Everybody know that transitioning a horse from shoes to barefoot is supposed to be hard, and taking one that’s already barefoot should make for a seamless transition. NOT. If you’ve been around horses for any length of time, you will know that there are never any "givens" when it comes to horses!
Back in November, I brought two new horses into our herd. The first was Breve, a big old moose of a 7yr. old Shagya, who had been barefoot for years. A few weeks later, we introduced Nero, a 10yr. old Arab who has been in shoes for the "on" season since he was a youngster. Naturally, he was going to be the difficult to transition where Breve would seamlessly continue in his work with no issue.
Can you really call taking a barefoot pasture horse to a barefoot performance horse a transition? I think you can. There are major differences in a "pasture trim" and a good barefoot trim, and unfortunately many people don’t understand these differences. Does your trimmer understand it? Breve had been recently trimmed prior to coming to Idaho, but came with too long of wall, too long of toe and some serious imbalances in all four feet, it was obvious some major adjustments were necessary. Because I knew his feet would be making some serious changes, I waited a while to order boots for him, planning on trimming conservatively and letting him do some natural wear during our frequent rides through November and December. I backed his toe up some and balanced him, but was not aggressive in his trim. Even so, after about a month of riding twice a week, he started to hesitate over the rougher, harder and rocky ground. I wrote a few weeks ago about fitting him for boots. Since we’ve gotten his boots, I’ve alternated riding barefoot and booted in the last month. About a week ago, I attacked his feet and am very pleased with how they look at this time. Look at these changes!
Now for Nero. Nero, Nero, Nero. Wouldn’t you know it he hasn’t taken a bobble? I don’t even have anything to write! After pulling his shoes, I rounded the walls and left him for a week. Truthfully, I was afraid to do too much and have the ground freeze, leaving me with a sore footed pony. He just has his shoes pulled for gosh sakes! Of course until now, we’ve had perpetual fall, so no frozen ground to battle with. That is all changing tonight. But I digress. Nero looked great, and when I started to ride him the first part of December I was shocked! This guy doesn’t miss a step! After almost a 600 mile endurance season in shoes, he hasn’t skipped a beat. I really appreciate this guys toughness and inherently beautiful feet. While I am not foolish enough to expect a completely seamless transition to competing in boots, I am pleased with how things are going. I have also come to fully respect a good farrier, because I am certain our transition wouldn’t be where it is today had Nero been shod poorly. Barefoot or shod, a good trim is imperative, and we should appreciate it when we see it.
Poor Nero’s transition has been so unremarkable the only pictures I have are of his ridiculously perfect little face. I guess that’s the difference in getting a horse from someone who cares for them as you yourself do! No crazy physique changes, no dramatic before and afters, just an easy pony to love. I have been enjoying our weekly gallops to keep me sane and Nero legged up without pounding out too many miles.
He is spoiled with us! Never a dirty bed, dinner on a silver platter, and a mint on his pillow at bed time. Oh wait. He really hates mints.
Here shortly, I will be fitting Nero for his own Easyboot Gloves. I anticipate needing a very good fit in the front as I have watched him carefully and he appears to twist a bit in both fronts as he places his foot down. Luckily, he has beautiful wall quality, absolutely no flaring and appropriate heel height. If we have problems (and stating this as public record guarantees we will), they will be my fault. I plan to be prepared!
~ Amanda Washington