Friday, 17 August 2012

"He can't go barefoot because..."

"...he's got thin soles/flat feet/crumbling hoof wall..."

"...he needs support/overloads his foot/has poor medio-lateral balance..."

"he's footy when he loses a shoe/can't cope without shoes..."

etc etc...[delete conditions which do not apply]...

Most of us will have lost count of the number of times we have heard comments like these but there are 2 things that anyone saying this hasn't done - whether they are a vet, farrier or owner.
The first is: They haven't understood what has caused the feet to be so weak (though admittedly there is often an assumption that its "because its a TB/warmblood/[insert breed of choice]"). Its not natural or healthy for horses to be unable to walk comfortably on their own feet!

The second is: They haven't realised that feet can change radically - they can improve and they can deteriorate and both can happen within a surprisingly short time.

Thin soles, footiness and flat feet are commonly caused by mineral deficiencies or too much sugar and starch in the diet - change the diet and the feet improve.

A foot which lands or loads badly will usually get better and more dynamic "support" once the weak areas of the foot are strengthened and the limb can load evenly than it would ever get from a shoe.

None of this is rocket science but although its simple its not always easy to achieve.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that hoof problems are inevitably going to be improved by shoes. Equally, don't make the mistake of thinking that just taking the shoes off will solve them!


jenj said...

LOVE this post!

I was recently asked why I'm so "against" shoes, and why I tried for so long to keep Saga barefoot. I walked over to Saga, pointed out a few things on his back feet (which are not shod and look pretty good), then talked about the mess that are his front feet. Mind you, this is with the VET's farrier shoeing him. Even a noob can see the event lines where the shoeings occurred, the pushed-up quarters, and the bulge on the lower half of the foot. Same horse, but looks like sets of feet from different horses - the only difference is the shoes. I also pointed them to some pics and articles on this blog.

The follow-up conversations have been very interesting... ;)

Maria said...

So very true, the only horse who can take shoeing are those who have perfect feet, and out of those, only some will get away with it

Nic Barker said...

Thanks Jen - can't wait to hear about the follow-up conversations...

Maria - agreed!