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  1. #1
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    Default Shoes vs Barefoot: A real time test of efficacy

    Like most farriers, I think the application of shoes should always be a function of the individual's need. Need is based on many factors, among them, the existence or predisposition to various pathologies, use, conformation, environment, etc. Simply put, I believe some horses need shoes to do whatever they do as best they can - and some don't.

    Some of the folks on the other side of the aisle are of a differing opinion and have stated unequivocally that no horse needs shoeing - sometimes using the obviously specious argument that horses don't really need to be saddled, harnessed, ridden, etc.; other times, using the patently hypocritical argument that horses don't need shoeing except when their connections are unable to properly "condition" their hooves. At one time or another, this vocal group of barefoot proponents has blamed shoes for every pathology from palmar heel pain to kidney failure and has stated numerous times that barefoot is always best and no horse needs shoeing.

    Is barefoot always best? Or, is the statement just a convenient excuse for the ineptitude of folks unwilling/unable to shoe a horse?

    As I posted on another thread, I have a simple little real time test of the comparative efficacy of the two protocols in mind that will enable anyone with a interest to determine which is more efficacious and I'll see the results are published in the trade journals for peer review. Evidently my post was missed amongst the clutter of the other thread, because none of the barefooters responded to my generous offer to test the real time efficacy of their protocol.

    I'll furnish one or more shod horses that farriers have determined need shoes for various reasons. Each will be evaluated for soundness on the standard AAEP lameness scale by several past and present faculty members of the Texas A&M vet school. Immediately after the initial evaluation, the barefoot camp can pull the shoes and trim the horse(s) in any manner of their choosing. Immediately after trimming, the barefooted horse(s) will again be evaluated by the same veterinarians on the same scale and the results compared. In other words, the proposition is a simple PPE that tests the real time efficacy of the protocols. What could possibly be more fair?

    I, and a few other folks, are willing to support our opinions relative to the outcome of this test with as much money as the barefoot camp might care to wager, with the loser bearing the cost of the test. Hobson's Choice: The barefoot camp can start whining piteously and making specious excuses about how unfair a real time PPE is - or thet can put their money where their mouth is.

    Let the excuses begin!
    Tom Stovall, CJF
    No me preguntes cualquier preguntas, yo te diré no mentiras.



  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stovall View Post
    Some of the folks on the other side of the aisle are of a differing opinion and have stated unequivocally that no horse needs shoeing
    If you're going to bring those people into this, then you need to also mention those farriers and owners/trainers/vets who feel that ALL horses who are ridden need shoes, period. Let's play equally

    other times, using the patently hypocritical argument that horses don't need shoeing except when their connections are unable to properly "condition" their hooves.
    Why is this hypocritical? Why is it wrong for someone to say "I only ride my horses in my pasture or my nicely groomed ring, I don't have the time/means to take him on regular rides on harder/rockier footing so I can't condition his feet for that, so when I decided to go on this rocky trail ride I decided to put shoes on my horse for that ride" ? There are lots of people who don't have the means by which to condition their horse's feet for rougher terrain riding.
    ______________________________
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  3. #3
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    Seems some type of blinding of the evaluators might be better, although I'm not sure how this could easily be done. Perhaps a rotating "team" of veterinarians? And probably half of the horses in the study should be assessed barefoot FIRST, just to keep things as neutral as possible.

    I wonder if some sort of force-plate technology, such as is used by Clayton at Michigan State, would be useful as well?

    Gotta love taking it to the level of data, though. I'd personally love to see this type of study IF it were large enough to really answer the question. Statistically speaking (not my strong suit) you'd need a fair number of subjects to test the hypothesis, which (by the way) needs to clearly state whether you're trying to show a difference in soundness between one group and the other OR whether you're trying to show that a typical "lameness exam" has reproducible validity in two groups of horses. Quite different hypotheses!
    Click here before you buy.



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stovall View Post
    I'll furnish one or more shod horses that farriers have determined need shoes for various reasons. Each will be evaluated for soundness on the standard AAEP lameness scale by several past and present faculty members of the Texas A&M vet school. Immediately after the initial evaluation, the barefoot camp can pull the shoes and trim the horse(s) in any manner of their choosing. Immediately after trimming, the barefooted horse(s) will again be evaluated by the same veterinarians on the same scale and the results compared. In other words, the proposition is a simple PPE that tests the real time efficacy of the protocols. What could possibly be more fair?
    One problem I see with this is that you are taking SHOD horses and pulling shoes and immediately testing the horses. Any barefoot practitioner will tell you that many horses need an adjustment period to become comfortable. Think of it this way. You are used to wearing shoes every day and one day you decide you will not wear them anymore...so cold turkey, off they come. You walk around on some rocks and bruise your tender feet and decide that you can't go barefoot comfortably...so you put your shoes back on.

