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Re: Barefoot?

Hi Jennifer!
I know the area very well that you train in, and parts of the trail can be
brutal. I've done the Warriors Waterhunt, and it was some of the roughest
country around. Sounds like you horse is doing just fine. I say if it aint
broke then don't fix it!
My gelding Adelante is 7 years old, and has also never had shoes on in his
life. So far, last season, we have done one LD 25 miler Bear Valley, then
two weeks later we did Norco 50, and I think it was a month later we did
Bridgeport 50 completely barefoot. He had no problems whatsoever. His feet
are like iron ! The past year I have since been condtioning him on my trails
here in Bear Valley, as my work schedule/life has not permitted me to do any
rides so far this season. I am planning on doing rides again starting with
Norco this year.
Actually my other two endurance horses are also barefoot now. My older
gelding I just got back (he's been barefoot the past year and friends have
been riding him on the trail), so he has only had a month of real endurance
conditioning so far. My other mare has been barefoot a year now, she had
severely underrun and contracted heels from shoes and is moving incredibly
better. She moves much more better barefoot than she ever did with shoes. I
have been conditioning the mare, and my 7 year old gelding the past year
with no problems. Currently these two are  ridden approximately 10-20 miles
every other day of walk/trot/canter and various terrian. My older gelding is
doing about 10 miles every other day with no problems. This is a horse that
I thought could never go barefoot. He had contracted heels and shoes on most
of his life, and in previous years whenever I would attempt to pull his
shoes, his feet would crumble his horn quality was so bad. He's been
barefoot for a year now, turned out 24/7 (no more box stalls!) and WOW what
a difference in the quality of his feet!
The terrian that I condition on is excellent. I do have to ride about 2
miles of asphalt to get to the trails, and get home, and the trail in the
back of my property is several miles of hard gravelly DG. So this has helped
to toughen their feet quite a bit.
It is like conditioning any other part of the horse e.g. tendons, ligament,
muscles , heart. The hooves also must be conditioned for the task at hand.
The feet do adapt just like any other part of the horse if properly
conditioned. If you go too far, too fast, like any other part of the body it
will not be able to handle it. If  you had just pulled the shoes off of your
horse, or had not been condtioning much and wanted to do a LD "barefoot" I
would say no way it's not fair to the horse! But, seems to me you've been
properly conditioning those feet to prepare for anything (Sunland trails are
not nice on the feet).
I have not had any problems with excessive hoof wear, but if you start to
notice too much wear on the feet , there are several hoof boots on the
market that are excellent. It protects the hoof while riding and the feet
can still have full hoof mechanism, but yet the horse can remain barefoot at
I have not had any problems with riding Adelante barefoot in the rides even
on rides where hoof protection was mandatory. The vets and ride managers at
the rides I did, knew me, and did not see a problem with it. I cannot
guarentee that you will have similar results, so please be prepared to put
on hoof boots if necessary . And please condition beforehand in hoof boots
so your horse is used to them, in case you have to ride the LD in them.
There are several endurance riders on the barefoot and natural trim lists as
well that successfully ride endurance barefoot. International rider Darolyn
Butler has also ridden several rides, she rode 20 miles of a 100 in hoof
boots, and 80 miles barefoot. She has top tenned several times, and I think
even won a couple fifty's with her horses ridden the whole way "barefoot".
It's really not such a far fetched thing as most people think. If the hoof
is properly conditioned, and the horse has optimum living conditions to
support a barefoot lifestyle it can, and will adapt just like any other part
of the horse.
You are doing great! I look forward to meeting you out on the trail someday.
Robyn Levash &
----- Original Message -----
From: Jennifer Thompson <>
To: Ridecamp <>
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2001 9:18 AM
Subject: RC: Barefoot?

> I have not yet done any endurance rides, and hope to do my
> first LD this year, and will probably stay with LDs for
> quite a while, to get the feel for the sport.
> I have a 10 year old Arab mare who has never worn shoes in
> her life.  I ride her all over in the hills, on very rocky
> terrain (Sunland, CA area) and her feet are great.  My 30
> year old mare has never worn shoes either and she has very
> good feet too.
> Being more of a "natural is better" sort of person, I'm a
> big believer in going barefoot.  Of course, I realize that
> if one is doing 50 milers often, not to mention 100 milers,
> shoes would most likely be needed.  But I won't be even near
> those ranks for a long time, I suspect.
> Will I be allowed to do LDs barefoot?  Will I catch a lot of
> flak?  I ride 20+ miles on my mare now, and she hasn't had a
> lame day.  Her hooves don't seem to wear down that fast with
> our riding schedule (about 3 days a week).
> Just wondering what the general consensus is on this issue.
> I really don't want to shoe until I absolutely have to.
> Thanks,
> Jennifer
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