When Eric Knapp gets a new client, he starts by evaluating the needs of horse and rider alike. He enjoys passing on knowledge and ideas to help the horse. He assesses environment, diet, hooves and physical needs.
Eric believes the hoof care industry is in great flux and that as boot technology evolves, therapy horses, pleasure horses and working horses are all able to live their lives more comfortably without shoes. "People are learning that boots can do the job of traditional shoes and that they last longer," says Eric. "My clients are often surprised to find that the boots of today are much easier to use than prior models."
Eric lives in central Illinois with his wife and two children, but his trimming business takes him from Chicago to Missouri and from Indiana to Iowa. After 20 years of driving a semi, he turned his dream job into a reality four years ago and started trimming horses full-time. He is now a member of the American Hoof Association and specializes in the natural trim.
The Knapp family currently owns five horses that they taking out camping and riding throughout the Midwest. When asked about his favorite event, Eric doesn’t even hesitate: "Each year I ride with a group of people to the Fort Madison Rodeo in Iowa: the trip is about 115 miles. The first year I went barefoot, but the second year I used Easyboot Glue-Ons with Goober Glue. The boots gave my horse added protection and comfort. In fact all 17 horses on the ride were booted, barefoot and happy."
If you ask Eric what he attributes his success to, he’ll tell you it that much of it comes from a good product that is user friendly. "Your boots are easy to put on and simple to modify so it makes my job easier." As an EasyCare dealer, Eric likes to carry Glue-Ons, Gloves, Epics, and Easyboot Rx. He also keeps a supply of comfort pads in all densities and sizes, power straps and spare boot parts. "By far my best selling product is the Easyboot Glove: people like how simple, easy to put on, and durable it is." He prefers the Rx boot for therapy and the Glove as riding boot. For people transitioning their horses from steel to boots, he usually recommends the Epic.
Eric’s great success story was a Cushing’s horse that had foundered and had a rotated coffin bone when he first met it. He gave him a natural trim and put him in Rx boots with a pair of comfort pads. He cut a hole in the pads where the tip of the Coffin bone was and it gave the horse instant relief. "When I drove up, the horse could barely walk: it was in obvious pain. But by the time I left he was walking considerably better. That’s a good feeling to know that you brought some comfort to a horse in pain."
Looking forward, Eric believes the barefoot trim is the healthiest option for a horse. "I believe horse hoof boots are the horseshoe of the 21st century. You can do about anything with a boot that you can do with a horseshoe. The new Glue-Ons and Gloves provide endless options for horse owners."