I was never a runner. Ever. I was not the person you looked at in the laundromat and thought, "I bet she runs."
When I got into running, it was for the self-serving benefit of being able to eat more. There was no blissful joy of frolicking down mountain paths that made me desire to slip into sneakers every day. It was about Oreos and PBJs. That being said, when I did start running, I wasn't very good at it, from a form standpoint and was hurting myself.
I changed shoes, I changed locations, I changed tempos, I did core work and complementary exercises "for runners". Ultimately, I found I needed to run in minimal-to-no shoes. Been happy ever since. My hips are good, my calves are happy, my Achilles issues were no more, my lower back stopped killing me and the list went on.
My sneakers were great, but they had a lot of cushion. So much cushion that I didn't run with great form on roads or trails. I could get away with really haphazard form and not care. Running in poor form pairs REALLY well with wearing neon colors that blind a passerby: they can't glance in your general direction to see your best gazelle-waking-up-from-anesthesia impression. My sneakers still were great for walking around the house, going hiking, walking on paved roads, travel through airports and tradeshows. Pretty much any place where I would be standing or walking, I wanted my sneakers on. I knew I didn't feel great running in them, ironically, but loved the cushion for pretty much everything else.
That is the inspiration for me in the new Cloud boots. It's the same feeling of walking on sunshine. It's not the performance boot that you can run in, but it's the boot you want to be wearing for 99% of your lazy time. Your horse will want to wear them around the barn, wear them after cool down, wear them on pavement or at horse shows that have stalls on concrete, wear them on hard-packed ground and pretty much all the time.
The EVA orthotic insert is intentional in its design. Running shoes are built on EVA. It gives it the cushion.
If you've ever taken a straw and blown bubbles in milk, you know you can build up foam. It is the secret power of foam that makes Starbucks a force to be reckoned with. If you can balance a penny on cappuccino foam, you've got the GOOD stuff. EVA is no different. Just substitute your milk with liquid rubber and TADA!
The magic of EVA is in the FOAM. It's tiny bubbles that are fully encapsulated. The perfect latte. You can ask for the right amount of air-to-material ratio to get the amount of "squish" you want. See, more squish doesn't just mean thicker foam.
More squish is just more air.
There is a Catch 22 with having perfect cushion:
1) it GIVES, which is what makes it so dreamy
2) it GIVES, which makes it eventually compress
If you had a barefoot shoe like the Vibram 5-Finger, there is no give. Congratulations! They also never have to be replaced!
Stuff that doesn't give lasts for a LONG time. They are harder rubbers. Winter tires are soft and wear quickly. The eraser on your pencil is soft and if you walked on a tread made of them, they'd last a day. Speaking of which, they should make shorter pencils, because if you make so many mistakes that they've banned you from the pen, that eraser is NOT going to last the life of that pencil. I was a first grade teacher. Trust me on this one.
You have to replace running shoes approximately every 3 months, if you're running in them with some regularity, because eventually your cush doesn't cush any more. Drat. Well, if I were a horse, I could keep my whole tennis shoe and just get a new orthotic insert. Running shoes cost between $90 and $200 dollars. What if you could replace the cush for under $20? Well now your horse can. It doesn't matter if your horse is shod or barefoot: he's going to love wearing sneakers. It's not just that our "soles" like the feel of cushion, it's the way that sneakers are kinder on our ankles, knees and hips. We're reducing the shock and fatigue of the hard ground for every step we take. Thank goodness I don't weight 1,500 lbs!
You know what's nice about an injection molded EVA? As the air bubbles are injected into a mold (not cut out of a sheet) there are no open holes. This means it's great for areas prone to moisture and bacteria. Even on a micro level, there are no Swiss Cheese pockets on the surface of our pads. Our softness specification for our pads is a 35 rating, which puts it on par with a pencil eraser. Our pads weigh a feather-light 2 ounces. Horses will be standing in stalls, standing in trailers, walking around after workouts and being bathed in their Clouds. The last thing you'd want, from a design view, was a pad that held moisture or bacteria.
I am in my 30's and I get comfort from wearing cushioned sneakers. What about retired athletes? What about the elderly? Just as I think any age of human loves comfort, it can be a life-changing difference to someone who lives with a constant degree of discomfort. I knew a baseball catcher who had blown out his knees in high school and always had bum knees afterwards. I couldn't imagine what his life was like, living with discomfort in his knee joints since he was 17.
Horses are the same way.
Some are 47, blind, missing an ear and the soundest and happiest horses you've ever seen. Some have been high-end athletes at a younger age that want the comfort NOW. Some are athletes looking to extend their careers by guarding their assets.
If you were the world's fastest sprinter, wouldn't you be buying the best to preserve your legs? Heck, Dolly Parton's "assets" are insured and I bet she invests a lot in "support". The point being: if you have a jumper, a reiner, an eventer, a barrel or dressage horse… actually, I can't think of a single horse you could have in any sport that isn't using their legs.
Horses don't do discus or javelin throw (although the rider-toss is an ever popular past-time), they are not biathletes who ski and shoot. They aren't driving cars or playing tennis. Horses are athletes of DANCING, SPRINTING, RUNNING and JUMPING. I think every category of riding, including barrels, calf-roping and reining, fits into a blend of dance, sprint, run and jump. That comes down to the tendons and ligaments of the leg and, above that, the hip and shoulder and the health of the spine and neck.
We invest in saddles and bridles that fit. We invest in icing, compressing, magnetic wave and other types of therapy for the legs. But icing my legs is temporary and being in my sneakers for the rest of the day and for the next week is long-term comfort.
Not to sound corny, but everyone needs these. It would be silly to say "Only actors and actresses should have orthotics," or "Only high-end athletes need to take care of their joints." Actually, every person who walks should be taking care of their bodies, right? If you've ever ridden in the back of a trailer with a horse, you will get exhausted trying to stand up. The minute (or obvious) road vibration, the turns, the stopping and going. Being stuck in traffic with Highway 5 heat pounding overhead and seeping in up the floor. Trailering can be exhausting.
So what if you are "only meeting up with friends for a trail ride". Put his Clouds on. Take that stress off his knees and his hips. Take the road vibration out of his limbs. Take the heat off the floor mats on those ridiculous SoCal Summer days.
Got a mare being sent to stud for live cover? I'm sure I'd be happier to go meet Prince Charming and get home with my Clouds on. Glass slippers are out of the question.
So what if you "only" warmed up, jumped for 45 minutes and then walked your horse to the wash rack and hosed him off. When you pull a saddle, put his Clouds on. Let him sink into his sneakers and get his bath time, cool down time and stall rest in his new favorite "house slippers".
Director of Sales
Through a lifetime of "horse crazy" and the fortunate experience of riding nearly every shape and size of horse, I got to see a wide array of hoof shapes and sizes. No Hoof, No Horse is very true to me. I want to ensure that horses on every continent have a variety of footwear to pick from, to ensure the best match is found. I want your partner to be happy from the ground up!