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To shoe or not to shoe?

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  • To shoe or not to shoe?

    I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I did a search and couldn't find anything, so I apologize if this has been discussed to death.

    I'm new to eventing-- I have a green horse and we're just futzing around at BN right now. She's a Thoroughbred and she has great feet. Currently she's barefoot and not even ouchy when we ride on the gravel road, so she has good tough feet. I'm inclined just to leave her barefoot (mainly because I'm cheap!), but I admit I'm not well versed on the pros/cons of shod/barefoot for eventing, specifically the impact of jumping.

    Anyone willing to enlighten me?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    I have 8 barefoot school horses (assorted breeds) all event BN


    • #3
      Originally posted by crewgirl34 View Post
      I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I did a search and couldn't find anything, so I apologize if this has been discussed to death.

      I'm new to eventing-- I have a green horse and we're just futzing around at BN right now. She's a Thoroughbred and she has great feet. Currently she's barefoot and not even ouchy when we ride on the gravel road, so she has good tough feet. I'm inclined just to leave her barefoot (mainly because I'm cheap!), but I admit I'm not well versed on the pros/cons of shod/barefoot for eventing, specifically the impact of jumping.

      Anyone willing to enlighten me?

      Thanks in advance.

      My daughter has a preliminary mare that did not get shoes until Training level, and that was after a slippery event.
      We have a pony running successfully at Training level too, but learned lately that he needs shoes to be safe(r). He had a bad run at his last event after heavy rains and storms. They got through it but it was not something they will do again. In the future if the footing is slick and muddy they will almost certainly withdraw from the XC phase, until or unless he gets shoes w/ studs.


      • #4
        If she isnt sensitive and she is only running small stuff, I dont why she would need them! You just have to be prepared to withdraw if you think she wont be able to handle the footing at any given show. Bare feet are usually better than shoes without corks, but sometimes it might just be too slick/deep.


        • #5
          Go barefoot as long as possible. I generally try to leave them barefoot through novice if I can. And at training it would simply be because you don't know what the weather might be like. I'm in the south so generally even at training I often only had front shoes. It wasn't until prelim that I put 4 shoes on. When I took a horse north (KY) for a show, where its pretty rocky, I put 4 shoes on at novice. Once you get to training speeds and heights you really want the extra traction if it's wet.
          Custom Painted Brushes: spcustombrushes@gmail.com


          • #6
            Totally depends on the horse. I have a perch/TB that I am running prelim and he has never had shoes on back. He ran training at Tryon, which is basically on the side of a mountain, with no problem with no hind shoes. He ran prelim this weekend at Queeny and stadium on Sunday was quite hilly and slippery due to rain. My prelim warmblood has shoes all around with studs in but still slipped more than the barefoot draft cross. One of the training level horses fell completely down on a turn and was eliminated and that horse was fully shod with studs. I do ride turns with the footing and lack of studs in mind, but so far the big guy who is very balanced and catty and has foxhunting experience, is handling eventing without hind shoes just fine. He is shod in front but not with studs. I have him in front shoes because of the effects of jumping concussion and hunting over rocks and down gravel roads.

            IME, a horse without shoes will have better traction than a horse who is shod but doesn't have studs in. If you chose to run without shoes, you do give up the flexibility to tailor studs to the conditions. Listen to the horse, if footing is making them tense or nervous then shoe in order to stud for the horse's security and peace of mind, as well as your own. If the horse is barefoot, organized, balanced, and catty without studs and the feet hold up well to training, don't rush to put shoes on. If you train and compete on good, sandy footing you may be able to put studs and shoes off far longer than if you deal with clay and mud, but even if you are stuck with craptastic local footing (as I am) it doesn't mean shoes are necessary for every horse.

            Pretty much, let the individual horse tell you what she needs. My warmblood needed shoes at novice in order to have studs for security (more for high jinx in warm-up rather than on course at that point). The draft cross is schooling above prelim and has never had a shoe in back.
            Hindsight bad, foresight good.


            • #7
              If she's happy without them, go barefoot. I didn't get shoes with my big TB guy until we moved up to T--his feet are perfect, and he did great in good to muddy/ deep footing, but I did do one N event on very hard, dry footing where I felt like he was worried. I actually feel like he did as well or better barefoot when it's deep as he does with studs--but he's definitely happier with the studs when it's very hard, especially in the dressage if it's on grass, which is something no one ever really talks about. Right now he's only tapped behind, but if I do the T3D in the fall I'll probably get him tapped in front just in case.


              • Original Poster

                Great, thanks for all the replies. I thought it would probably be ok to leave her barefoot until we go higher, but I just wanted to double check.

                Again, thanks for all the advice and info!


                • #9
                  It will be fine when you're just messing about but doing anything challenging at speed where traction is required and you'll be wanting to review the situation to keep you both safe.


                  • #10
                    I have a Connemara/TB mare who is still barefoot at Training level. She's a very catty horse and I find she has better traction on our footing than most of the horses I've ridden with shoes. But we don't have turf out here, and studs are generally unnecessary at the events in our area. If you are running on terrain that would usually require studs, then I think it gets more complicated. A barefoot horse generally has more traction then a horse with plain shoes, but obviously not as much as a horse with studs. As far as foot protection, if your mare is not sore and you have a good barefoot trimmer there is no reason she can't continue to jump barefoot.


                    • #11
                      Yup, leave her bare -- as long as she is comfy, you're golden. A bare foot has much more traction than a shod one. Just keep an eye on the hoof walls and watch for heel soreness or sole tenderness as jumping demands increase.
                      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                      • #12
                        Without studs, I find usually shoes make horses slip more. And they can lose them in mud etc. Whenever you decide to move up - try to school the facility where you move up and see what the footing is like.