Barefoot/keep shod? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-13-2015, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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Barefoot/keep shod?

I just bought my first horse 2 days ago. He is a 12 yo OTTB. PPE was great; he's a good horse. He was taken from auction about 2 months ago to the barn where I ride. He is underweight, needs muscle, and somewhat green. I plan to jump and low eventing. Vet said he was good for this use -- Vet paid for vet school as a farrier and rides polo ponies. I chose him b/c he knows feet and legs.

While I was at the barn today, the barefoot farrier was there trimming the horse I used to lease. I wanted to ask her about supplements for my horse's hooves, so she took a look. She tried to convince me that he MUST go barefoot or he could go lame or will wreck jumping. She is not fond of the shoeing farrier used by the barn (she ONLY does barefoot). I'm not sure what I think of the farriers; two seem to be good but one is rough and I do not intend to let him touch my horse. I think they all three may trim heels too low.

The horse I used to lease went from shoes to barefoot over the course of a year. He had to be in fiberglass hoof casts for 2 months, then plastic shoes (like eventing boots you use when you lose a shoe). He's been barefoot for about a year now, but had to wear the booties for about 6-8 months. So, she can get horses out of shoes -- it takes a while.

She was trying to convince me that my horse's heels are trimmed too low, that his hooves are not concave enough because of the shoes, and that the shoes are pitching him onto his forehand. I do know the signs of a fanatic when I see one, so I am taking what she said with a large salt block.

So has anyone taken their TB from shoes to barefoot? What are your thoughts about barefoot TBs? They do tend to have thinner walled hooves.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-14-2015, 10:32 AM
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I guess first you must determine why your horse is wearing shoes to begin with. "Just because" isn't really a legitimate reason. ;). Maybe the bf trimmer was correct about the shoes, but maybe it is because there is a poor trim job under the shoes or the shoes are poorly applied.

I truly believe most horses can and should go barefoot, BUT:

-transition can take some time, as you have already noted
-not every horse can go barefoot
-those that do require shoes can be shod by a farrier who still understands the importance of a good, balanced trim under the shoe and proper application of said shoe.

I have heard it said time and time again that "so and so is the foremost local expert that everybody desires, and the vets use, blah, blah, blah" whose work just did not hold up to the accolades.

Over at the Hoof Care section of this board there are folks who are highly qualified to take a look at good critique photos of hooves, trims and shoeing jobs and offer their excellent insight. Loosie has a link in her sig that should be read before taking photos, that tells how good critique photos should be taken.
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-14-2015, 11:14 AM
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I have three horses - one has shoes (he's over the knee) and the other two don't.

If a horse can go barefoot, it is healthier for their hoof. However (and this is a big "however"), if a horse needs the shoes, the shoes will really help. It doesn't depend on the breed, it depends on the conformation of the horse and what work it has to do.

Police horses need shoes for example because they walk on hard surfaces all day - that kind of work would kill a bare hoof over time.

To have a barefoot trimmer be so black and white about feet......I think it's wrong. Barefoot trimmers are advocates for no shoes.....so, that is what they are going to try to push. Just like any other service, people will push what they believe in.

If you are really concerned about the shoes, I would ask another, separate vet to take a look at your horse, understand what you want the horse to do and see what they say.
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-14-2015, 11:23 AM
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Hi VegasBaby!

My big ol' TB "Oily" is a 17hh, 22yo retired Dressage and Hunt/Jump/Eventing boy. He wore shoes all of his life before coming to live with me.

It took most of a year for his hooves to transition to barefoot, and he wore boots on the front for riding during the first six months, and once in awhile for rocky going during the second six months.

He has now been barefoot for six years. We ride mountain trails, but I am a considerate passenger who doesn't demand that he work all day in rocks simply for my amusement. He does fine, and his feet are beautiful. Many, many thanks to John, my farrier.

