Tuesday, August 24, 2010

whats your opinion

Horse riding is like religion, people have there own beliefs and god forbid you tell them otherwise. In fact sometimes polarised views on different issues get so heated, it is just like the ongoing strife between Christians and Muslims....The battle in the horse world can get quite intense. Usually as far as the competition scene goes the battles are fought with snarky comments and back stabbing. It can go so far as to effect squad selections, area and national teams, even pony club competitions are effected. But do some of these issues really matter??? It is only horses after all, not world war III.

Theses issues can be as minor as who you train with, do u do natural horsemanship or conventional. Do you ride a horse with a bit in its mouth? Do you cover your horse? Should horses be stabled or should we try and re-create to a certain extent their wild life style. The dressage world is saturated in controversy at the moment over the use of rolkur (warming your horse up in a way that its neck is severely flexed so that it head is behind the vertical) as it can be detrimental to the horse, but yet gold medal wining riders are using this technique...But the issue that at the moment interests me, and i know is picking up interest world wide with different methods and new research, and has some very strong opinions on both sides of the argument is horses and their feet? To shoe or not to shoe? should we let them have natural feet like in the wild or because we have taken them out of that environment should they have metal shoes on their feet? What is humane?? Is their a right and wrong answer??

I sit very strongly in the middle, neither side of the fence so to speak. Some horses will be great without shoe, Ive competed quite a few successfully without them, some horses cannot handle it no matter what you do, so they need shoes. simple as that.

in my area over the last eight or so years there has been a big movement for no shoes. It has sparked huge debate and controversies within the area. The no shoes side based on the Strasser method, has always stated that a horse in the wild has no shoes and survives, they have the perfect hooves. This is what we should be aiming for with our domestic horse.They think of shoeing as evil. Their results have been somewhat of a mixed bag.

So wild horses have perfect hooves?? so our horses should mimic this? Horses evolved in the steppes of Mongolia. Dry prairie country where they would have traveled distance for water every day. I'm am sure the horses there have hard strong feet and don't need shoes. The mustangs and brumbies of America and Australia live in dry climates where they also have to travel long distances for water. But the horses of New Zealand live in wet hilly terrain where they don't have to travel very far at all for water. They have been wild long enough to adapt to these conditions so should have perfect hooves with very little lameness? Nope! a recent study published in the Australian veterinary journal showed that almost all of the group of NZ wild horses used for the study had some form problems and lameness.90% had dorsal hoof flare, 75% contracted under run heels, 65% had thrush, 80% some signs of chronic lameness. So obviously a blanket rule that we should base our practices on wild horses is not quite accurate. If you based it on NZ horses our domestic horses should be lame with long cracked feet....

take the grey, terrible feet far worse than any of my other horses. Cracked,long toes and splitting hooves, with one hind foot slightly rotated. shes has feet that resemble a set of ski's and as such isn't sure footed and spends a great deal of time sliding all over the show. So not perfect. She would in my mind be a candidate for shoes one day, when we have had the farrier correct her feet a bit. The stallion although slightly upright his feet are perfect, no cracks, no rotation and no long toes.he doesn't slip and is as sure footed as a horse comes. I'm sure that ill probably never need to put shoes on him and i am happy with this.

Whats the problem with shoes anyway?? a horses foot contracts and expands as it walks, this works as a shock absorber and helps blood pump through the foot. Metal shoe nailed on and hoof cant contract and expand. makes sense. i completely agree that shoes aren't the best thing for a horse, but the lesser of two evils. because they do provide protection from hard ground, stones and will help prevent hoof damage. A lame horse is far more miserable than a sound horse with shoes on. in saying that i do think a lot of horses are over shod. it makes me feel ill to go to big barns overseas and see two year old horse with shoes on that are stabled constantly and only get 20 minutes of work on a soft arena a day. Do they really need shoes? This is probably a case of shoes doing more harm than good.

i could go on but i think I'm getting off topic. My real point is that there is no blanket rule that cover all horses. i hate the fact that people are so prejudiced one way or another. There are going to be lame horses with shoes and lame horses without. Also you cant base anything on the fact that some wild horses have good feet, because obviously some don't! As long as your not being purposefully cruel and using common sense both ways are good. So the next time someone say 'ooh i bet your wild poniesave goodfeet' or 'how can you think of putting shoes on a horse that came from the wild?' i am going to smile sweetly and tell them to come read my blog....Peace!

P.S these photos were taken over a month a go and her feet are already looking better after a tidy up trim a couple of weeks ago