Monday, February 28, 2011

Now is not the time to ramble...

It's past my bedtime but I just wanted to get one post out on this blog, just to say that I did.

Why do I love feet so much? Even my horsey friends think I am strange because I would rather be under a horse sweating and swearing and getting kicked in the face with a rasp in hand than actually being on the horse riding, like all other respectable horse people do.  I think it is the fact that, if left alone in the right conditions, the feet look after themselves. They thrive in fact!

My first pony had amazing feet. He was a 14.1hh arab welsh cross. He was shod when I got him but the shoes quickly came off when my mother saw how much they actually cost and how often they need changing. I didn't know what on earth I was doing with that giant rasp, and neither did any of the adults in my life, but they just told me to file them and keep them short like I would my own nails. All I basically did was provide a mustang roll to keep correct breakover and the hours of riding after school through my suburban home town did the rest. Might I just say, he had four white feet. Never had a thrush problem. Never went unsound (even when he stepped on a nail). Never wore away more hoof than he could grow. Ever. The more a hoof pounds the dirt, the more it grows. Simple as that.

Over the years I have trimmed a bunch of different horses, read so much and learned A LOT. I have been kept honest by many horses (one of them a TB I am currently trimming that is constantly reminding me that I need to second guess myself.. oh, wait, no I don't! Oh.. yes I do. Damn it!). I don't follow one method, unless that method is trying to read the hoof as best I can and be as non-invasive as possible. I am a big believer in the primary care-giver as the most influential person in a horse's hoof soundness. Unless that person is willing to do all she can to provide the hoof with the best possible conditions, nothing I ever do to the bottom of a hoof will make it better. ANY horse doing ANY job can be barefoot*. Will be better off barefoot. No matter what. This is my strongest, greatest belief. But it is not easy. It can be downright hard, as diet and movement over varied terrain are the two most important factors that need to be addressed daily for hoof improvement. Sometimes, it is easier to put a bandaid on the problem (or a shoe on the hoof**) and then go on your merry way. But if you are interested in giving your horse the healthiest, happiest, longest, soundest life possible, barefoot plays an important role in that.

So.. how? How do you provide the best conditions for your horse to grow his own beautiful feet? That is the point of this blog. I promise to try to keep my posts understandable for the average horse owner. I'll put labels to link to posts all on the one subject. I'll post photos, articles and other paraphernalia I produce myself or that I find on the web or elsewhere all in this one spot. And I might be the only one who ever reads this blog, but at least it will chronicle my development as a trimmer and as an advocate of the glorious shoeless hoof.

*Provided the hoof gets the correct (and ongoing) conditioning, like the muscles and respiratory system of the horse.

** I didn't want to but a disclaimer or footnote or whatever for the above statement, but I want to make it clear that I DO NOT think you are evil or not interested in your horse's welfare or lazy or whatever other offence that statement could cause. Horse management is about doing what is best for your horse, and if you don't have the time or money or knowledge or you have tried and tried to have your horse go barefoot but you can't make it work and the horse is being kept out of work over it, then doing what keeps the horse comfortable and happy is #1.