Hi Montana, thanks for playing devil's advocate - This helps to make sure we know why we are doing this - as in we have to think clearly about our reasons for going barefoot etc. If one can't think of good clear reasons then one had better think again about what you're is doing.....mmm, am I making sense?
Anyway, let me try this on you. I have just come back from a mini jog and I made sure to wear my runners. They aren't very good ones but they will do as I don't run very much. I am also running on tarmac so those two things combined mean that I will not cause excessive shock to my bones. For the length of time I am running I don't think it is too crucial however, but any athlete will know how important shock absorbtion is.
Now, if I was that African guy who ran and won the marathon barefoot, well I'd be fine not wearing shoes cos I would have so many callouses etc that I wouldn't get sore running over gravel or whatever. If I tried running barefoot now I would get about four feet and give up.
A farrier has been trained to put shoes on - fair enough, and yes they have trained for 3 to 4 years on this. But they are not trained to trim for barefoot. This would be the human equivalent of going to get a pedicure - removing all callouses and tough skin and then being asked to go run along the road. If I was to actually want to go around barefoot I would have to allow those callouses to build up, and in time I too could run the marathon barefoot - if I was incredibly fit too
The farrier however is not trained to know how to let calloused material build up and that is where the problem is...from the barefoot stand point he/she is not the appropriate professional for the job.
For humans there is no rigid iron shoe option - just as well as I would shudder to think what it would feel like to run, clanging along jarring with each step. Now, our toes bend so this is obviously not a practical option anyway. Our feet are not like hooves. BUT, horses hooves do flex, just in a different bit, at their heels. They go in and out, or should do. This absorbs shock and pumps blood around the body as well as a host of other things. So this is why we believe barefoot is the best option for horses (without being dogmatic about it hopefully).
It is my understanding that barefoot professionals know a hell of a lot more about the anatomy of the hoof than a farrier does - and I suppose I understand why. In order to know how to build a tough hoof you need to know alot more about it. If you use a metal object to prevent wear then you don't need to know as much because in a way you are bypassing the hoof's true function.
As with any emerging field there will be a lot of scrutiny put upon barefoot trimming - and I think this is great. It means that people have to really be sure of what they are doing, because any slip up will be taken as an example of why the whole area is flawed. So my opinion is that in about 10 years the level of expertise in the barefoot area will be astounding.
The reason for the trimming group is to support this process and to help maintain a very high standard of trimming and by cooperating with the world wide community we will do the best we can for our horses. There's still lots to learn however.
Ok, how did I do? Please pick as many holes in this as you can possibly think of and I will see if I can give you a genuine and sensible reply.