How to

Transition Your Horse to Barefoot

How to Transition Your Horse to Barefoot

A Step by Step Guide by Scoot Boot

A Step by Step Guide by Scoot Boot

How to Transition Your Horse to Barefoot

How to Transition Your Horse to Barefoot

A Step by Step Guide by Scoot Boot

A Step by Step Guide by Scoot Boot

Is your horse frequently losing a shoe? Struggling with thrush, hoof abscesses or navicular syndrome?

Whether you are competing at top level or looking to recover your horse from ‘terrible feet’, going barefoot has many benefits for both you and your horse. Here is how you transition your horse from shod to barefoot.

The reasons for transitioning your horse from shod to barefoot are many. The compelling performance and health improvements that come from keeping your horse’s hooves bare are being acknowledged by more and more leading equine veterinarians and hoof care professionals around the world.

Although that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy decision to remove your horse’s shoes. In many horse communities it is still common practice for horse owners to shoe their horses, which can make it difficult to find support for going barefoot. Traditional farriers are also unlikely to be educated in proper barefoot trimming and may not be qualified to support you and your horse in transitioning from shod to barefoot.

Moreover, education in hoof care remains scarce in most veterinarian qualifications. As such, many veterinarians have limited knowledge of the advantages of barefoot trimming and will still rely on traditional recommendations to use metal shoes as an aid for various hoof conditions.

But rest assured. There is plenty of support to find in the fast-growing worldwide barefoot community in which Scoot Boot is proud to be a part of. In the following, we will look at some of the most common reasons for going barefoot and help you get an idea of the process of transitioning your horse step by step.

When its Necessary to Go Barefoot

While some horses are shod out of habit, most horses wear shoes to protect their feet from rough surfaces or as an aid for a certain hoof condition. However, metal horse shoes can cause significant damage when they come loose or get caught in something that pulls them off, like the South African show jumper Amy Blair experienced with her horse Coogs, before she decided to go barefoot: 

 

“The final straw for me was when Coogs pulled a shoe halfway through a round at a show because of a slightly different step with one of his hind legs. He bruised his sole pretty badly because the shoe broke off one side of his wall and twisted sideways rather than falling off completely. So the quarter clip ended up impaling his sole on one side and ripping off the wall on the other.”

Amy and her horse Coogs. Read Amy's full barefoot transition story here.

If you’re struggling to keep the shoes on your horse, you are not alone. In fact, shoes coming off time and time again is one of the main reasons riders are turning to barefoot and hoof boots. Endurance rider Joanna’s Arabian horse Zephyr lost a shoe just before a race and since it takes sedation to shoe Zephyr, the farrier had to give up on nailing the shoe back on. Luckily one of Joanna’s friends had brought Scoot Boots:

 

“We did end up putting the Scoot Boots on him and completing the whole ride. His feet were amazing! The Scoot Boots did their job and we got through the ride. We definitely wouldn’t have made it without them. And he had also just blown an abscess. The boots protected his feet 100%.”  

endurance riding hoof boots

Joanna and her horse Zephyr. Read Joanna's full barefoot transition story here.

The Benefits of Transitioning to Barefoot

barefoot hoof health

HEALTHIER

Scientific research shows compelling evidence of professionally trimmed barefoot horses having sounder feet

COST SAVING

Barefoot trimming and hoof boots are far more cost effective than shoeing

safety in hoof boots

SAFETY

By going barefoot, you never need to worry about your horse pulling a shoe and damaging themselves

transition horse to barefoot

RECOVERY

Barefoot supported by hoof boots is the most effective way to recover from navicular, thrush, laminitis and cracked hoof walls

Book a Free Consultation

How Hoof Boots Help in Rehabilitation

Some horses wear metal shoes their whole lives without any issues. Other horses struggle with weakened hoof walls from the penetrating nails and battle with recurring abscesses, thrush and navicular disease due to the lack of stimulation of the frog and heel, as these are lifted off the ground by the shoe. Going barefoot will allow the hoof to expand and contract naturally and distribute the weight evenly between the heel, frog and hoof wall.

Recent studies have suggested that the alterations in lower limb movement and hoof load dispersion due to shoeing, could increase the incidence of lameness over time.   - appliedanimalscience.org

As metal shoes are limiting the hooves’ ability to absorb shock, the concussion will travel up the horses’ legs.

