Submitted by Monique Chaisson-Williams, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I have a confession. I’m “one of those people”. I loved horses as a teenager but never owned one until I was in my mid-40s. Growing up in Tucson, AZ, I had plenty of access to other people’s horses and I did everything I could to be around and ride them. I learned a lot about riding and handling horses, but very little about horse care. I worked as a wrangler, but I never had horses in my back yard, I didn’t show, I never took lessons, and my parents knew nothing about horses.

When I finally decided – at the age of 45 – that I was old enough to own a horse, the balance and muscle memory of my childhood allowed me to quickly pick up as a rider where I had left off 30 years earlier, in much the same way that one never forgets how to ride a bike. However the day I handed over the check for my new mount, I felt a wave of panic come over me as I realized that I had no idea how to care for this animal on a daily basis. Now that I am a few years into my horse adventure, I have come to realize that my lack of knowledge – which I viewed as a tremendous handicap at the start – has become my greatest asset, especially for my horse.

With a wealth of information at our disposal, today’s horse owners are far more sophisticated and the supportive technology and products for optimal horse care has evolved tremendously. After a 30-year hiatus, I find myself in the midst of an evolution in everything equine. There has been significant development and groundbreaking work in equine care, training, nutrition, sport, and equipment – endurance saddles, gel pads, western dressage, one-rein stops, bitless bridles, competitive trail riding, and of course hoof care products and boots. These things were all new to me. In fact, I had never really looked at a shoeless hoof. To me, that crescent of steel was as much a part of the hoof as the frog.

Before I finally took my horses barefoot last year, I did my research. I read articles on the internet, consulted with veterinarians, ferriers, and experienced horse owners. If I was going to try this barefoot thing, I’d have to do it right. I wanted to avoid all the “I told you so” comments from the people at my barn that asserted that the desert terrain was too harsh for a barefoot horse. I knew that the proper use of the right boots was going to be the key to my success. The boots I was looking for had to be easy to put on and take off; they had to stay on up rocky slopes, through water, and down long sandy washes; they had to be comfortable for my horse; and not break the bank.  Before I pulled the shoes, I searched for the perfect boot for over a year and one day while trail-riding, I saw a horse outfitted with the Easyboot Glove. BINGO – just one look and I knew I had found the missing key!

Competing in an ACTHA ride in November 2011. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer LaBelle, Silver Buckle Photography.)

The other obstacle I encountered was the erroneous belief that replacing the toe weights and heel cocks with boots would cause my walking horse to lose her smooth four-beat gait. Having no prior experience with gaited horses, I feared they might be right but I took my chances and I am so glad I did. In fact, I found that her gait has improved as a barefoot and booted equine. A proper barefoot trim is required for the use of the Gloves, and I am a huge fan of the Gloves to this day. My horses have never been sore and they gait better now than they ever did with shoes. A well-fitted glove will usually stay on through thick and thin. Over hundreds of miles, my Gloves have slipped off only twice and it was due to operator error (too large or failure to clean dirt out of the toe). They don’t fill with sand or water, and when you do get a flat tire it sounds like a flat tire, and the gaiter usually keeps the Glove attached to the pastern so you don’t lose it.

The thing I am looking forward to most these days is settling in and maturing together with my horses, riding and exploring with them for many years to come, and establishing a long track record of barefoot soundness. My evolution from steel shoes to Easyboots is a decision I’ve never regretted for a moment and I don’t believe I ever will.

Monique Chaisson-Williams