Tulsa–A Barefoot Barrel Horse
I’d like you to meet Convincing Class, aka Tulsa–the Naturally Healthy Horse of the Month for June. Tulsa is a five-year-old quarter horse mare owned by Summer Gengenbach and she is one awesome barefoot barrel horse!
I chose to feature Tulsa because she is a prime of example of what a barefoot horse can achieve athletically. Summer, a trainer in the Lincoln, NE area, was hired to train Tulsa as a three-year-old, but she loved the mare’s attitude so much that she decided to buy her a year later.
When Summer first brought Tulsa home, she was concerned about the mare’s feet though. “They were a mess,” she said. “She could barely stand to walk on concrete.”
Aside from having flares and a vertical crack in her front right hoof, Tulsa also had thin soles and tended to land toe-first. X-rays of her front feet revealed that Tulsa was beginning to develop calcium deposits on the tips of her coffin bones.
Summer and her boyfriend, Jason (a part-time trimmer/ farrier), made the decision to keep Tulsa barefoot though. They began learning about natural trimming (upon advice from of a close friend!). After three trims (at four-week intervals), Summer said Tulsa was completely sound and within six months, she had grown a “whole new set of feet.”
Over the course of the last year, a couple of other issues have concerned Summer– Tulsa’s food anxieties (she would become very aggressive with other horses at feeding time) and some body soreness issues.
Summer opted to use acupuncture, acupressure, and chiropractic therapy with Tulsa to address her body soreness issues and she also made some dietary changes. After adding a magnesium supplement and the pro-biotic, Forco, to Tulsa’s diet, Summer began to notice some positive changes.
Tulsa soon began making incredible strides in the barrel racing arena, eventually inching her way up to the 1-D (the fastest category of barrel racing times). Summer and Tulsa currently compete in local events in their area as well as some of the bigger races and AQHA shows.
Summer likes to use Flair equine nasal strips to help protect Tulsa’s airways when she runs Tulsa. “Tulsa is not a bleeder nor does she have respiratory issues–I just don’t ever want her to.”
But she attributes most of Tulsa’s success to having healthy barefoot feet. “I can NOT stress how much I think keeping her barefoot and trimming her the natural way is the only reason she had made it to the 1D times in under 15 competitive runs,” Summer said. “We are still learning and I know her feet are a work in progress, but I know that this is the best way!”
Tulsa grazes in a large pasture during the day and is kept in a paddock with several other horses at night. Her diet includes Strategy, a magnesium supplement, raspberry leaves (to balance hormones), Forco, and lots of grass hay.
“I think that a lot of people think (like I thought for a long time) that a performance horse needs to be “over kept”. ie… in a stall, blanketed, shod, all their “unsightly” hair shaved off, tons of grain and supplements, and we have to accept that they are “just going to be sore sometimes” and use drugs,” said Summer.
But this duo has proven that even a more naturally-kept barrel horse can compete right up there with the rest of them. Way to go, Summer and Tulsa!