hoof hardening - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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hoof hardening

I know what I just said about in the shod unshod poll but it really got me to consider whether I another give it another chance at going barefooted. But I was wondering if there was anything that would help that? I was told that terpintine(sp?) Helps. But I wanna know what worked for you. My horse has white hooves if that makes any difference.


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post #2 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by MissColors View Post
I know what I just said about in the shod unshod poll but it really got me to consider whether I another give it another chance at going barefooted. But I was wondering if there was anything that would help that? I was told that terpintine(sp?) Helps. But I wanna know what worked for you. My horse has white hooves if that makes any difference.
Venice turpentine painted on the soles can help 'toughen' the soles so the horse is not so hyper senstive to rough footing. We've used it as a temporary aid when someone wanted to trail ride a horse we don't normally ride enough to warrant paying for shoes.

For long term or frequent use though - I would look into hoof boots if you prefer not to shoe.
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post #3 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 12:55 PM
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hoof hardening

Nothing topical is going to do much to harden your horses hooves. Hoof dressings help to keep them from becoming brittle but you have to use them before the feet become brittle in dry weather. Food supplements like biotin do a better job of strengthening the hoof wall. The problem is that a certain segment of a certain segment has misrepresented and generalized that all horses can go barefoot if they are trimmed a certain way and this is just not true. There are many factors to consider such as the environment the horse is kept in, the breeding of the horse and the terrain it is forced to travel over. Horses that live their life in a 12x12 foot square stall bedded in wood shavings that suck the moisture from their feet tend to have thin shelly walls and thin soles. Breeds of horses that have been inbred for a hundred years or more often have feet that are too small or that are not physiologically sound. Other horses do not stay sound when ridden over rocky or gravelly terrain but may be fine in an arena. Every horse has individual characteristics and should be treated that way. Steel horseshoes have been vilified by the manufactureres of boots that cost as much as $100 a foot (and others) but tens of millions of horses have been shod all of their lives with steel horseshoes without suffering detrimental effects.This is not to say that boots do not have their place or that many horses can go barefoot and are better off for it or that proper trimming encourages a strong, healthy hoof. It's a matter of common sense.
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post #4 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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I figured that I might give it a try. There are lots of small like pea stone drives that we ride on but that's generally the worst of it. We live where it's pretty muddy all year long and i did put fronts on my horse but I just considering trying barefootedness again. I'd say that my horses feet are pretty sound. He keeps shoes forever. Unfortunately the farrier didn't come by when I was gone like he was suppose to and Kelo had his shoes on for 10 weeks ans they were on tight just like they are any other shoeing.


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post #5 of 13 Old 03-15-2012, 01:39 PM
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Coming from a farrier's point of view it is true that there is no topical solution that will get into a horse's hoof and actually make it stronger, that being said there are many topicals out on the market that will help your horse's feet resist bruising and chipping. Most topicals will seal the foot much like a sealer on wood decks do. It will keep bacteria and dirt out from the foot itself and create less problems. If your horse has brittle or tender you should talk to your farrier and see if they are currently a good candidate for bare feet. Supplementing like Farriers Formula from SmartPak is a proven way to help, and slowly conditioning your horses walls and soles on gradually tougher surfaces will ensure a strong, reliable foot.

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post #6 of 13 Old 03-16-2012, 11:52 AM
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It is partly genetics, of course, some horses have harder hoofs. If you live where it is dry, let them walk through a puddle (keep it moist by the water tank, for example) and let them walk on "hard" terrain. There feet will become as hard as their individual genetics will dictate they can get. If they have unusually "crumbly" feet (rare), barefoot may not be the best idea.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-18-2012, 09:34 AM
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Everyone has great ideas and thoughts. I thought to let my trail horse, a QH gelding, go barefoot. We left him barefoot for the whole winter and part of the spring, I put hoof hardener on them, he gets hoof supplements, etc. When it came time to start trail riding, Terry was still very sore, he never did take to being barefoot and our farrier, after coming out to trim and do what he needed to do, showed me Terry's hooves where they were bruised and some red spots. He explained that some horses just do not do well not shod, it is just their make up and he had hooves that would never harden up no matter what I did.

So, Terry now has his shoes on and is very happy for that and back to being the lets get going attitude than the "ouch...ouch...ouch" walk that he did.
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-18-2012, 11:33 AM
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The stories remain the same. Even after over 40 years .

I man by the name of Gordon Naysmilth rode from southern Africa to central Europe in the 1970's. He wrote about it. Interesting adventure that I'd never want to repeat, but I digress. Anyone who does long distance riding knows that weight is your enemy and he was going an extremely long distance. To make a long story short, against the advice and rantings of all the "equine experts" he opted to not have to carry loads of shoes for the horses and did the trip them all unshod. After completing the trip he said the person who ended up with the horse complained about the hoof being so hard the farrier had difficult time trimming them.

color means nothing. My old white QH ended up with incredibly hard hoof after a lot of highway miles. Her feet were white. I was told by our vet and pretty much everyone outside of my extended family that she needed to be shod. We've never had any of our horses shod (at least after we owned them) and it always amazed me that even today there will be people who (and in some cases have known us for many years) will tell us that we need to shoe our horses. Especially when they see me riding down the road . The fact that we've never had any foot problems with any horse (after recoving from any problem they came with in some cases) doesn't seem to matter and some of my well meaning friends just can't resist telling me that it has to be done.
Some horses I'd gotten that were shod all there life had sore feet when they arrived to me (shoe removal was one of my requirements). I guess it's a case of how long you're willing to deal with them being unridable and how much time you have to work with them to fix it. Admittedly it can take many months to fix. I believe having softer ground for them to start recovering on has helped in those cases. They're feet should get back to what would be normal before you can start working on harder ground. We have soft, sandy soil so that system has worked well for the people in my family. 6 months and longer to recover is not unheard of, but then some of that time for me has been spent pulling heels back and fixing constricted heels (or a radom issue with nail hole crack). Because of the time it takes I no longer deal with getting horses that are older and shod all their life. A younger horse who hasn't spent as many years in shoes is much less work. Even better if they were only shod part of the year anyway. Not much work if any then . Straight to toughening.

If you're going to make a lot of hard demands on a horses foot before it's ready then I guess shoes might be the way to go although I'd probably try boots. A foot that's not ready for the demands you want to make on it can be damaged and then you're set back beyond where you started. I've never had a horse where I'd been in that big a hurry, so there was always time to get them conditioned. After that the sky was the limit. And when you ride long distances it's great never having to worry about a loose shoe or losing one. Never have to carry shoes or need a farrier.
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-18-2012, 03:56 PM
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I've had really good luck with a couple of horses using Keratex Hoof Hardener.
Keratex Hoof Hardener - keratex.net

One horse had strong hooves, but was extremely tender on her soles and was wearing boots. I now ride her without boots, and she's fine.
The other horse had flaking, chipping, cracking hooves. We're still working at getting the damage to grow out, but they are holding up much better now.
With both horses, when I started out, tapping the hoof-pick on the hoof-wall or sole would just give a muted "flub" sound. After a week on the Keratex, a tap would result in a "plink" sound.
I'm sure it depends on the individual horse's genetic make-up, how much you ride, how hard you ride, and the terrain you're on, but the Keratex definitely does do something.
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-18-2012, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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I decided to give it a try and pulled shoes. I didn't trim hoping it would make transition easier and he isn't being tended footed. They were a bitch to pull off. We even jumped today and ran a couple lanes too. Seems to be a good idea. I'm going to throw some horse shine supplement into his feed to give just a tad of a boost.
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