The Barefoot Paradigm

Below is an excerpt from an article written by Yvonne Welz of The Horse’s Hoof. Yvonne and her husband James started The Horse’s Hoof in September of 2000. James is a former computer systems administrator and printshop/technical equipment guru who gave up his career to become a barefoot hoofcare professional. Yvonne is a former desktop publishing wizard who transferred her skills over to this company. And so The Horse’s Hoof came into being, initially as a website, and then as a printed publication to support the new interest in barefoot horse care.

Yvonne Welz and Belle

The common golden thread that binds together the originators of the barefoot movement is the premise that when we undertake the responsibility of removing iron shoes from our horses’ lives, we change everything about the way we THINK and CARE for these animals.

But hold on a moment—just what is a “barefoot horse” in the first place? And what defines a “barefoot horse owner?” Believe it or not, these are two questions that deserve a great deal more reflection.

Horses were born barefoot. There is nothing magical about that whatsoever! This is one of the concepts that naysayers of barefoot like to point out—after all, pull the shoes on any horse, and you’ve got a barefoot one, right? Wrong! Likewise, if you own a horse that isn’t wearing shoes at the moment, well, that alone really does not make you a “barefooter.”

When we talk about a “barefoot horse” or a “barefoot owner” in the modern context, we reference a very specific paradigm. A paradigm is “a philosophical or theoretical framework.” Without fully understanding this paradigm, communicating with others about “barefoot” can become a very frustrating ordeal. So exactly what is the barefoot paradigm?

Now I’m stepping up to the plate here, to add my perspective. What qualifies me to define the barefoot paradigm? I believe I have held a distinctly unique point of view over the development of the barefoot movement during the past 12 years. I’ve been able to communicate extensively with vast numbers of hoofcare professionals, farriers, vets, trimmers, students, and horse owners, representing just about every single barefoot method and organization that exists. I have watched horses rehabbed through barefoot both in person, and long distance through various communications with so many owners and trimmers from different backgrounds all over the world. I have researched and studied all available information about barefooted horses. In the end, what stuns me most is how similar all the disparate information is—just how much in common the various and competing “methods” have with each other. In the end, there truly is simply one single Barefoot Paradigm.

Belle's Healthy Performing Hooves

To be continued next week.

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