Barefoot Trail Riding

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Barefoot Trail Riding

This is a discussion on Barefoot Trail Riding within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Possible to keep a trail horse barefoot?
  • Unshod horse riding gravel pavement

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    10-04-2009, 01:10 PM
Barefoot Trail Riding

My horse is 3 and has never been shod - and I'd like to keep it that way if at all possible.

There really aren't a ton of people in my area who keep their horses's sort of frowned upon. I have had SO many people argue adamantly with me that I am basically an idiot for not wanting my horse shod.

Yesterday I took my horse out to a local state park with horse facilities and trails. It's the second time I've taken her anywhere new and ridden her, and the first time I've ever had her on a trail. We just sort of explored the campsite and looked around at everyone's horses, and then did some brief riding on the gravel link up trail around the campsite. I really just wanted to check out how she does alone (she did great ) and how she deals with distractions from other horses (great as well). I also wanted to check out how she walks on different surfaces.

It seems like she's not a fan of gravel (understandably). She definitely wasn't nasty about it, and she stayed on the trail, but she kept veering towards the woods and wanted to walk right next to the gravel trail. If I would have let her, she definitely would have done that. I should note that Annie (my horse) makes it VERY clear if she's in pain (refuses, stops listening, etc.) She didn't do any of that, just wanted to try to get on the side of the trail every 100 yards or so.

She actually did better on the pavement, which we rode on really briefly. Wasn't in love with it, but didn't dislike it as much as the gravel. I think she tried to leave the paved road maybe once or twice, but I think it may have been because she was really interested in a campsite with people and a dog (she's super curious).

While I was looking around, I made friends with some walker people who said they hate shoes and use boots. She is going to let me try some of hers next weekend if they fit.

I was just wondering if anyone else rides barefoot. Can horses ever trail ride barefoot, or do I need to always need boots on gravel and pavement? We didn't do anything above a walk yesterday, but at times I will want her to gait and even canter on the trail. What do you think?

I am Annie's second owner, and she has never had any known laminitis issues with myself or the previous owner, and she has non-cracked hooves.
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    10-04-2009, 01:27 PM
My horse is barefoot, and I trail ride about 3 times a week; a couple of hours during the week and all day on the weekend. Since I live in a suburban area, I have to walk down a street and down a 4 lane highway to get where I am going. And I have to walk down my barns pea gravel drive to get to the road. I think just as long as her feet are solid and it doesn't bother her it is fine. I would start slow though...just because she's comfortable on pavement for a few minutes I wouldn't start working on it for like hours haha the more you walk on it though eventually her feet with toughen up though. Some horses just have weaker feet than others though and might need boots on rougher surfaces
    10-04-2009, 01:55 PM
Green Broke
Our horses have allways been barefoot. Just take it easy on the rough stuff, like areas where the rocks are a bit large and if you don't HAVE to be on it then don't. Just keep her feet clean and well kept and she should do fine.
    10-04-2009, 02:40 PM
Depends on her hooves. Some horses can go their whole lives barefoot, while others could never go without shoes. Also, what you're doing with them makes a difference. If you're just walking, it shouldn't be a big deal. Do your best to stay where it's soft, because that will be much more comfortable for your horse.
    10-04-2009, 04:44 PM
My horses are barefoot and we trail on really rough, rocky terrian. I personally think barefoot is better if your horse's feet can take it.
    10-04-2009, 05:40 PM
Thanks guys, that sounds encouraging. I just get such an attitude from the people around this area about barefoot horses...

LiLy, that's just the thing...I don't always want to walk on the trail. So I need to take that into account. It's not going to be anything intense within the year, however, because she's only 3. Nothing strenuous for more than 10 minutes or so at a time. But still, it's a possibility.

My farrier said Annie has good hooves and he doesn't recommend shoes for her at the time, but I wanted to get some more opinions.

How do you know if you're pushing your horse too hard (as in, when is it time to put on the boots)? She didn't pick up her feet oddly, but she did stumble a couple times on the gravel...not down to her knees or anything or I would have gotten off of her, just tripping. However, she trips over her feet out in the pasture. I tend to be a little paranoid about pushing her too hard, as you may have picked up on.

Also, how long would you suggest riding on pavement/gravel/rocky surfaces at a time to start out? Like I said, she has been barefoot her whole life, but has only had light riding in grass/dirt.
    10-04-2009, 05:44 PM
Green Broke
My horses go barefoot and handle gravel, rocks, pavement, etc. However, if they ever did need extra protection I would opt for boots instead of shoes.
    10-04-2009, 05:49 PM
Thanks, that's what I was thinking. I've never done boots. Anybody recommend a good/easy to fit brand? I haven't measured Annie's hooves yet...
    10-04-2009, 06:22 PM
Green Broke
I've heard good things about Old Macs. However, I have not used boots personally - so mine is all 2nd hand knowledge.
    10-04-2009, 06:37 PM
LoL, every little bit helps, Cat. :) I'll look them up right now...

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