April 25, 2015

EasyCare Glove Fit Kit: The Trial

After many failed attempts, I finally made it out to the barn to try the Fit Kit this afternoon. You can get the kit from EasyCare directly or through Riding Warehouse, both for the same price. The difference? EasyCare gives you 30 days to try them versus 7 days with RW. RW however lets you pick any three sizes whereas EasyCare has you chose one size and then sends half a size larger and smaller as your three boots to trial. In the end, I went with EC because I knew I needed more than a 7 day window.

I ordered the size 1 kit which gave me a 0.5, 1, and 1.5 to try.

One disclaimer: it has been 3 weeks, (maybe even 4 I would have to go back and look) since her trim and you really are supposed to do it right after a fresh trim. I knew this going in, so figured her feet might be a bit too big for the right size, but again things prevented me from getting there any sooner so I was left with what I had.

I pulled her in and man she is looking gorgeous this spring!! It had just finished raining yet again and so I used the cross ties in the barn.

From my previous measurements, I was pretty confident that the 0.5 would fit on her hinds, so I started there. I began with the 1.0 figuring they would be too big, but since this was my first time using these I wanted an easier fit to practice with. As I figured, it slid right on without any effort and the front wedge didn't form the V it needed to.

Right hind in the Easyboot Glove #1.You can see the front wedge hasn't sprung open at all and there is a gap along the upper hoof wall. Much too big. 

Right hind in the #1. You can see from his angle the gap between the boot and the hoof wall. Too big. 

I wasn't concerned about this lack of fit knowing I had measured her as a solid 0.5 and so I grabbed that boot next. It was a little more snug to get on, but with a small amount of twisting it slid onto the hoof. I had watched all the videos and they didn't use a mallet on any of the demo horses and just twisted, so I thought maybe this was ok.

Right hind in the 0.5. A little more of a V shape to the front and less gap to the side wall, but still too big.
Right hind in the 0.5. A little better fit, but still too big.
Huh? Seriously, when I measured she was a solid 0.5. If anything these should have been too snug given 3 weeks of hoof growth. Apparently, I can't measured with a darn. 

A bit sullen, I moved to the front. From my, now fairly meaningless, prior measurements the front right hoof should be my biggest pain in the rear. I started there and grabbed the #1 boot again. I had been worried that she would need a 1.5 or 2 for the length of this hoof. Well, the #1 slid on easily and looked a bit large. I ditched it without snapping any shots and moved on to the 0.5 on the right front. 

It fit perfectly. It took a little muscle and twisting to get it on and the front formed the perfect V with no gap on the side walls and the rear coming to the perfect hight on her heel bulbs. 

From right in the 0.5. Side wall is nice and tight. Should the rear come up higher on her heel bulbs??

Front right in the 0.5. Tight side walls, but should it come up higher?

Front right in the 0.5. Nice front V and no gap at the side walls.

I tried to pry it off and it was on there super tight. As I fought to get the darn thing off, I had an idea. Why not give her a run through in the muddy round pen to see how it stays on? We headed off and I let her loose and ran her through her gaits both direction. She was being an absolute pistol and gave several massive bucking fits letting me know that it had been way too long since I rode her last. 

The boot stayed put through it all and was still exceptionally difficult to get back off. I used the hoof pick to pry it off and thanks to advice from Karen, I made sure to check her heel bulbs for rubs. She had none. At her current foot shape and size, I think the 0.5 is a pretty good fit for her front right unless others see any glaring issues?

Once I got that one off, I moved to the front left and began again with the #1. 

It slid on with twisting and a bit of a push, so I was hopeful it would fit. I noticed that the hoof is much steeper in angle than her other 3 and that the overall fit wasn't as nice as on the right front. Overall though, there were not any side gaps and the back came up to a nice level. 

Left front in the #1. No gaps in the side wall

Left front in #1. Notice the nice V in the front.

Front left in the #1.
I tried to take it back off and it wasn't near as hard as the front right had been, but it still didn't come off easily. I decided to take her back to the round pen and give the #1 a try. It failed. It flew off her when she transitioned from a trot to a canter. 

Back in the barn we went and the 0.5 was tried. Holy crap was it hard to get on! Her toe would not seat into the boot very well given the steep angle of her hoof wall and I needed a mallet to get it on. It still seemed excessively snug, but we headed out to the round pen one last time. It stayed on through all her antics just fine. 

