One of the biggest blessings in today’s horse world is the diverse range of approaches to all aspects of horsemanship and horse care. It also creates the biggest challenges as we face all the passion associated with those diverse approaches. Everyone has an opinion. You ask ten people the same question, you’ll get nine different answers. Which way to train, which way to feed? Should your horse live in or out? And when it comes to the hoof, barefoot or shod seems pivotal amongst diverse approaches today.

In the hoof care world, we seem to have two extreme “religions”:  those that passionately believe every horse should be barefoot, and those that are adamantly convinced that all horses need shoes. We all tend to be critical of the other side.  And at times, have religious-like convictions in favor or against what we observe in the horses around us. This is where we get into trouble. It is easy, no matter the subject to be a hater. We all know the people and we all have the thoughts, however, most of us can stop before the unkind words come out of our mouth. Some people, on the other hand, get quite fervent in their postulations of their hate for what they see.

As a hoof professional, I combat the sway of fanatical opinions by educating myself continuously, documenting my work and objectively observing the results of my choices for the horses I work on. Ironically this has left me in neither camp. If you’ve read my other blogs you know that I love barefoot horses, but apply shoes when necessary, my tool of choice is composites but I will refer horses for metal as needed. I’ve learned by always looking out for the best interests of the horse to never say never. The minute I lose the ability to be open minded, I believe I cannot serve the horse honestly.

I am honored to be team leader for an amazing group of hoof care providers that seem to be hybrids. Neither barefooters nor metal bangers but yet those of us who embrace the best interests of the horse, despite what religion we come from. We gather together under the umbrella of Daisy Haven Farm through our quest for education and willingness to use tools that will help the foot of the horse, be it barefoot, plastic, or metal.

In navigating these diverse approaches, these are the guidelines that have served us well:

  • When seeing something we “hate” we pause, and remember we’re seeing a moment in time.
  • We remember that the person doing the work has good intentions and means no harm.
  • We try to say something positive before being critical, and if we can’t say something positive we say nothing at all.
  • We speak our opinions as what works “FOR ME” and site references, resources, and case studies.
  • We educate our horse owners and are supportive in their journey, even if it means a different hoof care provider or approach.

My hope for the hoof care world is that more of us can tolerate each other’s differences, embrace each others strengths and learn from each other, even if sometimes what we learn is that there’s more than one successful way to solve a problem. And at the end of the day that will help each of us help more horses.

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