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[RC] Would you keep him barefoot? - Karen Casemier

Kind of hesitant to post this, because I don't want to get into one of those religious barefoot wars, but here it goes.

My husband has a 5 YO QH gelding. We've had him about a year. When we got him, his feet were in absolutely horrible shape - very much long toe/low heel, shelly, unhealthy frog, you name it.

We pulled his shoes (that were about 2 sizes to small and look like they had been on him for six months), gave him a good trim, and just let him be. We've continued to have him trimmed every six weeks, and my husband occasionally gives him a trim in between the farrier visits if it looks like the hoof wall is getting too long.

Now, I wouldn't say he has great feet, but his hooves look 100 times better than they did when we got him. We have been riding him out at Ionia State Park several times, and there are some quite rocky areas (but they are scattered - not consistent), and he's never come up sore.

We are keeping my mare barefoot this season at the recommendations of both my farrier and our vet - she has incredibly strong feet and a tough sole (and she can hold an EZ boot well, so if worse comes to worse I have a pair I can throw on her front feet). Now we are trying to decide if we put some shoes on the gelding, or just see if he can continue barefoot since things have been looking so much better for him.

Our first ride is just a little 15 miler - a clinic put on by Maggie Mieske in a couple of weeks. I'm sure Maggie can chime in regarding the course conditions, but the flyer recommends shoes. In addition, there will be other rides for this guy, but nothing over 25 miles for this season.

I have no problem putting a pair of shoes on this guy if it is necessary - but I'm so happy with how his feet are doing barefoot that I'd love to keep him that way if possible. The only real concern is some vertical cracks - but these are not initiated from the floor of the hoof wall, but rather seem to start in the middle or up near the coronet band (but not all the way up there). I don't think he'd hold EZ boots on very well, but Old Macs or Boa boots might be an option.


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