Category Archives: Farriers

Some Thoughts on the Ability of the Horse to Go Barefooted

horse_man_armyA horse’s ability to go barefooted in most cases is a fact that stands as a natural ability of the horse. What is misunderstood and in most cases it is never brought forward that the job is only as good as the individual that is doing that job. Consequently, there are good “barefoot trimmers” and there are bad “barefoot trimmers; just as there are good horseshoers and there are bad farriers. The true answer to the question is either system correct for your horse is the cold hard fact that you have to choose the system that is done correctly and done in a manner that is right for your horse.

I have no problem with people who chose to have their horses go barefoot, but I do have a problem when it is painful for the horse to go barefoot. One of my customers put it better than I ever could; “Barefoot trimming is different from going barefoot”. What that person was trying to get across was that the person doing the barefoot trim on their horse over did the trimming and the horse lost the natural supportive ability of the foot. As I said I have no problem with barefooted horses, when my family had a large breeding operation all of the horses that did not need it did not have shoes and were left barefooted, in most cases, all year-long. But, it was done in a manner and fashion that was correct for each and every particular horse. This goes right back to being able to determine what is right for your horse and how to implement it correctly.

Most of the time when I see the results of “barefoot trimming” methods I see horses that are having problems and the majority of the problems come from too much foot being removed too quickly. Doing this undermines the supportive characteristics of a remarkable piece of machinery called the foot. The foot has a very difficult job to perform and then to perform it in a manner that allows the entire mass of the horse to start, stay and continue in motion in a fluid and beautiful way that is often referred to as collection or being in frame.

There is one other point to consider if you are leaning towards having your horse go to a barefoot program, bloodlines; or its inability to have tough feet. Some horses have a natural ability to have thin soles, weak walls or other foot conditions. True, in some cases the natural healing ability of the foot is one that can overcome those particular foot problems, there are other specific bloodlines that pass these inherited problems onto their offspring. Careful consideration has to be made because mankind in their infinite wisdom has intervened into the breeding programs of the horse and we determined that we knew better, but in the process we weakened the ability of the lower leg and the foot to do the job that it was originally designed to do. Take care, consult professionals and make your decision wisely.

My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at


History Shows a Need of the Farrier Trade to Return to the Basics

The trade was brought into existence back at the developmental stage that is referred to as the Iron Age. Before that time, about 1350 B.C. there was the first evidence of blacksmithing was accomplished and was credited to the ability of a Hittite craftsman. The Hittites are also credited with the creation of the ability to both temper and forge metals. This was such a significant development at the time that it was felt to be of great enough value to keep within a select few individuals. This was accomplished until the overthrow of their empire in about 1200 B.C. and then the few select craftsman that were capable of this process were scattered throughout the areas of what is now Europe and the Middle East. The knowledge was first transferred to Greece and then progressed into the area of the Balkans. The Early Iron Age was from 800 B.C. to 500 B.C. and it was during this time that the most notable progression did occur, for it was during this time that the knowledge was allowed to cover massive amounts of land that next included most of the area of western Europe and into the British Isles. By the completion of that developmental cycle mankind had advanced into the late Iron Age.

It was another step forward by civilization that showed the general population that by creating items that used both wood and iron that had been combined into one item it was easier for them to clear the land and make their life somewhat easier. This also paved the way for better and stronger items to be used in the hunting of food and allowing them to provide for their families in a more secure environment. It was at this point in time that the craftsman accomplishing these tasks for them became one of the more elevated members of the community.

The next progression was at the time that is referred to as Biblical Times, it was at this point in the development of the trade that the process of adding forced air into the fire which allowed it to become much more hotter and opened numerous additional doors to the craftsman of the trade. The introduction of this one additional factor has put the trade into the state that it is today. Little has been added to the forging and tempering of metals since that time in history. It has been discovered through the study of that particular time frame that both the metal working crafts and the wood working crafts were somewhat intertwined and that both trades had more than just a working knowledge of the other.

To most people there has been confusion as to the calling of all people who work metal as blacksmiths. There are many different type and categories within the trade of blacksmithing. Up to the time of the Middle Ages a smith was a person that worked iron in a fire, they were called smiths since most of the people doing this craft were named “Smith”. It was with the dawning of the Industrial Revolution that the craft started to be more of a specialized divisional trade, no longer was the smith required to know all aspects of the total trade.

