10 Misconceptions About Barefoot


Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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30 Responses

  1. rachel says:

    Excellent site, lots of sound info. I come from the blood sweat and tears school of trimming 10 years in and longing to retire except from doing my own lads. Thank you for sharing. Rachel

  2. Linda Siegel says:

    I thought this was a great article, except that we have never seen $80 for a trim. The highest in Northern CA is $50.

    • Casie says:

      Wow–that’s pretty cheap. I think we paid $40 back when I was a kid. I hear of some people paying upwards of $100 for a set of shoes now.

    • Casie says:

      I suppose I should specify that was for shoes, not just a trim.

    • Kim says:

      Wow, I’m jealous! Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, I pay $50 for a pasture trim (or did, before I decided to learn to trim for myself). If I wanted front shoes on my horse, it would run me about $120. I dread to know what shoes all around would cost.

  3. Jacqui Tupper says:

    Damn, now I want a Fell pony…. 😉

    • Alison says:

      I’ve had several Fell ponies straight off the fells and most of the land they run on is not like that, it is heath and boggy ground. The ponies tend to come with overgrown feet due to lack of wear. However every Fell pony I have had has had great feet once tidied up, really strong horn.

  4. Katrina says:

    I watched that movie Unbranded I think was the name. The fellows took the mustangs from south to north across the US to show what mustangs could do. I wondered why they put shoes on those horses ? I just could not wrap my head around that part of that since mustangs have wonderful healthy tough feet and can cover any terrain with no issue.

    • Casie says:

      I’ve watched that too, though I don’t remember them shoeing the horses. I guess many people do it because they think they’re supposed to. 🙁

  5. Anthony Lawrence says:

    Interesting that there are probably 10 misconceptions about farriery in your article. You should correct those in order to have a good article.

    • Casie says:

      Can you please elaborate?

      • Anthony Lawrence says:

        Firstly, as with most articles written by barefooters, your article assumes a/ best practice by barefoot trimmers and b) worst practice by farriers. while we all realise that there is no shortage of dreadful farriers out there, that in no way represents farriery best practice. Likewise, there is no shortage of dreadful barefoot trimmers out there who keep horses perpetually lame, as I am sure you would agree are not representative of barefoot trimming best practice.

        If I had more time I would go through point-by-point, but basically your article perpetuates some of the myths about the effects of shoeing, which may actually be true with poor practice but in no way true with farriery best practice.

        In fact in my observation, the trims of both well educated and experienced farriers, and well educated and experienced barefoot trimmers are almost identical, neither being representative of either the mythical pasture trim (a most offensive assertion), nor any of the various bf dogmas.

        All good farriers recognise and compliment good barefoot practise and it is high time more barefooters acknowledge the same in farriery. Some do, but there is still a great campaign to discredit farriery.

        • Casie says:

          I have no doubt there are many knowledgeable and skilled farriers out there, and you sound like one of them. But the focus of this article isn’t farriery–it’s about barefoot misconceptions as the title states. Every farrier who has ever trimmed my horses used the pasture trim I described above. My husband has described in detail how he was trained to trim (and I watched him do it for many years). Pete Ramey once shoed horses, and he has described the differences between how he trimmed then vs. now. This is what I base my description on. I realize many farriers now perform a barefoot trim, and I would certainly applaud that. But unfortunately, I don’t believe they make up the majority.

  6. Ingrid says:

    Perpetuating ignorance. So sad for the horse.

    • Casie says:

      I guess that all depends on how you look at it. Perpetuating the myth that horses need metal nailed to their hooves in order to do anything is more tragic in my opinion.

      • Ingrid says:

        I do both barefoot as well as boots and shoes including glue on. I have several ex diehard barefoot clients with performance horses who have had to shoe their horses due to so called laziness and not coming through in their gaits even when wearing a full set of boots. They are no longer diehard barefooters. It entirely depends on each individual horse and the situation they work and live in. There are horses who are served very well and are much more comfortable by shoes. It is the uneducated farrier or trimmer who is a disservice to the horse, not the shoes.

