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Go Barefoot or Keep Shoes

This is a discussion on Go Barefoot or Keep Shoes within the Hoof Care forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Veterinarian opinion shoes vs. barefoot horses
  • Bua trimmer

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    04-12-2012, 01:11 AM
  #11
Trained
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    04-12-2012, 02:37 AM
  #12
Banned
It's apparently a sleepless night for me as I usually avoid the barefoot/shoe discussions as it very much feels like how I would imagine banging my head against a wall.


I agree with Mark that your farrier should be helping you with this decision and it would make me very nervous that he/she is not.


Have you looked for a Journeyman farrier in your area?
Good farriers (in my opinion) are just that and can do barefoot, corrective, and regular shoeing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie    
Hi,

My first thought is that she's only 4yo & has already been shod for how long? ...... tho at 4yo I wouldn't be doing much ridden with her yet either
I'd imagine the horse is an OTTB as she stated she is a TB. As such I don't think that riding is going to do any more damage at this point.
     
    04-12-2012, 08:41 AM
  #13
Yearling
I know there's this belief that farriers will always recommend shoes because they make more money, but that isn't really true on the dollar-per-hour basis - the farriers I've used have definitely made more money per hour doing trimming than shoeing...and the trimming work is easier, too. If farriers have a tendency to recommend shoes, I'd suggest that this is because shoes are what they *know best*. If the farrier doesn't have the requisite training and/or experience to support barefoot horses that are in work, I should hope that s/he would recommend shoes.

The questions to ask the farrier are 1) do you have any experience maintaining barefoot horses that are in work; 2) do you have much experience managing club foot; and 3) in your opinion, what would be the best thing for this horse under these conditions.

If the answer to 1) is "no" then you either need to find another farrier or just settle for shoes. If the answer to 2) is "no" then you should just find another farrier - everyone has to learn sometime, but since it sounds like you are uncertain about what's best for the horse, I'd suggest that your horse should not be the training ground. If the answer to 3) is "I don't know" then find another farrier, if it's "It's all the same" then ask what the pros and cons of each option are and make your decision.

I understand why people don't want to get into the "barefoot" conversations - for some reason, that area generates a huge amount of fanaticism. My dentist and chiro are Barefoot Fanatics. And they've both tried to Convert me. I don't have any inherent objection - my horses hooves are very strong, and we don't do a lot of work on rock - but he has an old suspensory injury that flares up if I work him barefoot. He needs a shoe to provide the extra support for the ligament. So he wears shoes on the front, but not on the back. It wasn't a cut-and-dried decision...we had to try him out with the bare feet, and it turned out not to be the best decision for the horse.

There's nothing at all wrong with trying out the bare feet - if it doesn't work, then put shoes back on. But I'd think twice about experimenting with barefoot unless you have a farrier that understands how to maintain the barefoot working horse.
     
    04-12-2012, 10:59 AM
  #14
Weanling
@myboypuck, her frog does tough the ground when she is standing on level surface but just barely.

@alexs, she is not ott, she was never even trained to race.

I was recommended this farrier by the local feed barn. They said he does it all.. barefoot, cold shoeing, hot shoeing, and corrective. I guess I should look for a farrier who is willing to take the time to give advice and explain things rather that using once that doesn't have a say either way..
     
    04-12-2012, 06:09 PM
  #15
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by loveyourhorse    
i guess I should look for a farrier who is willing to take the time to give advice and explain things rather that using once that doesn't have a say either way..
That's what I would do. What's the point of hiring someone who is (theoretically) an expert if they can't or won't give you a recommendation when you ask for one? That might work if you have a thorough understanding of horse's feet and just don't have the time or desire to do the labor yourself, but that doesn't describe the typical horse owner.
loveyourhorse likes this.
     
    04-12-2012, 10:52 PM
  #16
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThursdayNext    
I'd suggest that this is because shoes are what they *know best*.
Nope... any farrier worth his salt will be demonstrably better at trimming a horses hooves than shoeing. The seemingly infinite variations of shoeing methodologies present challenges far beyond a basic trim.

Quote:
If the farrier doesn't have the requisite training and/or experience to support barefoot horses that are in work, I should hope that s/he would recommend shoes.
There is no such thing as a professional farrier who doesn't have the requisite training and/or experience to support barefoot horses that are in work.

The training necessary to keep an otherwise sound horse barefoot is a comparatively rudimentary aspect of farriery. That's why you see so many "barefoot trimmers" on the market and on the internet. That there are those who would characterize a barefoot trim as something more complex is a consequence of marketing; not a special or unique skill.

Quote:
If the answer to 1) is "no" then you either need to find another farrier or just settle for shoes.
If the answer to 1) is "no", then the practitioner is NOT a professional farrier and should not under any circumstances be shoeing horses! If a practitioner cannot properly trim a horse for barefoot or shod, that same practitioner has no business whatsoever trying to shoe a horse.

