Submitted by Devan Mills, EasyCare Customer Service Representative
One of the great things about working for EasyCare is that I have the opportunity to use and experiment with all of the products. By doing this, it allows me to give better guidance to anyone who may call-in looking to use EasyCare products in a nontraditional way. With all of our products we do hours, months, even years of testing to perfect them, however, as anyone involved with horses knows there are countless disciplines. As much as we would like to test every one of our products for every discipline it just cannot happen, and that is where a little commonsense and my experimentation comes in. By just looking at some of our boots and shoes you can tell they will not work. This is where the commonsense part happens. For example, using the EasySoaker on a trail ride, it’s not going to work. Unless you are taking it to use as a bucket or cup. Then go for it, it will work for that! Or trying to use the Easyboot Trail to condition a Race Horse. If you are conditioning that race horse by trail riding, this is absolutely an option. However, if you are conditioning him at Churchill Downs in Trails you may need your noggin checked.
All of us at EasyCare have come from different horse backgrounds which allows for us to bounce ideas back and forth or even ask what certain terminology means. I was lucky enough to grow up around horses and have had the opportunity to dabble in quite a few different areas. The majority of that, has been Western or stock type horses, cow horses, barrel racing, roping, ranch horses and the list goes on. The western world, while wide-ranging, I believe tends to be very traditional. Many things have been done the same exact way for hundreds of years. I love tradition and treasure it, but I also believe there has to be progression. At least one person will jump out of the box and try something new. It may work or it may not, but at least someone tried. Whether that progression is in nutrition, training, rehabilitation, health, or hoof care, I believe taking chances in moderation, can most certainly be worth it.
We have had quite a few people curious if you can barrel race in any of our products, especially with the release of the Flip Flop and the increased popularity of the EasyShoes. That curiosity is sparked by many different reasons but I believe the top three are: 1. Owners looking for another option, 2. Referral from a friend or farrier and/or 3. The horse will not hold a traditional steel shoe. Since I barrel race, these inquiries are passed my way and I truly enjoy helping to find a solution. This also sparks my interest in trying different things on my horse. Just so this is known: I am not a farrier, trimmer or hoof care professional. I do have access to great resources that allow me to confidently try these products on my horses. Acknowledge I know my horses well, I know the products well and I do my research by reading different articles, blogs and listening to feed back. I am also not a professional barrel racer, horse trainer or anything like that, nor do I claim to be. I am a weekend warrior barrel racer at best. I do not venture far from home, typically compete in open 4D barrel races as well as open rodeo’s that are within a short driving distance. My horse on the other hand is nicer than I deserve, when everything is clicking she will make a 1D run and when I am being a terrible jockey she clocks in the 2 or 3D. If this whole “D” business is making absolutely no sense click here to better understand the D system that is used in barrel racing.
Ok enough of my banter, I am sure the suspense is killing everyone as to what I took a chance on. There were two items or procedures I ended up testing out. I had toyed with the idea most of the summer to run my horse in the Flip Flop and finally took that chance. I applied Flip Flops on her hind feet and modified Glue-On shells on her fronts along with modifying the gluing process for the front Glue-On's. I followed all of the gluing protocol for gluing the Flip Flops but did not add the optional pour-in pad. I had used the Equipak Soft when previously using the Flip Flops but wanted to see how my mare would do without the pad. The reason I did not use the Flip Flop all the way around is because I did not have the size she needed on hand for her fronts. I can without a doubt say that the Flip Flop can be used for barrel racing. She had plenty of traction and worked awesome which told me she was feeling good. We also were a 10th of a second faster than our previous run, made in the same arena on the same pattern. I know a 10th does not seem like much, but in any speed event it is. I also believe that she was just as comfortable without a pour in pad as she would have been with a pour in pad. The need of a pad really depends on the individual horse. I would not hesitate at all to make a run with the Flip Flops on her fronts as well. Next spring with out a doubt that is what she will have on all four. I can understand potential users concern as to the horse over reaching and possible pulling of the Flip Flop or tripping them self, it is always a possibility that a horse can over reach with a boot, a steel shoe, Glue on shoe, and yes even a bare foot horse. The Flip Flop is no different, since it is trimmed to fit it actually might be a better option for those horses that over reach since you can trim it to the exact length needed. If you are on the fence about using the Flip Flop for any event, I say go for it! This product is much more versatile than users first tend to believe and in my opinion can be used in just about any situation. It is also a great choice for someone that wants to try gluing for the first time because of how easy and successful the application process is.
The modification I made to the Glue-On was cutting holes out of the sole. I elected to use the modified Glue-On shells on her fronts for added traction. This modification would make the Glue-On similar to a rim shoe. I used a past blog as guidance for putting a hole in the Glue-on written by Christoph Schork. The major risk I took was gluing the shells on with only Sikaflex, I have talked to quite a few people that were wondering if it was indeed possible. I had success on two different occasions gluing the shells with the sole cut out with only Sikaflex. I did prep the hoof the same as I would if I were going to use Vettec Adhere. I did use more Sikaflex then I would if using Adhere as well, making sure to completely cover the base of the boot that was still intact and then also adding Sikaflex up the wall of the Glue-On. When applying the Glue-On to her hoof, I made sure to have my rubber mallet handy and was diligent in making sure the hoof was seated well in the boot. I then put her foot into the plastic sack that the shell came in and put an Rx boot on, this was to insure that the shell would say in place until the Sikaflex was somewhat set.
She hung out with all of this on her feet for most of the day either tied up or in a small turn out. One could also leave the Gaiter attached overnight and then remove the Gaiter once the Sikaflex is set, one of our team EasyBoot members shared how to use Sikaflex with the Gloves and then remove the gaiter. Gluing with only Sikaflex is not something you would want to do if you are going out on a long ride, unless you were to have an extra boot handy. Since my trailer was right there and I have everything I would need to reapply a Glue-On or just put one of my Gloves on I was not concerned with the possibility of losing a Glue-On. When I went to remove the Glue-On's that I only had used Sikaflex they were very secure on the hoof, very similar to when I apply them with Vettec Adhere. The first time I used Sikaflex only to glue, I left the shells on for 3 days, the second application I left them on for over 6 days (secretly hoping they would fall off), they did not fall off I ended up have to pull them, and they were undeniably glued well and not going to be falling off anytime soon.
I would love to be able to run my horse barefoot but after attempting to last summer and seeing what I was up against with the conditions outside of the arena I came to the conclusion she is not a great candidate to be left bare all the time and needs protection when we are coming in and out of the arena where I am likely to be on anything from grass to asphalt. Being able to experiment with our different products has been and will be a way for me to better help anyone looking for that other option with their horse. Keep in mind I have a lot of great resources at my fingertips along with the products, this allows me to take a chance with much less risk involved than if our customers were to try the same things. If you are in doubt about doing something off the beaten path with one of our products give us a call, we will do our best to answer any questions, tell you it won’t work or get you in contact with someone that will have answers you are looking for. For success with any EasyCare product we always recommend to follow our application guidelines. We have a plethora of detailed, videos, print outs and blogs to help guide users through the application of each product that we are constantly updating. If you are wanting to try a product in a situation that you are not positive it will work contact us we are more than happy to speak with you about it. I would only recommend to experiment and modify if you have time, resources and an open mind. The first time I experiment or modify anything it is always with a used item that I am not concerned about losing or ruining, this is a great second life for my pile of stinky, torn up, worn out boots.