Barehoofed!!! - Any advice?

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Pink's lady

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hi

Yann - I've had a quick look trying to find the site again with the picture of thermograph but I couldn't find it. I think it was a scientific paper attatched to one of the 'Barefoot' type web sites. I will have a look again later.

From the pictures, it showed heat loss, which was used as an indication of blood flow. In the shod foot, there would still have to be blood flow, however it obviouly wasn't as good. That was the basic point of the pictures, but I didn't read it thourghly enough to decided on it's validity of the results. If I can find it again, I'd like to have a proper read.

Presumably, it the blood flow and heat loss from unshod legs is greater, then they would loss heet more quickly(?)


RE ciculatory function of the hoof. THe hoof plays a great role in circulation of blood around the horses body. In the vet school they often talk of the horse as having 5 hearts - one in it's chest and one at the end of each leg.

As pressure is put onto the hoof the concave sole flattens and becomes convex and the hoof expands. This pulls blood down into the feet and legs. As the pressure is removed (they lift the leg) the hoof springs back into shape- pumping the blood back up the leg.

This pumping is absolutly essential in returning blood back to the heart - the extra thick, non-elastic skin of the legs prevents the legs from filling with blood, but the venous pressure(the pull of blood back to the heart) alone is not strong enough to push the blood back out of them . Thats what the feet are need for. if the feet were totally unable to expand and the soles unable to flatten (for example- they were in a concrete block), there would be basically no blood supply to the legs.

The shod hoof can still do this but only to a certain extent, as the expantion of the hoof is greatly hindered.

It would be really interesting to find out if horses that are unshod their entire life have less problems with arthritis. It has been shown that leg injuries heal much quicker in unshod horses.

I'm going to have a look again for the web site. I think it'll be quite interesting to read. I will post it up if I can find it.
 

annamica

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Thank you everyone!

Can I just say a big thank you to everyone who has responded to this thread.

You all have so much experience and knowledge to pass on to everyone - its great!!! I have learnt a lot in the last 24 hours from what people have said about their own experiences and from web sites that have been suggested.

Your all a great bunch and I hope we can all continue to help each other in this way!! :D
 

Bebe

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Pinks Lady, whilst I agree in principle with Keratex Hoof Hardener not being fantastic for hooves I do think short term use is beneficial, particularly for soft soled or flat footed horses who otherwise would be too sore to be barefoot. I used it initially but no longer need it.

I also agree in theory about only putting water on the hooves but that's only really applicable to horses kept in dry conditions. Horses kept in constantly wet conditions have a whole different set of problems. There's an interesting discussion on a barefoot email group I'm a member of at the moment about this very fact. The theory of most people is that waterlogged conditions overload the hoof which prevents the natural homeostasis process which would ordinarily balance the moisture levels of the hoof from taking place efficiently. This makes sense to me.
 
Y

Yann

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Presumably, it the blood flow and heat loss from unshod legs is greater, then they would loss heet more quickly(?)

If there is greater blood flow, making the leg warmer, then heat will be lost at a greater rate, showing up on the thermograph. If there is less circulation, or equal circulation but heat loss conducted away via the shoe on a poorly insulating surface, then this *might* account for the difference. In order for the comparisons between the two photos to be valid though all the other circumstances ie. ambient temperature, recent exercise level, fitness, coat length etc. would all have to be the same.

This pumping is absolutly essential in returning blood back to the heart - the extra thick, non-elastic skin of the legs prevents the legs from filling with blood, but the venous pressure(the pull of blood back to the heart) alone is not strong enough to push the blood back out of them .

As I said I can accept there will be a difference between the action of a shod and unshod foot, however what you appear to be suggesting is that without constant movement a horse's circulation in its legs will rapidly fail. Horses, especially stabled ones, often spend long periods immobile without any obvious detrimental effect on their health.

I can also accept that the shoe will restrict the ability of the foot to expand, however there will still be a pumping action on the frog and sole unless working on a smooth hard surface. Has any research been done on just how much expansion and deflection actually takes place in an unshod foot?
 

