Friday, July 10, 2009

“For Heaven’s Sake!”

Okay, this post has been rattling around in my head for awhile now and a recently received email from a farrier whose website I’ve basically ignored for a long time, sent to me.

All he sent was a comment from someone who commented on his site. Yes, I made the mistake of commenting on his site one time awhile back, then I forgot about him.

I had commented on a post showing pictures of what appeared to me as a butchered hoof. I could not help myself. I asked why he would do that to a hoof. His reason was that he'd had many years of experience. So I guess that made it okay.

Yes, because he made no sense at all in his email conversations with me, I posted the pictures on my blog warning horse owners to protect their horses from anyone who would do that to their horses hooves. But if they do, the horse most certainly would need some sort of protection. Shoes being the preferred choice of hoof protection by that horse shoer.

It easy to figure out that a hoof that has been gutted will be a lame hoof. Enter horse shoes!

So after many months after I forget this guy exists, here what I received. So bizarre!

A comment regarding "Coffin Bone Rotations", an entry at Farrieritis, was written at 7/2/2009 6:25:36 AM.
Hello John, You were to nice to Pat. lol
She is the kind that knows it all for heaven sakes. People are the reason for horses bad feet most of the time and then some are as you said just founder and with rotation. My daughters horse is now getting the shoes you spoke of and it all began with a virus, then colic and now rotation, and this was no ones fought, just happens and good folks like you can most of the time fix it. We now have the Vet and Farrier working relentless to fix this horse and keep her out of pain, Thanks for your comments I think you are a hell of a good farrier or you would not have been able to explain the problem with the hoof you showed and with the x ray.

Ironically, the commenter states that her - quote “…Vet and farrier are working relentless to fix this horse and keep it out of pain.”

I only have one question for Marcia. “How’s that workin’for ya?”

Okay, so why was this sent to me? Oh, yeah, I figure if he can convince enough people that he is right, then he will feel good about what he’s doing to the hooves of horses -- backed by his many years of experience, doing this to horses, of course.

I’ve said it a million times, but I’m going to say it again here.

Why do we shoe our horses? The main reason we shoe are horses is for our own convenience. Period!

What's wrong with that? Nothing. If your horse isn't suffering from the shoes.

Going natural isn’t as easy paying someone to nail shoes onto their horse’s feet. Going natural means owners have to take a more interactive roll in their horse’s hoof care. They must educate themselves about the most important part of their horse's anatomy that let's face it most horseowners know as much about as brain surgery.

In the past years, for more and more horse owners whose horses are barefoot, their horses are worth the time and trouble.

Still, I keep hearing people blame bare hooves for every ailment imaginable - no matter which end of the horse is afflicted. From a blind eye to runny poop. "Oh, that must be caused from your horse being barefoot." What?

Everyone knows horses survived for millions of years without our intervention of nailing shoes onto their feet, but now that we’re involved in their care, they can’t get along without horse shoes being nailed onto them. For Heaven's Sake!

That sarcastic remark right there should tell us something about what we are doing wrong to their feet to cause a need for something as extreme as nailing iron to the bottoms of their hooves.

Horseowners are figuring out that there is a better, healthier way. The problem is they are figuring it out faster than the equine medical educational institutions and the farrier schools.

What is wrong with shoes?

The shoe isn’t so bad if the application is done correctly (9 out of 10 times, shoes are not applied correctly) AND if the shoes could be removed at the end of every ride, which we know they can’t be, unless we are farriers as well as horse owners.

What else?

Shoes create constant pressure on the hoof and





The hoof IS held together by live tissue – the sensitive laminae.

The shoe supports only the outer edge of the entire hoof (peripheral loading) causing the horse’s entire weight to be supported by that living tissue this is connecting the coffin bone to the wall- the sensitive and insensitive laminae.

My horses were once shod. I remember my mare pulling her foot away when the nails were being driven into her foot. That alone told me, shoes were not a good deal. But it was when she tore a good portion of her hoof off when she stepped on her shoe with her other foot, (see the June 09 issue of Equus for an example of why you should grab the lead rope and runaway with your horse if you hear your farrier bragging that his shoes don’t fall off) was when I knew I had to figure out a better way for her than shoes.

That was over 5 years ago and she’s not worn shoes since nor will she ever be shod again. Funny, she is NOT lame.

So let me ask you something. If you’ve got a horse whose coffin bone has rotated, (if that's even a true diagnosis and it's usually not) how can you, with any compassion for your horse at all, look that horse in the eyes and say, “I realize you’re in constant, excruciating pain, and you can’t get off for aching feet for long, but I’m going to pay someone to pound nails into your hooves now too. So that your aching feet can locked up with these nice pieces of iron, until you start getting better or until you die trying.” ?

I, on the other hand, would look that horse in the eyes and say, “How about we put these boots on your feet with these soft pads in the bottom, so you can comfortably move around until you either get better, or it's determined that your condition is chronic and we chose to end your suffering.”

Who do you think that horse will thank later - whether it be from its pasture or from its grave?

When it comes to hooves, I’m the first to admit I do not know it all. I sure don't know much about hooves compared to people like Dr. Robert Bowker or Pete Ramey ( and others like them, but when I hear and read comments like the one emailed to me, I’m convinced that I know a hell of a lot more about hooves than most horse-shoers; more than some horse owners (most horse owners know more than their shoers) and a large percentage of veterinarians.

