Transitioning to Barefoot

This topic contains 61 replies, has 24 voices, and was last updated by  jan_kast 2 years, 11 months ago.

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  • jeannine_verderosa
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    Rick Gore is not a trainer. He rides two horses in a rope halter, but doesn’t train them to do anything. He comes off as rude and sexist, because that’s what he is. If you want to see an actual rider training bitless, check out advantage horsemanship scott Purdum on YouTube. Look for the Ottb series.

    Also, shoes are not evil. They were created for a reason…soundness. Not all horses can go barefoot. It depend on genetics, discipline and conditions. Veterinarians also may recommend shoes, not just farriers. I hate when people say barefoot is natural. we destroyed “natural ” when we took the horse from the wild and decided to ride them.

    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 61


    I came across this list of barefoot horses the other day.
    It really surprised me and thought you might like to see it.

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 477

    All my horses are currently barefoot but I retain a farrier, not a trimmer (there aren’t many good ones in this area yet as the concept/skill is generally still fairly new to them). All my horses are sound enough, even the 30 yo arthritic ones. Love my farrier, your ROCK, Mr. O, thank you!! I would use shoes if needed. Yes, needed. I will not deny my horses safety and comfort for the sake of a trend (so far, a GOOD one but that’s just what it is around here) nor will I sit home with my horse standing around in the yard on a beautiful fall day when there’s an opportunity to ride with friends or even compete at a favourite venue simply because I am not suitably geared. I readily accept shod or unshod. It is the QUALITY of service and SUITABILITY of each that dictates my choice.

    Most horses in captivity can survive barefoot, depending on their purpose and more on their care but if one wants a totally ‘natural’ horse, leave him be in what’s left of the wilds of the west, take a picture, go home and appreciate what The Horse is OUT THERE.

    Nature writes her own rules: one author, one set, in granite, goes for all, no exceptions. Life adjusts and goes on pretty well, not always pretty but that’s Life in its infinite process. In the human world of captivity and utility, the rules change dramatically. Over a billion authors, penciled in for later review, and inconsistent, one set for every person, every situation. Depending on who you are, of course. And if you were here, or there, wore this, or that and it was Tuesday or Friday….ad nauseum.

    IF we insist on keeping Nature’s children as our own, inevitably taking them away from secure management of self and home and interfering with their given abilities to comply and co-habitate with Nature’s rules, it IS up to us to do right and adjust, meeting half way and accommodating to the best of our ability (a certain amount of compromise goes a long way). This neutralizes keeping the horse wild (“natural”) at home to a good degree. Doesn’t work all that well yet, not enough humans understand well enough. In the wild, a horse does not typically cover 10 different types of terrain in less than 100 feet and at speed. He does not run, jump, run again, then stand in wait for supper 23/7, in one place. He is not forced to graze in his own waste, stand near a possibly abhoured partner, not fed non-indigenous foods, not drug-addled or diabetic, can sleep up or down, whenever, and wander freely with chosen friends/defense/procreation team. He is also lucky to live ten years, and will mercifully suffer a reasonably quick death (injured at 10 am, lunch by noon, might even skip the injured part) There are no fences, no boundaries, no limits. In my yard, there are fences, boundaries and limits, necessary for the safety and sustained health (please, GOD?) of my horses in MY world, which is NOT theirs… I speak only for myself, of course.

    Wild writes a totally different set of rules than captive. Can’t be wild in the paddock, no room, too scary, can’t use the tools for survival that are innate to this day, captive or not. Can’t have a captive mindset on the prairie and wait for hay delivery with grain and sugar cubes, it ain’t coming and Horse can’t find the gate (any gate) to wait at anyway.

    Compromise. Necessary. It works : )

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    I evented for years barefoot in all weather conditions with no footing issues. I do have to say my horse is very balanced & surefooted. My horse has very good strong hoofs and didn’t need shoes until we started preparing to move up to prelim. At that time he needed front shoes due to chipping & wear. I didn’t need to add hinds until preparing for our first 1 star(long format) again due to chipping & wear from the increased conditioning work. I always pulled the hind shoes once competition season was over but left the fronts on until he was turned out for the winter. I didn’t put fronts back on until he was legged up and was back in training in the spring. The hinds went back on a month before our first competition.
    He wore full rim shoes front & back with stud holes in back. I never used studs in front due to his front leg conformation. I had more problems slipping with shoes than without especially on hard ground. He is now retired to trail riding and still sound at 24 without shoes.
    I have 2 other horses that I currently compete, 1 is barefoot as he also has very good feet. The other has front shoes as he tends to get foot sore. He seems to need them year round. I tried pulling them for the winter but had soreness issues. My blacksmith says he has good hoofs but sensitive soles. I’ve tried several hoof supplements with no change.
    My feeling is you do what ever is needed to keep your horse comfortable, happy and sound. Some need shoes some do not.

