3 I thought horses needed shoes if you wanted to ride them. Am I being cruel if I ride my horse without shoes on?
A horse with healthy hooves that are well balanced and not overgrown will be comfortable when ridden. Natural hoof care encourages the horse to grow strong, healthy hooves with thick hoof wall and sole, functional bars and frog. Horses with strong healthy feet are a pleasure to ride and more than capable of being ridden anywhere the average rider wants to take them. However a horse with thin soles, weak walls, a thrushy frog or high bars is likely to be uncomfortable on anything but the softest of ground and would need correct trimming, hoof boots and possibly hoof boot pads when ridden on firmer ground while it is transitioning from unhealthy weak hooves to healthy strong ones. (Go to question 6 for more on the Transition from shod to barefoot.)
4 My shod horse stumbles all the time, even when I’m not riding him! Won’t he be even more dangerous without shoes on?
Stumbling is more common in shod horses and horses with long overgrown, untrimmed hooves than it is in correctly trimmed horses. In fact most horses that constantly trip while shod have this problem completely eliminated when introduced to a natural hoof care programme. The hoof wall is bought back into balance and the horse is able to use its limbs with greater ease. Long toes on a horse, whether shod or not, are a bit like a person walking on the beach in flippers. You know how far you have to lift each leg up to get over the end of the flipper without tripping up. Your knees, hips and ankles all have to work overtime just to get from the sand to the surf. The horse has a similar problem when its toes get too long, the pelvis and shoulder get sore and tired when moving with long toes and if the feet are a little numb the horse can’t help but trip up.