David Nicholls and Kevin Hatridge

Give And Take On Natural Balance

Two farriers hold frank exchange on controversial shoeing

POINTS OF AGREEMENT. While David Nicholls (left) and Kevin Hatridge (right) disagree on many aspects of Natural Balance, they agree that proper hoof trimming is vital in shoeing. They also agree that shoeing and trimming needs to done with an eye toward meeting the needs of a particular horse, rather than as “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Since it's introduction, there’s been little neutral ground on the subject of Natural Balance shoeing. The shoeing method developed by farrier Gene Ovnicek after a 2-year study of the feet of feral horses, is hailed by supporters as a rediscovery of sound principles and attacked as back-to-nature hokum by detractors.

American Farriers Journal recently brought together one farrier from each side of the Natural Balance debate.

  • David J. Nicholls, a strong proponent of Natural Balance, is an associate of The Worshipful Company Of Farriers of Great Britain. The farrier from West Sussex, England, has been shoeing for 35 years.
  • Kevin Hatridge, an American Farrier’s Association certified journeyman farrier, has been shoeing for 16 years. The farrier from Thornton, Colo., believes that Natural Balance shoeing has some inherent problems.

Both farriers are familiar with Natural Balance principles and techniques as well as those commonly identified as “traditional farriery.” They’ve each used both techniques during their career. Below are some of the highlights from a 90-minute, free-wheeling discussion.

NICHOLLS: For some reason in our industry we were conceited enough to believe that we had got it right from the start. I’ve been shoeing now for about 35 years…

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Pat tearney

Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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