Removing shoes in tropical environment questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-10-2016, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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Removing shoes in tropical environment questions

Hello All and thanks in advance for your suggestions.
Of course the issue of to shoe or not to shoe has been discussed a lot here, and I have read much, and now I want to ask about my specific circumstance.
I live in Costa Rica and stable my two horses.
They have been with shoes for years. We ride mostly on unpaved roads with plenty of gravel and rocks on it.
They have some time to graze in grassy fields, but not enough, and this is why I am moving them to a place that has constant access to the outside fields.
This new place is also right by a very long and nearly deserted beach.
Yes, it is paradise...zero complaints here.
My questions is about my want to let them go unshod and more specifically, the best procedure to do this.
I am new to all of this, and have owned my horses for just about three years now.
Here are my things:
1) I'd like to give them a life without shoes...let them go natural
2) It will be great to save the time and money (this new place is more out of the way, so getting a farrier is possible but not easy)
3) The woman who owns/runs the place keeps all her horses without shoes and does a simple file job to keep their hooves "shaped right"...her words.
4) They will spend 95% of their time on grassy fields with a small river running through it
5) Except for a few hundred meters/yards of connecting roads(stable to field etc) that are unpaved gravel, they will be ridden on either the beach or a sand road, or grass.

So my questions:
1)Sounds like a great environment to NOT need shoes, am I right?
2) They just got their new ones last week, and I am moving them soon...I read it is better NOT to take shoes off a recently shod hoof, correct? How long to wait?
3) Once they are removed, what is the waiting period like? I am sure it is different for various horses, so what to watch for to decide?
4) Care after they are unshod? She, the owner of the new place, seems to have good luck by simply stepping their hoof on a wooden board and using a file to get a "good shape"...if her horses "seem fine with this" is their any reason not to think mine will be ok too?

I'd love to apprentice with a farrier if that is possible here, and this is a new plan for me...so I will get on that today and see if I have any success...not sure I can get a good one for unshod hooves in that area, so I believe it will be up to the owner, and perhaps me.

I guess the big question really is: In the environment I am describing, are my unshod horses hooves going to go natural and be easy and the right thing to do?

Thanks very much all.....oh, and for any professional farriers out there, maybe this is a good chance to come on down and see about some barter for services....hosting a creative "natural farrier" sounds like a win/win to me...

Ok, thanks again.

Mark in Costa Rica
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post #2 of 13 Old 11-10-2016, 10:07 AM
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Seeing pictures of the hooves would give us a better idea of how the horses would do barefoot.

Theoretically, in that environment if the horses have reasonably balanced and healthy hooves you could just take the shoes off and have the horses be perfectly sound and ready to ride.

In reality, many horses that have been shod for years have developed pathologies such as contracted heels, weak and soft digital cushions, or thin soles that will mean they need a transition period to let their hooves adjust. If you have had a great farrier, that will most likely not be the case.

Many farriers take off more hoof on a horse that will be shod, so it would probably be a good idea to let the hooves grow out for several weeks before taking the shoes off. Otherwise the horse might be walking right on the sole and develop bruising or soreness.

To say whether the woman who rasps her own hooves is doing a good job or not, I'd have to see the hooves. In general I'd say just taking off the outer wall without trimming the length that grows down from the bottom is not a good strategy.
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-10-2016, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks very much "gotta". I'm going out today and I'll see about pics of their hooves and post them pater on.
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post #4 of 13 Old 11-10-2016, 11:40 AM
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I think it depends on the horse. Assuming they have healthy feet you can certainly give it a try and if they become ouchie or their feet don't hold up you'll have to go back to the shoes. My concern is with the gravel. That's where the shoes would really come in handy...

"Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you
Go to work, do your best, don't outsmart your common sense
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-10-2016, 12:00 PM
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Whether the horses will do fine without shoes depends on the individual horse, how good their diets is, the abilities of the farrier, and the terrain. Most of my horses over the past 4+ decades have been fine barefoot, even in rough or rocky terrain, including riding in the Rockies. You can try pulling their shoes to see how they do barefoot, knowing that shoes can be replaced if needed.
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-10-2016, 10:27 PM
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Hi Mark,

Quote:
Originally Posted by CostaRicaMark View Post
2) It will be great to save the time and money (this new place is more out of the way, so getting a farrier is possible but not easy)
3) The woman who owns/runs the place keeps all her horses without shoes and does a simple file job to keep their hooves "shaped right"...her words.
While it will be less expensive than shoeing, horses still need regular farriery/trimming. Hooves may also grow faster once function is more optimal than it will be with shoes, and also it is common for horses to be trimmed/reshod when there is quite a bit of overgrowth, which is not ideal and it's best to *keep* the hooves in functional form, rather than allowing them to overgrow before 'correcting' them with a trim. Therefore, trimming usually needs to be done more frequently than the average 6 weekly.

*Assuming* this woman really knows what she's doing & is happy to trim your horses too, that could be ideal. Otherwise, with lack of a regular farrier(& there's also the big consideration of not all farriers doing a good job, you may not have a good one within cooee), you will need to learn to do the job yourself. It's not rocket science, but I do strongly advise that whether you do it yourself or not, you first learn the theory. The principles and factors that effect hoof health. Check out the thread link in my signature line below to get started... or continue learning.

Quote:
4) They will spend 95% of their time on grassy fields with a small river running through it
5) Except for a few hundred meters/yards of connecting roads(stable to field etc) that are unpaved gravel, they will be ridden on either the beach or a sand road, or grass.
There are many other factors influencing the health & soundness of a horse's hooves. How healthy or otherwise their feet are now for eg. But generally speaking, yes, sounds like a great environment not to need artificial protection for their feet. If they're uncomfortable on the gravel, esp early in the piece, you could get off & walk those sections, keep them to the verges, or if you'll be occasionally doing more on gravel, buy them a set of hoof boots for those times.

Quote:
2) They just got their new ones last week, and I am moving them soon...I read it is better NOT to take shoes off a recently shod hoof, correct? How long to wait?
3) Once they are removed, what is the waiting period like? I am sure it is different for various horses, so what to watch for to decide?
There are a lot of factors to understand/consider. If for eg. your farrier trimmed very short and has pared much sole & frog, then the horses could be quite uncomfortable bare(think about rasping the callouses off your soles & going bare!), until more sole/frog material grows. In that case, you may want to wait a couple of weeks before taking shoes off. One thing when allowing a shod horse to go bare is that very little foot should generally be trimmed immediately after. It's generally best to remove shoes & trim little if any, until a week or 2 after. On yielding ground that shouldn't be a problem anyway even if they're a bit overgrown.

If the feet are a bit unhealthy for any reason - flared, thin soled, mildly laminitic, been conventionally shod without respite long term, etc, etc, then they can be a bit sensitive when they first go bare, as the circulation improves and they can feel their feet fully again. This generally isn't too bad or long lived if they're on yielding footing. If they are seriously uncomfortable, &/or it continues for long, then there's likely more serious problems going on inside.

Quote:
4) Care after they are unshod? She, the owner of the new place, seems to have good luck by simply stepping their hoof on a wooden board and using a file to get a "good shape"...if her horses "seem fine with this" is their any reason not to think mine will be ok too? ...
Thanks very much all.....oh, and for any professional farriers out there, maybe this is a good chance to come on down and see about some barter for services....hosting a creative "natural farrier" sounds like a win/win to me...
Start by studying those sites in my link. I'd gladly come to Costa Rica & teach you... but it might be a bit expensive for you to ship me from Australia! If you had enough people interested to split the bill, might be asking someone from the States. Or taking yourself there to do a weekend 'clinic' or such(...if you're allowed across the border, after this week... ) If you really haven't any better options, I recommend Pete Ramey's DVD set 'Under The Horse', to help you get started in a safe manner.

