Barefoot? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-04-2013, 09:07 AM Thread Starter
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When I get my new horse, I would like it to go bare foot. I find it such a nuisance the way that Candy and Percy's feet grow so quickly. I had Candy's new shoes put on only 3 weeks ago, and already they are digging into her hooves, and she needs doing again.
It's extremely irritating, as it takes about a week for the farrier to come to us, as he is so busy. It's exactly the same with every farrier in Ireland! All of them are so busy, and have to prioritize lame horses over horses that simply need their hooves trimming!
So anyway, I wouldn't have to get the farrier as frequently if I had a barefoot horse, as he would have no shoes to grow out of! (Obviously barefoot horses still require care of the hooves, and need them rasped every 6-8 weeks, as any other horse would!)
But, I was wondering, what you guys thought of a horse going barefoot, and if you do it?
Also, hoof boots: As I don't have much land (only 3 acres, for my two horses) I have to take to the country roads a lot. So a bare foot horse might need hoof boots. Any thoughts? Experiences with hoof boots?

I'm sincerely hoping the horse I buy has never been shod before, as it's so much harder to get them to go barefoot once they've been shod!
Any tips for keeping the transition between shoes and barefoot as smooth as possible?
CandyCanes :)
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-04-2013, 09:41 AM
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I've had my own horses for over 25 years and I've never had any of them shod. I barefoot trim them myself, which I really enjoy doing and take pride in.

I use Old Mac boots if I'm incorporating a fair amount of road work in a ride. There are lots of brands and designs out there these days to choose from, but I'm one of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kinda people and have stuck with the same make for years .

I'm happy with my choice and the horses have done well for me. Best bit is I don't have to take time off work to wait for a farrier who doesn't even bother to show up (happens a lot in these parts).
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-04-2013, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CandyCanes View Post
I wouldn't have to get the farrier as frequently if I had a barefoot horse, as he would have no shoes to grow out of! (Obviously barefoot horses still require care of the hooves, and need them rasped every 6-8 weeks, as any other horse would!)
Slight flaw in your thinking. Unless you get the magical situation where your horse self trims, barefoot horses have to be touched up every other week or so to prevent chipping and excessive flares.

If you absolutely want a barefoot horse, get one that is already barefoot. Not all shod horses can be transitioned. I tried on my 9 year old for a year, put a ton of effort into maintaining his feet, conditioning them to all surfaces, went through a half dozen brands of hoof boots, only to end up in shoes again.

If you're horse will be turned out on grass and mostly work on paved roads, you probably won't need any hoof boots. Those are the two easiest surfaces for a barefoot horse to work with.
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 02:40 AM
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I probably have to do maintenance every fortnight, depending on where we've been riding. So, even though you should be able to take care of small chips yourself, barefoot won't necessarily mean fewer farrier visits.

Our roads are in poor condition and some of our rides include disused stone quarries, so I opt for boots.

I'm afraid I have no experience of transitioning from shoes as I bought my horses as unshod yearlings and all had feet that could cope with being barefoot (if I'm being honest, the latter was more luck than good judgement on my part!).
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 06:24 AM Thread Starter
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I'm afraid an unshod horse is virtually unheard of in Ireland, so any horse I get will have shoes on , I can pretty much guarantee.
Saying that, I did once have an Arabian, who never had shoes on. His feet were hard as a rock, despite him having had laminitis before I had him, and his pedal bone did nearly do a full rotation. But being an Arab, his feet would be harder than other horses.
Any way, I'll just have to see what the horses feet are like when I buy it. If the feet are shod, I'll leave him be, but if they are unshod, I'll keep him barefoot.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 07:49 AM
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Also just because the horse is shod doesn't mean he wouldn't be a good candidate to go barefoot. Some horses absolutely go best with shoes, some horses with shoes can be transitioned to barefoot. Your farrier can tell you.
Also if you end up with a barefoot horse you can also learn how to touch up your horses hooves between trims or to do them outright.
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 09:48 AM
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Missing, I ride in rocky terrain, too. Mine have always been barefoot. For very short ride (4 miles or so) when I know I will be sticking to the "softest" of the hard ground, I don't bother with booting up (of course, if I were transitioning, I would boot up no matter how short the ride, just in case). Otherwise I use boots and not necessarily just for the hoofs - the rubber acts as a shock absorber, IMO.

For type of hoof boots - I would suggest really researching and putting thought into factors that are not necessarily "obvious" to a first time boot buyer - such as ease of use. For example, Old Mac's seem to never wear out, they are truly a durable product and you definitely get your money's worth. But they are a far cry from a "snap" to put on.
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 10:08 AM
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If you have a horse with shoes expect that it will take about 1 year to transition from shoes to barefoot. Boots come in handy with that. I prefer Old Macs. My sister luvs her Easy Boot Gloves, and a friend swears by her Renegades. To each their own. The only time I need boots is if we are riding on really rocky terrain. The kind of ground that if you were walking on it you could feel the rocks through your own shoes.
My horses get trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks depending on how much I'm riding. I rarely have to touch up between trims. Our dry weather and sandy soil keeps the horse hoofs pretty hard.
Some horses are better candidates than others for going barefoot.

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post #9 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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I'm going to see two horses tomorrow, and the owner has had them a number of years. He will be able to tell me if they can go barefoot. He's a good horse man, and would be well able to tell me what state their feet are in.
If they have shoes on, and work well, I won't bother trying to transition them, which ever one I buy. If its not broken, don't fix it ;)
But if they are already barefoot... Why not?
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-05-2013, 10:35 PM
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I have not had a horse that I couldn't keep barefoot, but you should expect 6 months to a year of transition if the horse is in shoes, and maybe even if the horse is barefoot but has a pasture trim from a farrier rather than a true barefoot trim. I also touch up my trim every time I ride. Hoof boots are great for transitioning, and I continue to use front boots when I go over long sections of gravel. I'm currently using Easyboot Gloves, which I like, but I am leaning towards a pair of Renegades when my current boots wear out (shortly!). I think it is a mistake to think that barefoot horses are going to require less maintenance--they need much more frequent trimming both for hoof health and to maintain a good boot fit. I love it though! I end up with much healthier hooves after the transition.

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