Bebe

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Has any research been done on just how much expansion and deflection actually takes place in an unshod foot?

Yes, it's mm's but significant. Some research argues that because it occurs in the back 1/3 of the hoof it won't be impeded by a shoe because the nails aren't in this section of the hoof but others argue that by nature of nailing a rigid structure to the hoof you've impeded this function. I'm on the fence personally.

I don't think the frog will act as nature intended on a shod hoof though. Most farriers trim the frog to be slightly lower than the sole, then you stick a shoe on which gives further clearance. The only time you're going to get proper frog & sole contact is on a soft surface that the hoof can sink into a little. Perfectly flat, hard or uneven ground won't give full function because you won't get even sole & frog contact.
 
Y

Yann

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The only time you're going to get proper frog & sole contact is on a soft surface that the hoof can sink into a little.

That's what I said;):D
 

Gill

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Interesting what has been said about thermography. My farrier has a thermographic camera and we have used it to compare shod and unshod hooves and legs. The difference is quite phenomenal with much better circulation in the unshod horses. Many shod horses are actually slightly lame, which becomes more apparent as they get older and their feet develop problems.

He is always concerned about so many horses working lives being over when they are in their teens, through lameness, navicular etc. Most should still be sound and in their prime at that time.
 

OlavS

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Gill, any chance that you can share some thermographic images with us? :D
I really want to see this, although I am sure that the blood supply does increase when metal shoes are removed.

However, if it's such a good idea to remove metal shoes and so many people worry about sore footedness, how come rubber/synthetic shoes aren't more polular? :confused:
 
Y

Yann

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If you mean hoof boots it's possibly because they aren't a completely satisfactory solution, they can be tricky to fit, may cause rubs, and may be prone to coming off in heavy ground or at high speeds.

I'm not sure we can blame shoes for all horses that break down prematurely, although it's no doubt a factor in some cases, or poor farriery more to the point. Plenty of shod horses work well into their 20's without any problem, and lameness can have many other causes. Being barefoot can bring its own problems too as far as I can see, and making and maintaining the transition to barefoot needs a lot of time, work and favourable conditions. Even then there's no guarantee that the particular horse will be able to cope in every situation as well as a shod horse could.

I'm not against the idea at all, for instance my daughter's share pony was barefoot when we took her on but just couldn't cope with any level of work, though there were possibly other factors in her case. I would have been quite happy to keep her that way, but it was kinder to her to put fronts on.
 

Gill

New Member
Absolutely right Yann, I agree with all you said.
Obviously chatting with the farrier only brings up problems directly related to shoeing/hoof issues.

Sorry I have no images recorded which could be shared, but if you get the chance to look at one of these cameras do take it. It is very interesting.
 

OlavS

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No, Yann, I mean rubber shoes instead of metal shoes. You nail or glue them on depending on the type.

k0050.jpg

smallshoecloseup.jpg

There are several others, but I can't find them right now :eek:
 
P

Pink's lady

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Yeay, I've finally found the picture

Guess which foot has the metal shoe on it.

I confused myself a bit when I said about presumable heat loss and didn't put it across proparly. What I meant was in terms of poor-doers (as apposed to good-doers!) who have problems keeping weight on and keeping warm i.e Does have having an unshod TB(for example) mean they get colder?

OlvaS

I've often wondered about this with rubber shoes etc, but i think the answer is that the shoes are expensive, fiddly to put on and easily fall off and they don't wear well at at.

Yann - I totally agree that no shoes is not an option for many horses - I excersise a TBxCleavland Bay who couldn't manage at all without shoes - her soles bruise far too easily and she just
hobbles everywhere.

However, there are a lot of horse I know that are unnessasarily shod.

RE boots - I also agree that they aren't a totally satificatory answer to shoeing. They also don't come big enough! ( Pink has 19cm feet, which is 6 sizes too big!)

without constant movement a horse's circulation in its legs will rapidly fail

In fact, this is almost true. The horse does not need to walk around - all that need to happen is the pressure to be lifted and reapplied to the hoof. The hoof doesn't even need to leave the ground. A stabled horse acheives this by shuffling their feet. No horse will stand absolutly still for any lenght of time (they only sleep for max of 1-2hrs standing up(unless they can't lie down for some reason) It used to be traditional to bandage horses legs when stabled, to prevent them swelling, (odeama (fluid in the tissues due to the increased pressure) due to the standing around for hours.

Obviously, the pumping of the hooves is not the be-all and end-all of circulation - the heart can do a suffiecient job for survival.

With shoes on, the hoof still pumps blood as the sole still becomes convex. However, the efficency is greatly reduced because the wall can't expand as well.
 

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hackedoff

Neighbourhood Witch
Heard something fascinating the other day- modern shoeing is down to metal and farrier shortages in the war! Cheaper, thinner shoes were produced that needed less skill to put on and less steel to produce. This cost-saving measure was never reversed and quickly spread (of course) proper traditional shoeing was much more like Cytex'ing apparently..........can any farriers/brainboxes confirm this?
 

OlavS

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Originally posted by Pink's lady
I've often wondered about this with rubber shoes etc, but i think the answer is that the shoes are expensive, fiddly to put on and easily fall off and they don't wear well at at.
I think they are more expensive, but new polyurethane stuff can be amazingly grippy yet wear well. As with any "different" shoe they will require some getting used to before the farrier is up to speed, but at least he won't have to heat it up, bang it with a hammer a number of times before it fits. Some shoes are simply nailed on and then trimmed with a knife/file to the shape of the hoof.

As for falling off I definately think they should be better than metal, as the rubber is flexible and won't be pryed off from the edge the way a rigid metal shoe can. You can even fit studs to some synthetic shoes, for competitions on grass or avoid sliding in the snow. This probably doesn't give the same amount of grip as a studded metal shoe, but then that grip level is enough to damage the horse anyway.

Maybe I've just fallen like a sucker for the sales talk, but I can't help but think that this can be the best compromise between barefoot and metal shoes. Some people compare barefoot and metal horseshoes to barefoot and trainers for humans. I'd say that metal shoes should be compared to wooden shoes in human terms, as there is no feel or shock absorption. Synthetic shoes compare much better to our trainers (which is what most humans prefer). Right, I'll shut up now :eek:
 

Bebe

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There's been some research that has shown rubber shoes to offer to much grip to the hoof on surfaces such as roads & concrete yards. The unshod hoof is designed to have a bit of slippage when it contacts the ground, this helps lessen the concussive effect of the hoof hitting the ground and offers some protection to the joints. Steel shoes have this effect to a greater degree. Rubber doesn't and this isn't a good thing in the long term which may be why the use of rubber shoes hasn't taken off.

Also, as far as I know, glue-one rubber shoes are expensive, have to be put on in perfect conditions (dry hoof, dry environment, horse not turned out whilst the adhesive dries) and tend not to stay on well when the horse is exposed to wet ground. The only nail-on rubber shoes I know of are steel with rubber coating, so you don't really get any benefit as far as I can tell.
 

OlavS

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Bebe, there are several of rubber shoes that are nailed on, and most are rubber all the way through (like the transparent one in one of my previous posts). The rubber coated metal shoes (at least the ones I've found) are designed to absorb shock, so should definately have a benefit for horses that do fast work on hard surfaces. But in the joints, not the pump action of the hoof.

I cannot see how the poor grip that metal shoes offer on tarmac can be a good thing. I certainly don't believe that slippage has anything to do with protecting the joints or as a shock absorber. It merely makes you tense up to control and minimise the limb's range of movements, which leads to stiffness.

If the rubber offered too much grip the manufacturers could use a harder rubber compound and reduce grip and improve wear rate instantly.
 

Bebe

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You don't want a great deal of slippage and maybe that's the wrong word, I just can't think of a better one at this minute. You can't tell that an unshod hoof moves once it's hit the ground, it's a matter of mm but it is present. The amount of slippage that a shod hoof has on the roads is too much, hence the use of road nails, etc. I just don't think that rubber shoes provide a happy medium. If they did, we'd see them being used much more.

