Your opinion on barefoot? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 03:15 AM Thread Starter
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Your opinion on barefoot?

I am interested in everyone's opinions and arguments about shoeing; what is yours?

In my opinion, virtually any horse can go barefoot. The rare exceptions are horses that need special corrective treatment, that only shoes can provide, or certain competitions (like the sliding stops in reining).

It is just a matter of the owner's patience and whether or not a healthier horse hoof that costs the same, if not less, in the end is worth it (assuming a horse is shod for $150 every six weeks, or is trimmed for $50 every two weeks).

Sure, taking shoes off just before show season may be a bit risky, but isn't that why there are hoof boots?
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post #2 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 05:28 AM
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I agree virtually any horse can go barefoot. If you dont ride them.
And your assumptions on trimming and shoeing costs are way off, do you own a horse ?
DOnt know anyone that pays a trimmer every two weeks, and I imagine markets very but I only pay $100 every 4-6 for shoes.

even so it is not just a matter of cost or patience. SOme of us actually ride our horses more than once around the pasture. Also lot of other considerations involving cost, time, what works for the horse , owner etc.

If hoof wear exceeds hoof growth or riding terrain is much rougher than living terrain, horses tend to need good old fashioned steel shoes. Boots simply dont work for many horses. If I can wear a set of steel shoes down to tin foil thickness in 4 weeks what do you think would have happened if that horse was barefoot ?

No single hoof care method is a one size fits all. Any one that says any horse can go barefoot is just as wrong as saying all horses need shoes. No two horses are exposed to the exact same conditions. Therefore no one technique will be suitable or cost efficient for all.
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post #3 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 05:45 AM
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All of my horses have all been barefoot. I have never had any issues, and I absolutely love having my horses "natural". Of course I understand that there are many circumstances where barefoot is not an option, e.g. horses who are worked hard or need special foot care, but in any situation where it is possible, barefoot is great :) In my part of the world, horses get trimmed every six weeks, just like horses with shoes.
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post #4 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 06:34 AM
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I prefer barefoot whenever possible and with the horses I have had and the type of riding I do, I have not needed shoes. Even went on a ride where a farrier there was expecting my horses to go lame due to the length and the type of terrain we were going over, but they showed no soreness at all and he kept shaking his head saying its amazing that some horses could make it barefoot.

However, with that said, I think I'm going to have to say I agree with joe4d here. Some hooves just can't hold up to the type of riding their owners do. Even the ride I am talking about above I had a haflinger and my husband was riding a draft cross - both with good solid, thick walled, thick soled hooves. I am quite certain the TB mare I have now would not make that ride barefoot even though she has been barefoot for years. I'm in the process of looking into hoof boots for her. She is fine on the riding we do now, but she will need something more if we do decide to go on more challenging trails this summer. If we rode those challenging trails much more consistently like some other people then I might have to look into getting a horse shod for the first time.

Even though I prefer barefoot, I won't sore a horse just in the name of keeping them barefoot.

All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!

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post #5 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 06:40 AM
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Just thought I'd add something else - my current horse is a Thoroughbred, he is barefoot and has been for over 5 years. His previous owners did trail riding and a touch of endurance riding with him, for really rough terrain they put him in Renegade boots :)
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post #6 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 06:59 AM
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Some can and some can't. Just like Joe said. Depends on if you are riding, what you are using them for, footing, and many factors. For example, as a general rule, horses being ridden on rocky surfaces need shoes, or protection, as do h/j types, who land on the fronts and shoes help preserve the foot.

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post #7 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 07:07 AM
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I agree that *generally speaking* shoeless is best. Not necessarily bare tho & agree with Joe's comments there - virtually any horse can go bare that is not in work/on hard/rough ground. Hoof boots are a great option for most, but don't work for all horses or situations. Unfortunately there are rules that don't allow horses to wear hoof boots in some competitions, so if they can't go bare, there are few options if competition is your focus.
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post #8 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 08:15 AM
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I think if a horse needs shoes he should get them. If the horse can go barefoot, then great!
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post #9 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 11:25 AM
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Ultimately the rider is going to decide how their horse is shod, not necessarily what is optimum for that specific horse and rider. There is the hoof, the terrain, the farrier or trimmer's talent, and the common sense of the rider that "play into" the equation. Decisions made by the owner factor into "energy spent" for barefoot and "best for the horse" since the hoof is ever changing. For example, whether it is even necessary to boot up would depend on the condition of the specific horse's hoof and the terrain and distance it will traverse. If a person does not consider these factors each time they saddle up, they could either waste their energy booting up, or conversely, harm their horse by not doing so. In which case - iron shoes might be what is best for a specific horse and rider. Then, there is the talent of the specific farrier/person that actually does the shoeing or trimming for a given horse to take into account.

I prefer barefoot. I ride booted over very hard rocky ground, and the hooves of my riding buddies shod horses look just fine, as do my horse's.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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post #10 of 34 Old 06-05-2013, 11:56 AM
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If mine can go barefoot then they do - it saves me money and I'm all for that.
However if you're promoting barefoot because you think that shoeing is painful for the horse or damaging then I cant agree. As someone from the UK where I rode on roads most of the time and worked horses on roads for 2 to 3 hours a day with a lot of trotting as part of fitness programs then I can tell you that I never had a horse lame or damaged by having shoes on and they worked far more confidently and freely that they did without. Some of those horses were still going strong and sound in their late 20's - our old pony was in his mid 30's
I'm someone that's never got on well with boots and even if I did you cant leave them on all the time & I find that here in CT with the stony ground they can start to get sore and broken feet in the late summer just from turnout.
My other gripe with boots is that they are all a bit of a hassle to get on and off and my back is not as good as it used to be so once my lot start to show signs of sore feet or feet that are getting too chipped then they get shoes on. I really don't want to be 2 hours or more out into a trail ride and have to lead a crippled horse back to the trailer
Last year my farrier was inundated with calls from people with lame horses because they'd tried to go 'barefoot' with little success and not found boots to really work well for them
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