Today I am going to address exercise for the hoof care for our equine companions.  Hoof care is something we are very passionate about at Isi Seiyr for as the proverb goes, “No hoof, no horse.”

To properly understand we must go back a few centuries. The first purpose of horse shoes was for war horses. War horses were often taught to battle with their riders by kicking and striking. The advantage of having a shod steed was akin to fighter with brass knuckles, more damage to the enemy.

In today’s society we have forgotten the purposes of horse shoes and so many of our equine companions are needlessly shod. Some try to claim shoes protect their feet while this is, in most cases, farthest from the truth.  Indeed shoeing our horses actually weakens the structure of the hoof and also negatively impacts our horse’s circulation.

Drawing from many years of information, and many sources, we have come to the belief that nature has a perfect plan for the horses hoof health. A barefoot horse with proper trimming, exercise and feeding will many times, suffer next to no hoof problems throughout its life.

 Much like children, who go barefoot all the time, our horses can easily reach the point where they can walk and run even over the hardest rocks without any negative consequences, however, just like us, our horses need time to become accustomed to walking across hard terrain. So, take it slow and use good judgment.

Xenophon, a Greek soldier that lived in 430 – 354 BC, wrote The Art of Horsemanship in which he provides much good information on the care and life of war horses. Much of Xenophon’s writings can easily be applied to today’s equine.  Xenophon stressed the importance of caring for the horse's feet. He suggested that the flooring of the stable should not be damp and should not be smooth, (the custom of the time), and that the stable should therefore be built with sloped channels of cobblestones the size of the horse's hoof. The stableyard should be of pebbles to strengthen the hooves, and should be surrounded by a skirt of iron so that the pebbles do not scatter. These surfaces are intended to strengthen the hoof wall, frog, and sole of the hoof.

In today’s world we won’t find many stables made with cobblestones or pebbles. To emulate this our only options are to rebuild the barn or simply ensure our horses get exercise and time walking on rocks so as to strengthen their feet.  Again I caution you to proceed cautiously. At first you might just walk your horse across a gravel drive for three or four minutes daily. Increasing this time little by little in conjunction with proper trimming and feeding will help the horse’s hooves grow stronger. In horses with hoof injuries special precaution MUST be taken.

This is not meant to be veterinary advice in anyway.