        • Casie says:

          I would not consider myself a diehard barefooter, actually. I’m glad that more flexible materials are being used in place of metal shoes these days–hoof care is evolving, and this is a good thing. However, I do believe barefoot is best for most horses; it’s just not always convenient for owners.

          • Casie says:

            And I also wanted to point out that I agree that undereducated hoof care providers are a disservice to many horses. As I stated in the blog post, it’s not just about pulling the shoes, but providing the proper framework for horses to thrive barefoot.

  7. Dan Puckett says:

    Removing flares isnt a concern for farriers? Since when? Bent horn tubules serve neither man nor beast…..The only time I remove sole is if it flaking off “dead” sole, and even then I only remove enough to balance the foot, whether I’m putting on a shoe or not…..I leave as much HEALTHY frog as I possibly can. Some horses on my books have huge, awesome frogs, and aside from trimming out the sulci to let the mud squish out the back, i leave them alone.. What do you do for flexor injuries? you know, to replace a patten bar?…. I spent the first 8 weeks of shoeing school trimming feet, didnt nail a shoe on a live horse til Week 9. why? Because all the blacksmithing skill in the world is useless if you dont know how to trim!!…I really wish the “barefoot community” would stop painting farriers with such a broad brush. Fact is, horses that pull or carry a rider are in fact, athletes. You wear shoes, dont you? For what? Protection, support, or traction. I have horribly flat feet. I wear lace up boots with Foot Leveler orthotic inserts inside for as much support as I can get. Our hooved equine friends deserve the same consideration. On a side note, I LOVE trim-only stops. I get $40 per horse, and I can comfortably trim 4-5 an hour. It takes me 90min to shoe 1 for $100, and I have a lot more overhead shoeing.

    • Casie says:

      I see my blog post is making the rounds on the farrier boards. 🙂 I’m simply relaying my own experience with having farriers trim and shoe my horses, plus what I’ve witnessed on a number of other horses. I’m not saying some farriers don’t do a great job of trimming, and if they trim similarly to the barefoot trim, that’s great. But not all do. I know this for a fact. It’s still my firm belief that nailing a metal shoe on a hoof and leaving it there for some time is detrimental the foot. I don’t nail shoes to my feet. I could go barefoot if I was accustomed to it–did as a kid all the time. My point in writing this article was not to put down farriers, but dispel some of the myths that keep horses in metal shoes.

    • Hannah says:

      Going back to your reference to how you treat your feet: the way we wear shoes is actually what causes the need for orthotics for ourselves. Humans have evolved bare-footed, and even if you need a thin sole to protect against cuts etc., tight, supportive shoes do more harm than good.

      Most species have evolved to cope with their own environments really well. The same stands for horses.

  8. Phil Seaward says:

    A school trained farrier who has been shoeing since d1972…that’s me. I have always done the beveled edge and left the working frog alone as well as the toe callus on barefoot horses. Have never heard of the “pasture trim” before. I guess I called it the broodmare trim. This was all before the term “barefoot trim” came in vogue. When it became necessary to learn about this barefoot idea I had Pete Ramey’s book and spent a half day with a graduate “barefoot trimmer”. It wasn’t much different from what I have always done on barefoot stock. I don’t see why the first “set up” trim has to cost so much and why some trimmers say that your horse will be lame for a yr or more. I call it a serious case of gouging and swindling the client. So yes, I do my barefoot trim on all barefoot horses and I shoe with metal, rubber or plastic shoes when needed or client wants it. I do (heaven forbid) hot shoeing as well. Incidentally, my family and I have 14 horses here. All are barefoot at this time but I wouldn’t hesitate to shoe any or all if needed.

    • Casie says:

      I’m a big fan of Pete Ramey and have even had him out to my place for a clinic. He knows what he’s talking about! But a horse shouldn’t be lame for a year once barefoot. They will definitely need transition time for the sole to callous before they can be ridden over rougher terrain. I recommend using boots during this period. I actually haven’t heard of trimmers charging a set up trim, but perhaps some do. The first trim after shoes have been removed or after the hoof has been neglected is going to require the most work. After that, if they’re set up on a regular 4-week interval (or whatever the horse/environment requires), it’s easier to trim, as I’m sure you know.

