Short Success Stories
Please submit your barefoot hoofcare short success story right here and now! Please fill out the form at the bottom of this page. All stories are welcome. By submitting your information, you agree to give The Horse's Hoof rights to publish your submission. If you have a long story, you may also submit (including photos) directly to email: editor @ thehorseshoof.com (delete spaces)
Sylvia Ruwoldt, Australia
I had been around horses for 30 years and knew that the right thing to do for your horse was shoe him. That’s what you did. Them along came my arab, then 15years old. He became lame on the near front but would warm out of it and be fine. Then it got worse and he could no longer warm up so it was off to the vet. Xrays etc and diagnosis of ringbone. So I did the “right” thing which was rolled toes shoes, bute, paddock rest. That didn’t work so it was on to cortisone injections into the joint, more bute, more paddock rest. By this time I had a horse that when he was full of bute was paddock sound but as soon as the bute was cut back he was back to being severely lame. The poor boy would stand on three legs to pee and then have to do a funny sort of half rear to get his front feet back under himself. It was pitiful to watch. My vet was under the opinion that this was as good as it would get and so I had better start buying bute in bulk.
After coming across and article on barefoot in a local horse magazine I contacted an interstate barefoot trimmer and after a long talk decided to give it a go. I felt I had nothing to lose. As the nearest barefoot trimmer at the time, was about 1000 miles away I had to do it on my own. That was very scary but I had his shoes pulled off by a farrier and did the best I could. The first thing that happened was he wore away inches of hoof. I was terified that he would end up walking on bleeding stumps. But all that was happening was he was losing his very overly long hooves. Probably part of the reason he got ringbone in the first place was that my farrier shod him with very long feet. At that time I didn’t even realize his feet were too long I just trusted my farrier to do the right thing. Very quickly I realized my boy needed boots and once he had them within 2 monthes he was sound. It all seemed too easy. I had been trying convectional treatments for the best part of a year and getting nowhere and in 2 monthes being trimmed by me, (totally untrained, book in hand) my boy is back to being his usual mad arab self.
That was 7 years ago and my boy is now 22 years old, thinks he is 2, is still been ridden by me and is still sound. He is still in boots when ridden. Some people may think that is a defeat but as far as I am concerned that is a small price to pay for having a painfree riding horse. I have no doubt that if he was xrayed the ringbone bony changes would still be there but they don’t hurt him so who cares! The barefoot movement has come along way in the last 7 years. There are now barefoot trimmers in most states in Australia and really good workshops are held regularly. I have attended a couple and have learned lots. I still trim him myself and will never have another shod horse. And there is a side benifit. Barefoot horses don’t rip up paddocks anything as most as shod horses and in Australia where the land is old and very fragile that is a really big bonus. (07/11)
Cori Dowling, Upstate NY
I've kept my 13-year-old gelding, Imperial Legacy, barefoot since I purchased him as a 3yo, and he was barefoot before then. He had a really bad hoof injury as a result of a slip and fall in the stable (barn owner let him loose to go to his stall instead of leading him, and he ran, slipped and fell on ice in the barn and put his left hind THROUGH the wood and aluminium siding of the barn, shearing off the heel), and it was touch and go for at least 6 months, but it healed without much problem (he has a superficial vertical "line" in that hoof and that's it) and he's been a healthy and happy horse since then.
We use a hoof supplement because he's part Appaloosa, but other than the hoof supplement, regular trimming and cleaning, he hasn't ever had anything on his hooves (except sparkle paint for a party) and hasn't ever had any gait issues, unless we got a bad farrier who would trim too short. Thanks for the web page, it helped me to show my non-horse friends what a good hoof looks like in comparison to what my poor boy has now, with a farrier that trimmed the toes too short for my liking. (01/21/10)
Cindi Scoleri ~ Allison Acres ~ http://www.allisonacres.org
I switched to barefoot about 4 years ago when I had a mare with laminitis. She was a "sinker" and the conventional methods of shoeing with a frog support pad were not helping at all. I started to think about how we can provide support for the boney column and relieve the walls of weight bearing until they had a better attachment; barefoot trimming came to mind. We can tweak it every day if necessary, versus having an expensive shoe nailed on that nobody wants to do anything with for 6 to 12 weeks (while the foot gets taller and taller and the frog gets further and further from the ground.) To make a long story short, barefoot trimming saved my mare's life, and she is sound and back in my lesson program teaching people to ride. You can read her full story and see the 38 other horses who've been transitioned to barefoot natural hoof care here at my place, including two others who were going to be euthanized, here:
I have to say, I was a skeptic. Not just a slight non believer, a full on anti-barefoot
show jumper and eventual race horse trainer, to me, it was stupid, cheap and
silly to not shoe a performance horse. Not any more, not with 8 sound performing
equines that are completley barefoot!
I first was introduced to the "barefoot method" in 2006 when I started working for the NY State Park Polices' Mounted Unit. All of their horses were barefoot and lived in a set up that included two seperate sand paddocks attached to stalls (three horses in one and two in the other) There were two Belgians and three Clydesdale Hackney crosses. Boy oh boy wait untill I send you photos of their feet....gooooorgeous! They go out on roads, glass, gravel, grass, pavement, rocks, ect with no lame steps and no chips! Still...after two years there I said "It just wont work for my horses" I own three, a fabulous 17.1 hand bay Dutch Warmblood gelding who is a show jumper, a once in a lifetime 16 hand chestnut thorougbred gelding and a lovely 16 hand chestnut Thoroughbred mare. The Warmblood is 10 years old and had problems previously when barefoot like becoming sore after jumping or riding hard, and the Thoroughbreds both went terribley lame even in the winter when we tried pulling shoes.
Well, in May I had a severe riding accident resulting in multipule broken bones, compound fractures, surgery and hospitilization. After not being able to work let alone walk for 5 months we simply were low on funds and I said "Lets pull their shoes, I can't afford it, call the Polices barefoot trimmer"
She came out and trimmed the 18 year old Thoroughbred Grand Prix horse first....he has never not had shoes on for more than a couple days since he was 6 months old!!! The first 2 days he was sore, then the 3 and fourth only on gravel and the fifth, sound as ever, he even is back into jumping 5' oxers like its childs play!
Then the Warmblood and Mare......the Warmblood ripped both shoes off before she came back out to do his feet, by the time she came out, he had literally worn away his own feet and they were near perfect and even had a slight mustang roll by themselves, his sole was becoming concave and his hooves were hard and shiney, simply amazing in two weeks time!
Then the mare got her shoes off, not a lame step the whole process and she had previous issues with a coffin bone fracture. I have to say, I couldnt be more thrilled, this is wonderfull to help my beloved horses feel better and stay sounder, and with literally no down time its outstanding!Lacey
Dawn Harrold, Melville, Saskatchewan, Canada - http://www.saddlemart.net
(I have never been a real fan of shoeing and have not had shoes on any of my horses since 1996.)
In 2006, I picked up a foundered 4 yr old mare. Her owners had her on bute
and kept by herself in a small area. When I took her home, she was in extreme
pain and would lie down all day long. I also had her separated & in a small
area and continued to give her bute for the first week. When I tried to get
her to stand and move around, it was a real chore and the bute didn't seem to
be helping. I cold hosed her feet a couple to times a day, had ice packs on
her feet. After researching bute on the internet, I discovered it was not a
good thing so I took her off it and looked for more answers on this problem.
After finding the horses hoof site and others on founder, I realized what I
was doing wrong and what I needed to do for Ginnie. So I immediately turned
her out with my older gelding. I called a local "farrier" who took
3 weeks to come out to trim her. (getting a reliable regular farrier to trim
was a huge chore!) Her first trim she lay down and was still sore but did progress
slowly, making her way further out into the back field to be near my gelding.
but she was still not right. The second trim went ok and she seemed somewhat
more comfortable than before. Then she started to be sore again. So while waiting
for the farrier to come & trim, I duct taped rigid styrofoam insulation
to her feet to help relieve some of the pain! The third trim went terribly wrong.
