How to Get Started in Barefoot Hoofcare
So, you have just discovered Barefoot Hoofcare, and you want to get started as soon as possible--but you have no idea where to go or what to do? Here is a simple step-by-step guide to get you started on the right foot.
Before you begin, read these articles:
What is Natural Hoofcare?
What is a Natural Trim?
Help! What does a Healthy Hoof look like?
Help! How do I choose a Trimming Method?
Help! How do I choose a Natural Hoofcare Professional?
NEW! Locate a Professional Barefoot Trimmer!
1. Order and read these books:
Most of these books are available here: http://www.thehorseshoof.com/books.html
Not all of these are how-to books, per se, but will provide the framework of information that you need to get started.
"A Lifetime of Soundness" (most important book!) and "Shoeing, A Necessary Evil?" by Dr. Hiltrud Strasser,
"Horse Owner's Guide to Natural Hoof Care" by Jaime Jackson,
"Paddock Paradise" by Jaime Jackson,
"Making Natural Hoof Care Work for You" by Pete Ramey,
"The Natural Horse: Foundations for Natural Horsemanship" by Jaime Jackson,
"The Sound Hoof: Horse Health From the Ground Up" by Lisa Simons Lancaster, DVM, PhD,
If your horse has laminitis or founder, also read Dr. Strasser's book, "Who's Afraid of Founder, Laminitis Demystified: Causes, Prevention and Holistic Rehabilitation" and Jaime Jackson's book, "Founder: Prevention & Cure the Natural Way.
Also recommended: "Barefoot Stories" and "The Secret of Happy Horses" by Sabine Kells.
2. Study these websites:
Marjorie Smith - Barefoot for Soundness
Marjorie Smith's extensive website explores the problems with shoeing, and the transition to barefootedness. Extremely safe, helpful information on using the tools and how to get started trimming your own horses. Very good information for the do-it-yourself trimmer.
and download this barefoot trimming manual, courtesy of Easycare,
Inc. and Dr. Tom Teskey:
"Look at those Hooves!" Trim Manual
If you have a foundered or laminitic horse, study this website:
We don't recommend that owners ever trim pathological horses, however.
Treating Founder (Chronic Laminitis) Without Horseshoes by Gretchen Fathauer
This website isn't just about horses with founder, it really applies to all horses. Hundreds of photos and loaded with information on Dr. Strasser's theories and methods. Be sure to study this page which show correct trimming done during a Strasser clinic: http://www.naturalhorsetrim.com/Section_14.htm
and this page: http://www.naturalhorsetrim.com/how_I_trimsketches.htm
This is NOT authorized by Dr. Strasser, and is Gretchen's own personal interpretation.
You will also find a tremendous amount of information on our
Links page. Read through the websites on General
Barefoot Information, Barefoot Clinicians, Barefoot Organizations, Barefoot
Professionals, Strasser Hoofcare Resources, and Barefoot Horseowners.
3. Join this internet mailing list:
This moderated group focuses specifically on Dr. Strasser's and Jaime Jackson's recommendations for horse care and natural trimming, however all methods are discussed. Once you join this group, you will have access to the links page to find other sources of trimming information: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naturalhorsetrim/links as well as the files page, which gives you access to all kinds of trimming photos: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naturalhorsetrim/files
There are many other barefoot horse lists out there, just do a search in yahoo. This list above is highly recommended though, as it is the largest barefoot list in existance, and it is moderated and friendly. Many experienced people frequent this list.
4. Adopt some
basic principles of Natural Hoof Care:
Freedom of movement 24 hours per day or as much turn-out as possible.
Healthy horses should live on same type of terrain they work on.
Herd lifestyle with more than one horse in the same paddock/pasture.
Free choice grass hay or grazing 24 hours per day, with all food provided at ground level.
When possible, aim for a natural amount of movement each day, the ideal being over 10 miles per day total on varied terrain. To help horses move more, investigate setting up a Paddock Paradise of your own. (see Jaime Jackson's book, Paddock Paradise.)
