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Barefoot Barrel Horses


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Poll: Running Barefoot (12 member(s) have cast votes)

Will you try running your horse barefoot?

  1. Yes (11 votes [91.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 91.67%

  2. Maybe (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. I might try it once (1 votes [8.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.33%

  4. I'll never run my horse barefoot (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

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#1 BHN Breanne

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 09:00 AM

After reading the article, "Lose the Shoes?" in the April issue of Barrel Horse News, are you considering running your horse barefoot? Why or why not?

#2 betsugs

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 09:40 AM

QUOTE (BHN Breanne @ Apr 29 2010, 09:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
After reading the article, "Lose the Shoes?" in the April issue of Barrel Horse News, are you considering running your horse barefoot? Why or why not?


I began running my Barrel/Pole horse barefoot in august of '08 after a season of blowing shoes. My sister has mastered the barefoot trim, and cares for all of our horses and also has clients. In the '08 season I won both gos of Youth Polebending at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, one win with a time of 19.835. The Congress has been criticized for poor footing, and many horses slipped, but mine never missed a step. We also finished 2nd in the first go of the Polebending sweepstates, 3rd in senior horse Polebending, and 7th in Nov. Youth Barrels. I will never put shoes back on my horse again.

Betsy MacFarlane

#3 debmc23

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 10:02 AM

I started running my horse barefoot 2 years ago. Like betsugs, was blowing shoes, feet were terrible. My shoer & my husband talked me into leaving the shoes off for awhile..just to see. What a difference! She turns much better, holds the ground better than other horses and best of all her feet are good again! I watch where she walks when we're somewhere, but other than that, her feet are tough. I'll not shoe again.

#4 jpx2

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 10:03 AM

I have run barefoot, never had a problem. The only place it was a problem was at some show grounds where there was gravel on top of asphalt! But that's hard on shod horses too! I think you have to do what's best for the individual horse. I have one that because of age related issues and the way he grows, he must remain shod (front only though). I have seen marked improvement in the condition of the hooves of my mare thanks to being barefoot, Expansion, thickness, less thrush. The $$$ saving don't hurt either! wink.gif

#5 III Bars V

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 12:15 PM

I started trimming my own horses in 2008 after dealing with an increasing "phantom" lameness in one of my best geldings. Armed with extensive research knowledge from both farriers and trimmers, I took over trimming my own horses. Suddenly the lameness issues began to go away, the hoof capsules regained a stronger, more balanced form.

We run on various footings (although gravel on asphalt hasn't been one of them!), and our horses rarely slip. If they are slipping, the shod horses are usually going right down.

The one reason this has worked and continued to work is because I never ceased learning about hooves and hoof function, and other areas that have direct effects upon the hooves: nutrition, exercise, conformation, and other health issues.

Our horses are on low-starch diets. We add a little bit of starchy things in during heavy competition season, because barrel horses are working anaerobically- alactically and they need to have some amount of starch in their diets in order to produce the muscle energy known as glycogen. We feed a lot of beet pulp, with a mineral/vitamin mix. Our "starch source" is usually plain whole oats, mixed in a 50/50 with the beet pulp. The competition horses get supplements such as Bee Pollen (antioxidant, anti-allergen), Sinew-X (joint care), and "Horse Crack" (all-natural digestive aide designed to help maintain the health of the hindgut under stress, soon to be patented under a different name by a prominent University of Guelph nutrition professor).

We've never had to inject joints, we rarely have sports-related injuries (if ever?). Our horses run faster in their last runs, recover quickly, and love their jobs.

"Sugar Bear" (Betsugs gelding Cody's Curiosity) went from yanking shoes off even through a whole roll of duct tape on the heels, to rarely overreaching, pushing more powerfully from his hind end out of the turns, and running some of his fastest, most acurrate Polebending runs. He has GREAT hooves, and his family bloodline also seem to have GREAT hooves. His movement type became more flat-kneed in the front end. He never stocks up, has never come up lame, and a hard-running 8 year old, he is still clean-legged and shows no signs of any joint or leg problems. Also due to his good conformation, his well-balanced hooves have just made life easier on his body.

Better movement, better confidence, longer, faster strides, and healthier legs are just some of the benefits we've gotten from avoiding shoes on the good-footed competition horses.

