Why barefoot? Good question. Wild horses' hooves are the picture of perfection when it comes to the ideal hoof. They have the daily miles of movement combined with exposure to various terrains and a low-sugar diet to allow for a truly conditioned hoof like we rarely see in domestic situations.
Our domestic horses are often fed high-sugar diets and have minimal movement often over very forgiving terrain such as grass pastures. This combination prevents our domestic horses from achieving a truly rock-crushing type hoof. But despite the fact it is hard for us to give our horses a truly wild lifestyle there are many things we can do to drastically improve and fix hoof conditions and diseases we commonly see in domestic horses. Most of these hoof diseases/issues that we battle in domestic horses are often a result of incorrect diet, hoof care, life style or a combination of these. Diet being a major factor in most cases I work on.
A holistic approach to hoofcare means that the entire situation of the horse is looked over. It's diet, lifestyle and of course it's current hoofcare whether shod or barefoot. When trying to fix a hoof issue or disease, to only look at the hoof won't get you very far because more than likely there are dietary factors resulting in poor hoof condition/quality that are causing a deterioration of the overall hooves.
Weak hoof walls, for example, are often addressed using a proper mineral supplement for that region and a trim that helps to mimic the natural wear of a horse. Laminitis or founder must be treated by addressing the sugar in a horse's diet, this is an absolute priority if you want to make any progress reversing this condition, a correct trim helps to allow the new healthy hoof to grow in unobstructed.
The proper trim is only a part of the entire puzzle, this must be understood if results are to be made. My job is to educate the client as to what changes the horse needs in it's diet and day to day routine and to provide a trim that will encourage the healthy growth of the new hoof. It's a partnership between client and trimmer.
Shoes and specifically corrective shoes, try to only address the symptom rather than the cause. What is actually causing the hoof problem/disease? That is what a good farrier/trimmer will try and get to the root of and when you have found the answer then a solution can be applied correctly.
Proper natural hoofcare is not hard or complicated. It's actually rather simple and the horses are far healthier as a result of it.