Barehoofed!!! - Any advice?

annamica

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I have just taken the decision to remove all my horses shoes. I decided to do this because he seems to be throwing a shoe every 2 weeks, but as luck would have it he hasn't damaged his hooves in the process and because I thought why does he really need to be shod??

We don't do any hacking so he has no road work to do and the only hard ground he comes across is the bit of concrete between his stable and the field and the sand school.

The farrier looked at his feet today and said that he was happy to remove the shoes but will keep and eye on how they are doing.

Does anyone have any advice on keeping a horse without shoes? the benefits and pitfalls? and what, if anything, I should look out for or do?

I have also decided to use Keratex hoof hardener on his hooves has anyone used this or can anyone else recommend some other way of hardening his hooves. The farrier also agreed with using Keratex but I would welcome peoples suggestions!

Thanks Anna
 

jUmPingIsLifE

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if a horse can go barefoot, why not? its cheaper! The only reason autumng gets shoes is because of the crazy trails we go on! if our trail riding wasnt so adventurous i wouldn't need them. my old pony never needed shoes at all. tahoe however is such a baby! if i dont have shoes on him he limps around like he has absesses in every foot ready to expload,poor boy!

if you find her feet are very soft and you want shoes back on, you could try bell boots, tahoe will pull a shoe off withen 30minutes if i turn him out without bellboots! i can count how many times he has pulled shoes, it was so annoying having the farrier out every week (no exaggeration) and we finally got bell boots and he has never pulled a shoe with the bell boots on.
 

Shizzity

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my trainer doesnt put shoes on any of her horses, and they seem to be fine. They have even all gone jumping cross counrty without shoes. Doesnt really seem to me like she does anything specail. Im not reall sure though....
 

abi_pring

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My mare doesn't have shoes on because she never has and the farrier said her feet were hard enough to cope. We do mainly road work in winter and her feet are fine. Obviously keep an eye out for soreness or cracks etc. I use keratex on her, its harder to do in winter as you need 2 apply it to clean hooves! But its good stuff, and not overly expensive. Definatly recommend it.

If you're protective and concerned, use a "feet" feed, Happy Hoof by Spillers is good, as is Farriers Formula but that one is a supplement and expensive! But don't worry to much like I did, after all horses are on all sorts of surfaces up on the hills and they survive with no shoes!
 

annamica

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Thank you all :)

I am sure that this is the right thing to do for Alby and I am trying to progress to a more natural approach with him. In fact this is the first year that I have not given him a full clip. He will get a clip but only a high trace clip so that he doesn't get too hot when worked (as he can sweat up quite a bit!!).

Thanks Janet for that website - I have added it as one of my favourites now as it was so informative.

And abi_pring thanks for letting me know that Keratex is the way to go!

Anymore advice and experiences greatly received!!

:D
 

Bebe

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You might find these websites interesting also:

www.ironfreehoof.com
www.equinepodiatry.net

My mare is unshod, she hasn't worn hind shoes for 18 months and her front shoes came off at the beginning of September. For the last 3 months she has been trimmed by a KC La Pierre Equine Podiatrist and couldn't be happier with how her hooves are shaping up. I've had problems with farriers in the past resulting in her being lame for most of the spring and summer of 2003. I decided to educate myself a bit more about hooves and this led me to KC La Pierre and his high performance trim. So far it's working very well for Bebe. I was told by 2 farriers and my vet that she had poor hooves and would only be truly sound in hoof pads (this was in 2003 when she was lame). She's now 100% sound on every surface I've thrown at her, without any shoes at all.

Edited to say I used Keratex Hoof Hardener just prior to her shoes coming off in preparation for the change and also for a few weeks afterwards. It has helped and lots of people with barefoot horses have used it with success. If your grazing/turnout has a tendency towards being waterlogged or muddy (where isn't at this time of year?!) you might find Keratex Hoof Gel usefull. My mare had problems with her hooves getting too soft from being in wet conditions all the time last winter (she was unshod from Oct last year to March of this year) so I was recommended the hoof gel to help prevent this.
 
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Gill

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Go for it. Hooves can only get better when the shoes come off, providing of course that you take things gradually.

My girls have had over a year of barehooves now and do fine. We have lots of smooth roadwork which is good for feet and far less concussion than when metal shod.

If you need support then keep posting as there will always be people who try to undermine your viewpoint. There is loads of evidence to back you up on your choice though and the best evidence will be your horses soundness in the future.
 
Y

Yann

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Just a related question really, as Hackedoff indicates there is a tendency for some barefoot horses to be kept in a more 'natural' way ie. out 24/7 in a herd, unclipped, no hard feed etc. Whilst I can fully understand the philosophy behind this, are there any practical benefits as far as the barefoot aspect goes, as against a barefoot horse kept in a more traditional manner?
 

