Recently an experience with one of my clients took me back in time to about 10 years ago, when I was considering the removal of my horse’s shoes. At that time less was known and I was given the advice that I could only remove my horse’s shoes if he lived out 24/7 and was rug-less, something that was not possible as I kept my horse at livery and he was in a competition yard. In the end my horse transitioned ME to barefoot as it turned out because he simply refused to be shod any more, but that is a different story.
Nowadays I live in Lincolnshire, an area of the UK which has lower property prices, and many of my clients own their own land or rent a yard and have rather more control over their horse’s environment and are able to have their horses partly on hard standing areas or variable surfaces even if they do not have a paddock paradise. Social media may also show barefoot horses that can spend much of their time free to roam outdoors 24/7 with access to shelter and owners having the option to reseed paddocks to grow more barefoot friendly grazing and have a track system. Nowadays specialized barefoot yards are springing up.
My client M keeps her horse (who has the unusual stable name of Laptop) in a conventional livery yard, there are turnout paddocks and a school and access to hacking. M often works 12 hour days in the care sector and has a good friend (A) who also keeps her horse at the same livery yard and both support each other, taking it in turn to care for both horses on long working days. The horses are currently stabled overnight. Laptop has previously been worked very hard as a riding school horse and was adopted by M when he was about to be discarded. He is a very easy horse to work on with a lovely nature.
At my second visit to trim Laptop I became concerned about him, he was not moving well, appeared sore on his feet and had a digital pulse all around. His hoof showed signs of bruising and separation. His coat was dull and he found it difficult to stand and lift his hind legs for the very light trim that I gave him.
My advice was to change his diet completely, to remove all sugary foods and concentrate on a mainly fibre diet with added linseed and a balancer. Although M was very concerned that Laptop would drop too much weight, she trusted me and followed my recommendations. When the diet had been changed, next M started to work Laptop, she did not have a suitable saddle and could only work in hand, on the lunge or lead from her friend’s horse. M has worked Laptop regularly and consistently over the last 6 weeks.
At my third visit Laptop was a changed horse, moving much more easily, with no digital pulses and a shining coat and he was happy and alert with a glow in his eye. M had changed his feed and worked him regularly. This was all it took for a complete turnaround in Laptop’s welfare.
I am grateful to them both for reminding me that with a little extra work and attention to detail and some support from your friends that being barefoot CAN work well in a traditional livery yard.
Well done M and Laptop!