Easy Barefoot Transition?

With the right horse, hoof, and set up, it really doesn’t have to be a big deal.

Most of the tips on barefoot transitioning I read up on were fairly complicated.  Or the setting didn’t apply to my situation.  Or the horse wasn’t going to do the same type of work.  (Or, you know, do much of any serious work at all…)

Thank you for contacting me and asking how we’re doing with it!!  Appreciate it!

Quick share of my story today as a follow up to last spring.  Because you asked.  And because it didn’t have the predicted outcome.

Transitioning a young dressage horse to barefoot can be pretty straightforward.  Maybe you already know that, and that’s great;  this is for the rest who would like to, but haven’t been able to pull it off (hepp) just yet.

It started out really stress free.

Adding that her hind shoes were removed a few months before the fronts.  It’s the way to go.

  • Over all, undramatic.
  • I didn’t use boots on her.
  • She didn’t have to putter around for weeks in pasture doing nothing while strengthening tender soles and heels.
  • No massive applications of hoof hardener several times per day.  Some, but no overkill.

Here’s your fine print:  I didn’t become part of the Barefoot Sect.  All inner Hoof Goddesses have to restrain themselves here.

Hooves starting out:

Some 2 1/2 years ago – Barefoot on all 4.

I liked this shape better. ↓ Excuse the goat hair leg.

Hind soles.  Gorgeous!

White line after spring grass. ↓  Still love the nice open frog.

hind hoof with no thrush


Still, as she continued training for another year and a half, her fronts showed signs that the level of work might be limited to mostly this type of work 😉
preventing lateral walk


We tried a short period with shoes on her hinds, then this last January transitioned to full barefoot again.

horse with crossed front legs

grey horse after bath


So much healthier, and of course no one’s going to miss picking muddy feet.  Or worrying about lost shoes.  Or lost winter season bell boots.  Right?

picking out a hoof

fleece top velcro bell boots

Tons of positive hoof testers later, it was clear that her fronts didn’t want to develop any concavity at all.  Farrier helped in as many ways as he could.  Trimming every 5 weeks, with me filing on my own in between to help the walls.

By May she had developed fluid in her right front, both toes were sore, she got an injection and the vet waived the red flag for that coffin bone.  I didn’t need any more convincing, front shoes went back on, and at vet recheck a couple of weeks ago she was wonderful.

blue bell boots on grey horse

So that’s your recap!  Still believe in barefoot (and she still is on the hinds, and I may cycle rest periods for the fronts too.), but within reason.  Creating an athlete, not a cripple.

April, and we’re still here!

Rains continued in California in March – wonderful green areas everywhere for longer than usual!

I’m happy to be at higher grounds and able to train at this barn, so we’ll stick around for a while.

upscale barn

Continuing on with barefoot on all four – very careful with any “off-road” outings.  Just a bit here and there.  Very happy with the bare feet!  Getting there has been easy so far.  Twist my arm a bit and a write-up on the transition is all yours!

riding out in the grass

That ride in a borrowed bridle.

About the earlier shout-out on the Verbindend:  She’s had it for several weeks now, and yep, absolutely it’s on the list of approved bits to show dressage in!

So, finally, there’s enough tack!

Said no one ever.

dressage bridles on tack wall
These are not all mine. Promise.

“Tiny” Injury – Long Recovery Time

It’s been 4 weeks since the ring finger caught on the lunge line.

That’s a full month…  Yes, I’m counting.  The bone suffered not just a fracture,  but twisted and broke through.  These pins will stay in until March.

x ray with pins in finger bone

Thank you so much for all messages!  I’ve fallen behind on answering friends on what’s up, so thought it was time for an update here 🙂

Here’s the current, 6th, outfit on the hand.  Heading in for an upgrade today.

ring finger fracture

Not really sure how much damage to the tendons – I’ll find out in mid March once physical therapy starts.  My group of men are dearer to me than ever.

family at restaurant

Valiosa is settling in at the new farm. Of course it’s completely normal to drive out there, just to put your horse in a stall and watch it eat.

pulling front shoes off
Another surprising benefit of this injury: Barefoot on all 4!

Today we walked out to meet the Murray Grey’s a little closer.

horse meeting cattle

It’s an enormous property, with trail riding capabilities (For when you’re not broken and able to control your beast), but it involves riding in and out of gates to the cows.  Without having a cow.

Stuck to the safe pond this time.  As you can see she was thrilled!sour looking horse

Regular mare look. It’s how she rolls.

It’s a little quiet right now.  That can actually be really motivating in itself.  If you let it.

Bare Hinds

The fronts too, but really just blabbering about the hinds this time.

First off, to set things straight; Not a bare foot fanatic and see no religion in keeping the horses that I ride without shoes.  This is not a sect, it’s a non denominational choice to go barefoot for now, and readers are invited  regardless of which hoof God they believe in.

OK, great!

But I do see the huge benefits in keeping them bare.

So, calling all barefoot enthusiasts – here’s a follow-up on the hind hoof!

I’m not the trimmer.  It looks like it’s going in the right direction.  Ahhh, come on, it better be going in the right direction.

Hind March

I overdid it with the hoof hardener and managed to get the sole to dry out and crack a bit.  It will disappear soon.  Should only get better from here.

Honestly, how much can you possibly shake while holding up an unwieldy hind leg and triggering the Android at the same time?

hind hoof

Feel free to chime in.


Other than standing picture perfect for the farrier, Valiosa got to experience braiding for the first time, just as practice.  Not as picture perfect.  Look how thrilled she is.

In ugly braids

Have a lovely weekend!

Healthy Hooves


Update on the barefoot girl.

These were the feet in December.

Flat, dishy, long, and with growth lines.  And not just mine hers, too!  Just look!

Hooves December


Then January.

Shaping up.

Fronts January

In March.

With her Andalusian heritage her hooves will have somewhat different angles and shape.  She’s got really nice, hard, feet!  Encouraging the frogs to come down a bit more, while hoping to stay barefoot for as long as we can.

Hooves In March 2

Yep, that’s oil on there.  Somehow they manage to look longer than in the January shot, but that is not the case.

This month – Ending March Madness.

Valiosa will get used to working alone without blowing a fuse, (Yeah right.  By magic.) a new pasture, and barn routine at home.

Seriously, she did do better this morning.  We trotted.  Very stop and go, but she did it.

Standing for farrier is a piece of cake.  First trim I held her in pasture since she’d had just about no handling.  Second time standing with lead rope in the barn isle.

This third time in the cross ties, just standing with her.  Easy.  It’s all easy, just do the right thing.

Hooves in March 1

Next up  –  finishing up on her West Nile Vaccinations, staving off any ulcers, getting in at least three trail rides alone in addition to her arena work (eeek!), and attempting to get out of the baby bridle before it self-combusts of age.  Already have her completely clipper trained.

She’ll get to practice trailering again too.  Wonderful Nancy will come Tuesday morning with her trailer which is an absolute treat.  We’ll head up to her indoor arena to practice with Cooper before showing him this weekend!

So.  She’ll be the perfect baby.  Except that I can’t ride her.  Lovely!

To make sure we stay broke, of course there are plans for a saddle fitting clinic well before summer.  Different saddle just for her maybe?!   And then the show with Cooper on Sunday!  Off to a great start this spring!