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Re: RE: barefoot and diet

Hi Bob ---

My horses graze on what little grass in available in the pasture (I don't
count this), but the bulk of their diet is a mostly Susan G. recommended
diet (Bermuda grass, a little 3-way grain hay, a tad of Alfalfa, whole oats
and beetpulp). I can tell you our endurance horses feet are growing like
mad, despite the many miles of training rides over the months, and doing a
50 barefoot two weeks ago. I doubt diet has very little, if anything to do
with their feet growing extra fast since their diet hasn't changed. More
than anything, I believe this fast hoof growth to be due to proper hoof
mechanism, optimum circulation in the feet, and the feet simply adapting to
the workload.

----- Original Message -----
From: Bob Morris <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2001 12:43 PM
Subject: RC: RE: Dr. Cooks Letter

> One thing I never hear mentioned in the barefoot
> conversation is diet. In the feral horse, whose hooves every
> one seems to want to duplicate, one of the reasons the wear
> equals the growth is the diet. Take that same horse under
> the same conditions and feed it like most domesticated
> horses are fed and the hooves will be overgrown in short
> order.
> Realize also, the feral horse hoof is in a status of
> equilibrium. Vary one criterion and the equation of balance
> goes to hell. This equation must be very thoroughly
> understood, and I am sure very few do understand it fully.
> Bob Morris
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2001 12:22 PM
> To:
> Subject: RC: Dr. Cooks Letter
> Quoting from Robyn Levash's post of Dr. Cook's letter, he
> says:
> > Strasser's message, in essence, is disarmingly simple.
> First,
> > keep the horse in an environment that bears a similarity
> to
> > 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
> today...certainly
> 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
> undeveloped,
> 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
> true.
> And he goes on to say:
> > ...
> > Similarly, most owners of young, unshod horses with
> healthy
> > hooves would also much prefer that farriers carried out
> the
> > Strasser trim for them.
> Which suggests that Strasser fully understands that keeping
> horses in
> their natural environment is actually well beyond the
> horsekeeping
> 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
> to
> 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
> graze.
> 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
> wear.
> 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
> mental
> 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
> to.
> 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
> healthy,
> 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
> providing.
> After which, manage your horse's feet in a way that is
> appropriate to the
> individual horse, its individual living conditions, and the
> individual
> horse's work load.
> Keep them barefoot for as long as their barefeet are
> self-maintaining.
> 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 :) ).
> kat
> 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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