Q: All through school, I rode at lesson barns where the horses’ care was handled for me. I just bought my first horse as an adult and his care is all my responsibility. What’s the best way to set up a hoof-care routine that will keep my horse safe and sound? I also heard that I could save money by going barefoot but I don’t know much about it. I like the idea of helping my horse while not paying as much for constant shoe changes.
Cavallo President Carole Herder shares her advice (https://www.cavallo-inc.com).
A: Congratulations on your graduation and your first horse! Transitioning from a full-care facility to having your own horse can be a big switch. I applaud your decision to keep your horse barefoot. It’s a big responsibility, but I can assure you you’d be doing the best thing for your horse’s health and well-being with a natural barefoot program. To do this successfully, you’ll need to find a barefoot trimmer you trust and work with he or she to keep your horse’s hooves in shape and trimmed every six to eight weeks. Here’s the crux of what you need to know…
Five Hearts and the Hoof Mechanism
You may have heard it said that a horse has five hearts; four on the ground and one in the chest. This refers to the frog’s blood pumping function, circulating blood down through the extremities and back again. The frog spreads the heel apart, drawing the sole flat and inviting the bone structure of the leg to descend into the hoof. This is how shock is absorbed in the hoof capsule. If you can accept that circulation is imperative to the distribution of nutrients throughout the system and that healthy blood flow aids in prevention and facilitates healing, it follows that limiting blood flow will lead to degeneration. If the frog cannot make ground contact and function as it should, then shock cannot be properly absorbed, and blood cannot freely flow.
When metal is nailed in all around and the hoof is clamped in its smallest most contracted position, both proper blood circulation and shock absorption are dangerously impeded. Then when the hoof lands on a hard surface, shock is referred up the legs.
Take a metal shoe and bang it against a hard surface. You will feel the tremors vibrate up your arm. Try it. In fact, even the nails cause vibration which will compromise the integrity and break down hoof structure. And if you still think that metal shoes provide protection, please consider that the outside walls of the hoof are already hard and that the softer more vulnerable middle sole area is the more vulnerable.
Hoof Care Plan
To keep your horse barefoot, you’ll want to find a trimmer who specializes in barefoot hoof care. You need to feel comfortable with this person to provide an excellent explanation to any of your questions and who allows you space and leniency to learn. This is a responsibility to be shared and understood. Hoof care is a fascinating journey!
I can offer you a free version of our guidebook about barefoot trimming and you can watch the online video to help educate you and your farrier/trimmer about the best shape for your horse’s hooves. It isn’t meant for you to learn to trim yourself, but just to get an idea of how some folks are having great success.
Watch the video: https://www.cavallo-inc.com/barefoot-trim-video/
and check out the book: https://www.cavallo-inc.com/product-category/other-products/books/
You’re right that metal shoeing often is expensive. With an average cost of $120 per full set of shoes put on eight times per year, the annual cost of metal shoes is $960. With Cavallo Trek Boots, at about $200 per pair. Other Cavallo styles can offer greater cost savings for you and your horse.
In average conditions with adequate care, the life span of your Cavallo Hoof Boots lasts from one to two years. However, trail riders have reported having their boots for much longer. Even if you outfit your horse with back as well as front boots, your savings over two years is still a fraction of the price for metal shoes.
The Cavallo website is loaded with research, testimonials, and FAQs to help guide you as you transition to barefoot and prepare to ride in any sport. Visit https://www.cavallo-inc.com for more help or join the discussion on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CavalloHoofboots. Sign up here for Cavallo’s free newsletter and special community discounts: https://www.cavallo-inc.com/CavalloNews
Carole Herder is the author of the #1-bestselling books: There Are No Horseshoes in Heaven, and the newly-released Hoofprints on The Journey. Her company, Cavallo Horse & Rider Inc., manufactures and distributes horse products, including Cavallo Hoof Boots and Saddle Pads, to 26 countries worldwide. Herder designed and developed Cavallo Hoof Boots and Total Comfort System Saddle Pads. She’s an honored recipient of the BCBusiness Women Innovator Award, Royal Bank of Canada Woman Entrepreneur Award, a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization, and a certified Chopra University Yoga Instructor and Ayurvedic Teacher.
Visit https://www.cavallo-inc.com to learn about the full line of Cavallo Horse & Rider products. Call toll-free from the USA or Canada: (877) 818-0037.
Cavallo Horse & Rider