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Hind Shoes vs. Bare Behind

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  • Hind Shoes vs. Bare Behind

    How many folks on here have horses that are bare behind instead of shod all around? Who has switched from shod to bare behind and what were the results?

    I have a horse that recently pretty much put his foot down, so to speak, and has refused to wear hind shoes. Take a look at my other threads if you are interested in the details/lead up.

    It has only been two full days since his hind shoes were removed, and I have ridden him lightly both days (he has also been turned out). So far, he seems to be more sound without the hind shoes and is no longer tripping behind (or in front) and is no longer taking a "funny" step in the trot with the right hind the way he sometimes did when shod behind. He also seems to be "twisting" less when walking. When shod behind, he would plant and twist, plant and twist, plant and twist as he walked. That has decreased significantly.

    Any thoughts/observations on this? I feel that the hind shoes, or they way they were applied, were making him sore behind. That said, he has always had some hock/stifle trouble, and I am worried that being bare behind will make these problems worse. Thoughts on that? At this point, it would frankly be impossible to put hind shoes on him without extreme sedation, so I'd prefer it if this barefoot thing works out.

  • #2
    I haven't needed to shoe my horses for about 2 years now. Before that it was pretty standard on mine to be shod up front and bare behind. Part of it was cost, part was because they just didn't need it to be sound. It worked out best on 2 of my horses who were great big monsters and because of the way they moved keeping shoes on in back could be a problem, like you could see them almost twist them off. Now I don't know if it was a foot problem, conformation problem or a farrier problem which made it possible! The nice thing was that I never had an adjustment "ouchy" problem like when you would pull front shoes.

    My horses did not have hock or stifle issues so I can't say on that. My thoughts would be if he was trimmed properly and balanced and had good feet to begin with would it matter on the hocks and stifles to be shod or not?

    Could his stifle/ hock issues be causing him pain during the shoeing process?


    • #3
      Barefoot here

      but the one time I had my mare shod behind her movement went south in an instant.

      I rode her once the week she was shod (all around) and she felt so stuck in her movement, and was forging quite noticably.

      I got off and pulled 'em. Instantly back to her normal fluid, floating stride. I thought she might benefit from the "protection" for hunting, but she hunted bare prior and has since without issue (knock on wood) so I've learned to leave well enough alone!


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by candyappy View Post
        Could his stifle/ hock issues be causing him pain during the shoeing process?
        Possible, but I don't think so. He had recently had hocks/stifles injected when the problem first manifested with the farrier. Truth be told, I think my (former) farrier, who only did him two times, hurt or scared him in some way. I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but I'm pretty sure that is what happened. He did not have farrier problems before that farrier.

        ETA: The other reason I don't think it is hock/stifle pain-related is that I can go back there and pick up his hind legs as much as I want, move them all over the place, etc., even right after he has run sideways away from the farrier. It is only the farrier that he won't let go back there (even though this is a new farrier who I know has done him no wrong, as I was present for his appointment).


        • #5
          I shoe front only all the time. My show horse that is done front only does fine. He is a 2'6" hunter. His comfort depends on the footing. He is happy at home where I ride in an outdoor hunt field or in a fairly firm arena. At shows he is fine on most footings, but he does not like slippery sand footing at all. Makes me feel very bogged down on him. His lead changes and stride length and movement are all fine without. He has nice back feet though, which allows me to do this.

          IMO, barefoot behind gives better traction on harder and firmer surfaces, but hind shoes would probably give him some added purchase in that sandy stuff that some people use.

          Also, IMO some farriers are bad about balancing the back feet (medially???) from side to side. In other words, they let them get too high or low on the inside. This becomes more of a problem when shod. Again just my personal opinion.

          With regard to your shoeing issue, I will add that this horse HATED every farrier I had until his present one. This horse is narrow and stiff in front and the farriers would pull his leg out to the side too much for his liking. He would wait until he had a hoof full of unclinched nails then jerk his foot away. He loves his current farrier who understands how to hold his leg in a way that is comfortable for him.
          Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks, ToTheNines. I'm pretty careful about footing with him anyway because of a prior front suspensory injury, so really never ride him in very deep stuff or slippery sand. He's mostly ridden in arenas (indoor and outdoor).


            • #7
              All my horses have bare behinds.
              "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


              • #8
                My horse that has shoes (one is barefoot) is bare behind. He kept pulling his hind shoes on turnout so I decided to try without. Saves me money and my farrier time. I did not notice a difference in his performance for dressage or over fences either way.
                If it helps at all for reference he currently is in regular shoes with 2 degree wedge pads in front.
                My blog:



                • #9
                  My horse has mild upward fixation of the patella or "sticky stifles" behind. Shoes of any kind, including rolled toe, squared toe, eggbars, and hinds with trailers have all made him stick SO much more. When barefoot behind he literally never sticks. So he will remain barefoot behind forever.


                  • #10
                    Just curious, how aggressive were the hind plates your horse was wearing?

                    No one set formula for shoes here. Everyone gets shod or not as they need. A couple of my Morgans are always bare even in rock. One horse I do keep shod only in the front. His footsies are neither great nor bad. But he is too much a poky joe to take into rough country. Hind plates not needed.