The farrier cut too much and left her standing in a pool of blood. With every
visit he insisted that she needed heartbar shoes. I insisted that she was not
having heartbar shoes and after the third trim turned to purchasing 3 books,
2 on natural trimming (jamie jackson & pete Ramey) and one on Founder (jamie
jackson) so I could learn how to do this myself without making my horse bleed
everywhere. Never trimming before, I was a bit reluctant to try this so I contacted
one of the trimmers on the horses hoof trimmer list, Julie Sanders, and arranged
for a clinic with her.
I had a private consult with Julie on trimming Ginnie a day before her clinic. The clinic was awesome - learned so much and had great feedback from those who attended. Ginnie improved greatly after her first natural trim.
All was going well with Ginnie for about 6 months until one day in May 2008 she came up lame and I could not figure out why. Nothing had changed - her environment, diet was still the same. Then it clicked. The day before I had dewormed her (& my other 4 horses) with a chemical dewormer. I quickly turned to my notes I had kept and there was definately a connection. Within 2-3 weeks after deworming she would be lame (notes). This particular dewormer was more potent and had more drug content in it than prior deworming. The 6 months she had been fine I had not dewormed her.
After this discovery and consulting with Julie on what to do, I did a natural trim. The next day she was walking better and within 4 days after trimming her you would have never known she was lame a few days before. She was keeping up with my other horses, trotting & cantering around as if nothing had been wrong. I now know I will have to find another method of deworming, a more natural approach. My mum's friend has 2 foundered horses and I have directed her to the horses hoof website and finding a natural trimmer in her area. I will definately continue to recommend people to this method of trimming. I now trim all my horses with a natural trim - it just makes sense. (July 17, 2008)
Tina Gottwald, Waldems, Germany. Homepage: www.pro-barhuf.de
My friend and owner of the small barn where my horse lives, owns two beautiful
white connemara mares (7 and 9 years old), sisters.
Both of them were in acute laministis in May, 2006, just 2 days apart. The reason for their laminitis was too much, too sweet, too rich grass they had lived on for years 24/7. Both horses were extremely overweight. Their hooves were good to start with, they had never been shod.
One mare was in such great pain, that she could not get up by herself on the
day it happened, all four feet were foundered. The second mare was not that
bad, she was 'only' dead lame.
They were moved to a soft paddock, no grass, only washed, low-in-sugar hay.
They were threated by a vet for about a week with medications, but the vet actually
thought neither of the mares would ever be rideable again, if they would survive.
The owners first pony foundered too, about 15 years ago, it survived but never
became fit again, it stayed 'half-lame' under conventional treatment for the
rest of its live until it died of old age.
Instead of 'special shoes', complete stall rest and so on, the owner and me
threated the founder with natural trimming and horsekeeping. (I had been trimming
our horses' hooves for some years). The hooves were trimmed naturally, during
the first weeks the mares wore padded hoof boots and were kept on very soft
ground, but not confined. The acute inflammation faded away, and after about
four weeks, both horses were comfortable on soft ground. Their comfort level
increased steadily, they did not longer need the padded boots, their hooves
looked quite scary due to a lot of 'rotation'. In November, both horses were
finally completely sound on any ground, even gravel. In spring of the next year,
the barn was changed to a paddock paradise racetrack without grass. Both horses
were finally back to a healthy weight (They lost more than 150 kg!). They are
happy in their paddock paradise and do not seem to miss the lush, green grass.
Both horses who had not been ridden much before the laminitis, were started
under saddle in spring, and are ridden three to five times a week since then.
Both horses are magnificent, sound, always eager to go and of very good spirit.
Their owner and a friend of her mainly ride on longer, quite rocky recreational
trail rides. Neither the horses nor their hooves now would tell that any of
them ever foundered, there are no restrictions in riding them. The hooves are
actually better than before, due to the dietary changes. The horses are ridden
barefoot, boots are no longer needed.
People in our region, including the vet tend to think that we were simply 'lucky'.
Or could such 'simple' treatment do the 'wonder' of the complete rehab of severe
laminitis when all the conventional treatment almost never succeeds to even
reverse the slightest founder cases? How could you ride a horse, especially
a founder rehab, regularly on roads as rocky as ours are?
Well, I do not think its simple 'luck'. Its understanding the reason for the individual horses founder and then allowing a new, well connected hoof to grow. What better way would be there to grow a well connected hoof than a good natural trim and a natural diet?
The conventional shoes often would cause a normal hoof to look 'foundered'
after a few years of using them...
Never forget how important it is to really find the cause of the laminitis. If you can't find it and can't get rid of it, even the best trim could not improve the hooves. I 'only' applied a normal trim, I did not do anything extreme and never caused additional soreness, this is neither neccessary nor helpful for the rehab. (December 30, 2007)
Tina Gottwald, Waldems, Germany. Homepage: www.pro-barhuf.de
I'm just writing this, looking back to when I first started letting my horse
go barefoot in 2001. At this time, I had just bought him, the horse I had ridden
for some years, as the previous owner had many horses and no time. I always
loved long trail rides and was riding everyday. Our region is really rocky.
At that time, just every single horse I knew and that was ridden regularly,
was shod. Everyone just said that it was simply impossible to ride a horse without
shoes. Well, their evidence was convincing. Standard steel shoes were worn to
the thickness of a coin in five to six weeks. When started under saddle, my
horse was barefoot and terribly sore after just a few weeks due to 'too much
My horse became 'a little bit' lame, and finally was diagnosed with weak sinews
by an excellent vet in a clinic. I was told that this horse could only be ridden
a bit, mainly in walk and would probably would not stay useful for riding for
very long. At this time, he still belonged to his old owner and was confined
in a stall.
To make a long story short, me and my horse started down the barefoot road and never looked back. He never took a lame step after his shoes were removed, his legs are as healthy as they can be. He carried me on hundreds of miles, on long trail rides, on little endurances and everyday on our trails (he is ridden about 50 km a week), in dressage and everything we are doing together. His hooves are perfectly healthy.
As only very few people were educated about barefoot hooves back then, I had
to learn nearly everything myself, the horses were my best teachers. I also
changed to horsekeeping, my horse and his friends now live in an open stable
with a paddock paradise attached.
I started trimming myself pretty soon, and learned a lot. Other horses of friends followed mine down the barefoot road, just as successful. When comparing our 'natural' horses to those kept conventionally in a stall with little or no turnout, shoes, body clipping a so on, those animals are only weak reflections of the athletic, sound and happy 'Natural Horse'.
Still, I'm impressed how capable our horses hooves are. The very same roads that wore steel shoes to the thickness of a coin now are not the slightest problem for our barefoot horses! I rode 300km in 9 days in summer 2007, partly with hoof boots more due to caution that due to neccessity- and my horses hooves were very long when I came back. He was a eager to go on the last mile as he was on the first.
Well, people thinking about a natural hoof and horsekeeping today have a much easier position. There are so many people that already are experienced, lesser ways of hoof care have already been ruled out and it is so much easier to start with that knowledge now available to everyone. I can only encourage everyone to inform himself about barefoot hoofcare, hoof boots and natural horse keeping. Its a quantum jump in our approach towards the horse. (December 30, 2007)
I must admit, I was a scoffer. Who better to treat my foundered horse than my vet and farrier? Well, on the eve of having my beloved horse destroyed due to horrendous complications of acute founder a dear friend begged me to let her barefoot trimming colleague come take a look at her. We have been working for 3 months now on a weekly (and recently, biweekly) regiment of natural trimming. As a result, Aris is now bucking, running and kicking at the rest of the herd! Of course, she still has uncomfortable days; however she is on the mend and it's thanks to all you wonderful folks who make had-heads like us see the light! My horses will not be shod again!
Just wanted to send a note of thanks, on behalf of Aris! (Jan 30, 2006)
Rhonda McIlroy, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland.
