Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bare Foot vs. Shod

I always have this a feeling that if you want to stir up trouble with horse people discuss horses hooves. Just like anything people have their own opinion and some are pretty adamant that their way is the "right way."

Personally, (as in my opinion) I think it's great to be able to keep your horse's feet natural, but you need to do what is best for your horse. It always drives me crazy when people tell me that TB's have horrible feet and they need to have shoes on all 4's. My first farrier put shoes on all 4 of Denali's feet because she had "horrible" feet. Yes, they were not great, and I didn't know any better.

Just because your horse is a TB does NOT mean that they have horrible feet. I'm betting (and can't be for sure) but racing TB's are feed a diet to give them the energy that they need to be able to run over long distances. The feet are shod, and are not given much thought. Denali's feet were horrible when I got her, splintered, cracked, dried. After two years her feet look so much better. It's amazing what a healthy diet can do. I do think that there are some horses that just proned to bad feet, but again, a TB does not mean that you automatically have bad feet.

After that ramble, I'm not going to lie. Denali has shoes on her fronts. Her back feet look great, and Denali's front look good, but without shoes, with in days they are pancaked. I realize that it's hard for the hoof to get healthy with shoes on, but I trust her farrier. He does a great job, and always, ALWAYS watches her move, checks out the health of the foot, and always asks me questions and answers my questions. He does his trims based on the wild mustangs. I think it's called a Mustang Trim. He rolls her toes. I could be wrong. Don't quote me.

Where Denali lives she doesn't have any place that would help harden her soles. I tried going barefoot with her once (see bad farrier) so even a year later I'm nervous. My goal is to get her barefoot and keep her barefoot. Someday.

I have a few friends who have their horses barefoot. They have their property set up in a way that helps keep the foot healthy. Their feet look great! A few years ago I met the most amazing lady. Pat Wagner, she is amazing and really knows her stuff. Before I met her I thought that shoes were just the ways it should be. I didn't know. She taught me a lot through e-mails, and conversations we had about Denali's horrible farrier care.

Last week I was thinking about Laz, and my heart was breaking... I couldn't imagine what Kristen was going through, when I thought of Pat. Pat lives in WA, but she knows her stuff. I've seen her take horses with horrible hoof conditions, and save their life. I passed her info on to Kristen, and Kristen contacted her. Long story short, Pat gave Kristen another natural hoof care provider in her area. As I write this he's there...with Kristen and Laz, and I'm just dying to know what she finds out!!

What are your thoughts on keeping your horses feet? Do you feel strongly one way or another? I think personally, that you should do what's best for your horse, but WOW there are some horrible farriers out there... for both natural and shod horses. I've seen some amazing (NOT) horses feet. They didn't look healthy at all.


Rachel said...

YOU are the one that sent Kristen to the natural hoof person! Oh, I'm so happy that she may have an option! Lets def cross our fingers. I owned a TB for 7 years. Had her barefoot the whole time. She jumped and trail rode, we didn't even use a special barefoot farrier. We also lived on the coast, so that is to be taken into consideration. Then I had a paso/qh large pony that had to be shoed all the way around or she was to tender to do anything... its all about the horse and what is best for the individual.

Denali said...

Yeah, and I'm still sitting here with every finger crossed for some HOPE!! :) It's really, really wet in the PNW, so I've had a hard time with keeping her barefoot. Our farrier is really good, and I think if I didn't have him I'd try to figure something else out. I don't see her liking the soft boots, but I haven't tired so I don't know.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Denali!! We are getting some great news and even my vet took this new info and xrays he took today (no charge) to Michigan State University who has renowed Equine care...Laz is getting his own case study and we are heading in the barefoot's way. He comes out March 19th to get us started and let me tell you..Cliff is awesome!! More details at my blog but, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope he takes well to shoes and you are's a case by case situation. xo

Denali said...

I'm doing the happy dance right now!!!!

Frizzle said...

I tried to nudge Kristen towards natural barefoot care back in Januray, but I understand her reluctance. It certainly does seem a bit kooky if you don't understand it.
Denali, just putting a mustang roll on a pasture trim does not a natural barefoot trim make! You need to be sure that your trimmer has studied people like Jaime Jackson and Pete Ramey, and/or has attended the Oregon School of Natural Hoof Care. It's a bit long to post on here, so I will someday get around to a whole barefoot blog post. Heck, take a look at Salem's feet back in October -- they were awful! Now, they are tough, rock-cruncher super hooves!
I do face quite a bit of controvery for having Salem barefoot, which I understand -- but, hey, he's doing really, really well. No need to fix something that's not broken.

Denali said...

Nope he's not a barefoot trimmer. Did I say he was? I need to go fix that if I did!

Denali said...

Lol, I didn't say that he was a barefoot trimmer, but even I couldn't follow my train of thought!

Anonymous said...

I'm not dogmatic either way - I've done both, depending on the horse. I have a TB with wonderful feet, and a TB/warmblood cross with terrible feet - both are in shoes because our trails are rock-hard. My three retired horses are barefoot and happy.

Lori Skoog said...

I vote for horses going barefooted, as much as possible. We had a thoroughbred who was put down last June. For 90% of his life (26/colic) he went without me, your farrier is the one who makes as much difference as anything.

Laura Maynard said...

Great post Denali! I'm very much a beliver in using a hoof care professional (I call mine a farrier) who cares about giving the horse the best foot for his conformation and workload. After the first year with my farrier we did a vet consult to take a look at x-rays and make sure everything lined up, and it did, prefectly, vet couldn't see anything that would need to be changed. My farrier has tried several times to get mine going barefoot, most recently while she's been on a layoff for injury. Every time we've tried she ends up sore so shoes go back on, aluminums in front and steel behind. When we get a pleasure horse for my husband one of the requirements is must be happy and healthy barefoot. So I'm certainly not adament about barefoot vs. shoes. What is frustrating though is those who do insist there is only one way to do things. I think it's better to listen to the horse and see what they find most comfortable.

SprinklerBandit said...

Izzy is barefoot and very happy. I'm also happy, because it's less than 50% of the cost of all four shoes.

That said, I'm not committed either way. If Izzy and I start competing at a higher level over rougher terrain and she needs shows, I'll certainly go for it.

Fingers, toes, and anything else crossed for Kristin and Laz.