I was talking to my farrier about having Grace (TB mare) go barefoot this summer. She said that she saw an article about Steeplechase horses going barefoot, and that we could try it. She would rather not put shoes on anyway, but she wants us to be safe. We are only eventing Beginner Novice this year, but if she's going really good we will go Novice.
Has anyone tried barefoot eventing? or Seen someone with a barefoot eventer?
I have seen the damage (and how long it takes to get the hooves back to normal) done my shoes firsthand, and I don't want to throw away all of the work my farrier and I have done by putting shoes on her.
Wow, I'm not sure I would ever want to do it. Even small jumps will put a horse heavily on their front feet. You can't always expect the footing to be immaculate when going over such a long distance, either. I have had to cross gravel, HARD clay and all kinds of varied footing.
The steeplechase story I find "interesting" is the much touted Saucy Nights - famous for being barefoot - NOT famous for winning. That one is always the one mentioned by the BUA's desperately trying to prove something that isn't true....
It had 33 starts .
It raced for about 9 years and had just 4 wins with prize money of just £15,000. It spent the final 2 years of its racing life being pulled up, falling, unseating the rider or tagging along at the back of the field.
If you're wanting your horse to reach full potential and keep you safe, you'd be well advised to consider what you're going to do to help him get traction at speed.
If your farrier is much of a farrier then she should be able to put on a set of shoes without doing any harm to your horse. Don't buy into all teh barefoot BS.
I think it would be fine for the Dressage and Stadium aspects, but definitely not for the cross country.
I've heard of some horses being perfectly fine eventing barefoot. The ponies at my barn jump barefoot all the time and we have never had any issues. Keep in mind though, that the horses that I've seen evented barefoot are hardy ponies, Mustangs, or draft crosses. Horses known for their hard as steel hoofs.
I would be dubious of pulling shoes from a TB. Every TB I've ever met has needed shoes on all four all the time. Even the ones who only do flat work.
Ok thanks for the replies so far.
@Nevreme - Grace has been barefoot now for about 7 months, and is doing well. When we bought her she was sound with just fronts as well.
My eventer-in-training, Smoke, is barefoot (as in not wearing shoes, I don't mean we have a special "barefoot farrier") & has been for his whole life. I see nothing wrong with competing at the lower levels without shoes, as long as a horse has GOOD feet. The questions asked of them on a BN course aren't exactly rocket science, and the courses aren't long. However, I don't really know the condition of your horse's feet, so what I think is okay for my horse may not be the best decision for yours.
I also agree with Kevinshorses - if a GOOD farrier is putting shoes on your horse, then no harm will be done. Incorrect shoeing is what causes problems.
If your horse's feet have adapted that nice concave shape, she'll be fine eventing at the lower levels. I'd be concerned about jumping with the typical flat footed TB, but if you're 7 months in, I'm guessing her hooves have assumed that nice shape. My trainer evented her 5 year old up to training level last year barefoot. That horse had better traction than her shod rivals.
I've been transitioning my guy over the past few months. He's only 2 months in on the fronts and 4 months on the hinds, but already has no problem galloping through the woods and blowing over downed trees and over banks. Considering how much better my horse is moving overall, I'm not going to even look in the direction of a shoe until I see and solid reasoning for doing so.
Have you by chance noticed your TB mare being faster at a gallop than when she was shod? I'm finding my TB is getting across fields much more quickly than we used to.
All but one of our horses are barefoot, and we do a lot of different things with them. The only thing I would be concerned about is how the footing is on the landing side of your jumps. If you're likely to be landing in gravel or rocky areas, I think I'd personally put shoes on, to avoid the possibility of bruising. Just my two cents.
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