The Eventing-A-Gogo blog has reached 150 official followers! That is mind-boggling. Thank you, all of you, for supporting this great journey. I've said it many times, I really can't tell you how much it means to me.
Gogo is getting the rest of this week off, for a few reasons really. First of all, my boss is coming home next Monday for a brief stint, so I need to fully focus my energies on working her five horses that she left behind and making sure they are all looking their very best for her return. Secondly, I scheduled Gogo's next ultrasound with Dr. C for next Tuesday in the morning. It's a week earlier than I had originally planned (I was shooting for more like the 10th, because we were set to start cantering on the 11th), but I always start to get exceptionally antsy around the time of an approaching vet appointment. I start to get paranoid - is there more fill in the leg today? Is it warmer than it was? Did she just take a funny step getting on the treadmill or did I make that up? Am I seeing things? Am I not? - so I figured I needed to just stop everything and wait until the ultrasound. She'll be treadmilled and turnout out until next Tuesday, where we hopefully will be getting more good news. I just always start to seriously imagine the worst whenever a vet appointment approaches, so I'm just going to stop worrying about it and just continue with the daily routine until then. I will be seriously glad when this daily paranoia is over. (Even though, at this point, it will never really be over for the rest of her life!)
In the meantime, I am beginning my own version of the barefoot adventure. I've been researching more about the human foot and its mechanism, and the parallels I've found to the equine barefoot movement have been mind-boggling. It's seriously a nearly identical process with nearly identical motives behind it. And now that I've discovered the human barefoot movement, I get to relive the entire process by which I found the equine movement - only this time it's a little different. When I found the equine barefoot movement, I was more ready to jump in wholeheartedly because of the way shoeing had crippled and, crudely put, killed my last horse. There's no way around it, he's quite dead now in large part because of some cocky choices my farriers had made with him, and because of that I was ready to try something new. With my own bare feet, I was much more skeptical to start, with a lot of the same criticisms that the anti-bare hooves people have.
For instance, I thought people that went without shoes were nuts. (People say that barefoot-only people are nuts.)
I thought that humans needed shoes given our lifestyles and the stresses we put on ourselves and our feet. (People say the modern sport horse needs shoes because of their lifestyles and stresses we put on them and their feet.)
I thought my soles would be too tender to ever try this because I've been wearing shoes for as long as I can remember. (People say their horses can't go barefoot because they get too tender and have been wearing shoes forever.)
I thought that everybody wears shoes, that's just what we do as people. (People shoe their horses sometimes because well, that's what everybody else does too, so who would think otherwise?)
I thought that human athletes needed footwear to give them a competitive edge. (People think horses need footwear to give them a competitive edge.)
I thought people with flat feet needed the support of a shoe. (People think horses with flat feet need the support of a shoe.)
(Daun sent me a link today, by the way, about a new study out concerning the way running shoes have changed the way we run, and Nicole called me pretty much simultaneously to tell me she was listening to the same story on the radio. Go read the study. It's really, really interesting.)
What have I found in my research and personal experience with the barefoot movement, human and horse? More parallels!
Many people and horses may need a little help transitioning from shoes to bare - there is a steadily growing market for hoof boots and transitional human footwear, both of which are designed to give tender feet a chance to start moving naturally without being in pain.
Feet change in response to bad footwear, good footwear, environmental stresses, and movement.
High heels = pain, in both humans and horses.
Flat feet, heel pain, and tender soles often rapidly and beautifully resolve when taken properly bare.
A very large majority of foot issues in both species stem from improper footwear.
If feet are being inefficiently used due to pain or improper footwear, it can lead to injuries higher up in the body. Mother Nature designed feet to do their job perfectly just the way they are, so anything we add to that proportionally decreases efficiency, and increases the possibility of issues.
Once feet are being efficiently used, the entire body's efficiency improves. A pain-free body is healthy body.
The one REALLY big difference? A healthy bare foot is supposed to land heel first - a toe first landing is indicative of a problem. A bare human foot, on the other hand, is supposed to land ball or midfoot first, and a heel first landing is painful and jarring. Our modern day running shoes are very heavily padded around the heel area, which encourages a heel-first landing. I myself am guilty of running heel-first, probably because I assumed that it worked for my horse, so it should work for me too. Wrong! I was plagued with eternal issues, from sore feet to shin splints to unbearable hip socket pain on my right side. Which, of course, is what led me here. If going barefoot worked so well for my horse, then why not try it myself? If I can simultaneously increase my efficiency and decrease my pain, then I've done exactly the same thing for myself as I've done for my horse.
My own barefoot experience began today. I finally had a chance to get out and get my pair of Vibram Five Fingers, a piece of minimalist transitional footwear designed to mimic the bare foot. Not quite ready to take the fully barefoot plunge (or sure that I ever actually want to go fully barefoot), I wanted the benefits with a little added protection to allow me to walk on difficult surfaces without being crippled or injured.
These, my friends, are my new favorite shoes:
Now for those of you that don't know, this is how my feet often look in the winter:
Obviously, this is a huge transition for me.
I tried on a few pairs before choosing the right one. And of course, I picked the blue ones ;) I have to say, it's VASTLY different from anything I've ever had on my feet before and I LOVE IT. They're going to take some getting used to, but they're really comfortable, although I can see how for a more squashed foot they would be uncomfortable because of how they spread the toes. My pinky toe felt a little pulled away from my other toes, but not uncomfortably so. I broke in the shoes on a quick trip to a very rocky Connecticut beach down the road from the shoe store, and got some awesome pictures while I was at it:
By the way, let's state this one for the records: wearing skinny jeans and VFF shoes is insufferably tacky and makes you look like THE dumbest person around. Won't be doing THAT one again!
But by far the most awesome pictures I got were when I befriended a very crazy old man with a loaf of stale bread who was feeding the seagulls. I stood there and snapped away while he cackled and held out the bread for them to take right from his outstretched hand. Boy I love making friends.
Walking 'bare' immediately showed me that the way I normally walk is WRONG! I found after a very short time that landing on your heels sends a very uncomfortable shockwave up your entire leg column into your spine. When I walk in regular shoes, I tend to slouch along, landing on my heels and dragging forward. Yea... that's quite painful in minimalist footwear! So, I thought long and hard about everything I have thus far studied on the efficient foot biomechanics, and changed to landing more midfoot. WOW. That was eye-opening! Suddenly, the pressure I was absorbing all the way up into my spine dissapeared. Everything dissipated in my foot. And not only that, suddenly I was using an entirely new group of muscles. I had to engage my abs while walking. I've never felt that before.
All in all it was very humbling and exciting. I intend on just walking for probably the rest of January and a good part of February, and then we'll think about running once I am comfortable. Then, we can lay out a plan for what I'd like to accomplish.
Until then, walk on!
Zac's 3 week update
18 hours ago