and the rest is chaos

Self Regulating Equine January 28, 2010

Filed under: HorseSense — nadinescloset @ 7:05 PM
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People will never run out of things to sell horse people.  This includes the professionals who so many of us trust.  Sadly, in so many cases, common sense shines not into deep pockets. If  your horse needs endless checkups, various injections, and God help you “experimental treatments”, you might ask yourself, “What was the problem again?”  Chances are you never got anything more than a vague glance, crossed arms, and a complicated spew about how there’s an undetectable lameness that you were lucky to find before the entire horse just came unglued. Clearly this vet has a theory about your checkbook.

It isn’t appealing in the English riding community to allow your horse in public without shoes. It’s not even an option as far as I can tell. My Dutch Warmblood came into my care with a mess of  hoof problems, all caused directly by farriers who had done a little creative marketing and therefore expensive shoeing. The former owners were very proud of the amount of money they spent on his treatment.  Sparing no expense, because at this point they had no idea what to do with the beast and it seemed most attractive to throw money at it.

Well that was four years ago. I let his shoes fall off, I let his feet get ratty, sore, bruised, and I allowed his Navicular changes to do whatever they were going to do. They went away. I don’t have a farrier, I don’t trim his feet, I have only rasped him a handful of times. I let my horses live outside and they take care of it themselves. My ” lame” Warmblood  has the most beautiful, sound hooves you could imagine. They are perfectly shaped, as though freshly trimmed.

Look through the hype people.


9 Responses to “Self Regulating Equine”

  1. I am sorry your horse had to go through all that, but I am glad there is a happy ending!!!

    I have never shown, so I don’t quite understand why horses automatically have to have metal shoes to compete in an arena with soft footing?

    I plan on leaving my 1/2 Percheron 1/2 Paint gelding barefoot unless he gets ouchy on rocks on the trail. For me, horse boots make a lot more financial sense (since he will only wear them when he needs them!) and better leg health for my Phoenix. 🙂

    • Its nice to hear someone speak with reason! I know there are circumstances where shoes can be appropriate, however I bet you could build up Phoenix’s hoof strength slowly, and avoid shoes altogether. I have a full draft, so I am aware of the challenges they have in the hoof department, but it makes sense to optimize them as much as you can. A few foot bruises are well worth the long term benefits!

      • I wish monthly lectures with experts were mandatory to horse ownership, because I have heard a lot of different opinions over the years (from the various equestrian clubs, groups and organizations I have been in) and it has allowed me to see lots of different sides of view and adopt methods that makes sense!


        Do you have more than one horse, or just the Dutch Warmblood?

      • It’s interesting that so many things require a license or some sort of education…yet horse ownership is seat of the pants learn as you go- if you choose. Seems dangerous and irresponsible right? It’s fantastic that you have been able to form your own opinions on this stuff, I like to think I have done the same. Nobody knows exactly what is right for you and your horses.

        I’m lucky enough to have three boys, the Warmblood, a Thoroughbred, and a full Belgian Draft. The draft is my riding horse and the other two are living out their golden years, fully retired.
        Tell me about Mr. Phoenix, what type of riding are you guys into?

      • 🙂 I love that the Belgian is your riding horse. One of my other horse internet friends is a new owner with a Belgian.

        I am thinking my next PMU 1/2 draft should be 1/2 Belgian this time (instead of another 1/2 Percheron).

        I retired from endurance racing years ago, now I just trail ride… but who knows I might train and compete in something in the future (gymkana-type games, competitive trail, or trail courses?). Right now Phoenix is finishing up his saddle training with my friend, then I will work with him to become a well-oiled machine, then who knows. 🙂

        How about you?

      • Wow I have so much respect for trail warriors like you, I love the trail but the thought of doing it competitively is intimidating. I used to do the gymkana games (just for fun) with a group of people, I was crazy about it.
        I manage a barn and we’ve got a few Perch crosses right now- I have to say I love them to death. I think Percherons are so reasonable, and they’ve got great moves for a draft horse. If I have a group of horses who are seriously unstable during turnout, I throw one of my trusty Perch men in and they fix it. My Belgian (Andy), however, is really hot! Weird right? And even though we’ve had some rough times he would truly walk to the end of the earth for me. He is a one woman horse,- does Phoenix act clingy too? Draft thing maybe?

        It’s quite exciting your guy is graduating soon! The next stage in the process…getting to know each other as a team, so rewarding. Right now, to be quite honest, I am going through my list of winter excuses, as to why I shouldn’t ride…It’s just so gross out! I do a ton of ground work though to keep up the partnership. My foundation is natural horsemanship, my fine tuning is dressage.

      • I am so thankful to have been introduced to endurance. It taught me SO MUCH on horse health/well being, I got to see AMAZING countryside, and I found out that YES I will start singing “Home On The Range” (badly and at the top of my lungs) when I find myself all alone on mile 24 of a race. 😉 Luckily, Arabians are very forgiving horses. 😉

        I love that your Belgian has fire in him. That is what I LOVE about Drafts! They tend to be on the non-reactive side, but it is an incorrect stereotype when people say they are DULL or SLOW. Just because they don’t spook at every leaf blowing in the wind, doesn’t mean you can’t get them to move out!

        Phoenix isn’t clingy, he loves everyone and everyone loves him, but we do DEFINITELY have a special bond that is just between us. I just KNEW when I saw his day-old picture that he was “MY” horse, like knew it all the way through my bones and back again, so he and I both know we have something special between us. 🙂

    • To shoe or not to shoe … that is only one of many questions horse people can not seem to agree on. I think every case needs to be looked at individually. I don’t think every horse needs to be shod. There are race horses & show horses competing successfully without shoes. However, I also don’t think that barefoot is the answer for every horse either. Unfortunately, human intervention (interference?) in breeding has resulted in a lot of horses with poorly conformed feet, weak structures, etc. that are genetic mutations rather than due to poor management. In my barn of 12 horses, only 2 where front shoes. They are both retired seniors – one has navicular changes and he is comfortable and sound. The other is a thoroughbred mare who simply refuses to grow any heel at all. I tried going the barefoot root with her, but gave up after several months. Even though my entire farm is sand, she was constantly uncomfortable and lame until the shoes when back on. My barefoot horses all require regular trims although they go much longer than most horses without their feet falling apart. Actually, my farrier complimented me on the quality of my horse’s feet last time he was here. He is a traditional farrier but prefers to see horses with good feet barefoot rather than going into expensive shoeing options.

      Keep doing what you’re doing – gathering information, educating yourself and listening to your horses. Things are rarely black & white.

      • I will agree, there are times when a shoe is the right thing to do to make a horse comfortable. I am just so damn sick of people who believe they need to mess with a horse in every way to make it perfect. I have been working at a Dressage barn for years and years, and I have seen it all. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Dressage, Naturally 🙂 )

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