Duncan's blog at http://easycarenews.com/06-29-2010/articles/soft-country-feet/
by Duncan McLaughlin
Who wants soft-country feet? Not me! Until recently I lived in an area that was perfect for barefooting. Hard, dry, often rocky terrain meant achieving gravel-crunching soundness was possible for a majority of horses. Last November, I moved to an area with much higher rainfall and with rich, deep, often wet topsoil; perfect for dairy farming (with energy-rich grasses like kikuyu and paspalum) but not ideal for developing solid functional horse hooves.
Large areas of my paddocks have standing water for weeks on end. Even where they are dry, the soil is either soft and sandy or wet and muddy. The horses are often standing in water for hours, even days, at a time.
Not surprisingly, these conditions are renowned for producing soft, undeveloped feet that are prone to infections. Thrush and seedy toe/white line disease are common in this area and hoofwall separation is almost a given. These were pathologies I almost never experienced in my work as a trimmer in the hard, dry country where I used to live. However, I thought this new environment would be a great opportunity to test a basic tenet of barefoot hoof-care: if the biomechanics and physiology of a hoof are correct, then biomechanical stress – such as hoof wall separation – and physiological stress – such as thrush and seedy-toe – should not manifest.
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