I would appreciate some opinions!
My boy is approx 12-14 years old. He is kept at a barn where the bedding is cleaned and changed 3 times a day, and the arenas are all leveled and premium footing. He jumps twice a week, big on thursdays (about meter twenty) and smaller on saturdays (around 2 to 3ft max). He doesn't show... at least not yet, anyway. His feet have always been solid since i've had him (about 7-8 months). But has always been in shoes all the way around. I am wanting to pull his shoes next winter (which i would also love some input on). What do you folks think of how his feet look now? These pics are from today after his bath. He was just shod yesterday. I would appreciate some insight on what is the good, the bad, and the ugly here. Sometimes i feel like i just pay people to maintain my horse, and am expected to just write the check and leave them to it! I would like to take a much more proactive stance on my horses well being. :-)
(Post script: The black hooves are fronts, the white striped hooves are hinds)
I'm just learning about hooves myself, so I can't usefully comment on his feet. But I can say that it's the "done" thing at my barn to pull the shoes in late November, and let the horses go barefoot through the winter. I rode my boy several times in the ring after he had his shoes off last fall, and I'm starting him in work now, still barefoot. I think he'll probably need to get shod again for the working season, but he's been happy as a clam with no iron on his feet. It took about a month for the holes from the shoes to grow out, and his feet looked a bit tatty while that was happening, but it didn't seem to cause him any trouble or pain.
I've been talking a lot to my farrier about having the horse go barefoot all summer - he has several clients who don't shoe their horses, and he's fine with that. He did say, though, that some horses really do MUCH better with shoes, and it's a good idea to let this decision be led by the horse's feet rather than philosophical beliefs.
I think it would be pretty important to have a farrier who is comfortable with maintaining bare feet. My guy is, and he's doing a clinic with the regional expert in the Barefoot Movement (he's very big into continuing education).
A lot of horses do perfectly fine with barefoot winters and shoed working seasons. A lot of horses go perfectly fine barefoot (my horse is almost 8 and has never had shoes).
Your farrier is really going to be the one to discuss going barefoot with. He may also recommend that you put your horse on a hoof supplement (the more biotin the better).
He may not like jumping without shoes. He may get footsore for a bit going without shoes. But, definitely talk to your farrier. If you want to transition to barefoot, he may be a good candidate for it as is, and he may need a little work (such as supplements or more growth) before your farrier would feel the horse would hold up to it ok.
Looks great to me. Good choice of shoes. Nice M/L balanced job. Your farrier knows his way around one
Great information and advice regarding barefoot life, thank you!
He's currently on a "complete" supplement. (Grand Meadows: Grand Complete) Which seems to have a wee bit of everything in it. Do horses tend to need a "hoof specific" supplement when barefoot?
I will likely have my vet look him over before i really commit to pulling shoes in the winter. My vet is the guy that trained my farrier. He's been a farrier for over 40+ years (as well as a DVM), so if my vet agrees, i will have my farrier pull them.
I'm glad you can appreciate his work, AC. I don't know what i'm looking at. But my pony's always sound and comfortable, so i suppose that is really what matters!
I think it depends on the horse. My guy is 18, he's always been shod, he LOVES to stand in the muddiest, nastiest part of the pasture, but the farrier says he has great hoof walls anyway. He gets a senior joint supplement, and an omega 3 supplement, but other than that, it's just hay and low-carb pellets. No special hoof care other than getting his feet picked out 4x per week during the winter. He's got a nice thick hoof wall, great bars, and his frog is really healthy and fairly big.
My farrier did say that some horses just don't make the hoof walls to support a barefoot approach - this is why I think they said to take the question up with your farrier - it really seems to depend on the particular horse.
In my experience if you want a sound horse that performs consistently year to year, leave the shoes on. A good farrier can maintain hoof health and good growth with shoes on and by removing the shoes you are opening yourself up to a plethora of issues.
Pulling the shoes in winter is great if you want to hack around and only show in a few local shows and restrict your fence height to below 3'. The first winter you should plan for turning the horse out in a field for at least one trim cycle as he will be sore and too uncomfortable to jump, it might even last the whole winter. Long story short, plan on drastically changing your training program if you do opt for pulling shoes, especially if your horse is used to having them.
Talk to your vet, farrier and coach before making the decision. Were it my horse I would leave them on. My horse is shod all around, year round because otherwise he would not be able to train at the level he needs to to stay adequately fit and conditioned to meet the demands of the level he is doing. To remove the shoes and expect the same level of performance, let alone any progression, is completely unrealistic.
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If my farrier had done a job as nice as yours did, I probably would not have pulled my horse's shoes. Your horse could probably make the transition nicely since his feet are already being trimmed properly, so it's just a matter of choice on your part. If you're really on the fence about it, maybe do it in steps. Pull the hinds, see if it makes any difference and then make a decision a few months later about the fronts.
I don't have a problem w/ jumping small barefoot. I do have concerns for horse and rider alike jumping big w/o shoes.
What purpose does the shoe serve in regards to jumping big?
Come to think of it... i've never seen a barefoot grand prix horse!
If i were to decide to pull his shoes, it would be for the winter only. Then in the summer he would be back in shoes. He is usually leased from me in the summer, and will likely be shown so i would have him in shoes during that time.
He is jumped twice a week, hacked four days, and ground work one day... year round. But during the summer, he is schooled by my trainer (Thursdays only). She jumps the big stuff. I don't have the heart for much bigger than 3'3" anymore. haha!
MyBoyPuck, what would be the purpose of keeping shoes in front and pulling the ones in back. This is interesting to me. I've never seen anyone do that.
I don't mind keeping him in shoes. As long as the shoes are being done well, he's happy and sound, and it's really what's the most appropriate for his level of rideability.
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