At Scoot Boots we receive numerous stories from relieved horse owners whose horses have recovered from various issues by going barefoot and using Scoot Boots during the transition. An example from Hampshire in Britain is Lucy and her horse Ciara that struggled with vicious cracks, multiple abscesses and overall ‘horrific’ hooves whilst being shod. It took about two years for Ciara to recover and her transition was hard and painful, as Lucy described: 

 

“Other people were the biggest challenge and I started to believe what they were saying. I began to believe that I was doing the wrong thing and that ‘I should put shoes on that horse’s feet’.”

 

Lucy helped transition Ciara in Scoot Boots. Read the full story here.

transition horse to barefoot

But Lucy was persistent and a careful diet combined with hoof boots and regular trimming, allowed Ciara to become a rideable horse again:

 

“Over time, the cracks grew out, but not only that, her whole body posture changed. She was always a bit ‘cow hocked’ but this disappeared. Usually, when the physio came out, we would be adjusting certain points of her body, particularly her shoulders and pelvis. After transitioning to barefoot, her entire body righted itself. The physio was impressed! Ciara was much happier in herself!”

5 Steps for Transitioning Your Horse to Barefoot

1. Start with some research

You will need to find a qualified barefoot farrier or trimmer who can advise you and commit to trimming your horse regularly every four to six weeks. Ask around in your equine community or try some of the many barefoot communities on social media to find a trimmer in your area who is both qualified and willing to support you and your horse through the transition. Our stockist locator may be helpful to find contacts in your area.

2. Insist on a healthy diet

When you have your first visit from your barefoot farrier or trimmer to remove the shoes, she will do a minimal trim on your horse. This should be followed up after two-three weeks depending on the condition of your horse’s hooves. If your horse is suffering from a painful hoof condition, you should have hoof boots ready at this point to offer your horse immediate relief and support.

3. Keep your farrier close by

When you have your first visit from your barefoot farrier or trimmer to remove the shoes, she will do a minimal trim on your horse. This should be followed up after two-three weeks depending on the condition of your horse’s hooves. If your horse is suffering from a painful hoof condition, you should have hoof boots ready at this point to offer your horse immediate relief and support.

4. Begin hoof conditioning exercises

As soon as you feel your horse is comfortable enough, you should start conditioning his new bare feet. Walk him at least once a day for ten minutes on a hard surface such as pavers or asphalt. Once he’s confidently walking here, you can start on other surfaces such as pea gravel. You can begin riding him again at any time once he doesn’t show any signs of lameness or discomfort when moving.

5. Continuous hoof exposure over a variety of terrains

Keep in mind that hooves adapt to the surface they live in. If your horse only has soft ground in his paddock and is ridden on soft surfaces, he’s likely to always be tiptoeing over rocky ground without hoof boots. Providing your horse with a variety of surfaces in his everyday life will help keep his hooves conditioned and healthily stimulated.

The Cost and Time Involved in the Barefoot Transition

It can take anything from a couple of weeks up to a year to transition your horse from shod to barefoot. It all depends on the condition of the hooves once the shoes have been removed and the reason your horse has been shod in the first place. If your horse has been shod as an aid for thin soles, cracked hoof walls or any other health issue, you should expect it to take between six to twelve months before the entire hoof has regrown.

If you have merely used shoes for extra protection, it might not take any longer than a couple of qualified barefoot trims and a set of hoof boots for your horse to be back in full action. However, no matter the condition your horse’s feet are in, he will find immediate relief from wearing well fitting hoof boots.

Once your horse’s feet have hardened up, you may not need to use hoof boots very often. You might only choose to use them occasionally to provide some extra protection for your horse’s feet when you’re riding on rough gravel roads or a particularly rocky trail.

In this case your hoof boots should last you a very long time, if you’re choosing quality boots such as Scoot Boots.

If you’re using your hoof boots daily on hard, gritty surfaces you might need to replace them sooner. In any case it will be a great investment, as your horse’s barefoot trims will be significantly less costly compared to having a farrier both trimming your horse and replacing his metal shoes every six weeks and whenever a shoe is pulled or has come loose. See our article comparing the cost of shoeing to barefoot maintenance with hoof boots.

Scoot Boots are a great choice of hoof boot due to their exceptional versatility – they are not only an ideal rehabilitation hoof boot for multiple hoof conditions, but also suitable for any equine discipline. This means you can use Scoot Boots on the entire barefoot journey from the day you choose to take off his metal shoes and continuously into his future riding adventures.

