Making Natural Hoof Care Work For You
"If you have any interest in your horses hooves at all, which every self-respecting horseperson does because the hooves are the horse's foundation, then "Making Natural Hoof Care Work For You" is the book for you.
This essential book is a well-written, hands-on manual on hoof care and trimming intended for the horse caretaker, veterinarian, and farrier. It's author Pete Ramey, is a working natural hoof care practitioner and the Principal instructor in the Certification Program of the American Association of Natural Hoof Care Practitioners.
Pete presents a simple, straightforward approach to hoof trimming that leads to sound, tough, natural hooves, without the tenderfootedness that often occurs during the transition back to natural. Pete explains in detail why this tenderfootedness happens and how it can be avoided, and how to achieve sound hooves.
"Getting On the Same Page" is the title of the Introduction, and thankfully it attempts to do just that- get all those in favor of helping the horse to work together, and be on the same page, on hoof care-and more. This is a very important part of the text and reflects the 'FOR the horse' attitude of the book.
The chapters of the book are: Our Model, The Natural Hoof; The Domestic Hoof; The Basic Natural Trim; Maintenance Trimming; Rehabilitation Trimming; Natural Horsekeeping; Transition; Trimming For a Living; and an epilogue, The future of Natural Hoof Care. A very helpful and important section on gentle horse-handling techniques is included in one of the chapters as well. There are helpful recourses and a handy index. Pete answers a lot of questions that have so far gone unanswered in other texts. There is little if anything to be improved upon with this book, yet Pete points out that there is always something to be learned form hooves, and experience is the real teacher.
Pete provides a wealth of excellent diagrams and photos to explain the whys, hows and wherefores of hoof care and trimming. It contains no-nonsense, comprehensive trimming guidelines with explanations both pictorially and in text, leaving little room for error in interpretation. Still the guidelines are such that they apply to each individual hoof. Pete admits the difficulty in accomplishing this explanation clearly, yet he does so beautifully.
Reading and understanding this book and practicing its teachings promise success in restoring and maintaining a healthy hoof. Pete has done an excellent job of sorting through the misinformation and confusion often surrounding natural hoof care and trimming to find tried and true answers.
"Making Natural Hoof Care Work for You" applies to all breeds of horses, all equestrian disciplines, and all horse caretakers, veterinarians, and farriers who care about the horse. It is an easy-to-read straightforward text, written in simple terms, intended for people with a working knowledge of horses and their hooves. It is an essential for the good health and well being of the horse."
(Natural Horse Magazine Volume 6- Issue 1)
I live in a valley of the Soutpansberg mountains in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. I have six horses – five of them Thoroughbred race-horses that came off the track and one cross Thoroughbred / Nooitgedacht which is a local breed of pony, which are in fact Basuto ponies that have been improved over the years by selection.
I kept all my thoroughbreds in shoes until about August last year when I de-shoed one, which had hip and stifle problems and I was retiring from riding.
In August last year I also heard about a herd of feral horses that live in the Drakensberg mountain range on a farm on the dry side of the mountains – in fact the valley where they lived is known locally as the “Valley of Desolation.” I arranged with the owner of the farm to go and have a look. It was with a heavy heart that I tracked the horses up the side of the mountain where they live. I expected to find mobile skeletons with tattered hooves, the hillside was in such a terrible condition since the rains had failed that year. After a tramp of about two or three miles from the water point I found four youngsters. After a while I got within about 10 metres of them and could have a good look at both their condition and their hooves. I can’t tell you how surprised I was their condition was pretty good but most amazing of all to me was their hooves – short, strong with beautifully bevelled and shiny edges – I had at that stage not heard about the mustang roll. These youngsters were about the third or fourth generation descendants from the owner’s father’s horses that had not been touched by human hands. The paddock they live in is about 200 acres in extent and consists mostly of rocky hillside with sandy patches here and there. The vegetation is pretty sparse consisting of clumps of mountain grass (which is pretty coarse and considered poor grazing for cattle), a variety of bushes and trees of which the horses were browsing on an acacia species (thorn trees), as well as grazing on that tough mountain grass. At any rate this made such an impression on me that I determined to find out how these horse survived and how they had these marvellous hooves.
In November last year I went back to those feral horses and managed to tame one. I then held one of those front hooves in my hand. I was as hard as rock and the mustang roll was polished to a sheen. Not a crack or scratch was visible. Underneath the hoof the sole was also smooth and polished. I could see the waterline, but the white line was so tight that it was almost invisible. The sole seemed to flow out from its apex into the outer wall without a break. Just a smooth polished line out and over and round the roll onto the hoof wall, almost like holding a semi polished stone with a seam in it . I guess it is the combination of those rocks and coarse sand that cause this kind of finish.
After this I went home and took the shoes off another two of my horses and started trimming them. Unfortunately I was making some of the cardinal errors that have been highlighted in your book and Pete Ramey’s book which I got hold of a month ago. Also both these horses had some fairly serious white line separation. I filed away at those heals and over trimmed those soles with great enthusiasm which turned into guilt as they continued to limp around on the hard ground, and was even worse when the rains came with lots of clay mud which kept their soles soft so that they got horribly bruised on the stones. In fact I gave up on the one who was particularly bad and put shoes back on his front feet. I persisted because of that image of that feral horse’s hoof that I had held and because I took it that one had to go through that transition period before achieving soundness on this terrain, and being able to ride again. I also got a pair of Old Mack boots which are OK on some terrain but definitely far too clumsy for most of my favourite rides around the mountains.
I read about your book and Pete Ramey’s book on Marjorie Smith’s website and then decided that before I gave up I would get the books. Five weeks ago I got the books which I had ordered specially through a local equine bookshop, four weeks ago I applied the sole trim recommended by Pete to my three unshod horses whom I had trimmed a week or so before, and noticed a distinct easing up in their stride. Two weeks ago I took the front shoes off the one I had given up on. I was very careful about following that sole, but still ended up taking over half an inch off his heels. He walked off a little uncertainly – probably because he expected to be sore after a trim – then suddenly took off after his buddies at a canter bucking and kicking as I had never seen him before. This was definitely one of the highlights of my involvement with horses. Although he is still a bit tender over the stony bits, he moves better on soft ground than I thought possible of him. It is as if something has just opened him out – if you get my meaning.
I think the greatest message that has come through these two books is that one should work with nature and see what the horse is telling you. As an aspiring natural horseman this is a lesson I should have known but I guess that it takes someone with experience and intuition like you and Pete to recognise the signs to follow in the hoof. In this regard I am especially grateful to Pete for his emphasis on allowing callous to build in the hoof and his explanation of the importance of callous, and the limited trim from the apex out. I have a bunch of horses here who I am sure are a lot happier as well. I am truly grateful to you and Pete for your books."
Ranald; South Africa
"Just a great eye opener! I would suggest to anyone looking into natural hoof care for their horse, to buy this book. It is not intended to replace your professional farrier or hoof groom, but truly to educate the owner about what a horse's foot is supposed to look like, be able to do and function well. Anyone having trouble with founder, navicular and traditional shoeing not working out for them, should get this book and learn, learn and learn some more!
I was fortunate enough to meet Pete Ramey at a hoof clinic. He is absolutely astounding! Truly cares about horses and has a wealth of knowledge. He presents his own education/experiences in a matter of fact way and will also let people known when he doesn't know something. A very rare thing to have happen especially in the farrier community. I have grown to a better horse owner and hoof groom because of his book and his insights to natural hoof care. Not every horse can be fixed and many have long-term problems, but if you are looking for a possible solution to your horse's problem then this is the book to start out with." (Dee; Washington)