I like everyone else I know I shod my horses on a regular basis. I bought
Tanuf a few years ago as a five year old and while I had no major problems shoe
wise I began to wonder why I shod my horses. Particularly after going
looking for a horse with a friend and discovering that to some extent most of
them were lame to some degree. Gradually it dawned on me that perhaps
there was another way and after Tanuf came in from the field one day with three
shoes lost, I got my farrier to remove the other one and decided to see what
happened. About that time I began to do some research on the internet
and to my amazement discovered a wealth of information. I purchased Jamie
Jacksons book the Horseowners Guide to Natural Hoof Care and this
was the information I was looking for. Tanuf has now been barefoot over
a year and has had only one abscess. I adopted a gentle approach with
regular road work and building up gradually as her feet hardened up to some
rougher lanes. She is regularly competing at riding club level doing dressage
and jumping (www.niwha.co.uk/resultshorses.htm
for proof - scroll to bottom and she is chestnut horse in the picture at the
right hind side with the green numah under her show name Western Spice
ridden by my friend Stephanie Courtney). I have found the barefoot concept
in Northern Ireland is viewed with skepticism and I have faced some tough criticism.
However I am perserving and believe Tanuf is proving the point that horses dont
need shoes. We hunted last week and she flew over everything and had great
traction on all surfaces.
During this time I had a thoroughbred mare Winnie who, in the words of my blacksmith, had feet that never seemed to grow even after trying every supplement under the sun. I put her in foal and stopped riding her at about six month into the pregnancy. If she lost a shoe while in work she would be crippled however, I had her shoes removed once I stopped riding her and she spent about three days dead lame and moving from one foot to another. After this she came on brilliantly and, guess what, her feet began to grow at a great rate. Having no shoes on did what all the supplements had failed to do stimulate her feet to grow. Once she comes back into work I dont intend to shoe her again.
I believe barefoot is the way forward and while I am still in the early stages of learning, I would love to hear from anyone else in Northern Ireland who is going barefoot and competing as I have seem to be on my own. (November 10, 2005)
Melissa Becker, Texas, Website: http://www.sweettalkerfarms.com
Readers: Well, I am certainly a believer of the Strasser method of trimming. Yes, I was skeptical at first, as a person should be when trying new things. I have worked around horses around 27 years now, and have owned horses for the last 12 years. I ride endurance horses, and we ride in a variety of terrains from flat and sandy, to rocky and hilly. I live in north Texas, and every conditioning ride brings us new footing.
Ironically enough, doing a search on the web brought me to this site, and I noticed the name of Gates Billette. Gates has been trimming horses on our farm now around 6 months. One of our new boarders had a big Thoroughbred gelding that had some navicular issues. She mentioned when she first came to our farm that she wanted to use her own farrier (Gates Billette). I told her that is fine, but didn't understand why she wanted the hassle of contacting her own farrer every 6 weeks.
Then, a few months later, I got a couple other boarders that had some horses with severe club foot. My farrier at the time didn't specialize in horses with issues, so I questioned Gates about his specialization one day when he was out on our farm. Wow, he was a walking encyclopedia! I could listen to him for hours. He was so knowledgable and so willing to share his experiences. Still a bit skeptical about the Strasser method at that time, I decided to allow him to trim one of my own horses that was having some issues. It didn't take too long to convince me, that this method was right for my whole farm.
I could go on and on and on about what I have seen it do for my horses. But I will try to sum it up. My horses hooves look perfectly trimmed at 6 weeks, and at 8 weeks...after they have been trimmed! They wear the hoof down perfectly with their natural movements. No more jagged edges, or splits, or chunks of hoof missing. Finally, a method that allows my horses hoof to bear the weight at a natural level. Their movement is flowing, and 6 to 8 weeks after they are trimmed, you can see that they are still bearing weight in a symetrical way; evenly. In 6 months I have had no lameness issues with my "retired" endurance horse that never could stay sound.
I am so happy I gave the Strasser method a chance, and I plan on taking photos of several of our horses in the process of this method to show people what it has done for our farm of 25 horses. If you are interested in watching this weekly picture process, please visit http://www.sweettalkerfarms.com and see for yourself how this works.
Thanks for reading this long post! Melissa Becker (March 1, 2005)
Gates Billette, Nocona, Texas
I had been a farrier for 32 yrs when I attended a Strasser clinic in Humble
Tx. In 2002. Recently I have totally given up shoeing and doing the barefoot
trim accoding to Dr. Strasser.
My very first horse I worked on within days of coming back from the clinic was a Qh mare who had been in the back of the owners pasture who had been diagnosed with a partially torn deep flexor tendon from the coffin. This was at the Los C--------- clinic near Forth worth and the owner was told that his only option was to put her down. For 2 yrs the horse stayed in the same condition short stride and no bend at the knee. Within 2 trims 2 weeks apart the mare has been ridden since and sound. I am 53 yrs old and very thrilled to be doing something to help horses . It is difficult to think that I was part of horses' problem,. I am avaible to help anyone. My e-mail is gatesbillette @ hot mail.com (delete spaces) and Phone: 940-987-3258 (November 29, 2004)
Dr Ria MacKay, Bass River, Nova Scotia, Canada
United Horsemanship Certified Hoof Groom AND Veterinarian
I am a United Horsemanship Certified Hoofgroom and Veterinarian.
I started out in this Barefoot trimming a few years ago, when one of my clients
asked me to put their horse down, that had foundered several years ago, had
been treated traditionally with heartbar shoes, etc., and was now only able
to lay down.
He was an 18 year old gelding, and just too nice a horse to put down.
I had been reading some on the Internet about treating these horses without
shoes, and asked the owners if they would be interested in trying this.
They were very sceptical, but if I thought it would work, I was welcome to
So my journey began. I read everything and then some that was available, and
the more I read, the more sense things made. I had been disillusioned with traditional
veterinary treatments for a long time. It always seemed that if we diagnosed
things like Navicular, that you could keep the horse going for a few years,
but they all ended up unsound eventually. It seemed that I had finally stumbled
on something that was going to change this. I started trimming the horse one
foot at a time (he was too sore to stand on three feet very long) and took a
2 day course with Martha Olivo.
The horse got better and is now completely sound, and being ridden again.
I since took Martha's 10 day course, and am trimming a lot of horses (and getting
them better). I also am teaching 2 day courses and helping other people to get
the shoes of their horses.
Our own horses are all barefoot and doing great, I just like to have more time to ride! (July 14, 2004)
Monica Fabre, Vidor, Texas
Danny was my neighbor's new horse. A beautiful very stout buckskin. As soon
as I saw him in the pasture I went by to check him out. My neighbor was very
proud of him. He had been wanting to buy him for a couple of years.
About a week later, I drove by and noticed he looked "stuck" in the
pasture. I asked my neighbor what the problem was, and he told me the vet diagnosed
him with Whiteline Disease. He had shoes on the whole time and they were over
due to be removed and trimmed. I looked up info on Whiteline and printed it
out for him. Danny kept getting worse. The vet then said he had a rotation and
put wedges on him. The holidays came around and my neighbors wre going to visit
family. I asked to let me bring Danny to my place and take care of him. I kept
him for 3 weeks before they took him back. He was not much better. I asked my
neighbor to please give him to me if he was going to put him down. He did. In
the mean time, I did research on founder, and ran across Dr. Strasser's trim,
and it gave me hope for Danny. I had my farrier out that day to take Danny's
shoes off. His feet were in such bad shape, they oozed blood and pus when we
removed his shoes.That was in January of 2003.
I tried to follow the "formula" of lowering the heels and frequent
trimming for Danny. He was turned out and slowly weaned off of Bute. There were
days when he could barely make it back to the barn to eat, but he never gave
up. I knew he was better when he took off across the pasture at a gallop one
day as I was driving in to feed. He now has "new"feet, and my neighbor
is so happy that he is still alive and well.
