All Things Barefoot
If you are struggling with your horse’s bare feet, don’t give up. It is a huge commitment but it is one of the most worthwhile things you can do – allowing your horse to be free of metal shoes. He may be a little tender in the beginning as he adjusts but stick to your plan and review the following potential issues:
- Irregular trims: the aim of good trimming is to promote good growth in the right direction, so regular trims need to be maintained to encourage this. It also helps to avoid overgrown walls and heels, which will not allow for toughening of the soles and heels – imperative for good feet.
- Diet: a high fiber and low cereal diet is the basis of the horse’s eating regime but other elements must also be considered. Too much fresh, lush grass will ensure a high sugar and starch intake which can be problematic, the onset of laminitis being only one example. Zinc and copper are frequently deficient in horses’ diets and these minerals are crucial to good hoof health. Too much iron can block the absorption of these minerals so watch out for this too. All in all, the intake of major and trace minerals must be in good balance.
- Not enough movement: movement promotes circulation, encourages natural wear and toughens hooves. Allow as much turn-out time as possible, preferably with the horse living outside 24/7 in a herd and on varied terrain.
- Soft pasture: I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about how the hoof will only be as strong as the ground the horse lives on. If they live on soft wet pasture, you cannot expect the hooves to be hard. Vary the terrain in your pasture, or ride more frequently on harder ground (allowing time to build up the hoof strength).
- Long-term shoeing: sometimes a horse has just been in shoes for too long. This is another area where Cavallo Hoof Boots are a life saver, for you and your horse. Many animals will need boots while they are transitioning from shoes to barefoot, even when not being ridden. Perhaps you cannot provide the ideal environmental and dietary circumstances for your horse. Boots can help here too, because comfortable movement encourages circulation and fresh blood can prevent a plethora of problems. Or in a few cases, you have done all you can do but the damage is too far gone. If you put shoes back on, you will start from square one all over again. Keep with it and use hoof boots instead so you’re horse can rumble around comfortably with freedom and protection.