"My two cents" blog
You might have heard me talk about 'the givens'. What are they?
I got this from my mentor Dan and we refer to them if we need to list all the things we need to 'give' the horse to be healthy, and to be able to grow healthy hooves. The Givens is basically a list of first needs for horses.
It starts with the most famous ones: Friends, Forage and Freedom. But there is much more a horse needs: good drinking water, salt, different surfaces to walk on, a good wet/dry balance for their hooves, exercise, good horsemanship, dentistry, bodywork and vet care.
Do you have all these things in place for your horse, wether it's shod or barefoot? Because this list really doesn't discriminate, a horse is a horse!
"So why do all these things matter to a barefoot trimmer, and why is this important for hoof health?"
We'll go over them one by one.
Simple. Horses are herd animals. Keeping them alone creates stress (i.e. seperation anxiety, constant 'predator-watch', not enough deep sleep, learned helplessness, etcetera). Stress affects the gut. When the gut is compromised, the horse might not be able to grow healthy hoof horn. When the horse is able to interact, socialize and play with (an)other horse(s), he'll be a lot more at ease and worry less.
Horses need fiber to keep their hind gut flora healthy. Growing grass in Spring, Summer and Autumn doesn't contain a lot of fiber (more fructans). Fructan, starch and protein don't reach the hind gut, because they are processed in the small intestine. Starving the hind gut means unhealthy gut flora, which has consequenses for your horses health and behavior. When the gut is compromised, the horse might not be able to grow healthy hoof horn. Too much fructans (grass), starch and protein can also create health issues like EMS, Cushing's, IR and laminitis. Hay or standing hay does contain enough fiber, and should always be fed, even if a horse has grass available.
Horses are meant to roam, it is in their DNA. I'm not saying day and night per se, although this would be the preference of most horses if they were able to choose. But every horse should at least be turned out during day time. And no, one hour isn't enough.
Most horses are happy to come in at night, probably because food is waiting for them. But when the morning comes, most horses are also very keen to be turned out again. Do you know what your horse does all night and around what time it get's tired of being locked up in it's litter box? Read my article about stabled horses.
Freedom is important for their mindset, to keep their stress level low, but it is also very important for hoof health for this one other reason: ........... movement! Hooves thrive by a lot of movement!
It stimulates the blood flow in their feet, which brings more nutrition to their feet and therefor better hoof growth.