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Bracy Clark hoof deterioration
Barefoot Musings

Well big brother is watching!! 🤐

One of our recent posts has completely disappeared off Facebook, lots of people shared it and now they cannot find it. It was removed from our page without any notification and one person had a response that the post was SPAM! Many of us have lodged complaints but have yet to receive an explanation.

Come on FB this isn’t good! We need to be able to talk about barefoot and the effect of shoes, as this is, apart from anything else, a fairly big welfare issue which has been ignored for far too long!

If you are interested to know what the post was about, it was talking about a vet, who, just over 200 years ago, when the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was in its infancy, declared that shoeing horses was causing them long term health problems, painful feet and could potentially shorten their lives due to the onset of other biomechanical issues, not just in the feet.

This vet was Bracy Clark and we featured an article about him in Issue 6 by author Linda Chamberlain who wrote a book about him called ‘The First Vet’. At the time he was branded a maverick for his views and so set about to prove his claim that shoes did indeed cause damage to hooves over a period of time. The drawings in the first image show how one of his client’s mare’s hooves changed dramatically over time from being barefoot to then repeatedly shod over a period of 3 years.

The first unshod image shows the mare had hooves with a natural flare, healthy wide frog and sole, images which are familiar to many owners who have barefoot horses….the bottom two images show THE SAME HOOF having gone through dramatic changes, narrowing, lengthening, contraction and the frog, as you can see is no longer the wide healthy frog it once was, just look how much closer the heel bulbs are! The owner of the mare was so freaked out by the changes that she stopped the experiment and had the shoes removed.

How many of us have seen hooves like the distorted, deformed ones that they witnessed after just 3 YEARS of shoeing? I know in my career, I HAVE NEVER EVER come across a shod hoof that had not been distorted by shoeing. HOW CAN WE PROVE THAT? By taking the shoe off, measuring the foot and taking pictures and measurements at every trim, just like Bracy did, and you will see how the foot begins to change BACK TO THE FOOT THE HORSE NEEDS.

However the sad truth? Rarely will feet return to the state they would have been if they had never been shod. The good news though, is they will be functional, become healthier and provide the horse with a foot that he fashions rather than one the human thinks is correct.

There are similarities between the effect of nailed on shoes on dynamic organic hooves, and the custom of applying tight binding to the feet of young girls to modify the shape and size of their feet. It was practiced in China from the Song dynasty until the early 20th century, and bound feet were considered a status symbol as well as a mark of beauty. You only have to do a google search to see their feet were definitely not a thing of beauty and caused great problems and pain in their lives and were irreversible.

Bracy even tried to patent a ‘shoe’ that would allow the horse’s foot to expand and contract…it never took off…oh how we wish Bracy could see how things are changing now in the equine world and all those amazing boots on the market, allowing horse’s feet to do just that! Sorry Bracy, it’s only taken us 200 years to catch on!!

But look how BAREFOOTERS today, just like you and us, are now being censored and branded mad hatters, just like Bracy, who was thrown out of the RCVS for his views!

If you want to read the article, here’s the link to purchase Issue 6, only available online now as all the print copies sold out.

Please Facebook, don’t remove our posts again.

Lindsay, Editor & The BHM Team

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