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Any tips for what to expect after pulling horse's shoes & going barefoot?

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  • Any tips for what to expect after pulling horse's shoes & going barefoot?

    After numerous consultations with vets and my very wonderful farrier, have decided to pull my gelding's front shoes (he's never worn hind shoes) and let nature go to work. If you do a search on this board for "Oberon," you'll find the ongoing saga of this lovely half TB/half percheron who tore a DDFT in left front and impar ligament on right front back in 2007. He's had stall rest/rehab/turnout in field for year and pretty much everything else. Finally thought all was behind us in December when I cantered him for first time since injury, but by February he was lame again.

    He's had so many different kinds of shoes I can't even begin to list them. Every combination of bar/wedges/pads you can think of. The excellent farrier at Alamo Pintado shod him for months then turned him over to my farrier who's done beautiful work. Really. Thankfully, this farrier is extremely experienced with barefoot horses (all his go barefoot) and I'm confident he'll get us through this.

    He's recommended getting boots for Oberon to wear at first. Luckily the ground here is still a bit wet from all the rains we've had and the field he goes into every day still has some grass so it won't be totally hard.

    So, any tips for easing the transition?
    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
    No advise but best wishes!

    Interestingly I am just about to put shoes back on Fharoah.


    • #3
      Originally posted by ljc View Post
      Thankfully, this farrier is extremely experienced with barefoot horses (all his go barefoot) and I'm confident he'll get us through this.
      I'm sure I don't need to say this to you, but for the benefit of anyone in your shoes Don't let this blind you to any reason he might need the shoes put back on I'm not saying have him put shoes back on the instant Oberon is a little sore, but at least have the discussion about what might be going on, set expectations, etc

      He's recommended getting boots for Oberon to wear at first.
      Excellent. Use them if he needs them Leave them off where/when he's sound on those feet, but slap them on the instant he's not, even if that's only when you ride. Don't forget about the myriad of pads out there which can help as well.
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • #4
        My experience is a lot of soreness.
        I have had 2 horses go barefoot. One was a little younger and had a history of quarter cracks. We pulled his shoes and turned him out and he is doing great. Minimal soreness with him, but still achy legs and feet. The other one just couldn't do it...he'd had shoes his whole life, and was too sore. It got to the point where he'd not want to walk anywhere. We put the shoes back on.
        Best wishes to you and your horse, and let him tell you whether barefoot is right for him or not! Boots will def. help with foot soreness....but I think with my horse, it was more an issue of a different angle and stress on pretty set-in-their-ways leg muscles and tendons. :/


        • #5
          I did this to the horse I leased a few summers ago, as he enjoyed pulling his own shoes off and I wasn't actually doing much of anything with him. He hated me the first few days, very sore and couldn't walk too well, he was very ginger when placing his feet down. He lived outside so I kept him there so he could on his own "walk it out." I also gave him bute to keep him comfortable.

          For the first few days I was super worried because of the way he walked around me....until....my friend told me not to worry as Bobo enjoyed galloping around with his friends in the field. I saw him running one day when I pulled into the barn, and sure enough when I got him out of the field he acted like a baby again. Kept on bute a few more days but I stopped worrying. :-)

          He had to go back into shoes before he headed back to school, which he did fine in that transition but he had much healthier feet after that point. Those few months without shoes did him good, plus lessened my headache as the shoe pulling issue started to get very annoying!
          "The horse you get off f is not the same horse you got on. It is your job as a rider to ensure that as often as possible, the change is for the better" - unknown author


          • #6
            One thing to be mindful of, is that some horses require more frequent trimming intervals when barefoot - my can't go longer than 4 weeks. Most people are accustomed to every 6-8 weeks, and that will be much too long, most of the time. Good luck - I hope it works out for you. (Since another thing you might expect is smaller farrier bills!)


            • #7
              My POA has always been barefoot, but I recently moved her to a trail riding barn as that is my passion.

              The small rocks bothered her the most, so I tried www.durasole.com and it worked wonders.
              She was noticeably different after only a week.

              Maybe that is something you want to try. I ordered mine through Jeffer's.
              MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


              • #8
                I transitioned my gelding who had been wearing shoes since he was 2 years old (he was 7 when we pulled them for a variety of reasons). He was definitely sore to begin with on hard footing, but did fine in the sandy ring and in the fields. I used hoof boots for the first few weeks in the paddock to encourage him to walk and always while riding during that first year.

                Be careful with hoof boots to pull them off and clean them so there is no bacterial/fungal risk.

