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Barefoot experts -- Is there ever a horse who shouldn't go barefoot?

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  • Barefoot experts -- Is there ever a horse who shouldn't go barefoot?

    I'm consulting with a barefoot trimmer tomorrow (Sossity Garagiulo, for those of you who know her) about the possibility of my 25-year-old retired TB hunter going barefoot. Keeping him sound during his long showing career was a challenge, as was keeping him happy during the last six years of semi-retirement. He's now home with me, going out into a two-acre field during the day and coming into a stall/paddock at night. He's barefoot behind.

    He has typical OTTB feet - thin-walled and low heels. His coffin bones have always been an issue and he's had coffin-bone injections for the last ten years. He wore bar shoes and wedged pads during his showing days; now he wears a beveled-toe, wide steel shoe with wedged pads. I've had his feet x-rayed annually and minor adjustments have been made to the pads as the coffin bone changes have taken place.

    I have NO problem with keeping him shod for the rest of his days -- whatever is best for him -- but I have all my other horses barefoot now and if there's any way for Benjamin to do so, I'd love it.

    Any thoughts? What questions should I be asking the trimmer?
    R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

    Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.

  • #2
    I believe each horse is different. That said I have a pony that's always been barefoot and my retired show horse is barefoot now but they both have great feet. The retired one is coming back into light work just for fun walk trot in the ring so he will stay barefoot probably.

    Now my new guy that had a slight and I mean very slight rotation caused from an injury in his other hoof I may let himl go barefoot when he is retired hopefully a long time from now because we should never have issues again from this. That said if it was an ongoing issue over years I would probably keep him in shoes and pads just so things didn't get worse. This would be good to talk to your vet about since he knows the history best.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

    Comment


    • #3
      First question to ask the trimmer. If the horse is sore after pulling shoes, is the trimmer qualified to put shoes back on the horse?

      Comment


      • #4
        In answer to the direct question asked in the title, Yes.

        Why are you consulting with a barefoot-only trimmer in the first place?

        Lets see if I've got this right. You've got a 25 year old horse that has had long standing hoof issues that require orthosis and now you want to take him barefoot. Does that pretty much sum it up?

        If so, what are you going to do if the horse comes up sore/lame? Is the trimmer going to be able to re-install the orthosis or are you then going to call your (former) farrier and ask him/her to come 'fix' your horse? By the way, who is trimming your other horses and, if its not your farrier, why not? And, why is s/he any less able to trim this horse than is Ms. Garagiulo? Why should having your other horses barefoot play any role in your hoofcare decisions for this horse.
        Coffin bone or coffin joint injections?
        At his age, why would you put him through this unnecessary experiment?

        Write this down and refer to it often:

        The question is not whether all horses can be barefoot because the answer to that is "Yes". The question is Should all horses be barefoot? And the answer to that is a resounding "NO!"

        And anyone who tells you differently will lie about other things too.
        Last edited by Rick Burten; Mar. 11, 2013, 08:54 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Actually the OP's question was not SHOULD a horse go barefoot, but rather are there times when one SHOULD NOT. I don't see where the OP was making an "any or all" statement, either.

          Little wonder these types of questions are never dealt with individually, when all everyone seems to want to do is make sweeping proclamations.

          I have no credentials other than "horse owner", but I would say if the horse is currently not having major issues that might mandate shoeing, why not give it a try? It's a more forgiving time of year, generally speaking, in many places than, say, early December in these parts when the ground is busy freezing in ruts but there's still no snow cover. Not an ideal time to remove shoes from a horse with "issues". There are all sorts of ways to help transition a horse that gets a bit tenderfooted (boots, sole tougheners, etc.) and with a thoughtful trimmer/farrier/whateveryouwanttocall it and a bit of patience, my guess would be that many "always shod" horses would have a fair chance of transitioning to barefoot.
          Click here before you buy.

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't think all horses can be barefoot, but if you don't give him a chance, you'll never know.
            If your trimmer is a good one, see what she can do. Hope it works for you!

            Comment


            • #7
              To all trimmer: what if he is lame after you pull his shoes?

              If the answer is any variation of "he'll just have to limp until he toughens up" RUN do not WALK away. There are some things which can help ease the transition to barefoot..... And if those are tried and do not work, they should be cool with putting shoes back on.

              It sounds, however, like the horse has significant existing issues..... I would be very leery of making such a drastic change.

              Jennifer
              Third Charm Event Team

              Comment


              • #8
                I have a horse I NEVER thought could be barefoot--she went best in Eponas with Equipak when I was riding her--but does JUST FINE now with no shoes and has great feet barefoot. What was vital to the success of taking her barefoot was a farrier who was able to get the foot truly balanced before we took off the shoes.

                So while I do believe that there ARE horses out there that probably do need shoes, even in retirement, I think that most horses are fully capable of being comfortable barefoot, with the caveat that work may need to be done to ensure the hoof is in good shape before the shoes come off.

                Comment


                • #9
                  So far I'm the only "trimmer" chiming in and I'll say that I found a few horses that needed shoes to be comfortable just hanging out. It's not that common in my area as we do have softer ground but there are such horses that really, for whatever reason..injuries, genetics, neglect..., do need some hoof protection to simply be pasture puffs.

                  A good trimmer will be willing to admit that and if she/he is not, then find someone else that is.

