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Transition to Barefoot

How to Transition Your Horse to Being Barefoot…

Taking any particular horse from shoes to barefoot can take some time.  A few horses will trot off barefoot on rocks and you  will wonder why you ever put shoes on them. Many horses will be tender on rocks and hard ground at first. 

The most important part of the transition to barefoot is getting an appropriate “barefoot trim” done on your horse. The typical “pasture” trim will not keep a barefoot horse sound.

Barefoot horses should NEVER have the toe callus trimmed (area of sole between the tip of the frog and the toe). Most farriers thin this area when placing shoes. 

This is the main reason people think their horse “can’t go barefoot.” When the toe callus is left untouched and the trim is appropriate most SOUND horses can easily and comfortably transition to barefoot.

BUT – If I wanted I could “prove” to you that your horse needed shoes by trimming the toe callus. By removing sole at the toe you have done 2 things. You have just removed the “protective” covering of the coffin bone and you have lowered it closer to the ground. This is no different than running down a gravel road in tennis shoes or house slippers. Which would be more comfortable?

Unfortunately the sole is the slowest growing portion of the hoof, and when it has been trimmed and thinned it can take weeks and months to grow back.

“Traditional” shoeing methods teach farriers to thin the toe callus to prevent “sole pressure”. This is a MYTH. Mustangs wear their hoof walls off so that they are walking directly ON THEIR SOLES. “Sole pressure” is normal. 

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