In the first of a series, Lucy Nicholas of retailer www.thesaddleryshop.co.uk, explains the benefits of barefoot hoof care.
I love sharing my passion about barefoot hoof care and educating owners about all the options available to them. Choosing the barefoot option for a horse or pony takes great consideration, because it isn’t simply a case of having horses’ shoes removed – it is about a well-thought-out management regime of diet and exercise that supports equine hoof health. The bare hoof has a natural ability to expand and contract, dissipate the weight of the horse or pony, and act as a pump to help circulate blood. It is a marvelous, natural engineering wonder!
*Trimming and rasping of horses’ feet is allowed by lay persons under the Farriers Registration Act 1975, to permit maintenance of unshod horses’ feet.
*Trained barefoot trimmers can therefore perform trimming and rasping of your horses’ feet, (in addition to the trimming services provided by your farrier).
*There are also several types of barefoot trimming provision available – however, do arm yourself with lots of information, and ask for local recommendations before committing to a new hoofcare practitioner!
*See our links below, which include the ‘Equine Podiatry Association’ and the association of ‘UK Natural Hoof Care Practitioners’.
I advocate hoof boots. Barefoot hoof boots are widely used during the ‘shod to bare’ transitionary process, and also for every day riding and training. It is vital if you are using a hoof boot that it closely fit the foot’s size and shape; each hoof is measured separately. All hoof boots for horses and ponies have a growth tolerance built in, so the boots need to be fitted at their minimum growth – there are many modern styles available today like the New Mac from Easycare, pictured left. Hybrid ‘shell’ products, effectively glue on horse boots, are also available, and are used by many long-distance riders; they and are not glued onto the sole of the hoof; rather, a flexible adhesive is used on the outer hoof that does not ‘chemically’ bond. Glue on boots do not restrict the hoof’s natural movement and shock absorption properties.
TOP TIPS FOR HEALTHY EQUINE FEET
- Feed a quality, low-sugar, high-fibre diet, avoiding rich grazing.
- Regarding feed supplementation, the key ingredients to look out for are biotin, magnesium oxide, zinc methionine and calcium.
- To prevent disease, pick horses’ out feet regularly.
- Use a breathable, non-toxic disinfectant to treat persistent horn defects and eliminate bacteria.
Barefoot Horse – an independent information resource with a list of UK based barefoot trimmers and training providers
Barefoot South – regional trimmer for the South East of England with extensive articles and blogs