The right hoof can conquer the world. (Part 2)

This follows up the piece co-written by myself & Michelle which you can find here.

Partially written months ago & just finished it’s not nearly anywhere as nice as the big lecture.


 

I, the enterprising daredevil I am, posted in two separate horse groups, one for OTTBs and one for general horse breeds, asking people’s opinions on putting shoes on horses versus not putting shoes on horses.

My original post said this: “Thoughts on shoes or no shoes? Just looking for opinions. Explanation of opinion would be great. 🙂

I then had to edit in that I already knew what choice was better for my horse and that I wasn’t asking personally but to gather opinions for a blog piece (what’s up TSE).

To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers.

  • 42 people agreed that if the horse needs shoes, they would shoe the horse.
  • 3 people said that they would prefer to use boots over shoes.
  • 3 people just posted links to sites about going barefoot, and only one person left a description on her opinion.
  • 2 people suggested that you look into finding a good natural or barefoot ferrier.
  • 1 person just stated that their horse was barefoot.
  • 1 person decided to lecture me that the internet can’t tell me if my horse should be barefoot or if they need shoes (joke’s on them, that wasn’t even my question #Salty).

Overwhelmingly that’s 42 people in favor of using shoes when necessary and 9 people in favor of barefoot, and 1 person who didn’t really help.

So why, if 42 out of 52 people support shoes when necessary, is this such a big deal? Because no one can respect people’s personal choices. I mean, that seems like the only logical reason to me. The only logical reason because I personally have had comments to my face about the fact I choose to shoe my horse and won’t ride her on trails without shoes.

 

The people who were in favor of shoes primarily had things like this to say…

“Saying barefoot or nothing, will probably mean you get nothing to ride if your horse needs shoes. Think of the animal, not an agenda.”

Or…

Barefoot if shoes aren’t needed. 100% of the time. If I have to have one shod then I’d go for ground control shoes which are a plastic type that allow the hoof to flex properly. I’m by no means anti-shoeing, but metal shoes are restriction of motion for the hoof. I’ve been lucky with mine and nobody has needed shoes, but I also do not compete in a discipline that requires shoes (jumping, racing, barrels, reining, etc.)

Please note the willingness to admit that they don’t compete in a discipline that might end up with a horse needing shoes for either balance, support, or general soundness. Also, shoes are shoes even if it’s the plastic type (anyone know how expensive these typically are? I’m curious).

There were also two people who cited that other than corrective shoeing they would do what they could to keep their horses barefoot, however they would support shoes in circumstances where it was necessary.

Two of the non-shoe fans also agreed that if they couldn’t find another viable solution that they would put shoes on.

Some of the barefoot comments had to be pushed some on what exactly they would do if their horse wasn’t comfortable but these are some of the barefoot comments…

I’d say if shes got good quality feet and just struggles with the rough stuff when ridden I’d go for boots. There’s a lot of ways you can support their hooves through feed etc to really help too. If they were happy when out in general then I’d be speaking to the farrier about shoeing options but would always go through the other routes first. Could their be an underlying issue making them sore, there there feed correct etc etc. List goes on lol! x

This was in direct response to me pressing the for what they would do for a horse like Bella. After I explained that she lives out 24/7 and has gone lame in the pasture multiple times from hard ground or a stray rock they agreed that I was making the best decision, but they would rather see me use boots 24/7 (which is not happening since I can’t go out and check them or clean the as often as would be necessary to ensure her hoof health).

I have 3 and took care of 8 others who were all barefoot and perfectly sound. All different breeds. Drafts, warmblood, TB, Arab, QH, Appendix, etc. we only had to put hoof boots on two of them for trotting and cantering on rocky or super hard ground.

While there’s nothing outright wrong about this statement I would like to point out a few things. Breed doesn’t necessarily determine hoof strength, or if they can be barefoot or not. I know plenty of barefoot Warmbloods, some of whom even competed barefoot. I know a few barefoot OTTBs, I know plenty of barefoot Arabs, QHs, and so on. That doesn’t change that not all horses thrive barefoot. Two do get hoof boots, which I can assume means that they’re comfortable in turnout without protection which is great but this one experience cannot define every horse in the world.

We also had the three people who just posted links to the barefoot sites, if you’re interested in trying to go barefoot (by all means, go for it and hopefully save some money) you can find the sites here and here. We are not, by any stretch of the imagination, against going barefoot. We’re simply here to state that some horses need shoes.

One of the people who commented with a url left this comment,

Short version is it eventually gets you a healthier hoof. For many horses you’ll need to use boots temporarily to provide comfort while you grow an adequate hoof to go barefoot under saddle. Some will need boots even not ridden for a ew months. This transition can be an irritation but in the long run we’ve gotten all the horses I manage to do well barefoot. some always need boots to ride. Scootboots work bet for us by far.

I understand  where she’s coming from but I have a couple issues with what she’s saying.

  1. Personally, even if I could go out daily to check on the boots I wouldn’t turn out with them on. I’m far too paranoid for this. In fact, the idea of people jumping in boots makes my heart beat a little faster and I know that’s safe to do. I just can imagine so many ways that a horse in turnout could end up with a boot twisted wrong or rubbing… unless you’re able to ensure that they’re being checked on, having the boots sanitized, and getting time without their feet in a boot, this isn’t an option I would ever consider. Riding, sure, jumping, maybe, turn out? Nope.
  2. The phrasing that they “manage to do well barefoot,” irks me. I don’t want my horse to manage, I want my horse to thrive. Seriously, I want her to always feel surefooted, confident, and be comfortable.

While all of that was going down, I happened to spot another post with someone asking about a hoof shedding, and I noticed the horse was wearing a shoe. Just because I knew what I would find, I clicked. Sure enough one of the very first comments on the picture was from someone being unnecessarily rude about the fact the horse was wearing a shoe (seriously, why do you guys make this so easy?).

Here’s how the conversation read:

Poster 2:

God knows how she can shed with that metal nailed to her foot.

Original Poster:

 Oh please don’t start if you don’t agree with my horse having shoes I have good news for you ! it’s not your horse so not your problem 🙂

Good for her for sticking up for herself!

Poster 3:

Well she clearly has managed it!!!

If my horse didn’t have that ‘metal nailed in his foot’ his foot would look a state and he would be in pain, chronic foot sore – I know. This happened!

Sorry but in, but boils my (water emoji)!!

Original Poster:

[Person 3] I know -shrug- she has typical thoroughbred hooves -laugh/cry- I don’t do it cos it looks good they are on there for a reason

Cue where people proceeded to argue about how no one ever checks diet, gives horses enough time to get solid on the ground, etc. I chimed in (because I have no self control) that Bella was barefoot for 4 years before we put shoes on. Good diet, ample chances to walk around on hard surfaces and gravel and never toughened up. We finally put shoes on her (at the suggestion of my Ferrier to give her extra balance over fences) and she’s been sound and confident ever since.

To sum it all up, there were a lot more people than I expected in favor of shoes. I was expecting a LOT more people to lecture me on barefoot and how my horse didn’t need shoes, but then on another thread with a more specific question I found what I’m all too used to seeing. Someone chiming in with a rude comment because someone else has shod their horse. There is no right or wrong here, there is only the desire to ensure that the horses are comfortable and cared for. After years and years of humans controlling breeding we’ve certainly messed with things and we need to own up to it.

26 year old equestrian keeping busy and moving forwards.

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