Barefoot Thoroughbreds?

This topic contains 33 replies, has 27 voices, and was last updated by  Danammoore 2 years, 9 months ago.

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  • Girly3323 Original Poster
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 2

    Is it possible to transition a Thoroughbred horse to be barefoot? My trainer said I could, but then my farrier said that we had to rocky of a pasture. I’ve already had my horse’s shoes removed, and he is VERY sore right now. I’m not riding him (& won’t for over a month during this transition). But now I’m not sure that it’s a good idea now.

    Has anyone else had success with keeping their Thoroughbreds barefoot?
    Could I just use boots when I ride him?

    NOTE: One reason we decided to keep him barefoot is that he keeps loosing shoes, and that’s awful on his hoof wall.

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by  Girly3323.
    JerseyGirl JerseyGirl
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    When I took a tb mare from the track she had shoes all the way around. Her feet were in bad condition. My farrier and I decided to take the shoes off because her feet were too brittle and nailing in shoes were only making them worse. It took about 3 to 4 weeks of growth before she wasn’t sore. If you can go to a hardware store and get Turpentine gum spirit and coat the bottom of the feet with a small paint brush; it will help harden them. **Make sure you don’t get any on the skin because it will burn. (The sticky nasty turpentine tar you can get it a feed store is complete junk in my opinion.) It has been almost 2 years since I took off the shoes and her feet are in great condition. We work in the arena jumping and go on trail rides and we don’t have any problems with sore feet..

    Def give the turpentine a try.. its in the section of Lowes by paint thinner.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by JerseyGirl JerseyGirl.
    dakotasmom dakotasmom
    Topics Started: 6Replies Posted: 4

    My horse is a QH/TB cross. His feet have never been great. I’ve always put shoes on him in the summer and had him go barefoot in the winter. However, last winter I didn’t pull them and did snow pads instead. This summer his feet were in the worst condition ever. I think it’s because he didn’t have that barefoot time, it really does make for healthier feet.

    I just pulled his shoes now for the winter and he was EXTREMELY sore, however I think it will be worth it in the long run. I’ve been putting iodine on his feet every day and really think I’ve noticed a difference in his soles getting tougher already. So, you could try the iodine as well as the turpentine.

    I’m going to look into getting boots for the summer and maybe not putting shoes back on him ever. Every horse is different, but if you can get them sound barefoot and they aren’t wearing hoof down faster than it grows, I say keep them barefoot.

    NinaJD NinaJD
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 139

    My friend keeps his TB barefoot, unless they’re doing a lot of trail riding.
    I think so long as he is getting proper feed and possibly a hoof supplement, he should be good. It can take up to 6 months to grow a nice, solid hoof after removing shoes. So don’t give up.

    "Take the time it takes, so that it takes less time."
    "Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often."
    Pat Parelli

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    I got my mare off the track as a 2 1/2 year old, she had shoes on all four. As she was still young and had not worn shoes for a long time, I decided to have her go barefoot. I did this as she was still young and hoped it would condition her hooves to being without shoes, and only wanted to resort to them if absolutely necessary. Ive never had a problem with my mare being sore or sensitive, however, I am mindful when she is on gravel and other uneven and hard surfaces. I have not had to put shoes on her at all. I have owned a TB gelding that always had to have at least front shoes on as he had always had them and was super sensitive and sore without them. I would always consider a good hoof supplement if the hoof is weak or unable to hold shoes.

    Leslie Leslie
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 44

    I just transitioned my thoroughbred to barefoot. He has the worst feet and has had all sorts of problems in the past (severe white line disease, abscessing, flaring, bad chipping/cracking). Honestly I was pretty nervous about taking his shoes off but my new bane has all the horses barefoot so I was willing to give it a try. He was extremely sore the first few days, then I ordered Keratex Hoof Hardener and appied daily. There was immediate improvement. When that ran out I bought Durasole because it’s cheaper and I liked I could put it on his frogs because I figured they might be sore, getting more pressure than they did in shoes. He was totally sound in 3 weeks and walks across gravel like it’s nothing. My barn owner was amazed at how quickly he transitioned (she’s seen many).

