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August 2008

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« Gelding with Mild Club Foot | Main | Is There Ever A Reason to Shoe a Horse? »


Susan Shikany

In response to the gentleman with the navicular horse:

I got my mare 'free' from a person whom I had bought a young gelding from. She was reported to me as being 'sore over the heels' whenever they loped her in the arena. Her feet were VERY LONG. No wonder she was sore.
I rode her on mountain trails, at a walk, for many months. On one such ride, while going up a steep hill, her front feet hurt her and she limped the rest of the way to the truck. I took her to the vet and with x-rays and temporary nerve blocking, he determined her to have Navicular 'disease'. He recommended egg-bar shoes and such. I tried this route for about two months. She had no relief from the pain at all. I did not medicate her. She could not turn around without shuffling her front feet from side to side, a little at a time. During these couple months, I did a lot of research about barefoot trimming. I found a reputable barefoot trimmer and made an appointment. He was here for an hour or so explaining all about it, with cadaver feet as examples.. Then he trimmed my mare. As soon as he was done, she turned herself around! Pivoted on her feet, crossed them one in front of the other! She hadn't done that in MONTHS! She ran, she played with my young gelding. It was awesome. It did take about a year before I was able to ride her, but I exercised her religiously. I was 'laughed at' by many, for taking my horse for long walks. "Pretty big dog you got there." Whatever. I didn't care. She gradually got better. She was lucky, she did not abcess at all. I was able to ride her for short distances but only on flat ground. My kids could ride her in the arena at a walk, which was fine with them. Unfortunately, money got tight and I had to re-home her. I explained everything to her new owners and they agreed to keep her barefoot. Within a month, they had her shod and she was totally lame again. I am so mad at these people.

My other mare isn't navicular, but she did have misshapen front hooves when I bought her. Extremely flat in the front from the coronet band to the sole. Like this. (_) She had a pair of shoes on that she'd had for 5 months. Unreal. Her feet were SO long. She was also in foal when I got her, so I kept her shod... We didn't want to cause any problems for her or the baby... but a few weeks before foaling, she began to loose shoes, so we just kept them off.. After she foaled and weaned the baby, we began the 'barefoot' trim. She's been barefoot for over 2 years now. I still have to put boots on her front feet when we ride the rocky trails (boots on all fours when we ride Superstitions), but her feet are a perfect horse shoe shape. She does abcess every October, which I think is strange, but I am otherwise very pleased with her feet.

My gelding is 4 years old now. He's never had shoes on. Never had boots on either. He has been ridden on 5 hour rides, on very rocky mountain trails and he has never taken a bad step. Sure, just like a shod horse, he will sometimes get a rock that hits him the wrong way, but he's usually very careful about where he puts his feet. That's another great thing about barefoot. They really learn to pay attention to where they are putting their feet. :) He'll never wear iron shoes. Ever. He'll never need to.

So, to everyone who is 'up in the air' about barefoot. Do it. It's worth it, and your horse will thank you. If they need to transition, they may never have perfect hooves, but they will have BETTER hooves. If you have young horses, don't ever put an iron shoe on them in the first place. They don't need them and they'll never know how horrible transition can be, they'll never feel the pain of navicular and other shoe caused problems.

That's my 2 cents. Thanks for 'listening'. :)

Susan Shikany

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