This is the second instalment from the recent barefoot clinic offered by Dr. Tomas Teskey at Fort McDowell in March 2010. If you missed the first article, please click here.
Much of the morning session was dedicated to the discussion of the barefoot hoof. Dr. Teskey used the acronym PACES for us to apply to the role of the hoof when considering the general health of our horse.
P =Protection: the hoof protects all internal structures when it is healthy.
A = Adjusting Architecture: the hoof must be shaped correctly and be allowed to twist and torque in all directions to protect the horse and do its job in general.
C = Circulation: Robert Bowker at Michigan State University has a theory on equine foot physiology. His hemodynamic flow theory proposes that blood flow through the network of tiny capillaries in the heel region of an unshod foot plays a vital role in shock absorption of the hoof.
E = Exfoliation: of keratinaceous protein. Different environments produce differently shaped hoof capsules due to pressure.
S = Sensation: the horse literally feels his way along the ground and enjoys surefootedness by doing so. Feeling and touch are critical to safety; proprioception (the ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts) is essential for survival. The traction provided is therefore specifically designed for a specific and changing terrain.
Evidence that contraction in the hoof capsule compromises the coffin bone? Imagine the effect on the arteries either side of the coffin bone.
The soundest hooves are those designed through performance: weaknesses are not perpetuated in the long run. Domestic hooves can be conditioned beyond the performance level of feral hooves. Horses are athletes and their ability to excel whilst barefoot is mind-boggling.
Horses that self trim provide us one model and many ideas for trimming our horses. In other words, the type of trim is actually determined by the work the horse is doing. If you ride more, you probably have to trim less.
When working with the unshod hoof leave as much of the dead sole as you can – don’t flake it off to the live sole because it may defeat the horse’s ability to exfoliate.
Checklist for Success (In This Order)
Nutrition: feed a high fiber, low carbohydrate diet.
Herd Psychology: don’t underestimate the need for a horse to be in a herd.
Habitat & Movement: keep the horse moving, using boots as needed to get the horse moving properly.
Hoof Care from Experience: mimic the self trimming hoof.
Teeth: a misaligned jaw will translate through the entire body.
Chiropractic: keep the horse in alignment.
Massage: keep the muscles healthy and supple.
Consistency: don’t stray from the plan.
If you’d like to read up on your boot options for your transition to barefoot, check out our New To Hoof Boots? section of the EasyCare website. If you’d like to read more about diet for the barefoot horse, check out www.safergrass.org.
See it through and stick with it! It takes a long time to compromise the hoof and it can take a long time to fix it. The results might just surprise you.
Director of Marketing
I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your horse.