    Keratex can be used on the soles and walls, Durasole can be used on the sole and frogs. Both have very fast results and work much better than turpentine in my experience.

    I also bought a pair of Easyboots to ride in, as soon as I got them he was comfortable to walk/trot, a week or two later canter, then was able to start jumping again. I bought the Gloves but there are a bunch of different styles and brands.

    I think it also helped that it has been very dry so his feet are getting hard rather than being softened by mud. He’s also out 24/7 so walking around constantly, constantly toughening his feet, never just standing in a stall.

    I think it is good your pasture is rocky. Are there areas that are less rocky, too? As long as he has somewhere rock-free so he can have some relief he will be fine. Rocky footing actually help toughen feet.

    So definitely try boots, and definitely try Keratex or Durasole – your horse will thank you 🙂 - handmade custom wood-burned brushes, stall signs, & portraits, etched glasses, and custom stuffed ponies

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 7

    Soreness is normal when transitioning. His sole will harden up. I wouldn’t give him the standard barefoot trim for a week or so. Let his sole build up some calluses before you cut the wall down, if you leave the wall a little long it’ll help put a little space between his sole and rocks while it hardens, that way you don’t have him walking around like he just foundered. Yo can’t leave the wall long for to long though because without the support of the shoe most hooves will start to crack. I use iodine on the sole. Depending on his hoof quality you may need boots for riding on rocky terrain.

    You also have to realize that not all hooves are made equal and his breed has nothing to do with it. If he has soft hooves he may need shoes. Get a good barefoot trim. You should see a concave sole, with the walls level with the sole. The heal is cut down level with the frog and the front of the hoof is rolled forward. Walls are rounded up(this helps prevent cracking). Watch him for a few months. His feet shouldn’t crack as long as you are not leaving the walls to long, but if they still do then you may have one of those horses that needs shoes.

    Every horse is different and so are their hooves. One way of doing things does not apply to all so don’t buy into having to be barefoot, shod, or wear boots. Do what works best for your horse.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    My Tb is 27 & has been barefoot for the last 15 years. I’ve never had a problem. She’s home on a grassy pasture now but she has been to half a dozen different barns with different turnouts and we’ve never had a problem. My farrier is strictly barefoot & wants to transition every horse she sees. It’s a process but worth it. I also highly recommend smartpaks hoof supplements. My gelding is shod up front and used to loose shoes weekly but we haven’t lost one in over a year now that he’s on smartpaks!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    We always took the shoes off ours when they were not in training. Never had any issues, and they varied from becoming broodmares, hunters and show horses.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 9

    This is a “yes, but. . .” answer. It depends upon the pasture: some rocks aren’t a problem, but many rocks can be. The next thing is, what sort of condition are your horse’s hooves in now? Any cracks? Brittleness? Bruises on the soles? If so, they will need protection for a while. There isn’t any quick fix for feet that I know of. I got an ex-racehorse last year about this time. His front feet and legs were in trouble, and it’s just now that I think he’s really getting straightened out. He’s been on Farrier’s Formula for about nine months, but he was also on bute and isoxoprine for several months, to help with the pain and inflammation. I think he’ll be all right, but he’s not in rocky pasture. Still, it’s just now that he’s starting to “play up” in pasture, indicating that he’s feeling really well, and he goes both way on the lunge without unevenness. For a long time he was very careful and sort of stodgy, and I could detect favoring when he went counter-clockwise on the lunge. Talk to a farrier, and better yet, get a second opinion from a vet or different farrier. Know what good hooves look like, and what they don’t look like. Time can take care of many problems, but you have to be patient, and not try to rush things.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    You need to talk to your vet and have him/her work with your farrier. It has taken me a year to get my TB’s feet good enough to leave barefoot. He had under run heals, wasn’t getting enough blood-flow to grow like he needed, lacked a good sole, and to top it off he has soft white feet, so keeping shoes on was a nightmare, but he needed them to ease the pain from no sole. Fortunately, we caught all of this when he started getting sore, but the path to soundness is slow going. I had him on Bute and Hemo-Flo twice a day, and Farrier’s Formula Double Strength with his evening grain for most of a year, plus several trip to the vet to get his Palmer Angle right for him and had to add pine tar to toughen his feet. We are on our second round of being barefoot without soreness. He is finally looking like he’ll have enough wall to keep a set of shoes on when I’m ready to shoe him again. We did try boots at one point, but I didn’t have any luck keeping them on beyond a short ride. I started swimming him recently just to keep excess weight off, esp since he is easy to keep fat, but not to keep a good topline on. Honestly, if he didn’t have the best personality ever, I would have sold him, but I have given lessons on him, my daughter showed him at the fair this year, and he’s virtually bomb-proof.