Especially the veterinarians who feel compelled to taking their hoof knife and gouging out an abscess. Why do you people do that? Leave it alone! How many holes do you have to make before you figure out you’ll never get past it. It’s working its way up the hoof to soft tissue where it will rupture. Digging out the hoof until you get to blood only opens the hoof up to infection. Isn’t it enough that the horse is already dealing with the abscess? Is it better that we add a giant open crater to the problems it already has?

Okay, sorry, I'll save that one for another rant.

Here is another experts take on "coffin bone rotation"

Andrea commented on this post: Here are the pictures she sent. One is of her shod gelding and one is of her barefoot mare. Most of you can guess which is which. Andrea, we are all so very sorry about your gelding. He is the reason you're doing things so much differently with your mare. Bravo to you!


Mustang Heritage said...

Bravo Pat,
your not ranting, your being honest. So many people refuse to learn about hoof care, they want to believe that the iron shoe way is the only way.
i know a person who believes in keeping her horses shod 365 days a year, and guess what? they are now showing issues and one is a 15K horse.
but if you say anything she shuts you down, her farrier knows it all.
going barefoot and learning about it has helped me so much and telling people about it.

Andrea said...

Here's a picture of my last horse demonstrating why I no longer do the whole shoe thing:
And here's a picture of my current mare demonstrating how fab the whole barefoot thing is:

You have to wonder, if Metro had been barefoot would the outcome have been different? If he had been barefoot, would he have been able to hook his shoe over the stall gate and pull it off and get out of his stall, eating everything he could find and falling while running down the aisle (spending a week in the hospital for a colic and also hitting his head when he fell on the cement aisle because of those slippery shoes, subsequently rattled his brain and making him develop epilepsy)? Would he have ever had such a severe suspensory injury if he hadn't been in shoes? Would he have had one at all? If the farrier hadn't crippled him repeatedly with bad shoeing jobs, would he still be around?

Pat said...

Thank you SO MUCH!

See! It's the horse "owners" and "caretakers" who are getting it.

We hoof care professionals need to catch up!

Pat said...


Thank you for the pictures, sad and happy. YOU are a shining example on your lovely mare (how beautiful the two of you are together) of just how it's supposed to be.

I'm so very sorry to hear about your Metro. You're asking all the right questions, as sad as it turned out for him. But he didn't die in vain. He gave his life so your mare could have a healthier one.

I hear more shoe related stories with devastating endings than I can share here. Or would want to share, but when I visit the renderers facility, it's apparent that most the horses who end up there, are there due to hoof related issues. And the majority are in corrective shoes and pads.

I always say a little prayer for each one and wonder how that was supposed to turn out for them. Obviously, not the way they had hoped.

I love your picture of you and your mare and will post on my blog. Thank you.

Andrea said...

Thanks Pat. Metro's story was a pretty horrible one - that suspensory was healing but eight months in, the farrier I had been using decided to get cocky and try to shoe him different, while I was right there telling him I didn't really think he should be doing it differently. So he said he wouldn't.. but still did. And Metro walked off three-legged. A new farrier then put heavy iron bars on him, which made it way worse. The healing ligament went rapidly downhill and was on the verge of total rupture (lateral branch had already ruptured, medial branch was on its way), and combined with the epilepsy (from hitting his head on the closed garage doors at the end of the barn aisle while sliding on concrete WITH SHOES when he escaped that one night!) and the prospect of being eternally in pain and crippled, we decided to let him go.

But the kicker for me, the thing that made me decide to give shoes the boot for good? I had been reading about the barefoot thing for awhile and, like a lot of people, wrote it off because of genetics, because of a horse's workload, because we keep horses unaturally... you know, the whole thing that people still shoeing convince themselves of because it's tradition. I had been thinking about it and reading about it, and seeing the pictures of those healthy feet made me really think hard. Why didn't my horse's feet look like that? He had been bare when I got him, but I had him shod because we evented. (Which, subsequently, is what I do with my mare currently and so far this year we've won our first three events on our dressage score... beat that!!!) I had his shoes pulled to keep the day we put him down, and his beautiful, fat frogs were atrophied and less than an inch apart under the pads. We turned him loose in the arena for one last hurrah before the vet came, and my crippled gelding trotted off totally sound. And my heart broke.
The necropsy showed that we obviously did the right thing, as there was massive hemhorhagging around that ligament, but wow, that really opened my eyes. Gogo was shod in pads when I got her, and she threw both shoes on her own within the first week I had her. And we've never gone back.

One Red Horse said...

Pat. I just keep looking at the healing feet of my two horses and smiling. One more year iron free. I look at the contorted, pathological hoofs of some horses I know and wish there was a way I could open a window in their caretaker's minds.

Went to visit the blog of the farrier you mentioned . . . came upon this entry. I was really horrified, sickened. Here is the story of a mare and a torture device.

One Red Horse said...

Oh. It just gets worse and worse

Denali said...

About a year ago I had a farrier come out to trim Denali's feet. He butchered them, and as a result, I spent the next two weeks going to the barn daily to change her bandages, give her bute, and just hang out with her to keep her company while the rest of her friends were out running in the field. Stall rest for two weeks was not good for her mind. She was a very sore, very cranky, very sad horse.

He changed the angles of her feet from 55 to 50 at one time. She was misrable, and as a result I now require references and if the farrier starts to trim her feet without even watchig her move I stop him/her and have a "discussion" on what his/her plan of action is and why. I have a good farrier now, and Denali has improved greatly. It makes me sad to think that people think it's okay to do that to your horse foot. I explained it to my husband like this: Imagine you accidentally tore off your finger nails, now try and walk on them. (If that makes sense)