News from Hoofing Marvellous
Welcome to my first newsletter.....
Well hello everybody and welcome to my first ever newsletter from Hoofing Marvellous. The aims of the newsletter will be to keep you all in the loop with current research, books, articles, case studies, links to interesting sites, up and coming presentations and demos by me - basically everything and anything barefoot.
This is just the humble beginnings of what I hope to grow into a great barefoot community between us all. Plans are afoot (or should I say a hoof!) for a new website to be launched where I hope to be able to give you, my clients, the chance of having your very own blog to tell us how you are getting on with your barefoot four legged friends. We can share pictures and information with each other, creating our own barefoot army. It will be great to put you in touch with each other so you can share your experiences and also help newcomers to barefoot who are just about to take the plunge!
I also plan to give a presentation every month on various barefoot topics, the first will be a general introduction to all things barefoot, including my herd and my track and will be on the evening of Friday July 1st. More info will be going out about this soon. If you would like your barefoot story to be told in an upcoming newsletter to help support and encourage others then just email me!
Be Hoofing Great!
Finally joining Jaime’s gang!
Well as many of you know it was a long time coming but I have now been finally officially certified with the AANHCP (Association for the Advancement of Natural Horsecare Practices). I began life as a trimmer way back in 2002 when Sunny my Shetland became a chronic laminitic. I joined a UK trimming association but after saving up much needed pennies I finally got to meet my mentor Jaime Jackson in December last year in California. We had a wonderful time and trimmed many cadaver hooves of all different shapes, sizes and problems! On returning back to the UK I had to fit in more visits to both Holland and Denmark, which nearly left my poor diary at bursting point! Many of you experienced the knock on effect of not only my visits abroad but also my Jury Service which could have been more timely!! Finally, however, life is beginning to settle down again (and so is my diary!) and I have my very precious Certificate from Jaime himself in my mits soon to go up on my wall!
Having the chance to train and trim with Jaime Jackson was for me (as many of you know) a dream come true and made all those years of hard work well worth while. The days spent with Jaime consisted of being in the classroom learning more current research and understanding behind barefoot and the Wild Horse Model and then afternoons trimming lots and lots of cadaver hooves. Californian hooves are certainly very hard and compacted and my poor racetrack nippers barely stood up to the job and were soon replaced by much beefier nippers to tame those hooves! So many thanks to you all for being so patient with your international trimmer but all is back to normal now, well except for the fact that my head doesn’t seem to fit through the door anymore!!! ;))
AANHCP AND JAIME VISIT THEIR WEBSITE http://www.aanhcp.net/
Harley’s story - how we found Barefoot by owner Rachel Briffa
The first time I saw him I knew I had to have him.......
.....stood in the corner of a stall head on the floor just 6yrs old.....a totalRSPCA case. A nervous wreck if youwent anywhere near him and a veryaggressive attitude to humans and horses alike!
I had gone to look for a quiet cob type confidence giver and instead I fell in love with a small standardbred/pacer that couldn’t be further from that description.. Although nervous, when you managed to get hold of him he settled down and was a lot better, although always on his guard and ready to run!
We didn’t have too many issues for the first 3 years of ownership and just enjoyed happy hacking and a few local events for the fun of it......the biggest challenge he threw at me was the fact that he was a total nightmare to catch. So the summer when he was 9yrs old I decided to take him to a local yard, where the owner had freshly returned from training with Monty Roberts/Kelly Marks, to do some join up/natural horsemanship in the hope we could resolve this issue.
Initially the join up went fantastically and we really got a good relationship going and it just got better for both of us, then winter hit and the horses had to be stabled 24/7 as the owner didn’t want the fields messed up. This is where it all started to go wrong.............Harley spent his first winter stabled since I had owned him and he hated it! We both did. He would double barrel kick the walls to the adjoining stables and after a couple of weeks he was showing lameness. The vet diagnosed ligament damage to his hind leg and he was on and off lame for a long time. I eventually started riding him again the next summer but wasn’t convinced he was right. I had changed farrier when I moved to the yard and his feet had also started to change and had suddenly gone up a shoe size! I challenged the farrier about this at the time and he just said it was nothing to worry about...vet didn’t think it was an issue either so like most owners would, I dismissed it as ok..
Lameness issues continued to plague Harley for the next couple of years which resulted in some very worrying behavioural problems at which point I was going to have him PTS the week before Christmas! My vet eventually referred him to the veterinary hospital for further tests and x-rays which were non conclusive as they couldn’t really find anything wrong. The eventual diagnosis was - ‘a foot imbalance’ – and he was to be shod with heart-bar shoes and to just get on and ride him through it! Harley was only 12yrs old by this time.
The shoes made absolutely no difference so I just had him shod normally every 6 weeks like I always had done. I was still not prepared to ride him at this point as his ridden behaviour had become dangerous.
