An argument put forward for shoeing vs barefoot is that shoes give horses better grip.
Well all seasoned barefooters know that a healthy bare hoof has pretty good grip too and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that bare hooves slip more than shod ones…in fact listen to many who regularly compete barefoot and they will tell you their horse rarely slips compared to the shod ones!
But I want to take the issue of grip much further than this.
Metal on a horse’s foot is not grippy – not at all – in fact as the wear on the shoe progresses it just becomes more and more slippy.
It’s not rocket science is it really…humans don’t wear metal shoes for that very reason!
So to counteract the ‘slip’ effect owners will have road nails or studs put in their horses’ shoes or farriers will leave the nail heads proud of the shoe surface, so that when the horse puts his foot down the nails/studs hit the ground FIRST and are supposed to give grip.
Now there is a really HUGE PROBLEM with this that gets completely overlooked time and time again – in fact never discussed it seems – or perhaps even known about.
A horse’s hoof is meant to function in a very specific way, and it’s shape is universally designed to help the hoof function to it’s optimum. When all horses are left to create bare healthy hooves they will ALL have a few things in common.
One is that the quarters (the side walls) are always passive in relation to the toe and the heels. In other words, the toe and heels are always active with the ground FIRST, and the quarters, depending on the surface, are less active.
So just think for a moment what happens when you place a flat (with no arch of course) shoe around the whole periphery of the wall of the hoof. ALL the hoof wall, toe, quarters and heels become active TOGETHER.
Then, what do you think happens when you put proud nails/studs in the QUARTER area of the shoe?
Yep you turn the active/passive areas of the hoof on their head – the quarters are now active and the toe and heels hit the ground AFTER the quarters!
…even worse…many owners have only ONE stud on ONE SIDE of the shoe and then you get a rocking effect from one side to the other as the foot is placed onto the ground, specifically on hard surfaces eg roads!
Believe me when I tell you those proud nails/studs only need to be mm more proud and they WILL hit the ground first.
This is truly a disaster to the form and function of the hoof and it is totally ignored.
Because owners want GRIP and they don’t think further than that.
So what things can happen when this sort of disruption to the basic function of the hoof occurs, for years and years in many cases.
– Stressed hoof walls particularly at the quarters
– Quarter cracks
– Tissue changes within the hoof capsule and coronary band
– Lateral cartilage changes which can lead to mild to severe sidebone
Not to mention the stress on the limbs, knees, hocks, joints, tendons.
I have seen the above happen over and over and spoken to owners who were appalled when they realised that the desire for grip was causing their horse serious problems.
Now the above can also happen if a horse is barefoot and the hoof capsule is not healthy or allowed to grow in the way that the bare hoof was designed to function…but it’s RARE in comparison to the many many MANY times I have seen it on shod feet.
Would you wear footwear with protrusions that caused your foot arch (the passive area) to hit the ground first?
Of course you wouldn’t!
If you mess with a perfect design, it will begin to fail…if you do unnatural things, expect unnatural things to happen.
In The Barefoot Horse Magazine we help to give owners the courage they need to take the shoes off their horse to allow their hooves to recover and start to function as nature intended.
The images below are examples of what happens to P3 when you don’t allow the hoof to function as nature intended. Look at the x-ray…look carefully and you’ll see proud nail heads! Doubt this was even noticed by the vet.
Another one of the pics is how a previously shod cadaver hoof looks when it is trimmed to its natural shape compared to the shoe that it was previously attached to. Look at that arch!
Shocking! Overlooked…ignored…head in the sand…don’t let this be your horse!
Read and take your knowledge of everything barefoot to the next level.
Have a grippy barefoot day folks!
The BHM Team