Monday, July 28, 2014

"Not All Horses Can Go Barefoot"

Howdy Friends,

We keep going back to the thought that not all horses can go barefoot. Personally I don't agree with that, but what if it is true? Could it also be true that a lot more horses could thrive going without iron shoes nailed to their living tissue? Could it ever be healthy to drive nails through the lamina, pare the sole and force undo stress to the suspensory tissues, send shock and vibrations to parts of the body never designed to deal with shock and vibrations? Could it ever be healthy to restrict blood flow to the hoof, leg, tendons and even organs?
Kessy loves her paddock paradise
We hear it said what works for some does not work for all. Some folks say let me alone I know what is best for my horse. Other folks find themselves in boarding situations with peer pressure. Sometimes folks are just trying to get their horse over a situation or condition then they'll go barefoot.
It seems there is always someone to suggest sticking with the tried and untrue iron shoe. A horse needs shoes for, this or that and a whole bunch of other reasons, they say.

Admittedly it can be a whole lot easier for the human to just keep shoes on a horse, or if we have a lameness, or founder issue to go back to shoes, than it is to go the holistic route and go, or stay, barefoot. Yes it might take more management, different housing arrangements, diet and exercise than just sticking on shoes, for a while. But who does that serve? The horse or the human? In the end the barefoot horse actually takes less effort to manage, and costs less too. And is far more healthy for the horse.

There are so many well documented ways to care for, feed and hose a barefoot horse, no one need go it alone anymore. If you are in the midst of making the transition to a truly healthier horse, or struggling with the challenge of a founder or laminatic horse, do yourself and your horse a favor. Before settling on the thought, "Not all horses can go barefoot," talk to friends who ride, show or compete barefoot. Don't seek advice from folks who shoe. There are as many excuses for why a horse must be shod as there are horses. Seek advice from those who live the barefoot life.

Going barefoot is more than just pulling shoes. It's diet, an all forage diet is best. It's housing, a free access run-in is best with room to romp in a limited grass playground; the semi-new idea, started by Jamie Jackson, "Paddock Paradise" is best, some folks call it track paddock, promoting movement over varied surfaces even in limited space. Healthy horses should never be confined to a stall or tiny paddock, movement maintains a healthy horse, and hoof. And it's hoof care. Proper hoof care means trimming every 3 or 4 weeks, done correctly by a trimmer who understands the biomechanics of the horse's hoof and the entire horse. If a trimmer also does iron shoes, get another trimmer.
I may be considered stubborn, or even foolish, but I truly believe every horse can, and should, go without iron shoes. Sure some may require a variation of footing in their playground, (deep sand for a founder horse) different trimming schedules, boots to ride or other specialized management, but so do shod horses. Just consider the plethora of different kinds of iron shoes out there.

Not every horse can go barefoot? Yea, I think they can. And should.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry