Natural Balance Shoes

Question:
I have learned a great deal about hoof care from your website. I have a question about "natural balance aluminum shoes". Are they the same thing as shoes described in your article regarding squaring of the toe (read break-over factor too)? I just watched a different farrier shoe a bunch of horses with aluminum "natural balance shoes". My current farrier does not believe in squaring toes and forges custom iron shoes (he diagnosed anhidrosis in my horse when the local vet couldn't figure it out). However I am not sure if these "natural balance shoes" are the same thing and the reason I'm asking is due to criticism of my horse's hooves by this other farrier. (Also these "natural balance shoes" may be a bigger trend than you can imagine.) Please let me know so I don't get talked into something by a trainer or farrier after I move and no longer have my farrier that talks straight. Thanks so much for what you do.

Answer:
I always say to folks to listen carefully to what is being said, and more often than not the nonsense is found in the words alone just like in this case. There is no such thing as natural balanced shoe, because there is nothing natural about shoeing a horse, let alone about the shoe, and the only naturally balanced foot is found only on wild horses that have never been trimmed. It is the trimming by the farrier that can either offset the natural balance of the hoof or can maintain it. On the same note the naturally balanced hoof may not be always suitable for the particular work, and so often we have to trim and or shoe the horse in such way to enable the animal to perform the required work more safely and securely, since we often breed horses for particular works, hence altering their nature. And so as you can see there are many factors to be considered when trimming or shoeing working horses, and the same goes for general hoof care.

This natural balanced shoe is therefore nothing more than a promotional gimmick to sell something "new" and of course "natural" and "balanced" to the unsuspected fools. They are selling words not items! It is not about horses it is about money and silly suckers born every minute. And yes, the article about square toes is pertinent to this shoe as well (the break-over factor too).

Horses for most part go lame, because people don't know what they are doing, and for no other reasons except self-inflicted accidental injuries usually when turned out. Whenever a horse got injured in my training I've always found the fault in me, and that is how I've learned to prevent injuries. I did not look for solutions in the technology or veterinary but rather in my actions.

I always say, when someone comes up with something new around horses, wait about 4 or 5 years and then find out what it does to the horses and not what people say about it. I also say that horsemanship is almost as old as the oldest profession and no one there is claiming discovering something new. In horsemanship the fools fall for the "new things", while the wise search for what we have forgotten or failed to learn from previous generations.

I have just done a horse that another farrier shot with these "naturally balanced shoes" and the horse was lame. I've simply trimmed and reset the hoof as close as possible to the natural balance of the horse and according to the animal's work, as well as the individual needs, then put on egg bars since the horse had certain soundness issues, and the horse was sound the next day and since then.

Also any plastic or rubber under the horse is harmful to the feet and soundness of the horse. The Ancient Greeks stalled their horses on stone pebbles the size of a golf ball, barefooted of course, and turned them out in round pens on pebbles the size of baseballs. Hard surface makes hard and tough not only feet but also the legs and horses in general, hence the Arabian horse has such strong feet and legs because it moves on rocks without any shoes, as opposed to the Thoroughbred that has fairly weak foot because it lives on grass.

Whenever you find anything around horses with the word natural in it walk away from it, as the word natural is one of the main sales-gimmick-words, and that not only for horses but also for people. Natural is what comes from the nature, while everything that comes from humans is unnatural, hence there is no such thing as natural horsemanship or anything natural around horses where the humans are involved. The domestication of animals is unnatural, hence anything pertaining to that is also unnatural. Once you are aware of this reality, you can then learn, from the horse of course, how to make up for the unbalance caused by human interaction. For example we teach the riding horses to go in the artificial riding balance, lest they suffer injuries, because it is unnatural for the horse to carry a rider. On the same note we shoe horses for work, because it is unnatural for the horse to work for human beings. On the scale 1 to 10 the natural balanced horse shoes gets 10 for being one of the most ridiculous and downright absurd terms just like the natural trim or natural horsemanship.

Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek - July 17, 20012