Scoot Boot Stockist, Rachel Tupek’s Stance on the Barefoot Movement
Scoot Boot stockist, business owner and barefoot trimmer, Rachel Tupek gives us a special look into her world as a barefoot trimmer. Rachel began trimming her own horses and then realised there is so much more to learn and research.
Rachel is now a qualified Equine Podiotherapist and is helping many of her clients, as well as her own horse, successfully transition to a healthier, more natural barefoot lifestyle, with the help of Scoot Boots!
Read on for a professional outlook on barefoot and learn why Rachel chooses Scoot Boots!
Can you Please Tell us About Your Business, Naturally Equine Podiotherapy & Barefoot Hoof Care?
I’m Rachel Tupek and I run a small business based around equine hoof care.
I qualified as an Equine Podiotherapist in 2019 after completing my studies at the Australian College of Equine Podiotherapy. Here I gained my qualifications during the 2 year full time diploma course they offer in Yarck, Australia.
How did you Become Interested in Horses and Their Hooves?
I grew up around horses and it was a natural childhood obsession. By the time I was 8, I think my Mum decided I needed my own horse, no more nagging child at her feet every single time we passed a horse.
I started out trimming our own horses, between Mum and myself, we had five, all with different pathologies, ranging from seedy toe through to laminitis. To be honest, in all the years of owning horses, we still never understood exactly what any of these things meant. I had a thoroughbred that had the ‘typical’ thoroughbred feet, he ‘needed’ shoes, but was forever throwing them. Our good farrier decided he no longer wanted to be reliable, leaving our horses untrimmed, meaning we needed a new farrier, again.
The biggest turning point for me was when our laminitic pony, Storm, was growing hooves that looked like slippers. This is when I decided to do all the research I could and find a way to help him as he became unable to walk. The moment he cantered across the paddock was the moment I knew there was a better way. It was when I hit hurdles in my thoroughbred’s feet that made me realise I needed to learn more, there is more to this than just a trim. This is when I enrolled in college.
Why Promote Natural Barefoot Hoof Care Rather Than Traditional Shod Methods?
When I started researching, I found a lot of information that indicated shoes may have even been a contributing factor as to why we see the problems we see in many of our domesticated horses, especially my TB. I was able to relate much of what I read to my own horses.
When I looked into hoof care, farriery was the first place I looked. I was always in this belief, that if someone was only barefoot qualified, then they are only half-educated.
When I found the diploma course, I knew how wrong I was. This course had top lecturers such as Professor Robert Bowker and Sharon May-Davis. It covered anatomy, conformation, environment and nutrition, for example. It looked at the horse as a whole. This was not offered in the course outline for anywhere else I looked. This was for me, an easy choice.
What is Your Stance on the Current State of the Barefoot Movement?
This excites me! I’m seeing more and more people openly talking about it, listening and trying new things. People are seeing what is going on with their horse’s feet, questioning it and wanting answers.
When we think about it, our horses only have their feet to stand on. Why has it been ignored for so long? Because we didn’t know any better, but now we are learning. This is the best thing we could give to our horses.
You are Also a Scoot Boot stockist! Why did you Begin Stocking Scoot Boots?
As a barefoot specialist, sometimes alternative protection is required for those horses who have thin soles or heel pain, for example, especially when riding across rough terrain.
I choose Scoot Boots as my main hoof boot for many reasons actually. Not only are they attractive, but they are also so simple to use, they have many parts that are easy to replace and are effective. They do not hold water, they are easy to wash off when they are muddy, plus there are many options such as Anti-Slip Shims, Pads and Mud Straps to ensure the fit is right, for whichever discipline they’re used in.
I find most horses suit these hoof boots well, and when they don’t, generally it is an issue with the hoof itself that more often than not, with a few good barefoot trims focusing on correction, these feet become Scoot Boot worthy. I even use these hoof boots for turnout with my own horses. I have one horse wearing a pair in the paddock right now for therapy reasons.
What are Some of Your Experiences Transitioning Horses From Shod to Barefoot.
Yes, I do, and I will say that this is one of my favourite things to do! It can be challenging, but with a dedicated owner who is willing to push through some of the issues we may face, who is proactive and onboard with every step of the way, these transitions are extremely rewarding.
Bonnie Simon from Hoof to Heart Horsemanship’s horse, Sandman, who has shown to be amazing in his transition. He went through hard times and Scoots are what helped get him through.. Look at that heel-first landing.. What a model!
Looking at the big picture here, not all horses can go barefoot and be 100% comfortable, this is also why I recommend Scoot Boots during transitioning from shod to barefoot. Some horses have very limited concussion absorption abilities, lack sole depth, have crushed and underdeveloped heels that cause heel pain, and the list goes on. But this is what I aim to improve, even if that means restoring the ability for the feet to function enough to reduce the risks of lameness and further deterioration. If we don’t use it, we lose it, right? The same goes for our horse’s hooves, we must take this into consideration when rehabbing feet. We cannot expect horses with collapsed, weak, atrophied feet to come out of shoes trotting away into the sunset while kicking and squealing for joy. Some do though, but the amount of deterioration before the shoes come off will determine how hard the road ahead will be.
