Barehoofed!!! - Any advice?

dizzy_mel

Dizzy Dorra (aka Mel)
Aug 1, 2004
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my mare isnt shod, she even does light roadwork without a problem ...

she has very hard feet although you have to keep an eye they dont wear down to much, my farrier checks hers every 3 weeks when he is on the yard for other horses....

however she will be shod soon as she is to event therefore in her training she will undertake more road work and will need them...

but im putting off shoeing her as long as possible its the best for her , so long as she doesnt have any problems ... its best !
 
P

Pink's lady

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So laminitis is certainly not a reason for keeping shoes on horses, probably quite the reverse actually.

Sorry, thats what I meant. I don't think I put it across very well.

Meant that if they have shoes on, the frog doesn't touch the ground and all the weight is on the walls. This isn't good for lamimnitc animals - they're better off without shoes so they can carry weight on their frogs as well.
 

OlavS

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Apr 4, 2003
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Originally posted by Pink's lady
If the rubber (or plastic) is hard enough to be durable and not have too much sticky-ness, how can they be flexible enough to allow hoof expantion? Which basically defeats the purpose of them. Especially the shoes that have bars across them - there is no-way that these can expand.
Of course they can expand, that's the whole idea. I can give a looong explanation why, but I think I've waffled on too much as it is :eek:

I can see how the scuffing is important on a hard surface, it dissipates energy and (if barefoot) helps trim the hoof the truly natural way ;)

Maybe rubber simply can't be made hard enough and therefore remain too grippy, or that when they do become hard enough to allow scuffing they no longer expand to an appreciable amount, become too expensive to manufacture or last much too short of long.

Sorry, I *will* shut up about this now. :eek:

Back on to topic: I have heard that barefoot horses have much better/faster recovery from laminitis than shod horses. The blood circulation is better, and of course there are no forces working on the hoof wall as the horse stands.
However, I've yet to hear of someone who would rip the shoes off a laminitic horse...
 
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Pink's lady

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OlavS - Thats interesting that you've not heard of taking the shoes off in laminitic horse. Is that just possibly in Norway?

I know that every single horse I've seen with laminitis have had their shoes of asap. I've also seen the horses having the shoes put on back to front - open toe shoeing, so the pressure is taken off the toes.

There's many different ways of dealing with things in different countries.


I have a Norwegain vet student over to stay here in Edinburgh last year and she said that no-one puts hoof oil on their horses feet because they know it's bad for them. Is that generally true, or just for her area?
 
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OlavS

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I knew I should have phrased that more prescisely :eek:

I have read that barefoot horses recover much faster from laminitis, and thought that it would be a great idea to remove the shoes if a shod horse got laminitis. But I was told that normally you wouldn't. I think it had something to do with severity. If the horse had mild laminitis the person wouldn't introduce additional sorefootedness by removing the shoes. I can't remember who told me though, only that I was surprised at the answer after reading so much great stuff about barefooted horses' recovery from injuries, especially laminitis. Sorry. :(

What if a horse is mildly laminitic (something about a pulse being "sharp"/hard??) would the shoes come off straight away?

As for hoof oil this is my understanding of what people do over here. Most paint some black thing on either the outside or inside of the hoof (or both) every now and then. Apparently it keeps the hooves moist, or protected from wee or something. Others say that it's like applying paint - all you do is seal the hoof, preventing it from gaining natural moisture on its own, and it causes the hoof to dry out. Or something like that. I think everyone at my yard use hoof oil but as you can tell I haven't asked why :eek: Just figured they were happy to paint another 4 nails :rolleyes: ;)
 

Megans mum

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Dec 1, 2004
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well I have read all the threads with interest including looking at all the sites recomended' I have had all my 4 horses bare foot for over 2 yrs now and I can honestly say that they are all better in one way or another' one of them Storm my gelding has had arthritis for the last 12 yrs and was always club footed on his hind leg' since being bare foot his foot looks normal and he does not favour the leg at all, he used to trip on his front feet which the blacksmith attempted to correct eventually saying ' it is just him' he hasn't tripped since being bare foot' my little mare who is prone to lamintiis was always shoes short showing the white line at the toe of her front feet' since being bare foot ' no sign of the white line and no laminitis either' the other two are a youngster who has never had shoes and a brood mare who has been unshod for 5 yrs' they all go over roads and tracks most days' I certainly would not shoe them again' ;)
 
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Yann

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I agree, this is a really interesting thread:)

With what's been said I can now fully understand the idea behind not picking the feet out too often, whilst it's not the same as the function of an unshod foot, I can picture that a shoe packed with earth will spread the ground pressure over more of the foot. The NB shoes my horse has on have ridges behind the toe which are designed help hold it in. Am I barking up the right tree here?
The full weight of the horse will only bear fully on the hoof walls when working on a road or similar hard surface. With all this in mind what is the reason for frogs being trimmed above the plane of the shoe? There must be some reason for it?

Gem, the little pony we put front shoes on suffers from laminitis. We were in a bit of a cleft stick though, she needed the work to help avoid it but was getting too sore to manage. Fortunately she only had one more brief episode once the shoes were on and has been fine ever since (touch wood...).
 

Bebe

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Aug 15, 2001
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I can picture that a shoe packed with earth will spread the ground pressure over more of the foot. The NB shoes my horse has on have ridges behind the toe which are designed help hold it in. Am I barking up the right tree here?

Yep, NB shoes are designed to hold earth in the cleft of the frog to help spread pressure across the sole. The idea is that you don't pick the hooves out as often, just check for stones & manure and remove these as necessary but leave it alone if you have nice "clean" dirt.

