“A great wee man”

…as a Scottish lady I know would say; a great wee man who took the lead with Sandra and Cassie today on a six mile ride, delighted not to have to fall behind due to her longer stride. Cassie walked carefully, barefoot with no boots. Ben strode out, Renegade boots on front hooves, picking his way along the ground, seeking grass verges where he could. He coped with gunshots, dogs and cars, only hesitating for boulders and cows.


It feels normal again, and is such a relief. Two months after going barefoot we are riding on the roads again. My relief is such that only now do I realise how anxious I have been about the whole process. I took shoes off a sound horse and was viewed as “mad” by horsey friends.

Ben’s hooves look great. We are trimming every fortnight, growing more confident with the rasp and the fact that we now have a hoof jack is also speeding up the process. Ben is developing a nice callous on each hoof, nail holes have already disappeared and hoof walls appear strong with no flare. All signs of thrush have gone.  His footfall is now heel first rather than toe first.

Ben went into his barefoot transition with some advantages. Thanks to Rosie’s laminitic management, he was already on a sugar-free diet with access to grass restricted at danger times. The track system was in place to allow for free movement on a variety of surfaces and of course he was on 24 hour turnout. He is also a naturally healthy chap with good feet anyway.

I would never preach barefoot to anyone. With it comes a big responsibility for management of diet, exercise and trimming. But if asked again (as I have been) why did I take his shoes off, I would turn that question on its head and ask why would I leave his shoes on?



Filed under hoof care, track system

6 responses to ““A great wee man”

  1. June

    Those are some wide-awake ears.

    Congratulations on Ben’s feet! It sounds like you’re doing a great job and that things will only get even better from here on.

  2. I like the last line, why would you leave them on. I think that there is a big responsibility to look after all those things you mentioned even if the shoes are on….They are still subject to the same issues but maybe they are hidden while the shoes are on.
    Delighted they are going well and they will be a good advert to your horsey friends 🙂

  3. It is such a pleasant surprise to see hooves improve without shoes. Well done with these first steps. Do remember that iron shoes appears literally a couple of thousand years after the treed saddle and a thousand years after the stirrup. It wasn’t lack of metalworking skill that prevented iron shoes from being used, simply there was little need for shoes until people started stabling horses.

    • White Horse Pilgrim, that is very interesting. I had no idea that a treed saddle came so early on. Yes, stabling interfered with horses’ natural need to move, and still does of course. I am really pleased how well the transition is going.