AANHCP - Certified Practioner, Field Instructor and Clinician. Step 5 and Step 9 and NTW Clinician.
Serving all of Kentucky, South Eastern Illinois, Southern Indiana, Western Tennessee and Northern Mississippi.
Dragonfly Natural Hoofcare
The major focus for Dragonfly Natural Hoofcare for the upcoming year is a focus on nutrition and holistic horse care. Some of the results of ongoing tests we have been performing with our own horses and their feeding will be published soon. Also collecting data and researching the benefits of timothy hay compared to other hays.
To read how Natural Hoofcare has helped one of Steve's clients click on the link below.
Nutrition essay Fall 2008
I have talked at length about equine nutrition to my clients and have done a substantial amount of research on the subject. I have witnessed miraculous type recoveries in horses that I had been trimming for months but then a change in diet trigger rapid improvement . I mean in just 2 days or so significant improvement , from lame to free moving. Proper nutrition is the key to holistic healthcare be it equine or human .
The first rule of equine nutrition is to know what you are feeding your horse. The best way to do this is to read the ingredients on your feeds and supplements. Just because a bag of feed says “ Horse Feed “ that does not mean that it is suitable or any thing we want our horse to eat. In most instances the simpler the diet the better for the horse. I like for my horses to be on total turnout with run in shelters if they want. I like for my pasture to be less than lush with as much native grasses and legumes as possible. Fescue is one of the least desirable forages for horses . Unfortunately it is a very hardy grass and does extremely well in our area . Fescue is the most prevalent factor behind the chronic founder cases I have dealt with in this area .
Grains are fed to increase the caloric intake on horses that are in training , working or are on a hay diet that requires more calories. The amount of grain that is fed should match the amount of work that is being required from the horse. When I was training my horse for endurance racing he was fed almost 8000 calories per day of grain because he simply could not eat that much grass or hay. Horses that are not being worked should not be fed a large ration of grain. Whole oats make a very good choice for these horses. The most nutrients in oats are in the husks . Rolling , steaming or crimping takes out most of the nutrients so we pay more for less nutritional feeds. Whole oats also give the horse the sensation that he is eating more than he is and this is better for the “non working “ horses out there.
I am adamant about not feeding any feed that has molasses, molasses products ,or cane in it. Horses do not need any of theses products and they are nothing but detrimental to the horse. I also do not like to feed anything that has beet pulp in it. Beets are grown to produce sugar. Feeds that have these products are high in simple carbohydrates. The simple carbohydrates are easily broken down in the digestive system and stored as fat . They are stored as fat because they are totally digested faster than the body needs to use them .
Complex carbohydrates take longer to breakdown and are used as they are broken down. They create consistent metabolic activity where simple carbohydrates create erratic metabolic activity. Hays like Timothy and other grass hays are complex carbohydrates and create a consistent metabolic function. That is why hay is the best thing to feed in winter to help the horse stay warm . Hay is the only feed I recommend when I am treating a horse with laminitis or founder.
The next posting on nutrition will be focused on hays and pasture and mineral supplementation. The correct mineral supplementation is key to holistic horse keeping . It is very disturbing to see overweight malnourished horses with skin problems like rain rot and scratches. Inadequate mineral supplementation also makes funguses more prevalent in the hoof as well.
Steve Johnson AANHCP
Dragonfly Farms and Natural Hoofcare
565 Dragonfly Lane
Morgantown, Ky. 42261
Featured Testimony of the Month...
Testimonial To Steve’s Johnson’s work in Natural Hoof Care
In July 2006 my horse Sadie foundered horribly. The vet gave her a 1% chance of survival. Two years later after dedicated vet care, farrier care, and owner care; my horse is 100% well. Prior to Sadie’s founder in 2006 she had previously mildly foundered. When shoed, she experienced pain when the nails were driven into her sensitive feet. Although I realized her discomfort, I continued shoeing her as I thought it was necessary in order to ride her on rocky terrains. Since her last founder incident, I have learned different. In 2007, I had been introduced to Steve Johnson after my previous farrier had moved from the United States. Steve evaluated my horse’s delicate feet and meticulously and gently cared for them helping to make her more comfortable with each visit. Today my horse has soles as hard as rocks. She runs barefoot across a rocked driveway pain free just as if her hooves were pounding down on a plush pasture. Steve has not only eliminated my horse’s pain, corrected her alignment, and toughened her soles, he gives me valuable advice in caring for my horses to assure their health and happiness. Steve also performed his magic on my other horse, Baby, who had never been barefoot in her entire 6 years of her life due to over sensitive feet. Steve was successful at transitioning her to a shoeless horse as well. I now ride both my horses on various terrains with no more than Epic boots on, thanks to Steve. Both my horses and I will always be thankful that Steve came into our lives.
