With as many factions and methods of natural hoof care out there today as there are breeds of horses, one can become quite lost when trying to navigate their options and get a grip on what path it is they will tread for their horses. Within my school of practice, we look to nature, literally that is, not metaphorically. My mentor and friend Jaime Jackson adventured into the outback of Nevada about 30 years ago, having been a skilled farrier for about 10 years. What he saw that one day at his clients stable would change his life and the lives of horses forever.
Jaime was asked to come have a look at the newly adopted mustang that had just arrived. As a hoof care practitioner, when he approached he automatically scanned the feet. His mind was blown! He had never seen hooves like that before, and he immediately knew he had to go observe these horses in the wild.
This was the beginning of the Natural Hoof Care revolution.
Jaime spent four years in the outback, observing herd dynamics, movement patterns, and analyzing over 1,000 hooves (immediately rounded up by the BLM). He found that ALL the hooves of these horses, regardless of their unique conformation, shared the same characteristics.
• Relatively short toe
• Appearance of standing on heel bulbs
• Beveled edge all around hoof wall starting on the waterline
• The waterline being the most distal part of hoof (what they stand on)
• Perfect straight line growth
• Hoof wall thickness same all around hoof
• Front hoof symmetry
• Hind hoof asymmetry
• Quarters passive to toe and heel
Some of those terms are only known within the profession of hoof care so don’t feel too lost! I will describe the structures of the hoof in another post and then explain the importance of their natural dispositions.
Jaime was granted the go-ahead to apply the new method of hoof care that was being revealed to him on 300 Paso Finos he was taking care of at a ranch. This testing ground crystallized the method for “NHC” or Natural Hoof Care, which would be refined, mastered, and taught over the following years- apply the natural wear patterns of the Great Basin wild horses and like clock work natural growth patterns manifest. The owner of this ranch said he had never seen so many sound horses in one place.
After authoring his first book ‘The Natural Horse: Lessons From the Wild’, many factions of natural hoof care emerged. The different factions and practitioners birthed their own methods based upon their own ideas, and not all have been to the benefit of the horse.
The intelligence of nature is exact, and thus highly refined. Equus ferus caballus evolved for 50 million years, adapting to its environment, developing everything it needed to not only survive, but to thrive, until this day of age when the Spanish reintroduced this native species to their near perfect environment- the high desert.
As a native species, living in the near exact biome they evolved in for 50 million years, and living totally sound with none of the health issues we see as epidemic in the domestic horse world today, would they not be the epitome of what we would want to emulate? Therefore, it simply makes sense to learn from and emulate the ways of these wild horses.
This is what led me to my training under Jaime. No other school of hoof care held such an intelligent, studied adherence to the principles of “nature”. Being a man who knows the intrinsic perfection of the natural world, I knew I was home.
Jaime and the AANHCP (Association for the Advancement of Natural Horse Care Practices) are a group of no compromise. When a love so deep and dear exists for horses and nature at large, compromise is not an option. It is a warrior’s path, honing the ability to ceaselessly kindle the fire of truth, and cut through the misinformation and personal agendas amongst our many circles. We do it for the horse, and for nothing else.
Now even though the Natural Trim is magic in its own right, it is only one element of Natural Hoof & Horse Care. It is one of the Four Pillars of NHC. Applying the Four Pillars is perhaps the greatest gift you can give your horses in insuring their health and wellbeing. It is a recipe for soundness.
See my other article on the Four Pillars Of Natural Hoof Care.