Eventing a barefoot horse? Feeding? Incl. a sneaky pic!

montanna

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 July 2013
Messages
627
Apologies if this is long - I have included a photo at the end to entice you to read further!!! ;)

My four year old WB is just beginning to go out and about XC schooling. She is showing a lot of promise, proving very bold and happy to help out (read fifth leg!) when I don’t place her at something perfectly. I’m really, really excited about her. I have definitely caught the bug, having only showjumped before, and am looking at eventing her next year.

She is unshod, always has been. She has a really good little set of feet on her, is absolutely sound and strides out over any type of terrain (with exception of very sharp stones where she does potter a little). She has hacked out quite happily since she was backed over really hilly and stony tracks. Despite this, she definitely does NOT have any type of barefoot diet.

She is kept on full livery at a hunt yard where she was bred, and is currently out 24/7 on poor grass. The herd have access to adlib haylage (ryegrass/clover mix) at all times. She is fed once a day 1 stubbs scoop of molassed chaff, 1 stubbs scoop of economy cubes, a mug of micronized linseed and a scoop of garlic. She has been fed the same thing since a 3 year old, is happy, calm and content and generally a happy little person to be around. She schools a couple of times a week including a lesson, hacks a couple of times and then it’s either a show/XC schooling (we have an XC course next door!)/jumping once a week, with a couple of days off for good measure which she spends mooching about quite happily in the field. In quite regular work for a 4 year old, but nothing too taxing and sessions are kept relatively short.

With regards to potentially eventing her next year, I have been putting a bit more thought into her diet/shoeing. I have toyed with changing her diet to reflect a more barefoot friendly approach as outlined extensively on here, but at the end of the day I kind of think ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’?

Does anyone event a barefoot horse (BE80/90/100? Higher?) Is it safe to do so? I worry about her slipping into a fence and damaging her confidence, as obviously you cannot stud. I am very much an amateur and can’t always place her perfectly into every fence. I expect her, and always have, to help me out wherever possible, which thankfully she does and I wouldn’t want to jeopardise this. She is quite good on her feet, but has slipped a little round corners when XC schooling (possibly due to still being a little unbalanced in the canter given her age).

Would it be wise to shoe her? It would probably put my mind at rest regarding the feeding/slipping scenarios, but she has such a good little set of feet on her it seems a shame in some ways.

Apologies if I have rambled on, thanks for reading. Photo below of her XC schooling last weekend as promised.. ;) Your thoughts/experiences would be lovely.

phototab2.jpg
 

ester

Not slacking multitasking
Joined
31 December 2008
Messages
60,064
Location
Cambridge
If she is happy on her feet I wouldn't change anything feeding wise.

I think re. competing barefoot it's doable but it is another consideration and I think eventing is expensive if you decide not to run because of the ground although you would be fine with a lot.
If me I'd see how it went and maybe shoe for the season if req.
 

Prince33Sp4rkle

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 November 2009
Messages
6,880
Location
Leicestershire
If she is happy on her feet I wouldn't change anything feeding wise.

I think re. competing barefoot it's doable but it is another consideration and I think eventing is expensive if you decide not to run because of the ground although you would be fine with a lot.
If me I'd see how it went and maybe shoe for the season if req.

this exactly.
obv dressage but ours are fed a very commercial diet including rocket fuel cereal muesli and are fine.

when you work them hard i think you can get away with a lot more foot wise than horses in light hacking or no work.

i dont know much about eventing/studding etc but i know that i feel happier and more secure cantering CS in the field on a dewy morning than i ever did on a shod horse and he is very very sure footed and never slips even when its damp on top of firm going.

i would just see how she goes :)
 

GinaGeo

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 October 2011
Messages
1,367
I tried it. My horse was slipping too much. He actually fell over with me a couple of times, just trotting/cantering in a straight line. The dressage was the hardest part, and in one ODE I did last year we couldn't canter in the dressage as he was so unsure of himself. He had really good, hard feet and was quite happy on all surfaces, but just wasn't surefooted enough.

I shod at the beginning of this year, and he was a lot better. I am intending on having the shoes off again over winter.

I'd give it a go and see how she feels, I certainly didn't want to shoe him, but neither did I want squashing.
 