This then brings us to the trade specialty of the farrier. The actual trade designation of farrier is an individual that puts shoes on horses’ feet. This is such a specialty trade that it makes the learning of the proper and correct methods and techniques necessary a life-long task in itself. Even this specialty area was at first broken down into sub-divisions at first, such as the “Nailsmith” whose only function was to make nails to be used to put the shoes on the horse’s feet with. The nailsmith was, in many cases, a woman since not a great deal of strength was required and there was a definite need of precision to be accomplished quickly.

To better expand upon the history of the farrier trade and how it developed I must say that it has been accomplished for many hundreds of years and there is no real documentation as to its origin. It is believed to have begun around the time of when Hannibal crossed the Alps in his conquest of his enemies. It is thought that before that time that in order to preserve the condition and soundness of horses’ feet that they were covered with cloths. It was during the time of Hannibal that the process of adding metal to the bottom of horse’s feet by nailing was first devised. If this is true the process was developed in a manner that has had little change since that point in time. There have been techniques and processes that have been developed and promoted over time that have had little to no effect on the trade and most of these items ended up being thrown away since they did more harm than good. The tools that are at the disposal of the modern-day farrier are being used to prove that most of the basic techniques that were developed in the early stages of the trade were the most correct for the horse’s well-being. Radiographs (X-Rays) are being used to look inside of the foot to verify that the methods of balancing a foot are correct for both motion and comfort. Physics is used to project and correct movement and contain momentum. Medical science is used to substantiate and verify that it is blood flow that aids in the growth patterns of foot growth.

This brings us to the present time and the fact that the trade is at a crossroads and the members of it must choose the road that they are to follow. The members of the trade that are compassionate and have the true interest of the horse as their main concern will chose the road that leads to a dedicated knowledgeable professional that has a quest and a burning desire to learn all they can that will aid in the comfort and correct working of the horse. Then there are others within the trade that will appear to put the interest of the horse foremost, but in actually have only themselves and their personal gratification as their goal. The information contained within this book will give you the knowledge to be able to evaluate the work that is being done on a horse, be you the owner having the work done or the farrier that is accomplishing the work.

The Education Process and its Development

The educational process that is presently followed within the trade has changed from a totally apprenticeship based program to one that is mostly academically based. When and how this happened started in the early 1970’s as it became more difficult to obtain persons that were willing to take on the responsibility of an apprenticeship program that would allow young people to learn the trade correctly.

As it became more difficult for these people to learn the necessary basics of the trade and then to be able to properly practice these same basics until they do become second nature for them to perform, a new format of a classroom structure was devised. The persons and institutions that were the first to develop and promote this style of instruction were agriculture type colleges that based the educational format on what they felt were the most notable topics and methods that were necessary to the young farrier so that they might be able to go out and then be more experienced and more employable within the trade itself. This type of program was devised to help the trade and give the newly entering members of the trade a basis that would make them a more sot after individual that would be less likely to make initial mistakes. It was not devised to take the place of the tried and true apprenticeship training that is so necessary to learn any complex trade. As the employability of these trained individuals became the norm within the industry more and more schools did appear to be established and many did not follow the standards that the university setting had initially set down. Consequently the quality of the individuals that were being sent out into the working work was not there.

Do not misunderstand what I am trying to get across here, not all of the individuals coming out of schools are bad farriers. They are not farriers ~ they are trainees, they are members of the trade that have had very basic training about the trade and what is necessary to accomplish the end product of being an accomplished farrier. What is not available to them is the structured learning environment that is necessary for their talent to start to bloom and then to come to full blossom once that they have been cared for and nurtured along to show them what is truly necessary to become an accomplished farrier. The schools are a building block, and that is what they do very well. They start or reinforce the structured educational process that is necessary to teach a more advanced method of helping the young “trainee” farrier to move along in their knowledge and to give a solid base for continued expansion through experience.