I'm not totally against using shoes, and we do have a very talented farrier working with us for any shoeing needs. I have delegated some of my trims to him in order to save my shoulders, and he is more than capable of putting a very good trim on a horse. Shoeing needs are more for therapeutic reasons- one of my geldings came up with laminitis after a bad reaction to his vaccinations, and even with immediate treatment, his hooves were still damaged enough by the attack that he continued into a chronic state. He usually destroys hoofboots, so we opted for "polo rims" with Equipak CS. We kept those on him for the remainder of 2009, and he remained sound when I pulled the shoes in December. He is now looking great and back under my hoofcare.

I have absolute reasons to shoe:

- therapeutic, with a purpose (ie, thickening sole, preventing unnatural wear/imbalance due to conformation)
- for longterm conditions such as bone degeneration
- fractures of the pedal bones
- to get a horse moving comfortably when other physical supports don't work for horse or owner.

One thing is for sure- I won't run a horse who isn't 9/10 sound while barefoot. A shoe can help with sensitivity, but unless you have pads on... a rock hitting a thin sole is still a rock hitting a thin sole. A horse might be sound with shoes, but subclinical problems can affect performance, health, and result in longterm problems when put under stress. Barrel horses, with the love owners have for putting the horses on high-starch diets, are probably some of the most common victims of subclinical hoof pain and laminitis (outside of racehorses).

My biggest advice is... educate, educate, educate!

Nobody's got an excuse for not learning about nutrition and hoof function anymore, because the information is out there, and it's free and easy to acquire. Take charge of your own horsemanship knowledge.

~Sarah MacFarlane~
"Happy Healthy Horses Are Happy Winning Horses"

Three Bars Five ( 16h 1993 AQHA chestnut gelding... aka Gooser)
Jags Leo Rocket (16.1h 2003 APHA h. tobiano stallion... aka Leo)
Jags Fleeting Rocket (15.3h 2008 APHA red dun gelding... aka Fleet)
Wish I'd Get Lucky (15h 2003 AQHA bay roan mare... aka Wisher)
Suns Eternal Flame (15.1h 1996 AQHA chesnut mare... aka Sunbun)
Chipped In Stone (16.1h 2001 AQHA grey gelding... aka Benner)
Zip Code Bay B (15.2h 1998 ApHC bay gelding... aka Turbo)

#6 Hook

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 02:53 PM

QUOTE (BHN Breanne @ Apr 29 2010, 10:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
After reading the article, "Lose the Shoes?" in the April issue of Barrel Horse News, are you considering running your horse barefoot? Why or why not?


My Gelding, Hook,  has never had shoes on and is 10 this year.

All six of our horses go barefoot, 5 have never had shoes and only one had shoes ever, the latest was about seven years ago.

I have done all of our own trimming fro the last 30+ years and the natural trim for the last three. I am very pleased with the results.

We do use boots if the terrain is rocky on the trails.


#7 blue_rose2001

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 10:53 AM

I went barefoot last year after my horse kept losing shoes and the flares on his feet seemed to be getting worse. Now we have less cracks and no temporary lameness after getting a new set of shoes put on like we used to have. When we first switched to a barefoot trim, their was a tender period, but he can now walk across most gravel without "wincing" at the shows - As I call it. Other times he feels so good he wants to trot up to warm up areas and has no problems.  His feet look better than they ever have before, they are shaping up much better and his heels are getting taller and toe shorter as we keep trimming. Previously his heels tend to have grown under.

We are both new to barrel racing, but I was initially told "You aren't going to be able to run him barefoot". Well look at us now. We have went from complete beginners with a time of 20 seconds to pushing 17.8's regularly and this is only our second season. I am winning 3D money on occasion and 4D regularly and I am quite proud of our accomplishments. During this transition we have had one abscess where we usually had 3-4 a year with just light riding. We are placing 1st in arena race regularly and 2nd in the 50 yard dash almost every weekend. All barefoot! I might be paying more for my trim every 6 weeks, but its not as much as shoes and the trouble with replacing them. Next year I plan on getting a set of hoof boots when we have finished removing all of the hoof flare we can.

I encourage everyone to give it a shot, but I realize it isn't for every horse. My gaited mares both placed in classes last year completely barefoot! Their feet look awesome even when they are due for a trim.

#8 lov2run

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 07:18 PM

I have never run either of my horses in shoes and they do great! I am all for barefoot! If anyone needs a natural trimmer in the West Houston area let me know I have a good one!