Monday, November 30, 2009

Musings on Shoe(ings)

Hello, Dear blogger friends!

Today I give you a quick (at least for me to write :P) post on the effects of shoeing.
Now that I know the truths behind horse shoeing, and how successful natural, barefoot trimming is, I find it sad that people don't know about it. (Or aren't willing to accept it...but moving right along).

I'm going to attach a bit of information from a book I read in a moment. First, I will show you this picture.

The picture illustrates how shoes hinder blood flow in the horse's hoof. And, when you read the explaination below, it's a pretty darn powerful photo.
At least, I find it powerful. (Photo found at

Can you guess which one of the hooves has a shoe on it?
*HINT* Look for the one with little blood flow.

Mmmm hmm. Am I the only one who finds that just plain scary?
I hope not. Or...if I am...I hope you'll change.

And now, without further ado, my information. Which I think is pretty darn cool...but I'm not sure how many regular horse readers I have on my blog anyway by now so I'm not really sure if this is worth it, or if this is completely pointless...but it's worth a shot.

Excerpt from the website of the author of "The Soul of the Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd" (Joe Camp). (AW


Did you know that a horse’s hoof is supposed to flex with every step taken? And that simple act of flexing is just about the most important thing a horse can do for good health and long life? The flexing provides shock absorption for the joints, tendons and ligaments in the leg and shoulder; acts as a circulatory pump for hundreds of blood vessels in the hoof mechanism; and helps the heart get that blood flowing back up the leg.

Without flexing, the hoof mechanism will not have good circulation and will not be healthy. And the heart will have to work harder to get the blood back up the legs. Without flexing, there will be no shock absorption.

And with a metal shoe nailed to the hoof, no flexing can occur.

...................and more........................

And one item I found puts to rest what so many were telling me: that the foot has been bred right off the horse, that the so called "domestic" horse no longer has the same foot as the horse in the wild. Nothing could be further from the truth. It would take a minimum of 5000 years to breed change into the basic genetics of the horse. I also discovered a study confirming that every "domestic" horse today retains the abilty of return to the feral state and be completely healthy. In other owrds, you do not really have a "domestic" horse. Genetically speaking, you have a wild horse in captivity. All horses on this earth are genetically the same.

"If all that's true, why does my horse appear to feel better with shoes on his feet?" I was asked recently.

I had no idea. Back to the experts I went. And quickly the answer fired back: 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.

That's also why some horses are tender for a time after shoes are taken off. The hoof that has been unhealthy because of shoes now has blood circulation once again, and he can feel. Two of our horses were good to go right from the first minute the shoes came off. Two took a month or so, one about three months, and one took almost seven months. But all are happy campers now, with rock solid feet, on the trail, in the arena, on asphalt, wherever[..........]

Emile Carre, a past president of the American Farriers Association was quoted as saying "The (horse's) foot was designed to be unshod, Anything that you add to the foot, like a horseshoe that is nailed on, is going to interfere with the foot's natural process. Most horseshoes have six to eight nails, possibly one to three clips, all of which constrict the foot's ability to expand and contract. Add pads, packing, any number of alternatives to the shoe, and you create a gait alteration. It all interferes with the natural process of the mechanism."

Less than 5% of horses in the wild have any kind of lameness, and Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick (who has studied wild horses most of his adult life) says that virtually every case of lameness he's seen in the wild is related to arthritic shoulder joints, not hoof problems.

Arizona veterinarian Dr. Tomas Teskey says,"One of the greatest damages that occurs because of the application of steel shoes to the horse's hoof is the greatly reduced circulation within the hoof, and the diminished return of blood back up toward the heart through the veins of the lower leg. Shoes interfere with the hoof's natural blood-pumping mechanism. The natural hoof expands and contracts with each step, letting blood in as it spreads upon impact with the ground, and squeezing blood up and out of the hoof as it contracts when it is not bearing weight. If this sounds familiar, like the blood pumping mechanism of a heart, that's because it is--natural hooves perform a critical function as supplementary "hearts". This vital heart-like mechanism is greatly restricted by immobilizing the hoof with steel shoes."

