Why barefoot is best - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 09:38 AM Thread Starter
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Smile Why barefoot is best

For many years, the tradition of shoeing horses has been consistently considered the most humane way to maintain a riding horse's hooves. That is, until recently. The barefoot horse movement is gathering momentum across the world and an increasing number of equestrian enthusiasts are kicking off their horses’ shoes and turning to a more natural form of horsemanship.
Metal shoes were first introduced to assist in the maintenance of horses’ feet. Primarily, this was done to protect working horses that were required to operate for long hours on cobbled streets. The punishing terrain and long working hours meant that the wear and tear on the horse’s hooves was considerable and metal shoes enabled horses to work more comfortably for longer periods. This trend continued and shoes were developed for a variety of different equestrian activities and disciplines.
More recently, however, it has been found that metal shoes can be detrimental to working horses. Firstly, the metal shoe constricts the hoof’s natural movement in that, in a natural situation, the hoof expands and contracts as the horse moves. When weight is applied to the hoof, a small degree of expansion occurs which is released when the weight is removed. This hoof action reduces the strain placed on the tendons of the leg and reduces the chance of compaction injuries. Furthermore, the barefoot horse is able to feel its feet and is subsequently more sure-footed than its shod counterpart.
Competing on a barefoot horse has gained popularity and momentum, particularly in the endurance riding discipline where horse and rider are expected to cover long distances of variable terrain. When examining the hooves of these competitive horses, it is amazing to see how much the shape of the hoof varies depending on the terrain the horse lives and trains on. Horses in stony areas will tend to develop smaller hooves, giving them the ability to negotiate difficult ground. In comparison, the barefoot horse that trains primarily on soft sand will develop a much wider hoof, spreading particularly at the heel. This gives the horse a greater surface area, thereby preventing it from sinking deep into the sand and enabling it to move more effectively and with less effort.
Riding over certain types of terrain, such as flat rock or heavy mud, the difference between the shod and the barefoot horse is quite astonishing. After riding without shoes, the shod horse suddenly feels much less foot sure and less secure – having no feeling in the metal shoes means the horse is less aware of the terrain behind its feet and less careful in its selection of hoof placement. In such instances, the barefoot horse is much more capable and stable and less likely to cause injury to either itself or its rider.
Of course, not every horse will do well without shoes. The quality and the strength of the hoof are dependent on many different influences, from breeding and conformation to diet and living conditions. Thoroughbreds in particular seem to struggle without shoes – possibly as a result of too much inbreeding or because the majority are shod at a young age in order to participate in races. The strongest hooves definitely develop when a horse has never been shod, although rehabilitation from shod to the barefoot horse is usually successful given a little time and patience.

Last edited by Allison Finch; 05-14-2012 at 10:12 AM.
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post #2 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 09:45 AM
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Or.... some horses simply cannot go barefoot and must wear shoes.

I'm all for barefoot, if it works for the horse. Not just the owner.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #3 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 10:20 AM
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I have no problem at all with a horse going barefoot, in certain situations. I wouldn't recommend it if you ride with me here, though!! LOL!

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post #4 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 10:29 AM
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I love mine barefoot. But if he needs shoes, he'll get them. I've read, watched videos, followed a farrier friend around. I've had Rascal done by both farriers and trimmers. Honestly I'll stick with my farrier for now.

The trimmers, well one tried to correct the problems, it just seemed to make things worse. The other won't touch my horse with a 10 foot pole again. She lamed him. 3 never showed up, nor called. 1 of which had already been paid after doing the assessment.( I wasn't going to be there for the actual trim, DH was.) I never did get a refund. I don't pay in cash anymore as prepayment.

I know I am super picky. With our current farrier, he usually shows up. He IS correcting the problems, slowly but surely. He is actually taking into account Rascal and his issues. It's assessment time with this one. DO I keep him and see what happens? We'll see since Rascal is over due.

I miss you Rascal. Every day, all day.
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post #5 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 10:41 AM
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I ride in the western mountains of PA. I tried to go barefoot but just didn't work. Hooves started to crack and chip. Just had shoes put on her yesterday. She had never been shod and she did great.
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post #6 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 11:05 AM
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It's pretty apparent the OP copy & pasted their whole narrative from somewhere else, just to get a rise out of people. Why else would their VERY FIRST POST be about something as controversial as barefoot vs shod?
Tianimalz and themacpack like this.

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post #7 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 12:24 PM
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barefoot is popular with endurance because shoes cost so much. And they only last a few weeks. In training I have literrally worn the shoes down past the nails till they were nearly paper thin in about 4 weeks.
Almost all endurance riders I have seen boot or shoe before a ride. Several of the rides in my area require 4 boots or shoes. So there are no barefoot horses actually doing the rides.
My "B" horse is barefoot. But will be getting renegade boots after her next trim. For me it is a finacial issue. For $300 I can buy boots all around that will last me a year if not longer and every 6 weeks trim come to $560. Shoes would run me about 860 to 960,,,, hummm on second thought might just start getting her shoed. Boots are a PIA.
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post #8 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 12:43 PM
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No rocks here in FL but if there were I'd shoe em.
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post #9 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 05:07 PM
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I vote we just make a "Barefoot, Bareback, Bridleless, & Naked" section so the natural people have somewhere to go.

I just wonder, do barefoot trimmers work barefoot? If not they should.
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post #10 of 24 Old 05-14-2012, 05:12 PM
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Darn it, guess I need to go home and pull the shoes off of Soda. Back to being sore on everything other than soft dirt, grass, or sand. He's 11 and just had his first set of front shoes put on a couple weeks ago. I can't tell you how nice it is to finally see my horse comfortable and happy on regular ground, he's even more comfortable in the pasture and the paddock!
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barefoot , barefoot hoof care , horse trails , riding

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