The established schools have accepted their responsibility of getting the necessary new persons interested in the trade to meet the demands it does create on the economy. The schools also understand that they are somewhat limited in their ability to instill the basics within these new entry-level persons. They are also conscience of the fact that they have these same people for only so long and have a great task to have their students learn a great amount of information in a short and limited time frame. The school has to teach basic structure of the lower leg and its operation, and then teach the mechanics of the operation of the lower leg and the foot. Then the task of trimming the foot correctly as to not take too much of the foot off and making the horse unable to walk. Next is the process of teaching the fine art of shoe fitting and adjustment to be able to match the shape of the foot that the student is working on. Another area that a lot of schools do add is the making of horseshoes from scratch, that is to take a straight piece of steel, shape it into a semi-circle so it resembles a horse’s foot, punch in the nail holes and finish the shoe by cutting off the excess to fit the specific foot that the shoe is designed to fit. All or part of this is accomplished in predetermined times ranging from four weeks to three months. Of course the shorter the course the less that the student is required to learn. At the end of the longer length courses there is also the task of getting the students ready for an exam that establishes them as apprentices and ready to leave the school.

The biggest problem that has been created is that most people who do go through the farrier school process leave them feeling that they are ready to start to work on their own. Even though the new graduate of such a program will attend many additional field based seminars to gain additional knowledge, they receive very little personal input from a highly experienced master of the trade allowing input so that they can make their own decisions and thus form their “trade personality”.

Most of this confusion was created when the expansion of structured educational system was developing. It was also at this time that trade organizations were established and then promoted to aid people within the trade. These same organizations started to create ways for the new farrier school graduates to sharpen and hone their farrier skills. This gave rise to the farrier competitions and in these competitions young farriers were given a set of guidelines to follow in order they would be able to win the competition. The guidelines called for certain methods and techniques to be established that were more “blacksmithing” in nature and less in the true light of the farrier trade. The winner of the competition were asked to make the finished product very aesthetic in nature and less functional, it became more of an artistic competition rather than a competition based on the basics and the functionality of the finished product. The next problem that occurred was that in order to be prepared for these competitions that did happen throughout the year the young farriers had to start to trim and shoe their client’s horses in the same manner that was required to be able to compete within those same competitions. What they were doing was the shoeing of horses without the proper guidance that would show them that their actions were setting the basis for many problems that would become evident on down the road as time passed.

As time passed the trade organizations were able to come to an agreement on the testing of their membership to create a standard for the organization to follow as well as set standards for future farriers to follow. The guidelines that were set down as the standards for the testing of the membership to be recognized as qualified were the same standards that were followed for the competitive world. Again it had to look pretty rather than be properly functional for the animal that was being worked on. These standards started to create members that were very adept at the working of steel in the forge and could put on a very entertaining show for the clients to see. It also made for more emphases to be placed on the aesthetics of the ironwork that was being done rather the comfort of the horse. All of this concentration of importance in the wrong area started the process that lead to the cutting of necessary corners to allow the farrier to be able to shoe more horses in a day and have a larger number of horses to be in their shoeing cycle. With the cutting of corners here and there, the horse and its well-being were starting to be over looked.

The Need to Return to Basics

As it has been shown the trade did take some twists and turns as it progressed and developed into what it is today, there have been a few individuals that have preserved and became the guardians of the necessary knowledge that was in the best interest of the horse. These people were few in number but have continued to grow over the years. In fact, as time as gone on there have been larger numbers of recent farrier school graduates that have come forward saying that they are looking for more than they had received out of their structured classroom teachings. They have understood the proper process of the standards of the education process and how it is to properly effect them and their chosen trade.

There is becoming more and more interest in what has come to be known as “balanced shoeing” Balanced shoeing is nothing more than correct shoeing. These are the tried and true methods that have been around and used by the farriers that have taken the time to learn the trade through the apprenticeship method rather than learning it on their own. These are the people who the new members of the trade are turning to in desperation to learn the finer points that are so necessary to the correct operation and movement of the total horse.

Just as in other industries and professions it is the knowledge of the basics that allows people within that chosen aspect of life to expand and grow in both their knowledge and ability. People look to highly trained tradesman in every aspect of life, such as contractors, mechanics, doctors and other such detailed oriented services that they come into contact on a very regular basis. Horse owners have not realized that there is so much involved in the care of their horse’s feet or in some cases have not been able to understand that they need to be aware of this information. The farrier trade is the same as any other trade, it has highly qualified trades people and then there are some that are not so qualified, the highly qualified ones are the ones that learned the basics and never felt the need to deviate from that direction.


