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Coming out of shoes

Barefoot is a challenging way of keeping your horse and is neither a cheap option nor a quick fix for hoof problems but DON'T PANIC! The first week can be tough, there are not many horses who are immediately sound with no intervention coming out of shoes. As previously mentioned, preparation relating to diet at least a month or two before removing the shoes will assist in the rehabilitation process. Be prepared to use boots, pads or modify the horse’s environment so it can avoid surfaces that can cause problems in the early days, e.g. large stones, gravel, rough concrete. Arnica and Rescue Remedy can also be useful. Pea gravel is a very supportive surface. It drains well, has the ability to stimulate the sole and frog and allows the horse to load the whole surface area of the hoof.

Don’t be alarmed if it appears that your horse’s feet are falling apart. Unhealthy/unviable wall will break off. This can look alarming but if healthy the hoof wall would probably not break.

It is quite likely that the hoof will have an anaerobic fungus underneath the shoe. This is sometimes called white line disease if in the white line or mistakenly called thrush if around the frog. It is black, slimy and smelly. Even if the foot looks ok, a soak in Milton will get rid of anything lingering. A routine periodic spray of Milton or Apple Cider Vinegar is useful to help eliminate reoccurrence. I also find Red Horse Field Paste (Field Paste | Hoof Care | Red Horse Products) is very good, especially if your horse spends most of its time turned out.

The hooves may feel quite warm (sometimes scarily warm) in the first couple of days. The same warmth in all four hooves is good, one hot hoof and three cold hooves is not. You will probably notice the hooves are warmer than when shod. This is caused by an increased blood circulation. This is a good thing!

Above all else, you will require patience. Going barefoot is not a quick fix but is for the longer term health of your horse. All horses can go barefoot but some owners cannot!

Listen to your horse. If he is coping well then that is great but if he is struggling a little, use verges where possible when hacking out or exercise in the field or menage if you have one, always exercise within the horse's comfort level.

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