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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

February 25, 2008

Barefoot Endurance Riding

Barefoot Endurance You Can Do It!

Barefoot vs. shod hoof is often a controversial point of discussion on many forums. The shod faction claiming the nailed on shoe is to protect the hoof from wear, chipping, and concussion to the sole. The barefoot supporters claiming the nailed on shoe damages the hoof wall, does not allow the hoof to expand, and works against the natural blood pumping action of the frog and a heel first landing.

I’m not here to make a judgment call on barefoot vs. shod. Do I believe that barefoot is better than shod? In many instances my feelings would be yes! Puddin’ has been trained, conditioned, and competed on a limited basis with a naturally bare hoof. She has over a thousand training miles over varied terrain with a completely bare, non-booted hoof. Is there a point when wear was progressing faster than the bare hoof could keep pace with? I’d have to give that an unequivocal yes. In Puddin’s case she has a moderate club foot on the left front. The hoof being very upright she often strikes the toe and chips that area which as the year progresses gets thinner and thinner with increased mileage. The other three hooves keep up with wear very well at the 25-35 miles per week level, and will handle a 25 mile limited distance ride unbooted just fine. *Note: Puddin’s has three black hooves and one that is half white-half black.

Some people of note who are actually riding their endurance horses bare successfully:

Shari Cartee and her horse Finali

Audrey Salisbury on her “Blue Star” stallion, NS Rahsil Royel-T

Karen Chaton and TBR Granite Chief

Brittany Dial riding DJB Cielo

Sheryl Campbell on Pendell Solma

Scott Kroeger on Gunman

Darolyn Butler on Zeus

There are many more riders moving to barefoot, the above is only a sampling of those proving it can be done successfully.

Articles worth reading on the barefoot horse:

For those times when you face exceptionally tough terrain or your horse is transitioning from shod to bare, here are some resources for hoof boots. The boots I used were Easyboot Epics.

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