Science-Based Maintenance of Barefoot Horses.

Why science-based? Because the development of this form of maintenance of barefoot horses is the result of a process of reflection: observation, theorisation, experimentation.

Observation of the progressive deformation and deterioration of shod hooves and of the pathologies associated with shoeing, for example those of KC Lapierre when he was a farrier; observations of the “natural” hooves of the horses at liberty in the United States by Jackson and Ramey, both also originally farriers by trade; comparison of the internal structures of the hoof, shod and unshod – in particular the atrophying or development of the digital cushion, among others by the German vet Dr Hiltrud Strasser and by Swedish Horse Hoof… From these observations is born the desire to reproduce the “wild” horse hoof by means of what is commonly called “natural hoof care”.

Theorisation of the function of the foot: what are the functions, what are the constraints of each element of the hoof, the foot, the skeleton? In this field, Pierre Enoff has contributed a great deal to the understanding of equine locomotion through his study of mechanics which have resulted in conclusions in complete opposition to the the traditional concepts (the hoof wall is not weight-bearing; the frog is the most essential organ of the hoof; caudal structures should be low).  From this comes a rationalisation of the objectives of hoof trimming: conserving the optimal functioning of the foot, at the same time cleaning the zones attacked by bacteria: this is the “hygienic trim”. At the same time, the importance of a holistic approach to the horse must be realised: feet, food, lifestyle…

Experimentation : putting into practice this theory through trimming has long confirmed its validity, on every type of equine – heavy horses, ponies, donkeys – and with regard to all equine activities: excursions and trekking, naturally, but also jumping and endurance. It has also allowed the healing of splits and cracks, flares and seedy toe, and the saving of many horses with laminitis or “navicular syndrome” from euthanasia…

 

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