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Barefootin' - a little rant


Abby Nemec
 

Just putting together some of these comments on horses' feet, and I wanted to say something important about the idea of transitioning horses out of shoes and into bare feet. Yes I AM a farrier. I shoe horses, plenty of them, but 90% of the horses in my practice are barefoot. I really believe that in most cases it's better and easier in the long run for horses to be barefoot - but I also recognize that it's not always practical for that to happen. In any case, I have collected a fair amount of experience watching these feet evolve over the last few years (and I've made my share of mistakes).

Here's what worries me. There are people coming out of barefoot training programs by the dozens every week. I saw a website the other day of a young man who a year ago was trimming on his own in New England with less than a year's practice out of training. He's now in another state on the other side of the country, and advertising to be a barefoot practitioner/instructor. Certified, I do believe.

I attended a trade show last summer where one of the clinicians had a year of experience trimming on her own. She was certified too. I know from doing it myself that it takes time to develop a practice. How many horses did she have in her practice after only one year? How long had she been trimming them? Hmmmm.

This does NOT constitute experience. I don't care how good the training programs are. ***Even barefoot trimming practitioners need to apprentice!*** It takes many months, and preferably years, of watching feet change, develop, and evolve under your own hand to really truly learn this art. I'm not saying that the trimming programs are not valuable - they are, absolutely. But PLEASE, before you hire a practitioner, find out how long they've been practicing. Find out how many foundered feet they have brought around - FULLY - through at least one, and preferably two growth cycles.

Transitioning a rotated foot is not a job for a novice. If they don't have a good solid file of cases under their belt, get someone who does - or hire someone who does to follow the case as a consult. The difference between "doing okay" and an emergency call to the vet can be no more than a couple of days of too much exercise on poorly trimmed feet. I would rather see a horse in properly applied heart bar shoes any day than barefoot, with their coffin bones crashing through the bottoms of their feet. Better safe than sorry.

Down off my soapbox.

-Abby


--
**************************
Abby Bloxsom
www.advantedgeconsulting.com


prattchn@...
 

You are 100% right, but there are a lot of them out there, at least here in AZ. We have a lot of  people do it once and figure it not a bad way to make money. Dolly 




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prattchn@...
 

I never said it is easy work for a good farrier. I think a good farrier is worth every penny they get. I know of some that do a terrible job, but because they can set there own hours  they think it's a easy job. I seen a lot of them. Good ones are sometimes hard to find. Dolly and Prissy  




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Jackie <stc4qh@...>
 

Abby, first I want to say that I always read your posts mainly because I know you are a farrier and I have a horse, Gacy, that foundered and is IR.  The guy I found to work on her feet last year was a hoof practitioner with AANHCP for less than a year, had shod horses for several years.  He has done a marvelous job of rehabbing her feet, she was a severe case.  There are some that have it and some that don't, this is very true.
Jackie and Gacy

Abby Bloxsom wrote:
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Jackie


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Abby Nemec
 

Jackie wrote:
The guy I found to work on her feet last year was a hoof practitioner with AANHCP for less than a year,

*****************
had shod horses for several years.
*****************

This is the important part ... it's the following of individual feet over a long period of time that matters. There is no "trim method" that is appropriate for every situation, no matter what XYZ & Associates will tell you. What a good practitioner does is trim a foot to certain external (or xray) markers, and then watch how it responds. The response is what tells you what's going on inside the foot. That's also why you can't just make blanket trim recommendations based on pictures.

-A



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Abby Bloxsom
www.advantedgeconsulting.com


Kelly
 

Abby,
I totally agree about making sure that they have the experience to
trim our horses feet. This is of course what would be best. But, the
problem is ..... a lot of us live in rural areas and most of the time
there just is not anybody to pick from that has expertise or enough
training in helping foundered horses. They all say they have the
experience , but when it really comes down to helping , rather then
making a bad situation worse - the damage is already done. You can't
put hoof back on once it is off!
So, unless we are in an area that has a high population of horse
owners with quality trimmers/farriers we are out of luck. We either
have to do them ourselves or find someone with less experience. We
really do not have many options unless we spend a fortune to get a
qualified trimmer to travel in the area.
Kelly


Jackie <stc4qh@...>
 

Dolly, from watching my farrier work on my horses it doesn't look like easy money to me, especially working on Gacy's feet.  Maybe after getting the hooves to the desired trim, it's not hard work, I don't know yet.  My original farrier would come and work on my 3 horses and be gone in a shorter time period it takes my hoof trimmer to work on one.  My horses use to get what was called a pasture trim, trimming the toes and some rasping and that was it.  I'm definitely getting my money's worth now, IMO.
Jackie and Gacy

prattchn@... wrote:






Jackie


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Eclectk1@...
 

