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Going barefoot-- is my horse a candidate?

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  • Going barefoot-- is my horse a candidate?

    I have wanted to try going barefoot with my horse for a while now, but when I asked my farrier whether or not he thought it would work for my horse, he just asked how many times a week I rode. I told him 4 times a week. He said that I rode too often to be barefoot. ??? I KNOW there are lots of horses out there who are barefoot all the time. I also know there are many on this board who advocate going barefoot. So, in your experience, would my horse be a candidate? Here's his info:
    -16.3 Racing Quarter, 17 y.o. no history of soundness or foot problems whatsoever
    -Ridden 4-5 times a week-- mostly dressage (1st level) in the arena and some trail riding
    -Only has shoes in front, barefoot hind feet have no problems with chipping, etc.
    -Feet are relatively slow growing. Gets shod every 8 weeks.
    -Hind feet definitely wear themselves down, but evenly and not too short

    So-- what do you think?

  • #2
    Ask him why he feels that way? Does he feel the horse would wear its toes down too much? Does he feel your horse would sore up too easily?

    Most any horse can go barefoot (with exceptions of course); you just have to allow them the time to adjust and ride them appropriately. I have had nothing but excellent results with mine being barefoot (we're currently up to 6 now, all barefoot). It is not that I am opposed to shoeing, I just feel barefoot makes for a healthier hoof and have greatly enjoyed the benefits of barefoot. My shelly-thin-walled Thoroughbred has much stronger feet over the past year and I have never had a single non-injury-temporary (non-hoof/foot involvement) lameness, with my oldest being 15 this year (I've had him since a foal). They do adapt nicely, including toughening up their soles, when given the chance (just ask my wussy Quarab with the sensitive feet ). What I have had to be cautious of in the past though was wear - when I was riding regularly in certain sands, sometimes my Quarab's front toes would square off and wear too quickly (but you can also learn to round the toe a little). At those times we considered fronts, though we did manage to get off without them in the end. I can also understand in certain situations needing them (as I have done in the past), but there is no reason your boy is not a candidate, imo. If your farrier feels so, I would get a second or even third opinion - find someone reputable with barefoot experience, and go with them to see if you like it and your horse benefits. Remember to ask why or why not, and to do your research
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


    • #3
      ALL horses are candidates to be barefoot. This does not mean ALL horses will be sound barefoot. You can try it and if it doesn't work out, put shoes back on.

      Just don't let any professional trim lots sole out of the foot, nor let any barefooter gouge the bars out.

      Give it a whirl and make sure your horse isn't crippled and away you go.


      • #4
        Originally posted by carrie_girl View Post
        I told him 4 times a week. He said that I rode too often to be barefoot. ???
        It might be in your best interest to start looking for a new farrier or trimmer then. I personally don't think that a farrier who thinks a horse who is ridden 4 days a week needs shoes can possibly understand what a healthy foot is or can do. If that is the case, then he can't help you.

        So, in your experience, would my horse be a candidate? Here's his info:
        -16.3 Racing Quarter, 17 y.o. no history of soundness or foot problems whatsoever
        -Ridden 4-5 times a week-- mostly dressage (1st level) in the arena and some trail riding
        -Only has shoes in front, barefoot hind feet have no problems with chipping, etc.
        -Feet are relatively slow growing. Gets shod every 8 weeks.
        -Hind feet definitely wear themselves down, but evenly and not too short

        So-- what do you think?
        Well, if only going by this, then of course he's a candidate. But, if you want some better prognostications pictures would help.

        The *situation* doesn't say anything about needing shoes, but if his front feet are not in good shape form-wise, then it may be best to find a farrier who can get them in better shape, with shoes, first, before going the barefoot route.

        I would strongly suggest having a pair of boots on hand if/when you decide to take the shoes off. This means a little planning, as you'll need to measure his feet after a fresh trim, before the shoes go back on, so you can order the correct size boot. You may not need them, but if he needs them to be comfy in his adjustment period when you ride, it's much better to boot and ride for the circulation and stimulation, then leave him in the cushy pasture without boots and take longer to get comfy.

        Originally posted by RidingAllDay View Post
        ALL horses are candidates to be barefoot. This does not mean ALL horses will be sound barefoot.
        IMNSHO, if he's not sound barefoot and won't ever be due to a pathology, he's not a candidate for barefoot
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET