Thursday, August 15, 2013

Compassion is always the right answer!

Everyone seems to understand empathy (the ability to see things from anothers point of view).  But few people understand compassion.  Compassion is someone who has empathy and acts with kindness as a result of that knowledge.

The horse world is very funny.  Many horse owners, farriers, trainers and veterinarians will argue a point and literally stop talking to friends and associates over defending their particular theory.  The problem is that there is no one theory for every situation that works all of the time.  If compassion is the map for the decision making, then these issues would be fewer and farther between.

I had a student this spring who entered a horse show and was having a problem with her mare.  The problem was pain in her front feet.  This spring was a bit on the wet side and the mare had developed thrush.  The student was a big supporter of natural trimming and would not hear of putting shoes on to make her mare comfortable to show the mare. 

If you are working your horse with the idea of compassion and want to do the right thing by your horse these are the choices you have.  If your horse is sore and thrushy, give her time off as you treat her feet and let her heal.  It is less than kind to ride a horse with pain.  The second choice you would have is to purchase hoof boots and if this takes care of the problem, then you can ride your horse in these while you eradicate the thrush.  The third choice would be to use shoes on a very short term basis while you treat the thrush.

The basic problem with this particular horse was the show that they had entered was pricey.  Hoof boots were not allowed - so the only alternative would have been shoes temporarily or scratch the show.  Even glue on shoes that were feet friendly would have been enough to ride and show the mare with compassion.

It is o.k. to promote natural trimming and live with that theory.  It is not o.k. to ride a horse in pain.  If you have not taken very careful care of your horse's feet and the horse has developed thrush - you have an obligation to treat the thrush and to either give the horse time off to heal or make the horse comfortable with either boots or shoes. (What ever is allowed based on the activity you are choosing to engage in.)

Hoof pain does not always express itself as limping.  When there is pain in both front feet it can and often does present and an unwillingness to go forward.  An unwillingness to go forward is a red flag that your horse has something wrong.  That is something that should not be ignored.

We all can live together in harmony with our different theories as long as compassion is the guiding principle.