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Strasser Method for Shetlands

After dealing with severe founder and other hoof problems, Catherine Crosado of the Duncree Shetland Pony Stud in Christchurch, NZ, decided to change the way she managed her Shetland ponies. She switched from traditional horsekeeping to the Strasser Method of holistic hoofcare and natural management. The stud's large herd of Shetland ponies is now free of founder and other hoof problems, and Catherine says the ponies have never been healthier. She shares her experiences with Natural Hoof. . .

The Duncree Shetland Pony Stud herd

"We started using the Strasser trimming method and natural boarding back in July 2004 after one of our mares Poppy foundered. (Poppy's story below). At the time our ponies were living in small groups. We were strip grazing and locking up ponies at night to keep them slim and avoid the dreaded founder.

My other ponies with hoof problems had separation in varying degrees, all had contracted heels with the bars way too far forward and some underslung heels.

None were as acute as Poppy, but one mare was in foal. She produced a gorgeous foal which she carried while she was having some pretty big hoof abscesses. I was too scared to give her any pain relief in case it harmed her unborn foal.

Nearly two years later, our ponies live in one large herd (27 in all) - geldings, mares, young stock and mares with foals at foot. Oats are part of their diet along with grass during the day and hay at night.

At first we wondered how we could manage that many ponies in one group, but believe it or not, it is easier. Our property has one large laneway down the centre which allows us to rotate the paddocks and position the water troughs to ensure there is a long walk to water.

Oats and soaking time

We have built a large hoof bath that can take up to eight ponies which means we can soak most of the ponies over 2 to 3 days. Soaking is quite a social activity as they get an extra feed of oats while they soak.

The oats mixed with meadow chaff is put out in feed bowls in another paddock which is locked off until feed time ensuring another walk twice a day." [ed: The latest scientific research from Germany shows that oats are the best feed for horses as oats have the most easily digested protein of any grain. This will not only ensure best health and nutrition, but prevent problems such as pot bellies, etc. However, a quality calcium magnesium supplement must also be fed with oats as they are low in calcium.]

"Comparing Shetlands to other ponies and horses in regard to hoofcare and management, firstly I'd say make sure you feed them. A 9hh Shetland gelding with good bone weighs 250kg (I have a set of scales) and a shetland foal will put on a kilo a day. More than people think. Secondly maintain the heels and toes at the correct height. The smaller hooves are really tough.

The benefits of the Strasser Method far out-weigh any changes the human side of this relationship has had to make:

  • No pot bellies.
  • No shaggy heavy coats.
  • Increased fertility of our mares (all got in foal on the first service).
  • Foals are happier and healthier in the large family group (they were born into the herd).
  • Improved mental health as the herd environment allows for play and social interaction.
  • Overall our ponies are healthier, happier, fitter and slimmer.

As for the humans, we are no longer afraid of founder. We have faced the challenge of dealing with five of our ponies that have had hoof problems.

Strasser Hoofcare Professional Thorsten Kaiser has been immensely helpful and supportive and we now feel confident that there will be no more hoof problems. And in case you were wondering, yes we pick up all the manure twice a day."

Playing in the snow

Extreme Weather

The Shetlands thrive just as well in extreme cold as any other weather in Canterbury, NZ. The only hazard is having to break up the ice on the hoof bath so they can get in it. In snowy conditions, it is still important to soak as dry snow offers little moisture to the hooves. The ponies don't mind, but do complain about the broken ice banging on their shins!

A hoofpick is frozen in the hoofbath

Poppy's Story

In 2004, Duncree Shetland Pony Stud mare Poppy was diagnosed with acute laminitis. Catherine tells Natural Hoof Poppy's story of recovery using the Strasser Method.

"Thorsten Kaiser, SHP, described Poppy's founder as acute. Our vet did x-ray her after nearly a month of treatment with bute and said the best thing was to cut off her toes which were too long. We asked why take off her toes and when we didn't get a logical answer, we decided to call Thorsten and take Poppy to him in July, 2004.

She was pretty unwell for the first few weeks, but improved steadily after that. She came back home in mid September, 2004. It was pretty scary having her back as we were new to the process. But she's doing really well and treats the hoof bath as her own private spa!


For more information, contact Catherine at:
or visit the Stud's website at:
To find out more about the Strasser Method, visit the NZ Strasser National Office website: or, visit the Natural Hoof article at:

Natural Hoof, 41 Block Road, Hikutaia, RD4, Paeroa, New Zealand.
Ph 07 862 7077, website:, email:

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