Another barefoot question

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Another barefoot question

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    06-23-2008, 09:14 AM
Another barefoot question

Our horse is barefoot and spends most of her time in the paddock and pasture. From the barn to the road there is a rocky driveway, the big construction rock, and is about 50-75 ft long, and from there there is a gravel road that goes about 1 block or so to a paved road. We've had our mare almost 3 months and we have been trying to take some occasional walks (leading only - no rider) down the road to help condition her hooves, so we think. My MIL (which is where we keep her) is VERY concerned about this because the horse is barefoot and she has been telling us that it is very painful for her and that she shouldn't be out on rocky areas without shoes. Now, when we are out on the gravel road we tend to go down the middle where there is the least amount of loose rock. She takes an "ouchy" step here and there, and yesterday she seemed a little tender at the end of our walk (not limping), but she was fine as soon as we got back to the barn.

I really just want whats best for our horse and I don't plan on putting shoes on her, but should I be out on the gravel road with her? It's not a far distance but I don't want to hurt her or give her stone bruises. Should I put boots on her to do this?
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    06-23-2008, 09:19 AM
We take our barefoot horses for "walks" over the gravel in our driveway to condition their hooves too. What I have noticed with our guys is not so much that they are taking "ouchie" steps but rather they are actually feeling the ground and are just repositioning themselves. Like we would do when we wear thin soled flip flops or shoes and we can feel the gravel so we take a better step. We aren't hurt we just chose a better place to step. I would not stop but rather take a second look. It doesn't sound like they are hurting but just feeling the ground.
    06-23-2008, 09:59 AM
Have you found that your horses hooves improve with walks? Unfortunately, there is some serious construction during the week on the gravel road so we are limited to walks on the weekends only (at least for another 3 or 4 weeks).

My MIL told me that frogs are very tender and cannot callus so rocks are always painful. I have done some research and I have read that they can callus, but I'm new at this and she is much more experienced with horses than I so I'm not sure what to believe.
    06-23-2008, 10:42 AM
We are new to barefootin' it too. I believe they will callus. I mentioned this in the last barefoot post but all of our friends shoe their horses. We are the only folks we know that go barefoot. (other than the farriers horses) I think it will just take time. Here in my section of Arkansas we are in the Ozark mountains and there are rocks EVERYWHERE! I'm pretty sure they grow with the weeds. My horses were barefoot (just no shoes or trims) for almost 2 years and they were fine in a crappy rocky pasture (before we got them). So I can't see that they would be worse off with a proper barefoot trim. Its what horses are like in the wild. Don't let the MIL break your spirit. Keep at it. Its what your horse is used to! I think the horse will tell you whether the trim is working or not. If its not comming up lame or sore then there is no problem. Its just your doubt.
    06-23-2008, 10:58 AM
You are absolutely right. I'm glad I found this forum because when your only other outside influence has very strong opinions and is vocal about them it's easy to second guess yourself - especially when you are new to the experience and want to do things right. I enjoy bouncing my ideas on here with other experienced horsey people.

Thanks for the encouraging words!
    06-23-2008, 11:12 AM
All of our horses are barefoot and always have been. They have nice hard fee,t sole and frog included. We ride regularly on gravel/dirt roads. When we had a regular "lets slam some shoes on" farrier they would be a little ouchie right after a trim. SInce we found a wonderful barefoot trimmer they rarely take an off step. If you have your horses at home, you might concider putting some gravel around the water tank. That way they get used to walking on gravel a bit faster.
    06-24-2008, 12:34 AM

As a hoofcare practitioner, I can say catagorically that frogs most certainly do callous. I wonder how your MIL thinks all those poor wild horses cope! If they are regularly trimmed by a farrier, or stay damp &/or thrushy, they aren't likely to callous well tho. She may be right also in pointing to frogs as part of the problem tho, as recent studies have shown that it's more the sensitivity of the frog/heel than the sole that causes grief on rough ground. But I wonder how she(& many others) thinks a rim of steel only protecting the hoof wall helps that?

Conditioning is not the only requirement for a barefoot horse to travel comfortably. She needs to have a *good* regular trim - at least 6 weekly. She needs lots of exercise. She needs a good but not rich diet and ideally she needs to live on dry, hard ground. The softer & wetter her paddock, the more you will need to condition her to hard or rough ground. The occasional walk will likely do little and if she's on soft pasture you'll probably need to do at least 3 good walks per week to see much improvement. The more often the better.

If you don't want to shoe her and you can't afford the time or find a more suitable environment for her, or while you're building her up to coping bare, there's always hoof boots. Quite a few good brands available these days. Generally horses only need them on their front feet and you can take them off when not needed.
    06-24-2008, 01:24 AM
I've always went barefoot with my horses. I find it to be healthier.
    06-24-2008, 02:07 AM
My horse is on a grassy pasture, not too muddy, but we do live in the PNW so that's relative. Her paddock is soft. According to our trimmer, who has been with Lily for at least 2 years now, her hooves have improved since we've had her. She got great care where she was before but she had no turnout and was ridden primarily in the stable arena.

Thank your for confirming that frogs do callous. I mentioned the wild horses to my MIL, but her reply was that they don't have riders on their backs and they can pick and choose where they walk so they can avoid the big rocks and be selective on where they step.

Don't ask where my MIL comes up with some of her ideas. She is old school and although I love her, she is not at all open to any new information. Example: She has the RFD channel but won't watch any of the trainer shows because "they're all just a bunch of wannabes who don't know what they're talking about but think they know everything". Her daughter showed her horse back in the 80's in the A system(?), US Nationals, Canadian Nationals, that kind of stuff. And very successfully, I might add. I think that the way they did things back then is written in stone to MIL's way of thinking. She is pretty vocal and very opinionated so it's a challenge.

Again, I'm glad I found this forum because she is my primary influence and although I know she's been around and definitely knows her fair share, it's nice to have some other knowledgeable horsey people sharing their input.
    06-24-2008, 01:34 PM
Well, I was going to put in my two cents worth , but I think everybody else has covered it. 8)

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