Introducing our new blog: An Inconvenient Hoof

posted in: An Inconvenient Hoof | 10

(regarding the name: apologies to that American chap who once wrote a famous book about the inconvenience of climate change)

Why start writing a blog now?

Blogs, apparently, have only been a thing since the 1990s, so we didn’t want to rush into such a new-fangled idea.

I didn’t even know how to turn a computer on until about 2010 and, besides, I always thought the word ‘blog’ was just a farm boys’ abbreviation of ‘bloody big log’.

But now I get it. Blogs are the modern equivalent of gasbagging around the communal water trough.

Being serious though; blogs are a really effective and timely way to share current and relevant information with an audience of interested readers. Anywhere around the world wide water trough.

Maybe after 3 decades in the job I have finally got something worthwhile to add to the hoofcare polemic.

And what I like best is the absolute informality of blogs; no need to be grammatically and scientifically rigid or strict. It’s rather like journalism without restraint; unchained, unfettered and maybe even a bit unhinged. Just my thing.

Which is probably why, in this era when most readers have fleeting attention spans, blogs can breakthrough and make an impact.

Blogs supposedly get read by many people.

And they are allegedly read everywhere: on the work commute, at smoko, on the loo,  and probably as soon as the office computer gets turned on when you get to work on Monday morning. Anytime can be blog time.

What would be an old farrier’s approach to a blog?

To me, in the world of equine hoofcare, a blog could serve as a running commentary of what we are seeing, doing and applying in the workplace; big mobs of information distilled down and packaged into short and punchy anecdotes.

And it seems that the subject of horses’ hooves and the flow of information via a blog are well matched.

Progressive horse owners are always seeking new information about hooves.

Apart from being the source of much vexation, there is just something about hooves that is addictive (no, definitely not the smell).

I think it’s pursuit of the elusive perfect hoof that sets hoofcare professionals, owner trimmers and even progressive horse owners who know the value of healthy hooves on a path of lifelong learning and continual improvement; and in the process becoming sponges of good information.

With equine hooves, there is always updated knowledge: functional anatomy and hoof development breakthroughs, new ideas, new techniques, new technologies, new products, problems to overcome and questions to be answered.

As old mate Yoda says “much to learn there is”.

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Unchained we shall be…….but…….

The equine hoofcare world is still undergoing wholesale changes that began about 20 years ago when technologically driven breakthroughs in our collective understanding of functional hoof anatomy combined with an increased understanding of the long term effects of metal shoes on soundness and the concurrent development of removable hoof boots, burst the hoofcare world wide apart.

Since then, a large (and steadily increasing) chunk of the equine world has had a paradigmatic shift away from the old model that was performance centric and shod everything that was ridden or driven; towards a model of sustainability that largely excludes metal shoes.

But alas, you can’t ride into the sunset on a cloudy day.

There continues to be an undeniable and fundamental challenge for the new paradigm of keeping horses barefoot.

Metal shoes are convenient and there is no immediate downside to using them.

The benefit of putting metal shoes on a horse is immediate and obvious (with shoes you can ride a tender-footed horse down the hard road), whilst the adverse effects of metal shoes are a long time in the making. They are intangible at first, then subclinical and finally become a clinical concern after a long path of deterioration.

The barefoot horse is anything but convenient (it can’t just be taken out of the paddock and ridden down the hard road like a motorbike) and the full benefits of barehoofcare may not be tangible for a long time; not until you notice your horse staying sound as the years pass whilst its cohort starts to succumb to chronic lameness.

This state of play has left the hoofcare industry rather fractured between deeply rooted traditionalists and the new avant-garde. And not many folks have been bridging the great divide.

This is where our little blog will hopefully find a niche.

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Apparently Blogdom is a crowded place: upwards of 500 million blogs exist in the world wide water trough (that’s a bloody big mob of sheep to count out of the yards).

So why would you follow our blog; just one of many dedicated to equine hooves?

Why read about the inconvenient hoof when shoes are so convenient?

Let’s state the case for:

Here at the Barefoot Blacksmith:

  • As the name implies, I have a back ground on both sides of the anvil, first in traditional farriery and then in barehoofcare, which means I can access the best of both worlds and take full advantage of the synergy this produces
  • I am working in the industry and putting into practice what I learn and what I teach
  • I am working on ‘performance’ horses across most equestrian disciplines, not just trimming a handful of paddock ponies
  • I try all new ideas and products (as long as there is no danger to horse or human)
  • At Mayfield we are constantly rehabbing lame horses, using the new ideas of barehoofcare to solve old problems

I think we can bridge the great divide in the hoofcare world and deliver useful and practical information to help you in your barehoofcare endeavours.

And now for the case against:

It turns out my kryptonite is technology.

I am not techno-savvy. I am very much tech no-savvy!

It may take a while before I fully get to grips with this blogging business, but I do hope to set it up so there can be a little bit of commentary and discussion amongst readers.

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Which leads me onto the very important subject of good manners. Social media should not be allowed to morph into unsocial media, with mortal keyboard enemies exchanging projectile kilobytes from the safety of their cyberspace parapets.

Play nicely now you kids.