Cheers,
Mark
     
    04-13-2012, 08:03 AM
  #17
Yearling
And yet, Horseman, I have encountered farriers who are not good with the barefoot thing for horses that are in work. The guys I've met like that are good with trims and such for horses that are not in work (pasture puffs, or horses that are recovering from some kind of injury). But as soon as you start talking about leaving the horse barefoot while doing a lot of trail riding or jumping, they go right out of their comfort zone and don't really want to discuss it.

Not saying these are *good* farriers - but they are out here, presenting themselves as "farriers" and shoeing horses, etc. I don't use any of them - but the farrier I do use considers that maintaining the the barefoot horse that is doing real work is a subject for continuing education, goes to seminars and such on that (and on a pretty wide range of other professional issues).
     
    04-13-2012, 09:54 AM
  #18
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThursdayNext    
And yet, Horseman, I have encountered farriers who are not good with the barefoot thing for horses that are in work. The guys I've met like that are good with trims and such for horses that are not in work (pasture puffs, or horses that are recovering from some kind of injury). But as soon as you start talking about leaving the horse barefoot while doing a lot of trail riding or jumping, they go right out of their comfort zone and don't really want to discuss it.
Since there is no difference in how one trims a horse for "work" versus how one would trim a horse for pasture puff duty, it begs the question... are these "farriers" lacking in knowledge or is there another reason for them leaving their "comfort zone"?

I think the answer may be something other than skill.

To illustrate the point... I'm asked to work on a horse that will be used for some performance expectation beyond pasture duty. I know that the horse will best meet that need in a set of shoes but also sense that the owner has a strong leaning towards keeping the horse barefoot. This dilemma puts the farrier in a difficult position. The owner may "read" that shift in the farriers response or attitude as being out of their "comfort zone".

Quote:
Not saying these are *good* farriers - but they are out here, presenting themselves as "farriers" and shoeing horses, etc. I don't use any of them -
The lack of mandatory educational requirements and/or licensing of farriers assures that there will always be some people presenting themselves as farriers who quite simply... are not. It is very difficult for horse owners to tell the difference between a professional full service farrier and a laid off construction worker that decided last month he would be a farrier. In my opinion, and that of many others, this is one of the most challenging problems facing the farrier trade today.


Quote:
but the farrier I do use considers that maintaining the the barefoot horse that is doing real work is a subject for continuing education, goes to seminars and such on that (and on a pretty wide range of other professional issues).
I attend numerous farriery seminars, conventions, summits and clinics every year and have done so for many years. Without exception, none of these events focus entirely on the topic of trimming a horse for "work" versus "non-work". The reason is simple... there is no difference and nothing in this regard to teach beyond perhaps leaving a bit of extra foot on the horse. The only possible such "continuing education" are those silly "barefoot only" type classes offered by and to the "BUA" trimmer crowd. It's a classic case of the "blind leading the blind".

You're probably familiar with the old adage, "When all you've got is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail". Same thing applies to the barefoot agenda. "When all you've got in the toolbox is a trim, every horse must need no more than a trim".

More to your point... have I seen "farriers" who do a poor job of trimming a horse to be left barefoot? You bet I have. Those practitioners are not, in my opinion, professional farriers. I wouldn't want them trimming my horses and **** sure wouldn't want them to shoe my horse. That's no reason to start an entire "movement" around barefoot trimming or to create horse owner marketing that suggests there is some "special" skill about keeping a horse barefoot. It's just basic farriery... nothing more, nothing less.

Want proof? Want good, solid peer-reviewed science on the topic? Get a copy of "The Mirage of the Natural Foot", @2010, written by Dr. Michael E. Miller, MD, CJF, FWCF. In just 50 pages, Dr. Miller does an excellent job of debunking the entire performance "barefoot" movement in the context of a controlled study research project.

Cheers,
Mark
     
    04-13-2012, 09:09 PM
  #19
Yearling
No need to sell *me* on the crackpot rubbish that is the Barefoot Movement! All of my previous experiences with it remind me of interactions with Jehovah's Witnesses (no offense to any JWs that may be reading this - but the movement has a well-deserved reputation for excessively aggressive "outreach"). I always want to tell these people (JWs *and* Barefoot Fanatics) that I Gave At The Office.

Yet, all of the farriers I've talked to, including my really good one (who is highly respected), one of the FIRST questions they ask is "What kind of work is the horse going to be doing?" and "What kind of surface is he going to be working on?" and "How much work will he be getting during a typical week?" They all seem to think that the answers to these questions "matter" in some way when it comes to whether he's getting shoes, what kind of shoes, etc.

