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tim 02-09-2008 11:25 PM

Barefoot Trend
I've been noticing this cropping up a lot in various hoof related topics and I wanted to try to gather some opinions on it.

I'm usually a skeptic of the natural horse care fads but this one seems to be less ridiculous in my opinion. Horses Going Barefoot.

I've done some reading and I notice the biggest reason people tend to disagree with this movement is from bad experience. They talk about trying it and then watching their horses hooves fall apart. The thing is though, they don't seem to realize that there is a specific technique to trimming that enables the hoof to deal better. A lot of them have also ignored the advice about using a boot for the first few months.

I can understand the advantages to barefoot trimming. Without any weight on their feet, horses move immensely better, and thats becoming hugely important for showing.

Still, if I wanted to remove the weight from my horses feet, I'd just need to put aluminum shoes on him.
Sooo, what other advantages are there? Does anyone have any disadvantages to bring up? I'm guessing probably not because I've seen a lot of advocation for barefoot trimming on here, but who knows.

I'm still going to play the skeptic, as someone who keeps four shoes on his horse year round, but it's becoming harder to ignore the idea. I'm beginning to think it's not such a bad thing.

AKPaintLover 02-10-2008 12:55 AM

I had to answer barefoot on the poll because that is the most true. All four of our horses are barefoot from about September through May. At that point, my stallion gets shoes on all four feet (no need before that with soft snow and soggy ground, but during the summer we cover some rough ground), my 9 year old gelding stays barefoot, our 20 year old stays barefoot and never needs trims because he wears his feet naturally, and our mare stays barefoot unless we are planning on using her for competitive trail (which covers a lot of rough terrain at a pretty good pace).

I really think that shoes or no shoes depends on the horse, the discipline, and the mindset of the humans involved.

For a horse that does mainly showing and training in arenas, I see no need for shoes. For the occasional trail ride, a pair of boots can be slipped on.

For a horse that does a lot of trail riding, endurance riding, or any other activity that takes it over rough terrain, it MAY need shoes, depending on its feet. My gelding has always been fine on any terrain barefoot (except for last year when we had some weather issues creating tender/soft feet on hard ground).

If the horses feet are trimmed to stay barefoot, and the horse is given a chance to let his feet harden, I think most horses would do fine barefoot. Also, if a horse if given enough turnout on good rough ground, or is ridden enough, they wear their feet down naturally eliminating the need for trims. I don't know how many times last summer that we had our farrier out and at least 2 of our horses did not need anything done. it was awesome!

I think as humans we have gotten in this mindset that horses need shoes because it has been done for a REALLY long time (being one of the oldest professions). A while ago though, horses were THE mode of transportation, and expected to go over ANY terrain at whatever pace needed. Shoes were a necessity. Today, we ride in arenas, on nice soft pretty trails, carefully pick our horses paths, and cover very little rough terrain at a fast pace (how many of us have be told absolutely do not trot, canter, or run down gravelly roads on our horses.

bare-feet are lighter than shod feet, they have more traction (landing jumps, turning barrels, etc.), they are cheaper than shod feet, and the horse is better able to feel vibrations in the earth the way they were naturally intended to.

I always keep my horses barefoot if I can. But, I also put shoes on when I know the horse will need it (for a competitive trail ride). I also put shoes on as soon as the horse being barefoot interferes with the quality of training - my stallion gets really gimpy outside of any arena by late May, and since we have to ride to a nearby arena over gravel road or ride in our field (which we have not brought arena ground in for yet), I get shoes on to be able to keep working.

mell 02-10-2008 01:06 AM

i havent had any experience with barefoot techniques. but i read in a magazine about it and it sounded good. then when the next issue came out, one of the readers wrote in. apparently somewhere here in Aus. there were two students of the barefoot technique that were trimming their own horses. the RSPCA described the hooves as being 'mangled' and the horse owner's/trimmers were not allowed to keep animals for a while(not sure how long it was) they then said that some guy who invented it or had something to do with the technique in this way, said it was a good trim. :?

so im not sure.
but it kinda freeks me out when i see in magazines people selling electronic barefoot trimmers, that they sell to anyone :shock:

mell 02-10-2008 01:30 AM

i was just reading another thread about shoes and i to have a question:
there is a difference between "barefoot trimming" and just taking the shoes of and giving a trim isnt there?

Feathers 02-10-2008 04:02 AM

I am actually all for barefoot horses...there are 'special' barefoot trims as opposed to just regular trims...It depends on what the farrier was taught and his methods...

I was trying to learn how to do one of these trims so I could do my own horse...I did a lot of research and digging on the matter...

These are my two favorite sites..I think they are quite detailed in explaining and their knowledge seems extensive...

I personally think that a barefoot trimmed hoof looks healthier than a hoof that has shoes on often.

HOWEVER, I have found that my mare really does benefit from an nice set of shoes on all fours. She was barefoot for many years (not trimmed 'naturally', just 'trimmed' by my farrier). She always got sore after trims and she always limped from rocks or gravel...her feet are too soft and sensitive. I tried a set of shoes on back and front...problem solved!!

I think it does depend on the horse..

Her feet are not pretty though...I think natural trimming would make them heathier, but not harder...she'd probably always need shoes on rocky or rough surfaces.

Grendel 02-10-2008 04:53 AM

if the horse doesn't need shoes, why spend the extra the money when you don't need to?

if the horse needs shoes, get him shoes.

that's how I think of it.

I event and at the moment my horse doesn't need shoes. If we were planning on showing someone that didn't have great footing, then yes, I would put shoes on him. He has a great feet so it's just $100 less :)

Vidaloco 02-10-2008 08:01 AM

I keep all mine barefoot and have just started using boots on rough terrain. Our old farrier didn't do a barefoot trim and one of our girls would have the ouchies for a few weeks after a trim. We were fortunate to find someone who does do a barefoot trim and now she can go down the gravel roads without a single misstep. Hoof boots have come a long way over the years and are much more user friendly than when they first came out. I know you used to have to carry duct tape with you to keep a hoof boot on but the improved designs have pretty much eliminated that.

JustDressageIt 02-10-2008 01:09 PM

I have only ever shod my horses for correctional shoeing when my farrier thinks it's needed. I don't trail ride much and only ever would shoe my horse if I was riding on tough terrain a lot.
I only buy horses that have good feet that don't need constant shoeing... I prefer a barefoot horse, I have no idea why :P
However, I like to shoe every once in a while just so I know they won't freak out about it, so if they need shoes at one point, it won't be a big deal.

BluMagic 02-10-2008 01:17 PM

Because Blu is an Appaloosa, which means striped hooves, I generally keep him shoed at all times. Recently I let him go barefoot on the back and his hooves cracked severely.

Normally, I keep the horse shoed during the warmer months during high activity. And at pasture time with much less activity I don't mind letting the horse go barefoot. I believe it does strengthen hooves. Just not in Blu's case overall. lol.

When I let Blu go was because of a bad farrier. I switched farriers because my farrier was to be out of town for quite some time. The farrier I used as a substitute did a horrible job by shaping Blu's hooves to the shoe instead of vice versa and the shoes were.............................................. ............


I was devastated and so was Blu's movement. lol. Tisk, tisk. I am sticking with my farrier for good. :roll:

Vidaloco 02-11-2008 06:24 AM

Not that I am trying to convince you to go barefoot with your horse Tim but I thought this story and photo were pretty impressive.

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