Welcome to the HorseEASE blog! My name is Mystic Pope and I’m the founder of HorseEASE and the creator of the HorseEASE Moon Boot, a pre-constructed adhesive hoof wrap designed to simplify the traditional hoof wrapping process. I’m guessing some may question why I’ve called this wrap a “moon boot,” so I’ll begin my blogging career (as this is very much a first for me!) with giving a little background of the Moon Boot, how it came into being, and why I call it the HorseEASE Moon Boot.
HOW THE MOON BOOT WAS BROUGHT TO LIFE
Many times in life, you will come across things that are considered the status quo, that are simply accepted as the way of things. “This is how we’ve always done it. Yeah, it’s not perfect, but that’s just the way it is.” That’s what the traditional, self-made duct tape wrap is. “Simply the way it is.” If you ask any horseperson how to take care of a hoof injury, you may get a few variations on how to medicate the hoof, but you’ll always get the same final step: make an adhesive wrap for the protective outer layer. While there are some products on the market which are reusable wraps made of materials such as nylon, rubber, and leather, those wraps cost a minimum of $30, going all the way up to $130 for the high-end variety. The majority of horse owners are going to pick the cheap option of making a boot from scratch. It might fall off, it might drive you nuts to make, but hey, it’s cheap. And after all, that’s just the way it is.
Well, in 2013, we had the worst year ever with hoof abscesses. Not only did they occur frequently, in several horses, but when they occurred they were mighty! It seemed like with each abscess, we were treating the hoof for almost 3 weeks at a time before it either blew out or was absorbed.
With each abscess, we trucked out to the barn, rain or shine, to soak and bandage the hoof, trying to provide at least some comfort to the poor horse. And with that came the painstaking task of making that duct tape hoof wrap. Usually, you would take duct tape and make a (roughly) 12” x 12” square over the bars of the stall, then cut slits diagonally from each corner towards the center of the wrap. The issues with this bandage are plentiful. First, you have to make sure you plan ahead and actually make the 12” x 12” square before getting your horse and beginning the soaking and treatment. If you forget to prep that, then you’re stuck with having to make it while your horse’s hoof is soaking, which brings its own issues. If you have an impatient horse, which they all seem to become after having to deal with this even just a few times, you have to be on high alert to keep your horse still so he doesn’t knock over the soaking bucket while you’re trying to make the wrap and ensure the duct tape strips don’t stick to themselves or stick to the dusty walls of the stall, and also lay nicely in the grid without wrinkling. It’s a lot going on at one time! Let’s also not forget the sound the duct tape makes when it’s unrolled. If you haven’t desensitized your horse to that sound, you may very well be dealing with a nervous horse reacting to an unknown stimulus.
Next comes the application. The bandaged hoof is placed in the center of the wrap and the panels are folded up around the hoof. Sounds easy enough, but when you’re actually doing it, lots of things can, and do, happen. For one, you have to hold this huge wrap in your hand and make sure it doesn’t stick to itself, which can be very challenging on a windy day or with an irritated horse, while getting up under the horse and having him pick up his hoof. Or it can come in contact with the ground if your horse has become agitated and starts trying to pull his hoof out of your grip. I have had a vet demonstrate that you can stick the wrap to your own pant leg while you’re padding the hoof with cotton, medicating any blown abscesses, and wrapping the hoof with the vetwrap, so the duct tape wrap is within reach (on your pant leg) and you can put it on the hoof immediately after wrapping with vetwrap. A seasoned vet can make this whole process look like a kindergartener could do it; however, I found that in my own movements during the medicated bandaging process, I made the whole darn duct tape wrap stick to me. It was a big problem with having to peel it off of my leg. Even some of the duct tape had folded in on itself, so the wrap was one of the worst I had ever put on.
As far as the wrap itself is concerned, many times you will find that the sizing is not the most accurate. Either you’ve made the wrap too small and you have to add more duct tape directly to the wrapped hoof, or you’ve made it too big and you’re trying to hack away at the excess tape around the hoof. In either case, the wrap is probably fairly bulky around the toe and edge of the hoof due to the “design” of the square wrap. It’s like trying to fit a round peg to a square hole. The diagonal slits from the corners to the center help fold the panels around the hoof, but there’s still a lot of bulk.
During our “Year of Abscesses,” I just got fed up with the whole process. I understood that it was accepted that this was just the way abscesses had to be treated and if you wanted to eliminate having to make that wrap, then you were going to be spending at least $30 on a non-disposable substitute which had issues of its own. But there was a nagging thought in the back of my mind that said there had to be a way to offer the cost-effectiveness of the adhesive wrap with the convenience of the non-disposable boot options. I started experimenting with designs and materials to bring my vision to life of an adhesive wrap that was ready to slap on the bandaged hoof straight out of the package, but was inexpensive to the user. It wasn’t long before I was onto a great design.
WHY IT’S CALLED A MOON BOOT
I’ve actually been working in the equine industry for almost 22 years now, and way back in the day, I couldn’t wait to get that special horse job that allowed me to be around them every day. In 2001, my prayers were answered and I started an apprenticeship with Dana Gardner, the owner and trainer at Gardner Arabians in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This job was truly pivotal in my life as it introduced me to the ins and outs of every facet of caring for and training horses.
At Gardner Arabians, we had a few resident “old-timers” who became more like mascots to us, beloved in every way and retired after a lifetime of giving their all in the Arabian competition rings. One special horse in particular, Firelight (FL for short), seemed to always have hoof issues. Being an Arab-Saddlebred cross, he had the larger frame of the Saddlebred, but the feet of the smaller Arab. His weight tended to cause problems within the hoof later in life as it simply became too much to bear over time. Since FL could only get turned out for a few hours every day and we knew he wouldn’t create a ruckus because he was so immobile, we let him wander around the farm outside of all the pastures. And he would usually end his free time with eating Dana’s ferns in front of the barn!
Shortly after I began working there, FL had some excessive pain in his hooves so we called the vet out. The vet’s orders for extended care beyond the vet visit were to keep the hoof padded in the sole, wrapped with vetwrap to secure the padding, then make a duct tape wrap from scratch to keep the rest of the bandaging clean and dry. I had never wrapped a hoof before, so this was a completely new experience for me.
We had to do this every day to every other day for quite some time. And every time we put this wrap on him and watched him walk around the farm, with the chrome of the duct tape glimmering in the sun, we said he looked like he had a space boot on. From then on, the wrap was simply referred to as a “moon boot” or “space boot.”
So, thanks for taking the time to read about the background of the HorseEASE Moon Boot! Given that this is an entirely new experience for me, which I’m learning about as I go, I’ve decided to continue posting about this journey and share with you my experiences along the way. Keep in touch and don’t be afraid to offer feedback!