Leg_end

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 February 2006
Messages
3,251
when you work them hard i think you can get away with a lot more foot wise than horses in light hacking or no work.

i dont know much about eventing/studding etc but i know that i feel happier and more secure cantering CS in the field on a dewy morning than i ever did on a shod horse and he is very very sure footed and never slips even when its damp on top of firm going.

i would just see how she goes :)

Agree with the above on all counts. My WB is far more sure footed barefoot than my studded TB ever was shod. If she's fine then I would carry on and cross that bridge when you come to it. I have schooled over 90-100 fences and combos without an issue and wouldn't have an issue running over most ground conditions.

What I would say is that balance and correct riding is key. Mine is getting better and better on all terrains as he gets more established on the flat.
 

Amicus

Well-Known Member
Joined
19 February 2011
Messages
368
I evented u pto pre-novice (do they now call it BE100?) level barefoot with no more slipping than any of the shod horses, so maybe it's quite personal? Only ever had one horse fall, due to catching a toe and somersaulting so can't see shoes would've helped. Only stopped eventing him as I was going off to university so didn't have the time or money anymore. If I was in your position I'd definitely try her barefoot - as you said don't start fixing what ain't broken!
 

khalswitz

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 May 2012
Messages
3,496
Location
NE Scotland
My friend events hers barefoot to be100, but she drops out a reasonable amount due to footing. For her, it's slightly hard grounds hats been rained on or deep
Mud that puts her off. Her attitude is there's no point risking a run and her horse slipping. She has considered shoeing but her horse is bad with the farrier and needs sedating to shoe so for her it's easier just to be prepared to withdraw.

Hers is fed non-molassed chaff, non-molassed beet and balancer but is a good doer.
 

Henry02

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 September 2011
Messages
458
I think it depends on the horse. I had one that was very sure footed with just shoes on, and didn't need studs, and then I had one that needed to the studs in as he was unhappy without them.

I'd suggest see how you go without. Then shoe and stud as needs be
 

dafthoss

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 October 2010
Messages
4,808
My 14.2 evented at 90 minus shoes, he would have gone 100 without but he hated eventing. Having him balanced and using him self was the most important thing and he never slipped when he was working properly. He has jumped sj at 100 on grass no problem either.
 

Madali

Well-Known Member
Joined
27 July 2013
Messages
265
Location
Cambridgeshire
I started eventing my welsh cob with no back shoes at 80. I was ok for the first few but then in the dressage she started slipping and went choppy.
I wouldn't worry about having shoes on for XC because you tend not to need to do any tight turns. I wouldn't consider competing my girl in the dressage and SJ without studs in now.( we are competing BE100).
This year the going has been shocking so far
 

RachelFerd

Well-Known Member
Joined
24 April 2005
Messages
3,470
Location
NW
I know it is possible and there are some people that do it, but there is no way on this earth I would go XC without studs in on my horse. There are some exceptionally sure footed horses out there that do not slip, but I cannot ride the turns in the SJ and XC without studs as mine not remotely good at staying upright.

I have also ridden several horses who have completely lost their nerve after slipping un-studded during a XC schooling session.

Therefore it would be something I wouldn't personally ever do... but try it and see before shoeing I guess.
 

Charem

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 October 2010
Messages
1,173
Location
West Sussex
My horse broke down with a pretty severe tendon injury four years ago, and after trial/error/more setbacks taking his shoes off was a last resort. At first I fed him a recommended 'barefoot diet' however the last year and a half he's just been on a low sugar one and is the same as before.

I've done two events on him so far, once when it was very wet and I was worried how he would cope as he has twice before slipped over with me on the flat with studs and he is prone to being a bit of an idiot in the warmup. Amazingly he didn't slip once and we posted the best dressage of the day in a very bog like arena only marred by me going wrong twice! A couple weekends ago I did another when the ground was a little greasy and again he didn't slip once.

We're now entered for the BE90 at Rackham in a few weeks time, I'm more concerned about the ground being too hard to run him than it being wet. Mind you he has always been a bit of a mudlark!
 

Goldenstar

Well-Known Member
Joined
28 March 2011
Messages
45,781
I have never evented without shoes but I have hunted and I see no reason whatso ever why you can't start without .
 

TPO

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 November 2008
Messages
9,414
Location
Kinross
I don't event (but have barefoot horses) but there was a training feature in Eventing magazine abd they were barefoot at BE100.

CPTrayes on here evented to novice barefoot and also hunted.