    What if you had taken time to adjust to being barefoot slowly and gradually? Perhaps you put your shoes on only on very hard or rocky ground or when you were working? When you were just hanging around, you went in your barefeet. Eventually, most people's feet would toughen and callous up and they could eventually be comfortable on rocks also.

    If that person was barefoot from childhood to adulthood and that is all they ever did, most likely they could have very tough hard feet and be comfortable immediately unless they had some problem they were born with like fallen arches or club feet (speaking people not horses.)

    Horses are so similar with one major exception. They need regular hoofcare to have healthy feet. You can't expect a horse to be neglected or have poor trimming it's entire life or one that lives in mud (can you imagine how a person's foot would look if always wet?) to have good hard strong feet. If they are shod too young it can even arrest their development and cause problems for them later also. So horses are a lot more complicated and I don't think so black and white at all.

    Personally I have no problem with the concept that horses sometimes need protection in some form...shoes or boots...so I would not be a good person to take on your challenge as I do not believe in extremes but I just wanted to point out one possible flaw in your conditions.



  5. #5
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    It would appear that Tom Stovall has this insatiable desire for macho gladiator show-downs with people he's never met, over the internet.

    http://www.horseshoes.com/forums/sho...hlight=contest

    Here are 27 pages for your reading enjoyment. A supposed match between two farriers who just couldn't seem to quell their differences and allowed their manliness to gouge a deep rift between them on a public chat board. What a shame. Seemingly the only resolution was for a show down at the Okay Corral, moderated by Tom Stovall himself.

    If you ever can't sleep on a Friday night, you really should read the whole 27 pages. I haven't. Only a few posts here and there, but it's downright creepy. Two dudes daring each other to show up at some remote location for a face off. I expect this to be made into a CSI episode. One dude whacks the other dude on the forehead with a shoeing hammer or something. I think the mod was smart to shut the thread down. Yikes.



  6. #6
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    i personally have never met one person that says "ALL HORSES NEED SHOES". Most say "Some do, and Some Don't".



  7. #7
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    Question question for Tom

    Quote Originally Posted by Auventera Two View Post
    It would appear that Tom Stovall has this insatiable desire for macho gladiator show-downs with people he's never met, over the internet.

    http://www.horseshoes.com/forums/sho...hlight=contest

    Here are 27 pages for your reading enjoyment. A supposed match between two farriers who just couldn't seem to quell their differences and allowed their manliness to gouge a deep rift between them on a public chat board. What a shame. Seemingly the only resolution was for a show down at the Okay Corral, moderated by Tom Stovall himself.

    If you ever can't sleep on a Friday night, you really should read the whole 27 pages. I haven't. Only a few posts here and there, but it's downright creepy. Two dudes daring each other to show up at some remote location for a face off. I expect this to be made into a CSI episode. One dude whacks the other dude on the forehead with a shoeing hammer or something. I think the mod was smart to shut the thread down. Yikes.
    What I wonder is... Tom, if you are a successful farrier, and have lots of clients (and all the driving that being a farrier entails)... how do you have time to post and post and post on Internet BBs?? Shouldn't you be out shoeing horses?

    And FWIW, I am in the camp of "barefoot is great if doable for your horse, but if not, get shoes on him"
    View my photographs at www.horsephotoguy.zenfolio.com



  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Auventera Two View Post
    It would appear that Tom Stovall has this insatiable desire for macho gladiator show-downs with people he's never met, over the internet.

    http://www.horseshoes.com/forums/sho...hlight=contest

    Here are 27 pages for your reading enjoyment. A supposed match between two farriers who just couldn't seem to quell their differences and allowed their manliness to gouge a deep rift between them on a public chat board. What a shame. Seemingly the only resolution was for a show down at the Okay Corral, moderated by Tom Stovall himself.

    If you ever can't sleep on a Friday night, you really should read the whole 27 pages. I haven't. Only a few posts here and there, but it's downright creepy. Two dudes daring each other to show up at some remote location for a face off. I expect this to be made into a CSI episode. One dude whacks the other dude on the forehead with a shoeing hammer or something. I think the mod was smart to shut the thread down. Yikes.
    Hey Vicky,
    Just to be fair I figured it only right that someone should also show Mr Stovall giving you a bit of a thrashing too. Enjoy!
    http://www.horseshoes.com/forums/sho...?t=5678&page=8
    George



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daydream Believer View Post
    One problem I see with this is that you are taking SHOD horses and pulling shoes and immediately testing the horses. Any barefoot practitioner will tell you that many horses need an adjustment period to become comfortable. Think of it this way. You are used to wearing shoes every day and one day you decide you will not wear them anymore...so cold turkey, off they come. You walk around on some rocks and bruise your tender feet and decide that you can't go barefoot comfortably...so you put your shoes back on.

