Have you ever thought about letting your horse go barefoot? Many horses can successfully go barefoot, but that doesn’t mean that you should just decide to pull your horse’s shoes and see. Think about these four factors when deciding whether to transition your horse to barefoot.
What Types of Riding Are You Doing?
Think about the types of riding that you’re doing. If you’re frequently traveling over pavement or rough, rocky terrain, then your horse may very well need shoes or hoof boots to help protect his hooves. However, if your horse enjoys a more relaxed lifestyle, he may do perfectly fine without the protection of shoes to keep his hooves from wearing down.
Will Your Horse Have Some Time to Rest?
When you do transition your horse to going barefoot, his hooves may be a bit tender during that transition period. It’s a good idea to schedule the transition when your horse has some time to rest. Don’t transition your horse to barefoot right before an important show or long trail ride. All horses react differently, but expect that your horse will be a bit tender as his hooves adjust to going without shoes.
How Healthy Are Your Horse’s Hooves?
Pulling your horse’s shoes at a time when your horse’s hooves are already in rough shape is asking for issues. Your horse should have good, strong hoof growth, and shouldn’t have any major structural issues, like missing chunks of the hoof wall or major abscesses in his hooves. By waiting until your horse’s hooves are healthy and in good condition, you’ll be giving him the greatest chance at successfully transitioning to being barefoot.
Do You Have Your Vet’s and Farrier’s Support?
Your horse’s vet and farrier are your partners in keeping your horse healthy. It’s a good idea to run the idea of taking your horse barefoot by both of them before making your final decision. You never know if your vet or farrier may be aware of a conformation or health issue which might pose a problem as you take your horse barefoot. Ultimately the decision is yours, but it’s always nice to have the partners in your horse’s care on board.
Remember, even if you decide to take your horse barefoot, that doesn’t mean that he has to stay barefoot forever. Pay attention to your horse’s body and make adjustments as necessary for a healthy, sound horse.