How Scoot Boots Help Keep your Horse Comfortable

In our blog section, you can read inspiring stories from horse owners, who have transitioned to barefoot using Scoot Boots. From trail riders, show jumpers, endurance riders, carriage drivers, eventers and top level dressage riders.

One is the story about eventer Megan Bruce and her Thoroughbred Bugsy, who switched from being a tender footed horse, always seeking soft ground and verges, to being a happy confident horse, keen to trot and canter in Scoot Boots:

“Everyone saw how Bugsy walked when he managed to pull his shoes (it wasn’t a pretty sight), but now, I don’t have to worry about him being in pain or footsore every other week. I also don’t have to worry every time he is shod that an abscess will flare-up. The small amount of time he had off work to help transition to barefoot was well worth it.”

If you have any questions about transitioning your horse to barefoot or how to use hoof boots from Scoot Boots in the process of transitioning, our knowledgeable team is always happy to help. Send us a message on Facebook, get in touch by email or use the enquiry form below.

Megan and her horse Bugsy. Read her full barefoot transition story here.

Use our Free Sizing Service

Next Steps

  • Talk to a specialist about your barefoot transition
  • Send in your hoof pictures
  • Get free sizing and free shipping with your hoof boots
  • Follow up consultation with your hoof boots

Book a Free Consultation

Read how others made their barefoot transition

Amy Blair (show jumper) 
and her horse Coogs pulled a shoe halfway through a round at a show. He bruised his sole pretty badly because the shoe broke off one side of his wall and twisted sideways rather than falling off completely. Scoot Boots have helped her make the barefoot transition. Read here

Joanna (endurance rider) 
and her horse Zephyr lost a shoe just before a race and since it takes sedation to shoe Zephyr, the farrier had to give up on nailing the shoe back on. Joanna used Scoot Boots to complete her ride. Read here

Lucy
and her horse Ciara struggled with vicious cracks, multiple abscesses and
overall ‘horrific’ hooves whilst being shod. After transitioning to barefoot, her entire body righted itself. Read here

Megan Bruce (eventer)
and her thoroughbred Bugsy
, who switched from being a tender footed horse, always seeking soft ground and verges, to being a happy confident horse, keen to trot and canter in Scoot Boots. Read here

Ask questions to the Barefoot Community

Contact Scoot Boot

Email:  Scootboot@scootboots.com

Phone: (9am - 5pm AEST)  US (213) 267-7079   |   Australia + 61 3 6121 4605

Web Chat: Scootboots.com

The reasons for transitioning your horse from shod to barefoot are many. The compelling performance and health improvements that come from keeping your horse’s hooves bare are being acknowledged by more and more leading equine veterinarians and hoof care professionals around the world.

Although that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy decision to remove your horse’s shoes. In many horse communities it is still common practice for horse owners to shoe their horses, which can make it difficult to find support for going barefoot. Traditional farriers are also unlikely to be educated in proper barefoot trimming and may not be qualified to support you and your horse in transitioning from shod to barefoot.

Moreover, education in hoof care remains scarce in most veterinarian qualifications. As such, many veterinarians have limited knowledge of the advantages of barefoot trimming and will still rely on traditional recommendations to use metal shoes as an aid for various hoof conditions.

But rest assured. There is plenty of support to find in the fast-growing worldwide barefoot community in which Scoot Boot is proud to be a part of. In the following, we will look at some of the most common reasons for going barefoot and help you get an idea of the process of transitioning your horse step by step.

When its Necessary to Go Barefoot

While some horses are shod out of habit, most horses wear shoes to protect their feet from rough surfaces or as an aid for a certain hoof condition. However, metal horse shoes can cause significant damage when they come loose or get caught in something that pulls them off, like the South African show jumper Amy Blair experienced with her horse Coogs, before she decided to go barefoot: 

“The final straw for me was when Coogs pulled a shoe halfway through a round at a show because of a slightly different step with one of his hind legs. He bruised his sole pretty badly because the shoe broke off one side of his wall and twisted sideways rather than falling off completely. So the quarter clip ended up impaling his sole on one side and ripping off the wall on the other.”

show jumping hoof boots

Amy and her horse Coogs. Read Amy's full barefoot transition story here.

