Kaya Femerling was a Natural Hoof Care Practitioner with a huge passion for helping horses, and people. She ran a thriving practice until diagnosed with cancer, and sadly succumbed to it in early 2014.
It was an incredible pleasure to have known Kaya during the 2007 Hoofcare Course and over the years as we corresponded about barefoot trimming and bitless riding.
This is the introduction she wrote about her journey to become a hoof care practitioner that precedes her article on the Hoof Care page of my website, for which I’m forever grateful.
I am overlooking the beautiful, rolling, rugged hills of Sundown National Park…
Underneath me strong steady breathing. In front of me a thick hairy mane, sweat is running over my hands, which are loosely holding the reins, and all I hear is the rhythmical sound of ‘Thump… Thump… Thump…’ – rock crunching hooves, mastering the steep rock covered trail ahead with an unbelievable ease.
I am riding a most magnificent Highland pony, called ‘Buck’ and he is a walking powerhouse!
Despite his very hairy appearance he looks noble, almost royal to me. You can definitely see the Spanish horse breed influence in this pony.
As we climb the seemingly endless rocky trails (I am a guest at Sue McGregor’s Rosemarkie Stud), I look down and marvel at how Buck’s feet seem to almost dance over the rocks and boulders, effortlessly and without hesitation, his hooves seem to ‘attack’ the toughest of the tough rocks, as we climb higher and higher up into the hills.
I pause for a moment and thoughts are passing by… I know that none of my ‘horsey’ friends at home would believe this. Buck’s unshod hooves, hard like concrete, walking over these big sharp rocks as if it was a soft grassy golf course.
No ‘Ouch’, no tenderness, no ‘tippi-toey’. I feel so lucky that I can experience this ride.
It is an ‘eye opener’ for me!As I come home from my 4 hours of ‘rock-crunching’ adventure ride, which led me through the most beautiful parts of the ‘Granite Belt’ (Tenterfield/Stanthorpe’ area in Northern NSW/South Eastern QLD), I check Buck’s hooves and I’m amazed and in awe… his hooves look absolutely ‘picture perfect’ and as impeccable as when we left home for the ride.
Not a single crack, split or dent in the hoof wall or sole, no stone bruises, no chipping whatsoever.This is a healthy horse, with healthy hooves. This is how nature intended horses hooves to be. I feel inspired!
Next day, as I am driving home, to the coast of subtropical Byron Bay, where I live, I see fat horses standing up to their bellies in lush green grassy paddocks.
The landscape looks like from a kid’s fairy tale book, very ‘pretty and peaceful’.
And yet I know by now that this kind of environment is the most dangerous and unsuitable environment horses can live in, as perfect as it might look for us humans…As I drive by these ‘picture paradise’ paddocks I feel very sad for all these horses, because I know from experience how their hooves look like and how hard their bodies are struggling to cope with all the high sugar content in these rich grasses, from which they feed all day long.
Many years ago I thought my horses and ponies were happy to live in their soft, green, pasture rich paddocks.
I think of ‘Buck’, and the rugged, tough, dry, rocky country he lives in, with his mates, a herd of healthy, strong hoofed Highland ponies, at Rosemarkie Stud. They are so lucky!
My passion for horses started when I was very young. As a girl I grew up in Northern Germany. At that time horse stables were the ‘Holy Grail’ of horse keeping and horses were confined to their ‘cage’ (stable) 24/7 and were fed a diet of massive amounts of oats and hay.
Most of the horses were constantly lame and foot sore and often sick with colic. As it happened so frequently it seemed to be ‘normal’ and nobody questioned the way horses were kept at that time.As the years passed by, some horse owners awareness and conscience started to change. More people started to think about the well being and health of their horses.
A huge wave of change happened in the mid 90s. The horses ‘natural needs’ finally started to be considered.
The stable doors opened, horses were suddenly living outdoors all year round, the horses feed changed from oats to ‘High-energy-fibre-feeds’, treeless saddles were invented, bitless bridles came into fashion and ‘Natural Horsemanship’ entered even the most old fashioned, traditional German dressage stables.
And finally even the tradition of nailing metal shoes on to horse’s hooves was questioned. What a ‘break through’ that was.
In this article I want to focus on our horses and pony’s hooves and share my knowledge and experience with you, the reader, so you might feel inspired and encouraged to re-think the way you keep and feed your ponies and how you can care better for your ponies and horses hooves.