I would suggest that if you want to keep your critter barefoot, you stick with a barefoot farrier. A barefoot trim is _not_ the same as a trim for shoeing, and should be based on the natural conformation of the animals hoof, and their manner of going. Thus, it will generally take several iterations of growth/wear/trim to get it dialed in.

Hope this is helpful. ByeBye! Steve

Steve Jernigan KG0MB
Microelectronics Research
University of Colorado
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-17-2015, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VegasBaby View Post
.

She was trying to convince me that my horse's heels are trimmed too low,
Thanks!
Ask her where the heel height is in relation to the live/dead sole junction in the seat of the corn.

When the back of the frog contacts the ground it does contribute to a more concave foot. There are frog supports that allow this contact even if shod. Particularly with some of the plastic shoes.
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-22-2015, 05:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VegasBaby View Post
She tried to convince me that he MUST go barefoot or he could go lame or will wreck jumping.
Well.... especially considering the job & standard shoes you get out of most farriers, I think she's got a real point. That's not to say I believe horses can't be shod in such a way as to provide necessary support, protection, and little inhibit hoof function & health in the process. I wouldn't be doing standard rims though, and I'd be VERY choosy about who I'd get to do the job(assuming I didn't do it myself). I wouldn't have shoes on unless I was sure the farrier would do a very good job.

But I get the idea this girl just thinks any shoe whatsoever is bad news. I think there's no good shortcut to doing your own homework, to come to an objective opinion on that one. The thread link in my signature will get you started on that.

In an ideal world, perhaps all horses could/should go barefoot. But reality is, the way we manage & feed horses & the things we ask of them mean that their feet commonly don't stand up to the task without protection/support. I do think that hoof boots for work are generally far better alternative for a horse than fixed shoes in most cases though.

Quote:
I'm not sure what I think of the farriers; two seem to be good but one is rough and I do not intend to let him touch my horse. I think they all three may trim heels too low.
Again, no shortcut to that than doing your homework & learning about hoof health & function & what's needed of trimming. Eg. farriers often come highly recommended & do a terrible job, so relying on recommendations of others who don't know what they're looking at isn't helpful. Heels for eg. should be very low, compared to what's commonly accepted/done. What makes you think they trim *too* low?

Quote:
but had to wear the booties for about 6-8 months. So, she can get horses out of shoes -- it takes a while.
It's not just her. Farriery is but one factor. Depends on the horse's health, environment, management, diet, as to whether they CAN cope with everything bare.

Quote:
She was trying to convince me that my horse's heels are trimmed too low, that his hooves are not concave enough because of the shoes, and that the shoes are pitching him onto his forehand. I do know the signs of a fanatic when I see one, so I am taking what she said with a large salt block.
Hehe! Absolutely! But whether fanatic or not, you'll get all sorts of different opinions, so take whatever you get from anyone with a big rock of salt! What reasons was she giving for the horse's heels being 'too low'? Yes, conventional shoes can contribute to a horse becoming thin/flat soled, but it's not the only cause, or necessarily due to shoes(tho an OTTB, shod from way before maturity...). As for shoes 'pitching him onto his forehand', I kind of don't get that, especially given her talk about too low heels. Presuming the shoes aren't wedged. I suppose though, she could mean that low heels have forced too weak heels into a sensitive position which makes him want to 'tippy toe'.

Quote:
So has anyone taken their TB from shoes to barefoot? What are your thoughts about barefoot TBs? They do tend to have thinner walled hooves.
Yes, I have personally, along with a few of my client's horses. But esp in my (damp, lush, cushy...) environment, most horses need hoof boots for some of what they're asked to do/some surfaces at least, regardless of breed. Yes, TBs can sometimes be 'thin skinned'(& hoof horn is essentially skin) compared to other breeds, genetics can play a part. But generally a horse is a horse is a horse, and whether genetically thin skinned or not, hoof function & health is vastly more about 'deed than breed' - that is, environmental/management factors, and can be improved with good management.
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