Lindsay Cotterell DAEP, Dip.IAZ
Snicker, my 5 year old bay gelding, has never been shod. I bought him when he was 2 years old and knew that I wanted to try and keep him barefoot. I could never understand how having iron shoes nailed onto a horses foot could be of a benefit to the horse, except that perhaps it offered some kind of protection on rocky ground?
After I bought Snicker, I continued to keep him at the place I bought him from, which meant that he was living out virtually 24 hours a day, in a field with 5 others and had access to a field shelter. In the harsh winter months he had the use of a stable at night. His feet were trimmed by a farrier, every 6 weeks, but despite this, he had quite severe cracks appearing in his feet, until eventually his left hind had a crack virtually the whole way up the hoof wall.
After about a year I moved and therefore moved Snicker as well to a livery yard nearby. He had the most beautiful 12x12 stable and plenty of turn out in the day, but unfortunately the environment surrounding the livery was very stony and wet and it wasn't long before Snicker was showing signs of weakened hoof structures and was struggling. He was quite nappy in his behaviour and refusing to go forwards over stony ground and it was at this point that I did some research and looked more into the whole process of barefoot.
I contacted Lindsay, and straight away she put us into a plan of action. Firstly I bought Snicky some boots to wear out to protect his feet and then I had therapeutic pads which I cut to fit in the boots to stimulate his frogs and to offer more protection. Every day I either walked him out in hand or rode him for 20 minutes. I also made sure I picked his feet out twice a day on coming in at night and going out in the day, applying colloidal silver spray and zinc oxide cream to create a healthy environment. Lindsay visited and trimmed his feet with the High Performance Trim Method every 4 -5 weeks.
Snicks feet began to improve over the months, his cracks began to seal and he was much more forward going, but we still knew we would have a struggle in this environment as there was no real conditioning surfaces available to condition his feet. As a temporary tool Hoof Wraps were applied to help maintain the improvement until new premises and a more suitable environment could be found.
Eventually I was lucky enough t rent some land directly behind my house which already had an old hard standing area measuring approximately 75ft by 35ft. The area had broken up in places over the years, but I was able to turn it into a 24 hour all weather turnout area as required which helped to condition and exfoliate Snicker’s hooves. I bring Snicker in for 12 hours a day usually overnight with 2 of his buddies (also barefoot) and have several hay and water stations scattered around with rubber matting to encourage movement on the surface, as well as a large field shelter.
I don't know how I would manage without this area now, it also being fantastic for controlling weight in the spring, for safe turnout on frosty ground freezing days where the going is dangerous, and great for looking after the fields when its wet and muddy, by giving the ground a chance to rest, great for parastite control as well, less poo-picking in the field to do!
Lindsay has been looking after Snicker for about 2 years now and his feet have gone from strength to strength, his cracks have all sealed up, and he copes well with road work of which I do 20 minutes 3 times a week, and ride as much as work commitments allow. I envisage that his feet will continue to go from strength to strength, but without having had my surface put in and just keeping him conventionally in a field and stable at night, in such a wet and stony environment I am sure we would have continued to struggle.
I am indebted to Lindsay for all her inspiration, commitment and patience, dedication and kind ways with my horse and for always being so helpful and understanding. Gill with Snicker
Gill Bradley MRPCH (Monty Roberts Preliminary Certificate of Horsemanship) - This is a link to Gill's website where you can find out how her journey began and view some examples of her work. I can thoroughly recommend Gill to anyone who needs help or advice on starting and any handling issues you may have with your horse or pony. http://www.yourhorseandponymatters.co.uk/
Copyright (c) Lindsay Cotterell DAEP 2009
ENVIRONMENT THE DECIDING FACTOR -
SNICKER AND GILL