Barefoot to shod

midogrey

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My 8 year old has always been barefoot with good feet BUT we seam to get about 4 abscesses a year in different feet. He has good hard feet but we do have very stoned ground in places. Seams to make no difference with boots on out riding plus also have areas of deep heavy mud which sucks of all hoofboots!

The question I am now asking myself would he be better shod? We do a high mileage hacking. Be interested to know if there is any evidence that shoeing reduces frequency of abscesses or are some horses just prone to these?
Diet is fine and no difference between summer and winter in frequency
 

Ronalda

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Shod or long term barefoot probably makes no difference.

Barefoot soles will hard and full thickness.

Shod hooves will be off the ground slightly and be out of range of gravel but not larger stones, but soles will be softer and thinner due to trimming for flat platform.
 
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My mare had abscesses both when she was shod and after her shoes were taken off. The thing that helped was getting her diet right, so that her white lines were nice and tight. The tighter the white line, the harder it is for grot to get in.
 

unicornystar

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mine came to me barefoot and I immediately had fronts put on as it was clear he was struggling. It is only since feeling the difference on how much better he is in himself shod at the front that I have now had backs put on too. He will compete regularly and needs shoes and stud holes, however, I would have shod him anyway, he had tough feet but it was obvious to me when we were on stony ground that going shoeless was not nice at all for him...
 

picolenicole

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My cob's is very similar, he has fab feet no abscesses ever but can not deal with stones. I have tried everything to help him (hes been unshod for 5 years) but is getting worse on stones. I can keep hoof boots on in walk and trot but any faster and he pulls them off!!! He's also very good at being a prat which also pulls the boots off :( So I think I'll have to shoe him next visit from the farrier.

Re abscesses I think some are just prone to them :(
 

Ronalda

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My mare had abscesses both when she was shod and after her shoes were taken off. The thing that helped was getting her diet right, so that her white lines were nice and tight. The tighter the white line, the harder it is for grot to get in.
Good point, but of course an abscess can occur from a puncture wound through the sole and also from a non penetrating stone bruise or corn.
 

ester

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I think it depends why the abscesses are occuring/how long they tend to last and whether he is fine in all other ways without shoes. touch wood we've not had a problem with them.
 

midogrey

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Thanks for replies, white line nice and tight and diet good, he has good hard soles. Have a fealing they are caused by stone bruises but can't be certain.
It would be upsetting to go to being shod and still have same problem. Have a fealing can't win on this one. Apart from the abscesses he is very happy barefoot hence my reluctance to shoe
 

Cortez

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You could always shoe, see if it improves the abscess situation, if not then take shoes off?
 

MrsNorris

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Just double check the copper and zinc levels in his diet as deficiencies in these 2 minerals have been implicated in repeated abscessing and some of the commercial balancers are actually quite low in these 2. As Victoria above has found, forage plus is excellent and has very good levels of both, as does pro hoof and a few others.
My cob has been barefoot for 8 years and has never had an abscess, he gets copper and zinc daily, fed as straight minerals. Good luck with it :)
 
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Gloi

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I've had less problems with abscesses unshod as he used to always get infection in from the nailholes.
 

Pale Rider

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If people aren't up to the management of a barefoot horse, shoe it. Shod horse's get just the same abscesses, but some they can't feel as their feet are numb. They get more severe bruising though because their soles are thin.Overall shod horses are more severely lame more often than barefoot horses, all things being equal.
 

serenityjane

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In my opinion, get the diet right and let the horse and workload decide whether shod or barefoot is best- have just shod a youngster who had never been shod due to workload and her feet have never been better- shod horses have thin soles???? Can't feel their feet?????? and are more severely lame???????? Old wives tales I'm afraid, definately not what I have seen.
In my experience a good and not excessive low sugar diet, vits and minerals, and regular work means good feet (however they may be covered- metal, plastic or nothing at all), some of my horses are shod due to daily roadwork and some are unshod as not currently in work, abcesses occur when infection has got into the foot through a weak point due to injury, infection such as thrush or indeed nail holes.
 

