Horseshoes are synonymous with horses, so it might seem a little strange to some that our horses don't wear any.
There are three main drivers behind our horses being "barefoot" as it is known.
1) My primary driver was that it's safer for clients. Whilst horses aren't in the business of standing on people's feet, a horseshoe is going to do a lot more damage than a barefoot horse. Knowing this takes a load off my mind and is one less thing I have to worry about in a session.
2) Our horses don't need shoes. Ok, so this one was a bit of a stretch for me initially. Every horse I'd ever had, had worn shoes, so I figured it must be because they needed them. Turns out it's not so. A well managed horse will grow healthy feet that can more than cope with the rigours of what we put our horses through - which includes 6 mile walks on all sorts of terrain include tarmac roads and stony tracks. Jim's feet are so strong and hard it's hard to give them a pedicure! Plus all three horses make the most blissful clip clop sound on the roads. I encourage you to book a time to take them for a walk to hear it!
3) It's better for the horses. When we decided to remove Squirrel and Dainty's shoes and go barefoot we had to learn about the benefits and costs of shoes versus no shoes. We quickly learnt that whilst shoes might be the convention, they also mask a lot of problems that we'd otherwise not know about.
The first thing we had to do was learn about diet. Just like humans, too much sugar is bad for horses, particularly native hardy ponies like ours. Whereas before we'd miss the warning signs they were getting too much, if we've not managed to prevent sugar overload now (usually because of a weather spike), we at least spot the signs and deal with it much quicker. Also, what's good for feet is good for the whole of the horse, so their coat, temperament, mental health and immunity is also better, so what's not to love?
I also had to learn about foot shape and health, so I could keep on top of issues between trims. We have a wonderful podiatrist that comes ever 6 weeks to trim the horses feet, make sure they are balanced and give advice on how best to manage their health. These sessions are invaluable to keep the horses hooves in good shape and healthy for their work.
Each horse takes about 30 minutes to trim and they end up with the sweetest little tootsie's at the end. Our wonderful trimmers Jon and Liz have been with us since very early in our barefoot journey, and do incredible work, particularly on Squirrel who's feet were in very bad shape. Thanks to their commitment and dedication, Squirrel now has great feet and we now know how to keep them that way!
Barefoot is also a much nicer experience for the horse. A barefoot horse has better blood circulation in the legs, more flexibility and feel through the feet and doesn't have to endure being shod! They also have a better grip on hard surfaces and there's less risk of the hoof wall breaking as there's no nail holes or shoes that can get caught in things!
So all in all, being barefoot is an absolute win for us and we're so glad we tried it.
Sessions where you can book to take our horses for a walk are: