From The Editor
Everyday we learn something new. At least one thing. I have been fortunate enough to learn uncountable new things since starting this magazine. Most recently I have learned a lot about the proper care of the hooves and how they are naturally at their best and most functional. I have learned that barefoot is best, for the horse anyway, and that is what we as a magazine are about. Dr. Hiltrud Strasser, Jaime Jackson, Martha Olivo, Lyle Bergeleen and others have lots to share about the virtues of the bare hoof, and I thank them and applaud them for their monumental efforts to educate horsemen on the proper care of the hoof and the horse.
It is this 'new' information (learned from some very ancient and wise individuals - the wild horses) that is sweeping the horse world and awakening us with revelations. Hopefully before too long all horses can benefit from the transition to barefoot and optimum living conditions. It is possible. Man and horse can still ride, race, and perform without shoeing the horse. There may be less convenience or more, depending on individual situations, but the fruits of any additional labors will make up for the efforts because the horses will be healthier, stronger, happier, and more productive, and they will live longer.
And what does this mean for the farrier? It means a change, not an end. Instead of forging shoes and nailing them to the hoof (thereby harming the hoof), farriers can learn to do correct trims and perhaps rename themselves as hoofcare specialists. The transition from shoeing to barefoot involves regular correct trims and natural living conditions, so former farriers can be educating themselves and their clients on the proper function and care of the hoof and what horses naturally need. This transition may also involve the use of hoof boots, so fitting and selling boots can be a facet of hoof care specialty. As for forging and metalworking, there are unlimited ideas on functional and decorative creations that can be made from horseshoes, both used and new ones.
For both farrier and owner, learning and knowing the harm that shoeing and unnatural living conditions bring to the horse means being faced with a decision and a question. The decision - Do I change things and go the extra steps to make domestic life for the horse better (more natural), or do I continue with what is familiar and/or convenient and/or profitable? And the question - How do I tell the owner I've been doing things 'wrong' all this time?
Learning something new, especially something contradictory to previous beliefs and practices, may put us in this difficult situation. How we decide to handle it may spur us to examine ourselves about our motives in working with the horse, and how the clients respond may reveal their motives as well. But bringing to the owner the new knowledge of what is best for the horse, with enthusiasm and a desire to educate the owner as well, could only serve to strengthen the professional relationship. New knowledge will forever come along, and will forever test our integrity. Just try to remember that any adjustments in the direction of improving things for the horse (from his perspective) will be greatly appreciated by him, and most likely his owner.
In this issue, in "Special Features", we are again presenting the barefoot hoof as Nature intended it to be, featuring Martha Olivo. There is much to be learned and she has many answers.
We also have a new section called "Expert Exchange", a question and answer section for all readers to take part in. Please send us your questions; we have a panel of experts waiting to share their knowledge.