The misery caused by shoeing is obvious in different ways but just as serious.
Whereas some of the harmful effects of bitting become apparent even on day one after removing the bit, the improvement in welfare after removing the shoes takes time to become apparent.
Whereas the bit’s effects are acute in nature, the shoe’s effects are chronic.12 Shoeing acts like a slow poison.
Its effects are cumulative and it may be years before a serious problem surfaces, such as navicular disease or laminitis.
The delayed action of shoeing has sheltered it from being discovered as the true cause of these two common scourges.
Sadly, because deformity of the hoof by this time is advanced, it can take months or even years before normality can be restored by a barefoot management program (Fig 8).
The clinical signs that result from traditional management (ie stabling and shoeing) include intermittent or persistent lameness, poor hoof quality, sand cracks, seedy toe, solar bruising, contracted heels, and reduced shock absorption leading to ossification of the lateral cartilages and stress on joints and ligaments.
Inability of the hoof to fully dilate and contract with intermittent loading impairs circulation to the foot.
It also impairs systemic circulation as healthy hooves act like four supplementary cardiovascular pumps, something that is especially necessary at fast exercise.
As with the bit, a clinical sign easily overlooked is inability to carry out the work required and premature death. 5 Published in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association Journal, January 2008 Fig. 5.
Showing how long-term shoeing causes deformity of the third phalanx.compare the shape of the normal third phalanx in the middle, to the two deformed bones above and below. ©Hiltrud Strasser Relief of Misery Replacement of the bit with the crossunder bitless bridle provides painless and more effective rider/horse communication for all disciplines, and for all types, breeds and age of horse (Fig 6).2 The method is usable by riders of all ages and experience from novice to professional.
It enhances a rider’s skills as it encourages the use of seat and legs rather than hands. Fig. 6: Showing a caudo-lateral and ventral view of the crossunder bitless bridle.
A squeeze of the right rein (yellow arrow) nudges the entire left side of the head (red arrows), painlessly signaling ‘steer to the right.’ An intermittent squeeze on © Robert Cook both reins hugs the whole head, signalling ‘slow’ or ‘stop.’ 6 Published in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association Journal, January 2008 Fig 7.
Showing a rider using the crossunder bitless bridle during a hundred mile endurance ride, the U.S.Tevis Cup. Photo © Logos Hall/Hughes Photography Removal of shoes and the institution of a barefoot management program (24/7 turnout and trimming as required when overgrowth occurs) enable a horse to be ridden over all terrains from rock to sand and under all conditions, including ice and snow.
Barefoot horses perform to advantage in all disciplines.3 Fig. 8.
Showing a healthy (unshod) hoof at the end of a 100-mile endurance ride.
The horse had completed a 50-mile ride 48 hours earlier. Photo © Darolyn Butler
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