My trimming business has really picked up lately (hence less posts on the blog). The more places I trim at, the more questions I am asked. I had an audience the other day and I was asked a question that keeps popping up.
"Do you do shoes?"
I used to just say "no, sorry" and be done with it. I don't want to push this down people's throats - I don't want them to feel bad about the decisions they make for their horses. Being negative can only hurt my business, not help it grow.
But I have changed my answer and I am really quite happy now where I stand on the whole shoe debate.
I now say "no, but I do alternative hoof protection". This leads to questions about boots (and now casting) that I can answer while not sounding preachy.
If people ask me why I don't shoe however, I am honest. I believe shoes are for owners. Barefoot and boots are for the horse. Same as being ridden is for the owner, being left in the paddock is for the horse. But horses need to earn their (expensive!) keep and so I ride my horses. But I am fascinated with how well the hoof functions when given the right conditions and I truly believe it is the healthiest way to care for the hoof.
Do I think you are a bad person if you shoe your horse? No. As long as you are making an educated decision about shoes, that is what matters. Your farrier should be advising you that horses should not be kept in shoes all year round. Horses should not have an 8 week (or more!!) shoeing cycle. 5-6 weeks max and even that is pushing it. I mention that their farrier should let them ask questions and should answer them freely. I encourage them to do a bit of research and I am often asked to look at a shod horse's feet to give my opinion on the shoeing job. I admit that I have never shod a horse and any opinion I give on a shoeing job should be taken with a grain of salt, but I am asked anyway.
What drives me nuts about some barefooters is the attitude that shoes are evil and that people with barefoot horses are somehow superior to those with shod horses. The air of superiority and the angry comments of photos on facebook that start flame wars about shod vs. barefoot. Ugh. We can sound like crazy hippies and it does nothing to spread the word about barefoot for long term soundness. It just makes people hate us or roll their eyes when someone says to take the shoes off.
You know how I plan to spread the barefoot movement and help as many horses as possible? I will go about my business, quietly trimming horses who will come sound, stay sound. I will compete my barefoot horse in dressage, eventing, anything she is good at. I will not shove it in people's faces that she has not got shoes on but when I have a 20 year old sound as a bell horse that can still kick but in a dressage test that will certainly turn some heads.
I will do what I do now - show what the alternative is and answer any questions the audience has. And when they decide to explore barefoot options it will be their idea, their commitment and it will stick. You wait and see.