Why do we keep our horses barefoot?

Horse has 5 hearts they say. One in the chest, and one at the end of each leg.

It’s true, the hoof is indeed a very complex organ in itself, it circulates and pumps blood up to the legs and plays a really important role in the whole horses welfare.

The other saying commonly heard is ‘no hoof, no horse’. This is also true, without decent, functioning hoofs, you ain’t got no horse.

Why not put shoes on them to protect them then, if they are so precious and important?

In fact, the shoe prevents the hoof working like it has been designed to. In the bottom of the hoof you have the frog, which is the part with most circulation. It is like a spring; with contact to the ground it absorbs shock and pumps blood around the tiny vessels in the hoof. When the hoof is shod, the frog does not touch the ground. The circulation in the hoof weakens and so the frog suppresses and stops working effectively.

A beautiful barefoot hoof with a well formed, functioning frog

A hoof with a shoe. I know which one looks healthier and better functioning!

A shod hoof is also prone to infections such as thrush, as the hoof does not clean itself like it does when there is nothing nailed to it. Think about your own feet, with shoes on you may get sand and stones in your shoes, but barefoot you have not got those problems!

A well looked after hoof is supportive, strong and goes over any terrain without giving the horse any pain. Wild horses did not have shoes, and they travelled hundreds of miles over rocky terrain with no problems!

The way we see it is that nature intended for horses to be barefoot. As we thrive to give our horses as natural life as possible – no stabling, as much outdoor living space as possible, unlimited roughage to eat, friends to play with and enough exercise to keep them fit and healthy. 

Going barefoot is the definitely the right thing for us and our horses!

I will leave you with this video to illustrate the message above.

Pia Saari is the founder and owner of Country Quest Portugal. Throughout her life she has gathered extensive experience with horses in many different ways. She has worked with horses professionally in riding schools, livery yards and racing stables. She has worked in horse rescue and helped numerous horses recover from severe physical and mental negligence. She has studied equine ethology and psychology, learning theory and many other subjects relating to horses. Country Quest Portugal has a mission and a vision to make the world a better place for horses - sharing knowledge by an online course is a very important part of this mission. The course is priced low to make it accessible for everyone who wants to learn how to better care for their horses.