Yesterday I bought a $5,000 TB for $500, because he has rotation. I told the man what I was going to do and how it worked for Danny. He wants to hear from me and see how it goes. I hope that by showing others how this works and that it does work, horses will be saved. I now trim my own horses under the watchful eyes of a hoof specialist. (May 18, 2004)
Tomas Teskey D.V.M., Hereford, Arizona
Not only MY own horses benefit from a natural trim and as natural a lifestyle
as I can offer. Every day I am out there treating sick horses or helping folks
manage their healthy horses I am talking to them about how they can get their
horses TRULY sound, live longer lives and be happier in their domestication.
Learning about the natural trim from Martha Olivo two years ago has turned out
to be such a powerful tool in my practice and in my life! I am able to help
horses ON THE SPOT when I visit them with a lameness problem. There's no waiting
for a farrier to show up next week or even this afternoon...I can help that
horse immediately and often prevent further damage from setting in.
I ride as often as I can, so I feel I can speak from a medical as well as a
practical standpoint...sound barefooted horses are the norm for me. It is the
shod horses that are abnormal and unhealthy...I feel it is impossible for a
horse to be full of health with steel nailed to it's feet, and it is a physiologic
impossibility for any steel shoe to be therapeutic for a horse...only harmful.
Once we educate the world with what is going on and what we have rediscovered
about the effect of steel on horses, we will be able to demand that this practice
come to an end. To continue to bring harm to the horse will become unacceptable
and viewed as the barbaric, unnecessary and reprehensible practice that it is.
Nothing I learned in veterinary school has been as powerful as what I have
learned on my own about the horse's foot. I am thankful that I have come in
to this knowledge and can help others and their horses enjoy better health.
I am here as a user-friendly veterinary resource for you all, and I wish you
all the best.
Dr. Tom T. (April 26, 2004)
Jean Stucker, Oklahoma, USA
Living in Western OK with the way of cowboys and shoes, my horses
have always been barefoot. However, after being given a foundered POA mare,
I knew we had to do something else for her. Heart bar shoes? Stall rest? I didn't
like those options! So the search was on. Someone directed me to Natural Trim
and this web site. From there, I was contacted by Susanne Elmer, who willing
came to see us after Christmas. Susanne really helped me see things in a new
light! Not to mention, helped June walk without pain. Next step? I hosted a
2 day clinic with Martha Olivo. WOW. My farrier attended and he is on fire about
this method of trimming. After the clinic, my farrier re-trimmed all my horses
to the whole horse trim and I can feel the difference when I ride.
We go on some calls together, he does the work, I do the encouraging
Silas is a graduate of OK Horse Shoeing School, but now would
love to go back and teach his instructors what they taught wrong!
I would recommend anyone who has a foundered horse to read the
book, Who's Afraid of Founder. It will change your out look and give your horse
a new lease on life.
If you need help in western OK or the region, feel free to email! firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunnyside Riding Center (Mar 9, 2004)
Abbie N. Stafford, Plymouth, MA, USA
My dreams came true June 28th, 2001, when I got my "Kira-girl".
For me, this is as good as life gets...my very own beautiful little 4 yr old
Morgan that is here to stay! It was love at first sight!
First things first - I pulled all 4 shoes that were on her since
(I believe) she started training for driving when she was 2-ish. She went fine
for about a month and a half, and then she was sore over the hard rocky terrain.
The farm's farrier said she'd always need shoes on the front - I didn't agree..."Can't
her hooves toughen up over time - just like people's skin when they walk around
barefoot, so why not hooves?" He just looked at me and said, "No,
they won't - she has genetically weak hooves, these new style Morgans are bred
for a show-ier trot, not strong hooves." It didn't sit right with me, but
hey, he was the older, wiser "professional".
Late August 2002 - I remember thinking, there has got to be more
science to this, after watching my farrier talk and look at me, not the hoof,
while trimming for over a year. Well, surprise...she foundered, rotated 5 degrees
in each front (when she was first off, the farrier said it was nothing - "just
an abcess" - put shoes w/pads on, and immediately was dead lame). The vet
and farrier recommended the traditional course of action - bute and eggbars.
The bute made her down right unmanagable, and the eggbars were like trying to
put a band-aid on an artery wound. No progress whatsoever. Heartbars were mentioned
- I cringed. The vet then told me if the degree of rotation doubled, then euthanasia
may want to be considered. The shoes came off, against the vet's orders. "Just
be a horse" I told Kira, "while I try and figure this out."
I tried second opinions from farriers (duh!), researched the crap
out of the internet, cried, thought about donating her to a morgan breeding
program at a University, cried some more...and then a girl I called (strangely
enough, regarding a horse she was selling - I had no intention of buying her
horse! For some reason, I just called her!) told me about Ray Shammas, SHP.
February 2003 - The first trim with Ray was amazing, to say the
least. To go from seeing her all that time in eggbars and yet still be lame....
to seeing her after that 1st barefoot trim, walk away SOUND!! Seeing is believing.
I knew I did the right thing for my sweet mare. In April, I moved her to another
farm that has 3 horses and 6 cows in a 10 acre field, and she is thriving!
February 2004 - I got x-rays done in December of her laminitic
hooves with hopes for some slight reversal rotation.....I don't have words to
describe what I felt when the vet called to tell me Kira's coffin bones were
ground parallel. Absolutely NO ROTATION! The vet was the same vet from the beginning,
and she could not believe the x-rays or how Kira's hooves looked from the outside.
The last time I saw her she said to me, "...I'm seeing more and more horses
respond successfully to this...I think this barefoot thing is going to end up
being the way to go..."
Nowadays my sweet girl is not so sweet - she can be a little devil,
who always wants to race the wind...but I'd rather have that any day over a
chronically lame horse who looks defeated in her iron shoes. She usually has
her Old Macs, but over the last couple of months I've started to condition her
feet... now we are up to an hour and 1/2 on varied terrain in all gaits! I haven't
had a lame day since her 1st trim!
She's a happy girl being barefoot, bitless, and soon, treeless. (Feb 10, 2004)
Cindy Paules, Vass, NC
My story begins with a very talented home-raised warmblood gelding. He had been barefoot until the age of three and began to look "ouchy," so began the steel sojourn. The next three years have been a nightmare, why these quarter cracks, why the tight back, why the shortened turns and peppy lepuix canter??? None of the expert farriers or vets could explain the mysterious lameness. (Perhaps coffin joint inflamation) but why?? It was insidious, not textbook head bobbing. Out of desperation, I removed the shoes and cooincidently discovered Dr Stasser's trim. Attended an abreviated clinic and away I went, armed with hoof knife and rasp. Long story short, I practiced on my gelding and a 32year old quarter horse who was confirmed navicular case 15 years ago, and I'm happy to report that in just 12 weeks time, the ole boy is trotting sounder than ever, and likewise my gelding is bucking in his field more and more. And when I school him his back is soft and he is willingly offering extensions and flying lead changes. I'm totally optimistic that we will be able to compete this up-coimg season, something I have been waiting to do for four years. Their feet are gradually decontracting and I'm still retrieving bar out of the frog around the old horse, but in general the trim is beginning to hold its shape for longer and longer periods of time. I am soooo excited..............THANK YOU DR STRASSER! (Jan 27, 2004)
Here is the update on our 11 y/o beautiful Paint gelding. In March after being
told that Rusty would never grow any heel and that his hooves were genetically
weak that he needed egg bars and wedges I decided to research on the internet.
I had heard about the wild horse trim and the Strasser trim and that barefoot
was better. Rusty had worn shoes since he was 2 yrs. old. He had shown all over
the USA and was in the top 20 in APHA in 1997. He had amateur versatility. He
stands 16'2 . The vet and the farriers said he was nearly navicular. His hooves
looked weak and long and flat and underrun. We tried natural balance shoes and
equiflex and though they are good products Rusty needed to be healed from the
It was a good idea to pull his shoes and turn him out 24/7 and change his diet to hay and oats but it was not good to trim him so aggressively. His soles dropped and he went into a mechanical laminitis. He suffered a lot. If anyone ever tells me to never bute my horse when he is that kind of pain I'll tell them they are out of their mind. That horse needed bute. For 3 days I gave him half a dose to just get him to walk and eat. I massaged him and bathed him and led him on soft ground. I searched the internet and found help from Pete Ramey and K. C. LaPierre.
