Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
                                                   By Ann Marie Larson ESMT, SHP ‘02

We all want what is best for our horses. So why not ask them and get the answers “straight from the horse’s mouth”.

We, as with most horses, did not realize that the shoes could be causing their lameness. The horses saw no problem with being shod, it was accepted as normal and ‘how things are done’ (sound familiar?). And for the horses’ part they had no say in their own care, whether they were shod or barefoot, stalled or pastured.  But for those who are now trimmed using the Strasser method there was a resounding vote to stay barefoot and natural.

Shod horses say they felt cold and tingling in their feet, others felt that their feet were uncomfortably constricted. In a particular navicular case the horse told of the pain he felt up his legs into the knees due to the strain of trying to keep the weight off his heels. This sensation was completely relieved once Strasser trim was started.

All horses were elated with being out in their natural environment. Although a couple said they missed their blankies during the winter. Social dynamics of the herd gave many horses an emotional support they had never experienced. They were finally able to express joy and frustration freely; they were then able to concentrate on their jobs more fully when called upon them.

The thought of healing can be a scary prospect for both horse and owner. A few horses used to human’s intervention for their care and health were not convinced that their own bodies would be able to correct the problems that were occurring. Most horses, while acknowledging their discomfort during rehabilitation, did not dwell on the issue as much as we do. They accept it as part of the healing process. One mare was more worried about getting her ‘pretty’ feet back than the pain of rehabilitation.  Nearly all horses mentioned the tenderness they felt on gravel, temporary boots dramatically helped them to cope during the healing process. Though very welcomed while walking on gravel, the boots were a bit cumbersome while riding on soft terrain. Soaking boots were also a welcome comfort but were dreaded for their embarrassing appearance and sound.

Once horses experienced being barefoot it quickly became their preference, they also developed a preference for the style of barefoot trimming. A few owners that had started with Strasser then were lured away by a different style with the promise of less drastic methods and faster results. When the horses were asked how they felt about the switch they all wanted to go back to the Strasser trim.

Bodywork was another important issue to the horses. The difficulties of compensating for pain because of their feet caused a chain reaction in their bodies that remained even after the feet began to change to a healthy state. Chiropractic, massage, acupressure and stretches were integral aspects for the horse to feel that there was true healing throughout the body. Once the entire body was treated the horses felt they could move better than they had since they were young.

Animal communication is a wonderful and direct way to get answers from you animals. But our horses tell us every day what they think if we are just open enough to “listen”. By watching our horses we can see nearly everything they want to tell us. From the expression on their faces, the tail twitch while ridden, refusal to bend or take a lead, to the head and neck stretch when you hit that sweet spot on their backs speaks volumes for any who are listening closely enough.

Thank you to Linda Thomas for her assistance in interviewing some of the horses in this article. Linda is a professional communicator from Moline, IL. She talks to animals all over North America and has classes to help owners open themselves to speaking to their animals. Her website is www.ispeakanimal.com. Thank you also to Heal a friend of a client, while she does not claim to be a professional her talent with communication has been a wonderful help.