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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Friday, 25 March 2011

Thoroughbreds and barefoot

For successful barefoot performance does the breed of horse matter?  Yes and no.  Yes because there is so much prejudice about certain breeds that it can make it harder for the carer to get the support they need.  No, because any breed of horse can and does go bare successfully.

There are common issues no matter what the breed:
  • Inappropriate diet
  • Not enough movement
  • Stress (usually not noticed)
  • Inadequate/unhelpful hoof care
Unfortunately all of the above are especially prevalent among Thoroughbreds.  They are fed cr*p from a very young age, frequently confined, subject to far too much far too young and are shod as babies.

So in terms of hoof health, a lot of TB's start on the bottom or near bottom rung - which of course makes their barefoot transition that bit more challenging.  Doesn't mean it can't be done, does mean it takes more commitment, knowledge, patience and time to do it.

We do have some shining examples in the UK - Simon Earle manages all his racehorses barefoot and the Apsley End Polo Team are bare too.

But probably the best examples are the ones we never get to hear about - the private individuals who quietly just get on with it for the sake of their horse. And here is just one - the transition process has just started (about Jan 2011) after many false dawns and multiple set backs.  (Otherwise known as grass.... and an abscess.) This horse has a way to go, but as the video shows, he is sound on concrete! (bare not booted).

And big hugs and much appreciation to the owner of this lad and the supporting crew for allowing these photos and video to be published.  I know their journey has been a long and hard one and all credit to them for sticking with it despite all the negative 'ear mites' they have had to suffer.


Fore Aug 2010

Fore March 2011

Hind Aug 2010

Hind March 2011


9 comments:

Jackie said...

My thoroughbred is sound and happy barefoot. We had some issues to begin with, because he didn't have any hoof care or good nutrition for at least two years before I got him. He's prone to thrush and abscessed a few times early on - but otherwise has been completely sound. He now gets a good barefoot trim every 4-5 weeks and is doing very well. He's sound over concrete and gravel and very sure footed.

jenj said...

As the owner of an ex-racehorse (Quarter horse who looks like a TB), I always hear how my boy doesn't have good feet. It's so frustrating - it's like there's this instant prejudice against my horse's feet because he looks like a TB. Never mind that his feet are big with solid, thick walls and no cracks anywhere - because he looks like a TB, he must have crummy feet and therefore need shoes. ARGH!

Wolfie said...

Congrats to the owners for persevering. I see a lot of boarders where I am that feed their horses a lot of carrots, mints and apples as treats. Do you think that treating affects hoof quality?

Lucy Priory said...

jenj - isn't it so frustrating when peeps can't see past their own prejudice! Mind you do these people even know what a good hoof looks like?

Jackie - congrats with your TB! Pictures?

Wolfie - yes for some horses it can do

Dom said...

Thank you for posting this! I can't tell you how many times people have said, "I wish my horse could go barefoot, but it's a thoroughbred." Uh... last I checked, they're born barefoot just like other foals.

Lucy Priory said...

Hi Dom - the cynical old gal in me sometimes thinks peeps are just too damn lazy to change their way of thinking let alone how they manage their horses.

But maybe I'm just getting old! :-)

Karen Cox said...

My thoroughbred is barefoot/booted. We ride in Renegade boots. Last year we did the first 20 miles of the Fort Howes 35-mile Limited Distance "endurance" ride in Montana without boots, and the last 15 miles in boots. It took a few years to get to this point, but yes, Thoroughbreds CAN go barefoot. The key for us has been FREQUENT trimming.

Jackie said...

Lucy -

I don't have any recent pictures of his feet, but here is a post I did on his overall progression earlier this week:

http://www.regardinghorses.com/2011/03/29/my-best-tip-for-keeping-horses-healthy-give-them-time/

You can see his body condition when I got him 2.5 years ago to now - and it will give you the idea how far his feet have come too. :)

Question for yah - the only minor lingering hoof issue we have right now is a small, lingering toe crack. It's only about an inch high and hairline in size. We had some issues with his heels going out of balance very quickly, so kept him on a 3-4 week trimming schedule. They are staying balanced well on their own now, and while the crack isn't getting worse it doesn't want to go away either. Any suggestions?

Sarah said...

I am just about to start my thoroughbreds transition to bare feet, this blog has really helped me gain the courage to do so, thank you!

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