Scottie had the farrier this morning and it’s only when I see his front feet without his shoes on that I really appreaciate just how flat Scottie’s feet are. He has absolutely no heels and very long toes. It is always a fighting battle to keep his toes as short as we can without making him uncomfortable, especially since his tendon injury. It find it amazing how just putting a shoe on instantly improves his hoof & pastern angles.
We were talking about how much of a difference shoes make for Scottie’s confirmation. One thing what always concerns me is that die hard barefoot fans would believe that he is better with awful angles and barefoot than better angles and in shoes. It worries me that people can’t see how letting the horse have awful angles for months, if not years, while you try to transition them to being comfortable barefoot could cause long term damage to their legs. I’m not anti barefoot, far from it. I think there are horses out there who don’t need shoes and may even benefit from being barefoot. But I also believe that you have far many more options to keep your horse sound and comfortable with shoes.
I also have a bit of an issue with barefoot trimmers. I am sure there are some great barefoot trimmers out there. My farrier has worked with horses after the horse’s usual barefoot trimmer recommended the owner put shoes back on. I believe that most trimmers do have the horse’s best interest in mind and understand that barefoot isn’t always the right answer.
But barefoot trimmers don’t NEED to have any qualifications. Yes, there are qualifications barefoot trimmers can have and you can check if your barefoot trimmer has these qualifications. But what value do these qualifications have? Who is running these courses? What experience do they have? Do they even have any training or understanding of hoof balance and biomechanics? Who is challenging what they are teaching? We don’t really know the answers to these questions a lot of the time. Without this training, how do they know enough to make sure they put the horse’s best interests first?
So I always come back to the question of Why would you choose a barefoot trimmer with unknown education over a farrier who has had to follow a strict training regime & regularly attend courses to keep them up to date?
Whenever I say I would never personally choose a barefoot trimmer, I get the response of “you get bad farriers too.” I do and don’t agree with this. I have never known or heard of a farrier, no matter their experience or reputation, not able to do a good job of a well behaved horse with decent feet. So there is a good chance that these “bad farriers” are actually farriers who are struggling to work with naughty/difficult horses or working with some difficult hoof problems, many of which the horse’s owners don’t really understand.
I have heard of farriers who haven’t been able to improve a horse with a specific problem. After a vet recommendation, the owners has swapped to a more specialist farrier and seen an improvement. I don’t think that makes the first farrier a bad farrier, they just weren’t as good as the new farrier at dealing with that problem. I think these types of farrier could easily get labelled as “bad farriers” by horse owners.
For me, saying that there are also bad farriers isn’t a good reason to use a barefoot trimmer. Especially when the next argument for choosing a barefoot trimmer is by “doing your research.” Why not do your research to find a good farrier?
I just think that until Barefoot Trimmers have stricter regulations and more organised training, it is too hard for the average owner to really understand if a barefoot trimmer is right for them. How many horse owners can honestly say they have a good understanding of what their horse’s hoof should look like for them to be in the best balance? If you don’t know what this should be, how can you research barefoot trimmers to find a good one for your horse? At least with farriers you know they have been trained in this. Even if your barefoot trimmer has qualifications, these qualifications might not be worth the paper they are written on. When I worked in the farrier industry I read some of the barefoot articles and the hoof balance they preached… that is not something I would ever want done to my horse!
Last Updated on 06/09/2022