Barefoot Facts

Rather than just a big toenail or a lump of dead horny material on the end of the horse's leg, the foot of the horse is a highly complex 'elastic' organ which performs a wide variety of functions which are vital to the overall health and wellbeing of the horse.


Shoeing and improper/unsupportive trimming techniques, which run rampant in the horse world today (and yesterday), impair the vital functions of the foot and are the root of many, if not all of, the common and prevalent lameness problems. Things like founder, laminitis, hoof wall cracks, navicular disease/syndrome, thrush, WLD, 'mystery' lameness ...

 

Combine this impaired function of the foot with an unnatural lifestyle and you can write an encyclopedia of maladies that affect our horses.  

 

In addition to all the lameness issues, there are behavioral and training issues to deal with. Things like cribbing, stall walking, weaving, biting, kicking, aggressiveness, colic, immune deficiencies, skin and coat problems, etc ... the list goes on.

 

Many of us are 'ignorant' of the normal shape and function of the horse’s foot.  This includes the vast majority of vets and farriers. We are blindly told to trust our farriers and vets to know what is healthy and 'normal'. There is a fundamental problem in doing this and the problem lies right in the conventional education process. The text books ... and I have PLENTY ... are chock full of improperly shaped feet that are labeled as normal or healthy. The anatomy drawings, photos and conformation shots show horses with high heels and shoes. Shoes are not part of the horses’ anatomy or physiology. High heels are counterproductive to the function of the foot and have a detrimental effect on the entire being. The text books are showing unhealthy feet with improper function and labelling them as 'normal'. While normal and common they may be ... they are counterproductive to the horses' health.

 

Because of the amazing capacity of the horse to adapt and to bear pain, many, many things go unnoticed and undiagnosed until this innate ability to adapt has been stretched to the limit and the system begins to crash. There are many signs this is happening - lameness issues are just one sign. Drug therapy and 'corrective' shoeing and 'educated' guessing seems all there is left to do to get a 'few more years' out of the horse. Hock and joint injections are super common among competition horses and totally not necessary if their underlying problems in the shape and function of the foot were properly addressed.

 

Meanwhile the horse suffers in silence and very few complain. Those that do are deemed 'bad' or gone mad. Get out the bigger whips and chains and the stronger drugs to sedate them.

 

It amazes me every single time the capacity of the horse to heal himself if he is given the medium to do so. 


Be true to the Nature of the horse ... and you can't go wrong.

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.  ~ Winston Churchill