                  Quite a few trimmers now use Epona shoes also as do I. I have several older client horses in them for exactly the reason you are asking about. Be sure to at least discuss all of your options before allowing this person to work on your horse and be sure you understand what they all entail in your amount of engagement to make it work...ie boots, etc...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                    Actually the OP's question was not SHOULD a horse go barefoot, but rather are there times when one SHOULD NOT.
                    Actually, the question was "Is there ever a horse who shouldn't go barefoot?"
                    And I addressed that question directly (and with a one word answer) in the first sentence of my reply to the OP..........
                    Little wonder these types of questions are never dealt with individually, when all everyone seems to want to do is make sweeping proclamations.
                    In the last two sentences of the OP's reply, it was asked "Any thoughts? What questions should I be asking the trimmer? " which gave carte blanche for the ensuing replies.
                    I have no credentials other than "horse owner", but I would say if the horse is currently not having major issues that might mandate shoeing, why not give it a try?
                    I would have liked it better if your credential was 'horseman/woman". However,
                    did you miss or misunderstand the part and its relevance to this discussion, especially since we have been asked to comment without ever having 'hoof in hand' or a reasonable facsimile thereof, where the OP stated:
                    Keeping him sound during his long showing career was a challenge, as was keeping him happy during the last six years of semi-retirement.............
                    ..........He has typical OTTB feet - thin-walled and low heels. His coffin bones have always been an issue and he's had coffin-bone injections for the last ten years.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                      So far I'm the only "trimmer" chiming in and I'll say that I found a few horses that needed shoes to be comfortable just hanging out. It's not that common in my area as we do have softer ground but there are such horses that really, for whatever reason..injuries, genetics, neglect..., do need some hoof protection to simply be pasture puffs.
                      I was going to suggest that *if* you could control the environment that the horse lives in, many more horses could go barefoot, especially in retirement. I have one of those horses that could be very comfortable barefoot in spring and summer, but probably not in the hard, dry ground of late summer/autumn, and definitely not the frozen mud of winter (fluffy snow is great, but not always available).

                      I'd love to let her go barefoot in retirement, but I know it would be less than ideal in certain types of weather. (This is not a horse that needed "corrective" shoeing as much as shoeing for protection).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yes there are horses that shouldn't go barefoot. Given the info in your original post, your horse may very well be one of them. I certainly would try, but I would thoroughly question your trimmer about her protocol of getting a horse barefoot...and what should happen if you find your horse cannot he comfortable without shoes. If your trimmer says your horse will just have to tough it out, run away. If your trimmer says all horses can go barefoot, run away.

                        I use a "barefooter" she works with various non-metal shoes, as well as boots, casts, and trims. She has several farriers she recommends clients to when her area of expertise does not benefit their horses. She is pro barefoot, but certainly not anti-shoe.

                        So make sure you have a plan in place, and a back-up if that plan doesn't work.
                        Best of luck!
                        come what may

                        Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          After 20+ years of doing everything and anything to keep this horse healthy and happy, I'm not about to try something harmful. But now that his situation has changed and he's here at home with me, and the shoer who has done him for the last few years might not be available, I'm considering different options, including the possibility of barefoot. My vet will, of course, be part of the decision-making process.

                          It's helpful to get different opinions, of course, but please rest assured I'm not a moron and will not pull shoes willy-nilly. I'm simply looking for suggestions as to what kinds of questions I might ask. I expect that he's probably NOT a candidate for barefoot but this is all part of my education.
                          R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

                          Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I tried my 20 yo retired gelding barefoot after having him in fronts for the 13 ish years I've had him. After 4(ish) months barefoot he was still ouchy and clearly not comfortable. I had a great farrier who also did some of our other horses trims (as well as shoeing).

                            I had a thread on here about it probably about a year ago. I decided to put his shoes back on and now he's comfy and happy again. It's worth it to spend an extra 50 bucks every 7 weeks to have him be comfortable. I will never pull his shoes again.
                            Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                            White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                            Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There's an old saying: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

                              This does not mean be a Ludite. It does mean change with care.

                              I agree that the OP's horse is a poor candidate for "barefoot." The OP should proceed with care and likely should get a second opinion before going forward.

                              G.
                              Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                You have received some really great advice...and it's always wonderful when a professional in the field offers you great advice. I don't understand the barefoot trimmer concept. IMO if I am going to try a horse barefoot, which works for some, I would prefer to use someone who has the tools and knowledge to properly shoe a foot if the barefoot option doesn't work! There are some horses who can NOT go barefoot comfortably...I have a TB who despite a real effort at barefoot, just couldn't do it. Luckily, my farrier was also my trimmer and he could put shoes back on when it was necessary.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  My mare was shod all around in the summer for showing. We decided to pull her back shoes in the fall and her fronts this winter. She has really good feet so we thought why not. After two weeks her fronts were getting chipped and looking a little ragged although she was never sore. We had the farrier put her fronts back on after those first two weeks. Lesson learned.
                                  So in answer to your question, no, not all horses can or should go barefoot.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Dare1, if you had given your mare more time, I bet she'd be fine barefoot. I pulled my mare's shoes last spring and for the first 4-6 weeks, her feet looked terrible but now, she has the best looking feet on the farm. They usually chip away and look really bad for awhile. I just tried not to look at them. She wasnt ever lame but did take a few ouchy steps every now and then.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      After two weeks her fronts were getting chipped and looking a little ragged although she was never sore
                                      Not how I would define "definitely failed barefoot".
                                      Click here before you buy.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        i own one horse who cannot go barefoot. I would keep shoes on any horse with a super thin sole. My horse bruised all up

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