    What if you had taken time to adjust to being barefoot slowly and gradually? Perhaps you put your shoes on only on very hard or rocky ground or when you were working? When you were just hanging around, you went in your barefeet. Eventually, most people's feet would toughen and callous up and they could eventually be comfortable on rocks also.

    If that person was barefoot from childhood to adulthood and that is all they ever did, most likely they could have very tough hard feet and be comfortable immediately unless they had some problem they were born with like fallen arches or club feet (speaking people not horses.)

    Horses are so similar with one major exception. They need regular hoofcare to have healthy feet. You can't expect a horse to be neglected or have poor trimming it's entire life or one that lives in mud (can you imagine how a person's foot would look if always wet?) to have good hard strong feet. If they are shod too young it can even arrest their development and cause problems for them later also. So horses are a lot more complicated and I don't think so black and white at all.

    Personally I have no problem with the concept that horses sometimes need protection in some form...shoes or boots...so I would not be a good person to take on your challenge as I do not believe in extremes but I just wanted to point out one possible flaw in your conditions.
    Agreed. You can't just pull the shoes off a horse and expect it to preform the way it could if the horse had been barefoot all it's life.

    A better test would be to take two VERY closely related horses. Same sire, dams full sisters or something to that effect. Raise them both the same only shoeing one and doing a barefoot trim on the other. Of course it would be hard to make sure both were treated the same, but it would be a much better test. In an ideal situation you would have 20-30 pairs of foals of different breeds and see how they are over time. If that makes any sense.

    You could also take a foal who's parents had been shod most of their lives and who had 'poor' feet (small, thin walls, thin sole, whatever you want to consider poor) and trim him with a barefoot trim right from the start and just SEE if if it was possible for him to go barefoot for any length of time.



  10. #10
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    There's a whole other category of people (who in some ways might be more problematic) who don't think about their horse's hooves at all.

    At least the barefootistas and the horseshoe-istas are (usually) trying to learn what they need to know and implement it. And certainly there are bad (harmful) barefoot trimming protocols just as there are bad (harmful) shoers. But I'm willing to bet that the hooves of the horses of all the people who post on these (oh-so-acrimonious) barefoot vs. shod threads are probably in pretty good shape.

    But there are a lot of people who don't really know what they're looking at when they look at the hooves, either shod or barefoot. And they take on faith that their trimmer or farrier is doing great. How many threads have there been that have started with "I love my farrier/trimmer but now my horse is lame. What's wrong?" Then the pictures of the hooves get posted and a kind of collective whistle of amazement goes up among the assorted viewers that hooves could get so bad.

    So, this was a long-winded introduction to the following comment: data would be great. But you'd need a lot of horses on both sides, doing similar work on similar footings with similar conformations for any of the data to be meaningful. And you'd need a control group as well.

    Otherwise you'll just have a lot more anecdotes (DW's bane I believe).



  11. #11
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    George - there's about 20 other threads you could have linked to also. I've never known Tom to "not" give me a thrashing! Or anyone else that dares disagree with him, for that matter. I recall the Administrator at horeshoes.com sending out a mass email to every member warning that the level of discourse has fallen to unthinkable lows and things need to clean up for the sake of the board's reputation. So it would seem that everyone over there ended up getting a thrashing by the thrashings gods.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rancher View Post
    You could also take a foal who's parents had been shod most of their lives and who had 'poor' feet (small, thin walls, thin sole, whatever you want to consider poor) and trim him with a barefoot trim right from the start and just SEE if if it was possible for him to go barefoot for any length of time.
    I have done that and seen some remarkably lovely feet from those foals. I also have seen a couple with feet that wanted to get tough but if you catch them early enough (ie a grazing foot), keep their heels down, you can make a huge difference in their development. Early and consistent hoof care is so incredibly critical to proper hoof development...and so many foals get let go and untrimmed and then later have issues from that early poor development. I certainly do think some horses have genetically poor feet but I don't think it's as often as people make it out to be.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daydream Believer View Post
    I have done that and seen some remarkably lovely feet from those foals. I also have seen a couple with feet that wanted to get tough but if you catch them early enough (ie a grazing foot), keep their heels down, you can make a huge difference in their development. Early and consistent hoof care is so incredibly critical to proper hoof development...and so many foals get let go and untrimmed and then later have issues from that early poor development. I certainly do think some horses have genetically poor feet but I don't think it's as often as people make it out to be.
    I agree with this 100%. So often people THINK it's genetics when really its just that the foal was raised the same way as the parents. Not always as you say, but probably more often than people think. I also think a huge contributer to poor feet is foals being kept in stalls while they are very young (often just like their parents). I think foals NEED to be able to run free as soon as they are able. I have heard of people who keep their mare and foal in a stall for MONTHS and never turn them out. I think that's kinda scary. But of course, that's just my opinion.



