To Shoe or Not to Shoe? Part 4: Benefits of Being Barefoot

Photo: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Managing Editor A Healthier Foot Allowing a horse to go barefoot for even just part of the year can be beneficial and promote soundness. In the article “Barefoot Benefits” Gabrielle Pullen (2001) summarizes Robert Bowker’s examination of 125 barefoot horses (never shod) and 10 show horses (previously always shod) that […]

To Shoe or Not to Shoe? Part 3: The Shod Horse

Photo credit: David Goldman, Associated Press Performance and Therapy Despite the hoof being a very resilient and adaptive structure, horses engaging in strenuous performance sports often require shoes for extra support, protection to preserve the hoof capsule and structures contained within it, and traction for the safety of both horse and rider (Bryant, 1999). Horseshoes […]

To Shoe or Not to Shoe? Part 2: The Horn of Plenty

An intricate and complicated host of tissues, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and bones comprise the [horse’s] foot, and the whole package is sealed within a hard, horny shell – the hoof wall. – Lester Sellnow, 2001 Image: Anatomy of a Healthy Hoof, Animal Health Trust Structure of the Hoof The hoof has evolved to serve […]

To Shoe or Not to Shoe? Part 1

While those who strongly believe in shoeing seem to be of the opinion that it is the right and only way, many barefoot advocates believe that although barefoot is better, shoes are sometimes necessary. Prior to enrolling in the Equine Functional Anatomy course offered by Equine Guelph, I had no idea that one’s decision to […]