There were posts on the BE forum by riders at intermediate level barefoot and there's a man (I think) competing at advanced BF but the name escapes me.

Just listen to your horse as it reads like you're doing a good job and taking your time with him. All the best for your next event.
 

NaeNae87

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 August 2012
Messages
1,004
Location
Sunny Perth, Western Australia
I event my 14.2 gelding unshod. He is doing EvA80 (which I am 99.99% sure is the same as BE80).

We have only once had problems with traction... Actually it was a problem with him not stopping/slowing down and then hitting the jump, but he has never been fussed without shoes.

I don't feed him a "barefoot diet", he gets Lucerne Chaff (chopped up lucerne), Oaten Chaff (chopped up Oaten hay), 1 cup bran, 1 cup black sunflower seeds, rosehips, brewers yeast, a mineral supplement, apple cider vinegar and linseed oil as well as 24/7 access to pasture and a meadow hay roll (which is made up of native grasses). His hooves are like granite... super strong and he has not been lame due to his feet since I have had him (touch wood).

If you want to see pics and video of him, there is a link to my blog in my signature. He is the little grey. :)
 

Exploding Chestnuts

Well-Known Member
Joined
22 June 2013
Messages
8,436
As you move up the ladder, you riding should improve, a good instructor should help with balance and agility for you and horse. To my mind the horse needs to know how to sort himself out, so I would not worry too much.
There are major benefits to keeping a horse barefoot, which outweighs the perceived disadvantages. However you can expect to be quizzed over your decision by others, so it is to your benefit to learn about this barefoot business.

If horses are really fit and getting a lot of work they need a more intensive diet, I would replace molassed chaff with a hi quality non molassed, and the economy cubes with hi fibre, checking the bag for molasses/moglo.
As you are on livery is may cause difficulties if the horses are all on the same thing at the moment, but you could just ask for him to get hi fibre cubes instead for the molassed chaff and nuts. Or you could keep your own feedstuffs to give him extras after you ride him and before going out to grass.

Personally I would want start on the barefoot diet now so you can adjust easily as the work intensifies. It is to your benefit to know exactly what he is getting.

25-40gms minerals .. pro balance or some such [make sure there is MgO added]. You need to find out if you are in a low magnesium area [much of the UK] as MgO plays such an important part of the minerals.
50 -200gms micronised linseed meal
soaked sugar beet non molassed ]quick beet]
salt

You can add oats for extra energy, but avoid wheat and barley in cereal mixes. Economy cubes tend to have more of the cheaper feedstuffs and less of the minerals, I found my horse just never looked as good on economy as when on branded nuts. He looked 100% once on the barefoot diet, which meant he got minerals all year round and some linseed [25-50]gms], he no longer had an itchy skin, or mud fever, and is coat was dark bay even in summer.
 
Last edited:

cptrayes

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 March 2008
Messages
14,749
.



THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAREFOOT DIET




There is only an appropriate diet for your horse and his workload. Barefoot feet show an inappropriate diet more easily, is all, but if the horse is sound if you shoe it or sound if you make diet changes without shoeing, then the diet is inappropriate for that horse, shod and sound or not.

I evented to Novice BE on two horses with no problems xc or sj and I ran on all types of ground. Ifound that on a slick dressage arena, you cannot keep the power through the corners and will lose a mark or two.

There are intermediate barefoot horses and in the past Tom Robinson competed advanced on a horse who would not stay sound in shoes.

Barefoot hunters, and I've had four so far and am never the only one in the field, go in all types of going and never have studs.

But you do need to have your horse properly balanced and mature enough for the work. I do wonder sometimes whether there are people using studs and shoes to allow a horse who is not really well balanced enough in its work to do more than it ideally should be doing.

A few years ago a farrier did a PhD into the stresses that studs transfer to the joints, and came to the conclusion that a foot slipping is a damage limitation mechanism. I think he, and I know at least one other farrier, thinks that studs should be banned.
 
Last edited:

montanna

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 July 2013
Messages
627
CPtrayes you make a very interesting point re studs. Surely it can’t be good for the legs if the horse would naturally slip and the studs stop it from doing so… something, somewhere is going to be taking the brunt? Should we be riding in such conditions if the only thing saving our bacon is the stud? Are people pushing their horses beyond what they should be, and running when they shouldn’t be with the stud coming into play again and again, or is the stud just something to give a little confidence, there like a seatbelt – in case of emergency? Definitely something to think about.

