There are new hoof prints on our track this morning:


Close by are prints that belong now to history:


I have to confess that I woke up this morning with a feeling of alarm. Awaiting their breakfast were two ponies with beautifully trimmed hooves, a journey of transition started for one of them, and our help gone back home, 5 hours drive away.

My farrier, who had said he would try to be there, did not come.

I brought Ben and Rosie to Sandra’s place, as Cassie and Minnie were going barefoot too. Having driven all morning, Dermot and John McCourt arrived in the early afternoon and for the next three hours removed shoes with great care, trimmed, instructed and encouraged. Cassie and Minnie had their hooves trimmed first, while Ben and Rosie waited their turn. They soon relaxed in the gentle, calm atmosphere that prevailed.


Rosie needed a remedial trim. Heels and bars needed attention and her hoof was taken back to the white line. This is her first hoof trimmed:


This is her right hoof, always her most tender, before trimming:


and after the initial trim on the underside of the hoof:


Her long toes were pulling at the laminae with every step she took, her heels were uneven and bars long and pressing into her sole. Despite having had no shoes on for a good while now, her soles have not calloused, her bone is very close to the surface there. This much was trimmed from her hoof:


Here is her left hind hoof before trimming:


I really hope she will be more comfortable now. She needed, as I understand it, to have her heels lowered to bring her weight closer to the ground there and the strain taken off the toe.

Ben’s turn.

I gained an insight into Ben’s character yesterday. None of the equines had a history of being happy with farriers. Sandra was told that Cassie was a b***h to shoe by one farrier, Rosie silently resists and stands tense for the farrier, and Ben stretches back, looking worried and does not want to hold up his back legs. Now yesterday, Dermot and John trimmed in front of Sandra’s hayshed, which was very nice for Cassie, Minnie and even Rosie who all took full advantage of the hay on offer. But Ben, who would normally eat for Ireland, did not go near the hay. He spent most of the time with his worried face, captured quite well here:


His top lip can stretch even further forward, his mouth looks tight and I am rather familiar with this expression. Now what interested me was that he alone of the four could not let the memory of past farriery experiences go, but stayed braced, anticipating pain even when there was none.

Left front hoof before the trim:



I felt anxious before the shoes came off, worrying about what state the hoof would be in. Thankfully, Dermot pronounced them as good hooves, which should transition easily to barefoot. Look at the rust left by a nail:


His hind hooves were the worst. Both had fungus and thrush under the shoe as can be seen in this photo of the right hind:


Heels were not touched, bars were trimmed back and toes trimmed. There was a bruise underneath the bar on his left hind hoof:


Here is the contrast between hooves when one was trimmed:


Both trimmed now:


Painted with “Thrush Off”, a preparation Dermot has that comes apparently from the Amazonian rain forrest:


This morning, Ben walks well, but lifts his front feet a little high. Rosie seems tender on her front hooves.


I have left grass in front of the fence open, there is very little grass and Ben has chosen a haynet, but Rosie wants to stay on the grass.



Filed under hoof care

5 responses to “Barefoot

  1. Good luck keeping your horses barefoot. You’ve taken the right step. Transition may take a few months but you and your horses will get there.

  2. June McIntosh

    You won’t regret it!

  3. I think going barefoot gives you the chance to learn more about the hoof, and thus more about the horse – with shoes so many things are ignored or covered up or numbed, but when a horse is barefoot, you see the day to day connection between diet, movement, and hoof health. In some ways it is more stressful (for me, still learning) but it gives you so much more information to work with.

  4. Billie, you have described just what the issues around barefoot are: it is easier to cover them up in a way with shoes, but very interesting to allow their hoof be a guide to their general health – although also quite challenging.