Why Holistic Hoof Care?
The hooves are the base upon which the horse stands. If there is pain and/or imbalance in the hooves, it will be reflected throughout the horse’s body and affect everything from the way the horse moves to its disposition. Conversely, such things as saddle fit, training and riding methods, nutrition, overall health of the horse, and its living conditions (among others) have a direct effect on hoof health. When all of the pieces of the puzzle that make up a healthy and happy horse are in place, optimum performance becomes possible. Once the horse owner has decided to make a healthy and happy horse the primary goal, it only makes sense to start at the base.
In an article titled "Most of your income comes from shoeing lame, but still used, horses" (American Farriers Journal vol. 26, Nov. 2000), editor Frank Lessiter quotes Walt Taylor of the World Farriers Association and Together for Equines regarding the overall health of the world's estimated 122 million equines (horses, mules and donkeys). Taylor's assessment is summarized as follows:
The gist of Lessiter's article was that the modern farrier needs to become a specialist in shoeing lame horses to make them usable. It was clear from the content of the article that these figures did not come as a surprise to him.
They sure came as a surprise to me, as I heard them for the first time at the Strasser Basic Hoof Seminar I attended in July of 2001. I was horrified! Even if you cut the numbers in half, that would still mean nearly half the world's equines are lame. My response was "What are we doing wrong?"
I was to learn the answer to that question during that 3-day seminar with Dr. Hiltrud Strasser of Germany and Sabine Kells, SHP (Strasser Hoofcare Professional), of British Columbia: Conventional horse-keeping and hoofcare practices are creating an epidemic of lameness in the world's horses.
Dr. Strasser tells us how we can heal and prevent the vast majority of lameness. What she teaches is that environmentally correct living conditions, combined with correct hoof form, lead to a lifetime of soundness for horses. For more than 30 years, at her hoof clinic in Tuebingen, Germany, Dr. Strasser has been curing horses many conventional veterinary/farrier practices consider incurable, such as founder/laminitis and navicular syndrome, as well as toe/quarter cracks, over-thin soles and a variety of other problems. And now, a growing number of Holistic Hoofcare Professionals in North America have been repeating her success with rehabilitating lame horses all over North America.
Why not Holistic Hoofcare?
I often hear people say holistic hoof care/barefoot is good for some horses but not for all horses. It is my opinion that holistic hoof care is good for ALL horses, but it may not be good for all owners. Those who are looking for a quick fix, for someone else to solve the problem, or to save money on their hoofcare by going barefoot should look elsewhere for the solution. Those of you who think your horse is sound just because it is not head-bobbing lame need to review the statistics quoted above. Your horse may be one of the 10 percent of horses worldwide that are absolutely sound, but it is unlikely.
Successful transition to barefoot/holistic hoof care requires a paradigm shift on the part of the horse owner. He or she will have to be actively involved in the rehabilitation process in order for it to be successful. He or she will also have to be willing to allow the horse whatever amount of time is necessary to heal and become sound. Speed of recovery is directly proportional to the owner's commitment to the horse and understanding of the rehabilitation process.
The owner will also have to allow the horse to be a horse, as no amount of natural hoof care is going to succeed unless the horse has as natural a lifestyle as possible for the given situation.
Nutritional support with feed and supplements from Vita Royal Products Inc.
Consultations and Presentations on both Holistic Hoof Care and Nutritional Support
Charming Whinney, my American Curly Horse mare, grazes happily on pasture with her herd at my small Central Florida property.