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Barefoot Trimming-what it's all about

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    06-21-2008, 02:39 AM
I need more person advise than horsey advise so if anybody is willing to give some I'd love to hear it!

I recently bought a 8-year old Arab who is barefoot and her previous owner told me that she used to wear shoes but did not do well at all so they went barefoot and her hooves became healthy. We have been having the same "natural barefoot trimmer" coming every 6-weeks and things are going great.

That being said, I keep my horse with at my MIL's and my MIL is very old-school and thinks all of this "natural barefoot stuff" is a load of you-know-what. She believes that I am just asking for stone bruises and I'm crazy to be taking an necessary risk. Furthermore, when the trimmer came out the other day she didn't trim perfectly even, implied that is was alright that there were some SMALL chips on a rear hoof, and was not too concerned that my mares front hoof that had been growing inward (making it look like her leg was beginning twist), she wants to keep an eye on it to see how it will look in another 6 weeks. This just proved to my MIL that my trimmer doesn't have a clue as to what she is doing. I don't have that feeling yet and I know that this trimmer has been with my horse for at least 2 or 3 years and that the prev. Owners swore by her.

My MIL has much more experience than I have so I was beginning to second guess myself about whether I should listen to her or keep our mare barefoot. Every time I mention that Lily didn't do well shoes in the past my MIL rolls her eyes as if to say yeah, right, just get a competent farrier. I have decided that the best thing I can do for my horse is to keep her the was she is. And I have to say the more research I do the more it makes sense to keep her barefoot.

Does anyone have any advise as to how to deal with my MIL without getting into an argument? She gets pretty defensive about it so I'm sensitive to that.

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    06-21-2008, 11:39 AM
Sounds like what we have been going through. ALL of our horsey friends shoe their horses. We are like the black sheep. True, my husband and I don't have more "years" under our belts but we have done more research that all of our friends put together. I was questioning whether we should put shoes on our guys or not...Its not easy being different. Now the thing that IS different is that we don't have a MIL breathing down our
I would just try my best to avoid that topic all together. If she insists on bringing it up, I would just point out that its the way the horse came and that you want to give it a whirl. Ya"Yeah, I want to give >horsey name< a shot at being barefoot here. There's a couple things I want to work on her with. Blah blah blah I want to give this farrier a shot he/she's been with this horse for a long time. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out" Just give the MIL the Sure I hear you and you make sence aknowledgement. Then just do what you want. ( I have to do this with my MIL about the kids all the time...the woman drives me crazy but I love her. She is wanting the best for our family she just isn't very good at accepting the fact that we won't do what she says all the time)
    06-21-2008, 12:41 PM
Good for you for sticking to your guns. It can be really hard sometimes when you get those condescending looks . I was trimming some horses at a boarding facility a couple of years ago, started with one, she LOVED the trims, and ended up doing several more, as the other boarders noticed. But the BO was old school and eventually convinced every one of those gals to put shoes back on their horses. One of the them said she wouldn't be allowed to keep her horse there barefoot and ride, as the BO said it was "cruel" . They really liked the facilities and the price, so they caved (oh, and did I mention the BO's son is the farrier she insisted they use?) :roll:

Facing relatives can be tough, I KNOW!!! My own Mom was "old school" too. Until I was able to fix the foundered pony for her, she wasn' t sure about it, either.

So, to deal with MIL, just tell you appreciate her concern, but that you really have done your homework and are sure that you are doing what's best for this mare, esp since 2 years of being barefoot should be evidence enough that this particular mare at least is faring well. (You don' t have to worry about convincing her that all horses are better off, just yours). Point out that she's not been bruised since you have had her, and that besides minor cosmetic issues there's been no problem at all.

You can tell her that if the mare ever goes lame in the future, you will "consider" the shoes again, and that might placate her enough to get her off your back.(even if it is just lip service) It might help if when the vet does the next round of routine vaccinations/pulling coggins test etc, that you ask what he thinks of your horse's feet. If you can get a vet to say they look great, that might have some clout with your MIL.

It's funny how if a horse just "stays sound" when you pull the shoes, it's not nearly as convincing as one that was crippled and about to be put down because shoes couldn't fix it, and barefoot was the last ditch effort before euthanasia, and it not only survives but recovers, THAT is suddenly more meaningful to the skeptics.So since your horse is sound already, you don't seem to be proving anything. But..over time, if it comes up, point out she's STILL sound, so apparently the lack of shoes isn't hurting her.

Oh, and the trims..minor chipping is not a big deal occasionally, esp if it's been really wet in your area, but shouldn't happen every time, and the turning foot-I would be concerned that it's just now turning after a couple of years. If she were just out of shoes, I can see "waiting to see" what's going on, but in this case, trimmer should be a tad more pro-active since it's not the norm for this mare (2 or more years is plenty of time to see that the leg isn't normally turned). So next trim it should be remedied, IMO or determined WHY it's changing.
    06-22-2008, 12:48 AM
Thanks so much for the advise and support!! I do love and appreciate my MIL, we keep our horse at her place for free and she feeds her daily for us. It's just that as far as she is concerned there is only one right way to do things - HER WAY!!! Yes I love her, but she can make me crazy!!

I once mentioned that I read a very good article on barefoot horses and her reply was "Yeah, I'm sure you did". I guess I'll just let her know I'm comfortable with what I'm doing - don't fix it if it isn't broken. I don't know what else to do.

