To Shoe?

When I brought Annie home she had a lot of stuff going on with her feet… Namely that she had front racing shoes on her hind feet… We ended up pulling her hind shoes to give her some breathing room and we kept front shoes on to help support a better shape. When I moved to Nashville I was able to pull her shoes through the winter until this past cycle. Unfortunately with more work and our trail riding adventures farrier thought shoes would help with the wear and tear she was having.

Houston is an entirely different story. When I bought Houston he had never had shoes on. He remained barefoot for awhile after I brought him home and then eventually ended up with shoes all around. For the past year and a half I am not sure exactly what program he was on but he came home with shoes on up front and was still growing out a abscess hole. I pulled his shoes and decided to let him be for a little bit. His feet have honestly been holding up alright and I would love for him to stay barefoot given the work that is being asked of him. He is rarely ridden more than 3-4 days a week and he is not asked to do that much compared to what he used to do.
  I debated having the farrier keep his front shoes on but after discussion I really feel that his feet will grow out and recover better without shoes. He is inside during the heat of the day and shouldn’t be stomping or pawing in a way that causes more damage to his hoof (originally I was planning to keep him on pasture). I am hoping to get his feet stronger over the next few months and that we can reevaluate closer to August. How do you all decide on shoes? Don’t like them? Only put shoes on for specific work levels? I imagine that at some point Annie may need shoes all around but for now I know that my wallet is rejoicing in the fact that I only have 2 shoes on the 8 possible hooves that I am responsible for!

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  1. My horse has never had shoes in his life and fortunately has pretty good feet. He also doesn’t work a lot, so shoes haven’t been necessary. If he ever does get shoes, it will be fronts only. He and the pony live out 24/7. I really don’t want to risk him kicking her with hind shoes on.

    My old horse wore front shoes. He was a bit tender footed, especially trail riding. We have a lot of flint rock here and it’s sharp and hard on their feet. He could go barefoot, but seemed to feel better with front shoes.

  2. I believe that it depends on the horse and the work. Miles, for example, has horrible feet and my farrier has basically said “don’t ever pull his shoes.” So he is shod all the way around, all year round. However, Moiya only has front shoes and probably won’t get hind shoes at all this year.

  3. My advice is if you can get away with not having shoes, keep doing it! What a pleasant idea for your checkbook. But in all seriousness, I think its about the quality of that horse’s feet, his work level and his environment. I event in an area of the country with pretty hard ground, so my guy has four shoes without question. But a friend of mine in the same area rides/drives/and foxhunts hers barefoot year round. The key is a good relationship with your farrier, which it seems like you have 🙂 Good luck!

  4. My farrier is very good so I trust him to make the best decisions for my horses feet and I have nothing to complain about. He’s been awesome.

  5. I’ve never had a horse with shoes. I think hooves are like any part of the body, if they are going to be barefoot then they need to be conditioned in order to be strong and tough enough to handle gravel/a high workload. Huey looks like he has pretty nice hooves though, if you can get some Keratex hoof hardener, that stuff is amazing!

  6. I think it depends heavily on the horse’s conformation and hoof quality, the farrier’s skill at trimming a barefoot horse, and the horse’s environment. What kind of ground are they on when outside or while being ridden and how dry is their stall kept when inside?
    Both of my horses have just front shoes, pretty much because of the sharp and inconsistent gravel they have to cross going to and from the pasture and riding arenas. If/when they end up in a different situation like a retirement barn I would not hesitate to pull their shoes again as they have both been barefoot for years at a time before.
    I don’t think many horses need hind shoes at all and other than Stampede wearing them for a couple months about 10 years ago I’ve never had a horse in them. Interestingly when I asked the lameness specialist I use about back shoes on Stampede and whether they would help his hind end he was very against it and said it would make him unable to rotate his hind feet the way he does now when he moves and likely make him more sore. Of course regular vet has said a couple times that it might be something to try because he gets flares in back – you know what they say about opinions…
    Basically I’d say if Huey is barefoot and comfortable follow the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it rule, especially with him not under much of a workload. I think his feet look great.

  7. My guys are all in super light work, and are mainly ridden in a grassy pasture, so they’re barefoot. Paige is the exception because she’s kind of club footed in the front, so I keep fronts on her to keep her sound on hard footing.

  8. I try not to shoe at all and just boot for trail rides. After dealing with boots for the past few years though, I’m really tired of it and I’m either going to glue or nail some rubber shoes onto Nilla at her trim tomorrow.

  9. If the ground in Central Texas were less rocky, barefoot might be an option, but I kind of assume that here shoes, at least in front, are almost a necessity.

  10. I tried to Keep V barefoot, but she is exceedingly thin soled and would guard her feet with every step, making the pony ride even that much shorter and choppier. I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I put fronts on her, and she now has all four. She is much more comfortable with shoes, so she will keep shoes. In the 4 years she’s worn them, she’s pulled 3, total. However, all my horses in the past have been barefoot.

  11. When I got Pilgrim, he’d had his racing plates pulled and was barefoot. The pastures/arena at the barn I boarded at tended towards harder ground (clay) plus there were a lot of rocks so front shoes really helped. After a bad stone bruise on one of his hind feet, I had him shod all the way around, and the difference in his movement was phenomenal. All of a sudden he was tracking up and using himself more. So it totally depends on the horse and their conformation/workload/preference. While it would be nice to have him barefoot, P has let me know repeatedly that 4 shoes work for him.

  12. If I can leave a horse barefoot, I think that’s best. So, I only shoe them according to their work level or soundness. I’ve got one completely barefoot year round, one in roller motion shoes on the front, and one with a full set of steel shoes. They just get what keeps their feet happy!