And now, a short paragraph from case studies BC Thoroughbred:

Many people assume that Thoroughbreds have horrible feet, and that having horrible feet is due to poor breeding practices. I want to challenge that assumption.

Consider this; a horses feet account for far less than 1% of the whole horse, right? So, how can TB breeders get 99.5% of that magnificent animal so damned RIGHT and get the only the feet WRONG?

I don't understand! These big majestic animals are marvels of animal husbandry... they have been bred for centuries for strength, agility, stamina, athleticism - and great looks! They aren't all Einstein's' in the brains department, but they are very sensitive and responsive.

So how do all of those many thousands of silly breeders manage to breed "bad" into just the feet???

What's particularly perplexing is why those same horrible TB feet become so wonderfully hard and durable once given a chance to shed their metal shoes... Yes, that's right, I connected the phrases "horrible TB feet" and "wonderfully hard and durable", because this is what happens when the shoes are taken off and the feet are trimmed and balanced by a knowledgeable barefoot trimmer / farrier.

My natural trimmer is coming tomorrow. :) Oh joy.
You know how many months I went through dreading farrier visits? Yeah, I'm glad that's over! :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunday Stills Challenge: The BEST challenge of all; Horses (HAPPY THANKSGIVING!)

I've been gone for a few weeks from Sunday Stills, but just reading this week's challenge, I know I needed to post; no way out of it. I've decided to make this into my "Thanksgiving" subject for the year...

I started loving horses as soon as I could express that I did. My loving parents signed me up for weekly riding lessons (or, for the first year, "pony rides) when I was four years old. I rode at that same barn for a total of eight years before moving on a to a half-lease with my cousin's horse, then my own horse. I've ridden many different horses over the years, and recently sat down and wrote them all down. I've ridden (though some are excluded on this first picture) 55 horses.

Horses have taught me so much. It's so cool to get on a horse and ride them and try to figure them out; they are all so different, the same thing doesn't make them all "tick". They all have different personalities, like people do, and all have things they love, hate, fear, and are good at.

The first pony I ever rode was named Sunshine, or "Sunny". I went on to ride 2 other horses with that name...but anyway. I'm not sure what breed Sunshine was, but he was a great pony...I rode him for a long time. When I was older, and barely fit on him, I'd get on him again...he was a blast. What a good boy. The next four pictures are of him...the first one is me on him, the *FIRST TIME* I was ever on a horse at all. Ohhh, joy. :)

As soon as I learned to control Sunny myself, I moved on to Dusty. He was a real horse, I'm guessing quarter horse, and an old boy, but very good. My parents threw a party at the riding barn for me when I turned five, and I felt really special; all my friends were led around on the ponies; *I* got to ride all by myself on the big horse. :)

I even sat on a police officer's horse one night in the city...One career I'm interested in (to the dismay of my friends and family, who think it's dangerous :P (It is)) is mounted police work...but we'll see. However, at least I can say I've been on a mounted officer's horse, right?

Next pony I rode was named Oreo. Apparently, he was a real brat, but I don't remember him very well.

Now. Until Patchy and Daisy came along, this next horse was my favorite. Dancer, a snowflake Appaloosa. He was so much fun; well behaved, and great at games. I had a blast whenever I rode him.

My Aunt Daniela had a horse named Gitano when she lived in Germany...soo, when I visited, I got to ride. He was HUGE, as most horses in Germany are. But very cool. Germans feed their horses stale bread, something I give my horse, too. It's second nature; growing up, people in Germany pretty much always have a bag in the pantry for the stale bread for the horses. It's funny when I tell riders in the US that; they give me the funniest looks :P. Daisy loves stale bread, as long as it's not white bread. :P :)

The next horse is named Little Girl, born and raised at the barn I took lessons at. She was eventually sold...I liked her. I remember my first reaction after getting on her was "Wow, she's sensitive!"...But I grew to like her.
Now, the next pony. How can I explain him? Patchy was a really green pony, but my riding instructor had me ride him. I ended up spending many lessons simply working on stopping with him, and argued with him quite a bit...I learned loads from working with him. I don't care what you think, you can learn the most from problem horses. Patchy of a kind. I loved him to bits, but I knew I'd outgrow him so I'd never buy him. As I've said before, he was what motivated me to buy Daisy; I got on her to test ride, and found a personality much like Patchy's, and wanted her. I'm not completely sure what's happened to Patchy, now...I'm hoping to find out.