Regular trimming as necessary to allow for a natural, healthy hoof form. The more your horse is confined, the more trimming will be necessary to rebalance the domestic hoof. Most domestic horses require monthly trimming.
Use as little bedding, such as sawdust and shavings, as possible for your situation. More importantly: keep stalls or paddocks immaculate! Horses should never stand in manure or urine, as this will damage the hooves.
Avoid articles of clothing that are unnecessary: horses with good care and healthy hoof form will not need leg wraps or boots. Blankets are not necessary for most horses.
And of course, go barefoot!
5. Locate hands-on trimming assistance
Barefoot professionals are listed in these locations:
NEW! Locate a Professional Barefoot Trimmer!
If you live too far to obtain the direct services of a barefoot hoofcare professional, you will need to arrange for training for either yourself, or the person who will be doing your trimming (farrier). Attend as many barefoot seminars, clinics and other events as you possibly can, no matter what the method, to learn from as many sources as possible. You may not be able to do a truly correct trim on your own (and we urge caution and conservative measures at all times while trimming!), but following the basic living conditions of the method, and doing any type of barefoot trim will probably create some improvement in horses with minor problems.
However, for severe cases of founder, contraction, or navicular, obtaining professional help is crucial to your horse's recovery, so you may need to send your horse to a qualified person who has a hoof clinic or rehabilitation set-up. You and your farrier should attend a clinic or course in your area that will provide you with basic knowledge and experience in trimming feet.
There are barefoot trimming courses and events listed here: http://thehorseshoof.com/events.html
If you have no access to a barefoot professional, try to locate a good farrier who is willing to learn and/or do as you ask. Provide your farrier with reading material, pictures and sketches before hand. Make sure that he reads the above listed barefoot publications and books. If you can't find a sympathetic farrier...don't worry...you are about to embark upon an a real adventure. Many horseowners have learned to do their own trims. You can, too. If you are totally alone in this, with no hands-on help, a good online resource is Marjorie Smith's website, Barefoot for Soundness http://www.barefoothorse.com
6. Purchase trimming tools and supplies. (many of these tools are available here: Trimming Supplies)
Even if you have found a nearby barefoot professionals or a farrier to help, you still need to learn to trim. You should become familiar with all the tools, and skilled at making minor touch up trims in between scheduled trimming visits.
A good rasp with a handle--the newer the better.
A hoof knife--with a hook on the end. Recommended: F Dick brand.
A diamond coated file for sharpening the hoof knife.
A hoof pick to clean out the grooves in the hoof.
A ruler for measuring.
Notebook and pen for keeping good records.
A camera for taking photographs (so you can consult with others on how you are doing, as well as keep track of progress).
Set of leather gloves that cover your wrists.
For advanced trimmers: Cordless power high speed rotary tool (ie. Dremel) and assortment of bits. Also, a powered angle grinder can be used in place of a farrier's rasp.
7. Take the Iron Shoes off your horse
Clip of the ends of each nail bent over on the sides of the horse hoof. Then using a hoof puller or other nippers, pry the shoes off in a direction away from the bottom of the sole. Try not to damage the hoof further by twisting the nails on the way out.
Or get your farrier to do it.
Photos of front & side weightbearing, and side, heel, and sole in the air. Please see file: Hoof Photo Instruction Sheet for instructions on how to take photos. Don't forget to take a few full body conformation photos to record any conformational changes.
Please see this file: Hoof Measurement Chart to print out for keeping records of your horses's hoof measurements.
9. You and/or your farrier start doing a Barefoot Trim.
Please see the Resources page for more helpful info.
Take measurements and photos before AND after the first trim, and periodically thereafter.
Order hoof boots as needed. Highly recommended for newly deshod horses, due to their roomy fit: Old Mac's Hoof Boots. Other good boots include Easyboot Epics, Boa Boots, and Easyboot Bares. All boots are available in The Horse's Hoof Store.
10. Keep learning and researching about hooves and natural horse care. Please visit our links page for an extensive listing of informational resources.
Remember to go slow, learn from any mistakes and take advantage of the knowledge pool that is available to you.
©2006 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.
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