Monday, October 28, 2013

The Barefoot Transition, pt. 1

Having a horse with bad feet sucks, dudes. I think I made a pretty ballsy move when I decided to yank Robert's steel all by my lonesome, and things could have gone a lot worse than they have so far. It's been nine weeks since Bobby officially went barefoot, and to commemorate, I'm bringing you two epic fucking posts on Sir Robert's barefoot transition thus far--mostly for my own chronicling, but if anyone else wants to rip their horse's shoes off against their farrier's wishes (probably not recommended, by the way), here is my road to "success".

Part One is going to cover all the bad hoof news, with lots of bad hoof pictures to accompany it.


All summer long, Bobby was having trouble keeping his shoes on. There wasn't on foot in particular that was worse than the others, but the fronts did seem to have more of a propensity for getting ripped off. I was having huge confidence issues with my jumping, and just feeling down about my riding in general so I called off the rest of the show season to focus on trail riding. That backfired when I trailered out to a local state park and Bobby pulled a hind shoe and I ended up breaking my foot while leading him down a mountainside.

I told my farrier (NF) that because I was now out for 4-6 weeks myself, and my show season was over anyway, I wanted to pull Bobby's shoes to let his feet grow out and heal from months of getting chunks torn off. NF told me no, and tacked Bobby's shoe back on his half-missing RH.

the RH four days after pulling the shoe,
and immediately after getting the shoe put back on.

After a circuitous conversation between myself, NF, and BM, it seemed like NF might be willing to pull Bobby's shoes if he wasn't allowed on turnout any longer. BM and I compromised and moved Bobby to the large pen off the back of the indoor that has its own small, private paddock. We did this under the assumption that this would appease NF and he would pull Bobby's shoes the following day.

bobby's transitioning pen, looking in from the gate to the paddock.

On the 22nd, I pulled all four of his shoes myself when NF wouldn't agree to do it himself. Here's what we started with:

the fronts.
LF, three days after pulling shoes pulled.
RF, three days after pulling shoes pulled.
you can see the thrush crack that's still causing problems.
LH, three days after getting shoes pulled.
RH, three days after getting shoes pulled.

I began treating him daily with Farrier Barrier to try to combat the thrush while simultaneously hardening his feet. He also got started on two packets of Knox gelatin once a day. 

A week later, Bobby was sound for riding in the indoor in Boa boots and I started doing very light work with him since my own foot was still broken. 

the fronts, one week after pulling shoes.

The first week of September, I moved Bobby back into his stall and we tried to turn him out in lower front paddock with the old, retired horse he was going out with for a little while before I decided to pull his shoes. He only had to walk across the driveway to get to the field instead of up a big, gravelly hill, but after a few days it was apparent that he wasn't comfortable enough for that yet so he went back to his pen. 

9/4/13 pictures:

Mid-month, I gave Bobby his first trim. I waited so long so that he would chip off the biggest chunks of foot himself. My thinking behind this was that a) I had no idea what I was doing trimming-wise. I'd used a rasp before to knock off rough edges, but never to actually shape a horse's foot. And b) I figured that if the parts that were getting knocked off naturally were coming off so easily, he didn't need them anyway, right? Self trimming and all that. 

Let me reiterate that I was pretty fucking clueless at the beginning of this adventure, but I don't think I ever made a decision that put my horse in danger. In fact, my whole reason for pulling his shoes in the first place was that I felt like having them on was doing him more harm than good.

The first trim, 9/12/13:

the fronts.
the hinds, which only got touched up.
you can see how much the toes needed to come back.

Bobby was beginning to get really sore on his RF where the thrush was getting worse and without a boot on, he was lame even in the indoor. However, the rest of his feet were starting to toughen up, and by the middle of the month, four weeks after initially pulling his shoes, he moved back into his stall for good and went out in the lower front paddock with a boot on the RF.

By the end of the month, the thrush seem to be getting better with copious amounts of Thrush Buster applied on top of the Farrier Barrier and Bobby was able to get ridden in the indoor completely barefoot, and in the outdoor booted on both fronts. 

Part Two will cover Bobby being super sound...and then Bobby being not so sound...and then Bobby being pretty sound again! 

Stay tuned!


  1. I am interested to hear more of Bobby's story into being barefoot! Horses' hooves always fascinate me.

  2. I think even in the beginning where the hoof horn is pretty nappy, he has some really great aspects to the structure of his feet. With some probiotics (try this:!/~/product/category=6321467&id=27470027 and this for overall digestion:!/~/product/category=6321466&id=27114327 ) and good forage, I think you'll see a really huge difference over time. Even a few soaks with White Lightning to clear up any potential lingering fungus/bacteria will help. Q's hooves have changed a lot thanks to movement and diet. I know you've got the movement going on with all the riding and exercises you do with Bobby, so add the diet and I bet by spring you're going to see a huge difference in the overall hoof horn structure! You'll likely get to the point where you're able to tell when nice grass has cropped up in the spring and fall purely by how he gets a little bit ouchy on usually okay surfaces. You're doing a great job!

  3. Poor Bobby - good for you for going out on a limb, I definitely think you did everything in your power to try to change bobby's situation for the better and not endanger him, so get on with yo bad self. You are doing great - even touching Jingle's feet with a rasp would send me into shock and nervousness haha.

  4. I agree, foot problems really suck, since no hoof means no horse. I think you're doing an awesome job though :-)

  5. Hey there,

    I have nominated you for a Sunshine Award!!

  6. OMG that top photo makes me cringe! Poor Bobby!! So glad you ditched NF (and pre-NF, and pre-pre-NF, etc etc)


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