Thursday, 3 November 2011

The unspoken assumption

Well, our internet woes continue – a different problem from last time (when it was simply that we temporarily disconnected it because of the work on our roof).

This time its transmission of the broadband signal which has gone down – so somewhere there is a problem with incoming broadband but only the internet company knows where that is…and the internet company has apparently imploded in a financial meltdown and is no longer answering its phones…

So, the blog may become a bit intermittent until we have a fallback position or the transmission starts up again…I can still receive email though so I’m not completely incommunicado at least!
Back to the world of hooves and horses, I had another interesting call with a vet – this time a vet who had been asked by an insurance company to (in his words!) “do a bit of digging” to find out what on earth goes on at Rockley and (presumably) whether the insurers should include rehabilitation here as a therapy which they cover under their policy.

We had a good conversation and he asked lots of searching and sensible questions (and I found out today told the insurers to approve the claim - yay!) but it was one of his comments which particularly got me thinking. 

He said something which I have heard said before by many farriers and vets – that one of the reasons that horses have apparently increasing lameness problems is that they are no longer given a break from shoes each year.

It’s a familiar complaint – that in the old days hunters had their shoes off for the summer and eventers and showing horses had their shoes off for the winter, but as a rule most horses had a few months turned away unshod.  Received wisdom is that this allowed them to maintain healthier feet than they can if they are shod 365 days a year, and I am sure that’s a correct supposition.

This is a commonly held view, and one which some of the best “old-fashioned” equine practitioners espouse.  But let’s just think about that for a second.  

They aren't saying that horses need time off work or a few weeks’ holiday; the specific requirement is for time out of shoes.

If the “gold standard” for hoofcare in a shod horse requires them to have several weeks a year out of shoes for improved hoof health, then the clear assumption is that shoes are a something from which horses need periodic relief. I must admit I've never thought about it quite like that before...


Deered said...

I was bought up with hte old fashioned idea that you put shoes on only when the horse was wearing it's hooves faster than it could grow them, or for a short term specific purpose.

Barbara said...

I agree with Deered and so does my farrier. It't not that shoes are good or the norm, it's that sometimes you need them. If you don't, then take them off. I still try to give my horses a break over the coldest/darkest part of the winter (or give me a break to be honest) and that means shoes off too.

cptrayes said...

I've on record sayin gthis rigth from the start, thankfully :-)

Since I started barefoot, it's always been my view that we need to go back to the old model where competition horses were shoeless in the winter closed season and hunters were shoeless in the summer closed season.

I'll be so happy to be proved right!!


Nic Barker said...

That's good sense for sure :-)

jenj said...

Maybe it was the horsey environment I "grew up" in, but I never saw horses have their shoes pulled. When I lived up north, in the winter they were shod with pads and Borium studs to protect the feet from ice and provide traction, and regular shoes in the summer. Down south, they were shod year-round, even if they had a month off for the winter holidays or a light schedule due to the summer heat.

I wonder how many of your US readers pull shoes for downtime?

Neets Human said...

Unfortunately many equestrians have never known a time when no horse was shod year round.. they come to horses with the dangerous assumption that a horse cannot work without shoes. Which to a greater or lesser extent is perpetrated by equine proffessionals. If we could simply promote the fact that ALL horses should have a few months out of shoes each year I am convinced that many horses (and their carers) would have fewer lameness troubles.. equally promoting a greater understanding of feeding would reap so many benefits for all concerned.

Meidhbhe said...

When I worked in Germany in the 80s the hunters were let down at the end of the season, as were the eventers when the competition season was over. We had one mare who wore shoes with heels(!) because naturally, she had no heel - or had never developed one. She had to be shod year round, even when she was turned out, because if her shoes were pulled she was dead lame. I suppose if we'd waited her out she might have grown hooves she could walk on.
In winter I always had the farrier pull the shoes on the mare I hacked, because the snow would ball in shoes and it was a disaster. We had wonderful barefoot rides on the trails in the snow.