Natural Horse Care and Lifestyle

This bit of information was found at a barefoot trimming website by Maria Siebrand. Her site is called "The Thoughtful Horseman" Progressive Horsekeeping.
She has various sections dedicated to barefoot trimming and natural horse care which she is very passionate about. She also lists in some of her info natural horse products that she shares with all. Check out her website as we can all use more info to digest concerning our barefoot hoof horses!

Natural Lifestyle - The Basics
In his feral state, the horse has been observed to prefer wide open spaces with the advantage of panoramic visibility. Imagine, then, the psychological mess we make of our horses by housing them in box stalls. Add to that clausterphobia, and the physiological need for constant movement, and it’s easy to understand why weavers, cribbers, pacers, and pawers prevail in even the most upscale facilities.

A horse can take approximately 4 walking strides to walk the length or width of 24X24 pen. A proportionate “pen” for a man, then, would be 6X6. What about a cushy 10X10 box stall, which allows the horse 1.67 strides? Try a closet measuring 2.5 ft each direction!

To put that in perspective, the average cell in a U.S. prison measures 8 feet wide, 8 feet high, and 12 feet long.

The best evidence suggests feral horses, and horses in large enclosures, log between 12 and 20km per day. At a walk, 12km equates to around 6,500 steps. To log that many steps, the horse housed in a 24X24 pen would have to make 406.25 laps around his pen!

Beyond the confinement a small enclosure imposes, the inevitable impact on hoof hygiene cannot be ignored. Even if the pen is cleaned daily, even the tidiest horse will be forced to stand in urine or manure much of the day. No foot in the animal kingdom was designed to withstand such an unhealthy environment, and the horse's hoof is no exception. If you wouldn't stand in it barefoot all day long, neither should your horse.

Movement is key...
By his very design, the horse is made for movement. It is integral to how his body operates on numerous levels. His spleen, his lungs, his heart, his feet are all designed to perform at their best in motion. The horse in motion is at his most efficient. The lungs operate as a bellows, drawing breath as the horse strides at a gallop. His spleen is activated by muscle contractions that squeeze extra blood from the spleen into the circulatory system. His enormous heart pumps the blood easily. And his hooves, expanding and contracting with each step, help pump that blood back again.

Movement literally shapes the hoof; each step strengthens and builds the inner structures and moves blood throughout the incredibly complex blood vessel network in the hoof. Just as a muscle atrophies when it is underused, so does the hoof.

By modifying how the horse is housed and fed, we can encourage movement, create a more natural feeding situation, and give the horse the mental stimulation and interaction he needs to be psychologically healthy.  The result is such a huge improvement in overall well being, it should be the only way we keep horses.
 

Posted by Nancy Fredrick

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