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! :)


Unknown said...

This is precisely why I switched to easywalker horse shoes. They flex and theres been radiographs done. They allow the closest circulation to a horses natural hoof.

Mrs. Mom said...

Nice job Mel! You did a lot of work since we talked last, and it shows! Please give that pretty mare a rub from us, and I look forward to hearing how the trimming goes today!

junglemama said...

Very interesting. I can feel your passion!

allhorsestuff said...

Pretty darn great talk and research there Mel girl!!!
I agree 100%. My Thoroughbred mar Washashe has been barefoot all her life save one time when she was 3...sissy had her done so she could have the experience.

I go all over the place with her bare hooves and or hoof boots for protection!
I also do my own trimming.
Good work again Mel, I am proud of you for seeing the other side of it.
KacyK with Wa mare~

Bella said...

You've done some awesome research! And that picture says it all. (:

Anonymous said...

hey, just dropping by to wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year

Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Mellimaus said...

If you quote my post positively, it's fine. Although *my* post was all quotes, too. :P
What is your blog?

Anonymous said...


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