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A Professional Plea

The final excerpt from Dr. Thomas Teskey’s – Breaking Traditions: A Veterinary Medical and Ethical Perspective On the Modern Day Usage of Steel Horseshoes

A professional plea.

Veterinarians…my colleagues: recommending shoes for a horse before you became aware of the overwhelming evidence against such a practice is forgivable, but if you continue that practice once you’ve been alerted to its dangers and understand the concepts, you’re courting contempt. As recently as three years ago, I was prescribing eggbar shoes, pads, impression material and other bizarre procedures–I can’t do that anymore. I deeply regret that many horses died at my hands because I didn’t know what to do to save them. Now when I see horses with similar conditions, I can treat them without prescribing shoes, indeed often without anything more complicated than proper trimming of their hooves, movement, and diet. Most of these horses are better in a short time. Better yet, by keeping clients’ horses out of shoes all together as they mature, the typical, super-prevalent hoof problems will largely be a thing of the past. I encourage all veterinarians to become students of the hoof and experience the huge degree of personal satisfaction that is attained by saving that “hopeless” case, and see the relief in the eyes of owners when they realize they’ll never have to shoe their horses again–the gratitude and admiration I continue to receive from these folks begins a journey from ownership to stewardship.

I implore all veterinarians to learn about the much better ways we have of truly protecting horses’ feet with alternatives to steel shoes–the natural trim based upon the rediscovered and continually-improving understanding of the workings of the equine foot, and a myriad of different hoof boot designs with more coming all the time. Boots allow a horse’s feet to have vital mechanism with every step, and can completely protect the feet. It’s really hard for me to even fathom using a steel shoe at all because these devices are simply not offering anything beneficial to a horse…only harm. We can’t continue to apply them and feel good about it.

This is a plea to equine professionals everywhere. People around the world are beginning to grasp some very fundamental concepts of horse care and the care of their feet, and they will need your help in implementing what they want for their horses. Some are doing it themselves in their own back yards, taking hoof knives in hand and saving their own horses, out of a desperation born from an inability to garner professional help. It is up to you to look at the available data, evaluate it critically, relate it to the anatomy and physiology of the horse and apply it to the horses in your care. By doing so you will become an integral part of improving the health and welfare of horses everywhere. The fact is that truth and knowledge are destined to win out, in spite of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Coming into the knowledge of the horse’s hoof is a powerful thing. I encourage those who have acquired this knowledge to use it, but to tread lightly! Speak with conviction, but maintain an open ear to the concerns of others. Listen as they express their insecurities and ignorance concerning the use of steel shoes; remember, that is all they have ever known. Be honest about the time and effort it will take to undo the harm shoes have caused. Learning how to enlighten and influence those that have a difficult time seeing and/or admitting what it is best for the horse is our goal.

I am continuing to learn every day as I listen to people and their concerns. I’m learning what is best to say and how best to say it. Sometimes, I don’t know the whole answer, and it’s actually helpful when that happens, because it forces me to learn more, dig deeper, and consult with others who know more than I do. It has never caused an erosion of the base of truth concerning the horse’s hoof, rather, it allows me to further strengthen that base for my convictions.

The power of truth.

The nature of the horse tells us what we need to know about the horse. The truth speaks for itself without me having to sell you anything tangible. This is the hallmark of dealing with the truth. It’s difficult confronting the mainstream and trying to turn the tide, but once you become enlightened, a powerful energy will be yours to embrace: the power of the truth; the power to heal; the power of the horse!

For more information, run an internet search for “barefoot horse”, or email me directly, at tomasteskey @ (without spaces)

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