More than two years ago I had my shoer take Ketah's steel shoes off. We had been riding trails and her feet were tender. So tender in fact that the final straw was that she stepped on a small rock and cut the back of her frog. This led to an abscess throughout the frog.
This had just been the tail end of 4 years of stone bruises and hoof abscesses. If your horse has never had one let me tell you that you think something truly awful has happened. They suddenly are three legged! The first time Ketah had one I was sure she had broken her leg!! Anyhow, after this final incident (about two years ago) I went out and got a set of Easy Boot Epic's. Suddenly she was willing to walk over rocks again, and by the way I don't mean big huge rocks. Mostly this is gravel. Then I started learning a bit more about having a barefoot horse. I honestly used to think this was a silly, hippy sort of thing to do. After all, we've used horseshoes for...well a few hundred years. I assumed that adding my weight to the weight of the horse somehow required thin steel bits nailed to their feet.
Examine that assumption for a moment and it suddenly sounds pretty damn silly. Certainly not every horse can go barefoot. We have been breeding them for thousands of years now, and as with every other domesticated animal we have created unintended phenotypes while breeding for that perfect head, butt or color. Some just have weaker feet and need the extra support.
Ketah and Sati are not among those however. Ketah's feet had always been tough back in Colorado. Sure, years wearing shoes can't be erased in one trimming but I wasn't going to ride her without the boots. Clearly that just won't work for her in the northwest climate. Sati had never had shoes, she had also never had a good trimming though. She has the classic "clubfoot" confirmation and her lower foot was well along the way into running the heels all the way out. This explained a lot of her resistance to moving in a particular direction. Most horses are right/left sided just like people, and she greatly overused one side.
Two things are required to fix this sort of issue, training and proper foot care. So I found a barefoot trimmer. She willingly explained every angle that should be there and why she rolled the toe and rasped the quarters. I'm in no way ready to do it myself, but I know a lot more now.
|Ketah's foot after first trim. Note that the quarters are not|
flat and the toe has been rolled to allow for better breakover.
You can't see it in this picture, but she also leaves more heel
than Ketah used to have with shoes.