When you are immersed in a product, a company, a relationship or a new horse, it’s easy to get lost in the process and forget about the hard work you put in on a daily basis along the way. The young green horse you started with years ago isn’t quite there but now seems like a polished, perfect horse when you hop on a new youngster. It’s often hard to see the daily growth, but when you look back it’s evident that many hours and some frustrating moments helped shape the progress. The daily wet saddle blankets are the keys to progress in life and the reasons why horses, companies and relationships succeed.
A recent trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico gave me a great opportunity to reflect on EasyCare’s past and see first hand the progress we have made as a company. The quick 20 minute drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Pojoaque, New Mexico brought back memories of my daily commute to the EasyCare factory and the daily work routine.
We had a small crew then (1993) and the days were mixed with assembly work, customer service calls, shipping Easyboots around the world, order entry, repairs and ordering new materials. We were a small crew of three people that wore a bunch of hats and we enjoyed racing each other to see who could assemble an Easyboot from start to finish the fastest. Inventory, production, shipping and offices were packed neatly into 1,950 square feet. These are great memories of daily wet saddle blankets.
I had the opportunity to work side by side with Dr. Neel Glass in the early years and I respect his knowledge and forward thinking much more now than I did at the time. It’s obvious to me now that Neel was way ahead of his time. The thinking behind keeping a horse barefoot was not well accepted and most people either didn’t know anything about or weren’t interested in natural hoof care or hoof boots. If a horse lost a shoe, he was expected to tough it out until the farrier arrived. Very few people kept horses barefoot and used hoof boots as an alternative to iron shoes. Neel wrote “Is Shoeing a Necessary Evil?” back in the early days and it shows how far ahead he really was.
Neel’s original Easyboot continues to be one of our best-selling boots and we continue to move forward with new hoof boot designs and patents. EasyCare now has twelve different hoof boot designs that are used for veterinary purposes, a spare tire when a horse looses a shoe and, ideally, a complete alternative to iron horse shoes. Our new products are lighter than iron shoes, wear longer than iron shoes and a void of hardware and buckles.
When I look at the new designs I wonder why it took so long for us to get to this point but also recognize how the little successes and failures shape product lines and companies. There has been a great deal of trial and effort that has shaped our new product lines, but the majority of progress has come from customer feedback and making changes based on their suggestions.
I think the biggest change is that EasyCare is no longer alone in developing and producing hoof boots and alternative hoof care methods on a large scale. The theory is much more accepted and several other manufacturing companies are now helping spread the message. The web and social media platforms like blogs, Facebook and Twitter have helped horse owners who believe in natural hoof care and have a loyalty to a product spread their message to a larger audience.
The trip to Santa Fe made my year and gave me renewed sense of pride for our business, hoof boots and the barefoot horse. I’m looking forward to another 20 years and can’t wait to reflect on the progress caused by more wet saddle blankets.