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Butler on Barefoot/Strasser/fads...

From Darolyn Butler--- Heavy into "Barefootin'- please see my responses

In a message dated Thu, 28 Jun 2001 12:55:28 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
Abigail Aiyagari <> writes:

I think that what people are missing here is that the Strasser method...or
Jaime Jackson's method...was developed based on research doneon 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. >>
That is a fair and accurate statement.  One of the "conditions" of wild
horses is that they do not carry riders.  Another "condition" of wild horses
is that for the most part, if they get sore or tender, they can slow down or
quit.  They are nomadic, but they rarely travel at high speed for prolonged
periods over difficult terrain.  In fact, one of the most reliable means of
capture of wild horses in the early days was to make them travel for several
miles, pursuing them on shod horses, until they were sufficiently sore to be
able to capture them more easily.  The shod horses also had the disadvantage
of carrying riders--and yet they could "ride down" the wild horses over
time, largely due to the excess hoof wear the wild horses encountered when
forced to travel unaccustomed distances.

BUTLER:  One thing you are forgetting here is that the riders chasing the
wild horses were in (most cases) using several different chase horses which
they positioned so they might keep the wild horses on the move.  I feel the
horses slowed down more out of exhaustion as any other reason.

<<constant trimming, especially of the quarters
and bars, to make up for what the horse is not wearing on his own>>

Heidi:  Certainly NOT a condition the wild horses had!

BUTLER: Oh... but it was... if you view many of the wild feet that not only
Jamie Jackson shows & has studied, but many of the other studies done on
hundreds of subjects the bars are naturally worn down & the quarters are
worn more shallow.  Now... this would only happen on your harder & rockier
grounds... which most of the wild horses did roam on.

<< 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.  >>

Heidi: Actually, no, I don't "realize" that such a horse could "easily" do
50 miles.  The mileage that wild horses do is mostly at a walk, other than
occasional short bursts.  And if the horse's wear pattern is adjusted to his
10-20 miles per day, and he is turned out doing at least a part of that
daily, he should be pretty much even.  But then you throw in a 50-mile day,
carrying a rider, and going steadily at speeds the horse does not travel
steadily in a wild state, and you have the formula for more wear than there
is excess hoof to accommodate it.

For what it's worth--I've seen a fair number of Strasser-type barefoot
horses complete LD's with no difficulty, provided the terrain was not
severe.  I've seen damn few do occasional 50's without showing tenderness.
I have yet to see one campaign a series of rides and stay sound, or do a 100
and stay sound.  I understand that a few have.  But as the work load goes
up, the success of this method goes way down.

BUTLER:  I started my herd "barefootin' " last Oct/Nov.  by Jan. 1 2001 all
but 1 or 2 horses out of the 40 that live at Cypress Trails were barefooted.
I competed on Bronze Star (aka Jedi-whom was just lost in the flood) on Dec.
30 in a 50 miler only days after his 1st Strasser trim.  Granted the ground
was soft... I wud not have attempted to put him on rocks at that early
stage.  I believe there was 8- 10 other farm horses who also were barefoot
there... I use him as a case study to follow thru.   Two weeks later he
completed another 50 miler, 3 weeks later he completed a 100 Miler in the
LBJ Grasslands ride.  The first 20 was on horrible hard gravel roads... I ez
booted him (in front only) for the first loop, then removed the boots for
the balance of the 80.  I did go slower than I might have with shoes, but I
did go progressively faster thru out the ride as I gained confidence that he
was ok barefoot.  In fact my last loop was at the same mph as the winner of
the ride.

In April he did the LBJ 100 mile course again (sans the gravel roads-which
management had eliminated due to everyone's' complaint), and finished in
fine shape, with absolutely minimal wear on his hooves.  This was his
demonstration 100 Miler for the Pan Am nomination.  I had to be pretty
confident with this or I certainly wouldn't have risked that demo ride.

In May he competed 50 miles in the Crockett National Forest, mainly forest
trails, but a good sprinkling of gravel roads.  I avoided them when possible
by riding in the bar ditch.  He finished
in excellent shape & I proudly sent the BC judging sheets to the Head
selector to look over.
Unfortunately I will not get to see how perfect his feet may have been in a
year... but I think you get the jest of it.

