Monday, February 23, 2009

Catchin' Up on Life-_-_-The Subject of Shoeing

Sooo...I haven't posted anything about Daisy lately so I have to do some sharing.

I was sick last week, which happened to be February break from school. I was also sick the week before, and came to the barn on Sunday, didn't go back until Wednesday, and then came on Friday again. That Sunday that I came, the farrier came as well. I recently read a very interesting, thoughtful book called "The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd" by Joe Camp (director/producer of the Benji movies I believe...) that my Uncle Gregor gave me for Christmas. All I can say is, if there is just one book you should read about horsemanship, it's that one. What an amazing read. It was an eye-opener completely. Remember the "roundpenning" video post I did awhile back? Normally, when I round pen (or I'm assuming other people) they put themselves in the position of the horse's "leader" as the do the join up. However, once they leave the pen, they go back to acting the way they did before. Joe Camp brought the join-up OUTSIDE of the pen, and it sounds amazing. It seems to take quite a bit of work and dedication, but I want to try what he did. I would HIGHLY recommend this book, please read it if you own a horse (and's a pretty heart-warming book for anyone who likes animals).

He also had an entire chapter devoted to horse shoeing, and mentioned the topic of shoeing throughout the book. I learned some pretty cool stuff. I myself shod Daisy last season and I would have this season, but this book changed my mind. Please don't be offended, I just want to share what I learned.

Did you know, that shoeing a horse's hoof makes it impossible for the hoof to flex naturally? Read this paragraph from the book, please:

Have you ever crossed your legs for such a long time that your foot goes to sleep? It's because you have cut off the blood circulation to your foot. Essentially that's what's happening when a metal shoe is nailed onto a horses foot. The hoof no longer flexes. Which means a substantial loss of blood circulation in the hoof. Which mean the nerve endings go to sleep. And the ill health the hoof is suffering from lack of circulation is no longer felt by the horse. In other words, the "ouch" never reaches the brain.

Is that powerful or what? I thought it was. It sounds pretty bad. Besides what that says up there, the shoe's nails make the hoof wall very weak. And the hoof can't flex.

Throughout the book, Joe will write one chapter about his own experiences, one chapter that he makes up about a herd of horses in the wild. He uses that herd to prove a point:
Horses weren't created to have certain things. They weren't meant to have shoes, blankets, barns, perfect little pastures, leg wraps, stalls, etc. I'm not saying I agree with everything he says. I'm going to continue to stable Daisy. I'm still going to use leg wraps. I'm still blanketing Daisy when it's below 15 degrees. But I don't want to keep shoeing her.

I feel kind of stupid. When I had Daisy shod last summer, she HATED it. Totally hated it. She reared, and she was just obviously uncomfortable. Partially that was because of the farrier, I admit. But it was also because she didn't like it. So WHY did I keep having her shod if I knew she hated it, and it became so stressful to have her shod because I knew she didn't like it? I kept doing it because I thought she needed it. I thought the ground was too hard for her hooves, and we were riding on the road, etc. Other people shoe because they jump, or rein, or barrel race, etc. But in reality, most horses don't need it. The first summer I had Daisy, I didn't shoe her. And her hooves got bruised and she was lame for a bit. I rode her through it, though, and within the 8 weeks between farrier visits, her hooves HAD hardened up, and she wasn't bruised anymore, and she could be ridden anywhere. Unfortunately, her hooves soften during the winter, and I don't want to go through her being lame and bruised again and waiting for her hooves to harden. Soooo...I'm not shoeing anymore because it's bad...But Daisy does have flat soles, and she has pretty sensitive feet. So I'm going to order (as soon as I can be sure of the size) Old Mac G2's. I originally read about them on the blog "7MSN". They are, in short, tennis shoes for horses, produced by EasyCare Inc. They slip on the horse's feet for when you go out riding, and are like shoes except that the horse's hoof can still flex naturally. Sounds good to me. They are kind of expensive, but if you think about it, you spend about $70 to have shoes reset anyway, and the shoes should last at least half a year. I've also ordered SmartHoof from SmartPak (Good quality, smartpak...if you ever plan on getting supplements, check SmartPak's version of's cheaper and many times, better.)

So that's my story...I had a little drama with my new idea of not shoeing, so I just had to share. That's my reasoning. In any case, I still highly suggest Joe Camp's book, it's a cool read.


Sorry this post was so long...I've been sick a lot recently, so I haven't really ridden much. I've still been at the barn, but just doing groundwork. I've been pretty happy with that--I've taught Daisy to side pass (to the right) over a pole, which is good because before side passing and poles just didn't mix with her. We're working on the left side now. She seems to enjoy it...we're both getting a little sick of the arena, and can't wait to get back out on the trail.

I'll talk to all you bloggers soon...this post could take awhile to digest...well, as in, read, so....but in the meantime, read The Soul of a Horse! :D

Bloggin' Out,


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Good for you educating yourself about horse care and hooves.

There do seem to be times when a horse could benefit from shoeing, but you're right that most horses with healthy feet do not need shoes.

My mare hasn't had shoes for years and unless we ride on very rocky mountain trails, she won't even need boots either. I was planning on buying some Old Mac's for Baby Doll right after Christmas...and then...well, you know what happened.
So my plans are stalled (get it?) for a while, but I do want to get her some boots once we start trailering to the mountain trails around here.

When Baby Doll first came here to live, she was unshod, but had been kept in an soft dirt arena, so her hooves had to toughen up a bit for a few months on our rugged, rocky hills. She had quite a few sand cracks and nicks, and I treated her hooves daily with hoof moisturizer, but her hooves toughened up really fast.

Some friends of ours keep crushed gravel in their pens so that their horses' hooves toughen up, too.

Horse hoof understanding, education and care have come a long way, don't you think?

Well I'm off to check out that interesting book you wrote about now.


I LOVE JESUS said...

Wow, that's a lot of good information. Thanks for posting it! I never realized that about shoes, but then again we have never shoed our horse so....... I hope those special horse "tennis shoes" help Miss Daisy! And have fun with the ground work!!!!! :D

Sarah said...

Awesome post!! I will check into that book :) Hopefully they'll have it at the library until I get the money to buy it...

I don't shoe my horse. She can't really be ridden much yet, and there isn't really a need for them. I also don't put a blanket on her (don't have one.. :P) I don't have a 'perfect' little pastures, or leg wraps, and I don't keep her in a stall. But she does have a barn she can go into if she wants.

BTW I just posted on my blog about Chloe

Tibby said...

Good for you! I wouldn't shoe my horse either (if I had one) after reading that book!

Arabian Lover! said...

hey, that's a really cute blog, i have 3 horses and have been riding for for 5 years! i love my horses sooooo much, how many horses do you have? Oh, and thanks forposting the thing about shoeing, i never knew that!!!


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