For some time now, I’ve been wondering about the rationale, the motivation, that compels horse owners to shoe their horses when there is such an abundance of scientific and experiential evidence of the harm it brings. As a natural hoof care practitioner, I see more and more clearly through my trimming practice the inviolability of nature’s healing powers to restore horses’ hooves to health and balance when the four pillars of hoof care are judiciously implemented. (More information about the four pillars of hoof care can be found in the book, The Natural Trim, Principles and Practice, by Jaime Jackson.) While the healing powers of nature do take time, it is time wonderfully spent witnessing nature’s process of replacing unhealthy, damaged hooves with strong, balanced, healthy hooves. I’ve seen it over and over and over, and in each instance, I am awestruck and appreciative of the powerful simplicity of this process.
Having come out of the mindset that shoeing a horse was the normal and accepted protocol for hoof care, I have been on both sides of this fence and have personally witnessed ramifications from both. Even if I weren’t a natural hoof care practitioner, I would be hard pressed to deny the positive aspects of natural hoof care for the lightness and energy and obvious comfort it brings to every horse given the experience. I cannot say the same about the outcomes of shoeing I’ve witnessed. It is, therefore, easy for me to say that I fail to see how a restrictive and damaging process that robs horses of their inborn right to feel the ground beneath their hooves can offer any healthful benefits, whatsoever; and, on this point also, there is mounting scientific evidence.
My point is that with any shoeing process, there seems to me to be a quick fix mentality that once the shoer’s work is finished, any hoof problems, if there are any, will be corrected, and life will be sweet and light, once again. Well, maybe not sweet and light, but at least any hoof health concerns can be put on a back burner. If this sounds facetious, I mean it that way. Facetiousness serves me well in discrediting a mindset that simply does not serve the horse. Restoring hoof health simply cannot happen like that. Nature’s healing process is just that; a process. A “process” by definition is “a natural series of … changes.” And as we all know, changes do not happen instantly; they require some element of time. In the instance of horse hooves becoming healthy, that element of time will differ based on the individual condition of each hoof. My reference to fast food is really a reference to the mindset behind fast food, which is the notion that nutrition can happen immediately with very little or no process. Just as fast food implies the availability of immediate nutritious food with as little process as possible; so, too, does shoeing a horse imply that hoof health can happen almost immediately with very little or no process. And, just as fast food doesn’t promote health in human beings, shoeing doesn’t promote hoof health in horses.
“Dare to Barefoot” blog by Kim Truitt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.