You can also post hoof pics here(see other link in my signature for what angles needed) and there are a few of us who know what's what, to offer you some opinions on specifics from those.
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post #7 of 13 Old 11-11-2016, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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I can't thank you enough "Loosie"
I have not taken a look at the links yet, I just got finished reading your incredibly helpful post and will take a look at all that you suggest.
Yes, I'd love to get a trip up to the States and take a workshop. I've already written to a place not too far from me, maybe an hour, who practices and hosts classes on "natural horsemanship" and I am hoping that they might have some resources to offer me.
I would love to become self sufficient, and will work on getting there.
I tried to snap some photo's the other day, as suggested, but was on my own....and well you can imagine how those pictures worked out.
I will get some help and would really appreciate and feedback you all can give based on the photos.
Stupid question, but will it be ok that they still have their shoes on? I don't plan to remove them for maybe a month since they got them just about 10 days ago.

I can't tell you all how helpful being a part of this forum is for me.
If anyone needs any Costa Rica info, I am very happy to try and help.
Thanks again.

Mark
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-11-2016, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CostaRicaMark View Post
I tried to snap some photo's the other day, as suggested, but was on my own....and well you can imagine how those pictures worked out. ...
Stupid question, but will it be ok that they still have their shoes on?
Re pics, yes, can be hard to take good ones. You learn as you go, that lighting & angles make a heap of difference. Clean feet is also important - people post pics of hooves full of mud or such & wonder why we can't tell them much! I've been taking hoof pics regularly(I always take a heap, when starting with a new client's horse, then periodically after), and I still manage to take many bad, useless ones. Thankfully these days with digital, doesn't matter how many you take, so snap away & you're bound to have at least a few worthwhile ones! It's helpful for your own learning, to keep a photographic record & to see how things change over time too, not just for 'critique pics'.

Second not at all a stupid question! Depends mostly(not all) on how they're shod, as to how compromising & potentially damaging keeping shoes on long term is. But generally speaking, in the short term, it's not going to make much if any difference leaving them on for a month more. Especially on soft ground. I would however, remove them ASAP if they're not needed - the sooner the better to have them on the way to becoming healthy. Do you know how to remove them?
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post #9 of 13 Old 11-14-2016, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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Again, I'll start with my thanks.
I'm off in a few minutes to meet a guy to transport them to their new place.
I do not know how to take their shoes off, and so I will begin to ask the owner of the place I am taking them to if she is or has someone around who does.
We have a farrier or two here, and the new place is about 30 minutes away, so worse case scenario, I need to bring someone down...not so bad.
I will ask about one thing I was told about and that is a spray that I was told to use to fill the holes left behind by the nails used for the shoes.
He, the owner of the hardware store (think Costa Rica, not home depot) where we can by shoes suggested it. He was also very taken back that I would consider not keeping shoes on them....likes to sell shoes don't forget.
He says the spray will inhibit infections.
I'll work on the photo's and suppose it is better to do so after taking the shoes off.
Ok, thanks again.

Mark
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-14-2016, 11:38 PM
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Hi, yeah, esp in tropics, whether shod or not, hoof infections can be a real problem. It's known as 'seedy toe/white line disease'. Can be either fungal or bacterial & eats away into wall material, anywhere where the strength/health is compromised - such as nail holes, cracks, separation... Whether using a spray or otherwise(I use a scrub in paste type stuff which is long lasting, unlike a lot of watery stuff, which may not remain active in a dirty hoof for long), it is important to be proactive & assertive with your treatment of any infection, as once it's there, it can quickly get a lot worse, then is hard/impossible to treat without resecting(cutting it out).

Thrush is the name of the same type of infection when it gets into frog tissue. While it's OK/good to use very strong antiseptic in the wall tissue, it's best to avoid that on the frogs, as it can damage live tissue. Straight salt scrubbed in is a good option for preventative/minor frog treatment.
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