Our therapy herd are kept in as close to natural environment as possible. If you want to read more about the track system, we are setting up for our horses to encourage movement, foraging, roughage consumption, physical and emotional health for our horses please see our entry here: Natural Horse Care.
“All horses can go barefoot – it is the owners who cannot…” Barefoot, Bitless and Whipless – Jane Antcliff-Wilson
One part of their natural horse care is the hoof care. It is obvious to say that horses in the wild do not have some metal shoes pinned to their hooves. Shoes have been used conventionally to allow a horse to work on a variety of surfaces but as is often the way science now supports that nature knows best when it comes to these things and horses’ hooves are best supported without shoes.
There are many factors that contribute to hoof health, and as the saying goes ‘no hoof, no horse’. Good diet with a variety of long stemmed roughage that is not too rich or high in sugar, a variety of terrain for horses to regularly walk over and through to keep the blood flow and stimulation of their hooves, suitable levels of exercise – horses are designed to spend a large portion of their day on the move and need the movement to assist their digestion and hoof health. It is also important that the hooves are trimmed appropriately and supported to be healthy hoof structure.
What makes up a horse’s hoof:
By allowing the hoof wall to stretch and breathe, the sole of the hoof then has greater contact with the ground and shares the weight bearing load from the hoof wall. This allows the horse to move more naturally, increases blood flow around the hoof and overall health for the horse.
By allowing the hooves to move and behave naturally our horses can move across a variety of terrains and we are able to keep a close eye on their health, which is always our number one priority. The use of shoes on horses is a good example of a convention that has come to be accepted as needed and correct. When we look at the design’s nature has given us, we realise that through supporting the natural processes that have evolved for the animals maximum benefit, rather than following ‘should’ and ‘convention’, we began to reap the benefits of healthy and happy horses, and humans.
If you would like further information on barefoot horses and natural horse care practices the following places are a good start:
Calm Healthy Horses UK - https://www.calmhealthyhorses.co.uk/
Paddock Paradise - http://paddockparadise.net/en/start/
If you would like to know more please do get in touch and we can point you in the direction of some good resources.