Front left 0.5

Front left 0.5. No gaps.

Front left 0.5. Nice V and no gapping.
The problem? When I went to remove them she had already had her heel bulbs mangled a bit from the boot being so tight. Now, her heels are very wet right now from the rain, but still this was after 5 minutes of work in the round pen. Imagine what would happen after 50 miles on varied terrain.

So....after all of that.....

  1. Her hind feet are definitely better shaped for hoof boots in general, but I already knew that. I know her fronts are too vertical, but if I can get boots to fit well enough to not hurt her and stay on it is a win. 
  2. I completely messed up my measurements some how and none of the boots I ordered are small enough for her hinds. She will need either a 0 or 0.05 back there. Next time I will get a 0 fit kit to have the 0.05, 0 and 0.5. 
  3. The front right fit the 0.5 near perfect and that is 3 weeks out from a trim. Question is will it still work so nice right after a trim? Probably not, but I think the 0 will be way too tight on her. I'm thinking 0.5 with a powerstrap on the front right should be just about right. 
  4. The front left at this length is too large for the 0.5 and too small for the 1. I'm thinking that right after a trim the 0.5 may fit just right and not need the powerstrap. This should allow the boot to fit without rubbing her raw. Also, I can have the farrier try to fix that high angle some as well. 
  5. Renegades would probably actually fit her rears just fine, but honestly I would rather her be in the same boot for all 4 if possible.
My plan...

Figure out when the farrier is coming out next. Probably in another 3-4 weeks. Once I have him scheduled, I will order the Fit Kit size 0 which will allow me to have smaller sizes to try on her hinds and still keep the 0.5 for her front. I will try them on her immediately after the trim and see the difference it makes on the fit on the front. If I can't get the Gloves to work well on her fronts without causing issues, I will then try the Epics on those and keep gloves for her hinds. 

Thoughts, advice, suggestions etc...are all welcomed and needed please!!!!!


  1. The fit looks good on the front right. For the front left you might have to go with the bigger boot and use power straps (it basically closes the V). I am having the same issue on my rears (both) because the 0's are too small and the .5's are too big. They work well enough, although I do tend to lose them more frequently once they've gotten wet. I would rather have a slightly large boot than deal with the heel rubs from wearing a smaller boot.

    In looking at the pictures of the LF, I'm not sure the boot was entirely seated the first time you tried the size one. It looks to me like it needs to be better fitted into the toe. (It's so hard to tell not being there.) If the .5's gave her mangled heel bulbs, then they are too tight, for sure. Hopefully your farrier can help you with the trim to make it a better fit.

    Good luck.

    1. Thanks Karen! Roughly how much tighter does the powerstrap make it? I see what you mean about not getting the toe in with the #1 on the left front boot. I didn't use the mallet on that one and looking back I should have. Her hoof is so tall that it makes getting the toe all the way in difficult.

    2. The power strap just keeps the boot from flexing open in the front. I have them on both back feet and even with the powerstrap the boot is a little loose, especially after getting them wet. I lost a boot on Saturday, but that was the day he was trimmed, we had crossed water twice and he had forged with that foot going uphill. I find that if I get off and tighten the gaiters after crossing water, that seems to help. So the power strap tightens the front of the boot and removes the gap between the boot and the hoof wall. Hope that helps.

      One of the issues of fitting a hoof that has just been trimmed is that you will either have to trim or shape the outside of the hoof to get the boot on between weeks five and eight. I figure that if the boots fit well between week 2 to week 6, I can deal with them being a little loose at the beginning and a little tight toward the end. I've gotten pretty good at using a hoof pick to help pry them on over the misshaped hooves. Even on the hooves that are easy to fit into the boot, I always smack the front of the boot onto the toe to ensure a good fit. I also figure that bruising the heel bulbs is the last thing I want to risk.

  2. I'm sorry, I don't have time to figure out how to be very diplomatic about this: boots are never going to work with your current trim. Easycare OR Renegade. Your farrier is probably great at nailing on shoes but he's shit at a performance barefoot trim. Either be happy with totally bare feet or fire that dude and get someone else. I'm serious.

