Bonnie & Sandman’s Transition Through the Barefoot Movement
Horse trainer, Bonnie Simon, has a passion for creating a deeper connection for her clients and their horses. She has always believed in a ‘whole-horse’ holistic approach and for a long time, she worked, trained and fed her horse in the most natural way possible. Until she realised she was missing something… her horse’s hooves!
Since then, Bonnie has managed to transition her lovely boy, Sandman, to barefoot and booted, allowing both Bonnie and Sandman to continue doing everything they love, but much happier and healthier! This is their barefoot journey…
Can you Tell us a Little Bit About Yourself and Your Gorgeous Horse, Sandman?
Hello, my name is Bonnie! I am 27 years old and this is my beautiful boy Sandman.
Sandman is a 9 year old Quarter Horse, I have owned him since he was just 2 years old. Together, we have been on an amazing ride, the last 7 years have been filled with many highs and lots of growth.
I was very privileged growing up, I was on a horse before I could even walk, and grew up riding many schoolmasters. Sandman was the first young horse I purchased and he is a huge reason as to why I started my own horsemanship business.
You’re a Horse Trainer. What is the Easiest and Hardest Part About This?
Hoof To Heart Horsemanship blossomed throughout our journey together, as I found there is a huge need for a greater connection with our beloved companions. Teaching is my life, I have found myself through helping others! When I coach a client, I look at the picture as a whole and help build a great connection through groundwork and riding. Whilst on this journey called life, we must leave our best selves to all those we meet. My passion lies here helping others enjoy their horses, whilst creating a connection that is beyond words.
The difficult times when coaching can be seeing something that I know I can help, but they are simply not ready to go down this path. For whatever reason that is, it must be the owner’s choice. The owner must choose to be better, make a difference, make a change. Until then, I can’t always help them… This is the hardest part of coaching.
Why did you Choose to go Down the Barefoot Route?
The ‘Barefoot Movement’, as my barefoot trimmer and I call it!
I work, train and feed my horses with a holistic approach. I realised that I was missing a huge part of the puzzle, barefoot! It actually seemed unusual that I was looking after all aspects with this approach in mind, but why not the feet? It was almost as if I was programmed to put metal shoes on, as that is what most people do. It seemed normal nailing a piece of metal into my horse’s feet.
Sandman’s hooves before and after transitioning to barefoot
What Changes Have you Noticed in Sandman Since Transitioning to Barefoot?
I have noticed a huge difference in his feet since going barefoot!
In as little as 10 minutes after his metal shoes were removed, his coronet band relaxed down. Within 2 and a half weeks, the frog had started to regenerate health, and at the same time, his heels have started to de-contract and his heel bulbs have never looked better!
What was it Like Going Barefoot in Your Community?
Going barefoot in my horse community, I feel as though we are the minority. But it only takes 1 person to change the world in my opinion!
How Important is it to Find the Correct Hoof Care Provider Throughout Transitioning to Barefoot?
Finding the correct hoof care provider for you and your horse is of huge importance. I find sometimes in our industry, we pay someone to do a job and trust they are doing their very best for you and your horse. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Becoming actively involved in your horse’s dental treatment, bodywork, and in this case, hoof care allows you to educate yourself on what is normal and what is not. As a coach, I find I learn when I teach others, so by asking questions to my barefoot trimmer, veterinarian and equine dentist, I am helping them just as much as they are helping me!
Having the support and communication from your hoof care provider is vital, communication and honesty is just so important! My barefoot trimmer said to me, “Bonnie if at any point I feel that this just isn’t possible for Sandman, I will tell you”. This gave me the confidence that her priorities lied within the horse, not the money.
What are Some Other Important Aspects you Must Consider Whilst Transitioning Your Horse to Barefoot?
Again, I go back to self-education. To help your horse transition to barefoot, you must read as much as possible, join supportive groups on social media, and find a supportive community. You will have good and bad days whilst transitioning, and knowing someone else out there who went through the same thing and is now on the other side will always give you the courage to keep going and do what is better for your horse.
Your horse’s diet is very important. Speak to your veterinarian or your hoof care professional on how you can help better manage their diet.
Exercise is also so important, as long as the horse is happy and comfortable. This is where the Scoot Boots are a lifesaver, as healthy feet need to move! And we must protect our horse’s feet whilst they transition from shod to barefoot.
Support from your friends, family and hoof care profession is a must. It takes a community to build a foundation for your horse.
Why did you Choose to use Scoot Boots to aid Your Transition Process?
Why did I choose Scoot Boots? They are fantastic in all weather conditions!
They don’t move, they’re easy to put on, just carry a hoof pick wherever you go, I learnt this very quickly. And of course, who doesn’t love the matching colours!!
After just 1 step in Scoot Boots, Sandman felt comfortable and trusted the hoof boots immediately.
What Advice Would you Give to Those Considering Turning Down the Barefoot Path?
Read and self educate. Ask lots of questions, ask your barefoot farrier/barefoot trimmer what the benefits of barefoot really are.
Have thick skin, do not be too quick to put the shoes back on! Thinking that barefoot was the problem and shoes being the solution is not always the case.
I found if I came across anyone that would offer opinions, I would close them off from my mind, as everyone has an opinion. Seek those that offer support, guidance and seek those that can offer advice with the education to prove it.
You must allow your horse the time to transition. Don’t do it right before an event, give your horse the time it needs to take. For me, it took Sandman approximately 6 months to properly transition. That is okay, 6 months from 7 years of damage really isn’t bad if you ask me!
And after all, what is the worst that could happen? After 6 months or a year, you and your hoof care provider decide that this isn’t the best option for you and your horse. At least your horse’s feet are in far better condition than they ever were before!
How can we Continue to Follow you and Sandman’s Journey to Barefoot?
If you would like to follow my journey through the barefoot movement, please send me some support through my page: Hoof-Heart/
Building a Supportive Barefoot Community
The team at Scoot Boot believe passionately in the barefoot horse and strive to build a supportive community of barefoot horse lovers. We aim to share everything we know about going barefoot and are eager to hear your barefoot success stories. Please reach out to us!
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About the Author
Blog writer, Macy Wallis has been a member of the Scoot Boot team for 5 years. She has always had a passion for animal welfare and is currently studying to become a Veterinarian at James Cook University based in Northern Queensland. Through her time at Scoot Boot, Macy has gained extensive knowledge about the benefits of being barefoot and loves to share this with other horse owners. Her family owns four horses; Booza, Star, Chevy and Kudos, all of which are barefoot and love using Scoots!