When Murray’s leg hole turned into a more significant situation than originally thought, I was like “dammit, I’m not going to become one of those people who can only talk about her horse’s injury.”  And here I am.  Talking about his injury again.

But this week, we made some lemonade of this whole stall-bound situation. I pulled all of Murray’s shoes!!

back in the day of pony playtimes

You might not think that shoe-pulling is something to get excited about, but for me it really is. I have been obsessed with the idea of functionally barefoot horses ever since I started care-leasing Murray.  It coincided with finding the Rockley Rehab Blog, the proprietor of which firmly asserts that all horses can become comfortably barefoot with the right care.  And I really liked that idea.  I lived in Kenya and saw zebra on the daily, and never did I see a lame zebra.  I saw zebra running away from things (cars, lions, cheetahs) pretty damn quickly, over some pretty interesting (rocky, shale, slick, muddy, rainy, watery) surfaces, and very few of them ever slipped.  This was pretty good evidence in my mind.

Over time, I came to realize that without being willing to undertake certain lifestyle changes for the horse, it may very well not be possible for Murray to have a competitive career barefoot.  That is clearly not for everyone.

However, I can’t shake the inclination to believe those farriers and veterinarians and yahoos that say that barefoot really is good for the foot overall.  Human podiatrists acknowledge that the types of shoes that many people prefer are not actually all that good for our overall foot health and strength.

okay so this guy probably slipped at least a little

So knowing that Murray only has to be sound in his stall, in arena footing, or hand walking around in the gravel, I really, really, really wanted to give his feet a break from shoes and see if we couldn’t strengthen up his heels and re-angle his upright RF.  Farrier approves of this plan and hopes that it will help his particularly contracted RF heel spread out a bit.

Right now, we hand walk for 20-40 minutes 3-6 times a week.  I’ll try to start doing that on a whole variety of different surfaces so Murray isn’t just standing in the cushy padding of his stall an paddock.  I forsee another six weeks of this routine, which should give both of us plenty of time to harden up our feet and get into a rhythm!  It’s certainly not the same as the Rockley horses being out 12 hours a day on tons of different surfaces, but perhaps we’ll be able to get there a few weeks after that with night turnout.  Once we get back into real non-walk-work, the shoes will probably go back on.  Fronts first, and we’ll see if we can make it through the winter without hinds.

10 thoughts on “lemonade”

  1. I think you have the right approach! I do agree that barefoot is better for the horse and hoof growth, but I appreciate the support shoes provide when jumping. Can’t wait to follow along and see how it goes. I’m also jealous that he can go without shoes, ’cause shoes are a pain in the butt!


  2. I hand walk on concrete and hard pact dirt (like sealed arenas or essentially dirt parking lots) I’ve read its good for the bones (concussion) and also the ligaments but I am not a Dr of any kind (not even an art dr boo) so I dunno


  3. Good luck with the transition! I’m not convinced barefoot is right for all horses in all situations and might suggest that while there was maybe never a vary lame zebra there probably wasn’t a very old one either (slow down and be eaten) but I don’t actually know that. On the flip side tho I definitely prefer minimal shoeing and promoting as healthy and sustainable hoof as possible!


    1. Very true on the no slow or old or lame zebra sitch. And yeah — barefoot is definitely not right for everyone. I’m excited at the possibility it offers for us though! I’d love to see those heels expand a bit.


  4. This is the best time of year for attempting to grow some hoof if your horse can stand it (and you don’t mind him looking a bit sore here and there). I did it quite a bit with Riley in the fall and winter. We also used Cavallos Sport Boots to help the transition and I rode him in them extensively:) I feel for you, good luck with the rehab!


  5. Interested to see how this is working out for you! I know when Pig came out of shoes, he couldn’t handle too many varied surfaces. We stuck to pavement walks, and those gradually toughened his feet up enough to handle more challenging stuff (like hard pastures). He’d been shod for so long, it was really a very long process to get him comfortable and marginally confident. Luck!!


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