My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at


What Makes Some Farriers Successful in Working With Horses?

As I have progressed through the development of my techniques and methods I have been continually asked one question in particular; and it is “What makes you so different?” To that I have tried to answer with many different answers over the years always looking to project the same answer but each time in a more educated and knowingly manner that showed that I knew what I was talking about. But, only recently did I come up with the true answer to that question that plagued me for so long and it is answered with just two words “COMFORT” and “COMPASSION.”

I have realized that my techniques and methods are centered on the total comfort of the horse. It is having the concern for the proper alignment and operation of as many of the working parts that make up the horse and allow them to work the way that they do.

Discomfort and Attention

In order to compare pain and comfort in the horse it might be advisable to look at the two factors, as they would pertain to the human being. First, we need to be able to break the most basic of these two points down to the most general comparison factors and that being bone is bone, soft tissue is soft tissue, pain is pain and comfort is comfort. Both horse and man have all of these factors in their daily life. We both have bone and bone is composed of the same elements, which make up bone. Soft tissue is still soft tissue be it tendon, ligament or muscle and all soft tissue is covered by a membrane that is connected to the nervous system that will tense and relax according to the reaction of that same nervous system. The soft tissue is then attached to some bone in the skeletal structure of the creature we are looking at. How all of these factors interact and work in unison is what has a major controlling influence in the creation or elimination of pain that is caused internally due to skeletal misalignment.

It has been my experience that over eighty per cent of all muscle pain and or structural changes within the horse has been caused by misalignment of the skeletal structure. It has also been my experience that over eighty per cent of problems that have been sent to me, as a farrier, were correctable through the proper alignment of the skeletal structure with correct and balanced shoeing practices. Once that the horses were allowed to operate in their correct manner, the pain of the misalignment was no longer present and the horse was once again the horse that was known in the past.

In order to simply this fact, let me explain. The misalignment starts at the ground level and how the foot strikes the ground, this then starts to throw the alignment of the various joints from the foot to the shoulder and then in the neck and the back. In the case of the hind feet the joints are out off alignment from the ground to the hip, which will then misalign the pelvis and then allow for incorrect alignment of the spine into the area where the pelvis and the spine meet. That then throws out what I call the lower back of the horse and then show up as swelling of the back muscles. Now that you know how the problem is initially created and we can realize that the sore backed horse is a secondary problem, or a symptom, of the initial problem of skeletal misalignment we should realize that in order to treat the sore back correctly we must eliminate the skeletal misalignment first. We have to learn to look past the initial symptom and realize that there is a more dramatic reason that the horse has a sore back.

How does all of this happen from just the improper trimming of the horse’s feet? Simple, once that the foot of the horse is improperly trimmed and stress is placed on the area of the foot where it should not be, it then starts to misalign all of the joints in succession to a stopping point. The only difference is that the pain will magnify as it travels from the starting point to the ending point. Along with the misalignment and the pain that is created a message is generated and then sent to the brain of the horse that controls the nervous system. That signal then tries to correct the problem that has been created through the improper trimming and tense up the membrane that encases various soft tissues, that tensing up of the covering membrane will then exert pressure to the soft tissue that it covers and then the soft tissue will exert pressure to the specific bone to which it is attached to.

This combination of actions from the nervous system to the pulling of the bone will then create the misalignment of the skeletal structure where the affected bone is integrated into the entire structure of the horse. The greatest areas that I have found to be affected by this action are the area of the lower back of the horse, the hip, the neck and the poll. Again, just as in the human animal; when there is lower back pain there is also neck pain. The horse will be affected in the area of the poll when “lower” back pain is realized and since all turns start at the poll, thus affecting the turning ability of the horse.

It has been discovered through many years of research of human “biomechanics ” that certain additional facts do happen when specific areas of the body are misaligned. Through my own field work I have found that was is true for humans is also true for horses. The foremost point that was discovered was that when the area of the lower back is out of its proper alignment there is additional misalignment in the area of the neck. This was first realized in the human and then that same information was taken and applied to the horse and found to be the same.

Whenever I found the lower back of the horse to be out of alignment there was also loss of flexibility in the neck of the horse. When questions were put to the horse owner it was found that the horse would be easier to turn one way more than the other. The owner just put this off as the horse may did not like turning in that particular direction. I found that once the neck was realigned to its proper position that the horse then turned easily in both directions and equally as well. The same horse then started to have changes in their abilities in other areas such as attitude and confidence.

Additionally I have found that the use of a qualified equine chiropractor can be useful to such a horse, but if you do not correct the true condition by trimming and shoeing the feet correctly for the horse in question you will only be treating one of the symptoms. Once a horse is properly trimmed and allowed to use their body correctly for one or two shoeing cycles the majority of the alignment problems diminish and will no longer be apparent. If conditions of misalignment seem to continue after the second shoeing cycle then a equine chiropractor may need to be called in to complete the work that needs to be done to allow the horse to start to work correctly.

Over the time that I have been integrating the study of biomechanics into the aspect of shoeing horses I have found that horses are much more happy and easier to handle as well as having a much better attitude toward all of the day-to-day requirements that are handed to them.

I do believe that this has come from the release of the pain that has been present for some time. In the past a horse may have been hard to shoe or trim due to the fact that there was the constant pain factor that was present from the misalignment of the skeletal structure from the ground up. The horses that have been put into the a balance shoeing program have progressed at very astounding rates and done so happily. And happy horses are horses that want to progress and are willing to do the tasks that are asked of them.

If we look at ourselves and realize that the time that when we are the happiest are the times when there is little distraction in our own lives. We are willing to accomplish tasks around the barn and the house without any thought. It becomes automatic we feel that we are being productive and enjoying our lives. The same is true for the horse, they want to feel needed and have a purpose in life. The comfort factor and the elimination of pain from the daily tasks will allow them the same felling of self-gratification and accomplishment. Not to mention being needed and wanted.

Remember if you or a member of your family is in pain and is suffering, in most cases, they will let you know. They speak to you and tell you where it hurts; you then do all that is in your power to help them get out of that situation. The horse does the same; the only difference is they tell you through body language not through the use of a verbal communication. These are the same body signs that we use if you look closely. When members of your family are in pain and you look into their eyes you might remember that the eyes of the person effected with pain has less than bright eyes. Their eyes are dull and somewhat cloudy, the horse is the same.

Their eyes are very expressive, look deeply into them the more pain that a horse does suffer the more clouded the eye does become. The member of your family that becomes sore and does not what to do anything, so does the horse. That same member of the family becomes crabby and short in their acceptance of situations, so do horses. Again in different ways, the member of your family shouts and yells verbally and the horse reacts through the use of their body by biting or challenging and/or kicking. The horse is not mean; the horse hurts and wants to be left alone, just as you would until you felt better.

Remember to be more observant and relate to the horse in the only manner that the horse can. You need to learn to speak their language and help them through their situation. Remember that pain is pain and comfort is comfort.

Until we meet again, “Ride for the Brand.”


My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at


Hoof Care Essentials For Horses

By Annabelle Cabella

Do you want to know hoof care tips and techniques?

Horses are what you call ungulates. Ungulates are groups of mammals which use the tip of the toes to support their weight when moving. Most of ungulates are hoofed animals- such as horses, donkeys, zebras, camels, giraffes, and deer.

A hoof is the tip of a toe of an ungulate. It is strengthened by keratin, in the form of a thick, hard covering. The sole of the hoof is somewhat hard and rubbery, but softer than the outside. There is also a hard wall formed by the solid nail rolled around the tip of the toe. The whole weight of the horse is carried by the soles of the hooves and also, the edges of its walls.

Horse’s hooves grow but are constantly worn down through continuous moving. The average weight of horses is often more than 1000 lbs and it is only supported by its four hooves. A horse is valued because of its strength and ability to carry humans and objects for pleasure and work purposes. They are prized for their mobile function. Needless to say, a horse with feet problems can be rendered useless.

There are three hoof care tips to consider with hoof care for horses – cleaning, trimming, and shoeing.


In most things we do, hygiene is priority. It is very important to clean the hooves of your horse especially before and after riding. Every horse owner must have the essential tool, the hoof pick. It will be your best friend in horse grooming particularly with the animal’s hooves.

