Wednesday, December 16, 2009

For, like, the 9 billionth time: IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT TRIM.

Well, no time to put together a newsletter this month, but I did have one topic I wanted to address, so here it is.


I know I've said that about 84 gazillion times. For some reason, that phrase gets lost between my lips and the eardrums of many wannabe barefoot horse owners.

Let me make a distinction here. I am a Professional Barefoot Hoof Care Provider. All I do is look at hooves all day long, and figure out what needs to happen to make each one of those hooves healthy. The title "hoof trimmer" is inadequate, because it implies that I somehow magically apply a trim that can make any horse, in any situation, sound barefoot. Trim is important, to be sure. But I cannot get your horse sound barefoot with just my rasp, nippers and knife.

I'm often asked if I believe that every horse can go barefoot. YES. I do believe every horse can be comfortable and sound barefoot.


Most of the time, there are many factors that will need to be addressed to make that possible.

When I come out to assess your horse, and I start telling you we need to balance the horse's diet, or the horse needs to be moving more over more appropriate terrain, or that the horse would benefit from jiaogulan or acetyl l-carnitine, it is MUCH MORE than a suggestion. When I say these things, I am telling you what I KNOW will help your horse become a sound barefoot horse. If you are reluctant to take my advice, I will gladly send you research and literature to support my "prescriptions".

There is no cookie-cutter protocol that fits every horse. Consider 150 horses times 4 hooves -- that's 600 hooves I shape and handle in a 5 - 6 week period (how many hooves does your vet look at every month??) They are all quite different, but if all you do is diagnose hoof problems every day, all day, and you use every resource available to learn everything you can about how to heal hooves, you can hardly help from getting good at it.

Sometimes, only one area needs to be addressed. Other horses require much sharper attention to all of the details.

Some horses thrive on a diet that is not balanced, providing they have good, manure-free footing (pea gravel, decomposed granite, or river sand are ideal) and plenty of reason to move about all day long.

Some horses need their trace and major minerals precisely balanced.

Some horses have poor circulation, and benefit from a nitric oxide enhancing herb called jiaogulan.

Some horses have chronic pain after a laminitis attack, and benefit from the addition of acetyl l-carnitine to their diet.

Some horses are borderline insulin resistant, and become painful if even a tiny amount of sugars or carbs are added to their diet.

Some horses have such extensive damage to the sole corium from long-term rotation that they will ALWAYS need boots on rugged footing.

If you take my recommendations with a grain of salt, and implement little or none of it, and the horse fails to improve, know that you have not done all you can to make this work. Be honest with yourself, and your acquaintances, when they ask why you went back to shoes. Don't say "my horse couldn't go barefoot". Say, "I was not able to meet all of the requirements necessary to help my horse become sound and healthy barefoot."