Guidelines for Transition to Barefoot



Transition to


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Horses did not become lame overnight.  They also won’t heal overnight.

There may be a transitional time of healing for a horse from being shod or even from conventional
barefoot trim to a natural barefoot trim method. The time varies greatly depending on whether the horse
had lameness issues before or how long and correctly the horse was shod or trimmed. Other factors
which can speed healing are dependant on the owner.

                             Consistent trimming is a must!
By keeping the hoof shape as correct as possible the hoof can function efficiently which in turn
accelerates rehabilitation.  While some horses with proper movement and terrain may be able to maintain
a proper shape most cannot and must be trimmed. Failure to maintain correct functioning of the hoof
can not only keep the horse from becoming completely sound it also can continue to cause damage
inside the hoof  that will create problems at a later time.

Nutrition is a major factor in the health of all horses and their hooves not just for horses transitioning
to natural barefoot trim.  Has tremendous information on horse nutrition as well as
the importance of testing hay and getting appropriate supplementation.

Founder nutrition is also discussed and other supplements may be required to optimize their health,

Without treating the entire horse, full rehabilitation may not be possible.

                      on how quickly a horse will transition to natural hooves.

Stalling is not recommended because of the adverse affects it can have on the physiological and
mental  health of horses. As stated before Movement is the most critical factor in rehabilitating hooves.
A horse stalled even overnight reduces movement dramatically. In studies done by Dr. Robert Bowker,  
horses stalled overnight moved around 600-800 steps per day. Where as a horse in even a smallish pen
with other horses moved from 2,000-6,000 steps per day.  This difference can mean extra months
working toward healthy feet.

                    Options For Less Than Ideal Living Conditions

There are always things that an owner can do to work around an environment that isn’t perfect.

Small Areas
Spread the hay all over the area in small piles.
Put hay/grain at opposite end of the area from the water.

                     Drill holes in a small bucket and
                     put treats in for the horse to play with.
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From pasture to creek, mud to gravel road,
The best way to get feet that can handle any
terrain is to expose hooves to
every terrain.
Pasture paradise is an adaptation
by Jamie Jackson in an  attempt to
recreate areas of natural environment
and especially  movement. By adding a
fence 15-20 feet inside a perimeter
fence a track is created for the horse to
travel around. With a herd of horses
searching for grass/hay they will
effectively move each other around
this track several times every day, thus
increasing the ever important
movement without our intervention.
Placing different terrain areas around
this track can expose the horses to
water and gravel areas that can
toughen hooves and keep them healthy.
Pea gravel can be used in small areas such as in shed areas where, with a limestone base, it
provides adequate drainage and can be easily picked through and kept clean.  Pea gravel does not
settle or become compact and hard, it is able to conform to the concavity of the sole and
distributes weight evenly over the entire solar area as well as stimulate circulation. Hard ground
does not conform and only small areas have contact with the ground. This is especially bad with
horses with long walls or shoes that protrude above the sole, this forces the laminae to support
the entire weight of the horse which it was not designed to do (Dr. Robert Bowker, DVM). Deep
sand offers no support for the horse and can cause strain to the tendons and joints.

Pea gravel can be THE one saving grace for founder or navicular horses. By providing large
areas of pea gravel to a founder horse they can get relief from their pain and make them
comfortable and more willing to move which in turn speeds their recovery.  
Hoof Boots can also play an integral roll in rehabilitating horses. The
boots provide protection from environment the horse has not been
conditioned to handle, yet a firm support and comfortable means of moving
correctly while ridden. This gets back to the most important factor which was
movement, by making a horse comfortable to work, an owner can continue
to ride thus speeding rehabilitation and eventually even the elimination of the
need for the boots themselves.

             Boots may be necessary if an environment
       cannot be provided which can facilitate healing.