- Debbie Kennedy
Skip the Barefoot Barrel Horse
I bought my barrel horse Skip N Turn in the fall of 2005. He was well conditioned physically but had foot problems as evidenced by full pads and wedges on the both front feet. The previous owners had been advised, by their farrier, that this would aid his sensitive feet. On our first shoeing I asked the same farrier to remove the pads and wedges only to find a severe case of thrush and even more foot sensitivity. This same farrier and I tried many things over the next 18 weeks including shortening the toe, changing to rim shoes, different degrees, and a list of other things all in the name of getting my horse to move more "free" and be able to handle different type of ground conditions. During this time the thrush only improved moderately in spite of VERY clean stalls and VERY intensive daily medicated hoof care. I realized my horse was moving worse, over-reaching in the pasture while playing, and consistently loosing shoes. I am ashamed to say that only after I witnessed this particular farrier being "rough" with my horse did I search for a new one.
Unfortunately this story continues for the next six months and through two more farriers. I then noticed my mother-in-law rode her endurance horse barefoot! I thought if she can go 30-50 miles on hard trails surely I can run for 15 sec on dirt.....Here comes Steve!
Steve came and slowly trimmed Skip so he could stand naturally. Skip gradually grew is "new" foot but the thrush disappeared immediately. I realized within two weeks there was no longer a need to turn him out with bell boots on. He no longer interfered behind and when he trotted his knees were looking "flat". Finally he was right on all four feet! There were many surprises to me in regards to going barefoot. His hoof wall thickened and hardened,(even though he is appendix bred and has the TB type foot) his frog was HUGE and healthy for the first time. His toes did not break off and become sore. (I thought the shoes protected him from...wrong) and most of all as a barrel racer I thought I needed shoes for traction in the dirt. Skip is now able to handle hard and slick ground, with shoes he just bounced and went right past the barrels. My theory is he can feel the dirt better and is able to make his own adjustments which can lead to money earning runs!
All in all I have to say that going barefoot is the single most important/best decision I have EVER made regarding my horse. Skip has been able to win at 1D jackpots, open rodeos, and even a Pro rodeo in ground that has been deep, hard, slick and/or muddy. I believe being barefoot allowed him to do his (personal) best with the ground conditions available.
We all do lots of things to make our horses healthy and to get the "winning edge". The great thing about natural hoof care is it can do BOTH!!!
P.S. The pic enclosed is of Skip winning 2nd in Open 1st division at Holly Springs MS
Dragonfly Hoofcare clients, email us your success stories! Or just tell us how your horses are doing. We would love to hear from you!
We are EasyCare Hoof Boot Fitters and Distributors
Nutrition essay February 24, 2009
The more work I do, the more I cam constantly reminded of the this simple rule. A balanced hoofcare program consists of 3 factors. These factors are nutrition, environment, and proper trimming.
I have seen instances where horses have the nutrition and regular trimming, but hoof conditions deteriorate due to environmental conditions. I have seen horses with regular trimming, a good environment but one or two items lacking or being fed poor quality feed have hoof problems. I have seen improper trimming or shoeing negate both good nutrition and environment.
Holistic equine health is all the factors working together to provide an environment that is conducive to optimum health and soundness. There are so many conflicting ideas on equine nutrition that it is very confusing developing a daily ration. An average horse will require about 2% of his body weight daily. Keep in mind this is in a 24 hour period, with a horse doing light to moderate work.
A horse is designed to eat and graze up to 18 hours per day. They have a small stomach with about 70 feet of intestine and 20 feet or so of large intestine. Due to this feeding a horse more than 5 lbs of concentrated feed ( grain ) at a time is something I would not recommend. A horse that is working very hard or one that is struggling to maintain its weight could need more concentrated feed than 5 lbs per day, but it should be done by feeding more frequently than by increasing meal size.