Hi Monica,
 
For whatever my 2 cents and way too many years of experience is worth -- no, I don't believe that "education on barefoot trimming and the wild horse model" is at all necessary to get excellent results.  Frankly, ever since I was a kid and first involved in horses (30+ years ago, YIKES!), virtually all truely GOOD farriers knew how to do excellent trims that with a few relatively minor exceptions were pretty much identical to the current "barefoot" model -- and they all advocated only using shoes when it was really necessary because of the particular horse's foot and/or if the horse was being used for certain types of use that really needed shoes for protection.  Even then, most good farriers would strongly encourage owners to consider leaving the horse barefoot for at least a few trim cycles during the winter when the horse was either laid off or in very light work at best.  As a result, I've always been pretty amazed at the claims by many in the recent "barefoot" movement.  Not to mention that while the "wild horse" model IS interesting and useful, one HAS to consider that those horses are in a very distinct climate, terrain, and diet that many many of our horses aren't -- which means that its not necessarily applicable in all parts of the country or on all types of feet.  Good model, but its just a model and isn't directly applicable to all.  (I suspect THAT statement is likely to generate a few flames if said in the wrong place!!  ).   
 
I mean, think of this for a minute -- a good trim is the basis of ANY good shoeing job.  Without a good trim, you don't have a good shoeing job either.  About the only difference between a good trim that stays a trim only, and a good shoeing job, in terms of actually shaping the foot, is how the foot is or isn't finished off -- in other words, for shoeing, you don't roll the edges, etc. where for a trim, you do in order to help minimize any chipping of the external wall for a bit, and/or ease breakover or that sort of thing.  But the basics are all there, and HAVE BEEN, for many many decades if not centuries.  WAY before the current "barefoot, wild horse" movement was ever started.  You can even find duplicates of some very old shoeing articles on the net if you do a bit of searching.
 
So, there are a lot of different ways to get to being an excellent farrier, but as Abby has noted, you quite likely don't have that if the person hasn't worked on feet, MANY different feet, over a good period of time -- and typically working FOR someone who is already an excellent farrier and who is also decent at passing their knowledge on to those working for them.  That means the person learning can see how feet grow, change, handle diffferent climates and moisture levels, become diseased or damaged, etc. AND how their trimming interacts with all of those various situations, either improving the foot or worsening it.  That process takes TIME.  Occassionally you can run into that very rare type who just has a really good eye and picks up on things vastly quicker than most people do -- but they're few and far between, and then you just pray that they don't make their inevitable goofs on your horse..... or that at least those goofs turn out to be small ones!   I've also found that you can get two farriers who are really pretty much as good as each other, and one can do every bit as well finishing off 3 horses for every 1 the other does!!  Speed, or slowness, neither one necessarily means the farrier is particularly bad or good. 
 
Robin
(list owner)

> >
> > The guy I found to work on her feet last year was a hoof
> > practitioner with AANHCP for less than a year,
>

--- In ECHoof@..., Abby Bloxsom wrote:
>
> *****************
> > had shod horses for
> > several years. 
> *****************
>
> This is the important part ... >

An even more important part.... Although he had been shoeing horses
for years, it still took education on barefoot trimming and the wild
horse model to get the results. Is that what I am reading?

Monica
 




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Abby Nemec
 

Kelly wrote:

I totally agree about making sure that they have the experience to
trim our horses feet. This is of course what would be best. But, the
problem is ..... a lot of us live in rural areas and most of the time
there just is not anybody to pick from that has expertise or enough
training in helping foundered horses.
BUT what you DO have is access to the internet. There's no reason you can't get experienced people from all over the world to help you and your farriers to do it right - to avoid the catastrophes before they happen. That's what started me on about the "qualifications" thing - I was giving a lot of input to people who WERE looking for support.

I just want buyers to beware that certification is not the same as experience ...

They all say they have the
experience , but when it really comes down to helping , rather then
making a bad situation worse - the damage is already done. You can't
put hoof back on once it is off!
So true, so true ...

So, unless we are in an area that has a high population of horse
owners with quality trimmers/farriers we are out of luck.
High populations don't guarantee nothin'. The state of CT has more horses per square mile than any other, and not all the farriers/barefooters around here are doing the horses any favors either.

-Abby

--
**************************
Abby Bloxsom
www.advantedgeconsulting.com


thefeet2003
 


The guy I found to work on her feet last year was a hoof
practitioner with AANHCP for less than a year,
--- In ECHoof@yahoogroups.com, Abby Bloxsom <dearab@...> wrote:

*****************
had shod horses for
several years.
*****************

This is the important part ... >
An even more important part.... Although he had been shoeing horses
for years, it still took education on barefoot trimming and the wild
horse model to get the results. Is that what I am reading?

