When I decided to make the transition to barefoot I made a commitment to stick with it for six months. That was six years ago and I haven’t looked back. Two of those horses are now Haggin Cup winners. There are five things that stick out as some of the most important lessons along the way. If you educate yourself about what to expect, you can speed up the transition process and eliminate discomfort for your horse.
1. The Role of the Sole
Don’t merrily soak your horse’s feet every couple of days and then carve out his false sole with a farrier’s knife. You might think you will accelerate the process of exfoliation and make the transition faster. A more conservative strategy will make the transition easier.
2. Even Professionals Can Make Mistakes
All horses react differently to the transition from shod to barefoot. Some horses can be problem-free for the first few week, and then start running into sensitivity issues. Talk things through with your hoof care professional before each trim. Be mindful that trimming the hoofwall below the level of the sole can create pressure on the sole that may result in soreness. A conservative trim is always a good idea.
3. Add Hoof Maintenance Into Your Schedule
Take a rasp to your horse’s feet every few weeks – especially if you are working them regularly. Help prevent the hoof wall chipping away by keeping a mustang roll around the base of the foot. Regular rasping will also help bring the toe back and can offset a flare if the hoof seems predisposed to flaring.
Pick the feet out regularly: horses can get thrush even in the driest of climates.
4. Ride Without Boots When You Can
Find a trail with soft footing where you can take your horse and ride without boots. It can serve to speed up the adjustment period for tender-footed horses
5. Ride With Boots
You can eliminate any rubbing problems with gaiters, even with a heavy riding schedule. Avoid the risk of rubs in the pastern area by riding the horse a few times for short periods to get used to the gaiters.
Director of Marketing
I am responsible for the marketing and branding of the EasyCare product line. I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the strategy of using booted protection for horses, no matter what the job you have for your equine partner.