I recently came across a very interesting article on barefoot management of horses and had a few thoughts on it I wanted to share. The article is written by someone who is pro barefoot and believes that any horse can go barefoot and it is the owners management of the horse which prevents the horse from transitioning to being barefoot. She also says that she is convinced that barefoot is the only way to have a naturally healthy horse.
Now before I get into the finer details of the article, I both agree and disagree with her thoughts behind the article. I do believe that most (if not all) horses can go barefoot with the correct management and care. Yes some may have special conditions which might make this impossible for whatever reason, but as a sweeping rule, any horse can make the transition to being barefoot.
However, this transition can be a long and painful process for the horse and could potentially put the horse at risk of pain from being barefoot. Therefore, so although I believe any horse can become happy and sound barefoot, I do not believe that it is always ethical to transition a horse to being barefoot, especially when the horse has a demanding work load. And I find her statement about owners choosing to shoe their horses are “just doing what they think is best” rubs me up the wrong way a bit. Because really, she has chosen for her horses to be barefoot because it is what she thinks is best at the end of the day. There is a lot of evidence suggesting that both barefoot and being shod have their benefits, so I really don’t feel that anyone can say that overall one is better than the other. They both have their place and can both benefit the horse.
The rest of her post, as a whole I agree with, largely because they are proven things to help maintain a strong, healthy hoof. I think it’s interesting that she highlights these issues for barefoot management in particular though. As from where I’m standing, this article gives the impression that horses are hardier with shoes on as if these management points slide, it is less likely to cause a problem than if the horse was barefoot. (I’m not saying that this is the case! Just how I find the article reads!)
However, for me, her final line ruins the article for me – “Don’t give up though—the benefits of barefoot are worth it!”
Now to be fair, this might just be because in my opinion, the main benefits of barefoot are saving money on shoes and claiming your horse is living a more natural lifestyle. In fact, I find it hard to think of other benefits of barefoot, especially when thinking about me and Scottie. So from where I am standing, being able to say my horse is more natural and saving me some money is not worth the potential suffering Scottie would undergo during the transition.
I tried really hard to not make this post another post of me moaning about the barefoot fad… I think I failed slightly… But it is a good article and you should read it and let me know what you think!
Read the article here!
Last Updated on 07/08/2018
My horse is unshod. I don’t really get where this term barefoot comes from. We have a bog standard farrier, had the trimmer, been there done that.
Mine doesn’t have shoes as she doesn’t need shoes. I do however put boots on for certain rides, terrain.
It’s not about saving money, or being more natural. It’s about what she needs or doesn’t need, simple as that.
If she needs a rug, she gets one, if not then no.
Can all horses go unshod, sure they can but most won’t be able to stay that way. Otherwise you could say all riders can be top eventers and it’s just the horse that holds us back. We know that’s not true. The same as we know not all horses van be without shoes.
Using remedial shoeing my vet and farrier work together to manage my horse’s arthritic hind legs. I’d love to have a barefoot horse, but I’d rather have a sound one!
This is exactly how all owners should think!