The trim works if it's done correctly and not too aggressively and if you take it slow. He could have been eased into barefoot slowly; letting his hoof declare itself. After wearing shoes for so long there was a lot of damage and weakness. His hooves needed to adjust over time with a little trim.
Our current certified trimmer is very sensitive to his individual needs and hoof shape. She has corrected the angle which are his angles and not a formula and she listens to him and lets him tell her what is needed.
It is now Sept 2003 and he is looking great again. He runs on his own and crosses gravel and his hoof wall has never looked better.; strong and thick and guess what he has grown heels in fact too much so now the trimmer gets to trim those heels. His frogs have decontracted and his heels are continuing to decontract. His stretched white lines are way better and he is growing sole like crazy. It is so wonderful to see the progress The only problem is his flat soles. That is going to be ok because I see so much going on. He just needs some time to grow out the sole that was pared away too aggressively . This is happening because we see his soles thickening in patches which scared me at first because it came in looking like lumps. That sent me searching the internet and calling hoofcare specialists all over the United States. Thanks to Pete Ramey for calming me down even on his wedding day. He explained to me what was happening.
Most of all thank you to Rachael Coggins for having a kind and sensitive and intuitive eye and expert hands to understand just where to trim and where to leave it be.
I hope to get this big guy and my daughter back in the show ring soon and win on his natural hooves. It is pure joy to see him run across the field and to see my daughter collect him up and do that western pleasure jog and lope.
Go natural. It is a good thing!
Lynn, Timman and Rusty (Sept 17, 2003)
Mary Holifield, Albany, Oregon
Ok, this is as simple as it gets. My 3 yr. old Quarter Horse cross filly has been on this trim since August 2002 (she was just over 2 yrs then) Not many problems with transistion since she never did have shoes on, but only trimmed incorrectly by a conventional farrier, so she did have some contraction. Yesterday, August 31, 2003, we went on a 3 hour trail ride in the mountains with varied terrain, from deer paths, soft forest paths, to hard packed logging roads, some with 3" crushed gravel on them. We walked, trotted, cantered and galloped on all this terrain, and she never gimped once, or lost her footing. The 3" gravel? Ha, she never took notice! So yes, this trim works, the lifestyle works and to top it off, we did it in a bitless bridle also! It all works and not just for trail riding. We show in Hunter, Jumper, Eventing and Dressage with all our horses barefoot and in the bitless bridle. I think we probably have some of the happiest horses on the planet, bar none! (Sep 2, 2003)
Lauren Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
My horse Katie used to be kept in a 1/4 acre yard with shoes, on average she had lost at least 2 in 4 weeks shoes in winter because her walls were brittle. In summer she would go laminitic and my farrier would put heart bars on her. At about this time one of my friend suggested take her shoes off and my farrier said if i did i would wreck her. So against his recomendations i took Kate's shoes off and sent her off to foal in fustration because she was always lame. Now a year and a half and 1 foal later, living in a paddock about 80-120 acres with about 20 other mares her hooves are almost perfect and i have brought her into work using nature and my friends help learning natural trimming methods she is 100% sound and a much happier horse.
Cheers Katie and Lauren :)
(May 5, 2003)
Joanne Maffey, Christchurch, New Zealand
Here are a few more of our success stories, to show that the Barefoot Way is the only way.
16.2hh 6 year Warmblood mare who stood on a piece of metal and punctured her
foot between the bar and wall. Farrier cut out whole area, horse unable to stand
for three weeks. Had a massive infection, oozing green/black pus. The owners
were told by farrier that the horse would be useless for at least a year, put
her in foal. I trimmed her and immediately she could walk and after her second
trim 10 days later she was totally sound on grass and blacktop.
16.1hh 8 year TB Eventer mare fell in a rabbit hole while eventing. Fractured
accessory carpal bone, massive soft tissue damage. Her knee was the size of
half a football (no exaggeration!). I purchased her for meat money six weeks
after injury, had been boxed - no improvement. Prognosis was very poor. I immediately
removed her shoes. Strasser trimmed, against my own vets advise but supported
by Dr. Strasser via email, she was put in a herd and swelling went down by 50%
OVERNIGHT, nearly all swelling was gone after 3 days. Now totally sound, fit
and healed. Took about 12 weeks. Barefoot eventing TB with beautiful movement
and flawless temperament.
16.2 Half clydesdale mare with sewing machine action. I trimmed her 3 times
over 2 weeks and her toe angles went from 85 degrees in hind to 55 and in front
from 70 to 45. She now has HUGE flowing paces and is jumping 1.05 m with ease.
Road ridden daily, nearly perfect on stones too. I am now starting their racehorses.
Will give progress report soon.
15.2 16 year old crossbred gelding with past history of severe rye grass staggers.
Unable to canter without falling over, seemed to get his hind legs tangled.
Vets diagnosed neurological damage. Trimmed feet ONCE and he could canter properly
immediately. We were stunned!
15.2 6 year old Welsh Cob gelding with severe rotation, bar shoes fitted.
8cm of excess heel! Suffered from asthma. Trimmed very slowly due to high risk of going toxic. Full recovery with no abcessing - a miracle!
Now shown and trail rides on all terrain. No asthma seen since. This one took longer than usual, about six months, to look normal due to his ground parallel hairlines at the start and his potential to be very sick. No lameness throughout though.
15.2 19 year od Welsh Cob The above horses brother. Same as above without the
asthma. Same treatment, same result.
Plus many more, emails welcome. (April 28, 2003)
Michelle Couture, Washington, Pennsylvania
I got my then 4 yr old TB mare from Mountaineer Race track in WV in June of 1999. She is a daughter to Sunshine Forever who was Grass Horse of the year in 1988. She was being sold because she had a suspensory injury. (My guess would be because of her long toes and underslung heels). Anyway, she was shod with racing plates then. I brought her home and continued to do the same thing I did with every other horse I've ever owned since I was 5 years old. I had my farrier put on whatever shoes he thought were appropriate, so on went 4 steel shoes. Well, at the age of 5 my horse was crippled for almost 8 months (July 2000 - January of 2001) to a lameness, which turned out to be an abscess. In the process, my vet suggested cortizone injections, special shoes, etc. (Which I objected to, thank goodness and didn't do). However I was told to give her bute and keep her in a stall which I did. :( Unfortunately at that time I didn't know any better. We took her to a "specialist" in Cleveland, OH who found an abscess in her left front toe that was about 1 1/2 inches long, 1/2 an inch wide and 1/4 of an inch deep. He told me to take her home and put on aluminum shoes and wedge pads after her foot had healed.
In November of 2001, my friend and I approached our farrier about
pulling our horses' shoes for the winter. He told me that TB's have terrible
feet and that she would never last a day. Her feet were horrible and she would
undoubtedly go lame. I believed him and kept on the shoes. In January, I saw
a friend of mine's horse move out after her first barefoot trim. Needless to
say I was sold immediately. The horse looked so much more comfortable. With
the emotional support of my already barefoot friends and my wonderful certified
Strasser specialist Denise, my horse has been barefoot (AND SOUND!!!!) since
February of 2002. Unlike what my farrier led me to believe, my horse now has
wonderfully healthy, barefoot hooves. I am able to take her on lengthy trail
rides, jump etc, with some occasional help from my Old Mac Boots. I even got
a tee shirt (with a horse on it that looks like my mare) to celebrate by departure
from "normal" that says. "I ride an iron free horse". No
shoes, no bit, NO PROBLEM! (December 26, 2002)
Anne Kempton, CSHS, Desford, Leicester, United Kingdom
Anna, 16hh mare age 26, diagnosed with having 'navicular syndrome' 10 years
ago and the vet said she needed to be put down. The owner refused, and brought
her to my yard about 7 months ago, where she went barefoot and had natural living.
