Hoof Care background
The barefoot method of hoof care is a completely different way of managing both the health and disease of horses and their hooves.
The barefoot method, presumes, that the hoof is a biologic organ, and not just a structural element on the end of the leg. In the natural environment (which includes about 20 miles of walking and running per day) normal hoof growth / wear ratio has been perfected over millions of years of evolution. This balance between hoof growth and wear continues to promote hoof growth in a way, that naturally accommodates for hoof wear patterns, from normal activity as well as maintaining circulatory function, shock absorption, and a healthy hoof.
Domesticated horses, do not have normal growth/wear ratios and therefore have already deviated from the evolutionary design. Conventional treatments not only fail to recognize, normal evolutionary hoof form, and wear patterns, but often treat the hoof as a purely mechanical element.
In order to promote healthy
hooves, as well as allow the
to contribute to the overall health of the horse, they must be allowed to function as a circulatory pumps, also known as "hoof mechanism". What this means, is that the hoof wall must be allowed to expand and the sole to flatten upon weight-bearing. Blood is then drawn into the hoof, while the hoof is weight-bearing, and then when the horse finishes the stride, the hoof contracts and blood is ejected through the venous system, out of the hoof and up the leg. This mechanism not only contributes to the health of the hoof itself, but contributes to the cardiac output of the horse as well.
Obviously, to allow the hoof to function in this way, not only presumes that no mechanical appliances (horseshoes) be applied to the hoof (which restrict its motion, alter stress patterns, and do not allow it to function as a shock absorber), but that the correct barefoot trimming of the hoof, optimizes its form as a shock absorbing, weight-bearing, and pumping organ.
Unlike conventional methods of hoof management, barefoot management recognizes these physiologic features, and attempts to trim to promote these functions. The method by which the trimming is done, is designed to maintain and return optimum physiologic function, particularly its expansion and contraction, while at the same time promoting normal wear and weight bearing which plays an integral role in this process.
When the hoof is healthy, and has adequate blood supply, its mechanical properties are optimized. This means that weight is evenly distributed around the lateral edges of the coffin bone, and transferred to the hoof through the lamina. Abnormal growth patterns (bars) in the posterior aspect (heel) of the hoof, are recognized and trimmed.
The details of this process are quite complex and require extensive training and experience to recognize and master the healthy as well as diseased hoof. For more information contact us for references.