What My Horse Wears on His Feet

Shoes? Boots? Barefoot? You tell us what keeps your horse most comfortable.
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HR-170500-SAID-01

I grew up in the South where our horses went barefoot over the soft ground. Now I live in Colorado with a flat-footed mare, and the harsh, rocky ground demands that she wear shoes.

ANNA DOMINY, Colorado

My gaming horse wears shoes on his front feet from spring to fall. In winter he goes barefoot. (And when I ride him, I always outfit him in his protective legwear, plus bell boots.)

SUMMER VAGTS, Minnesota

My two 20-plus mares have been barefoot since they came to me, and the young ones I bred have never been shod. Natural barefoot trims keep them comfortable and healthy in the pasture, in the ring, or on the trail.

CARMEL ANN SPERTI, New York

I’ve learned a barefoot trim suitable for riding isn’t the same thing as a pasture trim, and now I have four horses with healthy, bare feet. I wish I’d discovered all this sooner.

BETSY ANNE JOANSEN, Kentucky

At age 14, my Quarter Horse/warmblood cross, Bubba, was determined to need front shoes because of a lameness issue. He’s been sound since and I love the sound he makes coming down the concrete isle. “Fancy show horse coming through” has been called out a few times!

AMANDA ROMAN, Wisconsin

My 22-year-old mustang mare, Classy, has never worn shoes. If I go on rocky dirt roads, we use hoof boots. When I bought my gelding Sundown in rural Pennsylvania in 1960, there weren’t any farriers. I rode many miles on grass in the mountains and was fortunate he had good hooves. Some horses, though, do require shoes. I’ve had to shoe some of mine in the past for support.

FRAN DRAWDY WAITE, Rhode Island

The whole barefoot thing seems like a lot of hassle to me. It’s just easier keeping my boys (both Quarter Horses) in shoes.

TAYLOR SHENK, Oklahoma

Tried barefoot, but it didn’t work with my tall, large-bodied, small-footed Paint mare. Well-maintained shoes keep her sound and happy.

DARYN BRANT, Texas

My gelding, a racebred Quarter Horse, wore shoes. Then he developed ouchy symptoms that hinted at navicular issues. I found a hoof-care practitioner who came highly recommended, and she’s kept Bronzer sound for several years now—barefoot.

LINDA BRENNAN, California

I have three horses, two trained and one in the process. All of them wear shoes all around and seem to do well that way.

CHRIS DAVIDSON, Oregon

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