Some Thoughts on the Ability of the Horse to Go Barefooted

horse_man_armyA horse’s ability to go barefooted in most cases is a fact that stands as a natural ability of the horse. What is misunderstood and in most cases it is never brought forward that the job is only as good as the individual that is doing that job. Consequently, there are good “barefoot trimmers” and there are bad “barefoot trimmers; just as there are good horseshoers and there are bad farriers. The true answer to the question is either system correct for your horse is the cold hard fact that you have to choose the system that is done correctly and done in a manner that is right for your horse.

I have no problem with people who chose to have their horses go barefoot, but I do have a problem when it is painful for the horse to go barefoot. One of my customers put it better than I ever could; “Barefoot trimming is different from going barefoot”. What that person was trying to get across was that the person doing the barefoot trim on their horse over did the trimming and the horse lost the natural supportive ability of the foot. As I said I have no problem with barefooted horses, when my family had a large breeding operation all of the horses that did not need it did not have shoes and were left barefooted, in most cases, all year-long. But, it was done in a manner and fashion that was correct for each and every particular horse. This goes right back to being able to determine what is right for your horse and how to implement it correctly.

Most of the time when I see the results of “barefoot trimming” methods I see horses that are having problems and the majority of the problems come from too much foot being removed too quickly. Doing this undermines the supportive characteristics of a remarkable piece of machinery called the foot. The foot has a very difficult job to perform and then to perform it in a manner that allows the entire mass of the horse to start, stay and continue in motion in a fluid and beautiful way that is often referred to as collection or being in frame.

There is one other point to consider if you are leaning towards having your horse go to a barefoot program, bloodlines; or its inability to have tough feet. Some horses have a natural ability to have thin soles, weak walls or other foot conditions. True, in some cases the natural healing ability of the foot is one that can overcome those particular foot problems, there are other specific bloodlines that pass these inherited problems onto their offspring. Careful consideration has to be made because mankind in their infinite wisdom has intervened into the breeding programs of the horse and we determined that we knew better, but in the process we weakened the ability of the lower leg and the foot to do the job that it was originally designed to do. Take care, consult professionals and make your decision wisely.

My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at


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