If you're considering transitioning your horse from shod to barefoot, the first thing you should know is that there's typically a little more to it than just taking the horse's shoes off and proceeding as usual. Imagine if you decided to go for a run barefoot after wearing shoes for most of your life when you go outside, it might be a little bit of a shock for your whole body but especially your feet. So how do you help your horse transition to a comfortable barefoot life?
Step 1 of successfully introducing your horse to barefoot life is to find an experienced barefoot hoof care professional. A good quality barefoot trim is essential for your horse to be comfortable barefoot, just like a good shoeing job is required for a horse to be comfortable with shoes. The trim for a barefoot horse is typically different than the trim for a shod horse so it's important choose a hoof care professional who knows how to trim a barefoot horse.
Step 2 is to apply a hoof hardener to the sole of the hoof to help toughen it up for life without shoes. A few hoof hardeners to consider are Keratex Hoof Hardener, Hawthorne Venice Turpentine, and Durasole.
Step 3 is to keep your horse on soft, comfortable surfaces while giving him or her time to adjust to barefoot life. Surfaces such as grass and dirt ideal while sandy, rocky, or dry/hard surfaces should be avoided as much as possible initially.
Step 4 begins after your horse has had a couple weeks to adjust to being barefoot on soft ground. Gradually introduce less welcoming surfaces. The best way to start is typically with short walks in hand. Increase the duration and intensity of exposure to rough ground as slowly and pay close attention to how your horse moved during and after each session. Your horse is your best guide for this process.
It may be help to have hoof boots on hand, or rather on hoof, while transitioning to barefoot. Your horse can be barefoot in his or her stall and wear boots for turnout while he's still adjusting. Gradually increase your horse's time without boots but hold into them because you may need them again as you introduce new surfaces or increase work load.
If you have any questions about transitioning your horse to barefoot, contact us HERE now.