Myths that Keep Your Horse Shod


Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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9 Responses

  1. Debora Lay says:

    “White hooves lack pigment.” This is incorrect. That is like saying blonde hair lacks pigment. White or light colored hooves have pigment, it is a lighter colored pigment, usually beige or tan. You an still see the unpigmented “white” portion next to the laminar line. The amount of pigment relates to the amount of keratin and strength in the hoof. So a dark hoof with less black and more white unpigmented area is weaker. Same with the tan pigmented hoof. Its just harder to see on the lighter colored hoof.

    “It was born as a response to unnatural boarding situations”. Not totally correct. In Joe Camps “The Soul of the Horse”, he talks about metal being applied to horses hooves as weaponry in the bronze age.

    • Thanks for writing. Doug Leach, a leading equine researcher from Canada and now in the US wrote in the American Farriers Journal, “Hoof color has traditionally been implicated as an important factor in the durability and strength of horse hooves. However it has been shown that black and white hooves do not differ in water content, chemical composition, hardness or compressive strength.”

      Pigment is color, and in no way reflects more keratin or less keratin.
      I would be happy to see some evidence that pigment (color) is related to the amount of keratin. Certainly hair for instance, that in a humans old age (or not so old age!) has turned white, can still be strong and even beautifully thicker than say another persons black as night hair. The chemical composition of horn, or hair for that matter, and how much color is has, from my understanding are totally independent. Is blonde hair weaker than black hair? Certainly not always, but perhaps sometimes. How strong my nails are for instance, which are clear, has nothing to do with their color, but rather the vitamin, mineral and amino acid integrity of my whole body, reflected in my nails, which brings me to my point.

      The health of a horse shows up in the hoof. As my teacher Jaime Jackson witnessed with his own two eyes in the outback of Nevada, sampling hundreds of hooves of varying colors, all feet where impeccable and embodied the same characteristics regardless of color. In other words the myriad of white hooves (or extremely light colored) were totally sound, not weak, nor prone to chipping or over wear.

      The essence of what I was attempting to convey, was not so much the science of keratinization and its subsequent abundance or lack of pigmentation, but rather that what Jaime observed and what our organization has witnessed over the past 30 years, is that white hooves (or beige, brown, or striped) are just as capable of total soundness barefoot. Again almost all my horses have white feet, if I may, and can navigate any and every terrain with a rider no problem and their feet are practically perfect. There soundness is and will always be dependent on the management practices they are subjected to in my care, not their hoof color.

      And for what Joe shared with you is not totally relevant to my message. Whether or not they were used in the Bronze Age for warfare does not legitimize the tradition, nor speak to the beginning of the widespread tradition itself of commoners using horse shoes as the norm. My point being stressed was the inception of this unquestioned practice as a customary application by many people, not just warriors

      I hope that the essence of my article is understood or at least recognized, which is not so much dates and science facts. We like to provide that for confirmation, but rather I and my friends practicing NHC always come back to the direct experience of soundness in ours and our clients horses. The proof is in the pudding.

      Either way thanks for the message and happy holidays.

    • then5925 says:

      Regardless of the exactness of these details, I think we can agree that Narayan made some valid points about why horse shoeing continues and also how we can leave this practice behind with more understanding of natural hoof function.

  2. C.c. Alberta L. Evans says:

    My two fillies are 3 1/2 and 2 1/2 yrs old. The older is a Pinto w white and lightly striped hooves and the younger a TB/QH cross chestnut bay w black hooves. Both trimmed regularly by a farrier they go barefoot 24/7. The farrier has noticed no difference between the feet in hardness/softness or soundness. They are on a dry acreage fed coastal/grass/timothy hay depending on availability w a smattering of alfalfa/sweet feed/grain in the colder months. Both working lightly under saddle at this point. Although my boyfriend is convinced of white=softer, ( he also doesn’t have as much experience w horses) I do not see any differences between my two fillies.

    • then5925 says:

      Thanks for sharing, Alberta. I, too, have horses with both light and dark hooves and I trim them myself. I haven’t noticed any differences between the hooves.

      • Glenn Wilson says:

        I have trimmed many horses who have a mixture of white and black in the same hoof, a couple with a clear line of difference down the dorsal wall. Now if the myth that white hooves are weaker than dark ones is true, then why doesn’t this type of hoof wear asymmetrically?

  3. ana says:

    Agreeing with most of what is said, the key remains that the vast majority of people who own a horse, do not own land and can only find stables or small paddocks to keep their horses. Even if feeding and exercising were optimal, horses that work and live in soft footing will never have rock crunching hooves! that, and the dificulty of finding the right boot for your horse are the main culprits for shoeing. Boots have a bad reputation because they fall off or apart easily if not properly fitted and adapted to you horse’s stride. Shoes are so much easier! no work for the owner whatsoever.

    Transitioning hooves also tend to spend a couple of months chipping and most owners will never grab a damned rasp to keep them smooth till the trimmer’s next visit.

    And lastly, even if we move up on technology, the logical approach would be a glue-on flexible shoe with optional hoof filling if the horse is to work on hard footing… but who can afford that??? not to mention that most farriers don’t even know how to work with those… and even on this option you will be trimming in an unnatural shape: there will be no roll, no lifting of the quarters, no bevel in the heel… it’s bound to cause issues too!

    in the end, there is no magical pill to solve this problem. Horse people simply have to understand the harm that shoeing does and maybe one day, think twice before deciding to own a horse if they can’t afford the time/money to manage it coorectly.

  4. Glenn Wilson says:

    Re thoroughbreds; Another observation re this breed is that many of them are shod from 18 months or so onwards as they are prepared for their ‘careers’. Their hooves have not even fully formed and thus by being shut down by the application of a shoe, never recover and grow to be normal healthy hooves. On the other hand I’ve seen plenty of Tbs that have not been shod and they have sound and healthy hooves.

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