Hoof Notes



An essential element for the well being of horses and ponies, the equines is the care of their hooves .Adam the Farrier has some interesting information for us.Adam refers to Pete Ramey a leader and expert in hoof care and hoof rehabilitation. Originally from a traditional farrier’s background Pete Ramey has much wisdom based upon detailed knowledge and practical experience of hoof care.

The anatomy and biomechanics of equine hooves requires of people who own and care for them to have an understanding and respect for these elements in order for their animals to thrive. Horses are athletic creatures and we soon know if anything is affecting their hooves. Hoof rehabilitation methods are illustrated and explained well for example by Veterinary Professor Christopher Pollitt of Queensland University .

Here is what Adam says:

“As a Farrier, my focus in hoof care over the years has changed from shoeing being the first option, to becoming the very last option. I have 10 steps up my sleeve before resorting to the very last option of putting on a shoe. That is I no longer shoe horses as a rule, and focus on hoof rehabilitation. The reason being basically, metal shoes do all the work that the back half of the hoof anatomy is designed to do by nature, therefore rendering the the back half of the hoof prone to atrophy problems; weakness in lateral cartilage, digital cushion, deep flex tendon, and /or heel contraction; which can make a horse lame or non-competitive at the least.

This is not to say a shoe cannot help a horse, they can, its back to back shoeing over time that makes a horse lame with atrophy problems, and proven scientifically so. A short shoeing period over a busy competition season can help, an important aspect in hoof care is to always give your horse barefoot periods, more than or equal to the time lapsed in shoes.

The developments over the years in the farrier world have been outstanding in some aspects, the works of Dr Bowker, Dr Rooney in the 70’s, Dr Pollitt or the example of Pete Ramey’s work.

The most common problems I see in hoof and horse care are related to the way people humanise a horse, rather than let the horse be a horse. For example:-
(i) people give their horses high nutritional breakfast, lunch and dinner, when horses are naturally designed to eat low nutritional fibrous foods for 18 hours every day. This practise generally leads to stomach ulcers and carbohydrate overload with subsequent lamimitis. The slow feeders made famous by the “sweedish hoof school” are a simple remedy to such problems.

(ii) horses these days get very little exercise, a wild horse will mostly travel 20 miles a day, some horses are lucky to get 2 miles a day. Movement is basic to a horses’ health and hoof health. The Paddock Paradise concept initiated by Jamie Jackson is a simple remedy to this problem at all horse facilities.

So what can a horse owner do, to give and get the best from their horses? For mine it is to implement these two facets of horse care namely a paddock paradise track system and slow feeding their horses. Both remedies give excellent care to horses without the owner having to invest their time hour by hour every day. “


Posted By Wendy Datta June 29th 2014

Photography by Camilla Ask

© Wendy Datta 2014 All Rights Reserved