You might have heard the saying 'No hoof, No horse, right? The best Natural hoof care practices for horses not only entails barefoot trimming but several other aspects of keeping the horse in such a way that their hooves are naturally worn and don’t suffer splitting, overgrowth, and other hoof disorders. Hoof care practices cover the horse's lifestyle aspects, including healthcare, feeding, and management.
It’s recommended to adopt the ‘barefoot horse’ lifestyle, although horseshoes are widely used despite being one of the most damaging practices to horses. Where shoeing isn’t done more often, exercises and trimming are encouraged to maintain a natural degree of wear and shape.
In many parts of the world, horses are typically kept barefoot, which is now considered the best healthcare practice that should be highly supported during competitive and non-competitive riding. Keep in mind that going barefoot takes a lot of commitment and patience as it involves taking on the responsibility of always caring for your horse’s feet.
The trimming strategy, also known as the barefoot trimming or natural hoof care, is done to keep and ride a horse without shoes. The natural hoof care practice involves a broader approach that focuses on the living conditions and terrain encountered by the horse every day.
Regular hoof trimming is a beneficial strategy to control the hoof's growth to the physiologically correct shape. On the other hand, ideal environments and living conditions usually help in maintaining healthy feet.
Some of the benefits of keeping a horse barefoot and observing natural hoof care practices include:
Proper natural horse trimming is aimed to ensuring that the bottom edge of the coffin bone is kept at the recommended angle to the ground (30⁰), enable the frog to function in shock absorption, make the sole weight-bearing, and encourage a tighter laminar connection through dealing with flares for the coffin bone to be firmly held in the top of the capsules of the hooves.
Use trained professionals with updated barefoot trimming skills to take care of your horse’s hooves for a healthier and sounder horse. It will also perform better, experience less pain, and have a longer lifespan.
The health of hooves is directly affected by exercises and diet. Paying attention to your horse's diet is an essential part of natural hoof care because the conventional high sugar diets of domestic horses are directly damaging to the horse's feet. Changes in diet affect hoof health, as seen in most laminitis cases.
An ideal diet is based on feeds such as hay with tested carbohydrate content, which is not more than 10% WSC and starch, no grain, and with some mineral supplementation. Consider feeding your horses with feeds high in fiber, limiting fresh grass intake, and eliminating all sweet feeds, fruits, grains, and molasses.
Ensure you work and ride your horse more often as movement exercises tend to enhance blood circulation in the hooves. It also allows for the growth of strong, tough, and healthy callus.
After removing horseshoes, a horse goes through a transition period to allow the hooves to readjust to the barefoot lifestyle. It’s during this time when hoof boots may be used on rides. These are just like shoes designed for horses that facilitate the comfort of the hooves of domestic horses that are worked or ridden.
Hoof boots are essential in protecting the fragile hoof walls from excessive damage and wearing out and doing away with the sensitivity experienced after shoeing.
In conclusion, we all know that horses are born without shoes, but they are designed their natural hardy hooves. Natural hoof trimming and proper hoof care practices mimic natural wear out and are done frequently to keep the feet in the desired shapes, make them function incredibly, looking fabulous, and healthy.
Interested in learning about the benefits of going barefoot yourself? We recommend Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. A fascinating read.
Here’s a thought: if you absolutely insist on horseshoes, wear one yourself! See some beautiful options HERE
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