Does Your Horse Have Less Than Desirable Hooves? Barefoot Therapy May be the Answer!
Mary & Sancho’s Barefoot Journey
Mary had finally achieved her dream of becoming a horse owner! Her gorgeous Quarter horse, Sancho, ticked all her boxes except one; his feet.
Mary knew what she had to do and immediately began researching to help herself become knowledgeable on the barefoot movement. This enabled her to help aid Sancho’s transition from shod to barefoot, with a desirable outcome!
Read on to find out how Mary and Sancho achieved barefoot success with the help of Scoot Boots!
Can you Tell us a Little bit About Yourself and Your Horse, Sancho?
I purchased Sancho in February of 2020, literally right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit! Sancho is my very first horse, I was 59 when I purchased him.
He is a fully trained cutting horse and has competed professionally (so he knows a lot more than I do!). He is an 8 year old registered Quarter Horse. He has a pretty fabulous personality… and a lot of buttons, but he is calm and safe for me.
How did you get Into Horses and Begin Riding?
Well, probably like most ladies answering this question, I loved horses as a girl and always wanted one, but we lived in the city and it just wasn’t possible. I rode at stables off and on, and was able to occasionally ride a friend’s horse.
When I was in college (university), I took a job at a Saddlebred training farm in Ohio, United States, so that I could learn to care for horses in the hopes of having my own someday.
Then, life happened; work, marriage, kids, etc. I was fully immersed in suburban life and horses became a distant thought. Then, after my kids were grown, on their own, and we had passed through most of life’s milestones and achievements, I thought, “What next?”.
By this time, we were located in South Texas, United States. By chance, I met a work friend of my husband’s who happened to have a ranch nearby with horses. I asked if I could come over to get a brain dump on how he cared for his horses, as the environment in Texas is quite different from that in Ohio. It was perhaps two years after that when I finally stopped by!
His grandson happened to be a very experienced cutting and sorting trainer, and he was willing to give me some lessons. I was hooked! The very first time I ‘chased the flag’ on a cutting horse, I had so much fun, I almost couldn’t sleep that night!
What Disciplines of Riding do you Participate in With Sancho?
Sancho and I participate in some small sorting competitions, and I’m currently training him for trail riding.
I have taken lessons for over a year (2 times per week), focusing on mostly cutting and sorting. I’m now working with someone on the basics, such as balance, seat, groundwork, etc. I am pretty excited about that! I have a lot of catching up to do!
Why did you Choose to Begin Your Barefoot Journey With Sancho?
One quality I wanted my first horse to have was good feet. I am an avid reader and I knew this was very important.
Unfortunately, Sancho had every other quality I was looking for, except for good feet! He had been out to pasture for a while and had been slightly neglected, and his overdue, shod feet had long toes, and negative palmer angles in his hind feet.
7 Months Difference
What Were Sancho’s Hooves Like Prior to Transitioning to Barefoot?
When he came home to me, he was shod on all 4 feet and his toes were terribly long. His long toes had pulled his heels under and his heels had also become contracted.
He stood mostly with his hind feet camped under him for comfort, so I knew this was not a good sign.
The Same Foot, 7 Months Apart!
What Challenges Have you and Sancho Faced Throughout Your Barefoot Journey?
Probably, the most difficult thing was just dealing with the negative stereotypes of taking a horse barefoot. Many horse owners in Texas are hard-core steel shoe enthusiasts and think there is absolutely no advantage to being barefoot.
Luckily, I was able to work with a farrier that was very supportive, both of my barefoot goal, and with my desire to learn how to trim Sancho myself. I also had another barefoot trimmer on Facebook that has helped me a lot, and she has been very encouraging!
Why did you Choose to use Scoot Boots to Supplement Sancho’s Barefoot Transition?
Once I started reading about transitioning to barefoot, I realised that hoof boots were probably in my future. Plus, we lived in a very dry and rocky climate. I wanted my horse to have the advantage of protection without the steel shoes. Just imagining walking on a road in steel shoes makes me cringe.
I’m an engineer, so I started to take a look at the various hoof boot designs. Scoot Boots caught my eye right away, they really looked durable and like they would be able to stay on the hoof. This is crucial to me since a cutting horse makes very sudden and fast turns and stops. I was really worried that there was no hoof boot that would be able to stay on during our rides.
However, I learned a lot of endurance riders used Scoot Boots, so I thought if a hoof boot was going to work at all for us, it was going to be the Scoot Boots! I also study all of Pete Ramey’s articles/books/videos and he is a big proponent for Scoot Boots. Then I found a Scoot Boot page, and the representative there was able to really give me a lot of information. That sealed the deal!
How Have Scoot Boots Helped Aid Sancho’s Transition?
Luckily, and to the credit of my farrier who pulled Sancho’s shoes and gave him his first barefoot trim, Sancho did not have any adverse effects from going barefoot, other than being sensitive on rocks.
Sancho’s Shoes Being Removed and His First Barefoot Trim!
However, I took a slo-mo video after a few weeks of being barefoot and saw that Sancho was landing completely on his toes at a trot. This was right about the time my Scoot Boots arrived. A short while later, I retook the slo-mo video with the Scoot Boots on, and the transformation was incredible! He could land a solid heel-first landing in the Scoot Boots, and his stride was so much longer.
Heel-First Landing in Scoot Boots!
What Physical Changes Have you Noticed in Sancho Since Transitioning to Barefoot & Booted?
Since the transition, Sancho can now travel comfortably and correctly on all surfaces in his Scoot Boots. This makes me feel confident that I am doing the best thing for his feet. If he did not have his heel-first landings (achieved with his Scoot Boots) then the internal structure and health of his feet would be at great risk.
Since his metal shoes have been removed, his heels have really improved. They are no longer so overrun. I work at bringing his toes back all of the time, this helps get his breakover in the right place and also allows him to travel correctly and comfortably.
Sancho also now stands square, no longer does he camp his hind feet under him like he did before. I think his feet can still continue to improve, but we’ve made such great progress so far!
What Advice Would you Give to Those Considering Transitioning Their Horse to Barefoot?
Certainly every horse is different, and this is my only horse so far, so I cannot pretend to be an expert. That being said, there are many experts out there available via the internet.
Educate yourself! Start with ‘The Essential Hoof’ book, as this gets you familiar with all the related terminology. Then go to Pete Ramey’s online articles. Then you can purchase his books and DVDs, if you are interested in learning more about trimming. This helps make it so much easier to understand your journey.
Diet is a huge factor in the health of horses’ feet and movement is equally important. My goal is to have a track system for Sancho so that he gets plenty of natural movement every day, even when I’m not riding. Look into the ‘Paddock Paradise’ book for this.
There are also many great Facebook groups to help on your journey! These include groups about tracking, hoof rehabilitation, equine diet, and Scoot Boots!! Go for it!
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.