During the Past month or so, I have heard a lot about barefoot or natural horses. These are horses that do not wear shoes to protect their feet. So I went out and found some related research which I found fasinating, enjoy!
LIVING CONDITIONS OF THE BAREFOOT HORSE:
- TURNOUT 24/7: Horses roam up to 20 miles daily when in the wild. This not only keeps their bodies healthy but their hooves in a good, natural trim.
- LIVING IN HERD SITUATION: For mental health and physical it is best if you can keep horses in a herd rather than paddocked singularly. They look to each other for safety, warmth, grooming and move each other around for exercise.
- CONDITION & TYPE OF GROUND FOR TURNOUT: As varied type fo terrain as you can find is the most preferable – rocky, sandy, grassy, forest, wet, dry, soaked … horses need to have their hooves constantly exposed to natural terrains and environments for ultimate health.
- GRAZING: Not only do horses prefer to be out in the open where they can see what’s going on around them, they graze in a natural head down position which allows them to be calm and comfortable. The body actually is hard-wired to send calming messages to the brain when the head is down. It also is the way that horses clear their sinus passages and bronchial tubes from irritants and phlegm. Horses should eat from ground level at all times.
- SHELTER: If providing a man-made shelter in the field for the horse, allow the floor to be a natural substance rather than shavings. Shavings dry out the hooves in a matter of minutes and is detrimental to the overall health of the hoof.
FEED & NUTRITION OF THE BAREFOOT HORSE:
- Natural, whole grains should be supplements to a diet of varied forages and grasses. Hay, trees, shrubs, bushes, weeds, herbs, flowers — these are all part of a natural horse’s diet. Each element offers specific vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain a healthy gut and body.
- Feed the domestic horse with free choice, 24 hour access to grass hay. Addition of a small amount (1 or 2 flakes) of legume hay (Alfalfa) is encouraged on a daily basis.
- Horses eat 18 hours a day in the wild. Their stomachs are small, relatively speaking and can only hold 2 – 4 liters of substance at a time. The gut continually produces acids to break down the feedstuffs on a 24 hour basis. If supplementing grain to the hay, 4 smaller feedings a day is prefereable to just 1 or 2 feedings a day.
HEALTH MAINTENANCE OF THE NATURAL HORSE:
- Use Homeopathics and Herbals for maintaining or
- Try to stay away from processed, chemical medicines or topicals
- Minimal chemical de-worming or vaccinating (exceptions)
- Use the least invasive treatments for medical/health care as possible.