Barefoot question? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 23 Old 10-03-2013, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Barefoot question?

Ok, my horse is barefoot, always as been. I have ridden him for 3 years, but actually bought him 4 months ago. At his old barn, there was no gravel to walk on and he lived alone in a 30+ acre pine forest with somewhat scary electric fencing. He was ridden in a dirt or sand ring. Where I have had him for the last 4 months, there is gravel near the gate where he is fed, and he has to walk about 80 yards of gravel road to get to the barn. He is puchy on it, and even more so if I ride him on it. It seriously concerns me that he acts lame when walked on gravel. He as great feet, good angles, very thick wals. The farrier is impressed with the quality of them. The vet said he was healthy as well. Is this normal?
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post #2 of 23 Old 10-03-2013, 11:22 PM
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Gravel roads are probably the most difficult surface for a horse to walk on. The fact that they footing is uneven under the sole and the rocks have no give can create small intense point of pressure that can be very ouchy.
It sounds like your horses has been on mostly soft surfaces for a while. Knowing that I would say that his toe callouses aren't built up. His reaction is perfectly normal. If it was my horse I would give it a few weeks/ months to let his feet get used to it and toughen up.
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post #3 of 23 Old 10-03-2013, 11:22 PM
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Well, if he was always on softer surfaces and now is suddenly sore on gravel, it just means his feet were acclimated to the softer surfaces and has not developed thick enough soles for the harder gravel. There are things you can apply to his soles to give him some protection while they have time to get used to the new surface, but he may need boots or shoes to be comfortable on the gravel at some point if he remains ouchy.

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post #4 of 23 Old 10-04-2013, 12:20 AM
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Iv had my gelding since he was a yearling he's now ten he never got used to the gravel. He's been ouchy on gravel hard surfaces rocky terrain for years. Even shod it was an issue had to have pads on . So it depends on the horse on if they will get toughened up mine never did.
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post #5 of 23 Old 10-04-2013, 09:31 PM
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Yes it's normal. If you were only used to walking barefoot on shagpile carpet, I'm sure you'd 'act lame' if made to go bare on gravel too! Most horses will need protection/support for their hooves on at least some surfaces/situations that we require of them. Assuming feet are healthy, if it's only a matter of crossing a bit of gravel in the paddock or to get to an arena or some such, I'd just let him do it at his own pace, but perhaps not ride on it - an ounce in the saddle is worth a pound on the foot... but if you have much gravel to walk/ride on then I'd consider hoof boots or such for where necessary.

It's all very well to say the horse just needs time to 'transition' to it, but depending on his lifestyle & living environment, that may just never happen. And comfort is not only important because it's... nice, but important for hoof development & soundness - if a horse isn't comfortable, he won't be moving properly, developing strength & may be doing further damage to his hooves & body. And that's aside from the fact that most hooves aren't healthy in the first place - they need to be healthy & functional *before* they can start becoming tougher.

Last edited by loosie; 10-04-2013 at 09:37 PM.
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post #6 of 23 Old 10-04-2013, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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Ok! I have been ovoiding riding him on it, because I am ultra paranoid lol. Hoof boots for christmas, I think.
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post #7 of 23 Old 10-05-2013, 06:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
Yes it's normal. If you were only used to walking barefoot on shagpile carpet, I'm sure you'd 'act lame' if made to go bare on gravel too! Most horses will need protection/support for their hooves on at least some surfaces/situations that we require of them. Assuming feet are healthy, if it's only a matter of crossing a bit of gravel in the paddock or to get to an arena or some such, I'd just let him do it at his own pace, but perhaps not ride on it - an ounce in the saddle is worth a pound on the foot... but if you have much gravel to walk/ride on then I'd consider hoof boots or such for where necessary.
Our mares have always been barefoot and don't get sore, but driveway gravel is brutal stuff, especially here when it's been hot and dry and the gravel is on top of brick hard clay. It's like riding on sharp rocks on top of concrete, there is no cushion at all, and we always avoid it or let them pick their way across it. When the ground is wet, the gravel is not a problem at all for them.

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post #8 of 23 Old 10-05-2013, 08:41 AM
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You can try topical chemical sole hardeners such as "Durasole" or "Rickens" to see if you can help harden the soles faster. However if you do and the soreness on gravel continues for much longer after that (several weeks of application ) , then you will have to do something to better protect his feet mechanically . Long term soreness is NOT normal nor should it be allowed to continue because the soreness itself sets of biochemical reactions inside the feet that can lead to permanent damage. Despite the outward appearance of his hooves, He may be just telling you his soles are not genetically thick enough to stand the gravel.

That means doing something to help him. If he HAS to be on gravel a lot of the time then it means shoes. If it is just for riding then boots may do the job.

Not all domestic horses have the soles that nature intended. It has been bred out of many of them. As well the edges of his coffin bones could be a little deteriorated (pedal osteitis) and that is now being revealed by the harder ground.
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post #9 of 23 Old 10-05-2013, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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I was thinking of trying the durasole. Before I got him, he had farrier care all of once or twice a year, so the old, unhealthy hoof is growing out now that he is in good care. My farrier does not want to shoe him, as she does not think he needs it. Other than being tender on gravel, the only problem we have had is his feet grow ungodly fast, and a problem with thrush and white line separation from the wonky weather, but that's cleared up.
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post #10 of 23 Old 10-05-2013, 10:43 AM
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You can also put iodine on the soles to toughen them up. It takes about 3 days of a daily application to start noticing a difference. It may not completely take away the tenderness, but it will help.
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