                My guy was also out 24/7 and on a low NSC diet (plain beet pulp based). I would say we had to use hoof boots for the first year for most rides. I invested in a pair of Renegades which are amazing! I also use a farrier who not only supports use of shoes, but barefoot as applicable. He was very honest with me about the fact that we may have to put shoes back on. That was 18 months ago!!!! Even he says his feet are amazing! His soles are rock hard, he has great growth, and can handle any terrain we throw at him now.

                I also suggests shorter trim intervals. We found 5 weeks worked well for awhile, then we gradually went out to 6 and then 7 in the winter. Good luck and I hope you have success!

                I used Durasole for awhile too! And my guy was on MSM for almost a year.
                Gone gaited....


                • #9
                  I would also recommend Keratex. I have seen it do wonderful things.
                  I've always used the liquid but I've heard most people like the gel better.


                  • #10
                    It depends -- some horses do better than others but will all the shoes I've pulled (some off horses that have worn them over 20 years!) I've learned that the very first trim should be as minimal as possible ... just round off the edges of the hoof an do NOT TOUCH the sole! (except to take off very loose, crumbly or flaky stuff and any bumps or lumps that may be weight bearing *in the sole, proper*)

                    The other thing I recommend and works famously is to walk the horse daily for 10 mins minimum on a smooth, clean, tarred road. Barefoot - no boots. But no gravel, stones, rocks, etc. for awhile. Let the hooves toughen up. If there were no pads with the shoes then this conditioning will go much more quickly than a horse that had full pads on his hooves. (think of wearing shoes all winter then going out barefoot first warm day of the spring -- takes a while to build up enough callous on the bottom on your feet to walk comfortably on all ground.) But, the more MOVEMENT, the better -- movement stimulates hoof growth and increases the circulation in the foot for more O2 and nutrients.

                    Boots when riding for awhile. Most definitely unless there is NO sign of discomfort at all.

                    But, if the trim is done properly and maintained (I trim most of my clients the same day of the same week each month so go a 4 or 5 week schedule) then barring any other pathologies that might be going on there *shouldn't* be a big issue with transitioning.
                    --Gwen <><
                    "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."


                    • #11
                      Hate to be the voice of dissent, but with an injury like that, I'd worry about using boots with the extra weight they provide. The weight of the boot is going to affect the swing phase of the foot, and you wouldn't want extra strain on already damaged soft tissue. Also, you need to make sure that any boot is not extending the breakover too far toward the toe.

                      Please discuss this aspect of boot use with your vet. Perhaps some of the boots designed for turnout are lighter in weight. I use boots on my horses, but I'd be concerned using them on a horse with soft-tissue problems that may not have healed to full pre-injury strength or length.
                      "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                      • #12
                        This is PURELY anecdotal, so be aware your mileage may vary.

                        Firstly, my pastures are sand, but the terrain I ride on varies. Rocks someplaces, clay, asphalt roads, concrete driveways, gravel on some stretches of dirt roads.

                        Three horses. Two had been shod all around for at least part of the year, for as many years as they'd been alive, probably. One was 19 or so when I got her. Shoes were pulled. She did fine for a few months, had an abcess and was three legged lame, recovered with no problems. She was occasionally ouchy on gravel. Sold her for reasons completely unrelated to her feet after I had her for one year.

                        2nd horse. Shoes were pulled, she was occasionally ouchy on gravel but within a year developed nice cupped soles. She was lame once for two days with a hot leg from bumping into something going downhill fast over logs and brush and trash like that in the woods. Feet are excellent, she's been barefoot four years now and can go on rockes, gravel etc. She gets the occasional chip. No cracks, no problems.

                        Third horse, unshod and overgrown when I got him but reportedly had had shoes at some point. He was trimmed and has been ridden barefoot for three years now. He would probably walk over a bed of nails if you asked him to. He doesnt hesitate even on railroad ballast.

                        All three horses are on the little side, none over fifteen hands, and I weigh 200# in my socks. They werent/arent trimmed on the strictest schedule but somewhere between six and eight weeks. The two I have now are each trail-ridden from two to six hours a week each. Longest rides around 18-20 miles. The gelding went out a month or so ago and trotted over gravel roads for about ten miles nonstop (in the morning)and another 8 miles or so on sandy trails in the afternoon. The next time the farrier saw him he commented that he could tell I'd been riding him more than the mare, who didnt get to go on that clambake.

                        I dont own any hoofboots.