Pasture vs Barefoot Trim Pt. 9 - Maintenance of the Horse in Transition

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Hi Folks!  Those reading in the USA I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend!  Oh wait ... I wrote the last  blog post on Labor Day!  Well, hope you had a good one -- I forgot to wish that for y'all last week. 

I want to kind of wrap this series up with talking a bit about the maintenance of a newly transitioned horse. That is, one just taken out of shoes and trimmed NATURALLY.  We've gone over much of the essentials and the differences between what a farrier might do with a trim to what the natural trimmer would do. So where do we go from here? 


Well, I always recommend trims every 4 weeks or so at first. That always allowed me to get a good feel for the individual horse and how he or she grew his/her hooves. It also allowed me to get a good feel of how the rider rides! Yep -- it's all telling in the horse's hooves. Imbalances in the saddle will create imbalances in the growth of the hooves; former injuries to the hooves will have their quirky growth patterns that need to be recognized and tended properly; if the horse is going to need on-going trims for soft ground or hard use on hard ground ... things like that. 

When farriers remove shoes on a horse, most likely they're going to do a pasture trim on that horse. Leaving long toes, shaved frogs and soles, flat feet and no heels. BUT -- and this is important to recognize ... and to know ... a GOOD TRIM IS A GOOD TRIM REGARDLESS of who does it ... a farrier or a natural trimmer.  A good trim is going to be just what the individual hoof needs at the time of the trim. 

Sometimes I would see that the hooves are nice and strong coming out of shoes and would trim but maintaining modesty. Other times I'd simply round off the wall and leave all else alone until the next trim. And sometimes, I wouldn't trim at all but simply remove the shoes and let the horse do his own trimming in the interim between the removal of the shoes and the next visit. 

Again, it all depends. I say again because I will always say that .. "it all depends". 

Do you remember what *it* depends upon?  Yep -- you're right ... 

It depends on the hoof-in-hand on the horse-in-hand. 

So, there is not wrong or right way to trim a hoof ... there's only ONE WAY -- and that's the way that is best suited for the individual.  

Nice, long strides and tracking up straight. No evidence of sore hooves after having shoes removed just 2 days prior.

So -- removal of the shoes, trim up according to the individual's needs, and, if necessary for the horse's comfort, throw on a pair of boots.  Then .. go RIDE!!  The more the horse moves, the better of he is.  More circulation, more wear and growth. More callusing taking place and more adjustments being made in a 'natural' manner.  

It's all good. 

Have your trimmer scheduled to come out again in 4 weeks from the initial trim. Don’t be afraid to add some anti-inflammatory herbs or essential oils to your horse’s diet to help transition. Many horses will appreciate some nice bodywork or massage during his or her transitioning. We all know that too much sugar in the diet will wreak total havoc in the horse’s system and, ultimately, will end up in the hooves. So I usually try to stay away from

Complex carbs, processed feeds and anything that has processed sugars in it. I love the natural sugars of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Those natural sugars are usually high on the glycemic index BUT .. very low on the glycemic load so the sugar is well regulated as to how fast it gets into the bloodstream. Immune-boosting herbs and vegetables are a plus to add to your horse’s diet and the results you’ll see in just 4 weeks to your next trim will knock your socks off! 

I like to keep it as 'natural' as possible so I feed a raw, naturally chelated mineral complex with the feed. It simulates the horse licking the purest dirt one can imagine thus providing all the trace minerals and salts the horse's body needs for maximum health and wellbeing. 

Be sure to pick your horse's hooves at least once a day.  I like to pick just before a ride and just afterwards. Don't worry about the 'clean dirt' in your horse's hooves as that can aid in support during movement and the natural functioning of the hoof will knock it out during expansion on hoof loading. But, we don't want manure and urine soaked bedding or mud staying in the hooves for a long period of time. 

Turn your horse out as long as possible. Mine are out 24/7 with free choice shelters. This allows for maximum movement over the varied terrain that we have here. 

Bottom line – you want your horse to m.o.v.e. … the more he or she moves the more circulation bringing O2 and nutrients to the hooves for healing and new growth … You know best what your horse needs. You know what is going to stimulate him or her to be comfortable. OH!  I almost forgot to mention .. if you don’t ride daily then at least take your horse for a 10 minute in-hand walk every day over smooth, clean tarmac. That will help condition those hooves better than anything!

If you are in transition mode with your horse and things don’t seem to be going as well as you expected, give me a holler!  I’d love to chat with you and maybe come up with something that can help. It’s hard to know – especially when ya don’t know!  My years of transitioning horses from shoes to barefoot might just be beneficial to add a little something that is not generally known. 


Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications includingThe Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 18 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. For further information please click here:

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