Esther.D

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Well mine are kept out in a herd 24/7 etc etc on a large acreage on the moors and barefoot - I think they may thrive better barefoot like that than kept 'traditionally' as the moorland is rough and stoney and hardens their hooves up and in a 60 acre and very steep and hilly field they do a lot of mileage daily, just moving between the patches of grass (a lot of the field is heather) which helps their hooves too. This lifestyle has also enabled our laminitics to keep clear of laminitis without restricted grazing for two years now! :)
 

jessie123

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I tried my boy barehoofed at one point but he is such a ponse he ended up lame, but bear in mind where I'm from it is incredibly stoney and flinty so I can't blame him really:D
 

Bebe

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There are some schools of thought that believe the hoof is the foundation of everything within the horse and if they're not healthy, the rest of the horse won't be. There's also the theory that the hoof acts as a circulatory pump which is where 24/7 turnout = constant movement, plays a part. I think a forage based diet is based on laminitis risk (a lot of the research comes from the USA where horses seem to be fed much more cereals & have less access to grazing).

The don't clip, don't rug, etc is essentially a Strasserism. It's not essential to follow this if you don't want to, though for some people barefoot is a natural progression of keeping their horses as naturally as possible.

From discussion with other horse owners of barefoot horses it seems that 24/7 turnout on grass isn't always ideal here in the UK where mud often prevails. Constant exposure to wet ground and mud can soften the hooves and make horses footsore so people are having more success through bringing horses in overnight or utilising areas of hard standing as turnout pens for some of the day to get them on dry ground and let the hooves return to their natural moisture balance. This makes sense after seeing how Bebe was last March after a wet spell.
 

Gill

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Mine are also out unrugged, though they have a field shelter if they choose.
I think in relation to being barefoot you can expect better circulation in an outdoor horse and apparently warmer legs and feet than if rugged and stabled.
 

magicmax

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my nf gelding has never had shoes and we do road work and all and he seems fine. although sometimes on hacks he will try to hobble along a thin piece of grass if the track is all lumpy and stoney!!!!!
 

Holly B

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Both my ponies are kept unshod, though I am considering getting some Old Macs for one of them because she has difficulty on very stony ground. I tend to stick to grass or softer ground where possible and keep road trotting to a minimum (it's bad for the legs anyway!) I think keeping a horse barefoot is kinder (and cheaper... think how much money you can save only getting your horse trimmed every few months!!!) Happy hacking! :)
 
P

Pink's lady

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My horse in barefooted and i do absolutly nought to her feet but i've been really lucky - she's got really hard feet and excellent hoof confirmation.

I was looking into barefeet recently and saw a web page showing a thermograph of shod and unshod legs (on same horse). THe unshod leg was red/yellow with warmth and blood. The shod was black/blue with almost no blood supply. The hoof, unshod, acts as secondary hearts, pumping blood around the body. An shod foot can't do this so well.


It's interesting that everyone belives in Ketetex Hoof hardener.

My lecturer at uni (vet school) specialises in horse hooves (and teeth) and has worked a great deal with Robert Eustace of the Laminitic Society.

She would probably shoot on sight anyone going anywhere near their horses hooves with a brush containing anything other than water!

She done a lot of research into Keratex and apparently it's really bad for their feet.

Whilst it does harden their feet, it's only because it's mostly formalin and is basically pickling the hooves! it also makes it much more prone to cracking.

The same applies to hoof oil. It's the worst thing you can put on their feet. When they experimented and left bits of hoof cuttings in hoof oil, they basically dissolved! It also stops water penertation and stops the hoof from breathing - bit like putting your own feet in plastic bags for any length of time.


The only thing you should put on there feet ( according to my lecturer) is paint them with water if they are too dry and not worry if they get damp. Didn't mention what you should do if they are continously wet and they get thrush. Whilst obviously knowledgeable, she can be a bit over-bearing!

The other thing she's done research on is feed supplements and apparently Farriers Formula is fantastic stuff (and she feeds it to all her horses). Some other supplements are ok, most are useless and Farriers Formula outstrips them all.

Interesting facts that are apparently true!
 
Y

Yann

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Originally posted by Pink's lady
I was looking into barefeet recently and saw a web page showing a thermograph of shod and unshod legs (on same horse). THe unshod leg was red/yellow with warmth and blood. The shod was black/blue with almost no blood supply. The hoof, unshod, acts as secondary hearts, pumping blood around the body. An shod foot can't do this so well.

Interesting points. I wonder if the differences with the thermograph were to do with the metal shoe conducting heat out of the foot on a concrete surface? Do you have a URL for the web page by any chance? I do have to question the suggestion that a shod leg has little or no blood supply though, or shod horses would be going down like flies with gangrene and circulatory problems, which in general they don't.
I'm also a little dubious about this secondary heart business, whilst I can see that an unshod hoof might have better circulation I've never heard of any animal's foot having a circulatory function. It would surely have to have a lot more 'give' in it? Is there any scientific evidence to back this up?
 
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