The pyramid above illustrates your horse’s barefoot journey and the foundations are the most important part of the pyramid. Without a good foundation a pyramid might collapse at some point in the future, and this is just as true for hooves as for pyramids. The hooves may look fine on the outside, but only strong foundations are going to stop them from failing in the future.
Begin at the bottom of the pyramid and work your way up when you start your journey to improve whole horse health and sound shoeless hooves.
DO keep working your horse – hooves are great at adapting to their environments so the more miles you and horse can cover comfortably the stronger your horse’s hooves will develop.
DON’T forget that the bare hoof can feel the ground in a different way to that of a shod hoof. A biomechanically healthy horse has all four hooves centrally loaded with good shock absorption by the frog and heel bulbs, and consistently landing heel first on firm level ground. Learn to differentiate between your horse deciding which ground is suitable for striding over and which needs to be carefully negotiated, become aware of your own movements over ground, and how you change your stride going up and down hill! Only healthy exercise is progressive so please do not work your horse on surfaces he is clearly uncomfortable on, it will only cause damage, possibly long-term, and a horse who is reluctant to work at all. Find a conformable surface and go for it!
DO learn to read your horse’s hooves because they are good indicators of your horse’s overall health. Keep a diary of all the changes over the next year which affect your horse, for example: which field they have moved to; how long each day they are stabled; new bales of hay or haylage; quantities and contents of bucket feed; dewormers; also veterinary vaccinations and antibiotics; other changes in environment if you go away to clinics; what type of exercise, for how long, and on what surface; changes to tack; chiropractic treatments; the weather…the list is endless!
DON’T be afraid to go back to shoes if you can’t keep your horse comfortable unshod.
DO continue to do lots of research!
Taken from the website run by UKNHCP certified practioner, Kate Morton, whose goal is to be part of the team which empowers horse owners to develop their horses’ healthy hooves, using a holistic barefoot hoof care approach. A link to Stormybracken Hoofcare on our links page.