If you’re struggling to keep the shoes on your horse, you are not alone. In fact, shoes coming off time and time again is one of the main reasons riders are turning to barefoot and hoof boots. Endurance rider Joanna’s Arabian horse Zephyr lost a shoe just before a race and since it takes sedation to shoe Zephyr, the farrier had to give up on nailing the shoe back on. Luckily one of Joanna’s friends had brought Scoot Boots:

“We did end up putting the Scoot Boots on him and completing the whole ride. His feet were amazing! The Scoot Boots did their job and we got through the ride. We definitely wouldn’t have made it without them. And he had also just blown an abscess. The boots protected his feet 100%.”  

endurance riding hoof boots

Joanna and her horse Zephyr. Read Joanna's full barefoot transition story here.

The Benefits of Transitioning to Barefoot

barefoot hoof health

HEALTHIER

Scientific research shows compelling evidence of professionally trimmed barefoot horses having sounder feet

COST SAVING

Barefoot trimming and hoof boots are far more cost effective than shoeing

safety in hoof boots

SAFETY

By going barefoot, you never need to worry about your horse pulling a shoe and damaging themselves

transition to barefoot horse

RECOVERY

Barefoot supported by hoof boots is the most effective way to recover from navicular, thrush, laminitis and cracked hoof walls

Book a Free Consultation

How Hoof Boots Help in Rehabilitation

Some horses wear metal shoes their whole lives without any issues. Other horses struggle with weakened hoof walls from the penetrating nails and battle with recurring abscesses, thrush and navicular disease due to the lack of stimulation of the frog and heel, as these are lifted off the ground by the shoe. Going barefoot will allow the hoof to expand and contract naturally and distribute the weight evenly between the heel, frog and hoof wall.

Recent studies have suggested that the alterations in lower limb movement and hoof load dispersion due to shoeing, could increase the incidence of lameness over time.   - appliedanimalscience.org

As metal shoes are limiting the hooves’ ability to absorb shock, the concussion will travel up the horses’ legs.

At Scoot Boots we receive numerous stories from relieved horse owners whose horses have recovered from various issues by going barefoot and using Scoot Boots during the transition. An example from Hampshire in Britain is Lucy and her horse Ciara that struggled with vicious cracks, multiple abscesses and overall ‘horrific’ hooves whilst being shod. It took about two years for Ciara to recover and her transition was hard and painful, as Lucy described: 

“Other people were the biggest challenge and I started to believe what they were saying. I began to believe that I was doing the wrong thing and that ‘I should put shoes on that horse’s feet’.”

transition your horse to barefoot

Lucy helped transition Ciara in Scoot Boots. Read the full story here.

transition your horse to barefoot

But Lucy was persistent and a careful diet combined with hoof boots and regular trimming, allowed Ciara to become a rideable horse again:

“Over time, the cracks grew out, but not only that, her whole body posture changed. She was always a bit ‘cow hocked’ but this disappeared. Usually, when the physio came out, we would be adjusting certain points of her body, particularly her shoulders and pelvis. After transitioning to barefoot, her entire body righted itself. The physio was impressed! Ciara was much happier in herself!”

5 Steps for Transitioning Your Horse to Barefoot

1. Start with some research

You will need to find a qualified barefoot farrier or trimmer who can advise you and commit to trimming your horse regularly every four to six weeks. Ask around in your equine community or try some of the many barefoot communities on social media to find a trimmer in your area who is both qualified and willing to support you and your horse through the transition. Our stockist locator may be helpful to find contacts in your area.

2. Insist on a healthy diet

When you have your first visit from your barefoot farrier or trimmer to remove the shoes, she will do a minimal trim on your horse. This should be followed up after two-three weeks depending on the condition of your horse’s hooves. If your horse is suffering from a painful hoof condition, you should have hoof boots ready at this point to offer your horse immediate relief and support.

3. Keep your farrier close by

When you have your first visit from your barefoot farrier or trimmer to remove the shoes, she will do a minimal trim on your horse. This should be followed up after two-three weeks depending on the condition of your horse’s hooves. If your horse is suffering from a painful hoof condition, you should have hoof boots ready at this point to offer your horse immediate relief and support.

4. Begin hoof conditioning exercises

As soon as you feel your horse is comfortable enough, you should start conditioning his new bare feet. Walk him at least once a day for ten minutes on a hard surface such as pavers or asphalt. Once he’s confidently walking here, you can start on other surfaces such as pea gravel. You can begin riding him again at any time once he doesn’t show any signs of lameness or discomfort when moving.