I will describe the grain ration we feed our horses as a maintenance ration designed to maintain body weight and supply a balanced nutritionally adequate diet. It is also designed to be as economic as possible. We feed whole oats as a basis. We feed approximately 6 ounces twice a day to a 1000 lb horse. We add 1 ounce of trace mineral salt to each ration. We also add 1 ounce of *Equine Science Hoof, Hair and Skin, to the morning ration. We will sometimes add rice bran to the ration for increased calories when we are wanting to put a little weight on the horse or are working it harder. ( No more than two 4 0z.)
The Hoof, Hair and Skin has kelp, flax and biotin. Kelp and flax are excellent source of vitamin E. I am finding more and more that added E to the diet not only aids in hoof and coat health it helps with joint and metabolic balance as well.
The ration described is simple, very adequate and cost effective. The oats cost .011 per ounce or .132 cents per day. The mineral salt doesn't quite cost a penny an ounce.
So the cost per day is .0087 cents. The Hoof, Hair and Skin costs .051 cents per oz. When rice bran is added it is an additional .031 cents per oz. The combined total is as follows.
Oats 6oz. X 2 feedings = .132
Mineral salt 1oz. X 2 feedings = .016
Hoof, Hair and Skin 1oz = .051
Average daily cost for 2 feedings = .199
Rice bran 4oz. at .031 per oz. X 2 = .248
Twenty lbs of hay at 4.00 per bale
for a 40lb bale is .10 per lb. = 2.00
So for our maintenance ration without Rice Bran costs 2.20 per day per horse
With Rice Bran costs 2.45 per day per horse
Monthly costs – 66.00 per month per horse
Monthly costs ( Rice Bran included ) – 73.50 per month per horse.
As stated earlier, this is a maintenance ration for horses doing moderate or light work and the oats can be increased as workload increases.
We feed the hay ration as the concentrate. Actually 10lbs of hay twice a day instead of one large feeding. A horse has a digestive system that has pouches of smaller tubes connecting the pouches throughout the intestines. This along with the relatively small stomach gives credence to small frequent meals.
We feed whole oats only. The nutrients is the oats and in the hull. With digestion of the hull oats become as healthy a food source as any out there. Rolled, Crimped, or Steamed oats have non structured carbohydrates than Whole oats. This has led many people to veer away from oats since comparisons to other food sources using these type of oats are very unfavorable. When compared to Whole oats in all of my research, nothing is a better source for concentrated caloric increases.
This ration is balanced. The minerals and vitamins are at or exceed recommended rates. It is conducive to the horses digestive system. I have also seen numerous horses with hoof and skin issues within months show marked improvement. It is simple and cost effective. I would suggest everyone evaluate their rations and find out what you are feeding your horse and what it is costing you.
Barefoot horses can show, trail ride, competative race, run barrels, gait, learn dressage, jump, etc...
Go barefoot today, your horses will love you for it!!
Beth Emmons of TN enjoys a leisurely ride on Bullwinkle, a Standardbred she rescued a few years ago. They came to Steve for Natural Hoofcare and are doing great!
Mouse is an 11 year old Quarter Horse Mare. I have owned her since 2002. She was shod when I got her, so I continued to have shoes placed every six weeks and competed in barrel racing on a regular basis. I might add that she is very dainty and petite and has very small feet. About a year ago I noticed that she was limping very badly on her right front foot. It was alarming and I immediately took her to see my veterinarian. She found that she had a bone spur on the navicular bone, which is located at the back of the heel. My vet recommended Steve Johnson.
Steve came out to my barn and evaluated Mouse. He removed her shoes and trimmed her hooves. He outlined a plan of care for her as well. After one session, Mouse was not limping as badly and after a couple of sessions her limp was completely gone. Her runs not only became a lot smoother but also faster. She has dropped a second off her time and seems to be getting quicker every time I run her.
Last April I entered a three day barrel race and she did an awesome job for me. The first night she ran a 15.4, which was our fastest time to date. The next day she ran a 15.3 and won $451.00. My two other horses are also improving. At the same barrel race my horse, Chip, also got his fastest time to date, a 16.2 and won $303.00. Chip also got 4th in the 4th division in the averages. I was uncertain at first about running my horses barefoot, but now I will never put shoes on my horses again. I highly recommend Steve Johnson and in fact have I have given his name to several people.