My Mum, Lucy Nicholas of Trelawne Equine, has written a feature in the Aug issue of Absolute Horse magazine, available in East Anglia. The mag has an alternative horsecare section and Mum was asked to share her thoughts about barefoot hoofcare – although it is safe to say that the magazine has some firm views about just WHO should tend to horses’ feet. Apparantly there are some trimmers in East Anglia that are giving barefoot hoofcare a bad name. *Sigh!*.
(I am told by knowledgeable Darius that there are ‘bad eggs’ in all professions…)
Mum of course supports the magazine’s view that some farriers can provide suitable trims for barefoot horses. For us, it is about working with a hoofcare professional, whatever their job title, that understands the horse and its needs - like my very own Fabulous Hoofcare Artistry Remodelling Technician, who keeps my tootsies looking fabulous; befitting of a barefoot beauty queen.
Anyway, here’s Mum’s feature – hope you like it…
A growing body of scientific and veterinary evidence shows the benefits of keeping equines barefoot.
What is barefoot?
Barefoot describes a horse or pony that is able to perform anything the owner would like to do, without permanent hoof protection.
What do the experts say?
“Why not try leaving your animal in its natural state, and simply fit hoof boots when you want to train or exercise? Your horse’s hooves will expand and contract as nature intended.” RF(BngC), MF(IMFA), CE-F qualified Farrier Mike Chawke
The barefoot horse thrives on…
• Regular trimming by an experienced practitioner
• A good diet based on food the horse’s body evolved to thrive on
• Exercise, including natural movement in the field and little confinement
Remember, your horse’s feet aren’t just your farrier’s responsibility! It is important that owners recognise the basics of a balanced hoof. Do research barefoot hoofcare extensively if you are interested in moving to a barefoot regime, so you can provide the diet and management essential to successful barefoot horse care.
When to boot?
Hoof boots help protect the hoof when transitioning from shod to bare, and also boost the hoof’s shock absorption properties on hard surfaces. With correctly fitted hoof boots, horses can still perform normally, including galloping and jumping.
If we are working our barefoot horse above a walk on unforgiving surfaces, there will be elements of concussion, and hoof boots reduce this; comfort pads may also be used within barefoot boots for extra cushioning. Pads help prevent peripheral loading, which occurs on any flat surface (whether the horse is shod or barefoot) and compromises blood flow.
It is vital if you are using a hoof boot that it closely fits the horse’s foot size and shape. Each style of boot suits a slightly different foot shape, governed by hoof measurements, hence it is important to measure each hoof separately.
A close-fitting boot will help to ensure the most natural break over (e.g. how quickly the horse completes a step), and will help prevent tripping.
If your barefoot horse needs boots constantly to cope with his workload, his dietary requirements and management regime should be addressed. Hoof boots are commonly used to boost the hooves’ shock absorption properties on hard surfaces, or when transitioning from shod to bare.
In-depth information for measuring barefoot horses can be found at: www.trelawneequine.co.uk