Why my horses are barefoot

It goes back to that sports model jackass-my first horse.

He was a bright boy-and I was either naive as heck, stupid beyond belief, ignorant as all get out, or some combination of all of them. With the 20/20 vision of hindsight-I’d say all of them. It should have cost me the horse.

That horse could get into the feed bins. Unless you padlocked the door with a combination lock, he’d be in there. (He also opened all the water faucets-that caused major malfunctions with my grandmother since it made the well pump run too much. For those of you who have never been on a water well-the last thing you want is for the pump to run dry.)  When he did, he’d happily eat 25 pounds or so of sweet feed. Oh, yeah-guaranteed founder and laminitis.

That-combined with his alarming ability to find and step on nails-virtually insured that he had big pancake feet that turned brittle. Trying to keep steel shoes on him became a nightmare. I had a really good blacksmith-not just a farrier-a real blacksmith. He ‘hot’ shod him, used toe clips, side clips, no heels, heels, you name it, he tried it. This horse was coming out of shoes in 10 days. It was maddening.

Along came a new product among several-a totally synthetic shoe that could be nailed on and trimmed to fit with a rasp. Blacksmith wasn’t happy, but he agreed to try it since nothing else was working. The funny looking things worked. We called them his ‘sneakers’. What was even better-they could be reset.

From then on, until his death in 1982, he wore his synthetic shoes. He was walking lame without them. Yes, I did shoe other horses after him, but only because of definite issues. My husband’s TWH was flat-footed-he couldn’t go barefoot. My foxtrotter developed navicular and needed help. An appaloosa mare had thin soles-if you wanted to ride her, it was shoe or boot her.

I developed a sincere and abiding appreciation for good hooves. Now I have a pasture of nothing but barefoot horses. One does need boots in front for riding, but that’s it. I know now why the old sheiks didn’t look at horses in the open. They started from in the tents. The prospects were led past the tent flaps which were raised about 5 inches or so. The sheiks looked at the feet FIRST.  Then slowly the flaps were raised-pastern, cannons, knees and hocks, forearms and gaskins, shoulders, barrel, and hip, then back and croup, then finally, neck and head. Conformation matters more than beauty. Temperament matters more than pedigree.

Could we possibly return to this?

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