WELCOME TO THE NATURAL HOOF!
The Natural Hoof is a partnership between trimmers Julie Bailey (UKNHCP certified) and David Barrett. The business covers the North West of England, caring for approximately 200 horses. We are able to take on new clients in the North West. Contact us to check if we cover your area, or for advice on any matters relating to natural hoof care:
Tel: 07961 588020
This site is intended as a resource for horse owners who are riding, or considering riding barefoot.
Many people have turned to natural hoof care to heal lameness after traditional veterinary treatments and remedial farriery have failed. But with an increasing interest in natural horse keeping, riding and training, natural hoof care is also of growing interest for owners of sound horses. I hope this site will;
- Give a basic introduction to natural hoof care.
- Give you the background knowledge needed to assess the health of your horses feet.
- Help you to decide if natural hoof care is the best option for you and your horse.
WHAT IS NATURAL HOOF CARE?
Natural hoof care is a term that is used loosely when talking about barefoot trimming. There are many barefoot trimming organisations and guru's selling their own trimming method. In reality the best trimmers have studied many methods and will use aspects from each to produce a trim tailered to each individual horses needs.
The development of natural hoof care began when farriers such as Jamie Jackson and Gene Ovnicek studied feral horses living in the dry, rocky and sparsely vegetated American West. The horses they studied were fit, healthy and had strong, sound hooves without human care. From these early studies natural hoof care developed into a holistic approach, emulating as closely as possible the elements that forge these wild hooves, so that the domestic horse could benefit from the same level of soundness and health.
Some argue that studies of feral horses have no relevance to domestic horses. The confusion here is in thinking that feral horses are in some way different to domestic horses. The ancestors of the U.S feral horses were all released from domestication, and they are physiologically identical to all domestic horses.
View the video link below to see barefoot domestic horses negotiating similar terrain to the feral horses pictured above.
For the domestic horse living in the UK, terrain, climate, diet, lifestyle and exercise are all very different to that enjoyed by the feral horses in the US. This creates challanges when managing the domestic barefoot horse, but the advantages in health, soundness, performance and longevity are worth the effort. The pictures above show feral horses galloping over rocky ground without metal shoes protecting their feet. Feral horses living an optimal environment don't suffer from laminitis, navicular or the host of common lamenesses that affect domestic horses, and aspects of their lifestyles can be used as a model for improving the lives of domestic horses.
Note: Feral horses living in sub-optimal environments certainly do suffer from laminitis, lameness and various forms of hoof pathology. We have to make sure the environment we provide for our horses is optimal for hoof health and soundness.
WILD HORSE HOOVES.
Photos courtesy of Cindy Sullivan www.tribeequus.com
The photos above show Jaime Jacksons preserved feet of a feral horse who was living in a desert environment in America. Although the study of these desert horses by farriers was one of the catalysts in the development of the current barefoot movement, they are not representative of all feral horses. The feet of feral horses vary in appearance a great deal depending on the environment they live in - rocky desert, sandy desert, marshlands, grasslands etc. Take a look at the feral horses (and their hooves) living in different environments at www.tribeequus.com .
Horses hooves are shaped by the environment the horses lives in, and the use they are put to. Unfortunately domestic horses often have life too easy, spend time confined in a stable and they live on soft grass and bedding. This means they often never develop optimum hooves. When their feet are further weakened by shoes problems can develop.