When I talked about keeping my horse barefoot to my farrier, his perspective was that it works for some horses, it doesn't work for others. And that the type of work the horse was going to be doing had something to do with this. I don't know why. What I do know is that when we've had this discussion (over three winter barefoot trim appointments) the kind of work made a difference in what his opinion was. Maybe it's because the ground here is really rocky. Maybe he had negative experiences with eventers or jumpers putting too much wear/tear on bare feet. I don't know. All I know is that the kind of work I do with my horse - dressage in an arena and some very light trail riding - meant that we moved on to the next question, which "What is the condition of his hoof wall?"

My farrier says it's more convenient for *him* if people want to go barefoot, because he doesn't get emergency calls to replace a thrown shoe. On the other hand, he says, some people get really hung up on the Barefoot Philosophy (converts to the Cause) and insist on keeping their horses barefoot even when it's not the best.

I should proffer a reminder that the OP seems to have a farrier who is either uncomfortable or unwilling to have a sufficiently intensive discussion that s/he can make an informed decision. I consider this a problem, especially since there are demonstrably farriers running about who are completely committed to shoes (for whatever reason).

We are not debating different sides of this issue, Horseman...
     
    04-13-2012, 10:21 PM
  #20
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThursdayNext    
No need to sell *me* on the crackpot rubbish that is the Barefoot Movement!
Not trying to sell anyone. Just responding to some of your comments.

Quote:
All of my previous experiences with it remind me of interactions with Jehovah's Witnesses (no offense to any JWs that may be reading this - but the movement has a well-deserved reputation for excessively aggressive "outreach"). I always want to tell these people (JWs *and* Barefoot Fanatics) that I Gave At The Office.
It's an interesting analogy and yep, some can get very aggressive in preaching their "gospel". I don't really have a problem with someone who chooses to limit their practice to barefoot. The trouble I have is the propaganda they spread in an effort to sell that limited skill to horse owners.

If you aren't willing to advance your skills beyond the first 10 days of farrier school, don't pretend it's because of some special insight into what best meets the needs of the horse.

It's akin to someone dropping out of medical school in the first month then telling everyone it's because they decided that all anyone needs to cure all ills is aspirin. Anything beyond that is just "palliative".

Quote:
Yet, all of the farriers I've talked to, including my really good one (who is highly respected), one of the FIRST questions they ask is "What kind of work is the horse going to be doing?" and "What kind of surface is he going to be working on?" and "How much work will he be getting during a typical week?" They all seem to think that the answers to these questions "matter" in some way when it comes to whether he's getting shoes, what kind of shoes, etc.
I strongly agree with those farriers. The type of work and over what terrain is a huge factor in deciding protocol!

Quote:
When I talked about keeping my horse barefoot to my farrier, his perspective was that it works for some horses, it doesn't work for others.
Your farrier is absolutely correct.

Quote:
And that the type of work the horse was going to be doing had something to do with this. I don't know why. What I do know is that when we've had this discussion (over three winter barefoot trim appointments) the kind of work made a difference in what his opinion was. Maybe it's because the ground here is really rocky. Maybe he had negative experiences with eventers or jumpers putting too much wear/tear on bare feet. I don't know. All I know is that the kind of work I do with my horse - dressage in an arena and some very light trail riding - meant that we moved on to the next question, which "What is the condition of his hoof wall?"
Your speculation is correct. Terrain and use can preclude keeping an otherwise sound horse barefoot. Hoof condition can be a factor in whether a horse can go barefoot or what, if any, type of shoeing protocol may be needed.

Quote:
My farrier says it's more convenient for *him* if people want to go barefoot, because he doesn't get emergency calls to replace a thrown shoe.
It is somewhat more convenient and pays better by the hour, but I don't think I'd enjoy the trade as much if all I did was trim horses. Trimming, in my opinion, is the more laborious and less challenging aspect of farriery. To be honest, after the first few thousand horses, it gets fairly boring.

Quote:
On the other hand, he says, some people get really hung up on the Barefoot Philosophy (converts to the Cause) and insist on keeping their horses barefoot even when it's not the best.
Yep, I've run into those owners. I usually pack my tools and leave if I think the owners intent could be detrimental to the welfare of the animal.

Quote:
... especially since there are demonstrably farriers running about who are completely committed to shoes (for whatever reason).
I've met hundreds of farriers in my career. I've never met a single one that was "completely committed to shoes" for every horse. I'm strongly committed to the art and science of shoeing horses. If shoes will best meet the needs of the horse and the owners performance expectations of the animal, that's what the horse should get. If the horse can go sound while barefoot and meet owner expectations, then barefoot it is.

Quote:
We are not debating different sides of this issue, Horseman...
Nope, we're not. Just having a friendly, public discussion that others may find interesting or even useful.

Cheers,
Mark
     

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