No Hoof no Horse


From shod to a healthy barefoot horse
Navicular disease
Founder (Laminitis)
History of shodding a horse
The effect of a horseshoe

History of shodding a horse << Back <<

Every horse is born with hooves on every end of it's legs. Without a horseshoe or some other protection. Living in the wild, it stays that way. In human custody though,
they mostly become shod. The reason for this is to protect the hoof against to much wear and tear. This habit dates from the middle ages. Around 900ac, the wealthy
people started to live in Castles. They wanted to keep their horses near and built stables in which they got locked up. From that moment on sudden the horses couldn't
perform the labor the human expected and demanded from them. The hooves seem to be not fit enough anymore to travel long distances on hard surface. Logically by
then the need developed to protect the hooves against high wear and tear.

Although, before that time, the need for protecting the horses hooves simply didn't exist. Charlemagne (Karl der Große) concurred his empire on unshod horses,
complete tribes moved around Europe without even having problems with horse hooves. Apparently there is a connection between boarding the horses in stables and
the weakening of the hooves.

If a horse is locked up in a stable, there are two things that effect the hooves. First, the horse isn't able to move enough. This causes a lack of blood flow. This causes
the hoof to grow to slow. The hoof doesn't receive enough nutrition to keep the hoof grow on a natural level. Second; The horse is forced to stand in its own excrements
and urine. especially Urine contains a high level of Ammonia. Ammonia destroys proteins which is one of the main substances of the hoof. According to that the hooves
weaken while being constantly in touch with the ammonia.

Today, there are scientific way to measure the age of metal using the % of the carbon part.
Until now, there is not one Hoof shoe found that exceeds the middle ages.


The effect of a horseshoe << Back <<

If a hoof is shod the hoof wall can't expand anymore as far as it should when the weight is placed on the leg. The Hoof shoe is fixed on the hoof with nails through which
it also fixes the hoof wall to it's position while being shod. The hoof mechanism is restricted in a sever way which results in a lesser blood flow throughout the complete
horse and lesser production of hoof horn. The horn that still is produced, is from a lesser quality.

The effect of the reduced blood flow is that, the heart of the horse has to work a lot harder. Among competition horses (especially racehorses), it occurs on a regular
basis that the horse sudden just drops down dead. This might have it's cause in a reduced hoof mechanism.

If the hooves grow less hard as they supposed to, the proteins that are normally used to build the hoof horn, remain in the blood flow. Known as waste they have to be
removed out of the blood flow anyhow. This task is mainly performed by the kidneys and the liver. These two organs have to work harder then normal and can get
overloaded. Symptoms of that are for example skin problems (Eczema)


From shod to a healthy barefoot horse << Back <<

Until now most clients come to this method when the vet or the Farrier told them that they can't do anything for them and the only option for their horse is euthanasia.
Those owners who don't except this, mostly find the necessary help in this method. In almost 100% of these horses the diagnoses is Navicular-disease or Laminitis.

With a horse that is shod or is trimmed the wrong way over several years, the blood vessels in the hoof get wedged. Causing the hoof to receive to less oxygen and
nutrition. (Those are transported through the blood flow). One of the effects is that the nerves in the hoof hardly or even not send impulses to the brain, because of the
lack of substances in the blood who are responsible for that. The hoof becomes sedated effectively

Also this is the reason why horses with navicular disease seem to react positively on "Orthopedic Horse shoes". The horse isn't healed, but because the blood vessels
are wrenched the horse can't feel the pain anymore. But meanwhile the cause of the disease is still present and will become worse. This until the damage is that big
that the horse can feel the pain even through the sedation.

If this horse is relieved of it's horse shoes, mostly is lame immediately. This is not because the horse is not able to walk on it's own feet, but because the feeling
comes back into the hooves. It's is comparable with somebody who walked outside while temperature was -10 without gloves. If you come inside in a warm room, the
fingers start tingling and hurt. The nerves tell the brain that there is a damage in the hand. As a result of the cold, cells died and need to get extracted trough the blood

The same happens to the horse. Only, the horse didn't go out without gloves for a few minutes, but over years. The damage is accordingly and it will take a lot longer
until the tingling or hurting stops. The dead material needs to get extracted via the blood flow and abscesses. This means that the horse will feel very uncomfortable or
even suffer pain.

In all cases, it only helps the horse if it moves. Movement forces the hoof mechanism and this hoof mechanism causes to restore the blood flow in the hoof. Only that
way, it is possible to move the waste material out of the body an makes the creation of new healthy material possible

This also means in a lot of cases that it is necessary to walk a horse that is obviously not looking very happy or healthy. It lames and is drained. You have to be strong
as a caretaker of such a horse. But the persistence of the caretaker is responsible for the succeeding and heeling of the horse


Navicular disease << Back <<

It occurs quiet often that horse is labeled "Navicular disease". In some cases it seems as if it would be a universal name for not understood lameness's.

