We have successfully ridden nearly 800 miles with barefoot horses! I began in earnest about three years ago learning how to properly trim a barefoot horse. It is different from the traditional trim for shoeing and is hard to find a professional to help unless you pay a large price for formal training. I gleaned every bit I could out of books and videos, but there simply is no substitute for a teacher to show you. We have been quite successful in learning on our own and practicing on our horses, and we noticed a dramatic improvement in the health and durability of their hooves. We were relatively confident we could make it across the country barefoot. We do however, have Easy Boots (who sponsored us) with us for any terrain we may encounter that the horses are not comfortable on, as well as any time we ride on pavement because it wears down their feet too fast.
In staying at Cris Ann and Hal’s house, we have had a tremendous opportunity. Cris Ann is the first trained and certified barefoot farrier we have met, and she is more than happy to teach us what she can while we are here! The timing was perfect too, as all of our horses were due for a trim. She has spent several hours with us carefully teaching and showing us where we can improve in our trimming skills. She has commented several times how strong and solid their hooves are and that it just proves that movement is key to good horse health.
Once again, God is attentive to details and He has put us in the right place at the right time to learn something very important- some of our horses’ heels are too low. Before we left, we researched that mustangs roam about 20 miles per day. We figured if we averaged 20 miles a day, their foot growth would be able to keep up. Chris Ann has taught us that new research shows that mustang hooves are not internally quite the same as domestic horses, thus they cannot be treated exactly the same. Additionally, I theorize that mustangs roam- they do not walk with purpose for 20 miles straight. I am guessing that by intently driving themselves forward with their hind feet, our horses are wearing their feet down faster than they are growing. I did not realize how dangerously low their heals are until Chris Anne pointed it out. This means we will be using our Easy Boots a lot more for a while to give their feet a chance to grow out a bit. Then we will be selective about when we boot and when we don’t so that we are careful not to run into this problem again.
Cris Ann has also given generously of her resources by giving us tools and horse items we needed, and Hal even sharpened my hoof knife. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention this- Hal is such an AMAZING cook that we have threatened never to leave, or at least kidnap him to be our personal trail cook!