Written by Daniel Meegan, The Natural Barefoot Farrier
The EasyShoe Versa Grip line includes multiple styles of shoes that really are versatile. This line of shoes is the main staple in my hoof care practice for many reasons. I have applied Versa shoes to cutting horses, barrel horses, endurance horses, rehab cases for various issues, trail horses, roping horses, lesson horses, and hobby horses.
My personal favorite is the Versa Grip Golds. To start off, my clients love that I jokingly spare no expense on their fur babies by applying a shoe with the word “GOLD” in it.
With the Golds, as I will refer to them, I can make simple modifications as needed with either my rasp and nippers, a hand grinder with a slap sanding disk, or, if I have the ability to plug my trailer in, I will use my belt sander. The belt sander makes fast work of removing any excess material.
After trimming the horse, I look at the shape of the hoof and determine if I need to select a front or hind pattern. Depending on the horse, I have used both fronts and hinds interchangeably. I have used the front pattern on the back to cheat my breakover further back, or placed a hind shoe on the front of either a long-footed horse or a mule. After determining the shape, I will decide on the particular Versa shoe that fits what I am trying to accomplish with the shoe package I am applying.
Versa Grip Lights are another style in the Versa line that I like to apply to healthy, barefoot horses going on multiple-day rides. These shoes work well in situations like this when the owner does not want the hassle of putting on and taking off boots throughout a long trip.
I don’t have to change my barefoot trim when I’m going to apply the Versa Grip Lights. The shoe molds to the natural barefoot trim, versus having to do a flat trim commonly used for shoes. The Light shoe offers the maximum amount of flexibility in the Versa line. With that being said, I typically only choose to use the Versa Grip Lights for my barefoot horses that might need a little more protection while riding outside of their regular riding routines.
I will also use Versa Grip Lights in rehab cases involving casting. They can easily be glued directly onto the hoof. After gluing them on, I can go back to adjust breakover with a rasp or grinder. This shoe allows you to shape it into a rocker while it’s attached to the horse, if need be.
The Versa Grip shoe is my go-to when I need to stabilize the toe while I work on a seedy toe or a quarter crack. It has a full-metal plate to minimize flexion within the hoof capsule while still offering the same shock absorption benefits as the rest of the Versa line.
The Versa Grips and Grip Golds have quarter clips to help maintain the positioning of the shoe. These clips allow me to use four nails, instead of six, if I feel the horse’s hooves are strong enough to keep the shoe in place.
Along with quarter clips, the Versa line has a feature called a rock guard. The rock guard lays flat against the sole to prevent rocks and other foreign debris from building up around the perimeter of the under side of the shoe. Whether this is needed for a rehab case, or to just add protection and support to any horse, these shoes give you that capability.
I have seen the EasyShoe Versa line work wonders for a number of my clients’ horses. I have just a few examples to share here.
One client’s horse was diagnosed with tendinopathy on the front left when he showed signs of being uncomfortable while moving in circles to the left. Using the Versa Grip Golds, I was able to add dental impression material in the heels to support the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) and create omni-directional breakover around the foot to relieve additional stress to the soft tissue.
I have another client that runs a carriage business during the holiday season that takes families around to look at Christmas lights. The Versa line has benefitted her horses during this past season compared to traditional metal shoes. I have seen the polyurethane Versa shoes help her horses deal with the concussion of working on asphalt and cobble stone roads for five hours a day.
I would say a horse wearing traditional shoes is comparable to you wearing tap dancing shoes to run a half marathon, while a horse wearing Versa shoes is comparable to you wearing running shoes for that same half marathon.
The Versa line has proven its capability in handling the rigorous workload of running barrels. The Versa shoe is a bar shoe that is flexible. Cougar is a retired roping horse turned barrel racer. I put him in Versas, and Cougar now has support for his DDFT while maintaining flexibility in the back of the hoof. This helps lift his shoulder and keeps him from bogging down in the turns. The Versas are helping Cougar and his rider, Hayden, become a force to be reckoned with in the North Texas area.
Park and Play is a horse that a client asked me to come look at. He was one of her dear friend’s horses that she truly loved. After talking to the vet and getting clarification, it was determined he had been diagnosed with navicular syndrome. Park and Play was spending 50-75% of his day laying down. The owner wanted to try one last thing before having to put him down.
I pulled his metal shoes with a wedge pads. Park and Play showed major discomfort in his retracted heels. I decided to go with the Versa Grip Golds. After trimming and fitting the shoe, I ground heavy, omni-directional breakover into the shoe. I also used dental impression material to add full support to the back of the hoof and expand the heels as much as possible.
With he soft feel of the polyurethane and dental impression material, Park and Play was able to stand up more and have a higher quality of life. He even began getting regular turnout. After a few resets, we were able to remove the dental impression material and continue with the simple modification of adding breakover and maintaining proper angles. Now he is regularly turned out with his herd mates, and he even kicks up his hooves on occasion while rough-housing. He is loving being retired and treated like a king.
I believe having the EasyShoe Versa line in your inventory is a great addition to any and all farrier practices. I will continue to use them in my everyday practice and highly recommend you take a look into them, as well.