It should be mentioned that even horses that are not at all ridden should still be subjected to hoof pick grooming to prevent thrush. It should be done daily. A horse with wet hooves is very hard to maintain.


As earlier mentioned, hooves are continuously growing. Thus, they need trimming to keep them in good shape and to keep the horse in good form. Trimming should be done about every one to two months, depending on the use of the animal and the conditions it’s kept in. Trimming can be difficult and it requires considerably skill. Trained farriers should be the only one to do this task to prevent incorrect trimming.

The most common mistake of the inexperienced is trimming the wall too short. Paring of too much sole is just like cutting your nails too short and can create lameness in the animal in addition to pain. Hoof care must be done by a professional as it is not a good idea to save a few pennies in exchanged for a ruined horse. Have a competent, trained farrier do the job. The expense is certainly worth it.


Can you imagine doing hard manual labor without any footwear?

We use footwear such as shoes because we need protection for our feet. Horses are no different. Even though horses have naturally strong and durable feet, they still need to be shod if they are doing a lot of work.

Some horses may have relatively flat or weak hoofwalls, or simply not fit for hard labor. Such horses need shoes even they are not for functional work purposes. It is better to consult a vet or a farrier about this, as whoever is doing the corrective shoeing must really know their stuff.

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Is Your Horse Sore?

Daily Monitoring For Injury Or IllnessBy Bob Burdekin

Does your horse work off its front end? Is your horse experiencing flight pattern problems? How about the ride of your horse, have they become less comfortable to ride? Does your horse interfere with its feet? Has your horse started to or has been stumbling for no apparent reason? Let’s talk attitude, has there been a noticeable change in the attitude of your horse? And, let’s talk about the big one; does your horse have back problems?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to read on and find out what will help your horse.

Throughout my many years of experience I have found that many different problems that I have been asked to address have not always been in the area that is suspected. It may be a contributing factor, often referred to as a “side effect”, but more often than not there is a greater underlying problem that is the true root of the entire problem. It is my contention that you have to fix the problem, rather than treat the “side-effect”; for once that the problem is located and fixed the “side-effect” will also disappear.

It has also been many people’s experiences that most of the so-called common faults and or lamenesses that too many horses have to suffer through are the results of improper balance of the skeletal structure somewhere within the horse. It has also been seen that most lameness problems start at the ground; or within the feet of the horse and work their way up the body of the horse until the entire structure of the horse is effected and the horse either cannot or will not perform to its greatest ability due to the pain that is being experienced.

If the horse is comfortable, the horse has a better time and is more attentive to what is happening around them. This tends to make their life, and yours, more enjoyable; after all a comfortable horse has a better learning curve and just all around works better.

What is true for us is also true for the horse; pain is pain and comfort is comfort, it works for you so why shouldn’t it work for your horse?

Most Problems Can Be Helped

In recent years it has been noticed that there has been a longing and a desire by horse owners and professionals alike to help chronically sore-footed horses.

After correct and balanced hoof care, your horse may be sore, stiff or at least behave differently. This is due to the body readjusting to the changes which have taken place. Additional information may be needed in the areas of feed, saddle fitting or other areas that may be pertinent to the specific needs of your horse as part of preventative care to aid the rehabilitation of your horse.

In Closing…

We have all asked questions about a horse’s condition and wondered if the problem could be fixed. And, in most cases we were most likely told that it was the way that the horse was and that it could not be fixed. You just had to leave it alone. Many farriers today don’t know or they chose to ignore that they are the reason that the problem in the horse exists.

What needs to be done is to look for the answers to the same questions that you might have. Make your concern the well-being and comfort of the horse. Look to learning and adapting many techniques that are normally outside of the farrier trade, but do pertain to the comfort of the horse. The integration of these techniques into the farrier process has allowed many horses that were designed for chronic pain to be relieved and are able to do what they do best.

Become that special person who is truly looking for the answers and wants to understand their horse, following this path does not take a great deal of intelligence; what it does take is dedication. And, dedication means that you want to learn what you need to learn, you are aware that results don’t happen overnight – you have to allow time for the information to be absorbed, it then has to be digested and finally you need to be able to redefine that same information into what you are comfortable with.

Until next time “Ride for the Brand”.

