Posts Tagged ‘barefooting’

Running Bare (Part 2 of 2)

November 27, 2009
 

Varied terrain? Check!

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

As promised, here’s my take on Andrew Bowe’s www.barehoofcare.com site.

Brumbies and American Mustangs have amazing feet. They don’t get trimmed, but they do travel many kilometres each day over varied terrain to graze and find water.

So why question thousands of years of evolution?

Historically, horseshoes let soft-footed domestic horses be used in any terrain. They helped mankind conquer the world in war, agriculture and transport.

Yet shoes come with a host of problems. If you’re not out conquering the world, these problems come to the fore.

Shoes protect the soft inner structures of a horse’s feet. But in so doing, they impede all other foot functions.

Absorption

The equine foot is a complex, three-dimensional shock absorber.

It’s designed to absorb nearly all the concussion from ground impact before it reaches the lower leg joints (which can only handle a very small amount).

Shoes blow this function out of the water. Not only is the frog unable to act as the initial and primary weight-bearing structure, the impact of the rigid shoe goes straight through the hoof wall into bones and joints.

Circulation

Proper function lets blood and lymph freely access every living cell in the foot, providing nourishment and removing waste. This is called perfusion.

Shoes seem to significantly compromise circulation. This is most evident on cold mornings, when healthy bare feet are warm to the touch, but shod feet are cold. There’s even a temperature difference between shod feet and bare feet on the same horse.

Shod feet grow much slower than bare feet because healthy tissue can’t thrive with poor circulation.

Weight Bearing

The equine foot is designed to share the weight bearing responsibilities across most of the ground surface (the inner wall, some sole and most of the frog). Notable exceptions are the outer wall and quarters, which aren’t designed for weight bearing.

The foot even adapts over time to the ground it’s living on to optimise this sharing of the load.

A shod foot, however, carries the weight of the horse entirely on the wall (including the outer wall and quarter, which should NOT be weight bearing).

This change in weight bearing may squeeze the coronary artery, causing blood to be shunted to the vein above the hoof. It may also cause a failure of the valve system that would otherwise lock the required blood into the foot at each stride for cushioning and perfusion.

If a horse can’t stand comfortably with vertical cannon bones, it must brace its neck and shoulders to engage its stay apparatus.

This causes fatigue and these poor animals can’t even get a good night’s sleep! Over time, this bracing manifests in the overdevelopment of certain muscle groups.

Deterioration

Horse feet deteriorate with domestication. The situation doesn’t improve with each successive shoeing. Rather, the more times feet are shod, the more they rely on shoes.

Chronic lameness is a degeneration that develops in a dysfunctional body over a long period of time and manifests into such problems as: laminitis, navicular, ringbone, side bone, degenerative joints – all of which are huge problems in the equine industry.

Horses are much better not shod in the first place.

Why Barefoot?

With barefooting, we maintain a horse’s feet in a physiologically correct framework, so they can move correctly, rest comfortably and remain functional at all times.

Rather than prop up dodgy foundations with shoes, barefooting develops strong, healthy foundations beneath a horse.

This leads to better long-term soundness.

Happy feet = happy horsie!

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Running Bare (Part 1 of 2)

November 25, 2009

Our horses enjoy the diet, room, terrain & company they need for healthy barefooting.

By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses

Barefooting is hotly debated issue. Barefooters even differ among themselves. In this article and the next, I’ll explain the ins and outs of running bare.

Twelve years ago I held kid’s horse-riding holidays on my farm at Booroolite in the Delatite Valley.

I usually had 10-20 animals, from ponies to Stockhorses, in my care. Most were shod and worked hard during the school holidays, with time off in between.

Common shoe-related problems included cracked hooves, horses that tripped and were irritable and having to replace lost shoes between farrier visits.

My extraordinary farrier, Andrew Bowe, has a science degree and an enquiring, perfectionist nature.

When he started talking barefoot, I was first attracted by the cost saving. Over time, however, Andy’s passion convinced me of the benefits to my horses.

Within a year, all my horses were sound and happy, with no lameness and not a shoe in sight.

I swore never to shoe a horse again.

Andrew Bowe: NOT your average farrier!

This got me researching horse breeds and choosing Morgans for their exceptional feet (along with all their other virtues).

Breeding sound barefoot horses takes more than just ditching shoes. They need room to roam, varied terrain, a balanced diet, company and regular trimming.

Our horses are trimmed about every six weeks and our foals have their first trim before weaning.

Andy, his wife Nicky and the trimmers they train look at each horse as an individual and trim according to its work and living conditions.

I like how they work with nature, not against it.

We now host regular training days for Equine Podiotherapy Diploma students. Even our weanlings take part.

One of our training days for Equine Podiotherapy Diploma students.

Last year Andy used Nimrod (our stallion) for his barefoot trim demonstration at Equitana. He’ll do likewise next year.

In my next article, I’ll look at the arguments for and against barefooting by borrowing from Andy’s excellent website at www.barehoofcare.com


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