This guy had some kind of fancy name for what he was doing that I can't remember- that he is a farrier but some kind of "pathologist" and that there are only 5 people in the country to be certified for what he does? (To be honest- I've worked with veterinary specialists of all kinds, not just veterinarians, but in one of the better dog and cat hospitals on the east coast and he sounded like he was full of hot air so I wasn't paying attention to his fancy "title" that he worked 120 hrs to get...) He "only" does barefoot trimming and doesn't ever do any type of shoe- he says that shoes don't do anything for any horse- that you are just ruining their feet no matter what with shoes with any horse, and so on.
He was quite adamant that most people "ruin" their horses by doing too much- too much protection, why bother with a stable, keeping them in a stall for any length of time is wrong and treats it like it is a human, they shouldn't ever get anything but grass, horses in the wild do just fine without all the "extra" stuff we do to them so why bother...
My barn manager friend, once he was out of earshot, replied to his comment on "wild horses do just fine" with a point that horses in the wild generally don't live as long as domesticated horses either. I think HER biggest gripe with this guy is that this horse is in pain and he isn't helping the situation one bit.
I might be using the wrong term for the guy but he made it clear that while he WAS certified (or whatever- went to some school?) to be a farrier he chose not to shoe horses and only does barefoot.
Most wild and feral horses ("wild" horses are very rare) don't live as long as most domestic horses for reasons that have nothing to do with their feet. Food and predators being their biggest problem and some get sick. Horses living in the wild do tend to have healthy and very hard feet.
From what you've discribed the guy's not a farrier (they shoe), he's a trimmer (with some extra schooling I guess). And while his people skills may need a lot of work
, basically he's right. My horses hate being put into a stall. They can come and go as they please, but unless I put food in there or call them in, they virtually never go in (once in the past 4 months, one went in....they will stand under a shed some, but that's where they have their hay
). And that's the way all my horses have been for as long as I've had horses. One had to be lead into a stall even if I put food in
. People get stuck in seeing things done for certain reasons and think that it's the way things are suppose to be done. Stables were used for populated areas where there wasn't room to let the horses just room around and they wanted them on hand for immediate use. The military wanted to be able to walk in and have all the horses right at had, not going out in the pasture to collect them and bring them in to saddle. And other reasons that had practical functions for human purposes. But unless you are in that sort of situation there's really no good reason for keeping a horse in a stable. Horses do best when you let them walk, run and graze at will. Stabling is something for human convenience, not the horses health (a healthy horse with all things being equal).
But back to the feet
If you look at what shoeing an equine actually does to a healthy foot (from the effects of putting in nails to constricting the hoof growth, etc...) you'd never allow a shoe on your horse. Imagine wearing shoes with the soles and sides made of iron and we'll say that it was custom made to fit your resting foot perfectly. We'll tack it (carefully) into place along your toe nails and fit snug around your heel to insure that it doesn't shift or move any and help keep your foot and shoe properly aligned. Now you start walking....you foot cannot expand or move at all within this shoe. Now do some running in it
. (once had some wooden shoes that I could get on if I sat, but hurt when I tried to walk in them....it's sort of like that) You can imagine what the effect on your foot is going to be. The constriction is going to impact your blood flow and your hoofs growth willk be restricted. Now add to this that these shoes are removed every 6 weeks and new ones put on. After while your feet will change. Even their growth will be altered.
Now I've heard people tell me for years that if it hurt the horse then why doesn't the horse show signs of it. Well, if binding a woman's feet hurt so much, how could they still walk with them. It's what you get use to and you live with it. And in the case of horses, they will endure a LOT. A horse will run itself to death for you if you push it, so there's nothing amazing about it being able to endure wearing nailed on shoes that it has no choice about?
For me the choice as always simple. At 15 I didn't see how it made sense to put shoes on my horse. After several years the health of my horses feet proved me right. After 40 years my horses feet (not those same first horses now
) have never shown me a reason to change. I am glad that there are more barefoot trimmers though (although I can trim my own).