Wednesday 7 July 2010

"Horses hooves need support"

There are lots of phrases and ideas which are bandied about in connection with hooves, and in the past I, like many people, have often accepted them at face value without really thinking through whether they actually make sense or not.

The use of bar shoes and wedges, which I talked about last week, is one example. Seems a good idea superficially, but when you think about it more carefully, there are problems.

The idea that horses' hooves need "support" is another classic. I vividly remember a friend of mine, who is an equine bodyworker, telling me that she would never take her horses' shoes off "because I believe their hooves need support".

Support is an emotive word - it implies protection, care and cossetting, and suggests that by providing it we are doing the horse an enormous favour - perhaps even preventing him from harm. Surely only a monster would seek to deprive the horse of "support"?

"Support" is a word which is also frequently used in conjunction with remedial shoeing - low, under-run heels need "support" from a shoe. Again, it sounds like the best thing for a weak hoof.

Unfortunately, this type of external "support" has one huge drawback - it reduces stimulus to the frog and also tends to mean that the hoof loads heavily on the hoof wall; over time the internal support structures - particularly the digital cushion - weaken.

Its a terrible dilemma for the horse owner, especially if the horse is lame and it nerve-blocks to the caudal hoof. I recently saw a comment from an owner about exactly this type of horse; she had even considered taking it barefoot but had decided that her horse had such weak hooves that this would be disastrous - he needed the "support" of shoes because, without them, his heels would be "on the ground". The irony is that without stimulus from "the ground", his heels are likely never to improve.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Agreed!!!!!!!!!!!! Love this. Will pass it along!