    After you've hired a new person who knows how to do a proper barefoot trim, measure again and order another fit kit and try again. (it's not that you're shit at measuring, it's really hard - that's why they offer the fit kit! even pros can't measure and fit right on the first try!)

    A couple more things: You can't tell if the heel bulbs are going to rub unless you're using actual Gloves. It's the neoprene gaiter that rubs, not the rubbery shell that you're using to fit.

    Compare your side shots with my side shots (from a random test of too-big boots a couple years ago). The red ones are 1's and too big; the black ones are stretched-out old 0.5's and still barely fit, but she could go in slightly smaller boots than the black ones even. What I want you to look at is the side shots: see how the hairline matches the line of the boot? And see how your hairline isn't parallel to your boot line? Your heels are WAY too high and your angles are totally off. Boots are never going to stay on those hooves!

    1. Funder - I really appreciate the frankness on this. I know her heels are very high and that was my whole concern with going to boots in the first place. My head might be up my butt on this but here is my concern with taking all that heel off: she has been like this for 16 years with the past 5 being barefoot riding many, many miles on various terrain. Its how her feet want to be. Would taking it all off and completely changing the angles/shape of her hoof (no matter how slowly done) affect her movement?

      There is one barefoot trimmer in my area. Since I have tried everyone else who comes here in the last 2 years and hated them all, I will give her a try next and see what she comes up with. I am toying with the idea of just doing it on my own, but have no clue where to even begin.

      I would just leave her bare since she is performing just fine that way, but there are many rides near me that require hoof protection. I hate to miss half the rides just do to that.

    2. I'm with Funder.

      And regarding starting on your own, just take a little bit off each time you're out there. A few swipes with the rasp each time. I'd be willing to even make a video showing you what I do and what I'd recommend for her if you'd like? It sounds way scarier than it is. Starting with only a little at a time can't get you in trouble. I'm self-taught and have never lamed either of my horses. I believe in you and know you can do with Gem!!

    3. Liz - that would be amazingly helpful! I have a friend here who uses a bare foot trimmer and contacted her for the number. I know she is super aggressive though and that makes me worried. If Gem was being pulled lame or having issues on hard/rocky surfaces I would have no problems changing up her feet, but she isn't. I just don't really know what to do :(

    4. Okay, this is the FOURTH time I try to write this comment, so it BETTER NOT DISAPPEAR BLOGGER!!

      What I'm trying to say for the fourth time, and get ready for the longest comment ever:
      1. I was shocked by how much Gem's hooves have changed since your photos of her trim 4 weeks ago.
      2. I personally think she should be trimmed far more often if this is what you have at the end of 4 weeks. I'd be having her trimmed again now, not in another 4 weeks. Even when Lily had front shoes, the longest she went between farrier visits was 5 weeks. She was always on a completely different schedule from the rest of the barn. My farriers/trimmers never had an issue with this because:
      a) It was less work for them if they came more often
      b) They got paid the same even if they spent less time shoeing/trimming
      c) I have a well-behaved horse who made hoof work a breeze
      3. Once she was barefoot, her trimming schedule was religiously every 4 weeks. I bought my own rasp online and started doing a small maintenance trim halfway into the trim cycle (2 weeks in) because I would start noticing changes by then. My last trimmer in FL was a performance barefoot trimmer and she actually took the time to show me how to look at hoof and pastern angles, how to know how much to trim by looking at the hoof from above and below, how to read a horse's soles, heels and bars, how to place a horse's feet on the hoof stand correctly and how to hold the rasp correctly for a more efficient trim. I didn't pay extra for her to teach me: me doing maintenance trims made my trimmer's life easier, so she had no issues with showing me some of what she knew.

      This knowledge would prove to be invaluable later on.

      In MD I used one of my first barn's farriers. She was both a performance trimmer and farrier and was considered one of the best in the state. So you can imagine how I felt when, due to some pretty epic drama between herself and the BM, she fired the entire barn. I was terrified of hiring someone else: Lily had been doing so well up until that point, and she had just recovered from a ligament injury to a hind leg. (This barn had a chute through where the horses had to gallop through to get to the barnyard and horses were constantly getting injured through there. At the time of Lily's layup, there were a total of 8 horses with soft tissue injuries on stall rest.) I looked up some local-to-me trimmers but they weren't well known so I started trimming Lily full time. Always with the plan to call in a professional if I needed to. But it's been almost 2 years now and I continue to do all of the trimming work myself. I have my own stand and buy a new rasp every 6 months or so.

