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Hoof Care


The development and adoption of removable rubber boots for protecting the hooves of barefoot horses when they are working has been the driving force behind the expansion of barehoofcare - from the eccentric fringe to mainstream. 


It happens every year on the day after Boxing Day. I can just about set my clock to it. Like most other ‘normal’ people, I will be ensconced in the pleasant afterglow of Christmas; mentally and physically luxuriating after the annual rush and madness to get everything finished before ‘Santa o’clock’. 


Everyone who shares a connection to Mayfield Barehoof Care Centre will be saddened to hear of the recent death of Jenny Wren, the pony who graced the cover - and indeed inspired - our book about repairing laminitis-affected horses, titled ‘The Pony That Did Not Die’. Her passing was unrelated to her past laminitis episodes and was unexpected. Death, unfortunately, is not fettered to any calendar. Anyone new or recent to reading Horses and People may be wondering what’s so newsworthy about Jenny Wren’s story? 


Laminitis is a serious affliction that can strike your horse and leave them unable to perform at their best, through to potentially being virtually crippled.  Despite the fact there has been much research into laminitis, there is still much that is unknown about it. One of the things that we do know though is prevention is better than trying to cure it.


In recent years, many horse owners have been learning for themselves how to maintain their horses’ hooves with regular trimming - which is great. With such constant trimming, their horses’ hooves have never been better. There is more to workplace safety than just the clear and present danger of working beneath a large reactionary animal that can break a human body by simple expression of its flight or fight instincts. It’s also about the insidious wear and tear arising from the shear physicality of the task that can lead to chronic musculoskeletal disorders. 


In recent years, many horse owners have been learning for themselves how to maintain their horses’ hooves with regular trimming. Which is great. With such constant trimming, their horses’ hooves have never been better.


You’ve just discovered your horse is lame (ah, the joys of owning a horse). A quick check rules out any major external trauma, and there is no blood or broken bits that need to be stuck back together. So, remembering what you learnt years ago at pony club that 90% of all lameness comes from the hoof, the age old question arises: Do you call your farrier or your vet? Welcome to the disputed territory that lies between the vets’ domain and the farriers’ fiefdom. Knowing which party to call can significantly affect the outcome in any given situation. 


The wide range of quality hoof boots on the market today is enabling more and more riders to keep even hard working horses barefoot. A quick search online will bring up a good number of different retailers, many of them based in Australia and, in each, you will find a variety of options and a vast amount of information, but where does one start? 


Hoof wall or horn problems, such as thin, brittle walls, flakiness, cracks, or soft and crumbly white line inevitably mean lost shoes, hoof tenderness affecting gait, performance issues and susceptibility to infections. Owners often turn to biotin supplements to improve hoof problems, but is there evidence of its effect? Karen Richardson reviews the research... Biotin, of the vitamin B family, is sourced by the horse from food and from microbial activity in the digestive tract. The biotin requirement for a normal horse is thought to be low and is estimated to be around 1-2mg per day. 


Most readers of Horses and People will be familiar with the Barefoot Blacksmith, Andrew Bowe, whose stories from the Mayfield Rehabilitation Centre can often be found in this magazine’s pages.  What some may not realise is that Andrew is just one half of the husband-and-wife team who have built the business from the ground up and one quarter of the family of four who collectively keep their property running. 


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