Keeping a horse barefoot is really a horse management test. However unlike SATS everyone gets to sit a different paper, sometimes you get examined daily and the course work is relentless and never ending.
So why do we bother? Because some of us have seen a successful end result and want what we feel is better for our horses. Others are driven by desperation as they have run out of conventional methods and their horse is still lame.
The end result of the soul searching and effort is worth it. When you have a particular horse and its situation figured out the results are very rewarding in so many ways. Whether you just want to ride without worrying about the state of the horse's shoes, or if your aim is to prolong your horse's working life, or you have experienced the joy of riding a barefoot horse.
And where does the daily testing come in? You may have read the 'Heartbreak' post which showed how a bit of well-intentioned, but inappropriate feeding damaged a foot very quickly. Well the photos above taken just 6.5 weeks apart show how if you stick to your guns and get the diet right the foot will heal quickly too.
You can see in the first picture how the foot has lost concavity, the white line is stretched and the sole is one big bruise. That is one rather sore and very miserable horse.
In the second picture concavity is returning, the white line is tightening up and bar one bit of damage the sole is back to its healthy colour. Fungal infections are a challenge where this horse is kept, but the owner does a good job of keeping them at bay. I don't have a picture, but trust me, that horse is positively beaming with happiness now. It is so good to see.