I should have known two days barefoot in a row would be too much. We were doing so good until the trail got rocky. Then we dropped to the back of the pack and were picking our way along the edges of the trail. Rather than risk a stone bruise and the complications that come with it I climbed down and walked rest of the ride. About 2 miles total. He's fine today, no soreness so I'm glad I got down when I did. And let's be honest, I needed the walk worse than he did.
My farrier was booked out until May (I've had this appointment since Feb). I've ridden him barefoot several times just not several days in a row. Don't judge "trail riders" as a whole until you know the whole story;)
Yes boots would have been a good idea. This is the only horse I don't have boots to fit. He has big feet. I guess I'll be investing in some!
It seems to me that, as a group, trail riders are more inclined to let their horses go barefoot than others. Why is that?
I see no downsides to a well shod horse and many upsides.
I'll take a stab at your question. Shows, eventing, etc are very steeped in tradition and if you step outside the mold people will look down at you and judges are likely to knock down your score. That doesn't encourage experimentation.There is much less tradition in pleasure trail riding and with no judges people are willing to try new things.
Now a question for those who shoe. Shoes were invented to protect horses feet while doing hard work. Fast forward to today and tons of people never or rarely ride their horses outside of an arena with soft footing yet they shoe their horse, why? Heck I know plenty that maybe ride their horse once or twice a year yet keep shoes on their horses. Again, why? Following tradition maybe?
Now I'm not an anti shoe person, I've had shod and barefoot horses. I believe in doing what works best for your particular situation. I just think people should question why they do something, anything, rather than doing it because it's always been done that way.
My Vet put him self thru Vet school by being a farrier. He has often questioned why owners shoe horses for rides in arenas or short trail rides. He has been very supportive of my experment in barefoot horses.
A friend I ride with is a small animal vet. He also put himself thru college by shoeing horses. He keeps all eight of his horses barefoot. He has been a great influence on me in trying barefoot on my horses.
My farrier has taken his horses barefoot and taught me how to trim my horses. Even though it has cost him my repeat business.
Another friend that I ride with several times a year, his daughter has gone to training and converted her entire practice from shoeing to barefoot trim
So I have lots of positive re-enforcement to stay barefoot.
My horses went barefoot for 5 years, They did fine, We rode some of the roughest country in North American. But what I learned is that while they can go on any trail, They can not go barefoot on nasty footing multiple days in a row. If I give them a day off. They are fine to alternate every other day. But if I expect to ride them on rocky trails several days in a row, I need to boot them.
Over the last 5 years, I have added profits to EasyBoots bottom line. But I have learned that my horses will destroy or loose boots. That since I am usually the wrangler for my group, I spend all the time booting up 4-5 horses and unbooting them after the ride. It just cost me too much to replace lost boots, replace torn gaiters, broken buckles and cables etc.
So last year I gave up. I started putting shoes back on my horses for the summer months, This is when I ride the most, When the horses go for multi day rides in the mountains. I still keep my horses barefoot 8 months of the year, I find they are more comfortable, Move out with less encouragement, Stay in the center of the trail and stopped rubbing me into trees as they tried to get off the edge of the trail.
This is a Easyboot Glove after 4 days of riding at Bryce Canyon area of Southern Utah.
Bushwacking through sagebrush just chewed up the gaiters.
So while I do believe boots will protect a horse and allow you to ride barefoot. I've just decided that if the horse can't go barefoot all the time, I'd rather put shoes on for the high use rides.
We ride Bryce a lot and have done that to several boots. Butnit's amazing country to ride. I've noticed comic does well barefoot even on long rides if we only do 2 days a week. Any more than that on trails is too much. So is doing those two days in a row I found out. Arena work and winter riding are done barfoot and we do our own trimming.
Shows, eventing, etc are very steeped in tradition and if you step outside the mold people will look down at you and judges are likely to knock down your score. That doesn't encourage experimentation.There is much less tradition in pleasure trail riding and with no judges people are willing to try new things.
While it is true that there is some level of tradition in the show world, I have not seen it involve farriery.
IOW, judges certainly do not care that your horse is shod or barefoot. Others who don't know anything about barefoot hoof care may comment, but since they are not paying the freight, they don't matter.
Traction and hoof support are essential in sports like jumping and eventing. There are certainly barefoot eventers and jumpers, but the majority are shod for probably a good reason. Their feet take a pounding and out on the cross country course the consequences of a slipping hoof can easily be fatal for the rider.
My horse has gone barefoot in the winter months and gets shod in the spring and stays shod all till winter again. Her work is a mixture of arena work, trail work, and cross country work.
I am certainly not advocating for one or the other. I can see the money savings, believe me I write that farrier check every six to eight weeks. But I don't have the time to deal with conditioning a horse's feet to go barefoot every year in the multitude of surfaces around here.
PS Jolly Badger is right about the mud around here. It could be hard for people from the dryer west to imagine how much of it can be here, particularly with the super warm and wet winter we just had.