I initially trimmed the mare and then showed the owner how to trim the horse
herself with my guidence. The mare is now able to trot soundly on concrete and
has had a new lease of life. The owner cannot believe it as she had never thought
Brambles, miniature shetland 15yrs old, foundered for 12 years, was diagnosed
as incurable and veterinary advice was to to put him down. After a long road
of healing he is now moving around very easily and keeping up with the herd
and playing with the other horses. He has regained his sparkle, something I
thought we had lost forever. He still has a long way to go as there has been
so much damage to repair, but he is well on the way to regaining his former
Lucy, Arab x QH, 14.1hh aged 6, highly under developed when I bought her, and
she had been ridden and shod before the age of 5. She used to stand under with
both front and back feet. She had very high heels and bars, paper thin soles,
and hardly any foot to work with. She has had a long and dificult transition,
with a lot of work on her feet, and also her muscles. She still isn't strong
enough for a rider, but is sound and now stands properly. Muscularly she is
much stronger and is holding a good body weight.
Wisper,14.1hh Arab X, aged 8, rescued from a market at the age of six. He had
severe behavioural problems and had been shod and ridden before the age of 5.
The vet warned me that he was dangerous and strongly advised me to return him.
He had one 'boxy' foot and high heels and bars all round. He is now my most
advanced horse in terms of schooling (parelli level 3 work), and has four lovely
feet. He is a dream to handle, although is still anxious about having his feet
trimmed. He is the most wonderful little chap who, without the combined knowledge
I gained through natural horsemanship and Dr Strasser would most probably not
be alive now.
Little Guy, miniature shetland gelding, aged about 2, came to me with high
heels and high bars and very shut down emotionally. He is now trimmed regularly,
and moves about with the herd with ease (how he keeps up with the large horses
is always a wonder!). He has lovely conformation, and always lets me know when
he wants his feet trimming - he comes and loiters by the gate giving me 'do
my feet' vibes!!!! He is really sparkly and happy.
Tia Maria, aged 14, TB X, foundered since the age of four, and having had a
resection, and conventional treatment, the vets considered that she was incurable
and to put her down. Five years on there is still damage from the resection
which is taking a lot of time to heal, but she has improved so much since I
started trimming her. The hoof that had the resection now looks like a real
Fray, 14.hh Icelandic pony, aged 7, came to me originally as his owner wanted
to learn natural horsemanship. The first thing I noticed about the pony were
amazing high heels and that he was unfortunately shod. The pony was very shut
down and nervous, and his owner worked with him for a while, but left him with
me for a week whilst she went on holiday. She agreed that I could take the shoes
off the pony and trim him. When the heels were trimmed down and the bars were
trimmed to their proper height he had lovely feet. After the horse had gone
home, the owner rang me to ask what I had done to her horse as he was very relaxed
and happy and had developed a curiosity that she hadn't seen in him before.
She was really pleased and is now keeping him barefoot, and his training is
coming on really well.
Frodo, 13.2hh, 2yr old Arab, rescued by his present owner via an animal welfare
organization, and was told by the farrier that the horse would never amount
to anything as he had poor conformation and badly deformed feet that were too
small and would never grow. He had high bars and heels all the way round, and
one back foot that was badly turned out and an old injury to one front leg that
had caused a conformation problem. He was very underdeveloped and had marked
muscle wastage on the right side of his pelvis. After one trim his back foot
had straightened out, he was able to move much better, has now developed muscles
equally on both sides of his pelvis, has put on a lot of weight and his hooves
are much bigger. He is now running around and playing and ready to start doing
some ground skills.
Paris, 17yrs old, 15.2hh mare, has had turned in front feet all her life, and
we were told that nothing could be done. She has been trimmed for eighteen months
now and her feet have straightened out considerably, and she is still improving.
(December 13, 2002)
Betsy Merritt, CSHS, Williamsburg, MA
Progress report on Ginger
Hi all, thought I would share my joy with you. Ginger is a suffolk punch draft horse. "Arthritic ankles," she was bought despite her lameness, in hopes I could help her. She is a wonderful horse. When I got there for the first time, she walked very carfully and had a very difficult time with corners. She looked so stiff and sore all over. Her owner said she improved with movement. I trimmed her front feet and she took off running across her field, dragging her over-joyed owner, and proceeded to get loose. After she was caught, I finished up her hinds and again she split, and went trotting and galloping around her pasture. It was as though a miracle had happened. The vet was schduled to inject her joints to help with her lack of flexion, in her ankles. This is an e-mail from Ginger's owner a few days after the initial trim. This horse was barefoot and didn't have any contraction, only some white line separation in the toe region. Looked like it was from a lack of trimming. Horse had not been trimmed for a least 3 months before she got her. Below is her most recent e-mail.
>Hi Betsy- Vet came today to inject Ginger's joints... Didn't need to! There
>was no noticable lameness at w/t, she turns 90% better & is much less
>uncomfortable during the flexion test. He attributed her progress mostly to
>being trimmed & getting all that weight off of her ligaments,etc. He
>recommends to keep on w/our current course of action. This news made my
>day, and I wanted to Thank you again. See you in December.
(December 13, 2002)
Joanne Maffey, Christchurch, New Zealand
I am very happy to report that my own ten horses and ponies are all barefoot and well and sound. The following are some of my success stories. Some are my own animals, some are other peoples who will gladly offer testimonials if required.
#1: 12hh 19 yr ERP, ex very badly foundered pony with no future expected. Now totally recovered, recovery time 16 weeks.
#2: 15hh 23yr Arab, partially sighted, now very happily retired, no longer a founder threat. Recovery time three weeks.
#3: 15.2hh 12 yr Anglo Arab show/dressage hack. Competing successfully barefoot. Transition time three weeks.
#4: 15hh 19 yr ERP/TB retired show/dressage/eventing due to permanent disability. Extreme founder risk, badly foundered due to original injury rehabilitation. Now totally hoof sound, disability improving all the time. Recovery three weeks.
#5: 16.1 10 yr TB. Show/dressage/eventing. Permanent undetermined lameness. All veterinary avenues exhausted. Strasser trimmed, totally sound and back competing. Recovery time 12 weeks.
Mousse: The one who started it all!!!
15hh 12 yr Welsh?Arab. Broken pedal bone, ringbone, sidebone, extreme founder including sole penetration in forefeet. Hopeless, run out of options until we found Gretchen's website. We were amateurs having a go with nothing to lose, result= totally sound, ridden, jumping, is back to normal in all ways. Wouldn't know his history by looking at him. Recovery time 20 weeks. Not a fluke!!!
#7: 13hh 19 yr Welsh/ERP. Childs learner pony. End stage laminitis. Always lying down, never wanting to move. Now teaching 10 yr old child the finer points of ponydom and jumping. Fully recovered nine weeks.
#8: 15.1 6 yr ERP/TB show/dressage. Choppy, sewing machine action. Four time canter. Toe walking and very stressy type when ridden. Now very forward, flowing paces and no sign of stress. Recovery time less than a week. Almost instant.
#9: 16.3 7 yr Intermediate Eventer. Diagnosed Navicular, end of the road. Trimmed then instantly sound. Re-xrayed after 12 weeks, no navicular. Now in full stage eventing career.
Plus many more, email me for details, I am happy to share my experiences with people needing help or just wanting information.
Sondra Sparapni, St. Augustine, Florida
I was frustrated. I wanted to show my 19-yr. Trakehner a couple of times before retiring him, but he became lame. All he could do was walk (even that was getting questionable). He couldn't maintain trot or canter for any length of time. It was costing a fortune to have him shod every month, yet still lame. I went to a chiropractor, dentist, and my vet to see what was wrong with him. I got answers just like everyone else...he's got navicular, he's too old for 4th level work, his teeth hurt, inject his hocks, and the list goes on......
Something told me it was his feet. My equine chiropractor suggested the Strasser method. I pulled his shoes two months latter and things have really changed. At first, Bob Creel helped me out, but it's been Ann Daimler, CSHS, that has really shown me how to trim with a (more) educated eye. I look forward to the basic and advance seminars coming up and perhaps I'll get certified myself.
