Do you remember as a child you couldn’t wait until summer to pull your shoes off, but when you did, the rocks seemed harder than they did before? After a few weeks though it got easier, and by the end of the summer you could run across the rocks. Think of your horses feet the same way.
First, pull the shoes off, but that is just the beginning. Many things play a part in the health of your horse’s hooves.
The type of pasture your horse is on plays a huge part in conditioning the hooves. Think again of yourself going barefoot. If you only walk on grass or soft surfaces you probably won’t be able to walk down your dirt road, but if you walk on your road, soon the rocks become an afterthought as your feet toughen day by day.
If you keep your horse in a lush pasture with no rocks, then that’s what they become used to, and their feet won’t be in condition to ride on rocks. So what do you do?
How about putting some gravel or rocks where the horse has to walk through several times a day, in gates, around water troughs, etc? If you put gravel out in the field they will avoid them. It has to be where the horses cross every day. The more they use the rocks or gravel, the better the hoof becomes. But, if you want to ride before the feet are conditioned, you can use hoof boots, which are easy to put on and take off.
Stress will also affect the hoof. Stress is a part of life even for a horse, but there are some things we can do to minimize it.
1) Horses are herd animals. They need a pasture buddy such as another horse or some suggest a goat being a good pasture buddy. They need a buddy, not a bully. A bully can have an adverse affect actually causing more stress.
2) If your horses are competing with each other for food, spread out their hay, salt and water so they aren’t fighting for every mouthful they get. You need to be able to discern what is causing undue stress and try to minimize it. A happy horse is a healthy horse.
The wild mustang is the model for the barefoot method. Natural Hood Care Practioners have studied the mustang’s hooves and know what they look like and what they can do. The domestic horse has a disadvantage in that they don’t move as much to eat and survive as the mustangs. Since today’s equine don’t have to travel very far in their daily routine, their hooves need to be trimmed every 4-6 weeks, except in winter up to 8 weeks. That’s where your trimmer comes in.
Louetta Plumlee is a Certified Hoof Care Practioner, Field Instructor and Booting Specialist with Liberated Horsemanship.


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