3 year old - barefoot, boots, shoes?

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3 year old - barefoot, boots, shoes?

This is a discussion on 3 year old - barefoot, boots, shoes? within the Hoof Care forums, part of the Horse Health category

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    04-01-2014, 02:57 PM
3 year old - barefoot, boots, shoes?

Ok, internet, what would you do?

My currently barefoot 3 year old has thin soles. He is extremely sensitive to hard or uneven ground, which is a given in perpetual-drought Texas. My first farrier couldn't trim without leaving him lame, current farrier keeps him sound but he's always going to be tender-footed.

Now that we're started under saddle, he will obviously short-step on less than perfect footing, but the only "good" footing is a small sand dressage arena. There is a nice open field and trails available to us, but that requires walking down a 1/4 mile gravel drive - which actually dropped my guy to his knees on a particularly sensitive footed day, and causes cringe-inducing discomfort on normal days.

Do I look into the incredibly overwhelming boots realm which I know nothing about, or go for shoes with pads? I'm not fond of shoeing youngsters, but I'm less fond of causing potentially-preventable pain.
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    04-01-2014, 03:16 PM
Cainīt you wait 1 more year before riding? He is still a youngster, not even a teen by our years.
You want a pard for many years to come.....let him grow!
loosie and lightning like this.
    04-01-2014, 03:20 PM
My tb has very tender feet. Super sensitive. I got him right when he turned 3. I put shoes on the fronts only. No pads. It worked for him. He can now walk on gravel and hard surfaces no problem. And I also live in TX so I feel your pain with the drought.
Cynical25 likes this.
    04-01-2014, 03:23 PM
Green Broke
I prefer to try the least invasive way possible first, yet keep my horse comfortable. So I would try the boot route first. It will take a little research on your part, but its really not that difficult to find information and a good starting point. I had to buy my first set of boots this past summer for my TB mare and they are working well. Then he will still get the benefits of barefoot, but still have the protection he needs to be comfortable.

Later, if you find this option is not working well for the two of you then you can put shoes on him to keep him comfortable.

You may also want to get him on a good hoof supplement if you don't already.
    04-02-2014, 02:47 AM
Firstly, agree with Amigo here, that as he's still a youngster, I would be doing little, if any on his back yet anyway. Secondly, due to innate effects of conventional rims, whether you do ride or not, I would not advise shoeing such an immature horse. I would be waiting until 5 or 6yo at least, before considering shoes.

I don't know why you believe he's always going to be tender footed, but at 3yo his caudal hoof, even in ideal situation, won't have even begun developing that much yet. Diet, nutrition & environment all play huge parts in hoof health & I'd be looking to resolve his issues & develop those hooves, rather than aiming at a purely palliative approach, particularly for a baby. By all means don't take everything as gospel or learn only from the internet, but there are a number of good sites which can teach you the basics of hoof function & health, such as barehoofcare.com & gravelproofhoof.org

So... whether riding or not, I would absolutely protect/support his thin soles/frogs as necessary, because it's not just his discomfort that's at stake, but he will be at risk of stone bruising, abscesses, etc if he has little good 'armour plating' underneath his feet. Boots are generally most practical & my choice, when they're appropriate.
KeroKero, ecasey, amigoboy and 1 others like this.
    04-02-2014, 11:39 AM
I appreciate the concern over his age, but I'm comfortable with my decision to lightly work him. I've worked with many horses through the years (including youngsters) but never had a tender-footed one like this, hence my question.

I've been applying iodine on the soles per the farrier's recommendation, and we are on a vet supervised nutrition program. I'll dig around on the sites you listed, Loosie. Thank you.
    04-02-2014, 12:30 PM
Green Broke
I'm surprised on all the comments about age. 2 year olds worry me, but a 3 year old lightly started should be okay.

You might want to check out easyboot trails. That is what I use and I find them very easy to put on and off and should work great for easy riding the first couple years.
    04-02-2014, 06:19 PM
^Cat, horse's backs & hocks are still 'open' until around 5 yo at least. IMO riding a 2yo or riding a 3yo is little difference. But I do think it depends on how much riding, what sort, how heavy the rider, etc, as to how potentially damaging it can be. I would advise very little weightbearing at all on a 2-3 yo & only 'easy' riding, no big jumps or high impact on a 3-5yo.

Understanding the reason behind the worry, & the effects, can help us decide how much/young/what sort of riding is appropriate.
    04-02-2014, 07:19 PM
I would look into how your farrier is trimming the feet. My instinct is that a correct barefoot trim is not being done and that is the root cause of the thin sole and tenderness. A pasture trim or a pre-shoeing trim without the subsequent shoe isn't going to create a sound barefoot horse.

If you post pictures of the feet there are several really knowledgeable people who can critique the feet and give you more insight.
Wimpy likes this.
    04-02-2014, 08:07 PM
Durasole or Keratex might help his soles. A feed through supplement would take months to have any noticeable effect.

If you go for hoof boots, measure carefully according to the manufacturers directions. You can buy them used too.
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Cynical25 likes this.

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