Although Asche is semi-retired now, he's as sound as a judge today! I've seen horses dispositions change instantly when shoes are pulled and they're trimmed properly -- to me tha's priceless! What's funny is I'm looking for another dressage horse and the process of shopping for a horse has changed dramatically. First question -- how long have they been wearing shoes? Second thought, how long will they need to recover with proper care, trimming and environment? These questions now play a huge part in how much I am willing to invest in a horse that's been wearing shoes for long periods of time. Financially speaking, the longer the shoes are on, the sale value of the horse decreases. (June 28, 2002)
I bought a paint mare that was 4 1/2 years old and had never had shoes. So I never put them on her, and I can say she was ridden in the Colorado Mountains on 2-4 hour rides, trails in Illinois, arena, waterways, and yes, even some cement and she has never come up lame. In fact, I took her to a trainer once that made me put shoes on her and I just cringed. Needless to say, she stumbled over herself the entire time she had the shoes on. I took them off and left her alone. I bought another mare predisposed to navicular (straighter pasterns) and pulled her shoes too. She has done fine so far. I just don't know the proper trim and I'm sure my farrier probably doesn't either, so I hope to learn something here. My horses do have access to pasture, gravel roads, mud pit (by their watering tank) and those types of things, so I can't wait to get Dr. Strausser's books and show my farrier. - L. H., (June 7, 2002)
Sandy Judy, Gibsonville, NC www.sandyjudy.com
I only came to the Strasser idea of barefoot hooves by way of an invitation to a clinic by a hoof trimmer in our area of NC which I couldn't even go to. But the web site led me to the books which I ordered and read. Afterwords, I became a convert and immediately hired a person who did a Strasser-like trim on my four horses.
My son's pony has foundered for the last four years. The last time he wore heart bars for a whole year. Both the vet and the farrier said if he foundered again I might want to put him down. Well I used to think 18 was old for a horse until I read the Strasser books. This pony was 11 when I bought him and was barefoot and fat. My son pony clubbed for about 5 years but in the last few years, we had to deal with the founder and my son out grew him so he wasn't ridden enough either. When I think back about the shape of the pony's feet, they were in natural healthy form. As I looked at his shod feet after reading the Strasser books, I couldn't wait to have his shoes taken off. His feet had become straight up and contracted after the 7 years I had him shod. It's only been a few months since he's been barefoot and I have to say that he got a little laminitis when the spring grass came in but I've been keeping him in an area where he can have daily walking in water and very little grass. I'm hoping he will get to the point where he can live a normal life in the pasture with the rest of the horses.
My other horses are young (3, never had shoes and now never will; 6 and 7) the six year old has had some other health problems and has dropped soles with low heals which are starting to cup after the natural trimming and no shoes. And my mare who was always ouchy even with pads when she had to cross gravel, now has no problem crossing gravel. I put rounded creek stones in their pasture at various locations where I know they will walk on them. They also have a pond to drink out of so they have daily exposure to water. I've just begun but as Strasser says, "the truth will become self-evident." (April 16, 2002)
Martine Savary, Franklin, Québec, Canada
My QH mare was lame on and off since spring 1999.There was no precise diagnostic and the farrier I had was doing a good job at keeping her sound (with shoes) most of the time but walking on soft ground.
I discovered the Strasser books last spring (2001) and my mare has been barefoot since late April 2001. She had her first Strasser trim on June 9 2001 by Lisa Walker, CSHS. She had bruises on both front in the shape of the coffin bone. When Dr. Strasser saw the pictures, (I attended the Basic Hoofcare Seminar in July) she said it was due to rotation. The sole was really flaky and the wall soft. My mare didn't walk a lot (pain) even if she was outside 24/7 so I took her out for walks when I went with my dogs. She has been trimmed monthly since then either by me or by Lisa. Bruises and small abcesses keep showing up but the overall quality of her hooves has really improved. Her front feet were also really small and like most horses that have been shod all their life her feet were contracted. They are now at least 1 1/2 cm wider at the heel.
She now has a companion, an Appaloosa who makes her move more. I started riding her again this spring and her stride is much longer than what it used to be and she trots on pavement and gravel roads and she is sound. She still has some stiff muscles in the neck/shoulder area, but I try to massage her as often as I can to loosen up the tension. Even my boyfriend who was not convinced when I started doing this, now believes in that method, and even talks about it to our vet whenever he sees him. He has seen the improvement in her feet because he helps me when I do the trimming. All I need now is a hoof bath and my horses will have everything they need for great hooves! (April 9, 2002)
Dawn Thompson, Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom
I live in the United Kingdom, with my horse, Jack. He is a 16.2hh clydesdale cross cob. He is now ten years old and I have owned him for the last six years old. He was unshod when I bought him, but due to a lifetime of believing that you did not work unshod horses, I had him shod. Over the years he went from a sound, free moving horse to one that was always foot sore. His stride went from being long to almost a ponies stride, short and choppy. He would trip and stumble even on smooth even going. Asking him to step up on to the verge was a nightmare, he would always catch his toe and many times I have nearly ended up in a ditch. In May 2001 he went down with laminitis, I was lucky, he recovered with in a week and was sound.
During the summer of 2001 he had no less than four abscesses in the same front foot. I researched as much information that I could on the barefoot method, and after much soul searching convinced my farrier to remove his shoes in jan 2002. He has never looked back, he is sound, has never been foot sore, no more abcesses. His stride is long and free, he has not tripped or stumbled once since removing his shoes. He has had a few small chips in the front hooves, but since the old nail holes have grown out his feet are perfect. He also seems so much happier in his whole out look. Hacking out is a pleasure, he really enjoys his rides now, and is a much more lively ride, I suppose now that his feet are comfortable he is more eager to work. My farrier has been a great support to me and with out his help I doubt that I would have been brave enough to go through with it.
My vet was convinced that Jack was in the early stages of navicular, due to the tripping and foot soreness, he is totally gob smacked at the change in my horse. I really do believe that when Jack wore shoes, not only was he in pain but that he ccould not feel where he was placing his feet. Hence the continual tripping and stumbling. I no longer have to choose which roads I can ride on because they are slippery, he never slips now. He used to wear road studs as he used to slip so much, it was as if he was on ice. I really do feel that had I not of removed Jacks shoes, his working life would certainly have been very much shortened. Dawn Thompson and Jack. (March 26, 2002)
Glenda Newland, Ambleside Paso Finos
(Sierra was featured on the cover of The Horse's Hoof Issue 5, the gray mare trimmed by Dr. Strasser in a sling at the July 2001 clinic in Ontario.)
I still can't say enough about Dr. Strasser and her methods. Further to that, I want to let you know that my mare Sierra is coming along well, and I am very happy with her progress. She has new hoof growth on 3/4 of her hooves, the angles are looking good, and her sole is in good condition with only a few tiny discolored spots to indicate she had anything wrong. My own regular blacksmith refused to take off the heel and sole area last summer, so I called a female friend of mine who is a blacksmith and she came weekly all late last summer and all fall to keep the heels trimmed and angles correct. Now she is coming once a month, as the mare has made so much progress. Sierra has gained back her weight and looks great. I will try to get the digital camera out in the next few days and send you a picture of her. I think she is a real testament that Dr. Strasser's methods work. (Feb 3, 2002)
D.E., Fain, Tennesee
In May of 1999, I bought a mustang gelding from a horse trader. He was starved and, as I found out when I had a farrier friend (retired) pull his shoes, foundered. Wondering what to do next, I went to the internet and found Gretchen Fathauer's web site. This convinced me I had done the right thing and helped me learn more about what I was doing to help him recover. Now McKenzie is a happy, barefoot horse who teaches children of all ages how to ride and trails cheerfully. None of the eight head of horses on my place have shoes and they never will again. I appreciate so much Gretchen and her web site, Dr. Strasser and her work, and all the people who encourage me to follow the way I know is right...barefoot. (Feb 13, 2002)
Darolyn Butler-Dial, Humble, Texas http://home.swbell.net/darolyn/
Just a "barefoot" comment here... just returned from Frigid Digit Ride in the Dallas, TX area. We competed 20 Barefoot Horses from my barn, plus another 4-6 folks that champion the cause. Barefooters finished 3, 4, & 9th in the 50 Mile, with the 9th place horse winning Best Condition!!!! 6 of our 7 100-mile horses finished (the one that didn't went out on metabolics). The course was fairly dry, a bit of mud, & a few rocky areas scattered throughout.