My barefoot trimmer wanted to wait and see how my mare's hooves will do because her environment has changed so much since I've had her (almost 3 months). Before I got her she had no turn-out - just a stall and a very small paddock (12' x 40') and was ridden in an indoor arena. She now has a larger paddock than before and daily turnout on 5 acres. We ride her mostly in the pasture and, when it's dry in the round pen area. The trimmer was thinking that her hooves were changing a bit as a result of her new environment but she mentioned that she wants to watch them. What's your opinion?

Again, thanks for the great input!!!
    06-22-2008, 01:22 AM
Glad to offer suggestions, I just hope they actually help. You know you MIL and I don't so I can't say for sure what is the right thing to say.

For the trimming. Better conservative than aggressive, for sure. I understand wanting to watch things. Still, I'd wonder why the foot is rotating at all, even with environment /exercise change. That shouldn't really cause a limb to twist. What I'm picturing is it's wearing a little uneven and that is what's causing the twist, so I would look to see where it needs to be rasped off to counter that wear, and you wouldn't really have to wait to see what would happen. If it were a horse new to the trimmer, I think I would side more with "wait and see" but with that much history, it's already known not to, so I'd be asking what the trimmer thinks is causing the change. Not in any way doubting her, just figuring out the cause. She/He should be happy to explain their thoughts on the matter..

Onc cause would be some soreness somewhere else, changing how the mare would use that leg so that could alter the wear.A pulled muscle or fatigue from the increase in use, but, even at that, you don't want to let that foot get out of balance. Your trimmer likely has an idea of what the root cause is,but I'm still wondering why not try to keep that limb in it's usual position.

If your tires were out of balance and car needed alignment, would you keep driving it and shorten the life of the tires, or would you rotate and balance the tires and get the alignment fixed in the mean time to solve the problem? Balancing the tires alone would only keep the tires from having a shorter life span, but alignment alone would still leave you with an unbalanced tire. So the trimmer should keep her "tires" balanced while figuring out if it's the "alignment" or some other issue that's causing the tires to get out of whack.

I think you and your trimmer are on the right track, that the increase in movement is causing the change,and the foot is a good clue as to where the real issue is, just don't let the foot get too out of balance in the mean time.
    06-22-2008, 09:29 PM
Thank you so much for all this good info. After the whole red ring episode I went away for a week and came back to two lame horses (they had just been trimmed before I left). A few people had looked over them while I was away and explained that my farrier has been trimming them as if he was putting shoes on them, but they are staying barefoot. Walls cut back, frogs trimmed, they are basically walking on their soles. They've been barefoot and trimmed this way since October, and now I have to start all over with shoes (just fronts thankfully) to let their feet grow out, they are just too sore to be barefoot right now. It's difficult when we trust our farriers to know these things, but they all are trained differently. I'm glad there is people like you who can explain these things so we can all learn how it should be done. The natural barefoot way is definitely the way to go. I probably could go with boots, but the shoe will be less of a hassle. Thank you again
    06-22-2008, 09:38 PM
Glad to offer any help or advice when needed. Too bad you have to put shoes on at all, but you have to do what works best in your individual situation, and in this case it's using shoes instead of boots. At least you have options and are armed with more knowledge for the the future.
    06-22-2008, 10:04 PM
Originally Posted by barefoothooves
Kitten Val,
I find that Cavallo boots are GREAT for round, wide feet. They tend to slip more on narrow, boxy feet.
Pros: VERY easy off/on , easy to clean, wonderful drainage holes if you cross water a lot is a plus, and you can still use easycare pads in them, just cut them differently (if you ever used the pads for any reason). Durable. No traction problems on terrain.
Cons: since they come above the hairline, there IS more chance for rubbing, but my clients that have them, use the pastern wraps and swear that eliminates the problem and these gals are serious trail riders in all terrain. Also, they look a bit clunky and twist if they don't fit.
Thanks a lot! I know number of stores around sell Cavallo (while Bares go only through Internet for me). May be they'll let me borrow and try on her.

Does pastern wrap also come from Cavallo (whoever the producer is)? Or it's something different?
    06-22-2008, 10:15 PM
The pastern wrap is sold separately from the cavallo boots, same manufacturer and they are designed for use with the boot, so they sort of velcro into the fastening system. Seems like everytime new pastern wraps are ordered they have a new, better way of making them.

To try them on and leave them unscathed so there will be no problem with a return if needed:

Use Saran (plastic wrap) wrap over the entire hoof. It won't affect the fit, just keeps the dirt off the boot. Apply the boot. Put a Walmart/grocery bag over the boot after it's adjusted-you can use some duct or electric tape to secure the outer bag, again, it's just to keep the boot clean temporarily. Walk/trot the horse over soft ground, such as grass or a rubber mat (plastic bags wear through fast!) Make sure to do a couple of sharp turns and stops.

Then remove the outer bag. Is the boot twisted or still in place? If it's twisted, you need to go down a size. Go ahead now and remove the whole boot and look inside at the bottom of the boot. There should be a light hoof impression (it will pop out after a little while) and judge how much space between the outer edge of the print and the boot side. If you have more than 1/8-1/4 inch, of space, the boot is too big,and you need to go down a size. If the hoof was snug up against the boot side, then it fits! If the toe was up against the boot but the sides have a huge gap, the boot isn't the right shape and Easyboot Epics/Bares would be a better option.
    06-23-2008, 04:21 PM
Thanks a lot! I certainly will give it a try. The Bares not going to fit, because her hoof is round (I measured it, I'd even say it's oval other direction - side oval :) ). My other horse has normal oval hoofs, but not the paint (unfortunately).

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