My horse is six years old, and she had shoes for about two days. ;0) She doesn't have a lot of mileage yet, but we're working on it. I intend for her to be barefoot for the rest of her life. I have read a lot on the subject, and haven't run across a reason for a horse to be shod.
I like Jim Apple in Ashland City, though I have to say I've only known three farriers EVER. He trims for some very knowledgeable horse people, and seems to do quite well.
I too removed my horses shoes a couple of months ago, ride in Western NC mtns. I have gone to seminars, and also read a lot. What I have found is many farriers claim they can trim the "natural barefoot trim" but I don't think that is true, I found a Certified trainer about an hour away and paid extra for him to come and trim my "Natural barefoot trim" he was there 1 1/2 hrs. explaining the difference in just trimming and the natural trim and how long it takes to go through the training and then apprentice, and it cost him with all the traveling close to $5000. and 2 years. I decided to continue with him and bought Easy boot Epics with the gators to use on the front when trail riding. I have a gaited horse, and so far things are great, he even seems to gait better than with shoes, and being in the medical field myself and research, I definetly believe it is much healthier for their feet.
My guy has been barefoot for about 6 months now. I've been very happy and wouldn't go back to shoeing for all the reasons listed here. I also have to use easy boots when it's rocky but his feet are getting stronger and stronger and my boarder (an MFT) doesn't use boots at all now and he's been barefoot about the same time. Be prepared to let them adjust and be willing to boot if necessary (much easier than it sounds) and get a good trimmer. My TWH gaits better than he ever did shod. Best thing -- Was having dinner with friends a week or so ago and talking about our weekend rides. They had to turn around for home because one of the horses lost a shoe...I never have to worry about that while riding, or if they've pulled a shoe in the mud etc.
but if they had a easy boot then they could have kept riding to im not against going bare foot but here is the thing i have been riding for a long time now and i ride all over rocks, sand,mtn. and i have yet to lose a shoe we go to our farrier on a regular schedule we dont have any problems with our horses feet my horses is 18 yrs. old and he is sound as a 4 yr old so i say what works for yall works and what work for us works for us to each his own
Linda I would much prefer the shoeless horse. I hate putting shoes on my horse and I've had a lot of people tell me that the hooves will strenthen with time. I used to ride my horse on the black top street but never went any faster then a walk with him and he never had a problem. He is a little over 4 now and I put shoes on him for the first time this past September because I wanted to go on my first trail ride and was told that if he didn't have shoes on I couldn't take him, then I didn't get to go after all. But I took them off in Dec. and he's not really had much of a problem except that he needs trimmed. My honest opinon. Shoeless is alot better.
Amen! I ride endurance and even though I train barefoot with local folks that have shod horses, they were taking bets on how soon we'd pull at a very rocky ride last year and were shocked when we completed with all As at the vet checks and after the ride, and that my horse was walking better than theirs the next morning! We saw many shoes without horses and long slide marks on the bigger rocks from shod hooves as we went right along on the ride. Lots of lameness pulls on that ride, but we weren't one of them. Listen to your horse, not "they said"!
I know that all last summer I rode my boy Buck on the road and never had a problem out of him. When I did take him to get shoes the guy that did it was an Amish man and all he kept talking about was if I had kept it up I would have blown his hooves. Well he's fine. My hubby doesn't like the shoes on the horse. I look at it this way if they won't let me ride because my horse doesn't have shoes on well that's there loss not mine. They would have been able to make a good friend with me.
I personally prefer for my horses to be barefoot, but, honestly, it depends on the horse and it's individual feet. Dark hooves seem to be more hard and durable than light/white ones, but, then again, x-horse may have less tender feet than y-horse. Also, some horses are more tender-footed on, say, their front feet, as opposed to the back ones, so maybe only front shoes would be an option (I did this for years).
My horses are barefoot unless I feel as though I need shoes for a certain trail (all of mine seem to have medium tenderness). Also, I don't trim them too soon before taking them out on a trail; I give them at least a week to grow.
Shoeing weakens the hoof wall, which causes cracking and splitting. A good way to combat this when taking off shoes is to feed a biotin supplement (I use ShoHoof- its cheap and easy to find. I get about an extra 1/2 inch growth between trimmings).
Barefoot is less stressful on the hoof and WAAAAAY less expensive. My advice is to try it, but don't push it on a horse who cannot handle it.