From The Soul of a Horse
A horses’s hoof is supposed to flex with every step taken. That simple act of flexing is just about the most important thing a horse can do for good health and long life. The flexing provides shock absorption for the joints, tendons and ligaments in the leg and shoulder; acts as a circulatory pump for hundreds of blood vessels in the hoof mechanism; and helps the heart get that blood flowing back up the leg.
Without flexing, the hoof mechanism will not have good circulation and will not be healthy. The heart will have to work harder to get the blood back up the legs. Without flexing, there will be no shock absorption.
With a metal shoe nailed to the hoof, no flexing can occur.
Why Barefoot Horses?
Natural Hoof Specialist and author Jaime Jackson says, “The bare hoof is trimmed to optimize what we call the ‘hoof mechanism’ – the natural flexing and contracting of the hoof as it bears weight and unloads. The mechanism is very important for optimal blood circulation and shock dissipation – in short, for a healthy hoof. The horseshoe weakens the hoof’s natural structure and impedes the mechanism. It prevents natural callusing. It prevents natural shock absorbency. And it imperils every growth corium and every facet of blood circulation known in the hoof.”
Arizona veterinarian Dr. Tomas Teskey says,”One of the greatest damages that occurs because of the application of steel shoes to the horse’s hoof is the greatly reduced circulation within the hoof, and the diminished return of blood back up toward the heart through the veins of the lower leg. Shoes interfere with the hoof’s natural blood-pumping mechanism. The natural hoof expands and contracts with each step, letting blood in as it spreads upon impact with the ground, and squeezing blood up and out of the hoof as it contracts when it is not bearing weight. If this sounds familiar, like the blood pumping mechanism of a heart, that’s because it is–natural hooves perform a critical function as supplementary “hearts”. This vital heart-like mechanism is greatly restricted by immobilizing the hoof with steel shoes.”
Editor’s Comment: The MOST important thing to remember about your horse’s hooves is this: Horses which have been shoed cannot go to being barefoot overnight. From the moment the shoes are removed, you must work with your horse and be patient with him/her to grow new hooves – which takes from 6 to 8 months; so it is best to be patient for one year at least. Shoes I believe, disconnect the most important sense of the horse to the outside world, which is Feeling the Ground. This is one of the Senses which is difficult for the Human to understand.
Read more from Joe Camp about Barefoot Horses HERE.