Barefoot in action
Snow and ice? No problem!
Many riders in cold climates have found out that riding barefoot horses in winter is no problem at all. A barefoot horse with correctly trimmed feet will have hoof mechanism (the foot widens a bit when the horse puts weight on the leg). Such a horse will also have much warmer feet than a horse with shoes on. These two things combined prevent snow from 'balling up' under the hooves, as it does in a horse with shoes on.
Icy conditions are a challenge for any horse, with or without shoes. Of course any thoughtful rider will adapt their training program and riding speed to the surface the horse has to work on, in summer as well as in winter. For really icy and slippery conditions, where a shod horse would need studs, boots with studs can be used for barefoot horses.
Barefoot riding school
This picture shows a group of students from a riding school in Norway. They have just finished their performance in the yearly Christmas show. All horses that are in permanent use in this riding school are barefoot, and all are living outside in a herd, the whole year round. A big advantage of that is that the horses are more relaxed and all know each other. This prevents 'blow ups' during riding lessons.
Most of the horses do not even need boots in winter or on gravel roads. If a new horse comes, it is decided for each horse individually if all shoes are taken off or only the hind shoes (to prevent accidents). For example, if a horse is only on loan for a short period of time, it might be decided to leave the front shoes on.
Fun in the snow
It is easier to ski when you have a horse to help you! The picture shows a Norwegian Fjord-horse. The horse was shod until she was 17 years old, had serious back problems and was unwilling to work. After the transition to barefoot herd life and rehabilitation treatment such as massage, chiropractic adjustments, dental treatment and a new saddle, the horse is now in good condition and works happily several days a week. She even does trips that are several hours long without any problem.
The picture shows a Thoroughbred competing barefoot in a one-day event in Norway, August 2008. After many years with hoof problems and recurring lameness the shoes were taken off in May, 2007. The horse then had a long summer holiday and started working again lightly in the autumn of 2007 (using boots when necessary). From winter 2007/2008 the horse has been in full use again and competing in one-day events.
At the event where this picture was taken the horse came second in his dressage class and performed very well across country. An unfortunate 'route error' from the rider during the jumping prevented a high placement.
Dressage training with Roencke Springer-Börger
July 2008 the german trainer and rider Roencke Springer-Börger visited Ås for a week of training. The emphasis was mainly on dressage, but 'just for fun' an evening of cavalletti work and small jumps was included.
Roencke really emphasized the correct progress of work in his training - no 'fancy tricks' before the basics are well-established. Under his firm but kind direction all combinations made considerable progress, even in such a short time. The riders were extremely enthusiastic about Roencke's work and we hope he can come back this autumn for another training session.
Roencke riding Dibo - classical seat in practice Kerstin and Dibo, ready to jump!
(Note: Dibo is wearing shoes in front.)
Kjersti and Chasmin getting instruction Chasmin showing off her trot
Michele and Billy (Årungen lake in the background) Hard work to make it look easy!
Eventing training with Lucinda Green - barefoot!
May 13-14, 2008, Norges Rytterforbund (the Norwegian Equestrian Association) invited Lucinda Green for a training session for eventing riders.
Lucinda Green is one of the best-known three day event riders in the world. She has been a member of the British Olympic team several times, was European Champion twice and has won the Badminton Horse Trials six times - with six different horses.
One of the participants in the class for young horses was Nadya, a six year old Trakehner mare. Nadya has only been in training for a short time again after having a foal last year but performed very well - working and jumping barefoot on all different kinds of surfaces. "Nice horse!", Lucinda said.
Meeting with Lucinda Precision jumping
Big jump out of the water A Trakehner horse flying over a Trakehner jump!
Michele and Billy practicing shoulder-in (sitting straight is difficult!).
'The task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what no body yet has thought about that which everyone sees. ... But life is short, and truth works far and lives long: let us speak the truth.'
Eventing - the centaur reborn?