I'm not sure how a rubber shoe can help with the pump action of the foot either, they're still going to raise the sole & frog off the floor.

There's also the rate of wear, my understanding is that they don't last very long on a horse that is in regular work on hard surfaces. Whilst I don't necessarily think that this is a bad thing in that owners would be forced to have their horse shod more frequently, which would mean the hoof was balanced on a more regular basis, you'd still have the problems of multiple nail holes weakening the horn if you used nail on shoes and the cost factor may be too much for many owners.
 

OlavS

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Originally posted by Bebe
I just don't think that rubber shoes provide a happy medium. If they did, we'd see them being used much more.

I'm not sure how a rubber shoe can help with the pump action of the foot either, they're still going to raise the sole & frog off the floor.

There's also the rate of wear, my understanding is that they don't last very long on a horse that is in regular work on hard surfaces.

Some synthetic shoes cover the frog, so they just relay the pressure. But to my understaing the pump action comes (at least in part) from the sideways expansion of the hoof, which is prevented only with metal shoes.

I am certain that synthetic materials can be (and are) made very wear resistant while offering grip. I know some rubber shoes are made from the same basic material as rollerblade wheels. They come in different grip levels. You normally trade off grip for wear rate, though, but there are always new materials available with ever increasing longevity for a given amount of grip.

If the shoes don't last at least 5-6 weeks then I agree, that's a good enough reason not to use them. But so far that's only speculation. Sure, the manufacturers claim that they'll last 2 shoeings before replacing (some claim to have used a pair for 7 months, and only had to replace them as the nail went through the hole, not because of overal wear). I don't suppose there's anyone out there in the land of NR with first hand experience? :D
 
P

Pink's lady

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bebe has a very valid point about slippage when walking. However, there is the obvious difference between slippage and sliding.

The slight 'scuffing' is really important for shock absortion and without it the3 joints are severly jarred. It becomes really obvious if you ever see un unshod hoof walking on grass. My horse has really big unshod feet and there is always an extra 'rim' a little in front of the original foot placing, where her feet have slipped. This happens even on really dry, non-slippy grass.

The slippage in metal shoes isn't particluary bad (thats what causes the shoes to wear down mostly) but I've heard that it's a big problem with rubber boots etc that have too much grip on the roads etc.

Synthetic material shoes sound as if they should be the answer to all the problem but I'm sceptical. If the rubber (or plastic) is hard enough to be durable and not have too much sticky-ness, how can they be flexible enough to allow hoof expantion? Which basically defeats the purpose of them. Especially the shoes that have bars across them - there is no-way that these can expand.


I'm not sure how a rubber shoe can help with the pump action of the foot either, they're still going to raise the sole & frog off the floor.

Ok,it's probably my fault that people have got the impression that a shod horse doesn't have the pump action without the frog touching the ground.

Actually, in a shod the horse, the pump action of the frog lowering is almost as good in an un-shod horse, It's the lack of expansion and the fact that the frog is much narrower and smaller(due to lack of wieght bearing and being able to expand) than it shoud be, that causes problems.

The main consern that I have regarding the frog not touching the ground is the change in weight bearing surface. In an unshod hoof, the frog carries a large amount of weight, but obviously doesn't in the shod hoof.

Which means that all the horses weight is carried through the wall of the hoof, and therefore onto the lamina (the structure that attatches the hoof wall to the bone)

I would imagine that this has serious reprocussions on horses with laminitis.
 

Gill

New Member
The original reason for taking Erry barefoot last year was laminitis. She has now made a complete recovery to soundness because her feet were allowed to grow back and wear naturally. They are straight and hard as nails.

If you read Pete Rameys excellent book on keeping horses barefoot then there are many examples of completely foundered horses restored to health by good trimming, diet, and gradual build up of work.

So laminitis is certainly not a reason for keeping shoes on horses, probably quite the reverse actually.
 
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