                    3 I keep shod all 4 around. One with terrible hooves that needs them for anything but riding in the sugar sand. Hubby's horse tends to stone bruise badly without shoes also. And the Hubby's young horse.....well he would around here do fine with only front plates. But plans are to head south later this summer and let him get some experience. So I would rather work out any shoe issues here near home now cuz where he is headed he needs all 4 shoes on.


                    • #11
                      Our family has never ever had a horse that wore back shoes. My mother trail rides and has had a few horses over the years. Two have needed front shoes only, the current goes barefoot all around. My show horse is ridden 6 days a week for an hour or more and she is barefoot all around as well. If they needed shoes they would have them, however none of them need them.


                      • #12
                        Yes, I have had horses shod in front and bare behind. Definitely. Usually done to save some money and lessen my odds of losing a shoe!

                        I have had the opposite experience as some are mentioning, and have had hock-sore horses do better shod behind though. However, without reading any other threads, OP, when I have a hock-sore horse the first thing you often notice is when you try to pick up their hind feet it hurts. A lot of them jack them up, because holding it at midlevel is painful. It does not sound like your horse has that issue.
                        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by D Taylor View Post
                          Just curious, how aggressive were the hind plates your horse was wearing?
                          For most of the time I have had him, he was wearing what I would consider completely basic steel shoes behind. No pads, no special anything. The prior farrier who did him exactly twice did a re-set the first time using the shoes he had on from the prior farrier. At his second shoeing, he put him in shoes that I did not like (did not discuss with me first), and they had a much narrower toe - kind of more trowel shaped, if that makes sense. No pads or anything like that. Horse was crippled lame after that shoeing. I had a vet out, and the vet said she didn't think it was his feet, but was higher up. Prescribed robaxin for severe muscle tightness, and he gradually improved and was taken off the robaxin. He got back to close to 100% soundness, but still occasionally felt wrong to me and was very stumbly both in front and behind.

                          I can't find a picture of the shoes online...I do still have them and could take a picture of them...not sure how I can post it, though (picture-posting impaired).

                          The prior farrier who shod him twice "fired" him as a client after the second shoeing because he was "dangerous" to shoe. He never had a problem before this, but he now had a problem being shod by the new farrier we are using. I don't know exactly what happened, or if these particular shoes and/or the nail pattern was bothering him. The horse is a smart cookie, and has a long memory.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                            However, without reading any other threads, OP, when I have a hock-sore horse the first thing you often notice is when you try to pick up their hind feet it hurts. A lot of them jack them up, because holding it at midlevel is painful. It does not sound like your horse has that issue.
                            This is what he does when he needs his hocks injected. But that's not really what he is doing now. This is YANKING his leg away from the farrier, hopping on his other hind leg, running sideways and standing there shaking and with his heart beating out of his chest staring in horror at the farrier.

                            In a horse that I have owned for nearly four years now. With no problems of this kind with a farrier. Ever. Until now.


                            • #15
                              I only shoe the front of my horse with bad feet unless I am going to be trail riding in the mountains or rocky terrain. The other two stay barefoot pretty much all the time. If I put shoes on for a particular ride I take them off immediately after.


                              • Original Poster

                                The hind shoes he was in were the second one down in this link (the EZ hind):


                                I really hate them, and did from the beginning, even before I saw him move in them. Especially for a horse that I requested have a more squared off hind toe, these really were not the ticket.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                                  That said, he has always had some hock/stifle trouble, and I am worried that being bare behind will make these problems worse. Thoughts on that?
                                  My experience has been the opposite.

                                  I left the hinds off several years ago (because my farrier was impossible to schedule) and never looked back. He's been bare behind for 3 or 4 years. When my horse was over due, he would forge and finally pulled a front shoe. Leaving the shoes off decreased his range of motion behind which eliminated the forging and greatly reduced the risk of a pulled shoe if Mr. Farrier went AWOL. I also noticed less soreness in his stifles overall.

                                  I had him on a joint supplement and when it ran out, you could tell the difference in his stifles within a few weeks. With the shoes off, I have discontinued the supplement and he seems just fine without it.
                                  Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                                  • #18
                                    I put shoes on only when needed, and rarely find that hind shoes are necessary
                                    (mostly only when I want studs for eventing or a horse has goofy conformation or does a ton of roadwork/ hunting/ racing).

                                    That said, sometimes there is just something about the way a particular farrier holds the leg that can be really uncomfortable for a horse. Both my horse and my farrier are getting older, and I've noticed that the farrier's not able/ comfortable bending quite like he used to be, and my horse has strong feelings about How Things Are Done, which can cause problems.


                                    • #19
                                      I never put shoes on unless they are needed, and then often just fronts. But, in some horses, if they are not comfortable behind, they will put more weight on the fronts that are shod, which can lead to more problems. So some do need to be shod all around.
                                      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                      • #20
                                        I did not read the threads, but a horse that is hard to shoe (accompanied by other symptoms) could have shivers?
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique