Barefoot Horses

From The Soul of a Horse

persian29A horses’s hoof is supposed to flex with every step taken.  That simple act of flexing is just about the most important thing a horse can do for good health and long life.  The flexing provides shock absorption for the joints, tendons and ligaments in the leg and shoulder; acts as a circulatory pump for hundreds of blood vessels in the hoof mechanism; and helps the heart get that blood flowing back up the leg.

Without flexing, the hoof mechanism will not have good circulation and will not be healthy.  The heart will have to work harder to get the blood back up the legs.  Without flexing, there will be no shock absorption.

With a metal shoe nailed to the hoof, no flexing can occur.

Why Barefoot Horses?

Natural Hoof Specialist and author Jaime Jackson says, “The bare hoof is trimmed to optimize what we call the ‘hoof mechanism’ – the natural flexing and contracting of the hoof as it bears weight and unloads. The mechanism is very important for optimal blood circulation and shock dissipation – in short, for a healthy hoof. The horseshoe weakens the hoof’s natural structure and impedes the mechanism. It prevents natural callusing. It prevents natural shock absorbency. And it imperils every growth corium and every facet of blood circulation known in the hoof.”

Arizona veterinarian Dr. Tomas Teskey says,”One of the greatest damages that occurs because of the application of steel shoes to the horse’s hoof is the greatly reduced circulation within the hoof, and the diminished return of blood back up toward the heart through the veins of the lower leg. Shoes interfere with the hoof’s natural blood-pumping mechanism. The natural hoof expands and contracts with each step, letting blood in as it spreads upon impact with the ground, and squeezing blood up and out of the hoof as it contracts when it is not bearing weight. If this sounds familiar, like the blood pumping mechanism of a heart, that’s because it is–natural hooves perform a critical function as supplementary “hearts”. This vital heart-like mechanism is greatly restricted by immobilizing the hoof with steel shoes.”

Final Proof


Editor’s Comment:  The MOST important thing to remember about your horse’s hooves is this:  Horses which have been shoed cannot go to being barefoot overnight.  From the moment the shoes are removed, you must work with your horse and be patient with him/her to grow new hooves – which takes from 6 to 8 months; so it is best to be patient for one year at least.    Shoes  I believe, disconnect the most important sense of the horse to the outside world, which is Feeling the Ground.  This is one of the Senses which is difficult for the Human to understand.

Read more from Joe Camp about Barefoot Horses HERE.

6 thoughts on “Barefoot Horses

  1. I would just add a correction from personal experience: only one of our horses needed to grow out an entirely new hoof (8 months) but the rest were good to go either immediately upon removing the shoe (Joe’s Cash) or within days of the shoes being removed. It’s really about the wild horse trim. And, the only one who needed 8 months was also a supreme actor 😉

    • Dear Kathleen,
      nice to read you comment and your wonderful wise words ,
      Some people don’t have the Patience, they ask too much of their horses ….
      i also want to add Black Hoof are much Harder than White Hoof , when we rasp them we find that out …
      Also climate and genetics are a great factor … what i am saying is horses are different with one and other , they have different characters and different body reactions just like us human beings …
      Take Care and visit us please …

    • Hi Harvey ,
      I know that by experience but rasp them and find out , there is a scientific answer to that I am sure , also black legs don’t get Mud disses as easily as the white legs do …
      that is not totally white nor black , i said black hoof are harder than white hoof and also genetics are involved too …
      thank you for your comment ,

  2. My 20 year old pony has been shod for most of his life (unfortunately) and we have been barefoot nearly 4 months. I have just started to ride him in hoof boots for 10 minutes so fully understand these comments! Until now it has been inhand walking only… I hope to have my pony back in the Spring! I wish (for his sake) that I discovered barefoot sooner but better late than never 🙂

  3. Thank you for this post! After having a farrier cripple my 2 beloved horses in the early 1990’s, I decided to learn to do natural trims myself. I found help from Jaime Jackson, his books, Pete Ramey’s writings and the Horse’s Hoof Magazine. I have been trimming 13 years and every horse I have cared for has been better for it. Nature created the perfect hoof, humans have been ruining horses with improper care and shoeing for centuries. It is time to do the right thing- natural horse keeping and natural hoof care.

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