Barefoot vs. Shoes
As most of you all know, I'm pro-barefoot and prefer to use hoof boots when it comes to protection fora variety of reasons. However, I know there are a lot of opinions out there. I started this thread to hear them :)
I did find this wonderful gem of an explanation (on Facebook) for one of the reasons I find barefoot to be healthier than boots. Thought I'd kick this off by sharing:
I tried to have my mare barefoot for 18months, she would be lame even in her stall for 3weeks out of a month. I kept being told it would get better. I was finally tired of her being in pain had the vet out to be Xrayed the vet told me if I didn't want her in pain put shoes on her because barefoot wasn't going to work. The mare had early signs of navicular. 2days later the farrier came out put shoes on all 4(alluminum eventer shoes). My girl hasn't taken a lame step since it's been almost 2yrs. That being said it broke my heart to take the vets advice, I agonized over it but I had to get her out of pain. Not saying that with another horse I wouldn't try barefoot I wouldn't wait 18months to go back to shoes if horse was in pain longer then a reasonable transition time.
I understand the practical applications of shoes, as well as the fact that horses can need corrective shoeing for a number of reasons, but I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Reminds me of the helmet no helmet threads.
Pretty much comes down to the horse, the terrain, the distance, speed, gait, and personal choice.
I use boots as a spare tire, but my horses are steel shod. Riding with boots doesnt work fo rme.
I've never used the boots, but my I've had my 13 year old Arab for 10 months now and have always kept him barefoot without a hitch. In fact, his previous owners had him for 4 years and they kept him barefoot the whole time, too. I mainly ride in an arena, though; I used to do hunter/jumpers with him but have switched to dressage. My mom bought a couple 6-year old Tennessee Walkers a couple years ago that had shoes; she had both of them get their shoes pulled and they've been barefoot ever since with no problems.
My girl is shod on the front.
Before I started shoeing her I did a lot of research into boots and really wanted to try some. But, the more reading I did, the more I realized that none of them would fit her, likely. He feet are just a weird shape and the shoes can be molded to fit them, while boots can't.
My mare has never set foot in an arena. We ride places like this:
Dream is steel shod all the way around.
There are so many factors that can make 'barefoot' a powerhouse of success and equally as many that can make it a rocket of disaster. I even put barefoot in an ambiguous formation here, because nailing down exactly what it is can be so difficult when working with uninformed people, especially the professionals who simply won't be told how to do their job.
I am very fortunate to have found a farrier who will work with me to achieve what's best for my horses. I trimmed ours myself for two years until I found her and I'll never let her go!
In my somewhat experienced opinion, more horses than not could very successfully thrive with proper batefoot trimming, as long as a condusive living environment is provided. I find more and more people allow their over-thinking, micro-managing busy brains sabatoge even their most honest efforts. I say all this with all riding terrian in my mind's eye (and we do ride it all).
Some breeds, like the Arab, Mustang and the Fjord, naturally are better about it, but even my butter-footed QH mare and mealy-footed APHA gelding both toughened up within a year of conditioning and NO transitional pain. That's doing it properly. No shared lineage between the two, but a shared living and riding environment, definitely. Oh, and I never stopped riding either a day during their reconditioning. Both did wear hoof boots for the first year during regular riding, which later changed to harsh terrain rides only.
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Depends on your horse, their hoof, if you can even find a boot that really fits, and what kind of terrain you have access to condition on. For some, shoes are the best option, but for others, boots work wonderfully for competition and training. There are some rides that you would be remiss not to offer your horse some protection (Virginia Highlands comes to mind!).
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