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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
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    10-13-2009, 03:18 PM
  #41
Banned
What do you do with 4 months of ice??? Barefoot horses can hardly make the field let alone run roads on footing as slick as any skating rink. I won't let winter stop me from enjoying my outings and shoes and studs are the only option. That or stall rest for 4 or 5 months.
     
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    10-13-2009, 03:53 PM
  #42
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tazmanian Devil    
It never ceased to amaze me how many people seem to know _everything_ about horses and feel compelled to force this "knowledge" on others. (Not here, where the opinions were asked for, but on the trail where they were not solicited).

As has already been pointed out here, the barefoot vs. shoes question depends on several factors - the horse, the terrain, and the type/amount of riding.

I have one horse that can go over any terrain barefoot. We would trail ride about 5-10 miles per day, every day over various terrain without any trouble. Because I recently started using him in competition, I put shoes on him and it has helped his performance.

I have another horse who is shod in the front. We tried barefoot for a while and he was fairly conditioned to it. We are involved in competitions and his performance improved tremendously when we shod him in front.

I do believe it is better for a horse to be barefoot, but only in a general sense. If you are doing certain activities, your horse may be better off with shoes. "Rockport" shoes may be good for your feet, but when you want to run a marathon, you wear running shoes. Right tool for the right job.

For simple trail riding, you need to evaluate the terrain and your horse. There is a difference between wanting to walk on the side of the trail (my horses often do that whether shod or barefoot) and having actual discomfort.

I have tried various boots. They may work for some, but never worked for me. Even in a grassy field I always lost boots (tore right off the horse) at a good run. These were boots that were professionally fitted. Replacing the damaged ones got expensive real quick. I really wanted the boots to work, but in the end I have to say they are a waste (for me). They obviously work for some people, so your experience may be positive.

If you want to keep your horse barefoot, you probably can. Most recreational riders will never wear the hoof down fast enough to really need shoes for that purpose. If you are frequently running long distance rides or competing in particular events, you may need shoes.

Work with a competent farrier to determine if your horse really needs shoes. Some horses do. (Actually, you CAN argue that all horses can go barefoot. Once you factor in a rider and different types of riding however, you can no longer say "all horses." If your horse has been ridden regularly and has never been shod, odds are you can make things work barefoot.

Most importantly, you need to ignore people that know everything and insist your horse must be shod (same for people that insist every horse must be barefoot).
GREAT post! This is 100% true.
     
    10-13-2009, 03:57 PM
  #43
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiosDad    
What do you do with 4 months of ice??? Barefoot horses can hardly make the field let alone run roads on footing as slick as any skating rink. I won't let winter stop me from enjoying my outings and shoes and studs are the only option. That or stall rest for 4 or 5 months.
My horse has always been barefoot and in Ohio we definitely have snow and ice...she's actually always been better off than her shod friends, who get huge ice balls stuck under their hooves that they're then standing on! Talk about slippery!!! Now, studs like you're mentioning would certainly help on snowy terrain, but I still would rather stay off the ice personally, it's slippery no matter WHAT is on their hooves!

But you know, just like many others have said on this forum, that's just my own personal experience and opinion, which isn't going to work for everyone. I'm sure that putting studs on your horses and riding in your terrain works fine for you, or I would hope you wouldn't be doing it.
     
    10-13-2009, 08:38 PM
  #44
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoofprints in the Sand    
Now, studs like you're mentioning would certainly help on snowy terrain, but I still would rather stay off the ice personally, it's slippery no matter WHAT is on their hooves!


Some of the best riding I know is running snowmobile trails. They are groomed and go on for ever. They are hard packed from the sleds, a grater runs over them filling in the hollows and with a thaw/freeze they turn to ice . With proper shoing, snowpads and studs you can lope easily across this surface in complete saftey. No fences, no bugs, cool temperatures to keep the sweat down and unlimited mileage how do you turn a blind eye to them??
Also running the sides of roads in the winter or back roads are fun but only if you have the proper foot gear.
No barefoot horse can run this type of footing but simple borium, drill tec or press in studs make this foot safe. I also run rim pads to prevent snowballing.
     
    10-13-2009, 11:49 PM
  #45
Weanling
As long as it's normal for a horse to prefer to walk on grass to gravel (makes sense to me...I do too), I think Annie's fine for now. She has also not really gotten a chance to let her hooves "harden up."

But like I said, I ride once a week, on mainly dirt (sometimes, for a brief period, gravel) trails. Hoofprints, our trails here look almost identical to the pictures you posted. This is a just for fun situation, too...not endurance or anything. LoL, I am a big baby about bad weather.

I definitely saw NO limping the other day...if Annie limped, my butt would be off her in about half a second.

I think you're all completely correct in that it depends on the horse. I will keep my mind open to all options and communicate well with my farrier. I really appreciate all the input.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RiosDad    
What do you do with 4 months of ice??? Barefoot horses can hardly make the field let alone run roads on footing as slick as any skating rink. I won't let winter stop me from enjoying my outings and shoes and studs are the only option. That or stall rest for 4 or 5 months.
LoL, good Lord, what DO you do? I HATE winter. We get snow once, if that, for a week. And by the end of the week I'm over it. But seriously, I think it's awesome that everyone keeps riding through the elements. I feel lucky to live where the ground is soft for the most part, and the weather is mild.
     
    10-14-2009, 08:45 AM
  #46
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lori1983    

LoL, good Lord, what DO you do? I HATE winter. We get snow once, if that, for a week. And by the end of the week I'm over it. But seriously, I think it's awesome that everyone keeps riding through the elements. I feel lucky to live where the ground is soft for the most part, and the weather is mild.
You are missing something. Winter can be one of the most beautiful time of year. It can be close to zero degrees F or -18C, the world is so bright you need sunglasses, everything is clean and white, the trees are painted white with frost and the sun feels like it will burn right through your head it feels so strong. With a good horse working at a easy lope, the trails stretching out before you for hundreds of miles, no fences, no farmers keeping you off their crops you just cruise along. With proper gear on both the horse and you it is a magical world.
I usually lope north for 1 1/2 hours and then turn him around and lope back home in about 1 1/4 hours. Honestly it feels fantastic , the cold, the bright, bright sunshine, the warm pockets you ride through and a good horse between your knees. Sweating is at a minimum because of the cold and I never worry about breathing.
No holes, sometimes the trail crosses wind swept ponds but you can hear the studs chewing into the ice but never a slip.
Again if properly shod and no barefooters can apply.
     
    10-14-2009, 09:29 AM
  #47
Foal
I had a little old horse that never had shoes on I owned him for thirty years he did competitive trail barefoot. I would recomend using barrielle (sp) or hoofflex to keep the hoof strong and flexable and if you see any chipping of the hoof wall put boots on and don't worry what everybody else says they must have too much money and want to buy shoes for their horse every year
     
    10-14-2009, 11:41 AM
  #48
Yearling
Like RiosDad, I enjoy riding all winter. I'l avoid the really nasty days with wind blowing snow sideways. But love to get out on a sunny day.

My horses are always barefoot in the winter. Riding in fluffy snow is no big deal barefoot. If it warms up and the snow gets sticky, Even a barefoot horse will get snow balls under his hooves. And there has been a couple of ride cut short because of that. My horses kept getting taller and taller and when I got off and looked they were standing on stilts of snow 4" tall. When I tried to use a hoof pick to pull the ice balls out. Nothing doing. I've learned to keep some PAM in the trailer in the winter and spray their feet on warmer days when the snow is sticky.

I don't ride on ice or roads in the winter. We choose remote locations where the snow is still fluffy and not packed. Beside areas like the desert have less snow than the mountains. The mountains that I ride in the summer get 500" of snow in the winter and turn into ski resorts. The desert that is too hot/dry to ride in the summer becomes a winter wonderland to enjoy in the colder months.

This is the end of February riding in the San Rafael Swell area of Utah. A week earlier this area had 18" of snow. But it has melted off fast.




Plus so much more wildlife to see in the winter with no leaves on the trees.


A good ride through the snow bare foot really cleans out my horses hooves.


We are fortunate here in Utah that our snow is very light and fluffy. It's not the wet heavy concrete that you get back east. Hence Utah's great Ski industry and the saying "The Greatest Snow on Earth"
     
    10-15-2009, 01:21 PM
  #49
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lori1983    
LoL, good Lord, what DO you do? I HATE winter. We get snow once, if that, for a week. And by the end of the week I'm over it. But seriously, I think it's awesome that everyone keeps riding through the elements. I feel lucky to live where the ground is soft for the most part, and the weather is mild.
You live in Indiana and get snow for only a WEEK?? Where is Indiana do you live?? My hubby is from there and they get (almost) as much snow as we do in NE Ohio! (although in NE Ohio I'm on the edge of the "snow belt" so our lake effect snow is definitely heavier and there's more of it!)
     
    10-17-2009, 11:34 AM
  #50
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinshorses    
Hence the need for shoes. There are very few absolutes in ddealing with horses. A conclusion is not a destination it's just a convenient place to stop thinking.
And that's why I was saying I use Renegade boots for my horses when I'm doing long/severe riding. :)
     

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