Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Horses that "can't go barefoot"

I've noticed an interesting change in tack on the internet over the last few years. Previously, when people on equine forums discussed barefoot, the hardline traditionalists and farriers would sternly tell people that horses had to be shod because otherwise they were unable to work. Often this was said with the caveat: "of course its better not to shoe, but...".

This line was a favourite for a long time, but over the last 2 or 3 years even the most die hard sceptics have been unable to ignore the fact that those pesky barefoot horses are cropping up everywhere, competing in every discipline and often doing rather well.

So there is a new line now on equine forums, which is along the lines of "Well, of course its ideal for horses to go barefoot, but some just can't". Entertainingly, the people making these statements often go so far as to say that they have some of their own horses barefoot but some "just have to be" shod, because they are so uncomfortable out of shoes.

When its suggested to these people that perhaps they should look at the horse's diet, its environment and its work levels, they wave that aside as complete nonsense. Its after all much easier to blame the horse's genetics (which they aren't responsible for and can't change) and to believe that bad hooves can't change - that involves no extra expenditure of mental or physical effort :-)

Of course, as is always the case with an initially revolutionary idea, it has quietly started seeping into and polluting the mainstream, but mostly, the mainstream doesn't really want to acknowledge this. I am sure, however, that in another year or so there will be another, subtly different, mainstream statement about barefoot horses. Any bets as to what it will be?!

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