Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Hoofcare myths debunked

I posted this blog about trimming - or not trimming - a couple of months ago and it reminded me how many hoof myths are still out there and bandied around. Here are some of the most common, and my take on what's really behind them.

  • White feet are weaker than black feet. 

When I first took our horses barefoot we had only 2 black feet out of a total of 16. That's an awful lot of white feet, especially when you are asking them to go over tough terrain week in week out, and in a climate where its always wet.  
Funny old thing, once they had healthy feet they were all rock-crunching, white feet or black. There have actually been studies done in the US, referenced in this blog post, which confirmed this. 

  • Thoroughbreds are bred to have terrible feet.
We've had lots of TBs here over the years, both our own horses and rehab horses and they have had a huge variety of feet - from weak and problematic to incredibly sound and tough. 
TBs, like the other horses who come here, are capable of making dramatic and rapid changes to their feet given the right diet, environment and work-load and can go on to work hard, barefoot, year after year. We change lots of things when horses come here but one thing we don't change is their genetics!
  • Some horses can't cope barefoot and have to be shod

I blogged about this one only last week - its really all about hoof health, not shoeing vs barefoot.

  • If barefoot horses work hard on tough terrain their feet will wear away.

This is a really common one - although usually its said authoritatively by people who (a) don't work their horses on tough terrain and (b) don't work them barefoot, so their experience level is questionable at best.
This is another one I've blogged about before ("What happens when hoof wall wears away?") and although the thought of it often scares owners, its something that doesn't really make sense once you understand the anatomy of hooves and how they grow. 
So how to tell truth from fiction? As with everything equine, if you are going to a human source make sure they have a wealth of experience in the area you are quizzing them about - and most importantly, always back it up by going to an equine source. 

The horse is the ultimate expert on the horse.


Fi said...

I am waiting excitedly for the day (probably quite far in the future it seems at the moment) when some random stranger will make some comment about being lucky that my horse has good enough feet to be barefoot so that I can laugh hysterically and show them pictures of where we started out from and tell them that it's about a bit more than luck!

Nic Barker said...

ROFL - love it Fi :-) You'll get there!

Kim Adams said...

An expert told me that I would never be able to have my horse barefoot. "Her feet are awful". I was made to feel mad for considering it. I did my research, ignored the advice and some years later I now get comments like: "Wow you are so lucky to have a horse with such excellent feet that enable you to choose barefoot. It would never work for my horse". hmmm

Nic Barker said...

Yep, happens every time Kim ;-) But I bet you still get a warm feeling inside ;-)