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Re: Barefoot/Strasser/fads...

I think that what people are missing here is that the Strasser
method...or Jaime Jackson's method...was developed based on research done
on the feet of wild horses.  As such, people have to understand that the
hoof condition that is natural to a horse can ONLY be duplicated if a
fairly strict adherence to as-close-as-natural living conditions is
accomplished by the horse owner.  If you only expect to use the horse
under arena/light trail conditions, then you can slack a little bit, or
even ignore it completely if your horse has healthy feet to start with.
The conditions that have to be emulated are, as best I understand them:
24/7 turnout in a pasture as large as possible, preferably with the type
of ground you plan to use the horse on; daily exposure of the feet to
water (accomplished by having a small muddy area around the water tank, or
hand soaking of the hooves); constant trimming, especially of the quarters
and bars, to make up for what the horse is not wearing on his own; 10-20
miles of movement per day, under saddle or at liberty.  Now think about
this for a minute, and you'll realize that it is not unreasonable to think
that a horse living under these conditions could EASILY do a 50 mile ride
with no shoes.  If you live in a soft area and want to do long rides in
rocky areas, start putting rocks in your pasture instead of removing
them, and ride on pavement as much as possible (obviously, start slow!).
If you really read Dr. Strasser's work, you'll understand that what she's
saying is not unreasonable...but the above conditions HAVE to be met to
have success with most horses, and it takes at least a year for the
horse's feet to harden enough to be sound over rocks if he's been shod
(one full cycle of hoof growth).  

This is NOT an instant fix for anything.  You can't pull your horse's
shoes and start the Strasser trim and expect to do Tevis in two months, or
even six months, and probably not for two years.  But if everything goes
well, you should be able to do the long rides barefoot--as long as your
horse is adequately prepared.  For this reason, most people give up on it
rather early, the shoes go back on, and they say, "this is a fad, MY horse
has to have shoes."  Maybe that's true, but it's not because the horse
can't go barefoot, it's because the owner can't have a barefoot horse.
I'm not saying this to try to slam anybody, or say that everyone should
pull their horse's shoes...just that it is possible, but it takes a LOT of
work, time, and acceptance of responsibility to be done correctly.  

Another thing to keep in mind when reading Strasser's work is that a lot
of it was developed with the relatively soft ground of Germany in mind.
Jaime Jackson's type of trim is a little less aggressive, and better
suited to the hard, rocky ground we have on a lot of our trails in

I am not, and never will be, a "true believer."  I'm quite skeptical of
anything anyone tells me, and I make decisions based on either my own
observations or scientific evidence.  So I don't swallow whole everything
Strasser and Jackson have written, but they do say a lot of things that
really make sense.  It concerns me that some people will try to keep their
horses barefoot, not follow the guidelines they need to for success, then
cause their horses undue pain and condemn the method in the process.
Whoever said it was like a religion is right in a certain sense--I think a
lot of things we horsepeople do have elements of religion, we tend to
follow the way of the masses out of fear of what others will think,
without really considering for ourselves exactly what we're doing.
However, I think that what most people pursuing the Strasser method with
their horses have primarily encountered is resistance and skepticism, if
not outright beration from people claiming that they are going to "ruin
that horse."  So I guess it might be like a persecuted religion for some.

I was very glad to read that people are aware of the possibility of
contraction with poor shoeing, and that they choose (and in some cases,
train) their farriers accordingly.  I think that we all try to do the best
we can for our horses (heck, mine sees the chiropractor and the doctor
more often than I do!).  We all owe it to our horses to stay as informed
as possible about every aspect of their care.  Even those of you who will
never pull your horses' shoes would benefit from reading up on the
barefoot studies, since it will help you to better understand your horse's
feet and be better able to judge the work your farrier does.  It's not for
everybody (I still maintain that it can be for every horse, though), but
there is good information there, and good information is never amiss even
if it's couched in a bit of dogma.  So stay educated, and try to be
open-minded about what others are doing.  You've got at least one person
out there doing 50s barefoot, so those barefooters are out there riding
successfully.  Be nice to us!  :)

Abby (who has posted way too much on this topic, and is going to stop now)
& R.C. Cola (GaWaNi PonyBoy's horse was named after me!)<--he can't spell

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