Another interesting point is that most people only run barefoot as a last resort – due to injury/rehab/plain can’t-keep-a-shoe-on-the-damn-thing!! Definitely in the minority so thinking maybe not something I should do a) on a baby and b) as an amateur, no matter how surefooted she may/may not be.

She has only been in proper work for a few months (the first months of her being backed were spent hacking out) in which time we have really concentrated on our flatwork. This has come on leaps and bounds thanks to my fab trainer, but the canter is still very much a work in progress. She is big moving for a small horse (15.3hh/16hh) so does find collection difficult. We have a decent XC course next door at our disposal, so she has been over there schooling quite a few times… XC suits her at the moment, she naturally finds it a lot easier than the SJ as the canter is still unbalanced and doesn’t require so much collection. As mentioned above, she has slipped a little on corners XC, but I do think this is down to the lack of balance in the canter. I do want to get her out and about doing as much as possible to make the most of the summer months, hence her doing quite a mixture of different things at the moment. I’m aware I won’t be able to do so much of this once the winter comes, and will be doing a lot more flatwork due to light/ground/weather conditions.

With regards to the comment about changing her feed, being on full livery isn’t too much of an issue. Her current feed (save from the linseed) is included, but I am happy to pay for my own if necessary. I have thought about changing the chaff to a non-molassed version, and the nuts to high fibre ones - however she only has a scoop a day so not sure how much difference this would make being that she has access to adlib full sugar ryegrass/clover mix haylage in the field!

The question is whether I upheave her whole routine, which she is happy with at the moment? I can’t really do anything about the haylage situation. The grass is poor at our yard so all the herds have big bales of full sugar haylage available at all times. To avoid this, the only option for the summer would be turning her out alone in an all-weather turnout pen with hay. For the winter I am unsure what I would do – our fields get extremely wet so all horses share the turnout pens on a rota. They are turned out 2 or 3 to a pen so I would have to find someone else with a horse keen to have hay. Not impossible, but definitely not ideal.

I think, weighing everything up, I will leave her as she is, see how she goes between now and the event season next year and make a decision then whether to run her unshod/shod. Hopefully by then, she will be a lot stronger, our ridden relationship will be a lot better and I will know a lot more about how she will cope.

Thanks everyone for your input, really appreciated.
 

RachelFerd

Well-Known Member
Joined
24 April 2005
Messages
3,470
Location
NW
Wouldn't like to have gone round Badminton this year without studs. And if all those four star horses aren't well balanced enough to be doing what they are doing... as they were slip-sliding around the course...

Just sayin'!

Yes - you don't want the traction of studs all the time, yes that would be a BAD thing for horses legs. But no-one is using them all the time, and having had the 'pleasure' of a rotational fall caused by a horse losing a front shoe complete with studs, slipping into a downhill fence and smacking it hard in front, I'm not going to join the minority enthusiasts for no shoes and studs.

Fair play to those that do manage it, I'm sure it is a horse-friendly approach, but treat each horse as an individual and if they can't cope, change tact!
 

Supanova

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 September 2008
Messages
1,303
Location
Cheshire
Interesting thread. I have a barefoot showjumper who is now 7 and i have ummed and aaarghed about putting shoes on her because i wanted to do a bit of xc and occasionally SJ on grass. However i decided against it and this year i actually felt in a position to jump on grass despite the fact she was barefoot. The main reason being that her balance had developed and she can now sit on her hocks in canter. I have now jumped on grass which was a bit wet on top and i had no problems. As others have said, its the horse's balance which is most important.
 

Goldenstar

Well-Known Member
Joined
28 March 2011
Messages
45,781
I don't think OP's thinking of doing badminton yet .
And although I have never competed my horses BF I have schooled them .
In fact they all jump on grass all the time they are BF .
There are differences IMO the horses are much more self aware unshod .
And yes I do think OP will perhaps have to take wider turns and adjust how she rides to the feel her horse gives her .
A young horse should not doing XC flat out on mega tight turns as it learns it job anyway .
You can not compare a shod horse who loses a shoe to a BF horse it a completely different thing .
Havering said that it is horse for courses my very big TB is happier XC in shoes ( I rarely use studs ) this may because he started out in shoes but no matter he gets what he's happiest with.
He's perfect happy to SJ BF though.
 

