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.


cdncowgirl said...

Hi! Popped over after reading your comment on "Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind" (which cracked me up BTW)
Read both your entries and have a couple of questions/comments:
1- Do you think Red was misbehaving b/c his feet hurt of that it was a training issue?
2- "Will Work For Carrots" was funny! My horses get treats hand fed as long as they remember their manners.
3- I don't know a lot about barefoot trimming, but from what I've heard the Strasser method is very agressive. Ramey seems to be the way to go if I were to do this.
4- What does your horse do "for a living"? Do you compete in anything, trail ride, or is he a pasture pet?
5- Firing a farrier for any reason is difficult. My farrier and his wife were also my friends, until I stopped using him. :( My mare was getting to be terrible with her feet. I told D that it was b/c he was lifting her hind legs too high for too long. She was 26 at the time, she was getting a bit arthritic and it was uncomfortable. His reply was 'if they can kick that high to get at a fly they can lift that high to trim'. (ummm... yeah but they don't KEEP it that high after kicking at the fly!) I explained the situation to the new farrier. Said that this was just a trial and we'd see how things go. He gives me mare lots of 'rest breaks', lowered her stand and gives her pats. She now stands like a champ (again) and actually nickers to him when she sees him! :)
Sorry to ramble on and on (and on!). I'll 'shut up' (for now) :)

Pony Girl said...

I wish my horse could go barefoot, I really do. For the past year he had shoes on the front only, but when we hit the rockier trails I could tell he gimped all nimbly on the back hooves so I had shoes put on all around and now he's so much better. I'm just not sure he's feet would ever "toughen" up, they never did on the back.
It was interesting to reading cdncowgirl's comment about her farrier. My horse is getting some arthritis in his hind legs too, and can be challenging to shoe back there. I gave him bute last time and it made a world of difference. I do worry that the farrier isn't going to understand my horse's uncomfort and mistake it for misbehavior. I suppose he is the one that recommended the bute (as did my equine chiropracter) though.

Amanda said...

I am a barefoot horse owner and always have been after 50 years of horse ownership. There are a few at the barn where I board who think I am nuts and that horses HAVE to be shod. I am through trying to explain things to them.

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

Fantastic post. We do our own trimming, too, and what a liberating education it has been! I'm so glad you commented (and left and award, OMG!!) over at The Barb Wire so I could follow the link back here. :-)

allhorsestuff said...

Thanks to the Eventing Percheron/Daun..I found you!
I am attempting, with good outcome, barefoot life( have boots will travel) with my two mares.
My sister, who had shod horses all her life, 3 years ago suddenly became a believer and passed it to me as she also passed me a Throughbred mare with great hooves.
Yes..those two= CAN go together in the same sentance!
Can't wait to

Pat said...

Hey, I love your blog and especially this post! This is how it starts for just about every owner-trimmer. There is no reason, in my opinion, that any horse owner can't trim their own horses, except maybe the physically challenged.

Good for you for finally dumping your farrier. If you think a owner-trimmer becomes a target of redicule by their peers, try becoming a professional in the natural hoof care field. Most vets and farriers would prefer that an anvil drop on your head than to have you out in the horse world converting horses and owners over to a healthier hoof life.

Thank you for stopping by my blog, hoofrecovery.blogspot.com and replying to the Oxine post. That stuff should never be used as a soak for horses. I wish I would have tested it first, but I came under the impression that if respected practitioners were using it, it must be safe. Wrong! It's not. I'm still suffering the affects of just taking a quick whiff of it, I can't imagine that last damage it could do to a hoof.

Also, Ponygirl who commented here, please keep in mind that pasture trims perpetuate the need for shoes, and shoes perpetuate the need for shoes. It's a cycle that you have to break your horse free from if you ever want healthy feet. Pasture trims do not promote health in the hoof, so the hoof needs protected by the shoe, the shoe causes further damage to the hoof and on and on.

That is why every farrier manual written includes a disclaimer that horses should go barefoot at least part of the time in order to recover from shoes.

Thanks for this blog Red Horse! Keep it up!

Rising Rainbow said...

WE all have to go through our learning curve before we can be comfortable enough with our own knowledge to seperate ourselves from those around us who started off looking like the experts.

I did the same with trainers as you've done with farriers. My horses paid the price but they won't pay it anymore.

Give yourself a break, it's a part of the process.