Do you like to go barefoot?
Do you think your horse does?
Years ago, when I would see someone riding their horse barefoot (the horse barefoot that is), I would say, “Oh, how sad, that must hurt their feet.” Sometimes I would think, “That’s mean, they are not thinking about the horse.”
Now, today, it’s a complete turnaround. When I see shoes on a horse, I think to myself, “I wish I could show them what they are doing to their horse.” I literally feel the pain of that piece of metal on my own feet. (I know, kind of dramatic.)
Can you imagine never taking off those high heels that you wear to work or the construction boots or cowboy boots? Can you imagine sleeping in them? Running in them?
When I was in my 50’s, I started wondering about why horses have shoes on. I started asking knowledgeable horsemen and women, “Why do you put shoes on your horse?” The answers were something like this:
“…to protect their hooves.”
“Because I show…”
“…his hooves are soft.”
“She has this problem or that problem.”
“My farrier says he needs them.”
“I always have…” or “My family always has.”
All of us are busy working, taking care of family and horses, out having fun with family and horses, so we don’t have time to slow down and do research. And often, in our fast-paced world, we don’t even have time to think about slowing down.
Late in 2012 and early 2013, I was blessed with lots of time as I was recovering from surgery. Lots of time to read, and in my reading, I found Joe Camp (or maybe “was given”) Joe Camp and my world around horses changed.
I was already and had been an advocate of natural horsemanship – I just consider it being kind, gentle and considerate of the horse’s feelings – mental and physical. I was already a follower of Monty Roberts (and still am), Pat Parelli and others. My dad and uncle were “natural horsemen” before natural was popular. But all these natural horsemen and women had been around horses all their life. Joe Camp was not. He started with horses late in life.
The thing is, I never considered that shoes or no shoes had anything to do with natural horsemanship. And I never considered that putting shoes on a horse was an inconsiderate idea. (Please keep in mind that is my opinion, it was late in life when I changed my mind.)
Then, Joe Camp and The Soul of a Horse came into my life. His research changed my ideas about horseshoes completely! (Actually, he changed my thoughts about other things, too, but that needs to be another article.) I did further research and confirmed to myself that shoes aren’t necessary; in fact, they can be harmful to the overall health of your horse. Here are just a few effects:
- Stops blood flow in the legs
- Makes the heart work harder
- Softens the hoof
- Affects the horse’s attitude
(I have included several references at the end of this article.)
In case you don’t know who Joe Camp is, I will tell you briefly. He is the creator, owner, and trainer of Benji (the dog). He was not a horse owner. Some of you may be too young to remember Benji, the incredible little dog that made his way into everyone’s heart. Google Joe and read his books. Check out his website and blog. I know you will enjoy it and learn from him. (Now, in 2018, there is a new Benji movie on Netflix, written by Joe’s son.)
I am writing this quick article to share the books, websites, and people that I found during my research and the ones that Joe shared also.
If your horses are still wearing shoes, I know you are doing what is right for you; just as I am doing what is right for me. I hope this information will cause some rethinking, “Why do I have shoes on my horses?”
If your horses are already barefoot, I hope this information will help you share what you already know.
Horses are amazing animal, aren’t they? Together, let’s do everything we can to give them an amazing life with amazing humans.
Here are the resources:
Joe’s Book: The Soul of a Horse
Joe's Website: https://joecamp.info from this website, you can link to all his wonderful stuff, horses and Benji
(Joe recommends reading Jaime’s book first then Pete’s)
Jaime's Book: Horse Owner’s Guide to Natural Hoof Care
Jaime’s website: www.all-natural-horse-care.com
Pete's Book: Making Natural Hoof Care Work For You
Pete’s website: www.hoofrehab.com
(Pete has new books and DVD sets on his website. Pete is also sharing info on boots for hooves. I haven’t done any research on those yet, most likely will be checking that out soon. I have heard they are a great way to transition to barefoot.)
Here is another hoof boot site: www.cavallo-inc.com
I love their motto: “Life is short, be more flexible.”
Yvonne and James Welz's website: www.thehorseshoof.com
They have a magazine you can subscribe to; lots of free info and a reading list. The reading list includes the books where barefoot info started; new books on barefoot and all around natural horse care. Check it out!
Love your horse, do research, make smart decisions and enjoy all parts of life!
If you would like to connect with me on Facebook, look for Kathy Raybould. Thank you.
The picture came from www.illinoisanimals.org
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