I bought your book (Horse Hoof Care) because I glanced through it and was excited to see a section on Barefoot. Then when I got it home, I realized how prejudiced you and your farrier co-writer/husband are about keeping horses naturally barefoot. At least you gave it a small mention, but it was obvious it was written by someone who didn’t feel going without shoes is a viable option.
“If horseshoes are needed for the well-being of your horse, consider them as natural as baled hay.”??!!
How about the whole Houston, TX police force that rides barefoot horses? Or all the endurance riders? And there a barefoot performance horses everywhere! The reason why your horse has confidence with shoes is that he can count on the fact that his feet will be numb. Why is it America’s most trusted horseman, John Lyons has his horse barefoot? Think about it.
Your reaction is that of someone who is passionate about a topic. Passion can be good but it can also make one hot and can lead to blindness.
Do you know that phrase “barn blind”? It is what we horsemen say about someone who is so enamored with their horse that they can not see the horse’s conformation defects, poor manners and so on, so that if someone were to even make a casual behavioral comment or note a small blemish about the horse, the “barn blind” horse owner would not be capable of seeing or acknowledging it.
Well, it sounds to me that perhaps you have a touch of barefoot blindness, because if you do read Horse Hoof Care with an open mind, you would see that the vast majority of the information does, in fact, pertain to horse’s hooves not horseshoes. Not only is there a barefoot section but there are also sections on hoof boots, an alternative to shoeing and many other topics related to hooves. Of the 13 chapters, only 2 related directly to shoes, one is Horseshoes, and Why, and the other is Shoeing, and How. Horseshoes are necessary and beneficial for some horses in some situations.
You drew an incorrect conclusion when you wrote:
“…it was obvious it was written by someone who didn’t feel going without
shoes is a viable option.”
Here are the facts. I have two riding horses, Aria goes barefoot year round, Seeker is shod during riding season or wears boots (featured in book). We live in the Rockies.
My husband Richard, the farrier, has one riding horse – Sherlock, a 10 year old gelding born and raised here on our place. Sherlock has never been shod.
All other horses (broodmares, young stock, idle horses etc.) on our
place are barefoot.
However, over his years as a farrier, my husband has shod many horses and I’ve owned and trained many horses that required shoes. Some wore shoes from the age of two until they were 30, had an active life and never took a lame step. Richard has also trimmed many horses that were able to be kept barefoot and I’ve been fortunate to own a good number of horses that could lead an active, sound life barefoot. The reality is that some horses can go barefoot and some need to be shod.
So next time take a deep breath and read with an open mind.
By the way, you missed the point of the baled hay line, which I’ll excerpt here for the interest of others.
From Horse Horse Care
In the current age of natural this, natural that, the “barefoot bug” has bitten many a horse owner. Some have had trouble with shoes and shoers. Some see barefoot as a way to reduce shoeing and trimming bills or eliminate them altogether by trimming their own horses. Others want their horses to be “natural” and live like wild horses. The reality is that domestic horses by definition are not “natural”. Riding is not natural. Feeding grain is not natural. Confinement in a stall, pen or even a pasture is not natural. Don’t let emotional aspects of the “natural barefoot” movement override the proven physics and beneficial results of practical farriery. If horseshoes are needed for the well being of your horse, consider them as natural as baled hay.
Many horses get along fine without horseshoes. Whether or not your horse will remain comfortable and sound going barefoot depends on his hoof and limb conformation, the activities he is used for, the environment he lives in and your level of management.
For reference and additional insight into “natural” you can read my post on Natural Horsemanship.
Have a good ride !