Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Suprise Visit From the Farrier

My farrier called Sunday to say he was coming out to do the horses. He likes to keep me on my toes with these things. Actually, he comes from North Jersey/PA, so I'm lucky that he even comes to Bumble, South Jersey to do my horses. He often doesn't know when he's going to get out my way much in advance, so I put up with the suprises. It's funny what we'll go through for a good farrier....as they say, "No hoof, no horse!

In typical Thoroughbred fashion, Spider has rotten feet. Mile long toes and no heels. When I bought him his feet looked like a donkey's, a poorly shod donkey. My farrier has done wonders for the shape of his feet, but kept telling me that what Spider really needed was to go barefoot for a little while. But I just didn't have the nerve. All I could imagine is broken up hooves and an unsound horse. Plus, who ever heard of an unshod competitive dressage horse? I'd be laughed out of the ring. But last winter I finally let Chris talk me into removing just the hind shoes. I was still too chicken to take off the fronts.

Wonder of wonders, Spider's hind feet began to get better. He started to grow heels, the toe wore down and his hooves started to change shape. It was beautiful. He's now been unshod behind for a year, completely sound and has gorgeous feet. So I said to my farrier "I want Spider's front feet to look like his back feet." And my farrier said, "Well, then we have to take off the shoes." I had concerns: would he stay sound, what if his feet wore down too much? Spider doesn't grow hoof very fast, in the summer he can easily go eight weeks without a trim, in winter he can go twelve. Chris assured me that he would be fine, and if it wasn't we could always put the shoes back on. So I made the decision.....we pulled his front shoes. I now have a completely barefoot dressage horse.

I'm giving him this week off, to give his hooves time to toughen up. I think it's going to rain all week anyway. He's on 24/7 turnout, so he moves around a lot. A week should be plenty of time for him to get used to being unshod. So far he doesn't seem sore, we'll see how he goes under saddle at the end of the week. He moved a bit tenderly at first after I pulled the hind shoes, so I expect him to do the same with the fronts off. It might even make him more willing to collect, he'll want to get the weight off his forehand!


  1. I hope that works for you! And if it works, who cares what anyone else thinks!

  2. Good luck, I hope it works out for you!

  3. Very exciting. Izzy hasn't had shoes on the entire time I've owned her, and I don't think any time before that. She's doing great, but she has nice feet and is only half TB. Hang in there!

  4. My farrier and I have discussed this many times, but unfortunately, my two older boys do not have feet that would hold up well barefoot. And Tucker is even having a bit of an issue with his hind feet bare. Chance, on the other hand, is fine on all four shoeless. But, all that being said, going barefoot can be very good for a horse that tolerates it well. Might be just the thing for Spider.

  5. OOOHHHH Good Luck!!!!! I wish Sam could go barefoot. He went a year without back shoes and he didn't improve at all. No heel grew, cracks came so I am too scared to try the fronts! But good on you!!!!! PS One of my dressage instructors used to compete on her warmblood barefoot all the time! AND WON!!!!!


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