Barefoot Horse Riding
Many of us are happy to allow our horses to ‘go barefoot’. We see the benefits of a more natural program. We don’t like pounding nails into the hoof every 6 weeks. Shoeing is expensive and good farriers are hard to find. If we consider pulling the shoes, our horses may seem sore. Maybe you have even tried it and ended up putting the shoes back on. There are many factors that contribute to the long-term success of a barefoot program and it is very different than traditional shoeing. When a farrier comes, he trims your horse flat and level, even and balanced. He removes some dead tissue and makes the hoof look neat and tidy. His job is to make sure the shoe goes on securely and shapes to the trim he’s done, leaving the metal shoe as the only part making contact with the ground. Do you think this metal shoe absorbs the shock and concussion of 1000 pounds in motion? Do you think that the hoof is functioning as it should? Do you think blood is circulating freely? The answers are – not a chance!
Barefoot Horse – Trims
Let’s talk about what happens when we don’t put the shoes on. Proportionately, as a truly miraculous structure the small hoof supports the weight of a large horse. The walls expand and widen apart to draw the sole flat. When the sole levels downward towards the ground the bone column can easily move down. The coffin bone acts as a trampoline to absorb the descending structure. The frogs help the heels expand and in so doing, blood circulates freely carrying nutrients to the entire apparatus. Shock is absorbed properly. Tissue is nourished and the whole horse benefits because his most primary survival flight mode is not compromised through an archaic and unnecessary practice, which not only renders hoof function non-existent but exerts upward pressure to the entire internal structure.
To achieve what we call proper hoof mechanism, some of your considerations should be:
- Frequent barefoot trims tailored for your horse
- Adequate movement & exercise
- Proper hoof hydration
- Counter effect of hard ground
- Stimulation of aggressive terrain
- Normal herd life with friends and socialization
- Dr. Hildrud Strasser, DVM is the author of several textbooks on lameness and healing.
- Robert Bowker, VMD, PhD authored studies on blood circulation, hoof loading patterns and laminitis
- Gene Ovnicek speaks on Wild Horse Patterns and Lameness Prevention