The Theory

The theory behind Sabots Libres is based on three factors – the Three F’s. Feet, Feed and Facilities. Although it may be fairly obvious, it is still a good idea to outline what we mean here:

Feet: Despite the still general view that horses should be shod, and certainly among much of the so-called “professional” fraternity, there is a growing realization that the disadvantages of shoeing horses far outweigh any of the theoretical advantages. The cornerstone of Sabots Libres is the absence of horseshoes – either traditional metal shoes or the more modern plastic shoe.

Feed: We are bombarded with a vast array of feeds and “necessary” supplements to insure the health of our horses and yet the feral horse can survive in the wild on dry grasses – and survive very well! The eating patterns of horse and man and their methods of digestion are worlds apart; and yet we insist on feeding our horses in much the same way as we would feed ourselves. Sadly, by giving our horses a “healthy” diet with all the supplements we are advised to give, we are really upsetting the natural balance of the horse’s metabolism. Particularly supplements can be a disaster area. “It won’t do any harm” is often unfortunately not the case since an excess of one supplement can seriously disrupt the workings of another.

Facilities: As with Food, we have a tendency to provide our horses with the facilities that we require. A nice warm stable with a bed for the night; feed troughs/buckets placed at a convenient height; clean (often warmed) water; blankets to keep out the cold; jackets to keep off the rain; sweat blankets to dry the hair after strenuous exercise – or even infra red drying rooms. And, yet again, the feral horse is more than happy with a bit of shade from a tree; avoids going into stable-like structures; eats more or less from the ground; drinks algae-covered water in preference to clean running water and has no wardrobe whatsoever!

Of course, our own horses need to sleep in the stable at night and eat all that sweetened muesli; they love to keep warm and dry; and without horseshoes, their hooves would wear down too fast and they would go lame. After all, our horses are nothing like the feral horse, are they????

Or are they? These factors are discussed further in detail on this and other sites. In the end, it is your horse and your decision, but how did you come to it – and does your horse really agree!?