Monica


Abby Nemec
 

thefeet2003 wrote:

> *****************
> > had shod horses for
> > several years.
> *****************
>
> This is the important part ... >
An even more important part.... Although he had been shoeing horses
for years, it still took education on barefoot trimming and the wild
horse model to get the results. Is that what I am reading?
No, that's not what I meant at all. Honestly the wild horse model isn't really very useful to me in this climate. I have a few feet in my practice that look like that, but it's a VERY climate-specific trim. I meant that this person had years of hoof-work under his belt. The thing you learn when you do this over time is this: today I trim a horse. I leave and the feet look like I want them to. I come back 6 weeks later and they look different. If I put the shoe in a different place, use a clipped shoe, use trailers, use a half-round shoe, then each time I come back the foot will have changed in a different way.

Feet grow and respond differently to weather conditions, diet, exercise, and trimming/shoeing. The responses you get to the work you do are going to vary. Even people who are "one method shoers" or trimmers - even people who are not creating a functional foot - have a memory bank of horses and feet that they have worked on. When they see a foot they can go "I've seen that before", and have a recollection of what they did with it and what the results of that action were.

THAT'S what I mean by experience. You can be told "if you see this, then you should do that because ..." but it's NOT the same as having actually DONE it. I heard people say "you can't take that toe back so far because the wall will be too thin ..." but until I did it, and the poor horse's foot split in half right up the abscess tract, and it took me a whole year to grow it out, I didn't have a really good appreciation for WHY. And when I saw that scenario again, I didn't take the wall back so far.

-Abby


--
**************************
Abby Bloxsom
www.advantedgeconsulting.com


repete134
 


This link is to a popular midwest horseshoeing school.  They only have a 6 week course and most of it is about shoeing with only 30 hours of lecture on anatomy??????  There is no apprentice requirement.  My barefoot training has taken well over a year and I've studied under 8 different people as well as completely dissected many feet to see differences of what goes on "inside" the foot.  I think that's better "beginner experience" than what most farrier schools offer.  

http://www.horseshoes.com/schools/okstate/homepage.htm#6
 
 
Paula 


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Abby Nemec
 

repete134@aol.com wrote:

This link is to a popular midwest horseshoeing school. They only have a 6 week course and most of it is about shoeing with only 30 hours of lecture on anatomy??????
This link is to a highly respected farrier training program. They have a 16 week, 640-hour course, and require candidates to have acquired some basic skills before they enter the program. Apprenticeships for program graduates are encouraged, and easy to come by.

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/education/farrier/

My barefoot training has taken well over a year and I've studied under 8 different people as well as completely dissected many feet to see differences of what goes on "inside" the foot. I think that's better "beginner experience" than what most farrier schools offer.
This link is to the SECOND program listed when I Googled "barefoot hoof trimming course". It's a 10 week online course for $99.

http://www.barefoottrim.com/

We can throw examples back and forth until our fingers turn blue. My point was not in any way to say "shoes are better than barefoot", but rather "a certificate is not a substitute for experience". What part of that am I not making clear?

There are good and bad examples of everything in this world, and I've seen as many bad trims as I have bad shoeing jobs. Have we not all seen misguided practitioners of just about every skill known to man? Is there any benefit to taking any kind of certification at face value? Any reason NOT to spend time performing an appropriate interview, checking references, and discussing both methods and practices?

I don't think so.

-Abby



--
**************************
Abby Bloxsom
www.advantedgeconsulting.com


Claire C. Cox-Wilson <shotgun.ranch@...>
 

--- In ECHoof@yahoogroups.com, Abby Bloxsom <dearab@...> wrote:

Have we not all seen
misguided practitioners of just about every skill known to man? Is
there any benefit to taking any kind of certification at face value?
Any reason NOT to spend time performing an appropriate interview,
checking references, and discussing both methods and practices?

I don't think so.

-Abby
Abby
Exactly my point!!!
A certification or 20 years of experience does not necessarily a good
trimmer/farrier make.
If someone has been doing things poorly for 20 years, they obviously
aren't learning their lessons along the way. I know people who have
had horses for 20 years and are still feeding straight alfalfa and
grain to their pleasure horses. They've had the same shoer for 20
years because after all he was Daddy's shoer too. They don't see that
their horses toes are way too long and heels left too high...or that
their hooves are very contracted. Because why change, after all that's
the way they've done it all their lives.

And here's another thing ...the barefoot movement has made out all
farriers to be bad guys. A GOOD farrier knows how to do a good,
balanced trim before he applies a shoe. If his trim is off balance,
his shoeing job will be too. The sad part is the horse won't be able
to wear down the imbalance. By shoeing the horse he has perpetuated
the imbalance.
When looking for a trimmer to trim your barefoot horse don't
automatically dismiss a farrier.
There are good ones out there.....just hard to find.
JMHO :-)
When I was interviewing trimmers last year I actually had a list of
questions to ask and when I ran out of candidates I had a plan of
action of where to look to find more candidates.
But the best thing a caring, responsible horseowner should do is
educate her or himself.
Learn to recognize a good, balanced trim.
Learn to recognize the signs of a bad trim.... I had a list of these too.
I'll get off my soap box now.......
Claire from AZ