    A good vet-farrier relationship was absolutely vital to my horse’s soundness. Every horse is different, but this one element is key to any foot issue. You may have issues you didn’t realize, or you may just need to adjust your horse’s diet. Make sure that your farrier is talking to your vet and that you both understand the instructions you are getting.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I had great success transitioning my thoroughbred to barefoot. Many tried to discourage me, but I did not give up, and I have a very happy barefoot horse now! It took a month or so of not riding at all, and then a few months of just riding on the grass. My farrier was encouraging, and like someone stated in a previous post – it is a process, but worth it! Good luck!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have got a thoroughbred that has been in a paddock barefoot for over a year. He can barely walk up the gravel driveway and is still sore on the sand arena. He will be getting shoes. Barefoot doesn’t seem to suit every horse

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    I don’t know of any breed of horse born with shoes.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have an OTTB, he raced for 3-4 years, I got him directly from the track, joint sound and shod on all four as a 5 year old. I fought for more than 10 years with him needing shoes in the summer in order to not be gravel sore, and then spent the snowy, icy winter barefoot and all the time we were fighting abscesses, cracks, chipping, white line disease, thrush and all manor of nasty hoof disorders. I always had him on a hoof supplement, had different medicines and “treatments” and he was never very sound. He spent about half of every year unsound or actually lame. I was told he had flat feet and there was nothing I could do but what we were already doing.

    3 years ago, I found a Naturally Barefoot ferrier in my area and decided it was worth trying. Naturally Barefoot is COMPLETELY different from simply being without shoes, but if the ferrier concaves the sole with the first trim, find a different ferrier, since that is NOT how a Natural ferrier will trim.

    It did not happen over night, but after the first 2-3 trimmings his frogs got less seedy, his heals started to become less contracted and he started to relax when walking down the gravely hill towards the barn. It took just over a year to grow out his hoof wall completely, and to see the sole start to concave, and while he avoided gravel out of habit, if he ended up on some, he did not stumble and short step through it. The pasture at my barn goes uphill from the barn area and the entire hill is rocky. The yard around the barn is crushed rock and the outdoor arena is down the crushed rock driveway about an eighth of a mile. The change in his feet is very noticeable because of this.

    Now, he has been barefoot and completely sound for 3 years and we trail ride through all kinds of terrain, he jumps logs and walks on asphalt roads. His feet have changed in a positive way, his hoof wall is thicker and he has slowly shifted the angle of his hoof to a better, more stable and natural angle. He is 18 years old, and his feet have never felt better. He gets a joint supplement since he has some arthritis, but I no longer use a hoof supplement, he does not need it. The only treatment I use is a vinegar/water mixture I use on all my horses when its really wet and muddy to help prevent any fungal growth.

    I also have 2 younger TB’s who are 6 & 8, and neither of them have ever worn shoes, and they have better feet than any of the stock horses on the farm. They never had many issues, but since going Naturally Barefoot, they have never had any signs of being gravel sore, little to no cracking or chipping even when stamping flies in the summer and completely ignore rocks underfoot.

    By all this I am recommending that you be aware that simply being barefoot, may not give your horse enough support to be sound, and warn you that topical remedies may simply waste your money, if that is the case I highly recommend researching for a Natural Barefoot Ferrier in your area. Any ferrier should be able to assist you in properly fitting boots for your horse for when you ride, boots should not be worn for more than a 12 hours, so are not for constant use, but may help during the transition period.

    -Sorry for being long winded, but this is an issue very close to my heart, I wished I had found my current ferrier sooner, it would have saved my poor boy so much pain.

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