I frequently see people asking for help on social media when their horse is lame, or footsore, as it’s often referred to these days. More and more often I keep seeing people asking for help because the weather has made their horse lame, or the ground is making their horse sore.
This would be classic outside-in thinking. The ground, being the external thing that is causing the problem to the foot, the internal thing that is subjected to the problem.
When presented with a suggestion for improving the strength of the horses hooves, I’ve even seen the reply ‘no, there’s nothing wrong with the hooves, they’re healthy. It’s the ground that’s the problem’
Let’s think about this for a minute… The absolute primary function of hooves is that they walk on the ground. If they can’t walk on the ground, then they’re surely not healthy. They’re failing to perform their most basic function
That particular post descended into people mocking the idea that a sore horse might have a problem, and clearly it was the horses breeding that caused it to be unable to walk unassisted.
The idea that the internal structure of the horse’s hoof might have been struggling was ridiculed. Even though that’s where the pain receptors are, and it was that very pain that the original poster was asking for advice about.
An inside-out thinking approach would be that there is something wrong with the internal structures or systems of the horse, that is causing a lameness, that is revealed when the horse walks on certain terrain.
The great thing about inside-out thinking is it tends to give you a way to solve any issue you’re having…
You can’t change the genetics of a horse, you can’t control the weather, you could change the ground, technically, but it’s a massive undertaking…
Improving the internal health and strength of the horse’s hooves though? That’s a much more achievable task. Sometimes it takes little more than a tweek to the diet, or a period of corrective exercises.
For some, that may seem like a complex solution, but we need to remember, pain is a sign of a problem. A horse shouldn’t be in pain.
What I’ve ‘learnt’ from social media posts recently is:
- Horses go lame when the ground is wet
- Horses go lame when the ground is dry
- Horses go lame when it’s cold
- Horses go lame when it’s hot
- A horse being sore on some surfaces and not others is ‘just who they are’. Sometimes it’s even cute and/or funny.
Our thinking can be limited by our experience and expectations. It seems that a lot of people, even people who want their horses to be barefoot for the health benefits, don’t actually believe that barefoot horses should be sound.
There is a problem that being footsore is seen as normal. It is only normal for a horse with a health problem. It may well be common, or maybe it’s been persistent, but it’s not normal.
A horse being sore, might be common – but only because health problems are common.
The truth is
- If a horse goes lame when the ground is wet – there’s a health problem
- If a horse goes lame when the ground is dry – there’s a health problem
- If a horse goes lame when it’s cold – there’s a health problem
- If a horse goes lame when it’s hot – there’s a health problem
- If a horse being sore on some surfaces and not others is not ‘just who they are’. It’s even cute and/or funny… guess what – there’s a health problem.
A healthy horse doesn’t go lame because the weather changes. They are sound over all terrain. That is the way they’re made. That is their genetics.
The problems horses face are a result of the environment we put them in and we can improve that environment to be more species specific, so your horse can be healthy and comfortable.
I’m not suggesting all health problems can be fixed (I’m lame myself right now, so you’ll get no judgement from me) but I think we owe it to our horses to at least identify what the problem may be and find a suitable solution.
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