Navicular disease always starts with pain at the backside of the hoof. The horse is a flight animal and will not show it's pain immediately. If it would, it would show the
predators that it would be an easy prey. A horse will try to make itself as comfortable as possible and try not to show pain.

Pain in the heels means that the horse shifts it's weight to the front side of the hoof. It places it's legs more underneath the body. To maintain this position, a constant
muscle tension in the shoulders and neck is necessary.

The result of the weight shifting to the front is, that the toe will tear down quicker then the heel. But the high heel or to high bars is the initial cause of the pain in the

If a hoof has too high heels or too high bars, they will push/Penetrate the hoof with every step. If this situation stays that way, the damage and pain will increase. After a
while, because of the constant irritation, an inflammation occurs. This is called Navicular disease.

If the coffin bone didn't degenerate, the horse can heal completely and will be fully usable. Because of the high heels, the coffin bone changes it's angle to the ground
and throughout un physiological pressure, it will degenerate if this situation stays too long. It sometimes happens that more then 50% of the coffin bone disappeared. A
horse with that much damage will never be usable for 100% again. But a correct trim and the right natural circumstances it is possible to let it live without pain


Founder (Laminitis) << Back <<

Founder is an inflammation of the corium in the hoof. Mostly it concern the corium on the front side of the hoof that is very painful. To avoid this pain, the horse moves
it's weight to the backside of the hoof. While doing this it gives the common image of a foundered horse. The horse places it's hooves as far to the front as possible.
This causes an increase of weight on the hind hoofs. (Mostly not inflamed). The horse tries to relieve the inflamed front hooves.

The result of the inflammation in the hoof the coffin bone can rotate to the front down side. In a healthy hoof, the corium keeps the coffin bone firm in it's position. In a
hoof with an inflamed corium, the coffin bone can rotate or even sink completely to the sole.

There are several causes for Laminitis, for example poisoning, overburdening, overweight or the sticking of an afterbirth. (Cadaver poisoning). In most cases the
conditions are already present for a longer time and is the last drop the one that floods the bucket. Especially with overweight ponies. Their metabolism is already
overloaded, if they get access to fresh grass, the problem becomes a fact.

The solution is always the same. To start off with is; Take away the cause. Then reshape the horses hooves to the correct form so that they can function in an optimal
way. This of course includes the most natural environment and a lot of movement on hard surface. (In some cases supported with Hoof shoes in the beginning). The
horse needs at least 15 minutes standing in water on daily basis. This to restore and maintain the elasticity in the hoof.

Under these circumstances, the horse has the possibility to heal itself again. While regrowing the hoof wall, the coffin bone will be fixed firmly again in the right position
to the hoof wall. Normally it takes about 9 month to regrow a complete new hoof wall, but in some cases this is not enough and takes several regrow sequences.
Beside of that, not everyone is steady enough against the critics from the surrounding people. Especially when you have to walk with a horse that lames and obviously
doesn't feel that well.
But don't forget, the horse is depending on the persistence of the caretaker. Laminitis is not a reason to give up on a horse.


Methods??? << Back <<

Since several years the tendency of living a natural healthy life is growing. This development is also noticeable in the Horse-lovers world: The doubting about the
conventional horse boarding is increasing. Of course the commerce does have a large part in this too. For example; There is a large range of "Healthy" horse food
available on the market, with a lot of herbs the horse "Needs". I like to compare this with a Breakfast-cereal that you can find in the finest stores. People sit motionless
all day in the office, but they did have a healthy breakfast...

This trend is also noticeable in Hoof care. Horse shoes are finally recognized as a necessary evil. Like the better Farrier's already knew for years. It is known for more
then 100 years that the horse shoes do have a negative effect on the horse. Barefoot horses are becoming more common and with this, a complete new industry is
rising. Also here, the commerce has a large part in this. One method after the other get developed and pop out of the earth like mushrooms. Unfortunately most of the
methods lack the scientific research to be able to call them "effective". But one thing is common to all of the methods; A horse is better off without horse shoes.

Founder of the "Strasser- method" was Dr., Hiltrud Strasser. A Veterinary from Germany. In the early 80's Dr.Strasser was confronted with alarming data coming from
insurance companies. Containing: A large part of domesticated horses don't top the average age of 8 years. Only 11% of the horses reaching the age of 14 years or
more. In natural circumstances horses can reach the age of 30 to 40 years. This knowledge triggered Dr.Strasser to start scientific research for the causes. The result
of this research is a scientific documentation about the horses hoof and how it functions. Which functions the hoof is responsible for. It also contains a method how to
imitate the natural hoof form. The first and main thing is NOT to hide the symptoms but to remove the causes.

I horse under natural circumstances does not need Hoofcare from a human. Unluckily, the human cannot provide the horse with those circumstances these days. It
means that the necessary interference taken by the human must be well over thought and based on thorough knowledge of the anatomy and biomechanics to regain,
maintain and keep the natural hoof-form.