Friday 22 January 2010

Missing: logical discussions about shoes

There seems to be something about horseshoes which stops even professionals from thinking logically on occasions. I'm still not sure why shoes and shoeing stir up such strong emotions but there is no doubt that they do. Admittedly, there are quite a few barefoot practitioners who make matters worse by being equally blinkered. Its a shame, because it makes it harder for horse owners to rationally weigh the pros and cons of either shoes or barefoot.

I came across this quote from a website run by a non-UK farrier who is trying his best to discuss shoeing and barefoot on the same page.

"The first myth I really want to dispel is that shoes cause hoof problems. This is the most misleading and false statement I have ever heard."

Possibly a bit of an exaggeration, but then, on the same page, he goes on to say:

"If you do want to go bare foot there are many things to consider. And don’t think it is easier or cheaper. It takes a greater degree of commitment than shoeing and is a long term project but could be very beneficial to your horses well being. "

I am getting the feeling he suspects shoes aren't necessarily the best thing for the hoof, aren't you? Especially when he talks about his own horses:

"I try my hardest to keep my horse’s bare foot as long as possible especially my youngsters... I only put shoes on at the last minute when I really need them...And then it is usually front shoes only"

Shoes CAN be a very useful tool, but they aren't harmless - like anything, there are benefits and disadvantages of using them and its important that farriers are honest about the "side-effects" of shoeing.

Barefoot can be a great way to go, but as our friend above has pointed out, barefoot has disadvantages too, not least the amount of effort and commitment required on the part of the owner, and it may not be practical or possible for some owners to improve their horse's hoof health to the point where they can perform to the required level without shoes.


cptrayes said...

He sounds to me like a farrier who is trying to keep the people he shoes for comfortable with their choice.

He's probably quite a good guy, don't you reckon??


Nic Barker said...

Yes, definitely - trying to be honest and do his best :-)