These Boots Were Made for Walkin'
In this day and age of hoof care I have the best of both worlds. Not only do I have the benefit of goin' barefoot, I also have my choice in cushy hoof boots for tough times. There are days when we get out on the road and my person thinks I best wear somethin' on my good ol' feet, and she slips the hoofboots on me for more comfortable walkin'. But I do fine with nothin'; in fact, I do better. The secret to bein' surefooted at 45 is bein' able to feel the ground underneath me. Less stumblin', less slippin', less steppin' where it ain't good to step. It's good to have natural grip and feel. Which is what I definitely prefer, and what shoes just don't allow.
Those metal, nailed on shoes that I wore daily for many years bothered my natural hoof flexion, and I ended up with some pretty narrow and contracted heels. After a long lifetime of rigid, metal, constrictin' and concussin' footwear, I was cussin'. And of course nobody was listenin'. That is, except Dr. Strasser, that German vet, who is THE expert on hooves. Now folks everywhere are listenin' to her, learnin' what she has to offer. I lost many friends to founder and other problems; they just mighta been saved if we had Dr. Strasser's know-how then.
Goin' barefoot for the last 8 or 9 years helped me, but the contraction was still there. After gettin' a proper trim that freed up my frog from the bars' vice grip and restored my concave sole, I started to open up in the bulbs and spread out in the heels like I should be. In a few weeks' time the line that my person thought was just a wrinkle-ridge between the bulbs had opened up enough that she curiously stuck her forefinger in the crevice - to her first finger joint. I thought she was gonna drop to the ground as she said, "I never knew that was there! Look how deep that goes in!"
My feet changed a lot in a few months short of a year, and if y'all think your horse is too old to go through a transition period to barefoot, believe me, they ain't. Neither are you. Just do it, and it'll be behind y'all in no time. I made it through my abscesses like a champ; they're the best way to help the hoof adjust, nature's little waste disposal system, cartin' the trash out in the most efficient way possible. Never open an abscess, Dr. Strasser says. Let it ripen and open on its own, 'cause it knows best how to find the right exit. How many times have you seen or heard about someone diggin' into the sole to release an abscess, and they never find it? Not even in 2 or 3 tries Best you can do is soak it in water or cider vinegar water (don't use Epsom salts with hooves, it dries 'em out) to help the process along. Sure it hurts when one is about to burst, but that is Nature's way of keepin' us from walkin' on it and burstin' the trash bag inside. All that work collectin' up the rubbish woulda been for nothin'.
Goin' barefoot is the best. I know a lotta people don't think so yet, but they will see. Just give the horse back that part of him that he needs, a proper set of hooves that can do their many jobs without restriction. Give him a little time off if needed, OUTside, for Pete's sake, and some boots made for walkin', 'til he's back on track. THEN try him over those oxers and timbers, boulders and mountainsides. Unhindered by a hoof clamp. Feel the difference. You will, and he will. I did.
Happy trails to y'all.