Barefoot in the UK
I though you all would be interested in a recent interview with a barefoot horse owner in the UK!
Q1: Where are you from, what type of horse do you have and what do you use him for?
I am from Essex in the UK and I have a 14.2 coloured gelding who is a 5 year old trotter. I have owned him for just over a year and during this time I have broken him to be ridden. I am currently in the process of exposing him to the world and have taken him to low level dressage. We have also been to a few clinics, one Show Jumping and two Cross Country and he is proving to be very amenable to any discipline.
Q2: How long has your horse been barefoot?
My horse was only four when I got him and he did not have any shoes on at this point so I decided to try and maintain this. Initially he was trimmed by a farrier who would carry out a normal pasture trim. My horse then had his first official barefoot trim on 13th August 2014 so we have been barefoot for just over a year now.
Q3: What made you decide to stay barefoot?
I have had several horses in the past all who have worn shoes, it was only when my sister-in-law introduced me to barefoot by giving me a book to read called ‘Feet First: Barefoot Performance and Hoof Rehabilitation’ by Nic Barker and Sarah Braithwaite. After reading this and doing some research on-line, I decided to try and maintain my horses as barefoot and from this point I started to look for a barefoot trimmer.
Q4: What is the best thing about your horse being barefoot?
The best thing about barefoot for me is knowing my horse can cope with all sorts of surfaces without the need of shoes and that he can be comfortable at the same time. Another positive is that I no longer have to worry about my horse ever losing a shoe! Obviously the money I have saved since being barefoot has meant that I have been able to take my horse on more outings and even a couple of competitions.
Q5: Have you ever tried hoof boots?
I have not tried hoof boots on my horse purely because I have not needed them as his feet are quite strong and able to cope with most surfaces. I have been looking at buying some Cavallo Trek’s, as recommended by my barefoot trimmer, as I wish to undertake more road work with my horse and feel this is likely to be the time that I will find a need for them.
Q6: Are your horse’s feet easy or difficult to keep?
My horse’s feet are extremely easy to keep; he has a strong structure but I have found that the exercises I do and the feed he gets helps maintain them. Also having a knowledgeable trimmer helps.
Q7: How often do you get him trimmed and do you trim yourself?
My horse is trimmed every six weeks by my barefoot trimmer. I have been on a day course with her to learn how to trim my horse’s feet myself. I am still undergoing training but hope to get to the stage that the trimmer’s visits become less frequent.
Q8: Can you describe the environment he lives in and what is in his diet?
My horse is on a DIY livery yard and he is turned out in a small herd with three other horses. We are very lucky that we have all year turnout. During the summer months, he is out from about 7pm until 6.30am and is stabled during the day as there is no shelter from the sun. During the winter months he is stabled overnight and back out in his field from 6am until about 3pm. When my horse is stabled he is kept on Nedz Bed Pro and fed ad-lib hay. My horse’s hard feed consist of: Agrobs Muesli, Agrobs Pre Alpin Aspero, Micronized Linseed, Speedi Beet, Pro Balance, (Dobson and Horrell) Digestive Support, Turmeric, freshly ground Black Pepper and Glucosamine.
Q9: Would you recommend going barefoot? Why?
I would definitely recommend barefoot to other horse owners and have done so, to two friends, who are now both barefoot. I find my horse is less likely to sustain injury from concussion that shoes often give. I feel that my horse is on a better diet which is more manageable to standard compound feeds and that he feels better for it. For me it is very cost effective but my priority is my horse.
What a wonderful success story!