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Five things barefoot horse owners are tired of hearing

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Barefoot horse

The barefoot lifestyle is on the rise in the equestrian community and, while it’s not the best option for every horse, it’s one that the uninitiated tend be a little quizzical about. There’s something about a shoeless horse that just seems to invite comments, so if you’ve got a barefoot beauty, these might sound familiar…


“You must have a really tough time riding on the road.”

Why? Because he’s skittish in traffic? Oh no, that’s right… they mean his shoeless feet. Now, you’re not proposing to go trotting off at full speed for miles down the tarmac (why would anyone?), but any barefoot horse owner knows that with proper care, hooves are incredibly tough and more than capable of extensive hacking on all kinds of ground. There’s a word for feet that can cope with anything – rock-crunching.

“Is he a youngster, or just coming back into work?”

Erm, no? If there’s one thing that should be clear by now, metal shoes do not a riding horse make. There are barefoot horses shining in all disciplines, and while some may think the shoeless life is only for horses in little to no work, we know different.

“You must save so much money!”

Sigh. Why is it that people think you’re only in it to pinch some pennies? Besides, even without metal semi-circles bolted to your horse’s feet, the bills still manage to climb and climb. When your horse’s hooves experience the natural wear-and-tear of riding on different surfaces, keeping them balanced is no joke, so you might even see your farrier more often than the average Joe. Plus, we all know healthy hooves start from within, so your pile of supplement tubs probably reaches the ceiling (which means you might just have a credit card bill to match, too).

“I’m not sure you should be jumping without any shoes.”

Oh right, sorry. We forgot horse’s feet literally fall off if they leave the ground without shoes on. Better have words with those barefoot yearlings hooning about in the field then…

“If he goes lame, will you put shoes on him?”

Well, it’s probably best to consult the vet on the cause of a horse’s lameness first before assuming shoes will fix it, but at the end of the day, your aim is to do what’s right for your horse first.

Your Comments

5 thoughts on “Five things barefoot horse owners are tired of hearing”

Lyn says:

It’s good to see a positive argument about keeping your horse barefoot however, it is a little flippant and light on fact. Barefoot IS the best option for every horse. The benefit of shoes is entirely the riders as it enables them to ride lame horses.
A barefoot horse can trot just as far as a shod horse on tarmac and it is less likely to suffer injury as it’s foot is able to flex and absorb impact resulting in less jarring to the legs.
There is a myth that barefoot horses are more liable to slip. The frog is the horses brake. A horse shouldn’t come to an abrupt stop as this can cause tendon damage. The barefoot will slide a little as it lands properly – heel first – but comes to a more gradual and less damaging stop when the hoof is in full contact with ground.
Barefoot horses do-not need a mountain of supplements. One good quality broadspectrum mineral and vitamin supplement or a properly formulated compound feed with good quality ingredients is all that is required, the same as any shod horse.
Yes, shoes are seen as a cure for lameness. The horse would still be lame after being shod but you may still be able to ride him and possibly not bother addressing the cause of the lameness.
Depending on the cause of the lameness though a horse may not have become lame if, it was barefoot in the first place.

Jim Zitoun says:

“Barefoot is the best option for every horse “ totally disagree. I graduated forty years ago from Oklahoma shoeing school. Every horse is different. Some horses go lame without shoes. When a horse goes lame in many cases it takes corrective shoeing to make them sound. Show me one horse on the track that goes shoeless.

Liz White says:

When my homebred WB turned four I decided I would shoe him as soon as he needed it. 14 years on he is still barefoot, has done everything I have wanted to do and has never been lame/unlevel. We hack, jump a little and compete dressage at Advanced Medium. Would he have gone further shod? No – that would need a better rider :0) BTW I also have a TB who would not cope without shoes

Greg White says:

I’ve shod horses for 33 years. Not every horse needs shoes ,but to say horses don’t need shoes is very uneducated. If you ride horses anywhere out in country,you will need shoes or boots.

Pippa Brown says:

Since going barefoot my horses have ridden better than ever and the18 year old is like 8. They have no problem with our stony tracks and seem more surefooted not less. A few years ago I would not have gone barefoot but am now a fan!

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