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Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Transition - how long?

How long does transition take?  To measure this we need to ask: -

'When does transition start?'


'When does transition end?' 

And I am going to take these in reverse.

'When does transition end?
You know your horse's hooves are reaching optimum when the healing angle has reached the ground and there are no more divergent toe angles.  

But on top of this, for me, a horse has successfully transitioned from shod to barefoot when she can:

'Travel a reasonable distance, comfortably, over most surfaces, including tarmac, concrete and gravel car parks.' 

Why these surfaces? - because they are what most of my clients face in their daily grind and because a feral horse, living wild, faces similarly abrasive surfaces every day.  'Reasonable distance' is anything up to 20 miles per day because this is what horses have evolved to do.

Remember it doesn't matter if your horse's hooves don't conform to a human ideal of 'pretty', what is important is that they can perform.

When does transition start?
Current thinking is that 'transition' starts when the shoes come off.  I want to refine that a little.  Some of us need sign posts that show us we are making progress, especially if we have a metabolic horse.

I need a sign post - with really big writing please!
There are two big signs of progress which you will be able to note long before you have a perfect, fully functioning hoof.

Big sign posts
  • Healing angle* progresses beyond 1.5cm (approx) down the hoof and is maintained as hoof grows
  • Horse becomes more capable over hard and/or stoney surfaces**
* I will elaborate on healing angles in a future post.

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Southern England, United Kingdom