Monday, January 19, 2009

Perfect Hooves are Made, Not Born.

I believe that perfect hooves are made, not born.

In the wild, perfect hooves are created by the constant abrasion and varied diet. Many people believe that when a wild horse’s hoof goes bad, the horse perishes and is eaten and that is why we don’t see bad feet on wild horses.

I don’t agree. I think we just don’t see bad feet on wild horses because they take such splendid care of them. Once rounded up, it only takes about 6 weeks for those perfect hooves to turn into what we are used to seeing on our horses.

It’s true, that from time to time, we can dissect a wild hoof and find some similar hoof problems that our domesticated horses deal with, but it’s not usually a hoof problem that costs a life.

So what about domesticated horses? Well, for example, this is Neenah.

She’s nearly 8 months old now and I’ve trimmed her feet several times since her birth. The first few trims were with just the rasp. (You have to be very careful with foal feet. There is no room for mistakes on such tiny feet. )

And yes, she’s ONLY had several trims because I’ve mostly had her out on pasture and gravel paddocks where she does very well.

Each time I trim her hooves, I’ve had to do some reshaping, because her feet are not perfect. She has some flare on one side of her left front foot that is already causing separation of the white line (laminae). (Can you see the flare?)

I'm working to correct that. This last trim involved the nippers, for the first time. So we'll be correcting this. Rather than shoeing it as is.

She’s has a tendency to be a bit clubby (upright) on the fronts so I’m careful to take her heels down every time. That's what I've done here.

If I didn’t, and she were someone else’s horse, that owner might be discussing the possibility of tendonotomy or ICL (inferior check ligament) surgery in her near future.

Because she’s my horse that will never happen to her. I will never destroy a healthy part of her anatomy that she will need later, in order to fix something that can corrected at the hoof.

Horses that have had ICL surgeries face an uncertain future of bowed tendons and other injuries because the tendons in the lower leg have to take on the job that the ICL once had.

And as for cutting the tendon itself which is done on some horses with rotated coffin bones…two words about that horse's future; Pasture Pet.

So, it’s up to us. If we bring a new baby horse into the world, we need to get concerned about their hooves the minute they start standing on them.

Our babies can grow up with perfect feet! And who would nail a shoe to a perfect hoof?


Mikey said...

Amen to that. I hear ya on the last part, why nail a shoe on a nice hoof?
I used to do this one horse, feet like concrete. He lived in a real rockpile area, so his owner wanted shoes. After I bent (I am NOT kidding) 20+ nails trying to nail the first shoe on, I stood up and said "Why are we doing this?"
Never changed the owners mind, even though I tried. Horse could have and should have been barefoot.
I try though. I believe in barefoot first, shoe if you absolutely have to. Lots and lots of horses have great feet and don't need shoes.

Rachel said...

I'm sure you're busy enough - but here's a post I stumbled across by someone looking for a farrier for a draft and a filly in Tenino. I referred them to your website if that's okay. They're looking for farriers to contact them directly as well. :)

Pat said...

Hi Mikey, That's cool that you get that and you are one of the open-minded hoofcare professionals. It is a problem when you're dealing with owners who don't know yet, and I was one of those horse owners about 6 years ago. I didn't even like the idea of just shoeing the fronts. It felt like my horse was half dressed for the trail. Now I realize, those horses that are barefooted on the hinds are half way to healthier hooves!

It's not that we don't love the horses we put shoes on. We just don't know.

I was just bragging to someone else about you and how your comments are always positive even though we are kind of on the opposite sides of the hoofcare fence.

One time I was at an event where I had an educational booth and a weathered middled-aged guy came up and introduced himself as a farrier. I was like Uh Oh, here we go. But he was so sincere and praised me for having the guts to take natural hoofcare public and trying to educate people. He recognized that it would better for the majority of his horse clients, but he had a family to support and he didn't feel that his customers would not switch over with him.

I thought, what an awesome guy adn what he said, meant so much to me. And really, most farriers/horseshoers have that attitude. It's typically horse "owners" who don't cut me any slack, and of those it's older traditional folks who have been in the horse business for years (new horse owners have no problem figuring it out) and have been competing with their horses in soft arenas who tell me it just can't be done. LOL! Ironic.

Pat said...

Hi Rachel.

Thanks! Got the link! I'll wait to see if they contact me. I'm always open to taking local horses and even long distance horses, but only when they need rehabbed. I don't travel for maintenance trims.

Thanks again!