No offense there Maggie, but are you really "open" to this discussion? I only ask because of your previous hostile remarks on this subject when I first bought it up. You're entitled to your opinion, and, maybe, I'm reading you wrong, but I think you're purty much convinced shoes are the only way to go on a horse.
If your question is sincere then I'll try and answer it. It's been my experience that most farriers trim the hoof and try to keep the angle of the hoof aligned with the angle of the pastern. This is OK, but everything changes when you put on that shoe. The addition of the shoe extends the toe and forces the joints within to bend. The other problem with a shoe is it prevents the hoof wall from being constantly worn away, and as the shod hoof grows, the base of the foot moves forward, putting more and more weight on the toe and increasing the leverage and load on the breakover.
What they are trying to do with the natural shoe is to shorten to the toe to a point where this doesn't happen as much as it does when normal shoes are applied. My question is if you want the alignment to be natural, why put on any shoes at all? If you can get away with it (living in Florida, I believe I can), then why not let the movement of the horse wear down the toe to where it should be? Traveling 15 miles every other day seems to work (OK, I may do more, but I think that's about the minimum) for my guys. All I'm saying here, Maggie, is that I'm making the attempt. If it wasn't working, I'd try something else, and I'm not entirely sold on all of it, but quite a bit of it does make sense to me.
With the barefoot trimming method I'm using, the sole is my guide to a trim. I don't go into the sole, but I trim to it along the quarters, I leave a little bit of heel, and I keep the toe short. I, also, try to visualize the coffin bone alignment, which is the key element to why I'm trying to eliminate shoes from my horse's diet. If I do a lot of riding (which is difficult to do this time of year with this incredible heat and humidity) the toe will wear down naturally. I go over my horse's hooves once a week, which eliminates flairs, chips and cracks. They always look good (OK, I guess I'm getting an ego here, sorry).
The main idea I like is that I want my guys to travel using their heel more. I don't want the toe to be the first part that hits the ground. With shoes, this often is the case. Have you ever noticed that a shod horse will break at the quarters before the toe and heel? Why do shoes always wear more at the toe than the rest of the shoe?
As I've tried to explain, this may or may not work out for me in endurance. But, the sad truth is, I have to change something if I want to continue in this sport. And, I do want to continue, so my mind is open to change. My question to you, Maggie, "Is yours?"
Howard (riding wild and free, naturally, on MSN. lol)
----- Original Message -----
From: Maggie Mieske
Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2002 12:51 PM
To: Howard Bramhall; ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [RC] natural balance shoe
<The other problems with shoes are with the alignment of the coffin and short and long pastern bones. The shoes throw off this alignment because a normal shoe creates a "long toe" which forces the joints within to bend, overloading the tendons in the heel. >
This is not true if the shoe is put on properly. And how do you differentiate a "normal" shoe from an "abnormal" one? :) Just curious.