Write a four point argument supporting natural hoof care and the conclusion you would draw from those arguments. (short and to the point)
- Natural hoof care is a comprehensive approach that addresses not only the horse’s feet but also its physical and mental health as they are deeply connected to hoof health.
Conclusions: the goal of natural hoof care is to make the horse healthy from within. A healthy horse will have healthy feet. The trimming is only one aspect of natural hoof care.
- It is based on the wild horse model; the goal is to bring the horse as close at possible to its natural way of life and hoof wear because that is what their physiology is designed for.
Conclusions: by bringing our domestic horses near their natural lifestyle, we will ensure physiological and general health.
- It allows optimal hoof biomechanics, thus preserving the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles from excessive and abnormal wear.
Conclusions: the health of the entire musculoskeletal system is interdependent on the health of the feet.
- The focus is on the locomotion of the horse rather than the physical aspect of the hooves.
Conclusions: the function is more important that the form of the feet. Quality gaits prevail over aesthetics.
It would depend on the actual condition of the foot, the farrier’s attitude and the reason why I would give my opinion to the owner – did they ask for it? Did the farrier ask for my input? Did someone else recommend I explain the situation to the owner?
Either way, I would explain to the owner that the farrier probably means that the feet are so damaged that they would not be able to hold a shoe on. Also a shoe could damage the hoof even further. Maybe the farrier means that being barefoot will allow the hoof to de-contract and/or callous properly, which will make it healthier.
The farrier probably knows that shoeing decreases circulation, which results in slower horn growth. Removing the shoes will allow the walls to grow faster. Time ‘’off’’ would also allow the hoof to grow without the added stress caused by the nails and the weight of the shoes.
However, I would also tell the owner that the feet will still need to be trimmed on a regular basis in order to remain balanced and the walls well-connected. I would explain to them that the feet might need protection in the first few weeks to prevent tenderness.
Depending on what the farrier recommended – I try to avoid controversy – I would tell the owner that time off shoes does not mean being confined to a stall. I would explain to them that as long as the horse is comfortable, it should move. That movement will stimulate growth and hoof development.
If the owner is interested in my input, we might also need to look at the reasons why the feet broke so badly; the diet is likely at cause and addressing it might prevent the issue from re-occurring. We could also look at the way the horse is moving as it might explain the cracks – excessive toe-first landing due to painful thrush for example.