Pale Rider

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In my opinion, get the diet right and let the horse and workload decide whether shod or barefoot is best- have just shod a youngster who had never been shod due to workload and her feet have never been better- shod horses have thin soles???? Can't feel their feet?????? and are more severely lame???????? Old wives tales I'm afraid, definately not what I have seen.
In my experience a good and not excessive low sugar diet, vits and minerals, and regular work means good feet (however they may be covered- metal, plastic or nothing at all), some of my horses are shod due to daily roadwork and some are unshod as not currently in work, abcesses occur when infection has got into the foot through a weak point due to injury, infection such as thrush or indeed nail holes.
These are the comments of the usual, I need to shoe because of roadwork, absolute rubbish I'm afraid.
 

midogrey

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Have you asked your farrier/ trimmer what he thinks?
Yes, no clear answer! Pros and cons both ways. Re diet, he is on unimproved grass and has a good quality balancer with good levels of cooper, zinc etc. He actually has good tough feet which is why this is so frustrating. At the end of the day it's finding the right solution for him and maybe thats accepting he always wears boots when workingt or is shod. I am not sure it can all be managed by diet as there must also be a degree of genetic predisposition.

Its been usefull hearing other people's thoughts on this and suspect will be strict about riding in boots. If that makes no change will maybe try shoes for summer when in most work and take them off for the winter
 

serenityjane

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After being a barefoot believer for some 8 years, I am afraid I must completely disagree, and it is only now that my horse is fully sound, happy, healthy and working that I can recognise much of the barefoot propaganda as exactly that! Some (but actually not that many) horses can manage barefoot anywhere, others can cope provided that their work is limited in quantity and on selective surfaces, many more have to wear hoof boots to cope at all. The only difference between a boot and a shoe is the nails, oh and of course the air flow around the sole and frog.
My horse on my local roads would have to disagree, I am afraid, with your comment about the roadwork. We do approx 1 hour daily, 5 times a week, walk and trot and her SHOES wear to tin foil after 5 weeks. Her feet are excellent but she could not grow em quick enough to match the wear.
 

amandap

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After being a barefoot believer for some 8 years, I am afraid I must completely disagree, and it is only now that my horse is fully sound, happy, healthy and working that I can recognise much of the barefoot propaganda as exactly that! QUOTE]
I do think propoganda is too strong a word even if you feel you have wasted 8 long years. I don't wish to turn back the clock to blindly shoeing most working horses even if you do.
 

ester

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But the OP's horse isn't footy/struggling to go sufficient hoof it is getting abscesses which may well still occur when shod.

OP I don't think 6 months on/6 months off is a bad compromise, you might also be able to tell if shoes make any difference to the abscesses. Fwiw I try very hard to wear Frank's feet out but they still look bloomin long 4 weeks post trim and they seem to wear much better than his shoes used to!
 

serenityjane

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Propaganda- myth- wishful thinking, all much of a muchness, barefoot vs shod is always going to be a problem. There are a great number of very badly and unecessarily shod horses out there, and for remedial issues and non working horses, barefoot still wins hands down for me. Working horses are a different matter, and I would still never blindly shoe. 2-4 weeks on our turnout surface and some light road hacking, and I would then make an informed decision. Those 8 long years were not wasted by any means, I have gained so much knowledge about diet and exercise and what healthy feet should look like, but I have also succumbed on occasion to some of the myths eg Have been striving for concavity barefoot, using a range of surfaces etc etc only to discover that I only achieve it if the horses are pasture kept or in my case shod, diet is not always the answer to the footsore horse, and finally, a horse does not have to be footsore to be struggling barefoot.
 

HashRouge

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I think the only way you're going to know for sure is by shoeing, but it will have to be for a reasonable length of time so that you can tell if it's having any impact. Does your horse get abscesses more at a specific time of year or are they completely random?
 
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