Quit Stalling


We really need a revolution in horse management. Jamie Jackson tried to heighten our awareness several years ago with his concept and book, Paddock Paradise. Joe Camp tried to fuel the fire with his book The Soul of a Horse. If you haven't read these books or aren't aware of this movement...it's about changing the way we care for our horses, by giving them more of what THEY need and less of what's convenient, or just available, for us. This Movement falls under the larger umbrella of Natural Horsemanship... where humans try to interact with horses by putting themselves in the horse's hooves. Most horse owners are aware of this philosophy. Many practice it. Some just buy a few gimmicky "tools" and learn a few tricks, and some turn their life upside down trying to give their horse a better life. Several years ago I was introduced to the previously mentioned books, in that order. I was already learning about natural horse care and horsemanship, my main concentration being on natural hoof care, which I am now aware is an oxymoron. At the time I thought it was possible to trim my way out of many hoof problems and I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't believe there are still people who are stuck with that same mind set.

As a horse owner myself, I ran through my barn and "freed" all of my horses from their small stalls, in the spirit of Joe Camp. I Began to build long narrow lanes that looped into one another as prescribed by Jamie Jackson. I turned my 7 mares and geldings loose and watched them sort out their differences. There is still one, Sweet Marie, who needs supervision, she can only be with two of our horse's ( it used to be only one, her son, that she accepted)..The rest, she will try to corner and kick the ever-loving crap out of them. It's a work in progress. Marie is just doing her job as the undisputed lead mare. She just doesn't have enough room to do it in safely. She's not the only challenge. Santo, our 14 year old Quarter Horse, is the gelding in charge. He has a more reasonable sense of law and order, however, in the beginning he went a little overboard with his reprimands. He had his own personalized mark, like Zorro. At one time all of our horse's had his insignia on their hip, a 6-8 inch slash left by Santo's raking teeth. Over the years he's reduced this to rushing at them while loudly clacking his teeth within hairs of their flesh. There is definitely less flesh involved, with the exception of our Welsh Pony Gelding, named Mischief Managed (our 17 year old daughter was a Harry Potter geek). Mischief, (appropriately named and sometimes managed) still challenges Santo for the harem. Our solution was to split the herd into Team Santo and Team Mischief. This created an interesting dynamic. At this point in time, Santo and Mischief can visit over the fences that separate their respective turnouts...and most of the time get along okay. Mischief is the only horse that Marie accepts in her personal bubble besides Dante, her foal, now 8 years old. Mischief also gets along with Zina, our 14 year old Egyptian Arabian. Santo's little herd consists of Sera, our 5 year old Quarter Horse, and Minihoula, the 14 year old mini appaloosa mare that we board for a friend of ours. Mischief and Sera haven't figured out yet that mischief is a gelding. He was gelded at 4 years old only weeks after we acquired him. Santo was proud cut as well. Hence the lovers triangle. Zina goes back and forth between the herds as she quietly tries to stay out of everyones way, and she's good at that. We have a small place in which we've tried to maximize the possibilities. Also, we are fortunate to have a very good friend and neighbor that let's us use her natural horse paddock to board some of our horses. She also has a mini named Captain who enjoys the extra company. We rotate our horses approximately every 4 days. That's how much time passes before Mischief has worn out his welcome with either Marie or Zina. We split our lanes in 1/2 to accommodate mischief's or Marie's visits. Team Santo is the home team.

Our goal is to make the horse lanes safe enough for all the horses to be able to be together unsupervised, providing many escape routes and no corners. Santo is also an IR horse and we have to soak his Bermuda hay most of the year. Coincidentally Sera and mini have some of the same symptoms so they get fed the same. We soak the hay to minimize the sugars. The horses get fed in three evenly spaced intervals, daily. There are many other challenges to making this a safe environment for our horses, time and money being the biggest. This has been confusing and time consuming to say the least, but the rewards are many. As a hoof care practitioner the added movement provided by this change in horse keeping is immense. This has been directly reflected in the health and quality of our horses feet and muscle tone. They all have better feet than ever. With the latest addition of 30 tons of sand and pea gravel I've eliminated much of the work on their feet by allowing them to be more self trimming, which I believe is better for them (the best I can do is make an educated guess followed by an informed decision). The stable mentality has a lot of catching up to do in this area. They have the money. At least two stables in my area have just built huge indoor riding arenas. The consumers rule the market, so the stable owners do what they think will attract the horse owners. I believe the horse's feet need to be the priority. "No foot no horse" goes the old adage. It sounds cliche... It's the truth. Horses that are stalled in a small damp box for the majority of every day with neighboring horses that they can barely interact with due to the bars between them in their jail (save for the kicking at the rail in an attempt to defend their cell) are not being respected as a horse. I've even seen barn owners add more bars at the requests of their boarders as an attempt to keep their horse's safe. It doesn't matter how many times you visit your horse daily or how many hourly turnouts you pay for, or even how many treats you give them. You can not make up for the the horse's desire to roam with other horses. If you spent any time as a child in solitary confinement (being sent to your room for bad behavior) you might understand this. Now imagine this being a daily event...all day...every day. Horses are meant to be highly social mobile lawn mowers with a fertilizer attachment. That is their nature, or what is "natural" for them. I am not against barns or stabling horses, I just feel they need to change the way they do things...that it is time to evaluate our practices and speed up the change. This will happen as more people become aware of the real need for it. As a hoof care provider I find myself giving my clients "to do" lists to overcome hoof problems or improve hoof health. I lose clients. I also keep some and we make a good hoof care team. Trimming is only a part of the whole picture. Diet, movement, footing, metabolic issues, emotional stressors, etc. All play an equal role. Many horses end up in steel shoes, or even euthanized for having poor feet. This is most often, unnecessary, and human caused, as preventative measures could have been taken, or alternative actions could have been pursued. No one has all the answers, and everyone makes mistakes. I make them regularly. I just try hard not to make the same ones twice. Change will not take place without horse owners being brave and speaking up.

Just do something on your own to set an example. The worst that can happen is that you become an outcast or literally get cast out. This could be an opportunity for change. I believe the horse-human relationship can be beneficial for both horse and human. For this to be good for the horse we need to believe in and support their unique social nature and DO something to make their lives worthwhile. This may sound preachy but I believe that we can only benefit from what we do for others...and that includes our animal partners.



Our Philosophy

Horses feet have evolved over millions of years to be a regenerative system. Constant movement over varied terrain maintains the balance of growth vs. wear, step for step. The result is an amazing hoof comprised of:

- super structures that thrive on use.
- Hoof function with an efficient break over
- and the ability to withstand and dissipate concussive forces with a heel first impact (this allows the horse to use his weight for him instead of against him. )

The current more traditional system for domestic horses is a degenerative system where there is minimal movement in a small damp stall, infrequent trimming schedules and/ or prosthetic devices nailed to their feet.

This results in the horse crushing his feet under his own weight. I believe horses were designed to have sustainable feet for their lifetime. I feel that we are responsible as the horse's caretakers to protect the natural wonder, the horse's hoof, that nature has provided for them.

Our Goal

To encourage the mustang foot on the domestic horse through proper trimming and care. The best foot your horse can have.

AND

To teach you how to manage risk in your horse or herd through lameness prevention and sound management practices, specifically focusing on hooves, through movement, footing, balanced trimming and diet.

Services include:

- Assessment

- Consultation

- Trimming

- Booting

- Footing

- Clinics

- Personal Lessons

- Horsemanship Training

- Lameness Prevention

- Rehabilitation

- Facilities Design

and Development