Making The Transition To Barefoot
All horses can go barefoot. All it takes are several phases, transition, condition, and time.

Phase I (Transition): Remove the shoes and trim the foot so that proper hoof function can
be restored.  The use of hoof boots during the transitional phase can create a firm yet
giving environment with no lumps and bumps that can cause excess pressure to the
transitioning hoof.

You will be a happier horse owner who hopefully will ride more often as increased
movement will speed up the transition.

Phase II (Condition): Conditioning means gradual and consistent exposure to gravel roads,
rocky trails and such so that the foot has a chance to get tougher. Inadequate calloused
sole is one reason for a horse to be tender after being de-shod. The hoof must endure
direct contact with the ground if it is to toughen up. All that matters is that the hoof
make barefoot contact with whatever it is, rigorously and with much natural movement.
Hooves are not meant to be coddled, they are intended by nature to work, and work
hard. For optimum health the hoof must be allowed to expand and contract and it does
so with each step the horse takes. The bottom of the hoof wall expands and the arch of
the sole flattens upon weight bearing. Not only that, in doing so, blood is pumped
through the hoof and back to the heart. The blood is also an important part to the
dissipation of shock energy, therefore obstructing this mechanism by shoeing causes
circulation problems and puts the horses entire being at risk.

Phase III (Time): Give the horse the time it needs to heal and grow a healthy foot.

Some other points of the ill effects of shoes to consider:

foot deformation
movement imbalances
joint and ligament damage
psychological distress
white line disease, caused by nails tearing into the white line and opening  
pathways for opportunistic pathogens
Navicular problems

Equally important in proper trimming habits are diet and horse keeping practices. Unhealthy horses cannot produce a healthy hoof. You can't trim your way to a healthy
hoof -- it has to come from the inside out.

The nature of the horse is movement. Too much stall confinement will have a negative
impact on the health of the hooves, not to mention your horse's psychological state of
being. Add to that a diet high in sugar and non structural carbohydrates (glucose,
fructose, sucrose, fructan and starch) that the horse is not meant to eat, and problems will
arise. Sugars in forage may adversely affect horses with dysfunctions of glucose
metabolism. For a more detailed explanation
please go to and read the
articles “There IS sugar in grass and hay” and
“Mechanism for development of laminitis.”

While not everyone wishing to own a horse, or
already owns a horse, has the luxury of a piece of
land, perhaps reading the book “Paddock
Paradise” by Jaime Jackson can educate horse
owners present and future alike to spread more
awareness and to hopefully change boarding
facilities across the country and create living
conditions that are more in tune to a horse's
psychological needs.

We owe it to this most noble of creatures!
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Before pulling shoes
Same hooves four month later