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The Barefoot Paradigm – Part Two

Part two of Yvonne Welz’s The Barefoot Paradigm

This definition of the Barefoot Paradigm comes directly from material authored by Dr. Hiltrud Strasser, Jaime Jackson, Pete Ramey, KC La Pierre, and flows through all the studies presented by Dr. Robert Bowker. Each of these people have inspired unique schools of thought, and yet there is one single continuity. And in the end, we discover that the Barefoot Paradigm is all about the choices made by the horse owner.

The Barefoot Paradigm:

1) Because domestication has created so many health problems for the horse, we must recognize and study the natural equine and identify its true biological needs.

2) Once these genuine, physiological needs for good health have been identified, we must remove those elements of our care which are causing problems for our horses, and modify their lifestyle to promote better health.

3) With the right combination of improved living environment, diet, exercise, and trimming of the hooves to encourage a natural hoof form, horses can live in a domestic situation with extremely healthy bare hooves, and can perform nearly any task that is humane to ask from a horse.

4) When we encounter health and/or hoof problems, we do not simply apply “symptom relief.” We go back to step one, and repeat the entire process, scrutinizing what combination of factors caused the problem—then removing the cause.

The Barefoot Paradigm is about putting the needs of the horse first. There is never a single right or wrong answer to any problem; it is about doing the best we can for our horses within any limitations that we might have at this time. Hoof protection is sometimes a necessity, and can be very helpful when it is used appropriately and chosen with great care. The Barefoot Paradigm is not about being “anti-shoe.” However, because of the great damage and interruption of normal circulation caused by metal horseshoes, it would be rare to ever find that an acceptable solution to any problem. As such, we find that shoes are no longer the “necessary evil” they once were—there are now so many other choices. This is about CHOOSING WELL.

One problem we are now having, due to the increased popularity of the barefoot movement, is that so many people are taking their horses barefoot—without even understanding the Barefoot Paradigm first. These people don’t realize that they have missed the entire boat. Whether barefoot fails or succeeds is something they will simply observe, rather than understand it is something that YOU DO! Sorry, if your horse’s shoes have just fallen off, that does NOT make you a barefooter! Likewise, if your farrier doesn’t apply shoes to your horse, and it happens to be working for you—but you’ll slap shoes right back on if they ever become “needed”—that does NOT make you a barefooter. Barefooters make it work, by figuring out what they are doing wrong, and doing it better for their horse!

To be continued next week

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About the Author

Yvonne and her husband James started The Horse’s Hoof in September of 2000. James is a former computer systems administrator and printshop/technical equipment guru who gave up his career to become a barefoot hoofcare professional. Yvonne is a former desktop publishing wizard who transferred her skills over to this company. And so The Horse’s Hoof came into being, initially as a website, and then as a printed publication to support the new interest in barefoot horse care.

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