Barefoot vs. Shoes - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 55 Old 02-01-2013, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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Barefoot vs. Shoes

As most of you all know, I'm pro-barefoot and prefer to use hoof boots when it comes to protection fora variety of reasons. However, I know there are a lot of opinions out there. I started this thread to hear them :)

I did find this wonderful gem of an explanation (on Facebook) for one of the reasons I find barefoot to be healthier than boots. Thought I'd kick this off by sharing:

I'm on the EasyCare Page and I'm a barefoot trimmer because I believe in hoof protection where necessary and Easycare produces a great range of hoof boots. Hoof boots are way preferable to shoeing because they are protection which do not insist on total peripheral loading of the hoof wall (toe nail). Wearing hoof boots the horse can spread the load AND maximise expansion of the hoof (cos its not cast in a nailed on shoe). Ok Ok. Sure there is SOME expansion of a hoof in a shoe but there is no doubt that there is none-the-less LESS expansion in a shod horse than in a barefoot horse. Even in a barefoot horse with long hoof walls! Barefoot people are not against hoof protection.Rather they are in favour of doing the right thing by the horse and if that involves protection (which it often does) then seeking protection which maximise the normal hoof function. Shoes put more shock into the horse's body (you try running around with metal plates nailed to the bottom of your shoes and see if its any more uncomfortable than running around in your rubber soled joggers/plimsolls/runners or casual shoes.) Hoof boots help the horse absorb the shock of concussion and importantly do not transmit additional shock into the horse's body.
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post #2 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 01:36 AM
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I tried to have my mare barefoot for 18months, she would be lame even in her stall for 3weeks out of a month. I kept being told it would get better. I was finally tired of her being in pain had the vet out to be Xrayed the vet told me if I didn't want her in pain put shoes on her because barefoot wasn't going to work. The mare had early signs of navicular. 2days later the farrier came out put shoes on all 4(alluminum eventer shoes). My girl hasn't taken a lame step since it's been almost 2yrs. That being said it broke my heart to take the vets advice, I agonized over it but I had to get her out of pain. Not saying that with another horse I wouldn't try barefoot I wouldn't wait 18months to go back to shoes if horse was in pain longer then a reasonable transition time.
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post #3 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 02:43 AM
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I understand the practical applications of shoes, as well as the fact that horses can need corrective shoeing for a number of reasons, but I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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post #4 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 06:12 AM
Green Broke
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Reminds me of the helmet no helmet threads.
Pretty much comes down to the horse, the terrain, the distance, speed, gait, and personal choice.
I use boots as a spare tire, but my horses are steel shod. Riding with boots doesnt work fo rme.
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post #5 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 08:24 AM
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I've never used the boots, but my I've had my 13 year old Arab for 10 months now and have always kept him barefoot without a hitch. In fact, his previous owners had him for 4 years and they kept him barefoot the whole time, too. I mainly ride in an arena, though; I used to do hunter/jumpers with him but have switched to dressage. My mom bought a couple 6-year old Tennessee Walkers a couple years ago that had shoes; she had both of them get their shoes pulled and they've been barefoot ever since with no problems.
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post #6 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 02:30 PM
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My girl is shod on the front.

Before I started shoeing her I did a lot of research into boots and really wanted to try some. But, the more reading I did, the more I realized that none of them would fit her, likely. He feet are just a weird shape and the shoes can be molded to fit them, while boots can't.

"There's nothing more humbling on the planet than horses." --Sean Crocker
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post #7 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by JustImagine View Post
I've had my 13 year old Arab for 10 months now and have always kept him barefoot without a hitch. I mainly ride in an arena, though

My mare has never set foot in an arena. We ride places like this:

Dream is steel shod all the way around.

There is no joy equal to that found on the back of a horse.
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post #8 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by phantomhorse13 View Post
My mare has never set foot in an arena. We ride places like this:

Dream is steel shod all the way around.
I can imagine she would be shod, yikes! I only take my Arab out on trail rides if it's on the grass; his feet get ouchy if I take him anywhere that's rocky. We do dressage, though, so we don't do a lot of trail riding so it just makes sense to not put shoes on him if I don't have to
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post #9 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 09:24 PM
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There are so many factors that can make 'barefoot' a powerhouse of success and equally as many that can make it a rocket of disaster. I even put barefoot in an ambiguous formation here, because nailing down exactly what it is can be so difficult when working with uninformed people, especially the professionals who simply won't be told how to do their job.

I am very fortunate to have found a farrier who will work with me to achieve what's best for my horses. I trimmed ours myself for two years until I found her and I'll never let her go!

In my somewhat experienced opinion, more horses than not could very successfully thrive with proper batefoot trimming, as long as a condusive living environment is provided. I find more and more people allow their over-thinking, micro-managing busy brains sabatoge even their most honest efforts. I say all this with all riding terrian in my mind's eye (and we do ride it all).

Some breeds, like the Arab, Mustang and the Fjord, naturally are better about it, but even my butter-footed QH mare and mealy-footed APHA gelding both toughened up within a year of conditioning and NO transitional pain. That's doing it properly. No shared lineage between the two, but a shared living and riding environment, definitely. Oh, and I never stopped riding either a day during their reconditioning. Both did wear hoof boots for the first year during regular riding, which later changed to harsh terrain rides only.
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post #10 of 55 Old 02-02-2013, 10:31 PM
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Depends on your horse, their hoof, if you can even find a boot that really fits, and what kind of terrain you have access to condition on. For some, shoes are the best option, but for others, boots work wonderfully for competition and training. There are some rides that you would be remiss not to offer your horse some protection (Virginia Highlands comes to mind!).
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