In-Hand Harmony

Going Barefoot: Week #6… and Now The Front Feet

“The purpose of the shoe is to protect the trim.”

Three days ago, on December 28, 2014, our farrier Jason Critton and his current apprentice came out to trim the horses’ feet and to remove Tobias’ front shoes. It was a really cold morning, but at least it had climbed over the ten degree mark. This time of year isn’t the best for removing shoes, since the ground is hard frozen, but Jason had suggested at the beginning that we transition Tobias slowly and see how he did with the hind shoes off first before removing the front ones, too. As it turns out, Tobias has done quite well without his hind shoes, so — six weeks later — it was time for the front shoes to come off.

While Jason was removing Tobias’ front shoes, I happened to notice that I still had the shoes Tobias was wearing when we moved here from Washington State back in the fall of 2009. So Jason and I set the front shoes from then with the front shoes Jason had made for Tobias six weeks ago on the bottom of a barrel to compare the two sets. Here’s what they look like:

Top Row: front shoes from 2009; Bottom Row: shoes from today

Top Row: front shoes from 2009. Bottom Row: shoes from today

Since I’ve expressed an interest, Jason has been doing his best to educate me each time he is here. He showed me how the old shoes are blunt at the toe, have some straight sides and then bend in at the heal, compared to the more recent shoes which indicate a very different hoof shape since Jason has been taking care of Tobias’ feet. Jason talked to me about the shape of the foot and how that indicates how the horse is carrying his weight, but I’m afraid I can’t repeat it because I can’t remember it clearly enough. Jason commented that he imagined our previous farrier would look at her work differently today than five years ago.

Interestingly, a lot of what Jason was talking about concerning horses’ hooves in the wild is just the same thing Pete Ramey wrote about in his book.

Realizing that I wasn’t grabbing a solid hold on everything being said on this very cold morning, Jason said that if there was just one thing he’d like me to take away from today it would be this, “The purpose of the shoe is to protect the trim.”

…while my Thorobred/Quarterhorse cross will likely benefit from a few months without shoes, [our farrier] also believes that once I am trail riding again on dry, rocky and steep Colorado terrain, we may want to consider putting shoes back on.

Jason was pleased with how both horses were doing and said that, with my keeping the edges smooth, he thought we could go eight weeks before his next trim. Jason thinks that while my Thorobred/Quarterhorse cross will likely benefit from a few months without shoes, he also believes that once I am trail riding again on dry, rocky and steep Colorado terrain, we may want to consider putting shoes back on. I know some barefoot advocates might not be content with that. But after having Tobias in shoes year around for the past eight years, I’ll be happy with whatever relief from shoes is best for Tobias.  Again, time will tell.

Below are several current photos of Tobias’ feet:

6WKSLH

Left Hind 6 weeks barefoot.

6WKSLF

Left front immediately after removing shoes.

 

 

6WKS861

Hind feet 6 weeks barefoot.

6WKS860

Hind feet.

6WKS859 6WKS858 6WKS855 6WKS854

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