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Barefoot or Shoes?

People get many different opinions when they ask if a horse should go barefoot or have shoes.  The best way to decide is to educate yourself and know your horse.
In the wild, a horse will wear its feet down naturally.  The hoof can grow and mature with the constant movement which allows good blood flow to the feet.  The hoof naturally spreads to accommodate the horse.  It can take up to three years for a hoof to fully develop.  Many times, the horses we own do not get this time to mature.  Shoeing too early can lead to smaller, weaker feet and can alter the hoof forever.
Regular trimming is a good alternative. The hoof can grow to support the horse’s size.  Many different disciplines choose trimming over shoeing. If you are going into rough terrain boots are a good option for the horse.  For horses that have always worn shoes, as an owner, you need to allow the feet to get acclimated to being barefoot.  Let them walk around the stall and a soft turnout for a while.  Keep boots on hand.
As with anything, use common sense and know your horse.  Certain activities may require more stability or an injury to the foot may require extra support.  Be informed and educated.
By: Jennifer Strum

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