There will always be differing and divided opinions in the hoofcare world.

We all know if you want 3 different opinions about something hoofy, just ask 2 hoofcare professionals and you will probably get 5 opinions just to be safe.

……Or get a room full of earnest farriers, provide a liberal sprinkling of beverages, then toss in a bit of paper with the words ‘hoof balance’ and stand back to watch the fun. State of Origin dust ups haven’t got anything on a room full of farriers discussing the nuances of hoof balance.

Disagree by all means (if everyone agrees then we must be doing something wrong), but please be respectful and be nice. Any bad manners or aggression or nonsense will be terminated and the cyber door closed thereafter….the way is closed….you shall not pass.

There will be times when this blog will challenge existing doctrine and no doubt raise some hackles, but “science only ever moves forward by defying conventional wisdom” (this quote does belong to someone else; unknown).

I will try to not upset too many people all at once.

It is mission impossible to please everyone (for example: there is virtually no common ground between hardcore metal shoe folk and hardcore barefoot folk), so I will be attempting to please the horses that are stuck in the middle by basing the blog on the science of functional anatomy. How horses work.

Along the way, it will hopefully retain at least some dryish humour and lightness and self-deprecation and do a bit of piss taking whenever required.

If our philosophy or writing style or bad jokes really get your goat (and hopefully that won’t be the case), please refer to the unsubscribe button! Problem solved.

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Before closing this woffly introduction to what will hopefully become a succinct journal, I must apologise and make amends to everyone who has sent me an email over the years which was never answered. And yes, there have been a lot.

My (poor) excuse is that I have been working 10 days a week and long daily hours for many years now. The truth is I chose sleep over answering emails.

The kids will back me up when I say that I’ve been promising for years to wind my day job back to three days a week of trimming within gentlemen’s hours and actually stay home and do some work around the farm and, okay already, answer emails. Sheesh.

Who keeps New Year’s resolutions anyway? I just have mine on a playback loop.

Well, fate has stepped in and I’ve fortunately had a career altering injury so let’s just say that my time has been freed up somewhat. I’m having a bit of farrier’s long service leave.

I am not suggesting that I am going to spectacularly change my ways and sit at a keyboard and answer everything that comes my way. I am actually trying to invent a new human ailment whereby sitting in front of a screen triggers my brain to get up and go walkabout out in the weather until after sunset. Let’s call it Restless Farrier Syndrome.

But, as a peace offering, each month when I write this blog I propose to answer a couple of emails that may be of interest to other folks and make it a Q&A style addendum at the end of the blog.

There is nothing like writing to a deadline to get a pen on paper and start moving it.

Next month we will be into the blog proper and it will hopefully be big on useful content and small on fluff.

So the journey starts: generalisations, hyperbole, cynicism, warts and all.

Until next month,

 “it’s ok to be confused, understanding makes the mind grow lazy” (author also unknown)

10 Responses

  1. Deb Mariniello

    Hey AB
    Great to hear from you again – I’ve missed the newsletters….
    I heard that you got stomped on badly – we all hope you heal and recover quickly!

  2. Des Miller

    I would like to know why more traditional farriers do not offer Polyshoes as an alternative to metal shoes?
    From my understanding they are easier to put on and the main difference is that different nails need to be used.
    Polys are the excellent in between alternative for horses who cant go barefoot.
    Isnt it a farriers job to shoe to the comfort of the horse?…and if it means Polys..well why not expand your stock.

  3. Sally Hudson

    Well written Bowey. I, for one, appreciate your dry sense of humour, and the self deprecation and occasional piss taking when things get a little too serious. My only complaint is that I had to get the dictionary out (ok ok- so I may be new-school enough have used google on my phone) to check what a couple of words meant… for a grumpy old farrier you are extremely eloquent and articulate, and your vocabulary is as impressively extensive as your farriery skills!
    Looking forward to the monthly diatribe to expand my brain, challenge my current beliefs, and to prompt new thoughts which cause me question the dogma that we all get programmed with, and to continue my confusion (lest my mind grow lazy). Thanks for taking the time to put forefingers to keyboard. Two big thumbs up from me, and I’m looking forward to the BFB Blog as well as hoping to see you back on deck soon 🙂

  4. David Wiltshire

    Excellent ! I look foward to next month, there should be some interesting discussion. Cheers Dw

  5. Elise Hardiker

    Hi BF (barefoot farrier),

    Looking forward to the blog. I’d be really interested (when the time comes), for you to discuss your thoughts on the idea that a horses hoof will grow to a shape that corrects anatomical deficiencies to improve long term soundness. Read this opinion once from an American barefoot advocate and thought it made a lot of survival sense.


  6. Anne hill

    Love your first blog Andrew. You have nailed the ability to deliver relevant information, interspersed with a great sense of dry humour, which makes reading the blog an absolute pleasure. I can’t wait for the next instalment. A very merry Christmas and a great 2021 to you and yours and all the team at Mayfield.

  7. Jill Collins

    Ab I also appreciate your humour and way with words in your blog. I heard something had happened and I hope you have a good recovery. Looking forward to reading more next month. Jc

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