Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ain't Gonna Shoe No More, No More

It wasn't easy getting to this point and I gotta say, my decision to pull Red's shoes did not come from an understanding of the healthy hoof function that is promoted by most barefoot trims (I am not comfy with the Strasser protocol).

The event that set me on the path to becoming an owner-trimmer was commonplace - Red threw a shoe. No big deal. HA!!!! I felt completely helpless and dependent on the availability of my farrier. Didn't like it at all. Besides, a couple of women in my barn trimmed their horses' hoofs. I never considered that I might be able to do the same, but I saw how sound their horses were barefoot.

When my farrier made it out to deal with the missing shoe, I asked him if my horse could go without shoes. "Sure, don't see a problem", he said. Thirty minutes later I had a barefoot horse. No more thrown shoes, no more not knowing what to do (sarcastic smirk). Let me show you what "barefoot" looked like at this point in our journey.

Bear in mind (hey, a pun - cool!) that I had NO education regarding barefoot trimming at this point. I just sorta knew that many horses could go barefoot. Red got his shoeless hoofs and very gingerly tippy toed back to the general pasture. He just needed awhile to toughen up his feet. Right? OK out there - those of you who know the pathologies promoted by the pasture trim have gotta be shaking your heads and clucking your disapproval.

This situation went on for a couple of trim cycles (8 - 10 weeks). It really didn't take much for me to figure something wasn't right. When I mentioned to my farrier that it seemed to take about one month before Red stopped being lame after a trim, he said" Well, about 75% of the horses I trim are tender-footed afterwards." HUH?

I am embarrassed/ashamed to to admit that I did not, at that instant, fire my farrier. I really liked this guy - and I did not want to do anything that would hurt my horse. And so I continued to subject him to pasture trims
AND I started to educate myself about what it would take to make my horse sound on all surfaces at all times.

I asked people (the very knowledgeable woman in my barn sort of mentored me), searched online, read everything I could, read Pete Ramey's "Making Natural Hoofcare Work for You" over and over and over again. And FINALLY I bought my own hoof file. Still, I was so, so timid about laying the file on Red's hoofs. I started small, with a conservative mustang roll.

My farrier started to comment on how good Red's hoofs were holding up between trims. We went through a couple of more trim cycles this way. Meanwhile my knowledge base was growing. I was beginning to understand the the sole of each hoof provided the finest trim guide I could ask for. I realized that Red was sore after his farrier trims because his toe callous was chopped off each time.

Finally, I spoke up. I asked my farrier to stop doing this. He looked at me, sort rolled his eyes, and said, "There is no such thing as a toe callous." He proceeded to trim aways Red's toe callouses yet one more time - for the last time.

It took along time folks. Too long, but bear with me here please. Making the leap to natural hoof care, taking up the file yourself, can be a profound change of paradigms and a radical act. If you live in a community where there is little support for barefoot trimming, you face (truly) the chance of being black-balled by your local farriers. Sound crazy? Not so.

When you DARE TO BE BARE you are not only helping your horse, you are becoming part of a social change movement that is growing at warp speed. This is a different way of doing business, a radically different approach to what it takes to make and keep your horse sound. You will find old school (iron bound) vets and farriers that speak from an entirely different world view. The knowledge base that supports the Barefoot Movement is extensive and growing daily.

On September, 2007 I became an owner-trimmer. Our journey has just begun.