Hoof Walker Natural Trim
Hoof Walker Natural Trim
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Lisa Phelps

Why should my horse be barefoot?
Barefoot horses are better able to feel the ground making them more stable and safer to ride.

Being barefoot allows the hoof mechanism to function properly improving circulation and creating strong new growth.

Being barefoot allows for greatly improved shock absorption and traction.

No more rides spoiled by a thrown shoe.

Healthier hooves = healthier horses.

A natural barefoot trim is much less stressful to your horse than a farrier nailing shoes to your horses feet.

Photo courtesy of Connie Moses
Portraits with Horses

 

The Natural Trim

Wild horses travel 20-30 miles each day doing the things that make horses happy, like eating, interacting and visiting their favorite watering holes. This movement wears their hooves to rock hard perfection, a miracle of form and function. Your horse may not be wild but with proper diet, movement and a consistent natural trim he can enjoy the benefits of comfort and soundness that are natural for his wild cousins. Often when shoes are pulled and the first natural trim is done it is necessary to fit the horse for boots. This is because the horsehoe has damaged the hoof wall and kept the hoof up off the ground. Without direct contact and friction the hoof is weakened and sensitive. Hoof boots provide protection while the horse transitions to barefootedness. Many horse owners choose to use boots on a continuing basis much like putting on their own hiking boots.

As a horse owner you realize that a horse’s health is greatly affected by the condition of their hooves. Their comfort and well being is literally built from the ground up.

The natural trim is a healthy, non-invasive alternative to shoeing and pasture trims. The Natural trim allows the hoof to grow in response the horse’s weight, environment, diet, general health and activity. You horse has the ability to grow exactly the foot he needs, if we would only support his needs and stop interfering with this natural ability to do so. Imagine wearing a pair of ski boots 24 hours each day, every day for weeks, months even years! The bones and connective tissue of your feet would be damaged by the restrictive environment, not being able to move and your body would be sore because your feet couldn’t carry you in the manner they are intended to. And the boots aren’t even nailed onto your feet! It makes sense then that allowing a horse’s foot to be barefoot and function as it was intended to will allow for a healthier, happier horse.

Did you know that the hoof is vital in assisting the heart in circulating blood from the lower extremities back up into the body?! This is called the hoof mechanism. As the horse moves the hoof lands on the ground and becomes weight bearing. The hoof wall expands drawing blood into the digital cushion located at the center and rear of the foot. When the foot is lifted and does not bear weight the hoof wall “snaps” back to its original shape forcing that collected blood back up the leg. It’s like having four little hearts at the bottom of each leg and the faster the horse is moving the more blood this system moves. When you horse is wearing shoes this vital function can not happen! The hoof wall is held in a static position and can not flex eliminating the hoof mechanism.

The Natural Trim is cumulative. Horses are often sore when we first pull shoes. As time passes the horse becomes more and more sound and the foot itself goes through some remarkable changes. This is called “transition”. At any time if a horse is “ouchy” we fit them with hoof boots. These boots allow the horse to move freely in comfort and the hoof mechanism still functions within the boot. The more a horse moves the faster his hooves heal and transition. Boots are a great tool to protect him allowing him to move more and in comfort and thereby and heal faster. Horses wear hoof boots when they need them. The rest of the time they are as they were meant to be – barefoot.

Natural trimming allows a horse to have feet as they were meant to be - barefoot. The challenge is in determining what a hoof should look like and how it should function unshod. It makes perfect sense then to study wild mustangs who have for generations lived barefoot on some of the roughest terrain around. Lameness is extremely rare in these horses who live completely unshod and unfettered.