Barefoot Performance Horses
Most of us know that shoes are the norm when it comes to performance horses. Even I kept shoes on most of my horses back when I was barrel racing. Of course, I didn’t know then what I know now.
Many people say it’s easy to keep your horses barefoot when they’re just hanging out in the pasture. This is true, but there are also many performance and working horses out there who are barefoot. And if you ask their owners, being barefoot is a big factor in their success.
Now, I don’t confess to know a whole lot about every riding discipline, but when it comes to speed events, I know the common school of thought is that horses need shoes for better traction. Well, barefoot horses are proving this just isn’t true.
One such horse is Tulsa, an accomplished 1-D horse who belongs to my good friend, Summer. Tulsa has never worn shoes and consistently outruns many shod horses. In fact, just a few weeks ago, she placed 24th (in the 1-D) out of over 1600 horses at the Run for the Bonus Race in Lincoln, NE.
And of course, Tulsa isn’t alone. Many people were happy to tell me about their barefoot performance horses on my Facebook page last week. Here are a few:
This is Charley, a 13-year-old grade gelding who competes barefoot in youth barrel racing. He even won a saddle last year!
And here’s Smokey, a 15-year-old Paint mare and trick horse who performs barefoot.
And Ming, a barefoot jumper who is also in training for eventing:
And 21-year-old Jax, a show horse who competes in Western and classical dressage, Hunt and Saddleseat, as well as several other disciplines:
Here is purebred Arabian dressage horse, CJA Debbonheir +/. He is currently showing second level dressage and schooling third level movements.
He’s been barefoot all his life except for (as his owner, Debi puts it), “an ill advised trial in shoes”. At the suggestion of a former trainer, Debi agreed to a one-year trial of shoes, which she describes as “an utter failure!” She says she will never again put shoes on him.
Bo is a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding and was shod for most of his life. He’s always battled underrun heels. Vets advised several types of corrective shoeing included spider plates and wedges. His owner, Meagan, even tried natural balance shoes, as well as several other types of shoes. None of them seemed to help. But since going barefoot not long ago, Meagan says his hooves are finally coming into balance and have never looked better.
Bo is currently schooling in 3rd and 4th level dressage.
This is Juneau, who appeared to be hopelessly lame until his shoes were pulled and he was rehabbed by his new owner (and barefoot trimmer), Marilyn. He went on to compete in Grand Prix dressage where he won his rider a gold medal!
And finally, we have Jedi, a former rescue horse. After also being rehabbed by Marilyn, he became a top 50-mile endurance horse. And yes, he did this barefoot!
If you’d like to see even more barefoot performance horses, I encourage you to check out this page.