Please remember: There is NO ONE ANSWER for every horse! Although the barefoot lifestyle is a healthy and beneficial one for many if not most horses, that does not mean that shoes and other devices are not needed by some horses who have certain hoof and soundness issues! If anyone tries to tell you that there is only one way to keep a horse's hooves, do not believe them! Every horse is different and deserves the approach that is best for them! In addition to barefoot trimming, I offer therapeutic custom urethane shoes and hoof evaluations for horses with chronic problems. If I evaluate a horse and believe that traditional shoes, wedges, etc. are necessary I will recommend a shoer to the owner who I believe will be ideal for resolving the problem. I do not believe in the hoofcare community being divided and think that shoers, trimmers, veterinarians and owners should all work together to ensure the ideal health and soundness of each horse in their care!
Why should I take my horse barefoot?
- Regularity of Soundness: You'll never have to worry about a thrown shoe again! Additionally, the concavity of a hoof receiving a barefoot trim lifts the sensitive sole off of the ground and protects it from bruising, which is not only painful, but can also lead to abscesses.
- Affordability: Shoes are extremely expensive, whereas barefoot trims are healthier for both your horse and your wallet.
- The Health of your Horse: As a horse moves, their hooves naturally flex with each step. This acts as a blood pumping mechanism to the hoof. Good circulation means faster, better recovery from injury and disease to the hoof and better overall hoof health, growth, and condition. When a horse wears a shoe, the unyielding metal does not allow for good flexion, meaning that the heart works harder to get blood to the hoof, and circulation is reduced, reducing hoof health and prolonging recovery in the case of injury or disease. Long-term shoeing also leads to the contraction of the hoof, which over time reduces the pressure borne by the digital cushion located beneath the frog. This has the effect of making the frog softer deeper and more sensitive, increasing sensitivity and the chances of infection.
- Better Traction/Safer Trails and Winters: Barefoot hooves develop concave, dome-like soles, which act as protection for the sensitive sole and frog. Since the sole is not constantly flat to the ground, it is much less susceptible to bruising, which is painful and can lead to abscesses.
This concavity also allows the hoof to conform to uneven surfaces much more adeptly than a flat shod foot, and there is no shoe to catch on a rock or other object and be painfully ripped off or pulled. In the winter, it is common for mud and ice to pack into shod hooves, creating a dangerous "ice skate" on the bottom of the hoof and causing the horse to slip and slide. Shod hooves get more dirt and debris packed into them because they cannot "scoop" like concave bare hooves and fling debris out. The more and longer dirt sits in the hoof, the more susceptible the horse is to bacterial infections such as thrush and canker.
- Better Movement: Shod horses have a tendency to land toe-first, which shortens their stride and makes it choppier and less fluid. When a horse is barefoot, they land with their heel first, lengthening their stride, opening their shoulder for better freedom of movement, and increasing fluidity.
Below: Safe and Sound horse in shoes before going barefoot, demonstrating steep toefirst landing and interference. This horse wore bell boots in order to prevent her from pulling her shoes, which she often did due to her severe interfering.
Below: The same horse after going barefoot with Safe and Sound, demonstrating good stride length and heel first landings at both walk and trot with no interference.