While the situation is improving in the UK, there are still too many horses finding themselves in discomfort and put at serious risk, as a result of their shoeing. There are many horses that I visit, whose health problems (not just lameness) would not have arisen, but for shoeing problems. We can demonstrate the relationship between shoeing and arthritis, navicular and other distal limb disease.
This sorry state of affairs has spawned the various ‘barefoot’ systems, which are highly commendable in theory and often very successful in practice (but are not practical or wise for everyone). Barefoot horses do very well, provided that the living and working conditions are suitable and the individual horse can cope. If not, shoes are a necessity and must be applied in an optimal way, if health and longevity are to result.
Size of shoe, fitting methodology, foot balance and fit of shoe are all vital to ongoing foot and horse health and crucial to resolving lameness problems. We have found, over the years, that the simplest solutions are often the best, but the quality of fit and workmanship must be 100%.
Benjamin Franklyn (1706 – 1790) said: “A little neglect may breed mischief ….. for want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost.” This analogy was a very holistic statement, showing how vital every link in the chain is, to the eventual success of any endeavour. Franklyn could be said, in modern parlance, to have been using ‘joined-up thinking’, a rare quality. Make no mistake, good shoeing can make a horse; inappropriate shoeing can break a horse, in less time than is easy to believe.
As an integral part of our work, we check the shoeing of each horse patient, for basic quality points and to see if any modification may be made to help a horse to recover from a problem. Non-specific lameness, navicular, other foot problems, fetlock, knee and shoulder troubles can all stem directly from shoeing alignment (foot balance etc.) and fit. Further secondary knock-on effects are also observable and demonstrable. Good shoeing is vital to proper holistic management of your horse and we set out to help you to achieve that.
If you are using the Strasser, La Pierre or other barefoot system, or even just simply trimming feet as needed, we shall do our best to support you in that endeavour, compatible with animal welfare. We are familiar with the work and applaud the initiative in general (with the aforementioned caveats).