By Melody O’Brien
One of my favorite aspects of my work as a natural hoof care practitioner is the conversations I have with other horse lovers (aka clients). Going barefoot generates discussions including, but not limited to, booting, innovative shoeing options, slow feeders, paddock paradise/track systems, hay testing and mineral balancing, bit-less bridles, saddle fitting, positive reinforcement training, bodywork, new approaches to worming, vaccinations, and teeth floating.
I appreciate the opportunity to have these discussions because they revolve around the well-being of the horse and thus bring me back full circle to the simple love and genuine care for horses’ well-being and happiness that began when I was very young. From riding lessons with a teenage neighbor at age 4, to showing hunter/jumper and 3-day eventing from ages 8 to 16, to currently pleasure riding whenever I can find the time, my love of horses has been a lifelong journey that continues to evolve. I am immensely grateful for my years riding with trainers and showing, but I now see how common it is to unquestioningly follow the advice of the trainer, experienced horse friend, or vet. This guidance is often needed in the beginning of our horse endeavors, but sooner or later, many of us will decide to embark on our own path, and use our critical thinking skills to find what works best for our horses and ourselves, whether that be the way we feed our horses, the tack we use, or whether or not to try “barefoot.”
I personally found the natural hoof care movement through Sally Hugg, founder of California Trace. I joined the Progressive Hoof Care Practitioners (PCHP) Training Program, and felt like I had finally come home. I was already a proponent of open mindedness and progressive thinking, but finding it within the horse community was a dream come true. I am incredibly thankful for the PHCP for this reason, which in my experience, is a very open-minded, welcoming group of horse enthusiasts who want to learn, as well as share their wisdom and knowledge.
I am also very grateful and indebted to EasyCare for their innovative hoof protection. One of the foundations of the success of natural hoof care and the many widely sought-after and fully-booked barefoot trimmers is EasyCare’s leading-edge hoof protection. If it weren’t for Easyboots and glue-ons, I know that I could not succeed as a barefoot trimmer. EasyCare’s products have enabled me to successfully transition many horses from shod to barefoot. From laminitis and founder, to thin soles and weak heels, many horses need transitional support. It is my success with these transitions that have given me my local reputation, which has opened up people’s minds to barefoot that were previously convinced that their horse could never live without traditional shoes. The EasyCare products I use most often include the Easyboot Glove Soft, the Easyboot Trail, the Easyboot Stratus, the Easyboot Cloud, the Easyboot Glue-On, the Easyboot LC, the EasyShoe Performance, and the EasyShoe Performance N/G.
I’ve used the EasyShoe Performance for my own horse when I worked with the mounted patrol for two music festivals in Golden Gate Park. They gave my horse excellent shock absorption and comfort during the long hours we worked, and they gave me security and peace of mind that he wouldn’t slip on the pavement. I’ve also utilized EasyShoes and Easyboot LCs on horses in Copper Creek Camp’s Equestrian Program. Copper Creek transitions all of their horses to barefoot, and some need the extra support of glue-ons while they transition during the summer months when camp is in session. I also love that the campers are exposed to natural hoof care and other options in hoof protection!
I am glad to live during a time when the horse world is changing and evolving, and that I am a part of it!
Learn more about Melody’s business at melodymoonbrooke.com, or contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 530-521-2379.