Now, in all honesty  & in order not to paint too "rosy a picture"......  I
have no rocks or really hard surfaces to train on... my horses have a
distinct disadvantage when they do have to compete in the rocks.  I use
either ez boots, horsneakers, or shoes depending on the horse and/or the
importance of the race.  I remove the boots and shoes as quickly as I can
after the competition in order that I don't harm the fragile hoof anymore
than I have to.

I understand people who can train in the rocks are having great success....
but remember, it may take a year to get there.  Maintaining the correct trim
is paramount... as well as remembering the moisture and movement criteria as
well.  When I took Chaser to Dubai in March he was not soaked (due to
shipping/etc) for almost a week.  When I started riding the feet started
chipping like crazy... I was sweating it.... then I started soaking once or
twice a day for 15 -30 minutes.  It was like a miracle, the feet became
pliable, stopped chipping & I even had to trim them a few times b4 the race
in 3 weeks.  Granted, I did have a suspensory problem,.... but he ran the
race totally barefoot in the back, & with horsneakers on for 1 loop only.
He had absolutely gorgeous natural (not broken or chipped) feet at the end.
There were several miles of the 1st 3 loops that were done on
asphalt/pavement.... I know.. we were suppose to be in the desert... but...
I was really concerned, but the pavement had no effect & according to
documented research, a horse with shoes experiences 3 times the concussion
walking on pavement as a barefoot horse TROTTING.  Read that again... pretty
amazing!!!  Plus U can trot or canter on pavement without the usual danger
of slipping... barefeet are pretty non-skid!!!  Even on wet pavement!

The more I read the Strasser books and see the difference in the over all
health of my horses, I'm totally convinced that "barefootin' " is the
way.... I just hope, pray, & support those who are trying to develop
alternate foot protection for the "start up" horses & those who can never
train & condition in the rocks.  Please view all the web pages on
'barefootin' if you haven't... read the case studies and draw your own

I've seen a horse whose coffin bone had rotated thru his sole & was down &
crippled a little over a year ago... that horse is normal & galloping
now.... after receiving the Strasser trim for the last 15 months or so.
There is an excellent chance U can save the laminitic horse now!!!

This does not mean that the method is "wrong."  It simply means that it has
serious limitations in application to the sport of endurance.  You can
certainly make your own choices--is it more important for you that your
horse be barefoot, or that you be a serious contender in this sport?  There
comes a point where barefoot becomes the limiting factor in this sort of
competition--unless your horse has a weaker area that limits him first.  As
one poster said earlier--if the horse is too tender, that's simple--you just
lay him off.  This is not an acceptable scenario for someone trying to
achieve maximum fitness--when all that lies between the horse and continuing
to work sound is a set of shoes!  We also help our horses out with
"unnatural" things such as tack, electrolytes, prepared mineral supplements,
etc.  They have their problems as well, but we learn to deal with them as
precisely as we can, and go from there.

BUTLER:  Heidi is absolutely right on the above comments.  One must make a
choice, at least in that first year of conditioning.  If you look at my
record this year as opposed to past years, you will see much slower times &
finishes back in the pack.  I believe in it enough that I have slowed down
when necessary to take care of the horse when I am riding barefoot.

You may be horseman enough not to cross that fine line of exceeding the
limits with your own horse--and if so, more power to you.  If you're not,
then the ride vets have to make the choice for you when your horse has had

BUTLER: right again!!  The ride vets in my area have been very interested
and supportive in the barefoot horses.... The ride managers too... they make
a special point in letting us know the footing prior to the race so we know
how we want to address the hooves.  I have made an error in judgment or
so..., and I'm not beyond shoeing or ez booting in mid race if I need too.
Once again... its the horse's welfare I'm interested in, not proving a

What would be interesting is to get a "barefoot" rating on all the rides....
ok  just dreamin'.. ;-)
Thanks for all of your interest in this.
Darolyn Butler-Dial  & Mark Dial  (COWBOY)

             Proven Endurance Horses for Sale or Lease.
Adventure Trail Rides * Boarding * Training*Lessons *Parties
Represents:   Sharon Saare Saddles, Professional Choice, Advanced Biological
Concepts,  & KM (Human Electrolytes)
21415 Cypresswood Dr.  Humble, Texas 77338
        Ph:  281 446 7232    Fax 281 446 0113  Toll Free (800) 228 8768
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