Heather and Diamond’s Ride Through the Barefoot Movement
Heather and her forever horse, Diamond met 5 years ago and have been inseparable ever since. Diamond’s quirky personality made Heather fall in love with him even after a difficult initial training period.
Once Diamond arrived at his new forever home, Heather and Diamond tried a bit of everything, but they especially loved cross country!
Diamond arrived shod on all four and Heather could see he was uncomfortable and tender. After much consideration and talking to her Scoot Boot rep, Heather made the jump and dived into the world of barefoot and hoof boots! Ever since, Heather hasn’t looked back…
Can you Please Tell us a Little bit About Yourself and Your Soulmate Horse, Diamond?
Diamond and I have been partners for about 5 years now. He is my first and totally my heart horse! It took me 30 years to finally get my own horse and he was worth the wait.
He is grade, so we’re just guessing that he is aged between 10 and 12 years old. He does a little bit of everything, from working cattle to barrels to eventing/dressage and he even tried a limited distance race. He has quite the personality and some ‘mareish’ tendencies. He is not the most expressive or emotional horse, but I know he loves me! He has saved me enough times!
How did you and Diamond Meet?
I met Diamond when I took the summer off after going back to school for the second time. I was burnt out after working 3 jobs to get through my Medical Lab Technician program. I wanted to spend a summer not having to think too hard and had a standing invitation to a ranch in Wyoming, United States, so why not! I left to go spend 4 months playing cowgirl.
Diamond showed up as 1 of 12 horses from a horse trader, and even though he was never the type of horse I thought I’d want, nor was I looking to buy a horse, I fell in love with him. We spent 2 months working together… and boy did he make me work for him!
After quarantine was over for him, a friend went to get him and in order to avoid being caught, he jumped a 1.2 metre (4 ft) ranch fence from a standstill into an arena between pens just barely big enough for him! It took 3 of us and wire cutters to release the panels to get to him. He never quit, worked hard, had an attitude and loved running wild.
It took me 2 weeks of going out every night to get him to allow me to approach him. Even with treats and being surrounded by others, he was never interested. After my time at the ranch was coming to an end, I asked to buy him and had him brought down to me in November of 2015.
What Type of Riding do you and Diamond like to do Together?
We love doing everything!
We started on the ranch together, so lots of leading trail rides, fast and slow, doing barrel racing demos and herding horses and cows. Then we brought him home to start jumper training, then we tried eventing, basically, as long as he is willing, we will do everything we can!
What Were Diamond’s Hooves Like Prior to Transitioning to Barefoot?
At the ranch, he was shod on all 4 feet with NO heel and really long toes. By the time he got home to me, he hadn’t been trimmed in 3 months. It took my farrier 12 weeks of light trimming on a regular 3-4 week cycle just to get his toe back. He never showed any lameness in shoes but he did show tenderness at times.
Once we got his feet semi-normal, I shod him just on the front hooves. He tends to like to flare in the hinds and get long in the toe very easily. He requires very frequent trims because he grows so fast.
2 years ago, I took a travelling job in Montana, United States in the winter and decided, this was the time to go barefoot. When we left Montana, I had a difficult time finding a good barefoot trimmer. It’s probably only in the last 8 months to a year once settling down in California, United States, I found a consistently good barefoot trimmer that I trusted. At first, I struggled when I first moved to California, I hadn’t been able to get a good barefoot trimmer, so Diamond had developed underrun heels and a long toe.
I finally took him to the veterinarian so I could use her farrier with the help of x-rays to bring Diamond’s toes back. She commented on how thin his sole was and that he should be in shoes. She practically chastised me saying while barefoot is nice in theory, in reality, it is not possible in Central California because of the ground, and that Diamond was not a candidate for barefoot. She also said no horse needs to be trimmed every 4 weeks. We went back to our veterinarian’s farrier every 4 weeks for about 3 visits since he was very skilled, while I looked around for a barefoot trimmer.
Diamond Hooves After Transitioning!
During this whole mess in California, my Scoot Boot rep, Karen Cox and I had been going back and forth about Scoots and what to do about his feet.
Why did you Choose to Keep Diamond Barefoot?
I truly believe that barefoot is the best, so yes he had thin soles but in the pasture, he is fine. The ground is fairly soft with no real rocks or things to bruise his foot.
We really only need hoof boots when going over rough terrain.
How did Your Barefoot Transition go for you and Diamond?
My barefoot transition was mostly over the winter months. We just pulled his shoes and let him be. Montana snow stays relatively soft where Diamond was, so he didn’t feel the need to do too much.
Why Have you Chosen to use Scoot Boots to Help Keep Diamond Feel More Comfortable?
I did TONS of research into hoof boots!
Actually, before going to hoof boots, I tried nail-on poly shoes. I looked into the nail-on and glue-on options from other hoof boot brands. These caused hot nail issues because the nail hole placement was weird for Diamond’s feet. Glue-ons caused concern because I felt like they really needed a knowledgeable person to do it.
The hoof boots I commonly saw other riders using seemed very clunky and heavy, I was also worried about things getting into the boot.
I kind of came across Scoot Boots completely by accident and loved the lightweight, bare minimum look. I loved the obvious flexibility of Scoots and ease of use. I actually got a pair to try probably about 3 years ago for when I lost a shoe, but they didn’t get much use. By the time we went barefoot, I realised I needed a bigger size.
What are Some Advantages of Using Scoot Boots on Your Horse?
I can XC jump, in and out of water barefoot. We have amazing traction on wet grass, mud and dirt! It protects his feet from the unseen rocks in the water obstacles and they are amazing on the trail. I never have to worry about them getting heavy or weighed down from getting wet.
I also use Scoots for hoof packing after a heavy jumping day, especially if he has been stalled. Some schooling places have rocky campsites so Diamond keeps his Scoots on 24/7 while we are there for comfort. I often find his feet are cleaner when I take off his Scoots than when I put them on!
What Type of Terrain can Diamond Ride on now he is Wearing Scoot Boots?
We can ride on gravel roads, pavement, streams and the yucky arenas we come across!
How do Scoot Boots Help Diamond Achieve His Full Potential When Riding Cross Country?
Once I got the sizing and straps correct, we were able to run cross country without worry of bruising his feet and you could even tell he felt more confident. He took tentative steps at first but once he realised that it wasn’t going to hurt, he performed without hesitation.
Scoots perform very well, even after getting wet and taking sharp turns. I get a lot of comments and questions at schooling practice about them!
What Advice can you Give to Other Riders with Horses who Suffer From Thin Soles?
Going barefoot is a process, it is not always easy, or the quick way to do things.
My veterinarian said Diamond would be more comfortable with shoes and putting metal shoes on was the convenient and easy solution. Sure, but convenient to whom? It is not a solution, it is a bandaid. Many people say “oh, I tried going barefoot but he was sore, so I put shoes back on…” well duh!! You cannot expect the horse not to be sore after having shoes on! Barefoot is a process, it is not immediate. But in the end, I truly believe Diamond is healthier, he performs better and is more comfortable barefoot with Scoots on when needed.
Because Scoot Boots are so low profile, some may require extra padding in the Scoots, but I haven’t really felt the need with my guy. I did prepare for this just in case though.
Going barefoot is a personal decision. I believe that even if it takes longer, if in the end it is what is best for Diamond, it is what I want to do. Even if that means I may not be able to ride for a few months.
Building a Supportive Barefoot Community
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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!