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Barefoot Tips

From Old Mac's Inventor & Farrier Dave MacDonald

The first step after removing metal shoes from your horse as you commence your barefoot program is to be fully aware of what to expect and what hoofcare will be required. Hooves which have been shod by metal over a period of time, will have lost their natural hardness and flexibility as well as general conditioning.

Nature's first step in the rehabilitation of a hoof is for the horny laminae (hoof wall) to break away. This scenario causes panic to the novice and often results in the horse owner thinking that removing the metal shoes is the wrong option. This breaking away process of the hoof wall is only a cosmetic problem as there are no sensitive structures in this area to cause pain to the horse. Nature is only ridding the hoof of weak useless hoof wall, which already had been weakened by the metal shoe. It is only splits caused by excessive length of the hoof wall, usually in the toe area which result in lameness, as these splits often penetrate the sensitive laminae of the hoof. Most horses will show signs of lameness when metal shoes are removed for the first time. This tenderness comes from the sole area and the bars. When horses are turned out barefooted in the paddock they can get about at their own leisure. It is only when we are riding them that we do not give them the opportunity to choose where they put their hooves, so this is when they need protection. This is where Old Mac's boots are used.

Gradually the hoof's sole will become tough exactly the same as a human foot will if a person continually walks around barefooted. The horse owner will also notice in time that their horses' hooves will have a much healthier appearance without the presence of nails, which cause a loss of the natural conditioners to the hoof wall.

The following procedures should be adhered to: