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The Start of a New Journey – Hooves!!

Well I guess it was inevitable that I began to trim my own horse’s hooves. It’s been coming along for some time as I have been doing “maintenance trimming” for years now. I have been very reluctant to take on the full care of my horse’s hooves because I have 9 horses and it’s a pretty serious investment in my time. Plus, the learning curve was daunting to me. However, I am very pleased that I made the decision recently to take on the care of their hooves because I’ve known for some time that the more sound and happy your horse is, more they give of themselves at Liberty. It has only been two and a half months, but my horses that were “sound” are showing me that they can be even more comfortable and more vibrant. And my horses that were not thriving with prior trimming methods are beginning to blossom and show me that their full potential is right around the corner. Further, a few of my horses became laminitic in the spring/summer, and I am thrilled to announce that their hooves are healing and they are slowly, but surely returning to their former selves. One of these horses has a “leaky gut” (turns out, he’s had it for years), which is still being understood and managed- so he’s had a few very minor and brief setbacks as I am experimenting with diet, supplements and medicine combinations that will keep his gut happy. However, he is slowly becoming healthy.

My journey to find a methodology that aligns with my experiences and observations about hoof care and hoof health has had many chapters and many directions. I have settled on a philosophy and method that is working supremely well for me and my horses. Thankfully, it is also the most “hands-off,” “less is more” method that I have encountered, which means that I am spending way less time working on hooves than I would have predicted.

An important aspect of how I am approaching the health of my horse’s hooves is paying attention to how they are moving and using their bodies and their hooves. I have a camera on my horses and I can observe how they move, how they place their hooves, and how they stand and how they are feeling, throughout the day. (Turns out, even very subtle discomfort in the hooves, the kind that is not that noticeable, is expressed in their social engagements – so interesting!). This information is daily feedback as to how they are doing with the changes that are occurring in their hooves, and the ideas that I am applying directly to their hooves. In fact, when I was experimenting with trimming methods, the camera would tell me immediately how my horses were responding to the changes in their hooves. I got a lot of negative feedback for some time before I finally found a method that produced happier and more athletic movement. How my horses use their bodies, how they use their hooves and their relative enthusiasm (relative to their personality!) is now my main guide. I do not measure angles, I do not trim to a hoof model or ideal, I apply the very common sense ideas of a methodology ( to be named and described in another post, very soon), and the results are very quick (sometimes days) and very, very excellent.

My new journey has just begun, and I expect to see more twists and turns along the way (already experiencing a few), and I fully expect the learning to never end. I will be posting on this journey and the ideas in the weeks and months to come. I have been documenting the progress with photos. I cannot say enough how important it has been to use my horse’s movement and enthusiasm as my guide. The hoof continues to amaze me with its incredible healing capability and the sheer speed with which it will remodel and work to heal itself. I have seen discernible changes in the hooves, literally, overnight. Which is why feedback through movement is so incredible – when the hooves make a change that quickly, it shows up in my horse’s movement and attitudes, just as quickly. I don’t have to wait weeks and weeks to know if something is working. I will know in a matter of days, sometimes hours, whether a change is helping them or making them even happier. Amazing!

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