Monday 6 December 2010

The "research" bunfight continues...

After the snow interlude, back to the real world, even though we haven't got rid of the ice yet(!)...

On the Horse and Hound forum there is yet more discussion about barefoot and more unease about the barefoot bogeymen.  

I've only had a quick read through but the first point to make is thats its great to read the posts by the "barefooters" (particularly Cristina, Caroline and Bruce, though there are other good comments by people I don't know) which stand out as clear, factual and forthright despite some inflammatory and hostile provocation.   I admire your patience, humour, honesty and persistence and everyone who has barefoot horses or is interested in having barefoot as an option available to them should be grateful to you!

Caroline put a hilarious comment up - hope she doesn't mind me quoting it, but it made me smile :-)
"My second hope is that some day soon Nic Barker is asked to be an expert witness in a case of Mrs Heartbroken vs Mr Closedmind MRCVS seeking compensation for the unnecessary death of her horse with "incurable" DDFT foot lameness. THAT'll focus people's minds!"
and Bruce wrote another classic - again, hope he doesn't mind me quoting...
"I have a horse with suspected DDFT lesions and navicular damage and I'm thinking of having his feet chopped back and the most humungous wedge bar-shoes put on that my farrier recommended, but before I do can anyone tell me if there are published papers backed up by MRI scans, before and after of course, of every horse that has been treated during the study and showing a 100% success rate?

Until then I will leave him barefoot becuase he actually has been sound these past 24 months and rampaging around the countryside at all paces. Of course - I don't know if he is sound becuase I have not done MRI scans to prove he is sound - but he looks sound to me and to my vet."
The second, more serious point, is for all the people out there who are asking for pre and post MRIs before they want to take barefoot seriously.

The fact is that conventional treatments aren't supported by research to this standard either.   There is not a single research project out there (including the published research which I mentioned here) which has done this.  The standard treatments - including remedial farriery, anti-inflammatories and box rest - are supported by research based only on so-called "anecdotal" evidence - responses by owners to follow-up questionnaires and telephone surveys.   The horses have not even be re-assessed by the original vets. 

Add to that the fact that the research shows NOT that the horses mostly improved after standard  treatment but that mostly they DIDN'T  -  and is it any wonder that owners have felt frustrated and looked for alternatives?

It was lovely, though, to speak last week to the vet of the latest horse to be coming down here.  She was extremely positive right from the off about sending the horse here and thought that using different surfaces to make him more comfortable was a good idea and possibly just what he needed :-)  Incidentally, that horse is coming down due to to the information available on the Horse and Hound forum - so well done and thank you again to all who have taken the time to inform people there.

However, there is still a lot of scepticism and downright vitriol online as well, and there is undoubtedly honest concern about the "barefoot bogeymen", which I can sympathise with.  I think that we would all like there to be full regulation for barefoot, as there is for farriery, and for the weekend trimming courses to be banned - though there would still be good, bad and indifferent hoofcare out there, just as there are good, bad and indifferent farriers at the moment. 

Everyone would like a huge research fund which can use the "gold standard" of MRI before and after to assess therapies (though if people want to go against something, they always will, with or without research - many people don't make decisions on the basis of logic!).   

Everyone (particularly me!) would like there to be a hugely wealthy "barefoot movement" which was able to fund stuff and influence people, as opposed to the reality, which is that UKNHCP scrabbles around and relies mostly on people doing things on a voluntary basis, in their spare time and on a shoestring(!).

While we are about it, if we are compiling wish lists, we would probably all want world peace and "magikal" solutions to the problems of climate change, weak economies and social unrest as well - but sadly we live in the real, less than perfect world, and sometimes we just have to make the best with what we have - doesn't make it any less real, of course :-)


Anonymous said...

People are always frightened by things that are new to them and that are at variance with what they think they already know, or what "experts" have told them. Changing your way of thinking is a process, and requires the ability to ask questions and be open-minded - sometimes this is too threatening to people I think.

Corner Comforts said...

Well said Nic, and others on H&H!
I have had some people even calling me cruel for having my horses "unshod". It annoys me that most don't even want to listen to my experience after they question my motives. I am fully behind the barefoot movement after the results I have had from my boys.
Thank you Nic, if you hadn't emailed me back I would still be none the wiser.

Nic Barker said...

Thanks both :-) What a good thing that we can give each other online support - thank goodnes for t'internet :-)

I was with an owner today who was worried because everyone had told her that her TB ex-racehorse could never cope without shoes. He had lovely feet, in fact, but its a steep learning curve for people and - as you say, Kate, its just too much for some...

cptrayes said...

You're welcome! :-)


Nic Barker said...

Cheers me dear :-)