To shoe or not to shoe? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 03:55 AM Thread Starter
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Question To shoe or not to shoe?

I'm so confused. Things have changed so much since I last owned a horse and the people I talk to are from the old school of "definitely shoe". However, I have been reading articles that say to go natural, for all events. Plus, where I board, the barn farrier totally pushes his Natural Trims and is very anti-shoes for horses.

My goal is to endurance race (eventually 100 milers) and cart (even in the city). Are natural hooves sufficient or should I keep with shoes? She had pretty hard hooves and is an Arab.

Advice, links, testimonials please! I don't want to screw up my horse.

Also, is there some sort of goo or something I should put on my horse's hooves? If so, what does it do?

(i know, really dumb question)

Last edited by eclecticstar; 01-20-2009 at 03:59 AM.
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post #2 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 04:02 AM
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My family is anti- shoe. I don't agree, yes I have been convinced that with the time and effort all horses can go barefoot and for the last 2 years all our horses have been barefoot but I have never been happy with my horse being barefoot. I few weeks ago we got my horse shod for a show and have decided to keep him shod. The farrier we got seemed very good, I don't claim to know much about it but I got the impression he knew what he was talking about. He said all horses can go barefoot, some just take a lot of time to get used to it, he said my horses feet (which are very good when shod) would take at least 6 years to properly adapt to be comfortable barefoot so we have decided to keep him shod.

What I am trying to say is every horse is different and if your horse goes well barefoot and is comfortable with that go for it and if not get the horse shod.

I hope that helped.

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post #3 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 04:21 AM
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If you horse has never been shod and has good hard feet, I would stay un shod. The most you may ever need would be a hoof boot to protect in rocky terrain, etc.

I am a barefoot natural trim fan! All my horses have been barefoot since the day they hit the ground, never ever ever have I had a hoof problem one! The farrier even told me he has never seen feet like my minis have, so hard and able to walk on ANYTHING!

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post #4 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 07:23 AM
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Try her barefoot or talk to your farrier... some horses do great barefoot and some have to have shoes, it all depends

I have been called the NSC Nazi more then once ... I hate traditional feed methods of loading our horses up on grains and junk food :)
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post #5 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 08:04 AM
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I think try it, and if you see any signs of tenderness or lameness, or the hooves chipping away, then go to shoes. Do you know a bit about the history of your horses hooves?? If it has been barefoot from birth the hooves will have been allowed to strengthen and develope correctly, and shouldnt have any problem at all continuing barefoot.
You will know well before your first endurance ride if your horses hooves are up to it or not, so dont let that worry you just yet.

What do you mean by goo?? A moisturizing agent?

I love bare feet. All my babies are unshod and they have excelent hooves. They are so tough, and they grow out so evenly now, and are very balanced and no flares. At first I was really worried, because we have only one farrier in the area and he is less than not good, so I taught myself. For a long time I was affraid I was doing more harm than good, but there hooves are so awesome now!!
Even my thoroughbred, who had horribly overgrown and weak hooves when I got him 4 months ago, has been barefoot for the last month and a half, and just in that little time they have improved so much.

You have the benefit when barefoot, of being able to rasp regularly and as needed. Unlike with a shod horse, whos hoof is allowed to grow and grow and grow for 8 weeks (sometimes longer!!) and then suddenly and harshly cut back to next to nothing. I have wondered if this has an effect on the alignment of the leg bones and pedal bone, in the very long term.
You also have better grip (on all terrains, shoes can slip on asphalt - keep that in mind if you plan to cart through town), better shock absorbsion, easier to care for, less expensive, and it is something you can learn yourself, and requires much less physical exhertion that shoing. Im sure if you talked to this farrier he would be more than happy to expain the anatomy of the hoof and how it works, the effects it has on the leg, and the benefits, as well as give you a basic rundown on how to do it.
Another great thing about being barefoot is that you never have to worry about throwing a shoe, especially when you are way out in the middle of nowhere. There would be nothing worse than having to ride miles home on a horse unballance with 3 shoes, and a hoof that isnt conditioned for the terrain.
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post #6 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 08:45 AM
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I'm all for barefoot. Give it a whirl. For the first while, invest in a pair of boots. In the long run, they are cheaper than shoes anyway. On endurance rides, maybe pack along the boots and if planning a long day on pavement, put the boots on. The nice thing about boots is that you can take them on and off as you see they are(n't) needed and if you buy the right kind, you can use them for soaking too.

There certainly are some horses that need shoes, but the majority can go without and are much better off that way. The only way you will know is to try one or the other. Seems to me that it makes more sense to try barefoot first as you have more control over it, it's natural, it's cleaner and it's a softer walk for the horse.
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post #7 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 09:29 AM
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Personally, I think that shoes are overused. I think they should be used if there is a foot problem that effects the horses ability to be ridden. A friend of mine had a horse with a heel problem which needed special shoes that were thicker at the back to balance the horse. They were needed in that situation.

Another one is if the work that the horse is doing is wearing away the hoof quicker than it is growing back. This is usually for working horses, or ones that have a lot of ridden work.

Also, some horses just have horribly soft feet. I've known a few ex racers who when shoes were removed their feet would be cracked and bruised and chip away even once the nail holes are grown out. I have found though in horses bred for everyday ridden work their feet are generally hard enough to be fine without shoes.

I don't use shoes, I would try to avoid shoes in all circumstances. I know that a lot of people like them but I feel that it makes the horses performance worse. I think its just much better to have bare feet. I have had many horses kept barefoot and they were all better for it.
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post #8 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 09:42 AM
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I vote barefoot as well. It sounds like you have a barefoot trimmer at your disposal. I'd certainly give it a go. For terrain that you are worried about(asphalt, rocks) you can always boot your horse, if needed. As mentioned, you can rasp every couple of weeks to keep them in good shape if there is a balance issue being worked on. Talk to this trimmer in depth. Study it.

I have a great barefoot trimmer, feel free to study her site and the links she provides. She pops in here when she has time. Due to dialup, work, her own horses, hubby AND her little one she isn't here as much as she used to be. Whew, she sounds busy as heck.

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post #9 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 09:44 AM
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My horse is in shoes, in fact I don't think he would ever be totally comfortable barefoot unless he was just a pasture puff.

Barefoot sounds nice, but it all depends on the horse and what you are going to do with them. If your horse has been barefoot - try it. Maybe you can get by with hoof boots. If not, well then you might need to find another farrier who is more willing to shoe horses.
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post #10 of 50 Old 01-20-2009, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Andi View Post
I don't use shoes, I would try to avoid shoes in all circumstances. I know that a lot of people like them but I feel that it makes the horses performance worse. I think its just much better to have bare feet. I have had many horses kept barefoot and they were all better for it.
Shoes themselves aren't bad. It's the work that the farrier does before fitting/nailing the shoe. If that's not right then of course the shod hoof won't function properly. It's all about a competent farrier...
Plus in some sports like 3 day eventing you pretty much needs shoes so you can put in studs for cross country.
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