Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Barefoot Doesn’t Work for Horses - Full Article

It seems many people are giving barefoot a try these days, but all too often, I hear of someone giving up, becoming convinced that barefoot just doesn’t work for their horse. They find that their horse’s hooves are just too sensitive, especially on rough terrain. So shoes are nailed back on and all seems well once again. But what they may not know is why barefoot didn’t work for their horse in the first place.

If you’re simply going barefoot because it’s the latest fad, it’s easy to give it up when the going gets tough. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd though, and I didn’t go barefoot with my horses to be trendy. I went barefoot when I became convinced that it was the only way to have a naturally healthy horse. I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve witnessed the detrimental effects of horse shoes and I’m not going back there again.

I don’t want to judge people who do shoe their horses though. I know most of us are just doing what we think is best. Or maybe just doing what we’ve always done–simply because we don’t know any other way.

But, shoes, plain and simple, are not healthy for horses’ feet. The entire hoof as well as the structures inside it become weakened when a metal shoe is nailed on and left in place for any length of time. Shoes do not allow for the natural contraction and expansion of the hoof that comes with movement and weight bearing. This, in turn, impedes blood flow in the hoof. The truth is that shoes really don’t allow for any part of the hoof to function as nature intended.

Horses are meant to be barefoot. It’s the unnatural ways in which we manage them that makes them unable to do so. If we provide the most natural lifestyle we can for our horses, they can develop and maintain naturally healthy hooves. But it’s also going to take some effort on our part...

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