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RE: RE: Dr. Cooks Letter

Tony I can attest to the fact that when I pull my horses
shoes the flies cease to bother them. Just last year when I
pulled them in late November I saw no flies on them for the
next several months.

Bob Morris
Boise, ID

-----Original Message-----
From: Corbelletta, Antonio
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2001 2:52 PM
Subject: RC: RE: Dr. Cooks Letter

Your post is right on.  It is full of common sense.  We have
tried to keep
our horses in the most natural environment that we can, i.e.
pasture.  We
are very fortunate to be able to do so here in Northern
Calif. You are
correct in some areas pasture is not an option. Even those
horses kept in
pasture are used for many "unnatural" activities, like
endurance riding,
therefore you will probably need to put shoes on them.
In any case, this thread has amused me to no end.  Now I
learn that removing
my horses shoes will keep flies off of them.  Hmmm...  The
possibilities are
endless.  I wonder if removing shoes keeps worms away as
well? Some of the
stories have been a good source of fun.
Tony Corbelletta

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2001 11:22 AM
Subject: RC: Dr. Cooks Letter


Quoting from Robyn Levash's post of Dr. Cook's letter, he

> Strasser's message, in essence, is disarmingly simple.
> keep the horse in an environment that bears a similarity
> its natural environment(something that is within the
> capability of most horse keepers today and should be as
> obligatory as the provision of food and water).

I find this statement to be hopelessly naive.  Keeping a
horse in an
environment that even marginally resembles its natural
environment is
WAAAAAY beyond the capability of most horse keepers
those here in Southern California, and definitely almost all
those in
Germany :).

I am lucky enough to have a lease on hundreds of acres of
unirrigated savannah (of which only about 100 acres is
fenced so that is
all I can use if I don't want my horses to end up on the
freeway) and my
horses come very close to being kept in a natural
environment for horses.
They are out for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year...and even
so, I have to
supplement their feed with hay to keep a mere 5-6 horses
from overgrazing
it!!  They never wear blankets (they would have them off in
no time :))
... but they do get fly spray (and to not provide it would
be cruel, even
though in nature horses just have to "lump it" with respect
to flies).

But I fully understand that this horse keeping option is not
available to
the thousands of horse owners that are just over the hill
from me.  To
fatuously suggest that keeping horses in a natural
environment is well
within the abilities of most horse owners is simply not

And he goes on to say:
> ...
> Similarly, most owners of young, unshod horses with
> hooves would also much prefer that farriers carried out
> Strasser trim for them.

Which suggests that Strasser fully understands that keeping
horses in
their natural environment is actually well beyond the
abilities of most horse owners.  The very fact that there is
such a thing
as the "Strasser trim" (or any trim) indicates that horses
are not kept in
their natural environments.  Horses kept naturally NEVER
need to have
their hooves trimmed (the whole idea is that the equine
hoof, when kept in
its natural environment, is self-maintaining).  The reason
that horses in
captivity need their hooves trimmed would be if they were
kept in such an
environment that their hoof growth outpaced their hoof wear.
So for all
the people out there who are trimming their horses' KNOW that
they are not keeping their horses in an environment natural
enough to
properly maintain a normal equine foot.

Since advocates of trimming (whatever method is used) of
horses kept
barefoot understand the concept that hoof growth can outpace
hoof wear, it
shouldn't be too difficult for the same people to understand
that hoof
wear can also outpace hoof growth.

For most of my horses; I could keep them pretty much totally
in their
natural environment (except that I would probably have to
pony up the
~$100,000 it would cost me to fence the rest of the 800
acres if I didn't
want the 5-6 horses to overgraze it, and I would still have
separate/confine my stallion if I didn't want the 5-6 horses
to become 20
horses in just a few years).  And I could keep them barefoot
100% of the
time and their feet wouldn't require any trimming (I have
three horses on
the property now, two of which who were born there, that
have NEVER had
their feet trimmmed in their entire lives, they are 4, 5,
and 7
respectively).  And I could watch them wander around and

But if I want to do ANYTHING with them other than watch them
wander around
and graze on hundreds of acres of unirrigated pasture, then
I am going to
have to MAINTAIN and manage their hoof shape, growth, and

The best way for any horse owner to properly maintain hoof
shape, growth,
and wear is a funciton of tons of variables among which are:

1. Space available in the living conditions
2. Footing and terrain of the living conditions
3. Health of the individual animal
4. Previous hoof care (including how its feet were managed
during the
first few weeks of its life) of the individual animal
5. Conformation of the individual animal
6. Genetic predisposition of the individual animal
7. How much work (i.e. anything other than walking around
and grazing that
we the horse to do) the individual animal does
8. The footing and terrain of the working conditions (which
may not
necessarily be the same as those of the living conditions).

I am a BIG fan of keeping a horse in as natural of
conditions as possible,
not only for their physical well-being, but also for their
well-being.  And yes, I do think that many of the health
problems that
horses suffer from today are related to the fact that none
of their
systems are not particularly well adapted to confinement and
many of the
other horse management practices that domesticated horses
are subjected

But I am also of the opinion that the abnormal feet that are
seen in many
domesticated horses are less a funciton of whether the horse
has been
provided with some kind of hoof protection (including steel
shoes) to
ensure that wear does not outpace growth and has more to do
with the lack
of use that most horses feet are subjected to.

Endurance horses, generally (although some do), don't have a
big "lack of
use" problem...which is why I suspect that if one were to
evaluate the
feet of endurance horses, even those that have been shod
with steel shoes
for thousands of miles, you would be likely to find a lot of
functioning feet.

So, here is my horse/hoof management suggestions to all
horse owners:

Evaluate your horse's living conditions and provide them
with living
conditions as close to their natural environment as you
possibly can
(understanding that there is no way to get it exact) while
at the same
time watching the individual horse and altering the
conditions for those
that are not thriving in the conditions that you are

After which, manage your horse's feet in a way that is
appropriate to the
individual horse, its individual living conditions, and the
horse's work load.

Keep them barefoot for as long as their barefeet are
Trim them if hoof growth outpaces hoof wear, and provide
them with some
kind of hoof protection if hoof wear outpaces hoof growth. a not dismiss out of hand steel shoes
as an option
for hoof protection.  Without doubt, steel shoes are the
most tested and
proven form of hoof protection available.  There IS a reason
that steel
shoes, over the centuries, became the hoof protection of
choice (if you
investigate the history of horse domestication, you can see
that even
centuries ago LOTS of other options were investigated).

It is also true that centuries ago, man did not have access
to some of the
new materials and technologies available today, so new
materials and
technologies are worth investigating, but don't assume that
the people
who, centuries ago, chose iron/steel as a method of
protecting their
horses feet didn't know that there are took
them a long time
to settle on steel.

..but then, over the centuries, horses didn't have the "lack
of use"
problems that horses today suffer from (at least, not as
much :) ).

Orange County, Calif.

p.s.  In a related post, I found myself chuckling over the
idea that
because of the way we keep and use horses that they are not
living as long
and useful of lives as they naturally would.  It is my
understanding wild
horses rarely live more than 15 or so years, because,
sometime before that
point they become dinner. Domestication has substantially
lengthened the
lifespan of horses.

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