TheMule

Well-Known Member
Joined
14 October 2009
Messages
5,436
My lot are all unshod, except the baby who has shoes on to event as she needs stud holes- I just wouldn't risk her without as a bad experience could ruin her. She does all her fittening work in fields unshod.
My older, experienced and incredibly sure-footed horse happily xc schools, SJs to 1.15 and has done a Novice BE event unshod. However, there are some types of going she can't cope with- generally when the grass on top gets skiddy as it's been hard and then it rains if there's cut in the ground or it's dry and hard she's fine.
 

Walrus

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 January 2007
Messages
2,410
Really interesting thread, I'm not an eventer and we will never progress further than a local ODE but I am aiming my boy at working hunter classes this year. He's never been shod and we've had a sudden realisation in the last few weeks that competing on grass is a whole different ball game. I took him to a local ODE the other week and the phase he struggled with the most out of the 2 on grass (dressage and xc) was the dressage where he seemed to lack confidence and even lost his back end turning to go across the diagonal in canter - something that is a doddle in the arena at home. We're going to start schooling in the field more as opposed to the school and I am aiming to get him out to jump lots of classes on grass before we head to Equifest in August. It's a really simple thing but I think practice and developing thier feel is probably key. Personally, up to a certain level, I think your biggest challenge will be the dressage and SJ as the turns will be tighter and the worse type of ground will be when it's been hard and then rained so it's slick and greasy.
 
Last edited:

smja

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 October 2013
Messages
1,310
I have a confession: my horse is shod, but I don't wear studs to event (only up to BE100). This isn't because I have strong feelings about stud use...it's more like I've never used them and am a bit chicken about doing so, and it hasn't yet presented a problem.

He's never slipped at an event, but I do take precautions (e.g. wider lines on slippy ground).
 

stilltrying

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 September 2009
Messages
665
Location
Kent
I have a BF horse, whom I previously evented (shod, with studs). He is another who has historically struggled to stay upright, and has fallen over on more than one occasion, both with shoes and without (but not with studs). Sadly, after going BF, a skid over on the flat whilst going XC on dry ground in a straight line put a huge dent in our confidence.

However, he had only been barefoot about 5 months, and my trimmer at the time suggested I give him more time for his proprioception to adjust.

Also….we were probably never particularly balanced, so you have to wonder would we have stayed upright if we were better schooled, and therefore more balanced. He is now 13 and a lot more balanced, and I would love to event again….
 

monte1

Well-Known Member
Joined
14 December 2009
Messages
1,159
Location
Hampshire
Another one whose horse is shod, we event at lower levels to BE100 heights, but I have never used studs, as he has never had a problem I am reluctanct to start now.
It certainly is horses for courses- sounds like you mare has had a great start in life and best thing is to try as she is and see how she goes, as other posters have said.
Good luck , look forward to reading more reports :)
I have a confession: my horse is shod, but I don't wear studs to event (only up to BE100). This isn't because I have strong feelings about stud use...it's more like I've never used them and am a bit chicken about doing so, and it hasn't yet presented a problem.

He's never slipped at an event, but I do take precautions (e.g. wider lines on slippy ground).
 

rising_promise

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 March 2008
Messages
864
Competed previous horse upto BE100 without shoes and never slipped, even in very wet conditions. She did have a lovely natural balanced canter though and was very surefooted.

Current horse, young ex racehorse, is competing BE80/90 with shoes but without studs and again, has never slipped (though only done 3 events). Had her shoes off from October- March and put them back on for a Lucinda Green XC clinic at the beginning of March. Interestingly she told us she never studs until at least Novice, usually Intermediate.
 

GinaGeo

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 October 2011
Messages
1,367
The horse I mentioned that slipped, also regularly used to fall over in the field when he wasn't shod. People often used to tell me he'd face planted and slid along on his side again so it wasn't a case of him being asked to do more than he was ready for. Once he had shoes on that all stopped instantly, and he's so much more confident for it.

I do XC school without studs in now and he's been fine, but when he wasn't shod that was a little dicey too!
 

Molly'sMama

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 April 2011
Messages
548
I'm not an eventer :) but if you feel like it's not working, you could try shoeing the front feet only? That's what my dressage horse has but don't want to be shot down if it'd be a terrible idea XC :)
 
Top