Our family moved out to the country in 2005, at which time I made myself known to neighbors with miniature horses, and ended up spending a lot of time with the minis, who I was allowed to visit whenever I wanted. Below are two pictures of Reba (and I)...I can only look back and laugh; love my pants! :P

And, almost exactly a year before I bought Daisy, I got to know another family with minis, and went on a horse show, showing Doc (aka, "Top of the Hill Drop of Medicine"). I look like a little cowboy.

This is just a portion of all the horses I've ridden...and I could have gone on and on. In any case, this year my "thanks" subject goes a few ways. Thank you to my parents for fostering my love at an early age and allowing me to ride. Thanks to my riding instructor, who taught me SO much over the years. Thank you to each and every equine I've ridden; each one has taught me something new. And thank you to my dear friends who've allowed me, over the years, to ride their horses and teach me. Horses are a big part of my life. I love them so much.

This concludes my long Sunday Stills post.

I hope you all (ERR, all that live in the US and celebrate Thanksgiving!) have a Happy Thanksgiving, eat lots of food, and get tons of rest! :) Thanksgiving's one of my favorite holidays, right up there with Christmas. :)

*Note*: photos came from different sources, generally my mom. I'm not sure if this really counts as a Sunday Still because *I* didn't take the photos, but it is Sunday (err...Saturday) and they are Stills...soo...Also, I had to take pictures of paper copy's of pictures, which is why some are blurry :P.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thrush, Trimming, Updates, and, umm...More.

Long time no post...I actually had pictures for both of the last Sunday Stills posts but just somehow...never got around to posting...

SOOO much has been going on with Daisy and I since the cross country schooling, and yet nothing has happened...

The schooling brought up various questions about Daisy's soundness and life has a barefoot horse that I really needed to sort out...I actually have each of the questions written down, and answers, but...I don't feel like sharing. Not today...maybe another day. Or maybe never. I can't decide...partially because the answers contain words that could be considered, um...offensive, I guess, to certain people...who will probably never read this, anyway, but I'd rather not share right now :).

ANYWAY, I need to say a BIG thank you to Mrs. Mom especially for being willing to email me, answer questions, look at my photos, give me advice on Daisy's thrush, were SUCH a help, I SO appreciate it! Thank you very, very, very much!

Daisy did have's gone now, I'm pretty sure. It was still lingering in her right hind last Monday when my trimmer came, but I've been ACV spraying, and it's gone.


Yes, yes, you can stop gushing now. I know, I know, really, please be quiet...I KNOW, stop getting so excited!

(I'm not really sure what made me write that^^)

But for real, I did trim Daisy's trimmer gave me one of his old(er) files, and showed me how to trim Daisy's hooves (I'm supposed to remember, BACK 45 degrees! Not in that order...) and next Monday (not tomorrow) I will go about, umm...*trying* to trim her hooves myself. He said I could go ahead and trim her hooves two weeks into the trim...which is cool. I got the whole trimming the edges down fine (at least, the left side, where I can use my right hand...I have yet to try with my left...that will be awkward :P) but I'm a little unsure about trimming her bulbs...that's where the "BACK" comes in...and I go to just about height of the frog...but not lower...and...yeah...we'll see. :P

High school is keeping me very busy these days...*thanks*. :P

I haven't been riding as much...and Daisy's showing it through weight gain (not totally because of lack of riding, though :P) and grumpy (er) attitude (grumpier than the usual grump than she is). I just call her Miss Grumpy these days and scratch her behind the ears more often...the pictures above were from a few weeks ago now.

I went to ride at Jean's yesterday, and am going again on Wednesday...she got some new horses at an auction, and they turned out quite nice. I like them a LOT! :))

Alrighty...well...the chickens got a new coop. So I will eventually be posting pictures of the build and finish on my other blog (Link at the side, over there ------>>> )


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