Karlee’s Journey With her 4 Bitless, Bareback and Barefoot Rescue Horses
Australian endurance rider, Karlee Rose, is a 16 year old from New South Wales. She is a casual eventer and competitive endurance rider who spends her time training and improving the health and lives of her rescue horses.
Karlee began rescuing horses in April of 2016 when she was just 11 years old. She has since accumulated 4 horses, all rescued from neglectful and dangerous situations. She strongly believes in keeping horses as natural and comfortable as possible.
However one of Karlee’s horses, Bella, began getting tender after riding endurance for long distances so her farrier suggested trying hoof boots.
Scoot Boots have allowed Karlee and her horses to ride out confidently, knowing her horses’ feet are protected and comfortable along harsh terrain!
Can you Tell us a Little bit About Yourself and Your Four Rescue Horses?
I grew up with my family’s horses, just playing around bareback in the paddock and always dreaming of the day I would have my own horses. After almost 4 years of riding lessons, focusing on strictly traditional English style riding, my aspirations to become an eventer were very high.
Around this point, my Mum decided that it was time to get me my own horse in order to pursue that future dream! That’s how I met Lauren Woodbridge, founder of Black Pearl Horses. I spent months with Lauren with a mission to find the perfect horse to start my riding career. This introduced me to a whole new world of ‘problem’ horses; those who came from auctions, neglectful homes or those who were destined for the meat truck. Through this, I was forced to open my mind up to training methods that were foreign to me, but I have now shaped my entire philosophy towards horses.
I was introduced to my now rescue horse, Bella. A 5 year old stock horse x mare who was reduced in foal as a 2 year old. Bella was extremely green, having only had a few canters under saddle and a real passion for bucking. I had just come off riding school ponies, not a good mix on paper, but we immediately clicked! So, 11 year old me had to figure out a way to train this rather ‘spirited’ mare.
And so our journey began, resulting in a newfound passion for endurance. This is because it is the only discipline that allows Bella and me to compete bareback.
Over the years, I have acquired many more ‘problem’ horses, those that either no one wanted, or that had a dark past, thus building myself as a rider and a trainer.
How did you Rescue Your Four Horses?
My horses all have very varying backgrounds. My trainer, at the time, got Bella from the doggers as a 2 year old, malnourished, in foal who was terribly troubled.
My second rescue horse, Merlin, is an anxious OTTSTB, having spent a lot of his years in less than ideal situations, abused and misunderstood in the racing industry. His trauma still shows it today.
Then, along came Ollie. He was about to be put down because he ‘didn’t float’ and his owners were moving away. With perfect timing, I stumbled across him through a friend’s comment and needed a companion horse at the time. As he didn’t float, I walked him 5 km (3 miles) home. He was in pretty awful condition, being 25 years of age at the time.
My fourth rescue horse, Nym, was our biggest rescue to date. The 22 hours round trip over 3 days to bring her home was a massive feat. She came from a severely drought-stricken area, and at 10 years old, had little handling, spending most of her life as a broodmare. Nym was in a fairly non-horsey home, spending her days in a 4x4 m (13’x13’) dirt yard with only a meat lamb for company. She was malnourished, had extreme sunburn covering large parts of her body and pus-filled, weeping eyes. You couldn’t touch her face and it took 3 hours, with 3 people, to get her onto the float.
What Made you Decide to Take a More Natural Approach to Riding? (E.g. Bitless, Bareback & Tackless)
Bella was the inspiration behind my natural approach to working with horses, although I'd always loved the idea of liberty and tackless riding. I spent the first 3 months of our partnership together getting bucked off and bolted with. I think I counted 10-20 falls within that time.
I then switched Bella to bitless, it didn’t make too much of a difference at first, but at least I wasn’t pulling on her mouth anymore.
Following this, I started doing a lot more bareback riding with her. I found that she responded brilliantly to the subtle seat and leg cues such as the tense of my muscles. Eventually, I realised the only way I could control her was bareback and it turned out that I really enjoyed the connection I felt with my horses when riding them bareback and bitless.
