My six-year-old German warmblood Cassio lost his shoes often due to wet ground. Sometimes the farrier had to come out weekly to repair a shoe on Cassio's badly damaged feet.
After doing a lot of research, I decided to take his shoes off permanently. Now I am able to take him on 25-mile rides, on any terrain, without problems or footsoreness. His feet look healthy and strong!
Here is a short introduction to the facts I think are most important for others considering horseshoe removal.
• If anyone considers having their horse's shoes taken off, they have to be able to provide a natural environment for the horse.
• Ideally, horses live in herds. If this cannot be provided, a horse should at least live with another horse, not with a goat or a sheep.
• Horses should not be stabled or live on straw.
• Horses must not wear rugs. Natural shelter is ideal -- in very cold climates, an open barn where the horses can walk in and out as they please is recommended.
• A new horse must not be introduced on its own to a herd. You have to take one horse out of the herd and put it with the new one in a separate paddock till they make friends. Then you can introduce them to the herd as a pair.
• In my opinion, you must not clip a horse. You can read why in Dr. Hiltrud Strasser's book A Lifetime of Soundness.
• Don't apply oil to hooves. In a natural environment, the presence of grease or oils on hooves is nonexistent.
• Horse hooves must be exposed to water at least 10 minutes every day.
• Fields should have natural hedgerows with all sorts of berries and foliage. This provides your horse with natural vitamins. Trees, leaves, rosehips and apples are more important than supplements.
• You have to find someone who knows about Dr. Strasser's natural trimming technique. There are only 12 in the U.K. I am fortunate enough to have one living near London, who taught me how to trim my horse's feet.
More details can be found in these books by Dr. Strasser:
• Shoeing: A Necessary Evil?
• A Lifetime of Soundness
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