My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at




By Rob Domarkas

In this article I would like to share with you some really important information about horse laminitis. After the unprecedented levels of rainfall throughout 2012 in United Kingdom, experts are worried than ever before about autumn laminitis.

Autumn is the season of the year when this health problem becomes particularly common amongst horses therefore taking preventative measures is really important if you want your horse to remain healthy and strong.

Laminitis is an inflammation of your horse’s laminae of the hoof. Early detection of this condition is vital, because if left untreated the inflammation can leave permanent damage to laminae tissue which eventually can lead to permanent damage to the supporting structure of your horse’s foot.

If own a horse and if you have been riding horses for some time then it is going to be pretty easy to spot symptoms of laminitis. The first thing that occurs when your horse starts to suffer from laminitis is that his energy levels rapidly decrease. Laminitis is very painful and because laminitis will cause extreme pain to your horse’s feet, your horse will intuitively start to move less.

Laminitis usually affects the front feet, therefore when suffering from laminitis horses usually rock back on hind legs in an attempt to remove the pressure and pain from front feet. In addition to this if you notice that your horse is sweating, rapidly breathing, or has warm and swollen front feet then the chances are pretty high that your horse is suffering from laminitis.

So what causes laminitis in the first place?

There are a lot of things that cause laminitis. One of the primary causes of inflammation is overeating and obesity. Extra weights puts a lot of strain on your horse’s joints therefore the simplest thing that you can do to reduce the chances of your horse getting laminitis is to simply make sure that his weight is in check.

In addition to this laminitis is also caused as a result of overeating on foods rich in carbohydrate or rapidly fermentable fibre such as. cereals, coarse mixes, rapidly growing or fertilised grass.

Third cause of laminitis is cold weather. A few horses show laminitis during cold weather. Fitting warm leg wraps during cold snaps prevents the problem in most cases.

Finally you also need to think about how you can reduce stress, because stress can also cause laminitis. Worming, vaccination, traveling or separation from a “friend” can trigger an attack of laminitis. If your horse is stressful you should consider giving him horse calmers.

To learn more about which horse supplements are good to give your horse to reduce the chances of your horse getting laminitis, check out

Navicular in Horses

Navicular syndrome in horses is a bit of an unclear issue which has vets disagreeing at times. Unfortunately when horse owners receive this diagnosis they are given little hope for recovery. Luckily Mother Nature has provided us with some wonderful herbs to help ease the symptoms.

Navicular in horses may initially present itself as intermittent lameness and your horse may stumble a lot when trotting. Diagnosis can be achieved with x-rays. The navicular bone is a small bone in the foot of the horse and it is part of the bony skeleton of the leg, It is held in place by ligaments.

Foot problems account for 90% of all lameness and it is extremely important to take good care of your horse’s feet. Navicular Syndrome can be caused by poor shoeing and weak circulation, correction of both is critical to the improvement of this condition.

When a horse is lame and the foot is thought to be the issue, it is important to eliminate other possible causes. A stone bruise or a crack in the coffin bone could be to blame and an x-ray will usually show the problem.

There are a few issues which may mean your horse has a stronger predisposition to navicular syndrome. Some breeds are more likely to get it and the size of the foot may have a bearing. The smaller the foot on a large horse, the more likelihood of problems. Also the type of activity the horse is involved in. Barrel racing can be particularly stressful on the foot.

If your horse is diagnosed with navicular, there are some very useful herbs you can easily feed. Inflammation is a particular problem so herbs such as Devil’s Claw are great for this. Devil’s Claw will help reduce inflammation and pain without giving a false impression to the horse so he won’t over exert himself.

Devil’s Claw is native to Africa. The root is used for arthritis as it relieves rheumatism and other painful joint disorders. It is also considered a painkiller and has proven to be comparable to cortisone and phenybutazone or bute which is commonly used in this situation. Do not give to mares in foal as it may induce contractions and do not use when gastric ulcers are present.

Circulation is another important issue with navicular and Hawthorn is a great herb for strengthening the heart muscle and increasing the circulation. In Germany Hawthorn is used extensively for heart problems as it is so effective in increasing blood circulation. It acts as a tonic, which widens the blood vessels and reduces high blood pressure.

Hawthorn is one of the oldest traditional medicines used for animals. It is said to be good luck and horses will happily eat it for self- medication if given free access to it. It is said to be one of the best heart tonics available and is beneficial on the circulatory system and blood pressure.

