Barefoot or Shoes????
The barn I am boarding my new horse Ronan is all natural. All of the horses are barefoot and one barn manager specializes in natural hoof trimming. My horse had shoes all the way around when I bought him ( well actually, he only had one when I brought him because the previous owner had not replaced the lost ones or trimmed his feet in a while) But anyways, I have never had shoes on the horses I have owned, but all of the barns I have worked for in t he past did. Ronan seems to be very tender footed even when walking from the pasture to his stall. The manager trimmed his feet yesterday and said I have three options. 1) transition to barefoot and buy horse boots so I can ride without worrying about his tender feet 2) No boots and be very concious about where he walks or 3) reshoe him. I am really having a hard time deciding what to do since he will take 3 to 4 months for his feet to harden to the point where he will not need boots or shoes, and won't be tender. Please let me know your thoughts on this. I really would like him to go barefoot but I am not wanting to spend extra money on boots or have to wait 3-4 months to ride either really. Let me know your opinions! Thanks!
If you really don't want to wait or buy boots then put shoes on him. But barefoot really is best IMO. There is hoof hardener you can buy that will help speed up the process if you can be patient. I think it will benefit you in the long run and it probably won't take 3-4 months for him to get used to being barefoot. More like 1-2 months.
re-shoe. i have a tenderfoot horse, and i made him suffer for 3 months. i feel terrible and my farrier says he'll always be a tenderfoot. SO he gets all 4 shoes, and in the winter, we add snow rim pads, and he gets borium for traction.
i almost considered boarding at an ALL 'natural' place, until she told me i could not have shoes, could not give supplements and could not have fly spray. i told her -NO THANK YOU!!
I think that question very much depends on your horse, your lifestyle and you.
If your horse turns out to have long term tender feet then this is most certainly not an option. Also, if his hoof condition is naturally not that great then probably it will cause quite a few headaches in the near future!
Keeping a horse barefoot requires more time in general care - if you do not have this time then do not consider it. However, it does mean a significant reduction in overall upkeep of the horse.
Finally, if you are a worrier then with a barefoot horse you are most likely going to spend all your time worrying rather than riding! Horses can cope pretty well barefoot really - you just need to be a bit careful.
When I bought my horse, he was barefoot, and lame, as he is a flatfooted TB. When I brought him home, I had shoes put on him (fronts only) and saw an immediate difference in him. It all depends on what you want (and how much money you want to spend!) and what will make your horse more comfortable. Personally if it was my horse, I would shoe him, because I'd feel horrible watching him suffer walking from the pasture to his stall.
IMO barefoot is the best unless you don't have the time and have a horse that has hooves that will not allow for a healthy transition.
I have a 9yo QH that gets ALOT of exorcise and he doesn't have shoes...his feet are hard as rocks...
BUT it took a long time for them to build up and recover from having shoes on him...the shoes (with my horse) had a tendency to restrict blood flow throughout the hoof...they made his hoof walls very brittle and weak b/c of the nails...and there was obviously no natural wear from being active which enables me to see how balanced we are and how much progress we've made...
Since I took his shoes off (late 2005)...he has been a different horse...I live in S.Florida and I have a natural trimmer come to me...his work is amazing and the knowledge is just incredible...
Anyway, sorry to ramble...if you want more info on it or on my specific case, I would love to share:)
Oh, my natural trimmer costs me just as much as my farrier used to...it is not at all less expensive (unless there were corrective shoes involved:)
It's the same idea behind the hoof...and yes, some horses do need shoes...I stated that in my original post...
I don't, however, think it's fair to generalize 'all trimmers' into one category...just as I would not categorize all farriers as 'good' farriers...
Thank you all for your replies. I really want to make the transition to barefoot. All of the boarders at the barn that have made the transition say it is well worth it and their horses have done great. I'm just worried that if he is so tender now...will he still be too tender later or is he just one of those horses that need shoes?? The call is hard to make. And I'm ready to start his schooling. We board north of Birmingham, AL at the end of the Appalachian Mtn. chain. The ground is very rocky in some places. The round pen even has rocks (The second day I was there, I racked the entire round pen to clear the rocks, but more just kept coming up from the ground....wish they would get a load of dirt/sand) But anyways, that's really out of my control. The point is, he's ready to start his schooling and I'm not sure I can wait however long it takes to toughen up his feet. And then I don't even know if he will still be tender then. So, I'm really considering still putting on shoes (maybe just on the front). BUT, I would RATHER go barefoot since it would be cheaper and I wouldn't have to worry about him pulling shoes. This decision has really bugged me for the past couple of days. I would love to hear more opinions so I can maybe make up my mind! Thanks again!
To go back to the horses, barefoot trimming and barefoot care actually requires a much deeper understanding of the anatomy and functions of the horse in order to keep a horse sound. This is quite obvious as any good horse podiatrist (proper term) manages to keep a horse sound without any protection while farriers pretty much depend on the protection of the shoe.
Saying that though, I would get my horses shod as it saves all the horse hoof crack hell in the summer months which can easily get very nasty. I'm also a bit of a foot worrier. However, if the farrier in my area wasn't that good then I'd have no quarms about switching even though it is a bit of a pain for a while.
I am not saying that 'all shoes are bad'...'barefoot' is the best...etc. I simply stated that because I have the extra time to care for my horse's hooves...that I prefer to have him barefoot.
I will tell you, my horse is the only one in the barn that is 'worked' and ridden pretty hard and is the only one that doesn't come up lame. His feet are in phenomenal shape...much better shape than any shod horse in my area.
Anyway, like I stated before...I'm just a proud mom of my horse and I do what's best for him. The original poster was asking opinions and I gave one that was directly related to my specific case...no one elses...
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