Should Your Horse Go Barefoot

 Many  horse owners take shoeing their horse for granted, but in reality many  horses can go barefoot with little difficulty. Here are some questions  to consider if you are looking at making the jump from shoes to  barefoot:
 

 

  1. What  type of feet does your horse have? Some breeds, such as Arabs, have  exceptionally strong feet and do very well without shoes. However, you  will need to discuss with your farrier or vet as to whether your horse  is sound enough to go barefoot. Some conditions, such as founder,  require corrective and therapeutic shoeing to keep the horse  comfortable.
  2. What  type of riding do you do? If your horse is primarily worked on soft  ground and you don’t show, going barefoot is probably just fine.  However, if you are doing extensive trail riding on hard packed or rocky  ground, your horse will need the additional protection of shoes.
  3. Does  your farrier have experience with barefoot trims? A barefoot trim needs  to be handled just as carefully as putting shoes on a horse – it is not  simply pulling the shoes and trimming the horse’s hoof. Ensure that your  farrier is comfortable working with barefoot horses, and make sure to  keep to a very regular trimming schedule.
  4. Are  you willing to listen to your horse? Above all, it will be your horse  who dictates whether barefoot is a viable option. You will need to be  tuned into your horse’s behaviour, watching for touchy walking,  lameness, and hooves that are chipped or cracked. Some horses are more  prone to abscesses when they go without shoes.
  5. Are  you considering barefoot to save money? This cannot be a financial  decision. Often a barefoot trim is just as expensive as having your  horse shod, and of course having a lame, sore horse will not bring  savings to your pocketbook.