Buckwheat is another very effective herbs for this condition as it strengthens the vessels without affecting blood pressure. Buckwheat is rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium and trace elements.

Herbs that can be of benefit will work by helping the circulation and by reducing the inflammation and pain. It is also important to keep your horse moving which increases circulation and creates good blood flow to the foot.

As with all herbal remedies, concentrating on the whole body will allow your horse to maintain an improved standard of health.


Signs of Laminitis in Horses – Symptoms of Laminitis

A horse with laminitis will likely have sore feet. If you notice your horse doesn’t seem to feel good & seems extremely unwilling to walk even out of his stall, it could be laminitis. Sometimes horses with laminitis will stand with their legs tucked underneath their body. This happens because laminitis most often affects the front feet. Your horse is trying to take the weight off the painful areas by supporting a much of himself as he can with his back feet. In some cases laminitis and founder can also affect the rear feet.

If you think your horse has laminitis, call a vet immediately! If the condition is allowed to progress, the laminae break down and resulting founder can get so bad that the coffin bone can actually come through the bottom of the sole. A horse left suffering with this case will more than likely have to be euthanized.

In a less serious case the horse can probably be saved, but will usually require a long painful recovery and sometimes surgery. In the mildest case your horse may need special shoes. How it all plays out depends on how fast you get your horse to a vet.

Laminitis and founder are serious conditions. The two words are often used interchangeably, but actually refer to two different conditions. Laminitis involves an inflammation of the laminae, which are sensitive tissue I horse’s feet. If it progresses, a bone in the bottom of the foot known as the coffin bone actually rotates, and this is called founder.

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Equine Founder

Equine founder is a very serious condition that is due to the complications and tissue damage of the foot after one or more attacks of laminitis. If not treated properly, founder can cause serious and permanent damage to your horse. If you suspect that your horse has laminitis or founder you should immediately start treatment before it gets worse. Read the information below to find out more about equine founder and how to treat it.

What Causes Laminitis?

Laminitis can be caused by several factors including eating too much grain, lush pasture (especially in the springtime), drinking large amounts of cold water when overheated, overweight horses that do not get enough exercise, too much work on a hard surface and stressful situations. Laminitis causes the feet to become very painful and you will notice this when your horse walks. Most of the time only the front feet will be affected, but it can also affect the hind feet as well.

What Exactly Is Laminits And Founder?

Laminits is an infection of the tissue that connects the coffin bone to the hoof wall (this tissue is called laminae). As these layers separate they cause severe pain in the sensitive tissues underneath the hoof wall. Equine founder then occurs as the laminae die which causes the coffin bone to become unattached to the hoof. The arteries and veins also become damaged and the remaining tissues around the coffin bone will be crushed. With severe cases of founder the coffin bone will rotate downwards through the sole of the hoof to the ground.

How Do I Treat Equine Founder?

The earlier that you can start treating founder the better. Not only do you need to start treating this right away to cure it, but you must also remember that this is a very painful condition for your horse and the sooner that you can relieve his pain, the less stressed out he will be. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the case but you should immediately call your veterinarian as he may need to administer pain killers, fluids or antibiotics and give you other information. Corrective shoeing with heart bars as soon as possible is a very effective method to cure founder, however it is important that your farrier knows how to shoe a foundered horse correctly.

Equine founder will not get better on its own and will only get worse the longer you wait. By starting treatment as soon as possible, your horse can recover from this painful condition and be sound once again.

Is your horse suffering from laminitis or equine founder? Don’t wait until it’s too late to cure him. For more important information about this serious condition including symptoms, causes and treatment methods Click Here.

What Founder looks like in a horse

Rick Gore shows a horse suffering from laminitis / founder. I have a couple of links here you can copy and paste to explain founder in more detail. I discuss causes of founder, like too much rich pasture grass or too much grain. You will see this horse shifting her weight, walking slowly, appearing to be in pain and discomfort, her head is low, ears are floppy and her entire demeanor says pain and discomfort. Technically this horse has laminitis and is not in full blown fonder, if this horse was left on rich pasture grass it would turn into Founder. Often these terms are used interchangeable in the horse world.