Pro's & Con's of Barefoot vs. Shod?
   

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Pro's & Con's of Barefoot vs. Shod?

This is a discussion on Pro's & Con's of Barefoot vs. Shod? within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Cons on bare foot horses
  • Horses no shoes can you ride on stones

 
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    04-28-2011, 12:27 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Question Pro's & Con's of Barefoot vs. Shod?

Ok first off, let me start by saying I do NOT want this thread to become a debate between the barefoot and shoeing sides - please DO NOT come on here telling all of us that everyone MUST ALWAYS leave their horses barefoot or at the other extreme, MUST ALWAYS puts shoes on. We all know that horses, like us, are individuals and what works for one won't necessarily work for the next horse.

Alright, with that said...there are 3 items that I often see cited as "pro"s to BOTH sides - the only problem: they are the same 3 items. So I guess I'm trying to find the common ground/shred of truth in here. My horse has always been barefoot her entire life (she's 10 now) with NO issues. I've been Eventing with her for the past 3 years now barefoot, again with NO problems. Does that mean I think everyone can Event barefoot? Absolutely NOT! I'm lucky that my mare was blessed with rock hard feet with large, round bases! But here are the 3 things I see that are pro's supposedly on BOTH sides of the fence:

1. Better shock absorption (when jumping)
2. Better traction
3. Less issues with abscesses/stone bruises

Now that last one, #3 is a little bit easier for me to get why it applies to both sides -- with a horse like mine who doesn't have issues with abscesses and such, putting holes in her hooves unnecessarily could in fact CAUSE abscesses, so for her she's better off without them since she doesn't get them anyway. But for a horse who is prone to them, putting shoes on could actually REDUCE the likelihood of getting them, since it puts a "barrier" in place to protect the hooves.

But for #1 and #2, I don't see how they can work for BOTH.

For barefoot pertaining to #1 above, the way I understand it is that since the metal shoe is not there, the hoof wall can expand and contract freely, leading to better shock absorption. But anyone who knows shoes, can you explain how it also works the other way?

For barefoot pertaining to #2, the shoes can be more slippery esp in wet grass than the bare hoof (I'm not talking about studded shoes of course, which would obviously provide the best traction in wet grass, just talking about your regular run of the mill shoes).

Anyway, share your thoughts (remember, NO ABSOLUTES or I want this thread shut down, that is SUCH a pet peeve of mine!!) I'm just trying to get a well rounded opinion from those on both sides of the tracks :)
     
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    04-28-2011, 12:36 PM
  #2
Yearling
Our farrier has suggested putting shoes on my mare because of #3- she has been barefoot her whole life (she's 6 now) and is super prone to abscesses- she was out for 3-4 weeks last fall with a really bad one and the farrier can see where she's had others. So once the mud clears up she's getting front ones on. That's my reasoning.

Subscribing for others opinions. I'm interested.
     
    04-28-2011, 12:46 PM
  #3
Foal
The nice thing is we always have the option of which we prefer. Neither is an absolutely works for every horse situation. I prefer to keep horses barefoot. But the ones who are more sensitive or in harder work I like to put shoes on. Especially ones that wear their hooves down a lot or do a lot of high impact activity.
     
    04-28-2011, 01:43 PM
  #4
Foal
It really depends on the horse and the overall condition of their hooves. Some horses can go their whole lives without needing shoes, but if you are participating in high intensity activities then it would be best to have shoes. All of the jumping horses at my barn wear shoes where as the English pleasure horses don't necessarily need them.
     
    04-28-2011, 02:46 PM
  #5
Foal
I believe it also depends on whether the horse has been correctly trimmed from early age and has had the right conditions (movement, food, dry paddock/box etc.). It is easier for a horse to grow strong hooves if it has never been shod. It will usually also have bigger feet.
But some horses just have more fragile hooves... in that case I would personally prefer putting boots on them instead of shoes, so that they can have naked hooves most of the time and just that little help from the boots when needed.
I have converted two arabs and one paint from shod to barefoot, no problem but then... I only ride trails.
     
    04-28-2011, 03:49 PM
  #6
Green Broke
It depends on the horse's feet and what kind of terrain and sport you are doing.

For instance my horse use to have shoes on. They would come off,she fell once and knocked a shoe to the side so it was crooked,and I found them pricey sooo off they went!( I got her like this and automatically assumed she needed them). The farriers say she has nice feet and doesn't really need shoes at all. However she is very tender footed on trails if there comes gravel..we tip toe across it and she sometimes has to take a back. I let her select her footing as I actually feel pad. She needs shoes with the trail riding I do. I go through all types of terrain from mud,water,rocks,dirt,sand..you name it BUT I don't want to deal with the shoes sooooo I am investing in boots for her. This way I can still keep her natural but when we trail ride we can have that protection :)
     
    04-28-2011, 07:38 PM
  #7
Weanling
Shock absorption: I think MOST of this (in jumping anyway) is the function of the pastern, shoulder, motions of the neck, etc. rather than the hoof itself. I think the hoof's movement is more for adjusting itself to the ground without tearing/fracturing itself. There is a lot of force when landing, forcing the hoof to expand, which is why the larger, heavier horses almost always benefit with shoes in front. It's not to protect from the ground so much as to hold the hoof together, so it doesn't split.
     
    04-28-2011, 08:08 PM
  #8
Trained
Well, I used to own horse that needed shoes. Never again. I have come to like knowing that when I go to the barn I will be able to ride. My horse will not have lost a shoe, since neither of then wear them.

As far as the list-I also don;t understand the shock absoprtion...for either, really. I also thought that was the function of other joints, tendons,etc.

Abscesses-agree totally that depends upon the horse.

As far as traction-I frankly have always felt that you have more traction WITH shoes than without, unless of course they are sliding plates. But, perhaps I have rather flat footed guys, and/or I am super cautious.
     
    04-28-2011, 09:02 PM
  #9
Yearling
As others have said, it really depends on the horse and what you're doing.

IMHO (and this is eventing related, I can't really speak for other disciplines) if you're going above training level eventing (pre-novice) then you should have your horse shod so you can take advantage of studs. I know there are people who have horses going barefoot at that level or above, but I personally would feel much better if my horse had the option to wear studs. In fact I almost always have studs in my horse's feet if we go around cross country, schooling or otherwise. It's just a precaution and if you use the correct studs and put them in correctly it's a huge asset.
     
    04-28-2011, 10:59 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Agree with you there strange...i should specify that my mare and I aren't jumping higher than 2'6" and compete at mini trials so just below BN only jumping 1'6" to 2'0" so nowhere near stud necessity ;)
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