Transitioning a Horse to Barefoot for the Winter – The Horse

As fall is (reluctantly) upon us, I begin to hear feedback that my purchasers intend to quickly have their horses’ footwear pulled. This isn’t unusual within the winter, particularly the place I apply within the Northeast. Whereas the proprietor’s pockets and the horse can see instant advantages, it’s essential to think about a number of components earlier than making the transition. I sat down with Alicia Harlov, a full-time hoof care supplier in Northeastern Massachusetts and the creator of the Humble Hoof Podcast, to choose her mind on this matter.

Winter’s slower tempo and accompanying snow (which may follow horseshoes and type slippery ice balls) generally is a nice time to transition your horse to barefoot. “Pulling footwear over the winter can be a good way to get forward of nagging pathologies (illnesses or circumstances) that we regularly chase all through the remainder of the 12 months,” stated Harlov. “It may well permit for observing put on patterns, adjustments in progress and motion, and making trim changes if wanted.”

Footwear are essential for a lot of horses, each athletes and yard associates alike. “One profit some discover with footwear is their potential to offer stability to the foot, however with that stability typically comes a compromise of pure hoof perform,” stated Harlov. “Permitting the toes time to relaxation out of footwear can lead to advantages to the caudal hoof, stress-free contracted heels, rising more healthy frogs, and strengthening the buildings within the again half of the foot particularly.”

So what’s the easiest way to strategy the transition to barefoot? Harlov recommends pulling hind footwear first. This provides the horse the chance to regulate to adjustments in stance and locomotion or any unintended, fleeting discomfort. “Pulling all 4 footwear without delay, for some horses, could make them really feel as if they haven’t any comfy foot to face on as they alter,” she stated.

Shod or not, the trim is the muse for the horse’s soundness. Throughout the transition it’s finest to do a minimal trim. “While you’re already eradicating an enormous a part of their safety (footwear), eradicating any extra off their foot could cause soreness and setbacks,” Harlov defined. “As you discover the expansion, put on patterns, and motion change over the next cycles, the trim may be adjusted to the horse’s particular person steadiness and desires, however not often do I trim sole on a barefoot efficiency horse (or retired horse, for that matter).”

Foot pathologies play a job in each side of podiatry, not simply barefoot. “Each horse responds to the transition to barefoot in a different way, and plenty of can shock us with how properly—or how poorly—they deal with it at first,” says Harlov. Most of the issues she finds “to be a symptom of underlying metabolic points or weight loss program sensitivities and mineral imbalance. Any of those could make a barefoot transition tough and trigger soreness, so I search to be proactive about them earlier than the footwear come off.” A well-balanced and full weight loss program, in addition to any essential metabolic testing and remedy, can resolve many pesky foot issues.

Barefoot just isn’t for each horse, whether or not the proprietor desires to simply accept it or not. After pulling footwear for the winter, in case your horse develops sudden lameness, elevated digital pulse, or reluctancy to maneuver, speak to your farrier. She or he can assess your horse’s podiatry wants and enable you to resolve what your horse would possibly want to perform.

Many horses go barefoot, whether or not year-round or simply seasonally, and achieve this splendidly. You probably have any considerations or questions, contact your common hoof care supplier to make a correct plan in your horse. “Some horses want an adjustment of their workload at first as their toes strengthen, whereas others can instantly return to their earlier workload seemingly unaffected,” says Harlov. “An excellent rule of thumb is for yearly shod, anticipate one month of transition time earlier than the horse is totally comfy. A bit of little bit of preparation and commentary can go a great distance in a profitable barefoot transition.”

Do you retain your horses barefoot?


Journalist specialized in online marketing as Social Media Manager. I help professionals and companies to become more Internet and online reputation, which allows to give life to the Social Media Strategies defined for the Company, and thus immortalize brands, products and services. I have participated as an exhibitor in various forums nationally and internationally, I am the author of several articles in digital magazines and Blogs.

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