Friday, 22 March 2013

Hooves and humans

It was a busy day yesterday with Vasaloppet for the children and that altered the writing schedule for me, but with that done, I can say that now it's finally spring!

Last spring a new horse came to my farm and she forced me to pay attention further down her legs to the hooves or more accurately to her feet. I have a good friend who dived into Jamie Jackson and Pete Ramey's wild horse model and one that focused on Applied Equine Podiatry (AEP). During the summer last year, I talked to both and juggled my thoughts about the new horse's hooves with them. For it soon became apparent that the traditional blacksmith could not come up with any solution that seemed sensible - or if I'll be completely honest, the farrier I contacted with a veterinarian referral was quote "so tired that he went home instead" end quote. After a response like that, it felt like I myself is my own best farmhand although I actually had big gaps in my knowledge.

At first I thought that my two friends had a similar vision of what was needed in terms of trimming, support and stimuli of the feet. I read about both their perspective and tried to insert my own horse's troubles in each framework. We struggeled on the horse and I, and although it was in small steps we progressed.

In September last year, the opportunity to immerse myselves in AEP came and I took it. After that I realized that what on the surface may seem alike can differ tremendously when you go in depth. AEP is a method of hoof care based on universal scientific principles that apply regardless of whether it's hooves, bow and arrow or cars being discussed. Wild Horse model is based on studies of wild horses in their respective environments such as Mustangs in the U.S. or Brumbies in Australia but it is not based on studies of domestic horses and their living conditions.

In Sweden there was a veterinarian who made headlines when he, in an article in an Equestrian Magazine, pointed out the area that created the most problems for horses in general. Can you guess where he was pointing?
In a place just behind the withers above the horse's back - man in the form of a rider.

When the horse went from being a prey animal to become a domestic animal the price it had to pay for food and protection was their lives and health. We have used them in war, to ride on long and arduous hardship and we have shaped them into different breeds to enhance properties that have been beneficial to us.

When farriery developed into the profession it is today, it was in response to the increased demands on the horse as transportation vehicles, a vehicle that would work more in one day and on surfaces that were more "hoof unfriendly" in the form of rough dirt roads, cobblestone, wet clay and so on. Horse managment changed, horses were more tied up in stalls with the consequence that they often stood in wet beds instead of roaming freely in pasture. The science was under construction, industrialization was still in its infancy. What they knew was static, ie load during quiet standing, pull, push and levers.

The farriery met the requirements that were on a hoof of a horse standing still. When the horses were predominantly started being shod long periods of the year, problems arose with ossification, white line disease etc. Everyone knew that it was because of the shoes, but they were seen as a necessary evil and a price you had to be willing to pay.

With industrialization came cars and the development of them brought dynamics, kinetic and now we have developed tools that enable accurate measurements of things that were previously hidden to the human eye.

The results of the scientific development is taken into consideration by AEP when the theory of the hoof and the horse's feet were designed. With the model that constitutes the AEP's basis for the work with horses' hooves and feet  I lcan earn to read a hoof at any time, wild or tame, and see if it is healthy or have defects in the structures. It's like a new world opening up!

Join course and get a new relationship with your horse's hooves!

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