  3. Most people trimming their own horses for the first time start out doing a small trim once a week or every two weeks. As you get braver you can start waiting longer between trims. Over the winter my two went 2 months without trimming but they were moving plenty in the pasture and in winter hoof growth slows down anyway. Once I could bend over without dizziness, I spent a few weeks doing small weekly trims until I had them where I wanted.

    With Lily I've used pretty much all of the approaches: severe, where I brought her toes back to her white lines in the hopes of straightening out her flared, flat RF (it didn't make a difference); moderate, where I trimmed every 2 weeks like clockwork, and super laid-back like now: if her hooves look long, I'll take the rasp out. Sometimes 4 weeks go by before I feel the need to, sometimes I do a weekly trim for 2 or 3 weeks straight. It depends on what we're doing and how her feet are growing. Nothing I've ever done has ever hurt her. It was terrifying to start, but as you continue working on their feet and watching the changes and learning to read the hooves, you start to get so much more confident about what you're doing!

    Gracie is both simpler and a little more complicated: when I first got her, she had long toes and very high, contracted heels from simply standing around in a pasture for 8 months. I had the barn farrier trim her (different barn) and he did a nice job of backing and rolling her toes moderately, and lowering her heels within reason. After that I just rode her all over creation over varied terrain and let her feet tell me what they needed. Her heels lowered and widened simply with the work, and every couple of weeks I would just even out her toes. She has medial flares on her hinds that she needs, so I leave those alone. After her ringbone diagnosis last summer, I started being more diligent about keeping her toes on her front hooves short and rolled: it minimized tripping.

    Here is a post with some before and after photos of Gracie's hooves: http://waitingforthejump.blogspot.com/2014/08/of-not-mountains.html There are some photos of Lily's hooves as well. She had an episode of severe sole bruising last spring as a result of standing in fetlock-deep mud for an entire week (poor pasture management), followed by a hard freeze. Her feet did some amazing things to recover and I documented it in that post. I stopped micromanaging her feet after that event.

  4. So over the winter when I couldn't trim them, Gracie's heels did get a little high and a little contracted. Not as much as in that "before" photo in the blog post, but her feet were not as pretty as in the "after" photo. But I knew how her feet should look like when in full work, so what did I do? I trimmed her feet to look like that "after" photo: I lowered her heels to where I already knew she would have them if she was in full work. This allowed her frogs to come more in contact with the ground, allowing the hooves to widen again. We're still not doing 20 miles a week so I continue to touch up her heels every now and then. It really does help *this horse* with heel-first landings. For the record, I've never had to ride Gracie in boots over any surface. She has amazing gravel crunchers. So this trim works for her because it is based on how she self-trims.

    My point with this uber-long comment? You already know what Gem's hooves should look like when she self-trims to what works for her. You can totally take a rasp and have them look like that again. Riding is better, but most of us don't have the time to ride 20 miles every single week to allow a horse to self-trim. And in our wetter East coast, horses are exposed to lush grass and more mud than the wild mustangs and the horses out West, which changes the way a hoof self-trims.

    Is it a terrifying process to start trimming yourself? Yes it is. Oh man, it is. But doing a little bit at a time is not going to hurt her, and the longer you do it, the more confident you'll be. It will allow you to use boots, you won't have to worry so much about not being able to ride her as much, and in the long run, it might even save you money on the farrier. ;) And you will learn SO MUCH about Gem's feet in the process!

    1. Saiph - Thank you for taking the time to post that not once but 4 times :) I will admit I am scared to death to rasp her myself. When left to her own devices and not ridden much she grows a ton of hoof and it is always tall and vertical. When I can keep 10-15 miles of hard pack or rock trail riding on her a week she self trims nicely, but life isn't allowing me to do even that much right now. You have calmed me down significantly about it, so thank you!!! I am planning on having the area barefoot trimmer out. She comes highly recommended by another area endurance rider who rides barefoot most of the time and boots when the course mandates it. I am hoping she is super nice and will teach me how to do it myself in between trimmings and perhaps someday I will get confident enough to do what you do and just handle her myself.

    2. Yep. Saiph nailed it. I do all of the above. I'm just not as good at narrating it all out in a comment! Haha