The familiar adage “if the shoe fits, wear it” would not be something Sarah Cyders would generally say. This certified barefoot hoof care provider prefers to educate her clients on the benefits of leaving horses shoeless. Her Cornelius, Oregon business, The Naked Hoof, is what Sarah is all about.
Sarah had a difficult time locating good farriers to shoe her animals and was generally unhappy with the results of their trims. Happening upon Pete Ramey’s book about barefoot trimming, Making Natural Hoof Care Work For You, Sarah began to trim her own horses’ hooves while also learning from a barefoot trimmer in her area in an attempt to alleviate discomfort and initiate healing in her horses. In 2007 she acquired a 1-year old PMU rescue horse from North Dakota. It was too wild to handle for the barefoot trimmer she was working with, so she was on her own with a horse that had terrible feet. She worked on this yearling with her best friend, who was also studying barefoot trimming, and this experience pushed her to seek professional training through a course at the Oregon School of Natural Hoof Care.
With certification in hand, Sarah began her business, not knowing if she would have enough clients to make it successful. Soon she had more clients than she could handle in her schedule and took on an apprentice. Horse owners were seeking ways to keep their animals’ feet healthy and functional and Sarah became a go-to professional for them.
Sarah is quick to explain that it is not just a simple trim that will make a horse whole. It is the entire horse as a product of diet, exercise, flooring and hoof care that determines the quality of life for the animal. Sarah recommends an evaluation of a horse’s diet for high sugar content and high carbohydrates in the concentrated feed. If these elements are present, begin to change the feed mix and watch for hooves to begin to mend. Additionally, gradually change the high traffic areas of the pastures to pea gravel to toughen the usually soft hooves of the horses that live in this region in mud. Over time they become accustomed to tougher surfaces and develop tougher feet. Shoes inhibit blood flow and flexibility in a horse’s hoof, often leading to issues that farriers cannot always correct. Sarah will refer clients to competent farriers if clients want to continue to shoe their horses. She suggests the use of hoof boots for trail riding which will give the horse better footing and traction than slippery metal shoes.
Maintaining a barefoot horse requires a bigger commitment as the horse will need more space for daily movement, so stall confinement is not recommended for them. The feed plan will need to be evaluated and adjusted and the use of supplements added to build a horse’s system to optimum health. The results of good horse management will be better animal health and a stable stance, and a longer stride with better traction on a variety of surfaces. Sarah recommends that horse owners become educated about farriers and their services and consider her trimming services by comparison. While there is a shortage of barefoot hoof care providers in the area, Sarah will travel up to one and a half hours from her Cornelius area home to meet clients. There is a travel fee that varies based on actual travel time. She charges $55-75 to set up an initial trim, $40 to pull 4 shoes and $40 for a maintenance trim, which she recommends scheduling every 4 to 6 weeks.
Sarah is also a full time pre-Vet student and works with barefoot hoof advocate Dr. Steve Haughen, a local veterinarian. She is applying to the Veterinary School at Oregon State University and hopes to begin classes there in the fall of 2013. Her mission as a certified barefoot hoof care provider and veterinarian-hopeful is to change the way vets see the issue of shoeing and hoof health and broaden the practice of naked horse hooves. Call Sarah at 503-750-3598 to arrange an appointment for your horse and you’ll receive in return an articulate, passionate and talented professional woman dedicated to happy feet!