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.