Your opinion on barefoot? - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 34 Old 06-13-2013, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Connecticut
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Barefoot is a wonderful idea, but not practical for a wide variety of horses or conditions. The massive industry of hoof boots that has emerged over the past decade is proof positive of that. It's all nice tulips and buttercups to go "natural" and thing you're doing a great thing for your horse, but that warm fuzzy feeling is often replaced by frustration when your horse gets sore every time it rains, the soles shed, there are rocks in the path, the hoof boots don't stay on, and the diet has to be just right. For a pasture puff that no longer gets ridden, sure barefoot is fantastic. But for the vast majority of horses, shoes are needed both for comfort and for the horse to be able to do the job at hand. If, after a year of being barefoot, your horse is still ouchy on some surfaces, you don't need to adjust anything, you just need to put shoes back on.
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post #32 of 34 Old 06-16-2013, 10:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Everyone will have their own opinion and some reason for it. I base mine on my and my families personal experience (I can only go back as far as my grandfather, but that's over 100 years), the experience of others who have ridden unshod over many thousands of continuous miles, and what scientific studies have shown. People successfully complete the Tevis Cup on unshod horse and that's 100 miles over some rough terrain.
No one my family has ever kept a shod horse and we worked our horses.
In my teens I rode to town (over 30 miles round trip) at least a few times a week. The horses were ridden 5-7 days a week. My mare spent time on the hwy every day that we rode.
In the early 1970's Gordon Naysmith rode from South Africa to eastern Europe on the same unshod horses (that's around 10,000 miles and a lot of it is rough terrain).
I'd say based on my (and my family members) personal experience and what Gordon Naysmiths demonstrated with his ride up Africa that shoes are not really needed. The problem people have is that they don't take the time to get the hoof conditioned first. People get in a hurry to ride on any terrain and so they put something on to protect the unconditioned hoof in order to ride the horse where they want.
I can't speak for what Naysmith did ahead of his ride, but he may well have gotten mounts that had been unshod and had feed already conditioned to the rough terrain. In our case we spend time toughening our horses feet by riding on rough ground more and more.
Yes, it does create wear which works great since it reduces the amount of trimming that is needed. The foot gets a lot tougher and hard. It takes time though. I generally spend 2 years working the feet on hard ground spending more time each month or two riding on hard surfaces until they are conditioned enough.
I've seen no scientific studies showing that being shod is good for the feet.
There are studies that show that driving nails into the hoof degrades the hoof (as if common sense wouldn't tell you that). There are also studies that show that a horse shod long enough suffer effects from the foot not being able to expand from the pressure baring on it with each step and that being shod has a negative impact on blood circulation in the foot.
In fairness, I'm aware of no negative studies on the use of boots. Probably because they don't degrade the hoof with nails and allow the foot to expand and contract as needed when a horse walks, trots, etc....

Obviously I'll say go barefoot. If you can't/won't/don't have time to condition your mount's feet before doing a lengthy ride on rough ground then use boots. But if your time spent on rough ground is limited to short periods, with the rest being on easier terrain then ride unshod. The short periods on rough ground will help toughen the feet some over time. Especially if you can spend a little more time on the rougher ground as the months go by.

And if someone tells you that the color of the hoof makes a difference, as my vet did 40 years doesn't. My first mare that I rode the hardest (worked cattle, hunted off of, did 100 mile weekends on, etc...) was white with a yellow mane/tail (sort of a reverse palomino) and so were her feet.
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post #33 of 34 Old 06-16-2013, 10:59 AM
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My horses live on the same ground we ride on - concrete hard and rocky. There are somewhat fewer rocks in their corral than on the ATV trails, but not by much. If we ride them enough, their hooves will wear faster than they grow to replace them. As a recreational rider, I rarely hit that level of riding. When I do, I just let them go a little while without riding. But on a ranch, where horses are ridden all day and daily...yeah, I can easily see how shoes would be needed to prevent lameness. I've considered shoes just to make our horses more comfortable. When my horses get to pavement, they start trotting from the sheer joy of how comfortable the pavement feels...
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post #34 of 34 Old 06-21-2013, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Indiana, USA
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I have two hunter jumpers and they are barefoot. They do perfectly fine on any terrain. Just because a horse has shoes doesn't mean they are protected from rocks. Their hooves are softer and when a rock gets up in there, it will then most likely do more damage to a shod horse than to a barefoot horse. I prefer barefoot if the horse can handle it. It takes some getting used to for the horse, and they will be sensitive at first. Just give them time to adjust.
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