The article was a ding-dong between rival vets about the benefits or otherwise of remedial farriery as a way of improving soundness in horses with DDFT injuries and apparently included the following:
"Barefoot...is certainly the cheapest option.
Providing the horse has good solar depth and hoof quality and is well-balanced this is a valid option. Obtaining these prerequisites in clinical cases is rare.
As a result horses treated this way tend to remain more lame than when treated with remedial farriery."
This statement is being spouted by someone who purports to be scientifically trained (and who should, in theory at least, recognise the importance of evidence-based treatment over superstition and tradition).
The author might as well have written "the earth is flat", "the moon is made of green cheese" or "horses can't work on roads without shoes". All of the quotes in italics have one thing in common - they are what those of us in the real world call Old Wives' Tales - superstitions and beliefs that have grown up with no basis in fact.
Of course, those of us in the real world know its often risky to try and sound knowledgeable about subjects which you have no experience of. Sadly, this doesn't seem to have troubled the author either.
What would you expect of a statement by a veterinary professional in a scientific journal? At the very least you would expect it to be evidence-based and supported by objective proof of some kind. Unfortunately this one is factually incorrect, cites no evidence whatsoever and is not even based on comparative studies.
Lets look at it in a bit more detail.
"Providing the horse has good solar depth and hoof quality and is well-balanced this is a valid option. Obtaining these prerequisites in clinical cases is rare."
In other words, a horse with good concavity and a healthy, well-balanced foot is unlikely to be lame. Just think about that for a moment - and consider the implications. If the author has realised this, isn't it incumbent on him or her to perhaps follow this astonishing idea up?
Apparently not - its easier to dismiss it (though wouldn't it be interesting to know what proportion of lame horses are presented in shoes or recently trimmed?).
"horses treated this way tend to remain more lame than when treated with remedial farriery"
Really? And the statistics for this are where exactly?
Of course, if the author means that ripping the shoes off an already lame horse doesn't miraculously make it sound then they are right - but even the most cursory glance at the internet reveals that this is very far from what most people mean by taking a horse barefoot.
I am confident that the author has no experience of hoof rehabilitation because most of the horses we see here for rehab - who have frequently had remedial farriery with little or no improvement - have gone back to work at the same level or higher than before they went lame and remain in consistent work over the long term.
No-one expects vets to be infallible but making statements like this is ill-judged and foolish. Worse, assuming that owners turn to barefoot simply as a means of saving money makes the author sound not only patronising but frankly ignorant - and will only erode owners' confidence in a profession which they should be able to trust. Thank goodness that some vets are now educating themselves in a more open-minded way.