Thursday, May 21, 2009

Are Horseshoes Good Enough?

Well, we got back early (3am) Monday morning from the Parelli conference in Reno.

We had a great time! Learned lots! The 3-day conferences are so different from the weekend-long tour stops. There is way more showing-how, than just showing-off. Of course, the tour stops were free, and tickets are purchased for the Conferences, so that makes sense.

The Reno Livestock and Events Center is HUGE!

Students came in to audition for Pat and the other Professionals who were there to learn to assess the Patterns auditions. We learned a lot from their experiences.

The Parellis have partnered with the Humane Society of the United States, Equine Division. Rather than working with a horse owned by a local horseperson, they brought in a rescue horse and Pat worked with it, all three days, showing some real breakthroughs for the horse. It was awesome.

So since the Rainier Equine Hoof Recovery Center is also a non-profit entity created to rescue and help horses with hoof ailments, we too have partnered with the HSUS, Equine Coalition! We’re excited about that!

Linda came out 2 times. Once to compare the horsenalities of Remmer and Allure, and once to take a dressage riding lesson from Walter Z.

Her horses seemed to be moving pretty well at liberty. Remmer looked good. I couldn’t get a close shot of his feet, but I could see that his hooves are still run forward and his heels are still jacked-up with pads, and his toes are squared off. That’s pretty typical of how run-forward hooves are corrected with shoes. As far as I know, their genius farrier isn’t doing anything with the shoes that is new.

I had all sorts of things I would was going to say about the Parellis and their choice in hoof care, but then I asked myself what the point would be of doing that. People know what they know and do what they do and that's just how it is.

Then I realized, Pat Parelli himself, kept saying everything for me! All I had to do was replace the word "horsemanship" with "hoofcare!"

He said, he’d rather not invite people into his program who were not ready for the journey that natural horsemanship is. Those people are looking for a quick fix.

It’s interesting to me that the Parellis are happy with the work being done on their horse’s hooves. Linda mentioned that whenever a new hoof related issue crops up with one of her horses, their “genius farrier” simply adds a shim here or there and Presto! The horse is fixed!


Funny, how Pat says the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. They must not wonder why so many of their horses need corrective shoes and have issues that constantly need fixing.

The highlight of the weekend for me was when a long stock trailer backed into the arena. The doors opened and 13 Atwood Ranch weanlings piled out of the trailer and behind them came Kallie the Cowgirl riding her gelding!

She was playing with them in the arena with a flag. That reminded me of a post I had recently read on the FUGLY blog. The opinion was that flags were a stupid training device for horses.

But I watched as this master horsewoman sat on her gelding, gently flagging these babies using approach and retreat, and passive persistence, patiently loaded all 13 weaners back into the trailer. How many people have trouble loading one horse into a trailer?

My opinion of flags? It's never the tool that's at issue, it's always the tool-handler.

It was breathtaking to watch her technical care and patience as she did this. She got a deserved standing ovation. I wish I had a picture to show you, or a video, but I need a new camera.

At one point during the celebration, I was walking out to our car and I was stopped cold as I passed the corral that the Atwood Ranch weanlings were hanging out in. Kallie’s gelding was in the corral with them and he was lying down flat-out on his side and I could see that he was wearing shoes. The site of what had been done to his feet nearly caused me lose my lunch. (Which might not have been a bad thing.)

His heels were severely contracted on his fronts and he had eggbar shoes on the hinds and pads on all four feet. Wow, I thought, eggbars on the hinds! Are you kidding me! How, I wondered, could her horse need so much correction on the hinds that they would apply eggbars? Incredible.
I simply cannot understand why the motive of some farrier work is to completely eradicate any feeling the hoof has of the ground. Horses hooves were meant to feel the ground. For the best performance possible, hooves need to feel the ground.

People look at me funny when I tell them that. "Hooves can “feel?”

Yes, they can feel just as nature intended. If not, why does a tenderfooted horse flinch going over rocks? The object of natural hoof care is to help transition the hoof so it can negotiate and feel rough terrain without feeling pain. Just like I once could do as a kid when I rarely wore shoes outside.

Pat has a lot of sayings that he uses over and over. I used to wonder why he said the same things over and over again, at every event. Now I know. So we will commit them to our memory just as he has. It has worked for me. And I like being reminded of the sayings I sometimes forget.

