Our horse trek through the Australian bush had the foundations of freedom and independence. Not only were our five boys barefoot but they were bit-less too, i.e.we rode in rope halters – the packing horses were led via halters too. (You can read more about that here).
We encountered not one problem with this ethos, except more road work than we envisaged and, therefore, more use of the boots. The bit-less idea worked beautifully. Although I did purchase a specific halter with more leverage for Charlie and his ‘suitcase-sized’ head that he put to good use when he spotted juicy grass!
I didn’t carry out endless research on barefoot riding, it just seemed to make sense. So, I was intrigued to recently read Linda Chamberlain’s A Barefoot Journey: The story of one woman’s fight against horse shoes.
Linda’s true story is about her fight against horse shoes. She feared metal shoes were harming horses. In this light-hearted account she tells how she battled with her farrier, coped with derision from other riders and saved a horse from slaughter. Mistakes, falls and triumphs are recorded against the background of a divided equine world which was defending the tradition of shoeing…with prosecutions.
We fostered an incredible bond with our boys (five Standardbreds) and I now believe the start of that remarkable journey was removing their shoes as soon as they came to us.
Here’s the review I have written for Linda’s book. Her book’s on Amazon, here.
Review for: A Barefoot Journey
A true story combining her experience and the technical proof that barefoot is what, as horse lovers, we all should be doing.
My boys’ shoes were removed as soon as they got to us. Truly, though, I didn’t understand the magnitude of the damage shoes can do. I wanted them barefoot for the trail riding we were doing – we didn’t have bits in their mouths either, the journey was all about freedom. But it’s logical when you think about it. That’s why her friend at the hospital in the story got it. He didn’t know anything about horses, but the barefoot care made perfect sense to him.
As well as passionate about horses, I am passionate about sailing. For many years I was barefoot on a boat, for weeks at sea. My feet actually got bigger, they spread, they became tougher – horses’ feet are the same – they’re flexible, not a lump of nothing at the end of their leg.
But my knowledge extend to the depths of Linda’s I am embarrassed to say. I, too, had horses shod when I was younger. Linda’s story is clever in that you learn along with her. She states the believers and the non-believers case. She doesn’t hold back when she encounters problems in her quest to have all her horses barefoot.
Told with searing honesty, some humour (I giggled at Linda’s antics falling off), and technical explanations -simply written, so they don’t put your head in a spin – this is a must read for anyone with horses or thinking about getting one. It’s also for any animal lover and people who just like to hear tales of people doing the right thing – even if it means sleepless nights, a possible jail term, and wild nightmares.
Thank you Linda, you’ve made a controversial subject so plain and simple to understand. This story was told over fifteen years ago and I know the industry is far more open now – but I also know there are some people still against it. It’s a story that’s still relevant today and will be for a long time to come.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.