By Judy Oldmeadow, Owner & Master Horsewoman, Samaria Creek Morgan Horses
Barefooting is hotly debated issue. Barefooters even differ among themselves. In this article and the next, I’ll explain the ins and outs of running bare.
Twelve years ago I held kid’s horse-riding holidays on my farm at Booroolite in the Delatite Valley.
I usually had 10-20 animals, from ponies to Stockhorses, in my care. Most were shod and worked hard during the school holidays, with time off in between.
Common shoe-related problems included cracked hooves, horses that tripped and were irritable and having to replace lost shoes between farrier visits.
My extraordinary farrier, Andrew Bowe, has a science degree and an enquiring, perfectionist nature.
When he started talking barefoot, I was first attracted by the cost saving. Over time, however, Andy’s passion convinced me of the benefits to my horses.
Within a year, all my horses were sound and happy, with no lameness and not a shoe in sight.
I swore never to shoe a horse again.
This got me researching horse breeds and choosing Morgans for their exceptional feet (along with all their other virtues).
Breeding sound barefoot horses takes more than just ditching shoes. They need room to roam, varied terrain, a balanced diet, company and regular trimming.
Our horses are trimmed about every six weeks and our foals have their first trim before weaning.
Andy, his wife Nicky and the trimmers they train look at each horse as an individual and trim according to its work and living conditions.
I like how they work with nature, not against it.
We now host regular training days for Equine Podiotherapy Diploma students. Even our weanlings take part.
Last year Andy used Nimrod (our stallion) for his barefoot trim demonstration at Equitana. He’ll do likewise next year.
In my next article, I’ll look at the arguments for and against barefooting by borrowing from Andy’s excellent website at www.barehoofcare.com