Interestingly Bebe's hind hooves (which look fab now, so chuffed with them) hardly ever collect dirt in them. They're self-cleaning now, this seemed to coincide with the concavity returning. Her fronts aren't yet but they're not concave either, though I think they're starting to go that way (not sure if it's just wishful thinking though).

No idea why farriers trim the frog above the plane of the hoof, you'd have to ask. According to all the reading I've done the ideal is to have a credit card thickness of hoof wall (at the heels) above the frog, so just a couple of mm's. This allows for the frog to achieve ground contact as the hoof expands and clear the ground as it contracts. Even if a farrier trims this way the effect is lost when a shoe is put on so we really ought to be seeing shod horses with big frogs, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
 

Megans mum

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it is a very interesting subject' this none shoeing' I don't know all the answers but I do think that to go bare foot you have to be patient and not expect things to go right all the time' I self trim mine with the blacksmith on hand iff i need advice' I look at them every day and when I see a crack or flare starting then it can be attented too' the frog touches the floor most of the time as far as I can see with mine and since being bare foot the frogs have expanded a lot' I only clean the feet out occasionly and then spray with blue spray just to be sure they are clean in all the cracks as the ground is so muddy just now' It is everyones own decision to go bare foot and is not an easy option' you need to keep an eye on the horse all the time to make sure they are comfortable at the beginning' I did try boots on one of mine for a while but couldn't keep them on so left them off and cut down on the stony tracks for a while' we still go through tender times when the weather changes' like from very hot and dry to wet and muddy' you just have to work more with the horse but I find it is much easier now and the horses are so much happier on their feet' without shoes' also I just hate the thought of nailing iron on to their feet'
 

MelanieD

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My horse is shod but she has frogs that would look more normal on a barefoot horse. I have an unusual farrier (for this area anyway) in that the way he trims seems very similar to a barefoot trim, but with shoes! I've never seen him trim the frogs. Roxy's frogs are huge, she's just lost a shoe only two weeks after being shod and her frogs are below the level of her heels, I suspect they do manage to contact the ground when she's just been shod.

Fatty had quite a few problems with her feet from previous useless farrier, underrun heels, long toes, too long feet overall, flat feet. Since she's been shod by nice new farrier (on 4th set of shoes now) underrun heels are sorted, toes rasped back to a sensible length, and her flat feet are sorting themselves out quite nicely. She's sound on most surfaces when she looses a shoe, particularly big pointy stones do get her but nothing else.

I'm generally all for barefoot but madam needs shoes for now due to a really bad crack (she may be able to go barefoot once the really messed up bit at the bottom, partly caused by previous farrier's lame attempts to rasp across the crack far too deeply, has grown out). It's been quite interesting to see how much a correct trim can acheive even with shoes still nailed on.

I don't pick her feet out every day, check for stones and if none then pick out properly about once a week, so maybe this has helped her feet as well.
 

Jamey

Owner of Cossack!!
Apr 9, 2003
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I'm very interested in this subject but am unsure about the correct way to go barefoot from being shod. Both my two are currently kept shod and do quite a bit of roadwork, if I were to just take their shoes off, how would they cope on the roads with the change. Due to the boggy, quite high clay content of our fields, they both have quite soft feet. My farrier states that their feet are in good condition and that my youngster's feet in particular are very good (although he does tend to lose shoes). His front feet grow very quickly and need a trim every five weeks, he also has bruising due to his recent fondness for weaving.

On the hoof oil debate I have only this to contribute .....
I oil the undersides and outsides twice a week during the winter and not at all (or just the outside if we are in a show) during the summer. Our fields are terribly waterlogged at the moment and I've found the horses feet are getting too soft, so I oil to prevent too much moisture getting to the hoof.
 

Megans mum

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Hi Jamie I was shod for years but wasn't satisfied that It was right for my chaps' the cracks that develope are usually caused by the hoof flareing' that is the only way it can go iff it flares ' it cracks then eventually breaks off' how old is the youngster? iff his feet grow fast and he loses shoes then I would think he would be great without shoes' mine do road work and tracks' at first when I took the big lads shoes off he picked his way but I just took it slowly and his feet are great now' 2 yrs on' his feet did split up the join between the inner and outer hoof but iff you keep the outer hoof shorter than the inner it sorts itself out' I am going on one of KC Lapiers courses next year so I will be more clued up but I am confident when dealing with my own 4 horses feet' I don't oil them at all cause they need the mosture' mine are in a very boggy field at the moment but their feet are fine' I would not go back to shoes anyway' but it is up to every one what they do as it is a committment and takes a lot of work and dedication at first' I don't think it makes any difference wether the feet are dark or white either' I have a yearling who is white legged and her feet grow fast but she is coping with limited road work all ready' {not ridden of course]
 

Bebe

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Aug 15, 2001
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Jamey, how your horses would cope is anyones guess, it's very much an individual thing. If they do have soft hooves preparation with Keratex Hoof Hardener for a few weeks prior to removing shoes can help, it definitely did for my mare.

Hoof oil will seal moisture from the outside but can prevent the hoof from regulating it's internal moisture content which is why it's not really recommended for barefoot horses. Keratex Hoof Gel (I don't sell the stuff, honest) will prevent the hoof from becoming waterlogged without stopping it from "breathing". There's sound scientific basis behind this product and the company are very helpful if you phone them up for more info.

Bebe had to wear boots for a lot of last winter when she went barefoot and I didn't attempt any roadwork with her at all. This year (she's been barefoot for 3 months or so) I only used boots a couple of times during the first week or so_On Saturday I completed a 90 minute hack, 50% of which was on the road, 25% on stony tracks and the rest on mud. Completely barefoot. She was sound as a pound and absolutely fine yesterday too.
 
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