Owners must be committed. For the ones that come out of shoes and do trot away without any issues, that’s fantastic, because we know that this horse will do very well, very quickly. It is the ones who haven’t shown any problems yet, but to the eye, it is visible that there are issues. These are the transitions who are the most rewarding. They come out of shoes and struggle. It is important to think of the horse as a whole and address not only the hooves, but the diet, environment and body as one, treat the horse holistically to maximise the process and support them as best as we can, as these guys can really struggle. They may abscess, be very tender and reluctant to move freely, in turn affecting posture, gait and of course, personality. They can often appear to get worse before they get better. This is where I have to be sure the owner understands why, what this means and what we must do. This is where hoof boots and massages, the surface we work them on, their diet and exercise play a big role.
We must make these horses comfortable immediately, we must address body pain and we must be proactive and encourage our horses to move, move, move! But always comfortably. It’s when those sudden positive changes appear, and the bodyworker’s feedback is great, and the horse is moving better than ever, that we realise it was all so worth it.
Well done to those owners who hang in there and do the best they can. It is you who made it happen and the team effort that makes it possible. Having a dedicated team that has your horse’s best interests in mind has got to be the most important thing with horses like this. Support is needed and communication is key.
You Transitioned Your own Thoroughbred to Barefoot. Tell us About Your Experience With This?
Yes I did. He was throwing shoes out on rides and in the paddock, he had thin walls so he would occasionally rip out chunks of his hoof wall. It was more challenging keeping the shoes on.
Going barefoot was the best thing for that reason, although I turned him out and allowed him time to repair. When I did start riding again, he required size 2 Scoot Boots, which we are still using years later. Had I varied his terrain and encouraged movement more throughout his barefoot transition, I feel we could have made progress much sooner. He has been barefoot for 5-6 years now.
How do Scoot Boots Help Supplement Your Client’s Barefoot Transitions?
There is no doubt that horses are more comfortable with sole protection. When we think about how thin the sole is on many horses, in some cases, only millimetres at the time of shoe removal, so there is not much protection for the sensitive tissues below the coffin bone at all, and if we have horses with painful heels, then what else is there to land on? The importance of providing extra depth between the bone and the ground surfaces is high, the importance of providing relief in the heels, to allow the horse to land here comfortably, is also high.
Scoot Boots allows horses to be comfortable so they can move freely, this in turn creates better function within the feet due to correct movement and better landing.
What are Some of Your Favourite Features of Scoot Boots?
I think the ease of Scoot Boots, the flexibility and fit are great features. I encourage a hoof pick on hand, this of course to clean the feet out first, but I also recommend them when hooking the straps on or removing the boot, I use the pick as a lever where the gaiter attaches.
I like the simplicity and the fact that parts are easily replaceable if need be, no need for a whole new boot for Velcro to wear out. Being able to choose different colours is always a bonus, my current colour is the blue!
One of the advantage points with Scoot Boots being used for transitioning is also that during this time, feet usually change sizes as they start decontracting. This means that we usually need to size up as the feet widen, Scoot Boots are so easy to resell allowing owners to purchase again and again throughout the transition phase, making it a much more tempting investment.
Do you ever Promote Scoot Boots for Other Purposes?
I often recommend Scoot Boots for rehabilitation, not just for ridden or led work, but also for paddock use. A sore horse will improve much slower than a comfortable horse, so we want to encourage circulation within the feet and the body, this can only be achieved during correct movement. I feel it is important we support them and provide hoof boots where required, especially during rehabilitation.
People I size and fit for hoof boots range from dressage riders, trail riders and those who ride rough terrain. Many compete and perform, some are even in the public eye and are inspirations to those around them.
I believe Scoot Boots can be used for any discipline whether that only be for training, or for competition. They may not be allowed for all disciplines when competing, but times are changing, and if one day they are, then I don’t doubt they’ll hold up well.
What Advice do you Have for Others Considering Barefoot?
Being committed is the biggest thing, knowing what to expect and doing your research. Get a good hoof care professional who knows your goal and is on board 100%, a good body worker and a support network of people who have been through the same journey.
Do not listen to people who do not know, they don’t know your horse’s history, they don’t know the plan, they don't know what hurdles you will and will not face, so their opinions are just that. You cannot look at a hoof and say you know the story, so don’t listen when people try to add their part.
Annoy your trimmer, question, be interested and follow the plan. Be dedicated and do your best.
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.
Find more information about using Scoot Boots here.
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.