The Natural Equine's Goals
2. Natural Barefoot Trimming
Once we get the internal health of our horses on track, the focus should shift to their physical or external issues and needs. Let's start with those hooves. In the wild, hooves are built strong, they have wide frogs and beveled toes. How do they achieve this? They walk, they walk a lot. Depending on where they are, they walk over rocks, sand, have access to water, they step over tree limbs, this all allows them to self trim and create the perfect foot. And of course, they get the nutrition they need as they need it by eating certain plants and herbs.
A natural barefoot trim is best, again science has shown us that by trimming the hoof the way it dictates or the way they horse needs it balanced, we can achieve proper stimulation and growth. Who can go barefoot? Any horse, even sport horses. We are seeing more jumpers, race horses, dressage, endurance and even barrel horses going barefoot. A balanced trim allows the horse to grow the optimal hoof. Frequent trims (every 4-6 weeks) are very important. Respecting the “healing” angle is paramount. Being barefoot enables the hoof to contract and expand naturally and is essential for circulation of the blood. Frequent trims allows the hoof to grow strong and naturally. If the horse goes too long (beyond 6 weeks), the hoof will damage itself and begin to crack and the horses energy is spent on healing the hoof and foot instead of using that energy to grow thicker and stronger. The transition to healthy feet can take time. If we are consistent with our trimming rotation we will usually see awesome results in 4-6 months. For horses prone to hoof issues, we can heal not only internally with proper nutrition but, we can use nature's other healing powers like homeopathy (internally) and essential oils (externally) to combat any issues.
The other side of physical health is the balance of the horse's body. Horses, like people can get injured. They can get not only muscle, ligament, tendon damage but, their bones can go out of alignment. They can also have tight fascia. Fascia is the system of soft connective tissue surrounding every muscle, tendon, ligament and bone throughout the body. The fascia keeps the muscles, tendons, and ligaments gliding smoothly over one another but, repetitive stress, injuries and gravity, degydration and emoitonal stress or trauma can affect the healthy fascia and over time, fascia develops stuck places that restrict its flexibility. Though Fascia does this to protect an injury while it heals, once it’s healed, the fascia keeps on holding. These stuck patterns in the body and compensations in movement develop. It becomes harder for the horse to bend or canter in one direction. Horses can twist the wrong way just playing or they can be overworked which can cause inflammation. A pulled, torn, or inflamed muscle can cause a lot of pain for performance horses, pleasure horses and pasture horses, not to mention what a fall or twist can do to the bones, tendons and muscles. This can cause a lot of pain and can create a dangerous situation. Your always sweet horse can all the sudden become a bit moody or even try to kick or throw you off. When this happens we need to look deeper to see what is going on.
Just some of the benefits from body work are as follows: INCREASES BLOOD CIRCULATION, RELIEVES SPASMS & MUSCLE TENSION, MUSCLE PERFORMANCE & MUSCLE TONE, STRETCHES CONNECTIVE TISSUE, RELAXES STIFFNESS, DECREASES INFLAMMATION , STIMULATES THE NERVOUS , SYSTEMS INCREASE STRENGTH & AGILITY
1. Nutrition & Internal Health
What you feed your horse will not only impact their internal health but also dictate what you see on the outside. The first key is maintaining a healthy digestive system for our horse(s), while making sure they are getting enough nutrients without getting to many. We can see where deficiencies and toxicity levels are at by noticing both mental and physical changes in our horses. We have come to learn that sugars in grains and in grass are dangerous to the horses overall health. We have also learned that most commercial brands foods are not what we should be feeding our horses because science is showing us that what most of us feed our horses is not only unnecessary, but in fact just plain unhealthy. Many of today's commercialized horse food is overly processed, high in sugar, contaminated with pesticides and over run with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), that the nutrients that are supposed to be in there are not on the vital levels our horses need.
Truth is, horses were not made to eat grain in the first place. If you think about it, the closest thing to grain a wild horse gets is a grass seed. If we feed a forage based diet, such as timothy pellets and other forage pellets and focus on more high quality hay/pasture, minerals and other whole foods we can ensure we are giving our horses what they need. Hay and soil testing tells lets us know what is lacking or over abundant. Slow-feeding hay nets or laying out small piles of hay to create movement which is important for digestion. Keeping pasture grass less than 3" tall creates constant movement for horses also. Whole foods, like fruits and veggies, along with good quality herbs, allows us to get as close to nature as we can.
4. Environment & Socialization
When your horse is internally and physically healthy and sound, it creates a happier emotional state. But it's not that simple. Horses also need proper stimulation. Having a herd is vital to their mental state. It allows your horse(s) to socialize how they were designed to. Just having a two horse herd will make a huge impact, of course, the bigger the herd, the more natural of a socializing environment your horse will have.
How we interact with our horses plays another vital part. The way we train them can impact their emotional health. Horses should be able to be horses and enjoy doing what they do, while at the same time, because we like to ride, we need to be sure they understand what we are asking and are not being forced to do something they are not comfortable with. In other words, they need to trust you as their human, that are you more than someone who feeds and rides them. The love and trust you show them will come back three-fold and the relationship between human and horse can be a beautiful bond.
When we apply all these elements, we really can have a healthy, happy horse.