As for barefoot, I just don’t see a need for metal shoes when my horses are perfectly sound and comfortable barefoot. Not to mention the cheaper alternatives to shoes, such as Scoot Boots.
What Challenges Have you Faced With Your Rescue Horse’s Hooves?
Nym has never had good hooves due to lack of care and maintenance. Going into a competitive future, I knew her hooves wouldn’t hold up to long-term riding completely barefoot.
Ollie has also been diagnosed with navicular disease which is a real struggle for him, soundness wise.
Why Have you Chosen to use Hoof Boots on Your Horses Instead of Keeping Them Completely Barefoot?
As we began competing in endurance riding, Bella started becoming footsore after a ride on concussive or rocky ground.
A lot of my endurance friends, as well as my barefoot trimmer, all recommended Scoot Boots to keep her happy and comfortable, so I tried them out and fell in love!
How do you use Scoot Boots on Your Horses?
Bella has a set of 4 Scoot Boots for endurance and jumping to limit the impact on the joints in her legs on concussive ground. Nym also has Scoot Boots on all 4 due to her hoof issues and being uncomfortable when in heavy work.
What is Your Experience With Scoot Boots?
I have had nothing but success with my Scoot Boots! They have solved all our problems with tender feet and legs. I even noticed that Bella’s signature short, choppy strides completely lengthen when she’s booted.
I very rarely lose a boot and if I do, it’s always due to a stumble on rocky ground. The boots are also very sturdy, holding up to hundreds of kilometres, and the service from Scoot Boots has done nothing but impress me!
Why did you Choose Scoot Boots Over Other Hoof Boots on the Market?
I was actually tossing up between a couple of brands of hoof boots before I got my Scoot Boots, but at the end of the day, I always came back to them.
Their affordability, super tread, options of both slip on and glue on, adjustability and drainage system were all key factors in my decision to purchase Scoots.
Are any Other Members of Your Equine Community Barefoot or use Hoof Boots?
Barefoot and booted are pretty common in endurance, with fairly equal statistics for both shod and booted horses.
Have you Ever Received any Negative Feedback About Being Barefoot and Using Hoof Boots From Others in the Horse Community?
I’ve been told a few times that I “may as well shoe” and the like, but all in all, the community that I am in has been very accepting as barefoot is so common.
Do you Jump Your Horses? How do you go With This?
I do jump with 2 of my 4 horses, Bella being one of those. Obviously I cannot compete with her in this due to her bareback needs, however, she does wear her boots when we have a jumping session and she does really well! Her strides are more powerful and she is a bolder jumper when she is booted.
What got you Into Endurance Riding Over Other Riding Disciplines? How did it all Begin for you?
Endurance all began for me when I realised that Bella was only truly safe to be ridden bareback and that I couldn’t control her otherwise.
Endurance was the only discipline that I’m interested in that allowed riders to compete both bareback and bitless, so that’s what I did. The fact that Bella also happened to have a talent for it was an added bonus!
How Have you Gone Riding Endurance Barefoot?
I have been endurance riding both barefoot and booted, but have only gone up to 20km (12.5 miles) without boots as Bella would become footsore.
With Scoot Boots, we’ve done 50km (31 miles) no problem and have plans for an 80km (50 miles) very soon!
What Events are you Planning to Enter in the Near Future?
I’ve recently attended the Roseburg Forest Endurance Ride and in a few weeks I will be heading over to the Brookevale Endurance Ride in Canberra, Australia with plans for a 53km (33 miles) ride.
What Advice Would you Give to Other Endurance Riders or Jumpers Thinking About Taking Their Horses Barefoot?
To other endurance riders or jumpers looking at barefoot for their horse, I can only say; do it!
It never hurts to try and your bank account will also thank you for it, which never hurts! I will always be glad to have kept my horses barefoot, as they have absolutely thrived because of 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.