American Farrier's Journal | 2006
There is a growing fad in the horse industry that states, "Mother Nature
knows best." There is the Natural Balance shoeing, Natural supplements,
Natural potions, lotions and creams. The buzzword is "Natural". The
assumption is, Natural is better.
But I submit to you that if you love your horse you will PROTECT it from
Mother Nature. You will do everything you can to avoid the cruelty and
realities of Mother Nature.
The first young horse that I bought to train from start to finish made me
realize that nature was at odds with my keeping a sound, healthy horse for
After I bought her I had a veterinarian give her all her shots and de-
worming. Mother Nature says that intestinal parasites and tetanus are
Natural. But I didn't want a sick listless horse.
When she was three years old I put her on a 1200-acre ranch in the foothills
to help teach her "to find her legs", the way nature intended. Several weeks
later she had fallen or slipped in a very rocky area and had severe lacerations
on her legs and chest. Mother nature said she was going to die. Luckily the
veterinarian had spent many years developing his skills at thwarting Mother
Six years later I had my mare bred. Again the vet was involved in keeping
Mother Nature at bay and giving me a healthy foal. I was not around for the
foaling and my mare retained part of her after-birth. Within two days she
was very sick and started to founder. Again Mother Nature said she was
going to die. Once again Man and his technology intervened and she and
her foal were saved.
Over my many years of horse ownership and working in the horse industry I
have seen that Mother Nature is a cruel mistress. She has no personal
interest in the horses that I ride and love. Mother Nature rarely knows best
and in fact I spend a lot of money keeping Mother Nature in check.
As I look around I notice that I do in fact spend most of my money keeping
Mother Nature away from my family and my animals. My biggest purchase
is my home where I protect my family from cold, heat, wind, rain, snow - in
reality, Mother Nature. I fence my property to keep wild animals that carry
rabies, EPM and other natural occurring diseases away from my animals and
I have a barn to keep my horses away from Nature's elements. I bed them in
pine shavings, which is not the natural habitat of the horse. I use blankets to
protect my horses; the veterinarian regularly inoculates and treats my
animals from nature's attacks. I ride my horses, which nature never intended
and I ride them in an unnatural terrain, a well-groomed arena with a solid
base and washed sand.
My wife's horse doesn't even resemble the 'wild horse'. We have traced his
ancestry back for many, many generations. He is bred to be a cutting horse.
His sire and dam and their sires and dams were bred to cut. He has been
selectively bred over many generations for a specific discipline, not
indiscriminately bred to just survive in the wild and eventually become a
food source for a pack of wolves.
So why after all the expenses of protecting my horses from Nature do I want
trim his feet so he resembles a natural food source for wolves and coyotes?
You never see a wild horse running the Kentucky Derby. Those
Thoroughbreds have been selectively bred for many generations to out
perform the "Natural" or "wild" horse. You see feet trimmed and shod to
outperform anything that Mother Nature has yet devised.
You never see a wild horse at Spruce Meadows. And you never see a
"Natural" foot. These horses are housed, fed, trimmed and shod to maximize
their jumping talents.
Man has taken the 'wild' horse and selectively bred that animal to perform
amazing feats that no 'wild, natural horse' could ever hope to duplicate. We
have specialized feed to help our horses reach maximum size and health.
Technology has allowed man to intervene in Mother Nature's plan for our
horses and we have developed vaccines, antibiotics, lameness evaluation
techniques and treatments so that our animals are not low performing food
sources like the 'wild horse'. So why do we want everything about our horse
to be superior to the 'natural or wild' horse but insist that his feet resemble
those found in nature?
In the many years that the wild horse "study" has been around advocating a
foot like those found on natural horses, there has been no inroads into equine
athletic activities by using the wild foot as the model. The foot found on a
'wild' horse will not allow them to run a one minute, thirty-five second mile,
or a twenty second 400-yard dash. The foot found on a wild horse does not
enhance the athletic ability of reining horses, cutting horses, jumping horses
and so on and so forth throughout the many disciplines man has asked the
horse to perform.
Take a look at a 'wild' horse's hoof. It is cracked, chipped, broken and just
plain ugly. It is in such bad shape that it takes many months to trim the
"wild" out of the feet so the horse can become useful to us.
Genghis Ghan quickly realized that the horses his cavalry used could not
stay sound with a 'natural foot'. He had a small army of people weaving reed
sandals to protect the horse's feet.
The Romans knew that the natural foot would only serve a wild horse. To
be used by man, modifications had to be made. Man had to intervene.
Doesn't it make sense that, in the late 1880's the small farms and small
business owners who relied on horses to distribute their products could save
any money they could by not shoeing the horses if Mother Natures foot was
functional for their animals? They lived in a state of poverty yet knew that
their horses had to be shod to stay sound and useful.
If you love your horse you will protect it from Mother Nature. You will use
every medical and husbandry technique available to help your horse live a
long, healthy, pain free life. You will use the traditional trimming and
shoeing techniques that have helped to bring the horse out of the 'wild,
natural' state to a superior performing, domestic friend and companion that
we all know and love.