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When the horse lands heel first and centrally loaded there is less stress on the body and thus less likelihood of injury.

Your horse will have increased awareness of where their limbs are and as they can feel where they are putting their feet and are able to decide how best to use themselves to cross a certain terrain - either by careful negotiation of stony ground or striding out on smooth ground. They are looking after themselves. If you think how you would walk barefoot on a stony beach compared to a nice grassy track, you too would find your stride length would alter.

The hoof is responsive to the environment in which it lives. If your ground is very wet the hooves will benefit if you can exercise more on the road each day, always of course, within the horse's comfort levels. The more turn-out time the quicker the rehabilitation.

If your facilities permit you may find it interesting and useful to read Jaime Jackson’s Paddock Paradise: A Guide to Natural Horse Boarding which is a system which allows horses who live in a herd to live in a manner which mimics as close as possible the conditions a healthy wild horse lives. This system encourages your horse to keep moving as your horse will constantly drive and be driven by others in the herd. Hooves are healthiest when they receive lots of stimulus from movement

A variety of surfaces assist in barefoot rehabilitation, particularly for horses with severely compromised feet, e.g. pea gravel, a concrete area, sand area, etc. The paddock paradise system comprises a lane system consisting of electric tape, usually around the outside of your field, which enables the middle of the field to be used either as a schooling area, or an area for growing your hay or fogage (standing hay - old long grass very stalky and pretty dried out) for later in the year. Putting grazing stations in different areas of the track encourages movement together with putting your feed and water bases at opposite ends.

It is not always possible to set up a paddock paradise system, for example if your horse is kept on a livery yard and you have to make the best of what you have. If you can feed your horse the correct diet and give them enough daily exercise over a variety of surfaces, for example, hacking out or pleasure rides, this will be sufficient for a healthy barefoot horse.

Barefoot hooves have superior grip on all terrain: mud, grass, tarmac, paving, stony ground. My own barefoot horses all compete in Eventing, Hunter Trials, Show Jumping, Trec, Pleasure Rides and Dressage. They are as surefooted galloping around a cross country course or show jumping ring as they are when walking down a steep tarmac road.

If you click on the link here hopefully you will see a newspaper article appear. This was when my daughter came fourth in her class and the highest placed under 17 year old rider. In her second class of the day she went on to jump the biggest track she and the pony had ever attempted which was 3ft6 and she came tenth! If it is not very clear, the writing between the red lines reads, "Stockland Lovell's April Hunter Trial alternated between blue skies to dark threatening clouds accompanied by heavy snowfall flurries.......... Interestingly, Riverlands Blue is unshod, but he has no problems coping with all aspects of his work. Denise said he was extremely surefooted on the, at times, pretty treacherous ground. Despite their studs, some horses were slipping and sliding after some of the more substantial snow showers"......

(what a fantastic advert for barefoot!)

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