barefoot horse

A Barefoot Horse – A Lifestyle Part 4

 

Jamie and Chance on the trail

A Barefoot Horse On The Trail

As mentioned in the previous 3 posts, “The barefoot horse” is not just a description of a horse without shoes nor is it just a description of the hoof condition of a horse. Rather, it is a description of a lifestyle of a horse. The lifestyle of a barefoot horse includes:

  • A free choice, forage based diet which is low in sugar, low in starch, and balanced to have the correct amount and ratios of vitamins and minerals for the type of hay being fed.
  • Living conditions and environment which allow for and encourage movement over several different types of terrain including grass, gravel and rock.
  • Daily exercise that includes walking, trotting and galloping. Horses in open range situations will travel 15 or more miles a day.
  • A proper barefoot trim every 4 to 6 weeks. Some horses can go longer if the environment promotes some self-trimming.

This post covers the trim and  is the last post in this series that will define ideal conditions listed above that are important for the development and maintenance of a healthy barefoot horse and give you some reasonable and practical options.

working on a front hoof

A proper barefoot trim every 4 to 6 weeks….some horses can go longer if the environment promotes some self-trimming (is very rocky or has a lot of gravel). It is important to know that a pasture trim and a barefoot trim are not the same. A pasture trim is often used during off season (when you cannot ride) to allow the hoof to rest from being shod. A barefoot trim uses the natural hoof as a model and is designed to help the hoof grow into and function as a healthy natural foot. A general description is a balanced trim with “low heel, short toe, slight arch at the quarters, and a mustang roll that eliminates peripheral loading (weight on the outer wall of the hoof)” The natural hoof bears the majority of the weight on the inner wall, frog, bars, and peripheral area of the sole (and related inner structures). The natural hoof model is the goal and the trim sets the hoof up to allow for proper growth resulting from pressure and release (stimulus caused by impact, flexion, distortion). You cannot carve a good foot, you have to grow one and that takes a combination of proper diet, environment, exercise, trim and time (about a year). I try to offer reasonable and practical options but the only option here might be that you can extend the number of weeks between trims if the horse gets a proper barefoot trim and enough movement and exercise over terrain that promotes some self-trimming. Note that proper self-trimming can only be accomplished if the horse’s environment includes some gravel and rock. Extending the time between trims without the proper environment can be detrimental and inhibit hoof growth or promote incorrect growth.

Written by Susan Boyd    Edited by Zachary Franklin, DVM

Thank you to my friend Jamie McNeil for photos of her barefoot horses

Horses on open range

The Barefoot Horse – A Lifestyle Part 3

 

As mentioned in posts 1 and 2, “The Barefoot Horse” is not just a description of a horse without shoes, nor is it just a description of the hoof condition of a horse. Rather, it is a description of a lifestyle of a horse. The lifestyle of a barefoot horse includes:

  • A free choice, forage based diet which is low in sugar, low in starch, and balanced to have the correct amount and ratios of vitamins and minerals for type of hay being fed.
  • Living conditions and environment which allow for and encourage movement over several different types of terrain including grass, gravel, and rock.
  • Daily exercise that includes waling, trotting and galloping. Horses in open range situations will travel 15 miles or more a day.
  • A proper barefoot trim every 4 to 6 weeks. Some horses can go longer if the environment promotes some self trimming.

This is the third in a series of articles that will define ideal conditions listed above that are important for the development and maintenance of a healthy barefoot horse and give you some reasonable and practical options. Continue reading

The Barefoot Horse – a Lifestyle part 2

DIGITAL CAMERAThe Barefoot Horse – a Lifestyle

Written by Susan Boyd and edited by Zachary Franklin, DVM

This is the second post in a series of four about the lifestyle of the barefoot horse. “The barefoot horse” is not merely a description of a horse without shoes nor is it a description of the hoof condition of a horse. Rather, it is the description of a lifestyle of a horse that includes:
A free choice, forage based diet which is low in sugar, low in starch, and balanced to contain the proper amounts and ratios of vitamins and minerals for type of forage being fed.
Living conditions and an environment which allow for and encourage movement over several different types of terrain including grass, gravel, and rock.
Daily exercise that includes walking, trotting and galloping. Horses living on the open range will travel 15 or more miles a day.
A proper barefoot trim every 4 to 6 weeks. Some horses can go longer if the environment promotes some self-trimming Continue reading

Pete Ramey looking at radiographs and discussing nutrition

Pete Ramey – equine hoof care and nutrition

 Pete Ramey discusses equine hoof care and nutrition

Equine hoof care and nutrition were important subjects in the hoof rehabilitation workshop conducted by Pete Ramey  at Woodrose Ranch and Equestrian Center last Saturday. He started the workshop with an hour plus discussion on equine hoof care and nutrition – emphasis on nutrition. There are many things that go into building, maintaining, or rehabilitating a horses foot. The primary ingredient is nutrition. Without good nutrition, the rest of it does not matter. You cannot trim your way back to a healthy foot he told us. Continue reading

