I've been struggling a bit lately with having people constantly tell me why they do certain things for their horses... "Because that's how it's always been done." and when I ask what the science is behind why it's always been done like that, I never get a solid answer.
So instead of beat my head against a wall, I go out and search for the research myself...
My latest issue has been watching so many horses with obvious hoof issues be treated as though nothing can ever be done for them, because if shoes can't fix it; they must be broken for good. And when I ask about why barefoot is such a terrible thing, I never get the detailed answer I want. I just get "because that's not how we do things here"... And that's pretty heart breaking in my book. What if science proved that going barefoot made horses better athletes? What if the barefoot horse, when taken care of properly was the BEST you could have and was worth even more than the shoed horse? What if that science already existed, but this industry was so blinded by traditionalism that they didn't even want to hear it? (this is me beating my head against the wall)
So instead of try to force it down people's throats, I've decided to just sit back and see who will decide that doing research is more beneficial for everyone than just passing the book to someone else. For those who want the best for their horse, and want the best horse out of that horse!
I am not going to tell you the facts. I'm just going to show you some things, and ask you to consider them.
Misconception: "Shoes are used to protect a horse's legs from the concussion of foot fall on hard ground, and during jumping."
Video of barefoot hoof falling on asphalt.
Video of shod hoof falling on asphalt.
See that ripple of concussion? That's not the best thing for those joints that we want to keep sound for life.
Misconception: "Contracted heels is a hoof malformation that is normal and only a cosmetic issue."
Misconception: "Contracted heels cannot be fixed."
(Should also note here that contracted heels are more often than not caused by shoeing for too long as the heels need to be touching the ground to keep the hoof mechanism functioning properly, which keeps the heels wide and low. This mechanism stops a crevice from forming, which exacerbates the issue by creating a home for thrush. Thrush can also cause contracted heels in barefoot horses if left untreated in the central sulci of the frog.)
Misconception: "Horses cannot get hard soles and hooves anymore as we've bred that ability out of them. So they need shoes to stay sound on gravel."
This video has amazing points as well! Check out all those rocky mountain adventures, and no shoes! GO figure ;)
Biggest misconception: "There is no change in foot fall between shod and barefoot hooves. Shoes are just used to protect horses's hooves from hard ground and do not interfere with anything else."
How do you feel about those shoes now?
My biggest question is this:
If you shoe your horse because you love your horse and want to protect them as you've been told.. how come when science has proven that shoeing your horse is WORSE for them rather than better; you continue to do so? It's a proven fact that barefoot horses live longer because their blood is pumping as it should, their joints are properly protected from concussion by the shock absorption created by the heels to frog to digital cushion hoof mechanism, and less bacteria can get into their systems from closed hoof walls. So why are you ruining their joints, slowing their circulation and toxifying their bodies out of love?
"Because that's how they've always done it" has been proven absolutely detrimental to your horse.
It's time to start doing the research and putting in the work!
And the most important message in all of this is to make the right decision for your horse; and make it a responsible one! Make sure you find a reputable and competent bare foot trimmer for the well being of your horse. There are lots of middle men out there and even more just out to make a buck. Find someone who is passionate and knows what and how to do their job for the betterment of your horses hooves! I did, and I will never look back!
Keep on keepin' on... get ready for the release of my "Barefoot Nation" website! Going barefoot has it's benefits for you too!
For more information and studies behind the mechanics of barefoot hooves and how shoeing hurts your horse check out these great links!
Hoof Proof by Swedish Hoof School
Hoof Mechanism anatomy by Swedish Hoof School