  14. #14
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    I was told that one of my mares just has "bad genes" because her mother had horrendous feet, and she was starting to get the same way. Well, guess what? She's shoeless - has been for almost 3 years now - and is perfectly sound. She did 2 endurance rides this season, and I can't even think how many trail miles, most of it bare, some in boots. She is a certified Search and Rescue mount, and did the certification bare (no boots).

    Her only problem is downhill conformation and some high ringbone which isn't causing her any lameness. If I'd continued in the shoes, she'd likely be in some 200 dollar package of fancy handmade therapeutic shoes, and still lame, and it would be blamed on her "bad genes."

    I don't deny that some horses do need shoes. (severe trauma, genetic deformities or conformation issues come to mind.) But most of the time, it is the people that need the shoes so they can accomplish their 30 foot slide, or safely get over their 6 foot grand prix fence. The horse would be just fine without the shoes if the demands we place weren't so far beyond what the horse is naturally able to deliver.



  15. #15
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    it is the people that need the shoes so they can accomplish their 30 foot slide, or safely get over their 6 foot grand prix fence. The horse would be just fine without the shoes if the demands we place weren't so far beyond what the horse is naturally able to deliver.
    Well yeah, but the purpose most of our horses serve DOES require them to jump things, run, stop, turn...of course most of them would do just fine standing around, but that isn't their lot in life!

    No demand for horses = no horses. Where would the Thoroughbred be without the racing industry? Should we all just feed them and look at them wandering around in the pasture? Actually....that is what I do most of the time, LOL! But you're not really suggesting that we not use horses for anything but pasture puffs or trail riding, are you?
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  16. #16
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    I think a study would be great - but agree more than just a few horses.
    Have some horses (already) shod for navicular/founder - and some shod for performance or just because the horse NQR w/o shoes. (thin soles?). Then pull the shoes and have barefooters trim them over a period of time. The shod horses obviously had been in shoes for some time - so the barefooters should also be allowed a period of time for adjustment and their proposed corrections/protocol.
    Give the barefooters weeks, months or even a year for the results. This should not be a timed event. The goal is to get the horse/s sound - and if takes a year - so be it.
    What is a year in the life of a horse if it dramatically changes his future (or saves his life).
    FWIW - the magazine (?) "The Horse's Hoof" which comes out quarterly - is always full of befores and afters. Horses recovered from navicular, founder etc to live happy lives - and performing. Shoes were removed and/or trimming methods changed for the results.
    Various trimming styles mentioned in that magazine.



  17. #17
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    What I wonder is... Tom, if you are a successful farrier, and have lots of clients (and all the driving that being a farrier entails)... how do you have time to post and post and post on Internet BBs?? Shouldn't you be out shoeing horses?
    Texang...I believe Tom is a retired farrier.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auventera Two View Post
    George - there's about 20 other threads you could have linked to also. I've never known Tom to "not" give me a thrashing! Or anyone else that dares disagree with him, for that matter.
    Just so long as you're fully aware of what you're dealing with here. All I can recommend to you is if it's your intent to try to tangle with Mr Stovall (entertaining as it might be) Dont bring a knife to a gunfight
    George



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    Well yeah, but the purpose most of our horses serve DOES require them to jump things, run, stop, turn...of course most of them would do just fine standing around, but that isn't their lot in life!

    No demand for horses = no horses. Where would the Thoroughbred be without the racing industry? Should we all just feed them and look at them wandering around in the pasture? Actually....that is what I do most of the time, LOL! But you're not really suggesting that we not use horses for anything but pasture puffs or trail riding, are you?
    Sorry I wasn't clear. Jumping, running, spinning, sliding to a stop, can all be accomplished without shoes. But when we ask our horses to jump 6 feet high, or run 40 mph, or slide 30 feet, then we get into a situation where they MUST have shoes or they can't be successful, with success being defined by our show committees, of course. Of course some horses, can compete at the highest levels of a particular sport barefoot, but not nearly enough of them.

    The point was that horses most certainly can be used in various disciplines, shoeless, but the demands we place on them far exceed their natural abilities.

    Boots can be used for running, jumping, sliding, spinning, etc. but to the olympic type level? Probably not. Because our expectations continually grow. We always want more.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHUshoer20 View Post
    Just so long as you're fully aware of what you're dealing with here. All I can recommend to you is if it's your intent to try to tangle with Mr Stovall (entertaining as it might be) Dont bring a knife to a gunfight
    George
    My intent is to have a good laugh at Tom's internet fight refereeing tendencies.



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