I prefer flip flops or boots but I prefer my horses barefoot. When I got my first horse (Harvey) I thought every horse wore shoes. So when I called the farrier I told him that I needed my horse shoed, he asked full or partial. I sounded like a complete idiot when I responded with "what". He repeated himself and I said full. I thought "why would I want shoes on just one side of my horse". I didn't know that partial meant just the front or just the back. I thought he meant the left side or the right side, silly man why would I do that.
After a few months someone said to me "why do you shoe your horse". I had no response. The real reason was "everybody else does it so why not". That's when I decided to do some research and experimenting. I had Harvey's shoes pulled and rode him the same as I had before. I noticed that he seemed a little tender so I had a partial set of shoes put on. I continued to ride him and noticed that he was still tender. That's when I decided he didn't need shoes at all. Instead I just needed to be considerate of where I asked him to walk until his soles toughened up. Today, several years later, I don't ask him to walk on rocks unless that is the only option and then I let him go slow and avoid as many rocks as possible.
A horse does not need shoes just because that's what everyone else does. A horse does not need shoes because he is tender when walking across rocks either. Some horses have a weak hoof and putting shoes on them helps. Some people need shoes on their horses to increase grip. If it's not necessary, try to let your horse go barefoot. This doesn't work for all horses and if your horse has always had shoes it may take time to get his hoof in shape to go barefoot. Talk to your vet and farrier to see if this is a good option for you and your horse. It will save you time and money. In the wild horses don't wear shoes so why should they always wear them in captivity.
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