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Helping maintain the sound, barefoot horse

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  • Helping maintain the sound, barefoot horse

    No, this is not a thread about barefoot vs shoes.

    I lucked out and have a mare with fabulous feet (inherited from her dad). Currently she doesn't need shoes, and I would like to keep it that way as long as possible, whether that be a year or her entire life (my bank account is hoping for the latter ). Farrier, who is a traditional farrier, has taken a personal interest in keeping her happy and sound barefoot as well .

    So, beyond good nutrition (check) and fabulous farrier work (check), what things do you do for your horses to keep them happy and sound barefoot in the longer term?
    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

  • #2
    My horses have great feet, including my barefoot hunter. I think it is very helpful to not constantly stand them in the washrack. I do not hose them after I ride. They only get baths before shows.
    Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


    • #3
      Keep the feet out of the moisture as much as possible. A great overall vitamin/mineral supplement such as the SmartVite line, or Equi-VM by Uckele. These contain good levels of methionine, zinc, copper, vitamin E, and selenium. (Be careful with selenium - I don't know where you are or what your natural soil levels are.) The biotin levels are a bit lower but you can add a little extra if you want to. Maintaining excellent balance is critical, and trim as often as the horse needs it. Don't adhere to a schedule "just because." Take care to maintain the rest of the horse's body in good balance (teeth, and tack) because problems there can lead to imbalance in the body which can lead to weird hoof growth and development.


      • #4
        I think it is interesting that people worry so much about moisture.

        My horses are hosed off daily if ridden and have a creek running through the 'dry lot' in which they spend 12 hours a day.

        I have never had issues from this exposure to water.


        • #5
          Hosing off or walking into a creek is not the problem. Standing around in mud lots that are saturated for days on end IS a problem.


          • #6
            Instead of trying to avoid "mud lots" all the time, which is not always possible unless you stall the horse for days on end and cause other issues, why not recognize what standing in mud for a week does to the foot, and modify the work - how, when, what, etc - accordingly?

            Recognize that it softens everything about the foot, and if you must ride, then depending on the footing on which you want/need to ride, boots may be necessary to protect the soft foot from uneven, hard footing.

            Or you can ride in the ring with footing that will dry along with the feet, helping the feet dry out over days.

            Beyond that, is there anything really different about barefoot care vs shod care? The dietary stuff should be the same, the trim schedule should be the same (ie trim when needed, not just by the calendar), etc

            Avoiding mud just isn't practical in most places, depending on the season. It's far, far more detrimental to the shod foot than the bare foot, given that the wet/dry cycle is murder on nail hoes in terms of expanding them and causing loose shoes.
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • Original Poster

              I live in the PNW. As awesome as my BO is about managing moisture and mud, it's just the reality.

              Do those with barefoot horses find that products like Karetex helps?

              This is the first year we're going to be headed out over surfaces we can't control - doing some showing, groomed trails etc. Boots are an option for the latter, but not for shows. Previous years we've been mostly at home, so it hasn't been an issue
              "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."


              • #8
                My older guy has been barefoot and sound all his life. I have only had issues (farrier told me feet weren't as good) when I was using hoof conditioner too much have to be careful with that. Otherwise, depending on your trails, as long as they are not to rocky you should be fine. Some small stones are fine, but not like hey had when I rode my new guy in TN-fist sized and SHARP! He had front shoes on for that and was fine. I do notice that at the trainers, where he is now, the mud is awful, and his feet are tending to be very dry. So will use some Corona hoof stuff on him from time to time....when I can get the cement mud off! UGH!
                "The only easy day was yesterday" USN SEALs
                courtesy of LCDR K.R.W, USN (ret) RIP, 4/10/09


                • #9
                  My mare is in a huge paddock. When its muddy its muddy, when its dry its concrete dry. Her feet are as hard as a diamond and its not easy to rasp or trim her feet when the need arises. I prefer to feed nutritional supplements rather than put stuff on her hooves.
                  Ask and allow, do not demand and force.


                  • #10
                    I dont' udnerstand the need to keep the feet out of moisture. Why?
                    For a shod foot maybe you can make a case that it will loosen nail holes, but barefoot?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Auventera Two View Post
                      Hosing off or walking into a creek is not the problem. Standing around in mud lots that are saturated for days on end IS a problem.
                      YOu said keep them out of the moisture as much as possible. That means no baths, no grass turnout when there's dew present, no rain, etc.


                      • #12
                        I never worry about water/moisture exposure. It is what it is ...when it is... from rain to puddles to baths to mud.

                        Good minerals... regular exposure to varying surfaces (grass to HARD rock/concrete)... short trim cycle (I trim now every 2 weeks.. winter every 3.5).
                        <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                        • #13
                          Moisture can be detrimental to feet but there really isn't jack squat you can do about it. We had a very wet winter here -- not great for my horses' feet -- but what am I going to do, put rain boots on them and hand them umbrellas?