Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What color is that hoof?

I've heard two schools of thought on the topic of hoof color: 1-Black is strong, white is not, black and white striped is in the middle. 2- The whole hoof color issue is nothing more than a myth.

My two Spotted Saddle Horses both have white/black striped hooves. More white than black.They have been barefoot all their lives. My farrier says they both have great feet and never really has to do much to them except for the 8-10 week trimming. Hubby has been rasping in-between farrier visits.

My current farrier, a young guy, tells me hoof color and strength of the hoof is a myth. He told me the only reason people came to the conclusion that white isn't strong is because white shows all the cracks, chips and splits while the black tends to hide these imperfections. I like my farrier. He seems knowledgeable. But when I hear someone like Craig Cameron mention black hooves being better, it makes me wonder. Is this a myth or is it something with credibility?

Looking back I remember the horses I took care of when I worked at the ranch/riding facility. Most had black or dark hooves. All wore shoes on their front feet. These horses were used as school horses and for trail riding. The one horse I can remember who had light colored hooves was an Arabian named Sheik. He didn't have problems with his hooves splitting and cracking but more of a soundness issue when he wasn't shod. The farrier who serviced these horses lived by the color rule. She even stated it a number of times to us during her visits, so, at that time I took the color rule to heart.

Then, I got a new farrier. I had used the same farrier the ranch used but due to a disagreement over one of my horses, Spirit, I found another farrier. My new farrier seemed eager to please and he really worked well with my horses. My other farrier hit me on a sore spot, probably on one of my "bad" days, when she told me while trying to trim Spirit, "If he doesn't settle down I'm going to take him to that round pen and settle him down." Needless to say, that didn't go over well with me. Spirit hadn't been acting all that badly. Yes, he'd been leaning on her. Yes, he was hopping around a bit, but at that time he was a young two year old. It so happens I later learned, this particular farrier only likes to work on horses who stand still and will turn down horses that are more active.

She had problems with a few of our ranch horses too so it didn't really surprise me she was having trouble with Spirit. If anyone was going to work MY horse in a round pen, it would be me. She always managed to make over Bo, because he stands perfectly still. Of course he does, he is a lazy horse. I am convinced she already had preconcieved notions that Spirit was going to act up, so he did. I worked with Spirit over and over on standing, lifting, stretching, knocking on the bottom of his feet with the hoof pick. He did fine for me. When she returned for the next visit, Spirit acted the same way for her that he had on her previous visit. So, in my view, I still believe it was her attitude toward him that made him nervous and unsure. When my new farrier came in, he didn't have trouble with either horse. Both my horses behaved themselves with him.

So, I asked my new farrier about the hoof color issue, just wondering about his thoughts on it. Now, I'm still not sure if hoof color is a myth or a truth or just one of those things people start believing because it's passed down the line, time after time. My guys have great feet. I don't know if it's because they're barefoot or striped. Probably just genetics. My new farrier said he's found striped hooves to be just as strong as black, and he doesn't hold store in the hoof color myth.

I simply found it interesting, when watching Craig Cameron, an esteemed horse trainer/clinician, during one of his RFD programs, that he mentioned the hoof color of the horse he was evaluating. I thought, well, here we go again.................

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