5. Continuous hoof exposure over a variety of terrains

Keep in mind that hooves adapt to the surface they live in. If your horse only has soft ground in his paddock and is ridden on soft surfaces, he’s likely to always be tiptoeing over rocky ground without hoof boots. Providing your horse with a variety of surfaces in his everyday life will help keep his hooves conditioned and healthily stimulated.

The Cost and Time Involved in the Barefoot Transition

It can take anything from a couple of weeks up to a year to transition your horse from shod to barefoot. It all depends on the condition of the hooves once the shoes have been removed and the reason your horse has been shod in the first place. If your horse has been shod as an aid for thin soles, cracked hoof walls or any other health issue, you should expect it to take between six to twelve months before the entire hoof has regrown.

If you have merely used shoes for extra protection, it might not take any longer than a couple of qualified barefoot trims and a set of hoof boots for your horse to be back in full action. However, no matter the condition your horse’s feet are in, he will find immediate relief from wearing well fitting hoof boots.

Once your horse’s feet have hardened up, you may not need to use hoof boots very often. You might only choose to use them occasionally to provide some extra protection for your horse’s feet when you’re riding on rough gravel roads or a particularly rocky trail.

In this case your hoof boots should last you a very long time, if you’re choosing quality boots such as Scoot Boots.

If you’re using your hoof boots daily on hard, gritty surfaces you might need to replace them sooner. In any case it will be a great investment, as your horse’s barefoot trims will be significantly less costly compared to having a farrier both trimming your horse and replacing his metal shoes every six weeks and whenever a shoe is pulled or has come loose. See our article comparing the cost of shoeing to barefoot maintenance with hoof boots.

Scoot Boots are a great choice of hoof boot due to their exceptional versatility – they are not only an ideal rehabilitation hoof boot for multiple hoof conditions, but also suitable for any equine discipline. This means you can use Scoot Boots on the entire barefoot journey from the day you choose to take off his metal shoes and continuously into his future riding adventures.

How Scoot Boots Help Keep your Horse Comfortable

In our blog section, you can read inspiring stories from horse owners, who have transitioned to barefoot using Scoot Boots. From trail riders, show jumpers, endurance riders, carriage drivers, eventers and top level dressage riders.

One is the story about eventer Megan Bruce and her Thoroughbred Bugsy, who switched from being a tender footed horse, always seeking soft ground and verges, to being a happy confident horse, keen to trot and canter in Scoot Boots:

“Everyone saw how Bugsy walked when he managed to pull his shoes (it wasn’t a pretty sight), but now, I don’t have to worry about him being in pain or footsore every other week. I also don’t have to worry every time he is shod that an abscess will flare-up. The small amount of time he had off work to help transition to barefoot was well worth it.”

transition your horse to barefoot

Megan and her horse Bugsy. Read her full barefoot transition story here.

If you have any questions about transitioning your horse to barefoot or how to use hoof boots from Scoot Boots in the process of transitioning, our knowledgeable team is always happy to help. Send us a message on Facebook, get in touch by email or use the enquiry form below.

Scoot Boots hoof boots

Use our Free Sizing Service

Next Steps

1. Talk to a specialist about your barefoot transition

2. Send in your hoof pictures

3. Get free sizing and free shipping with your hoof boots

4. Follow up consultation with your hoof boots

Book a Free Consultation

Read how others made their barefoot transition

Amy Blair (show jumper) 
and her horse Coogs pulled a shoe halfway through a round at a show. He bruised his sole pretty badly because the shoe broke off one side of his wall and twisted sideways rather than falling off completely. Scoot Boots have helped her make the barefoot transition. Read here

Joanna (endurance rider) 
and her horse Zephyr lost a shoe just before a race and since it takes sedation to shoe Zephyr, the farrier had to give up on nailing the shoe back on. Joanna used Scoot Boots to complete her ride. Read here

Lucy
and her horse Ciara struggled with vicious cracks, multiple abscesses and
overall ‘horrific’ hooves whilst being shod. After transitioning to barefoot, her entire body righted itself. Read here

Megan Bruce (eventer)
and her thoroughbred Bugsy
, who switched from being a tender footed horse, always seeking soft ground and verges, to being a happy confident horse, keen to trot and canter in Scoot Boots. Read here

Ask Questions to the Barefoot Community

Contact Scoot Boot

Email:  

Scootboot@scootboots.com

Phone:

(9am - 5pm AEST)  US (213) 267-7079

Australia + 61 3 6121 4605

Web Chat:

Scootboots.com