Idle hooves are the devils workshop. Wow, is that ever true. Lack of movement is the biggest culprit for destroying hooves.

Pressure motivates and release teaches. I know that pressure and release creates healthy circulation and constant pressure kills living tissue.

Confidence, Acceptance, Understanding gets results. Yes!

It’s a matter of trust. Yes, it is. Owners who have doubts about me and my experience, make me very uncomfortable to work for. I’d rather they call someone else.

Flat halters are NOT part of their program. Yet, ridiculous corrective horseshoes are.

Pat also said that “Today we are judged on things that are superficial and artificial.” What are horseshoes?

At any rate, I could go on and on and many of you, I know, don’t agree with me. But that’s okay.

People come to natural hoof care when they are ready for the journey and tired of seeing the short-term quick fixes cause long-term damage.

There is nothing anyone can say or do to grab horseowners and drag them into natural horsemanship, which Pat describes as simply learning to communicate with the horse in their language.

The same is true for Natural Hoof Trims. We don’t try to force the hoof into an artificial or superficial situation that just keeps the horse from limping. Natural hooves are allowed to function properly. Natural trims are healing trims, not fixing trims and natural hoofcare is a journey that I’d rather not invite people into if they aren’t ready.

So, the answer is yes, if all you want is for your horses not to limp, than horseshoes are good enough.

PS: The next thing on my wish list is a real camera!:0)


Reddunappy said...

Bravo Pat, great post! The P's horses feet looked bad to me when we went to a tour stop 3 years ago. They have embraced the mind of the horse, now they need to embrace the body, including the feet! They have all of thier "natural" saddles now. When will they grow and work thier way down. I believe they will someday, so look out girl when they do! LOL

ya Fugly annoys me on her take on NH, she does not understand the real message. To many people over and over do the NH stuff and it gives it a bad name, I have followed Parelli for a couple of years now, and a disappointed in the direction they are taking, money, money and more money, I have carrot sticks and rope halters, 12 foot and 22 foot lines and a snaffle bridle but that is as far as I go. I will say that the 7 games have helped me and my horses, although they had good ground manners before I started Parelli. I think Parelli have taught me more patience, and the wait for it, attitude, which makes learning easier for my horses. I read them better now.

Anyway great post! sorry this was so long, my soapbox comes out sometimes LOL

One Red Horse said...

Love your post. I gotta admit I sort of veered away from the Parellis when I went iron free. Like a lot of their work but just could not stomach the contradiction of their horses' feet.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

How could I have missed that? That's just over an hour away from me. I would have loved to be there. Oh well. I guess I've just got to pay closer attention to what's going on in the community.

lytha said...

My experience with horses needing to feel the ground: My horse was a clumsy tripper almost his whole life. This stopped when we removed the shoes. I have no other explanation for why he doesn't trip anymore, but wish I would have known sooner that he needed to feel the ground.

~lytha in Germany

Mustang Heritage said...

I always enjoy your posts!
and each time I read them on horseshoes etc, I smile. You have a great way to getting to the pont and making it understanding!

I finally got Sissy the mammoth donkey sound 2 months ago, no more gimping etc. sadly she passed away last week, she laid down and never got up.
first time in a week i been okay and not crying my eyes out. at least for the last year i given her some thing her past owners couldn't, care and hoof care :-)

Pat said...


I'm so sorry to hear about your beautiful donkey. You gave her peace in life, dignity in death, and love until that time.
That was wonderful of you.

Mac v Mac said...

My first thought was "BRAVO!" but RedDunAppy beat me to it (darn you!)

I used to HATE reading Fugly's blog on NH/Parelli days, and thought that the commenters where the most idiotic pack of "barbarians". Now I read the blog, laugh, read the comments and just CRINGE at some of the anecdotes about some NH people.

I even agree with some of the stuff. Bit sad really.

If you say Ray Hunt, I will love you forever (or hunt you down, depending on the context). But Parelli? As Pat himself says - "don't go the extra mile for someone going in the wrong direction". Those horses hooves? Wrong direction! Majorly!

("you" used in the non-literal, "just a saying" type way here, not YOU, literally!!)

I find it appalling they can even work with someone who admits to using chains and turps on TWH to get movement. Surely not, Pat! Breaking my heart here...