  9. James says:

    Great and informative article! I’m really on the line between shoeing my horse or going barefoot. However, in every debate I like to hear both sides. I put together a good article on both prospectives here (http://www.horsesmad.com/horseshoes-vs-barefoot/). Like I say, I’m still unsure.

  10. Linda says:

    Good article. Took my TB shoeless after he had been shod for twenty-some years.

  11. Fuzzy says:

    Dear Miss Casie, It seems written mostly from your experiences with a tight bias toward barefoot. A more balanced article would quote and site references instead of lightly saying you read this particular information here and this is the link to this article. I’ve lived and worked on horse farms that each had between 90 and 120 head, respectively. We had different farriers for different horse’s needs. Each farrier had his specialty. We also had upwards of 30 horses shod at various intervals, and the rest were barefoot as they were not being ridden. In the PNW, there is and has been something called a “pasture trim” talked about by farriers here. It is not a new name for an old method, it is simply understood that the hoof will not be shod. Many farriers here indeed do a “mustang roll” on the toe and scoop the quarters prior to adding the shoe. Believe it or not, those are the shoes that tend to set the longest between trims, in my experience. It has to do with the school the farrier attended or mentors the farrier has had. I have seen a heel bar shoe and dissection of the toe heal founder. I have also used barefoot methods myself to heal founder. To state that educating yourself about barefoot and how to trim is equivalent to purchasing the tools is incorrect, in my experience, as it has taken me decades to learn on my own, and it is impossible to put a price tag on that time spent. But I am not everybody, I am just someone who has tried to trim my own horses since I could pick up a set of nippers. Seventeen years ago, a well known and respected farrier here in the PNW, saw me trying to trim my severely foundered gelding and my TB gelding, who I had just acquired as he was given to me. The TB had poor hoof integrity, and was club footed and lame. This farrier gave me some trimming pointers, and then he handed me a full set of tools, which I still have and use today. That TB gelding went sound when I applied the farrier’s suggestions (and is still sound today at age 29, barefoot). And my foundered gelding improved, as well. Even as a fellow barefoot enthusiast, I have nothing but respect for farriers that know their jobs and respect the horses that they handle, shoe and trim. I do, however, have no respect for those who cannot seem to see or handle both sides of the hoof care spectrum, barefoot and farrier science. The simple reason I have no respect for these people is due to the fact that nobody knows everything about anything, hoof care included. I am lucky enough to have been able to have spent roughly half of my life educating myself about hooves and how to care for the horses that I have and the horses that come into my horse rescue. I am also fortunate to have met some very fine farriers, and also some uncaring and uneducated farriers. What I am getting at is there are both of these kinds of people lurking in barefoot trimming as well as the worldof farriers, and that knowledge is priceless. Most of these “misconceptions” as you call them, in the real world are quite trivial, and so varying that to write about them alone would create a journal equivalent to some of Plato’s arguments in philosophy. In other words, a bigger undertaking than making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. I have a story or three per each of these “misconceptions” as I am certain many other readers have. I would rather have read an unbiased article based more on the needs of the horse. But that’s me. My two bucks worth.

    • Casie says:

      Thanks for sharing your POV, Fuzzy. As someone who’s experienced both the shod and barefoot world, I will continue to write about my own experiences and promote barefoot on my blog because that is what I truly believe is best for the majority of horses. I understand not everyone will agree with me, and that is fine.

  12. Diana says:

    Casie, please keep speaking up about barefoot. More and more vets and farriers are coming into the fold as they are seeing how a more holistic approach clearly benefits the animal. My own vet and farrier have. As you say, barefoot alone is not enough. Horses are fairly simple in terms of what they need to stay healthy if left to their own devices. The same philosophy, which is backed by the science behind it, applies to the use of bits and typical saddles. Fortunately, changes in the old mindsets are taking place. Those who embrace them will have happier, healthier horses; those who won’t may eventually find themselves in a less competitive position.

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