Barefoot pony

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Barefoot pony

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  • Signs of a horse being foot sore
  • Crushed limestone and barefoot horses

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    08-10-2009, 07:34 AM
Green Broke
Question Barefoot pony

My horse, errr well ok technically pony (she's 14.1) has always been barefoot her whole life. But when I got her 9 months ago, she went from being a pasture potato to training for eventing (slow transition, she only started learning to jump 3 months ago - I have not put undue stress on her for those wondering, we worked up to it!)

Anyway, she is now ridden probably about every other day so 4-5 times per week. We train dressage most days, with some jumping 1-3 times per week. It's all in an indoor sand arena or outdoor dirt/grass arena. We don't live in too rocky an area (northeast OH for those familiar), and we do go on trail sometimes (they are dirt trails). She doesn't go on crushed limestone trails or anything like that and we don't ride on the road. So my farrier told me that for now, she doesn't seem to need shoes but he said with all her training and showing recently she is "teetering on the edge" of needing front shoes.

I want to keep her barefoot if at all possible, but I certainly don't want her to get foot sore either and will put shoes on her if he says they are necessary at any point. BUT can anyone tell me what the signs are of a horse becoming foot sore? I'd like to know so I can watch out for them. She walks differently on gravel (at shows sometimes we have to walk over some sections of it) versus grass, but she still walks over it. My farrier says I would know if she was foot sore, that she would refuse to walk over the gravel...but she's such a willing horse, I just want to know some other symptoms so I can keep an eye out...I certainly don't want her to be sore

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    08-10-2009, 07:55 AM
Even a tough soled horse will want to walk gingerly over very sharp gravel when it's on top of a very hard surface like the road or the brick hard ground we have here in the summer....after all, even I can feel them through my boots.
Rather than the horse's willingness or 'tip toeing', we look to see if there is any sign of limping during or after a ride, typically caused from a stone bruise to the sole.
    08-10-2009, 08:02 AM
Green Broke
Ok thanks for the advice! No limping or soon as she's back on grass she moves forward more and goes back to her normal state. So maybe you're right, she may just not like walking on the rocks, and she's not used to it after all since she never does at home. Thanks for the reassurance!
    08-10-2009, 08:27 AM
BTW, many folks that I know that show a lot and have 'arena horses' (and the $$s) put front shoes on ONLY for the shows and remove them after since the show areas do tend to have a lot of gravel areas that their horses are not used to and they don't want to take a chance having a sore horse for the show.
    08-10-2009, 08:42 AM
Sand arenas and with the new training and all will wear on the hooves like sandpaper.. but if the farrier say she's not needing shoes then that's no problem, just a free trim ;) Make sure that you can get the farrier there fast tho, it can go from 'almost needing'' to ''sore'' in a day or two if the hooves are worn by the sand.

If she just walks uneasy on the gravel I wouldn't mind much, as long as she's not walking differently between let's say soft grass and the arena where she works and so on. If she's taking better steps on the grass but gets a little tense on the arena, that's a warning sign.
I'd avoid gravel, since it does hurt her feet to walk on it, but if you don't usually ride on it and it's not a lot of it in trhe pasture, then it's not a big deal. If you walked barefoot on grass and had to walk over a little gravel once in a while, it wouldn't traumatize you even if it was uncomfortable, right? ;)
The biggest problem with horses in this situation is simply if they were the hooves down more than they can grow.
I've experienced this with my standie who was barefoot for more than a year but started wearing his hooves too much when I started riding him. I noticed that he was wearing too much and decided to call the farrier, who should come in a week. Two days before the farrier came, Crow was sore on his hindfeet (which is where he wears it down more). Putting the shoes on was enough to fix it tho. Later on the same thing happened with the front hooves as well. So it just didn't work even tho I tried.

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