Essentials to Keeping Your Horse Barefoot

Tofino transitioned to going barefoot about 5 years ago due to the fact that his hooves were too short. My farrier suggested removing his shoes and letting his hooves grow out. This did take time and proper care but we managed to get them to a good state to the point where my farrier said he actually doesn’t need to be shod again.

Note: Some horses medically need to be shod and is not safe for them to go barefoot. Check with your Vet & Farrier beforehand.

1. Diet

I was recommended by the farrier to put Tofino on Farriers Formula (double strength) which is a supplement you add to the feed in order to get the right nutrients for hoof strength and growth.

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Once we started using Reverdy Feed (Adult Specific), I stopped using the above supplement as the feed covers a lot of nutrients that are enough to maintain not only his hooves but his full body which makes it a lot easier as I do not need any additional supplements. The general rule for the barefoot diet is low sugar, high fibre and forage.

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2. Trim & Maintenance

As hooves got stronger and bigger, I decided to keep them as is and just trim them every 6weeks as the hooves are naturally shock absorb and flex with your horses movement.

Every horse needs to be trimmed a specific way depending on how they move and and naturally shaped. Tofino gets a regular “Mustang roll” but he also used to get a “white line trim” as he had white line.

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3. Desensitize

Always expose your horse to new grounds whether it be gravel, asphalt, sand, rubber etc. This helps the hooves to “desensitize” and get used to multiple surfaces. That being said, if you are still at the beginning stages, I would avoid gravel and allow your horse to wear a hoof boot if you need to cross in order to prevent excessive breakage and cracking.
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4. Exercise

The more your horse moves around, the better blood flow there is to the hoof and the body. This enhances growth and healing. Turning out your horse as much as possible would help not only for movement but also exposure to surfaces.

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(photo by Axelle Talma/@popthepony)


5. Protection

Wet hooves = brittle hooves = prone to fungal infections. It is best to avoid turning out your horse when it’s wet and muddy, but if need be, then look for a water repellent.

There are a number of hoof protectors out there that repel water, but I personally use Plus Vital which not only is a water repellent naturally, but also helps the hooves grow strong and I have noticed a major difference while using it.

  plus vital

If your horses hooves are very brittle I would suggest you try Keratex Hoof Hardener which also really helped the transition.

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Hope this helps 🙂
Is your horse shod or barefoot?

5 thoughts on “Essentials to Keeping Your Horse Barefoot

  1. We are unshod, saying Barefoot is a bug bear of my instructors 🙂 I have a standard farrier not a barefoot trimmer, but we have done that road as well.
    She has never worn a shoe, but I boot as and when.
    I hope that you get responses because I am interested in how others keep their horses in other parts of the world. We are in the UK, known for its wet winter.

    Diet, grass, hay and Magnesium. 24/7 year round turnout.
    Trim, as and when. I maintain shape in between the farrier visit. He comes every 10-12 weeks probably Spring and Summer. Autumn and Winter I managed myself, so came today and hadn’t seen since November.

    Hoof hardener, a good old fashioned salt scrub once a week. Stockholm tar if I do find I need to plug a hole for any reason.

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    • Oh wow seems like you got everything under control. Awesome techniques I will have to try. We are dry here naturally but our yard has grass that gets watered nearly everyday and the horses get showers after rides for about 6 months as the weather is basically humid nearly all year round

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  2. I have a horse that has a brittle hoof. we noticed that he easily cracks his hoof even in soft trail, so i asked my vet and he told me to give my horse a proper hoof care feed to make its hoof grow strong. The effect too quite a while but its all worth it. He now have a strong hoof.

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