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    Interesting stories on the same theme, which the previous poster summarized in her final paragraph. I’ve owned an Appendix TB, a QH, several grade horses, and ASBs. Most of my early horses (way back when in the previous century) were shod. When I bought my first ASB trail horse, he did not need shoes, and since I thought barefoot was a great idea, I didn’t shoe him. My second ASB trail horse had a quarter crack when I bought her, so she was shod in front until it grew out. She went barefoot, over hard (solid granite) terrain until she died at age 25. But my third ASB trail horse was another story. He was 16 when I got him, and being an ASB, he was most likely shod as a 2-year-old and had worn shoes all his life. I tried letting him go barefoot after his feet were trimmed, but his feet immediately started to chip. It’s the only time he didn’t want to go “foreward,” and he was a very forward horse. His feet obviously hurt, and I wasn’t willing to wait it out since he already had EPM. Why make life even harder for him. My vet agreed, so I shod him in front. The EPM got him in the end, and I had to put him down a couple of months ago. My QH rescue had wonderful feet–as long as I rode him. I sold him to my shoer, who reported that his girlfriend, now his wife, rode him four times a week. His wore his front feet down so badly that my farrier had to shoe him–and they are both barefoot people!

    Never say never–there are always exceptions. As other people have said, horses haven’t been “natural” since humans stopped eating them and started riding them.

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    Hmm–my ability to “edit” apparently ran out of time. I wanted to add that I would have tried again to have Scout, my 16-yr-old ASB trail horse, go barefoot. Both he and Prim had one club foot in front–meaning the heel area of one front foot grew faster than the toe. Because Prim went barefoot, she wore her hooves down almost normally. But Scout couldn’t, and I had to have him trimmed every six weeks because he grew so much heel.

    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 2

    Horses do not need shoes! Barefoot is a very natural way. When you pull the shoes she’s probably going to be really tender or not at all depends on the horse. So if she’s tender buy some boots I dunno if you can use them competing though but for the mountain trails I get some boots I recommend the easy boot glove there really easy to take on and off. As for the dry and cracked hooves is she on hoof supplements? If not I’d try farriers formula I’ve found it works the best but I’ve never tried smartpaks hoof supplements.

    Hope it helps all 3 of my Tennesse Walking Horses are barefoot(:

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    Agreed–barefoot is more natural. But you can’t say categorically that all horses can go barefoot, because that’s simply not true. Some horses, because of breed or conditioning or early training simply cannot, and it’s cruel to insist that they must. At least buy those tender-footed horses boots until their feet toughen up–if they ever do.

    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 7

    This is a good thread; Im watching it! I have an OTTB who’s doing well barefoot (I’ve only had her for about 30 days worth of rides, though), and she will eventually become an eventer…I’d love to see her event barefoot, or even just with front shoes!


    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 12

    Both My horses are barefoot. We ride tarred roads, rocky NH trails and can go for miles. Never have to worry about a pulled shoe. They have super tuff feet. They have never come up lame. The important thing is a trimmer that knows how to do a proper bare hoof trim. A farrier will most likely trim the way they know best. This means they will often take off important toe callus. For transistion you may need boots to ride for a while. I still use boa boots on one of my two boarders that is still new to bare foot. The other boarder is now perfectly sound on the trails without shoes. The trick to the boas is proper fit of course, you can ajust with the gaiters and pads. But most important is I use a triangle of thick neoprin under the dial. It is something sold as a weastern breast plate cover triangle with 4 inch sides and two layers of neoprin. I found it makes all the difference. Keeps pressure off of the upper corinary band on the hoof and allows you to tighten it up good without the chance of overtightening. I prefer these boots because they fit snug and wont twist and clop. I recomend reading Pete Ramey Making-Natural-Hoof-Care-Work-For-You. Good luck. I hope you decide to stick with the barehoof it’s less expensive than shoes and I strongly believe it is the best thing I did for my former horse a cronic founder, cushings horse. He was more comfortable barefoot with a good trimmer than he ever was with pads and metal shoes. I think 99% of horses with a propper trim will go sound. When someone says “my horse cant ever go barefoot” I always want to give them Pete Ramey’s book. Both of my boarders said the same thing and they are now saying they wished I could have convined them sooner.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I have a holsteiner mare that I recently switched to barefoot. Although i don’t compete in eventing she used to with the front two hooves shod, her front hooves were shod her whole life and it certainly did not make her feet any weaker. Her hooves are very strong and when barefoot trimmed every 4-5 weeks. What I would suggest for you is to find a barefoot farrier and get his/her opinion on wether your horse could go barefoot. The other thing would be that since your horse has brittle hooves I would put her on a hoof supplement to make trims last the max amount of time. Also, what level are you competing at? I think a horse could easily compete up to novice without shoes, but once getting into training id definitely want the shoes for the extra grip. You could also try pulling her shoes this winter (when you don’t have as many competitions) to see how she responds and to build up the strength in her hooves before show season hits next year. Hope I have you some useful advice! Good luck eventing with your gorgeous mare!

    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    Hi there! I think it is excellent you want to compete with your horse more organically! You can do this barefoot. While I no longer event with my horse, when we did, it was barefoot. We now do 10 – 25 mi endurance rides barefoot on all kinds of terrain. It is a combination of diet, the environment your horse lives in ( are they stalled on a mat? Do they have varied terrain with rocks, etc in a pasture? ) and the type of trim you give you horse if necessary.

    There is a really good blog out there : which goes into rehabbing horses that had some pretty extreme issues even in shoes to go barefoot. Many of them are competing at higher level events in GB. Give them a shot. She has all kinds of case studies, and literature on the site to read.

    I hope you both find success together both in a ring and on the trails.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I have been barefoot now for 5 years. Two of the best things you can do to make this a successful transition are to 1, buy a rasp, and 2 have your farrier teach you how to maintain your hoof in between trims. It is imperative that you know how to round your hoof walls (mustang roll).I assume you are going to have your horse trimmed every 6ish weeks. That’s not going to be enough. Plan on rounding out your hoof walls every two weeks, or more depending on growth of the hoof wall. As soon as you start to see chipping you need to round your walls! If you wait for the farrier to come your chipping may have gone out of control and lead to cracks (not good). Don’t worry rounding off your walls will be quick, it’s not hard at all! I use a Heller Red Tang rasp and it is great for year around usage. Keep in mind a full transition from shoes to barefoot could take a year, so don’t give up if after 6 months your feet aren’t ideal, they will get there. After you do go full barefoot you should be able to do some light riding for the first few weeks, but keep in mind the hoof is going to change fast! After that you can increase activity, but use your best judgment. Most people I know try barefoot, but then quit. They quit because they don’t LEARN how to round out the hoof, thus their feet go bad fast.DO NOT go barefoot unless you are willing to take part in hoof maintenance, unless of course you can afford a farrier every two weeks to do minimal work. Also just so you don’t have any false expectations,there will be set backs, just don’t give up. You cant undo a lifetimes worth of damage and not have set backs. GOOD LUCK, you are going to be very happy about your decision in a year!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 25

    I totally disagree with the statement that “All horses can go barefoot.” I know that hooves can expand and contract when the horse moves barefoot and that is good for hoof health. HOWEVER, when I tried it with my gelding for the first 5 years of his life (because it was “healthier” for his feet), he was lame about every other month – either hoof bruises or soft tissue injuries (which I now attribute to abnormal movement to avoid hoof pain). I finally gave up and had him shod. That was 12 years ago, and he hasn’t been lame since. My mare (12 years old) also had sore feet, and I didn’t wait so long to shoe her. She’s only had one episode of lameness since, due to an abscess. So – some horses CAN go barefoot, and it is in general better for their feet. Will it help your horse’s feet – maybe or maybe not. Thoroughbreds are famous for their lousy, crumbly, shelly feet. Another source of bad feet is moisture – either constant or wet-dry cycles. We moved to Texas a year ago and the dry climate has really hardened their hooves big time! So your climate will also influence hoof health.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    Oh yeah just one more thing….best time to pull shoes and go barefoot is in the spring/summer. This is when the hoof grows the fastest, Thus if you do have a small set back such as a crack, no biggie. The hoof will grow it out with in a month. If you try to do this in the winter and have a set back….good luck, it is not going to grow out fast at all, plan on about 3ish months for a crack.

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