Pete Ramey Hoof Rehabilitation Workshop

Pete RameyPete Ramey Hoof Rehabilitation Workshop January 23, 2016

This was the first Hoof Rehabilitation Workshop in South Florida presented by Pete Ramey. It was cold for South Florida and windy but 15 participants consisting of farriers, hoof trimmers, horse owners and a veterinarian gathered at Woodrose Ranch and Equestrian Center to watch, listen, and learn. Continue reading

Horse’s Instincts – Bring them back

Wild_Horses_MAIN-cr-BrianT.Mur                     Bring Back The Horse’s Instincts – an article                                                by Dr Juliet Getty

I am a huge fan of trying to feed and care for my horses the way they were designed to live – as free and as natural as possible. The following article by Dr. Juliet Getty, an independent equine nutritionist, addresses the horse’s instincts and why they are important. With her permission I share her article with you. I preface it with a couple of comments. Here in South Florida we cannot get analyzed hay in order to balance their diets. As an alternative option, I feed Timothy Hay and supplement with California Trace, a mineral supplement, plus vitamin E, salt, and flax to provide what is lacking in the hay. I use a slow feeder to make sure my horses have access to forage 24/7. I use NAG Bags but there are many good ones on the market such as Porta-grazers which also provide a slow feeder that soaks hay (for insulin resistant or Cushings horses that need a low NSC , non-structural carbohydrates – think sugar and starch hay.

Here is the article. Additional articles and information can be found on Dr. Getty’s web site.

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Dr Juliet Getty

I respect and honor the way horses are made – they are different – unique, really. In a suitable, native environment, they are quite capable of taking care of themselves. They are free to eat and roam and, well, be horses. Domestication involves removing them from their natural setting, but that doesn’t change who they are. Horses have physiological and mental needs and those needs are being ignored.
I have very deep convictions on allowing a horse’s instincts to take hold. Many horses have lost their ability to express them, but they can resurface. Last month, I wrote about the stress of forage restriction. Some have said that what I am describing appears to be a road to increased obesity and an increased risk of laminitis. But they are grossly mistaken.

When we see images of wild horses running free, we all experience the hush, the chill, and the awe of their power and majesty. That is Nature at her best – allowing these incredible animals to live as they are intended. Why is it that we don’t see our own domesticated horses in the same way? Why is it that we think we can confine them to a small area for hours at a time, give them a few “square meals” each day and expect them to be right, physically and mentally? Are they not the same horses that long ago lived a different life?

It’s been said that our horses have become different – that horses living in the wild don’t suffer from the ravages of insulin resistance, the main cause of laminitis. Yes, it’s true — we don’t see laminitis when horses are free to feed themselves. But we do see insulin resistance, and that’s a blessing. Insulin resistance is the body’s way of avoiding starvation. During a harsh winter, when the food supply is sparse, horses will hold on to body fat to help them survive. They do this by having an elevated blood insulin level. When insulin is high, the cells cannot release fat. This is a survival mechanism.

We duplicate this when we restrict forage. The horse responds the same way – he is in survival mode! And he holds on to body fat.

Anything that causes insulin to rise will keep a horse fat. Hundreds of studies with humans confirm the connection between elevated insulin and obesity. Stress causes obesity in humans. Why?Because cortisol (the stress hormone) causes insulin to rise. At the cellular level, the same is true for horses. We have equine studies to show how insulin rises during stress. So why isn’t this being extrapolated to obesity in horses?

We have forced our horses to abandon their instincts.

They no longer get the inner signal that tells them to stop eating. To help you appreciate this, I’d like you to think about your childhood. When you were a toddler, you ate what you needed, and when you were no longer hungry, you stopped eating. Yes, you were coddled to finish your green beans, or no dessert! So you ate more to get that reward. But your instincts (yes, you had them back then) were to eat only what your body required. As you grew, you discovered that eating has more rewards than just getting dessert; eating is comforting, it cures stress, boredom, or disappointment, and is just plain fun! You likely don’t eat only when you’re hungry; you eat whenever you gather with friends or celebrate a special occasion. And guess what? Now that you’re grown, those instincts to eat only what your body needs have long faded.