Eventually after 3 different physios having had a look at him we found a trapped nerve in his shoulder blade!! Wow, my boy suddenly settled down and we began the long journey to building his confidence back up to be ridden. We hacked out all that summer and even competed locally in small jumping competitions...he was back and better than ever!
Then....he went lame and pulled his front tendons - they would heal and then he would do it again. Then he would put his back out - and so it was a never ending vicious circle, we would get one thing sorted and something else would happen. I was still not convinced the shape of his feet were good but was assured by the professionals that all was normal. He had by this time gone up yet another shoe size too!
As Harley’s ridden career seemed to be hanging in the balance I had decided to buy myself another horse and, as he was young, I would try and keep him unshod for as long as possible. So with the guidance of my farrier I did all the trimming myself and just had him checked each time the farrier was there. Tegan, my youngster, was always plagued by abscess’s though and this worried me a lot. I started to look at the difference between a normal farrier trim and barefoot trimming and I have to say like many people I never really took in what this really was.
In 2009 we moved to a private field much nearer home. I had not been happy with the previous yard situation as they yet again had to be stabled through the winter and were getting far too much feed and not enough turnout!
So by this time Harley was 17 and Tegan 5. I was still trimming Tegan myself and Harley still shod but the continuing trend with his feet was getting to the stage where I could see he was walking/moving differently, his soundness issues were still troubling him and he was a very unhappy horse.
Just handling him was a challenge at times. I had at this time started to do some more natural horsemanship and attended a couple of playdays where the people there had their horses barefoot and were very pleased with the results they were getting. I personally couldn’t see the difference between what their horses feet were like and how I was trimming myself....but I kept an open mind and started reading on the internet about barefoot trimming. Still not totally convinced this could work for every horse, I did a search for trimmers in my area and found Hoofing Marvellous.... looked through the website and still not totally understanding the complexity of it all I sent an email to find out more.
I licked and chewed this over for a few weeks until I finally gave Lindsay a call to arrange a visit, initially for Tegan as he was unshod....but it ended up that Harley was the main priority and his shoes were removed then and there! Looking back to just over a year ago I still can’t believe the state his feet had gotten into...totally underrun, contracted heels, a puny little slither of a frog......could this barefoot thing be the answer I had been looking for all these years????
Picture on the left with shoes and on the right a year on barefoot.
I could see the fantastic results we were getting from day one with Harley’s feet. I continued to trim Tegan myself, now under Lindsay’s supervision and his feet also were getting better.... both horses blew a couple of abscess’s during their first few months of their transition period....but I was already determined we would persevere and get though this. I then focused a bit more on the diet, we had a couple of minor adjustments with this, but they were out 24/7 with ad lib hay anyway, it was just the grass intake I needed to sort out and the small amount of hard feed. So early this spring I put the horses on a track system with varying surfaces so the grass intake would be reduced and their diet would be more constant to that of a natural/wild horse’s diet/environment. Their feet continue to get better with every trim and they are both the soundest they have ever been.
Harley’s feet now look fantastic and are getting better all the time, his frog is really starting to widen at last and he is able to do short rides totally barefoot, they are also growing in a tighter connection again. Tegan is doing excellent too.
During Lindsay’s visits I was intrigued to find out a lot more about the natural barefoot trimming and wanted to look at other hooves apart from just my two horses, mainly to see the comparison of where mine were and where we were aiming. I arranged to go out for the day with Lindsay and all I can say is WOW! This was the turning point for me and my interest grew and I continue to be amazed by what I am witnessing.
Harley in the beach
I am hoping at some point in the future to become a trimmer myself, I am now trimming both Harley and Tegan myself and have been for the last 6 months, and with the continuing help from our fantastic trimmer Lindsay....I WILL get there.
So thank you for taking the time to read my first newsletter. I hope you enjoyed the articles and if you would like to contribute with you and your horse’s story then please email me. So many of you have such interesting stories to tell and they will help to inspire and encourage others out there starting on their barefoot journey. I am having lots of help from a lady called Sarah - she is my fairy godmother - and is helping me with my admin and general ‘sorting’ me out! She is going to be ‘in charge’ (thank goodness) of organising my up and coming lecture series over the next few months.
The first event is on the eve of Friday 1st July and is a general introduction to Natural Hoofcare, to include live demo horses and a visit to my track - as well as refreshments of course! This is an ideal introduction to the subject so if you know of any friends that may be interested or even yourselves, then to find out more, please email Sarah on firstname.lastname@example.org
....and finally a huge thank you to all those fantastic amazing horses out there that continue to inspire me and confound me all at once, but certainly make me more determined each and every day to carry on helping them and help their wonderful owners – my clients! - my barefoot army!
1. MORE NATURAL
2. 24/7 TURNOUT
3. NO COMPOUND FEEDS
4. RIDING ON ALL SURFACES
5. SOMETIMES BOOTED
6. TO BARE YOUR SOLES
7. RIDING BARE
8. NATURAL HOOFCARE
9. BASED ON THE WILD HOOF
10. HERE FOREVER!!
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