Tuesday, 21 June 2011

"This horse can't go barefoot": Truth and consequences

Over the years I've heard this said about lots of different horses - most of whom were already lame in shoes.
It can mean different things to different people, and I've given my interpretations of a few occasions when it has been said either to me or to owners.  This isn't conjecture, either - I knew the horses as well.

It was said on one occasion by a farrier - of a lame (shod) horse.  In that instance:

"This horse can't go barefoot" = "I have aggressively trimmed this horse's sole and frog and have damaged its hooves sufficiently that it can no longer stand on a hard surface unless I put shoes and pads on its feet."

It was said by a vet about a TB with weak feet - also lame, also shod.  In that instance:

"This horse can't go barefoot" = "I believe all I have been told about TBs and I have never seen how dynamic change in hooves can be.  I also have limited understanding of the function of correct nutrition and biomechanics in building healthier hooves."

It has been said to me numerous times by owners of their own hunters or competition horses.  Usually in those cases:

"This horse can't go barefoot" = "I have never seen a healthy bare hoof, have never ridden a horse that wasn't shod and have no appreciation of how hard hooves can work over tough terrain and roads without shoes."

As an alternative, sometimes with these same people "This horse can't go barefoot" = "I have no desire to change my ways or stop shoeing my horses because I can't see a problem with shoes, barefoot seems complicated and I don't really have the time or inclination to learn more."

I have more sympathy with the latter ;-)


Val said...

Thanks for the translations. Maybe you can offer one in the opposite direction. When I was riding my barefoot horse and we were struggling with balance in the canter, a horse-experienced onlooker said, "Have you ever considered putting shoes on him?"

(My answer was a flat "No.")

Nic Barker said...

Hmm, my translation would probably be:

"I don't understand what I am seeing but its sufficiently alien that it makes me uncomfortable. Rather than analyse the horse's movement, level of schooling or fitness, I will suggest the option that would make everything appear normal to me as this will make me feel happier, regardless of whether it solves the problem."

jenj said...

Nic, I love this! It's so true too - especially since I've had conversation #2 with a farrier recently.

Regarding #3 and #4, I think a huge piece of it is education. Horse owners just don't know any better. I grew up riding at eventing barns where every horse was shod, at least in front. Most of the higher-level horses had studs - because that's just what you DID. Nobody ever thought to question it - the horses were sound and went well, so clearly their feet were fine.

Right? RIGHT???

tazang20 said...

Hilarious, I keep biting my tongue all the time, drip, drip, drip, changes are slowly but surely there is a revolution and Im glad to be part of it!!!

Diamond in the ruff said...

Living in FL for most of my life my horses were always barefoot, but when moving to TN I was told that my lil spotted mare MUST have shoes??? I'm learning more about the Pros and cons and I think I have decided to go back to barefoot. Whats that Bible verse? 'My people perish for lack of knowledge'? Only it's not just the people that perish.
Come visit my blog: www.wildheartsrunningfree.blogspot.com ;o)

Dom said...

The phrase "this horse can't go barefoot" makes my blood boil.

Nic Barker said...

Jen, of course you are right,as always :-) Shoeing horses is also easier and cheaper than the hassle of taking them barefoot...easy and cheap is good ;-)

cptrayes said...

My first "this horse will never work without shoes" told to me by a newly qualified farrier and his mentor with 30 years experience is still barefoot, sound, and crack free feet after 6 years. Dear old Tetley, he'd have been written off years ago if it wasn't for barefoot.


Dare Gothic Clothing said...

A friend was riding her horse without shoes bringing her slowly back into work after weaning her foal. I made the mistake of asking her how she was finding barefoot... she replied 'oh no, arabs are known for having terrible hooves, she can't go without shoes, as soon as she is back in work properly I'll have her shod'... the mare was happily working in walk and trot on roads and tracks at the time :S I just had to smile and say 'well I'm here if you change your mind and have any questions'. Ah well :(
When Isha came back from rehab I called my vet to tell her how well we were doing, she said "great, so when can you have her shod again?" as if that was what I was working towards!

jenj said...

Nic, your comment about shoeing being easier is spot on, but I'm not sure about cheaper. When I was eventing heavily, a set of shoes with clips, tapped for studs, and (of course!) pads in front ran around $250-300 US, and that was 10 years ago. Even if I had a trimmer out every week it wouldn't cost that much!