Horses are a different story. They do not succumb to the pressures of society to influence their appetites. But when they are forced to eat on our schedules, they quickly become out of touch with that innate ability to eat slowly, a little at a time, and stop when satisfied. Instead, they eat quickly, ravenously, with barely a breath in between each bite, because they do not know when their next meal will be available. When it gets close to feeding time they pace, bob their heads, paw the ground, and make strange noises. This is not normal; it is a result of what we have done to our horses. We, well-meaning horse owners and caregivers, are putting our horses into survival mode!

Horses are unlike humans in one very significant way.

Their digestive tract is not the same as ours. The biology that drives the horse’s digestion is indisputable: The horse’s stomach produces acid continuously, necessitating the action of chewing to release acid-neutralizing saliva. The digestive tract is made of muscles and needs to be exercised to prevent colic by having a steady flow of forage running through it. The cecum (the hindgut where forage is digested by billions of microbes) has both its entrance and exit at the top, thereby requiring it to be full so material can exit, lest it become impacted.

I appeal to you to look at this logically.

You should not put your horse in a dry lot or a stall with no hay. You should test your hay, make sure it is suitable for the horse (low in sugar, starch, and calories) and put it in lots of slow feeders, placed everywhere you can – encouraging your horse to move! Exercise, even a small amount will make a difference. A larger amount will make a bigger difference.

When a horse loses weight the right way, his metabolic rate stays sound and he will be able to graze on pasture again. Perhaps you will have to limit it a bit, but maybe not. Some supplements may be helpful. I have seen hundreds of cases over the years where horses have returned to a normal life – healthy, full of vigor, with no grass restrictions.

Let your horse tell you how much he needs to eat.

Show him that he can start trusting his instincts—that’s the strong message you want him to understand. And you do that by being invariably trustworthy about feeding. Start by giving him more hay (that you’ve tested for suitability) than he could possibly eat – enough to last all day and enough so there is some left over in the morning. That means he needs to always have forage available. If he runs out, he will never get the message and will continue to overeat and continue to be fat.

Let me repeat that… If he runs out, even for 10 minutes, he will never get the message and will continue to overeat and continue to be fat. And worse, the hormonal response to this stress can induce a laminitis attack or relapse. I’ve seen this more times than I can count.

It may take a few weeks (though most of the time it is far shorter than that) for the magic moment to occur – when he walks away from the hay, knowing that it will still be there when he wants it. And then, watch his instincts start to return… just like yours were when you were a small child… where he will eat only what his body needs to be healthy. (You’ll notice a beautiful change in his behavior, too.)

 

I have many, many clients who have put their trust in me and done this for their horses with success. It is not easy to do at first – I understand that. But when done properly, it works – the overweight horse loses weight. The horse with chronic laminitis doesn’t suffer any more. The horse with Cushing’s disease can live a longer, healthier life. Equine metabolic syndrome becomes a thing of the past. And the owners… ah, the owners… can throw away all that worry and experience the sheer joy that horse ownership can bring.

I know that I am a trailblazer.

This seems like something new. Actually, if you think about it, it is so old, that it is new! But that’s how change happens. We used to feed oats to horses – gallons of oats every day. We now know that a large amount of starch is detrimental. I am encouraged by this change, not only because of its own value, but because it tells me that there is every likelihood that feeding forage free choice will also come to be accepted as mainstream.

I am doing everything I possibly can to help horse owners and professionals understand this basic, foundational concept. I have 7 years of post-graduate study in the field of animal nutrition. I work completely independently of feed, supplement, and pharmaceutical companies. My approach is based on observation and years of excellent results. There is no better science than that.

Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas

Shadow, Bo, and Swani

Shadow, Bolero, Swani

‘Tis the night before Christmas                                                                                                                      And we just got the word                                                                                                                              Santa needs help tonight                                                                                                                                From me and my little herd

We are all on board                                                                                                                                        And our goal is clear                                                                                                                                       We’ve been called to help                                                                                                                               Deliver presents this year

The sleigh is all polished                                                                                                                               The bells all sound fine                                                                                                                                   We are tacked up and ready                                                                                                                       Hard work ahead for me and mine

The presents are all loaded                                                                                                                           My herd of seven will pull the sleigh                                                                                                             Bolero will lead, next Vanessa and Swani                                                                                                   And I will be driving..dont get in my way

Shadow and Cody are next in line                                                                                                               Followed by Dalton and Ice                                                                                                                           All decorated with holly and bells                                                                                                               We all look and sound nice

Just around midnight when all is still                                                                                                         Turn your eyes and ears to the sky                                                                                                               Keep watching and listen                                                                                                                               And as my herd and I fly by……..

You will hear the bells and whinnies for sure                                                                                           And me wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

DaltonMy Icevanessa                                                           Dalton                 Ice                              Vanessa

PMU Mare Cody Doll                                                                                                          Cody

Chenchy                                                                                                                        Supervised by Chenchy