Have you ever thought to yourself, does my horse need shoes, can I cut cost by taking them off, why did I even put shoes on in the first place?
I did, Bailey was pretty much out of work last year while we moved to our new home, with new bills to fork out for, I was thinking of little ways to cut costs, one of them was Baileys shoes just for while he was out of work, Bailey has always had good feet, and when I first put shoes on him, it wasn’t because he actually needed them, it was because he was in full time work at that’s what the routine has always been. As now Social media and the internet is such a powerful tool, while I was debating to take the shoes off I thought I would do some research – I would recommend this to anyone who has shoes on but feel they could get away without – this will truly get you thinking, it completely changed my views about shoes, by this time I plucked the courage and I took his hinds off first for 2 months, in this time, A post appeared on Facebook about a barefoot trimmer, so I arranged to have him down to access Baileys feet, the next thing I know I had the courage and the fronts came off, he went through so much with me about the angle of the feet, the digital receptors in the frog, it was a real learning curve to have and so far it is the best decision I have done.
Not all horses can cope without shoes, some need them on for medical reason or jus very bad condition feet but sometimes it could also be a simple thing as the diet the horse is on for why it couldn’t cope without shoes.
It is a commitment to go through, so far all my days have been really good.
Did my hoof routine care change?
Yes – I’m terrible mother and never really put anything on his feet, but I thought I’ll try anything to help the transition easier, so before I took the shoes off, I got a hoof hardener and started applying this on, once the front was off my Barefoot trimmer suggested a putty to put around the frog to fight any bacteria that may be there, to help the transition for the frogs. I have no maintained this and use these products as part of our routine, now the ground is dry I have started to put a hoof moisture on so they don’t crack so easily.
Did our workload change?
Yes it would of but I was lucky because 1, it was winter so I am unable to hack after work, 2, he wasn’t in much work at the time, I kept him off the roads for a few weeks unless a quick hack to our local school, I only exercised him in the school, he lived out in the winter so his feet was always in the wet mud so once the ground started to harden so did his feet, and this was when I started to introduce more hacking on the roads, once the ground was fully hard, i then started to introduce him into more harder work while hacking, and also introducing him to more different surfaces such as gravel/flint
How is Bailey coping?
His feet are looking amazing the shape has improved so much, the toe has come back, and more heel growth has occurred, this has really impacted him riding as I really find that since I have taken his shoes off he really has gone up the levels in training and feels so much better within himself. He is out regularly whether this is hacking, jumping, cross country or dressage. At some venues he may be slightly foot sore if we have to walk across really flinty grounds, but I allow him to take his time to get across, this is getting better each time. He is completely fine on all other surfaces and his feet have shown no signs or cracks chips or splits which is amazing.
Does it cross my mind to put shoes back on?
No, so far I have no reason for this to even cross my mind, we have evented BE90 without any issues, trained up to 1.20 SJ and XC, he also doesn’t slipping while out, and studs are a thing in the past, it’s one less thing to worry about when eventing, another big thing not to worry about a show being pulled off!
The only time I will think about putting shoes on, is if he doesn’t have the hoof growth to keep him barefoot, but there certainly would be things to look at beforehand, such as changing his diet (as it’s still the same as before) and now there are a very wide range of hoof boots available to try.
I will continue keeping Bailey barefoot, maintaining them with the products I have, I will continue researching on how the horse is affected and works, and next month we are moving up to BE100 – so our progress will be continuously be updated.
Now I wonder how many horses have shoes on for the sake of it and don’t need them!
If you are thinking about it or on the journey for Barefoot, I wish you a good luck and stick with it.