What makes a natural barefoot?
Our model is based on the wild horse's foot found in the American West. These horses travel many kilometres a day over some of the most rugged terrain known. Yet they do not suffer lameness caused by laminitis or navicular disease as their domestic cousins do.
We support the whole horse. What we feed them, how they are housed, and the condition of their feet, all profoundly impact this noble animal's health. Our model is found in nature. Even our domestic horses can develop a well connected and highly conditioned hoof; if provided the proper tools.
As trained hoof care practitioners, we do not carve into the live sole of the hoof or pare down the frog. A knife was only used to remove the shedding tissue. The concavity seen in this domestic horse's hoof was developed naturally by the horse himself.
The sole is the window to the hoof. Barefoot hoof trimmers who understand how to read the live sole and the healing angle of the hoof will address hoof pathology noninvasively. This is how soundness is achieved in each horse. A trim that supports the dynamic balance of the whole horse is an important part of optimal health.
Inside look at a healthy barefoot hoof. Notice the thickness of the sole and the well developed digital cushion
Effects of Metal Shoes :
Metal shoes were utilized when horses historically were a means of transportation and in battle. Horses were housed in cramped quarters with unsanitary footing conditions, and only access to questionable nutrition. Hooves would become weak or unsound. The metal shoe was designed to hold the hoof together and provided a band-aid for the unavoidable complication of the working horse living an unnatural lifestyle. Shoe also had their place in addressing hoof pathologies at the beginning of podiatry for the well-being of the animal.
Today the metal shoe is considered outdated technology by many hoof care providers. There has been extensive research in the last decade regarding causes of hoof pathology. Balanced hooves with good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle have no need for prosthetics. Horses with painful feet do not need metal shos; they need stronger hooves. Comprehensive studies have proven that metal shoes negatively affect the structures of the hoof and entire body. There are many modern, healthier options for hoof care when going barefoot is not an option. Metal shoes of today are a modern convenience based out of medieval times.
Effects of Peripheral Loading
Reduced shock absorption: The entire body is affected by excessive concussion when horses move over hard ground. Soft tissue and bone are damaged over time
Unnatural loading of the wall: The entire underside of the hoof has evolved to bear the weight of the horse. Peripheral loading caused by shoes damages the laminae and increases risk of frog prolapse.
Weakness: The soft tissue of the internal structures become weak from inadequate stimulation. This results in an underdeveloped digital cushion
Blood Circulation Restriction: The hoof is a flexible organ. As the hoof weight-bears and expands, blood fills thousands of capillaries, then when the hoof leaves the ground it contracts, pushing blood back up the limb. Metal shoes inhibit the foot from flexing sufficiently.
Osteoporosis of the Coffin Bone (P3) : Long term use of shoes can cause bony changes to the coffin bone from excessive concussion and lack of circulation.
Injuries: Slipping on slick surfaces where barefoot hooves have natural tread or strains caused by excessive grip from quarks in an inappropriate environment. Puncture wounds from loose shoes and nails, damage to the hoof wall by shoes tearing away from the foot accidentally. Injuries are also caused to other horses who are kicked by horses wearing shoes.
Infection: Nail holes provide breeding grounds for bacteria and fungus to invade the hoof horn. Frogs that are lifted off the ground become contracted and prone to infection.
Camouflage: Metal shoes disguise low levels of inflammation and weakness in the hoof, they do not solve the problem.