Now after having my horses barefoot for 12-15 months, I'm seeing incredible hoof walls, concavity, and nice big healthy feet on horses that couldn't go two days without a shoe without their hoof falling completely apart. I rode the 100 Mile Saturday on a horse that had laminitis in 1996, and once he was sound, I refused to compete on him unless he was fully padded to protect his very flat soles and what I envisioned as a compromised "hoof". Saturday as I trotted barefoot (and painless) over rocky outcroppings, pounded down asphalt roads, went through sand, mud, and gravelly pastures and thought about his past and now his future, it almost brought tears to my eyes. Three of the barefooters were doing their 1st 100, one was doing her 2nd. All trotted out sound at the end of the 100 and all their feet look beautiful today. No slouch times either-- all of us finished within 1 hour of the winner or close to it.
I've been to Martha Olivo's clinic, (my first one Dec. 2001, and I became sold), then I went to Dr. Hiltrud Strasser's in Florida last summer, when I suddenly inherited a foundered horse to fix, and I realized how much I didn't know, and likewise wanted to learn. On Feb. 4/5 this year, I'm attending Todd Merrill's clinic in Humble, Texas to try to further my knowledge even more. I even bought the (gasp) almost $600 Strasser Textbook. I love it, end up sleeping with it as I'm trying to get through it before the Clinic in a few days.
Just when I think, I've just about "got it", I have another great "ah hah", through something someone says, a horse's foot shows me, or I finally read it enough times to understand what Hiltrud or Sabine meant. Every horseman in the world should get down on their knees and thank not only Dr. Hiltrud Strasser, but all the scientist, veterinarians, and farriers who have devoted time and energy to finally figuring out how the horse's foot really works, and what can be done to make not only his foot healthy, but his whole body.
I'm 51 years old, I own/manage 50 horses now (that work for a living). I've had horses all my life. I've NEVER, I mean NEVER have had such a powerful revelation in everyday horse keeping in my life as the "barefoot movement" has afforded me. If you can read, read the book "Lifetime of Soundness," if you can walk and talk, go to a clinic. Your horse's life and your own will never be quite the same. Sincerely, Darolyn Butler-Dial, AERC #25, 20,000 miles plus (Jan 29, 2002)
Claire Cox-Wilson, Waddell (Phoenix), Arizona Website: http://www.extremezone.com/~shotgun
Once again Dr. Cook has nominated Dr. Strasser to the Farrier's Hall of Fame. If you love horses or know someone who has a navicular horse, please, at least look at Dr. Cook's 2002 Nomination and pass on the info, you might save a horse's life. I don't mean to get on my soap box, I just want to share this information, if only to save one navicular horse from the killers. The reason that I am so commited to this method is because I have personally seen it work. Our very own precious gelding, Doc has a new lease on life because of this method. He has not exhibited any signs of lameness or pain since we started this method in January of 2001. We are able to ride him any time we want and his stride has lengthened, he can be worked and ridden in small circles to either side without any discomfort whatsoever. I still marvel when I watch him cross over his front feet. His hooves are still changing shape, they have lost that boat-like appearance, so common in navicular horses and have become rounder and wider. Anyone who doubts my claims is more than welcome to come and see Doc for themselves.
I am being honest when I say that this method is not for everyone, because it takes alot of commitment and study on the part of the owner. Some owners cannot and are not willing to do this for numerous reasons. But for those owners who are willing to go the very long extra mile for the love of their horses, I beg of you, look into this method. If you had only seen Doc limp up from the pasture (with his eggbar shoes and pads) the day we removed his shoes and started this method and then after his first trim, walk back out without a limp. And now watch him under saddle or playing in the pasture, you would be amazed. As always, I'm available and willing to answer any questions in regards to Doc's recovery, if it'll help another navicular horse. Horses don't have to be put down because of navicular syndrome. At the risk of sounding simplistic, all you have to do is remove the cause, which is heel contraction, be it from incorrect trimming or shoeing. It's just that it so hard for me to hear of horses being put down because of navicular, when I can look out my window and see the living proof that this condition can be turned around. (Feb 20, 2002)
Robyn Levash, Tehachapi, California
I just wanted to share that Friday we trailered Classy and Wiley a few hours to a friend's house to do a conditioning ride on her rocky trails. What is interesting is that in 1995 I lived and conditioned Classy on these same trails. He was 14 years old then, and had been shod most of his life. At that time I knew nothing about the "barefoot movement". All I knew is that all my childhood horses were never shod and did fine with all the miles I rode. In my heart I always knew barefoot is best. So, I attempted to pull Classy's shoes, and wanted to see if I could keep him barefoot, but condition and do the endurance rides with EZ boots on. Well, within a couple of days of just walking around his paddock at home (not even riding him) his feet wore down so much and he became ouchy. Since there was no hoof wall to nail a shoe back onto, and he was so flat footed (with zero concavity), and ouchy, he lived in EZ boots until the farrier could put shoes back on.
Classy went on to do 800 endurance miles. He would finish some rides and others he would get pulled for being off. The frustrating part was that he would trot perfectly fine in between vet checks, and then occasionally he would be lame at a vet check after sitting there for any amount of time. A lot of times the Ride Vets would let him go on because they knew he was fine coming in. They would tell me that he was an older horse that just needed to keep moving and would work out of it (which he did until he had to stand again). Vet checks were always a gamble as I never knew when he would "magically" appear to be "off". I just hated this and felt so horrible. Many times I felt like I did not want to do endurance anymore with Classy. However, with much encouragement from the ride vets, and my vet at home, to not give up doing endurance with him, I kept going.
Classy would always consistantly point one or the other foot all the time. The ride vets would tell me "Don't worry about it, there is nothing wrong with him. That is just the way he stands." My vet at home did say that pointing is usually a sign of pain. However, after doing all sorts of flexion tests, etc., she could never find pain. After looking at all the pictures I had of him since I bought him at age 12 (and ALL the pictures showing him pointing), she also concluded that he was fine and that is just the way he stands.
A year and a half ago, I started to learn of Dr. Strasser and studied her work. Everything started to make so much sense. I knew I better do something, as Classy had been for all those years showing all the signs of Navicular. June 2000 James Welz started trimming him and determined that Classy had chronic heel and toe pain, and was contracted. For several months after doing the trim "correctly" Classy went down hills very slowly (like he was walking on eggshells). Steep hills were torture on him, so we avoided them altogether. I think Classy had been living with this heel and toe pain for so long that even up to a couple months ago, going downhill I would have to remind him to "walk out, remember you don't hurt anymore." It is so funny. He would walk out, and then keep walking out faster and faster as if to say," Oh yeah, I don't hurt anymore!" And oh, he ALWAYS stands square now. When I was out riding on these trails last Friday, and Classy did a power trot in front of the other horses for several miles up and down the rocky trail, tears came to my eyes. Emotions hit me so hard. His feet were healthy enough now to be able to do this! Whereas before he couldn't even walk in his paddock on this same terrain without his feet falling apart. It just made the past year and a half of rehab so worthwhile. Another thing I realized was the huge difference in knowledge that I had then as compared to now. Before, I had no idea how to set my horse up for barefootin' success. Now I do. The tiniest things make all the difference in the world. I can't thank enough Dr. Hiltrud Strasser for sharing her wisdom, James and Yvonne Welz, and all my barefootin' friends for their support. Dreams do come true. (Feb 13, 2002)
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