Natural Hoof
Natural Hoof


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Biscuit's Story is testament to an owner's journey to successfully taking his horse barefoot and bitless in a traditional horse community. Biscuit has gone from being "switched off" to a happy, healthy barefoot riding horse. This is Biscuit's inspiring story, as told by his owner Robin Westenra, of Wellington, NZ.

"I would like to sing the praises of my horse."

Biscuit is a 9-year old, light bay standardbred who started life as "See More Rocks" on a racing stud in Taranaki, Mercifully rejected for a life on the racecourse he ended up in a trekking yard in Wellington. I leased him for 6 months and then bought him a year ago.

It has been a gradual process of taking him from a horse who was "switched off"and somewhat reluctant, to one who gradually learned to trust me and work with me, firstly through some work with natural horsemanship, then taking the bit out of his mouth; and finally, 8 months ago, deciding to go barefoot with him.

I knew very little apart from the experience of a cousin of mine who has his whole trekking herd barefoot. So, I began a search on the internet and came up with the names of a couple of people who could help me. I have been working with John Easther, a Strasser hoofcare provider, since then, to take Biscuit from a horse who had very contracted heels, and would regularly stumble and couldn"t quite make it cantering up to the top of the hill, to a a horse who is well on the way to having healthy hooves and is increasingly comfortable on the rough, hilly terrain around Wellington.

For the first month or so, I essentially didn"t ride at all, or only on very grassy areas. After this I fitted some Swiss boots which I used for some months. I also used herbs for detoxification as well as homoeopathic drainage remedies and suspect that this may be reason why, up to now, there have been no abscessing.

Now, his feet have expanded to the extent that I cannot get the boots on him with the present inserts, and haven"t used them for about 2-3 months. He is happy with most terrain: the lightly shingled "main track"; the tarsealed road; soft and muddy paths; rocky river beds. He probably won"t win any prizes for speed but I suspect he might for endurance. In any case, he seems pretty happy with life.

Not so much for me. I have been subject to criticism, talk behind my back and dire warnings that his hooves would not endure the rough terrain and his soles would "wear down" and the walls break down. Whilst there have been constant warnings that he would go lame I have watched a seemingly-endless line of horses who have had to rest because of lameness. For some strange reason he has kept going, and I have to keep trimming his feet every few days! Now that they are not confronted by the strange-looking boots people do not seem to notice so much.

Just as I have had to become more independent and find my own way through this Biscuit has become more independent and much happier to go out for solo rides. It has become a true partnership, where we both respond to each other with ease.

In the meantime the process continues and we grow together.

Story By Biscuit"s owner, Robin Westenra

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