Monday, November 30, 2009

For want of a horseshoe nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost
For want of a shoe the horse was lost
For want of a horse the rider was lost
For want of a rider the battle was lost
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail

Too bad they weren’t aware of what a healthy, perfectly trimmed barefoot hoof can accomplish. A win for the hoof, a win for the horse, a win for the rider, a win for the battle, and a win for the kingdom.

But most importantly it's a win for the horse!


Sarah said...

Barefoot is long as the work that the horse is asked to do doesn't wear the hoof faster than it grows, or that the horse doesn't have genetically weak feet needing support, or that there isn't a long standing imbalance that requires sole or heel support via a shoe in order to speed recovery, or the horse doesn't have a foot pain issue that requires support that is exacerbated by going barefoot. Just sayin'

Pat said...

That is a real misconception about hoof growth. If the hoof is trimmed incorrectly (farrier trim) and/or allowed to flare, then yes the wall can be worn faster than it can grow. Because the hoof isn't growing correctly in the first place. Trimmed (or worn correctly as in the case of wild horses) and there is no fear of wearing wall faster than it can grow.
If healthy, correctly growing wall could wear off faster than it can grow, all wild horses would have NO hooves.
And if you support long standing imbalance with shoes, how are you correcting it? You're not! You're simply covering it up with a bandaid. I prefer to correct at the hoof with the trim, whether a shoe is applied or not.

All too often shoes are applied to incorrectly trimmed hooves with the excuse that shoeing is the only way to make corrections and that is wrong.
There really is no excuse to shoe a horse. None!

Sarah said...

First. I dislike the "feral horse" comparison, simply because those horses are not being asked to pull a load or carry a rider until the human says stop. THAT is why they don't wear down. I promise that if you trot your pony on gravel or pavement for 2 hours a day without any protection than you will have a lame pony after a while. And if you say anything about boots...well that is not barefoot is it? Boots do extend the breakover point of the hoof and trap moisture...hmmm...

Second. I have seen plenty of imbalances that occur due to poor trimming, dietary issues or just bad breeding. I have SEEN them fixed by shoes/proper trimming, and the horses had good walls, soles and were happy and sound. Seen it with mine own eyes.

I appreciate that you have helped a good number of horses to soundness, and it is great that you have. I'm a trimmer (with shoeing training), with a firm grasp on horse anatomy and physics too btw, and I'm not going to go discrediting the farriers who do wonderful work and help many horses, for any reason, especially not to convince people that shoes are evil to try to get more clients. Lay off the Kool-aid and get some honest facts and figures. Idealism rarely works and always conveniently leaves out a lot of truth.

This may have sounded harsher than intended, but you are bad-mouthing a long standing process that has proven itself a million times over as being effective in many cases, and necessary in some. I do grant that there are plenty of times where it is not necessary, but it is unfair/uninformed for you to say that shoes are NEVER good and ALWAYS detrimental.

Sarah said...

Oh, and about covering a bad trim with a bandaid...of course you do realize that a good trim is the primary part of good shoeing. I didn't think I would have to spell it out. I implied that the shoe could be an aid in providing comfort/improved function while the trim repairs the imbalance.

Pat said...


Thank you for your interest in bare hoofs. I would suggest that you study the wild horses and their hooves and you will find that trotting for 2 hours a day everyday for months would be a drop in the bucket for their properly worn feet.

Some herds travel across volcanic road, at all gaits for many more hours than 2 a day and often some are so heavily in foal that would compare to being ridden double.

Second, I hope someday you have a better understanding of hoof function and how nailing a piece of iron to it limits its function therefore damages it's integrity.

Anyone with even a mild understanding of anatomy and biomechanics would ask,"How could it not?"

If you want to take this discussion off my blog, my email address is

Thank you,

Pat said...

I'm curious, how many lame horses have you pulled the shoes off of and helped to become sound without them?

How many dead horses have you pulled the shoes off of and found that you probably could have saved them?

Me? I'm probably past a thousand.

PS: I'm betting my riding horse who hauls me around the gravel trails barefoot without any signs of discomfort, could easily trot over gravel for 2 hours a day everyday for months without wearing his walls off. And if you'd like to work on that experiment for you this summer, I'd be happy to do that. And BTW, he has foundered in the past.

Pat said...

And as far as incorrect breakover with boots. Wow, you should start picking up just about any shod hoof you come across if you want to see incorrect breakover. And those poor horses can't remove their shoes at the end of each ride.

But I have give those shod horses kudos. They live and are forced to perform with that tendon stressing, arthritis promoting condition 24/7 and most do it seemingly without complaint.

At least we can remove the boots at the end of a ride and the Easyboot Gloves are a huge advancement in boot technology. We haven't seen much of an advancement in shoe technology in the past several hundred years.

Denae Rusher said...

I love this!