When I bought him, I knew very little about horses other than I wanted to own a horse & ride.
I soon found out that Jacob, with his unknown past, suffered from navicular syndrome, extensive
arthritis, bone degeneration and calcification.
Barefoot when I purchased him years back, a worried novice I immediately followed the advice of others and slapped shoes on him.
He quickly became lame. "Oh, a horse like that needs heel pads" came the next piece of advice.
So I did. It helped for about 2 months.. Then he became worse. "HIGHER pads.. You have to let that heel grow", I was told.
I listened. He got even worse. "Eggbars! Eggbars are what you need" The advisors instructed.. "With heel pads!"
Desperate not to "fail" my horse.. I tried it. Sadly he became totally lame, unable to walk at all.
I had a vet take X-rays(radiographs).
I was told.. "that's the worst case of navicular and bone degeneration I've ever seen. You probably should put him down".
NOT an option! And definitely the wrong thing to say to me. Jacob and I are in it for the long term. He is not something to be “put down” just because the going is getting a little tough or because he’s hurt.
I knew then that shoes were NOT going to help him. Ever! The use of shoes and wedge pads was only dealing with the symptoms. NOT the cause.
I had always believed I could help my horse. I had seen him sound. What was done could be undone.
So I studied and I read… anything… and everything. Read articles on navicular syndrome, supplements, & the internals of the hoof itself. Including “Lifetime of Soundness” by Dr. Strasser, other excellent books & documents by Jaime Jackson.
Inevitably I stumbled across sites like www.barefoottrim.com & www.barefoothorse.com This opened my eyes to a whole new concept. It all seemed right. Why was I trying to correct something that wasn’t initially there, prior to the shoes.
I had always hated the idea of someone pounding nails into Jacobs’ feet. His hooves full of holes. Chunks ripped out the the wall.
I wrote to many people asking for help, advice, and direction. Everyone was helpful.
Eventually I enlisted the services of a Strasser Hoof Care Specialist. I believed in much of what was written in her book. What I had trouble with, was the aggressive and invasiveness of the trim itself.
Jacobs’ sole was trimmed so thin in some areas, that I felt I could almost push my thumb through. The bars themselves were mostly carved away, deep into the sole.
3 months later with his hoof continuously abscessing, whether from damage inside the hoof, or new bruising from the thin sole, I knew what I had to do. I discontinued the services of the Strasser trimmer.
I could not, in good conscience continue to have him trimmed in that way. Now, I am not putting her methods down. I believe the principals and concepts are outstanding, and paved the way for all other methods. I just feel that it was a bit too harsh & extreme for my horse. I favored a more gradual approach. Yes, I wanted to get from point A to point Z, but why not stop along the way at a few letters in between.
What to do now? Well, during the entire year I had not been idle. I had snatched up & studied books, DVD’s, & guides, including “The Horse Owners Guide To Natural Hoof Care” & Pete Ramey’s “Making Natural Hoof Care Work For You”. I attended multiple hands-on trimming clinics taught by Gwen Santagate of www.thepenzancehorse.com . Then I begged and pleaded for her to help and mentor me. She kindly did so. I owe her a lot for the time she spent.
I knew I could help Jacob. Yes, it would be a learning experience but I would heal my horse.