don’t have any problems, it is worth the extra 3 minutes to put Mueller Tape on the foot, boot, then wrap the gaiter with Vet Wrap. Optionally, an added bell boot seals the deal.

And the List Goes On…
That’s the best thing about these two platforms (the Glove and Glove Shell). Your own imagination is the limit. While every boot and shoe can be modified to some extent, none other lends itself to so much possibility. In the past, I had to haul around a wide variety of options. Now, I find that I can get by with a full stock of only these two products – well – except that we do need them in larger sizes… and with some different tread options. 

For a complete article in PDF format, please follow this link to be redirected to Pete Ramey's website: http://www.hoofrehab.com/Glove%20Mods.pdf