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You Are Not A Bad Horse Owner

©M.Franke/Flickr CC by 2.0

As anyone who has been around an equestrian knows, put ten horse lovers in a room and you’ll get 11 different opinions.

We’re a passionate bunch with strong views on EVERYTHING. Literally. And once we get into a group that has arranged itself around an equine-related belief, it can be very hard to go against the grain.

Like many equestrian factions, barefoot enthusiasts are a dedicated group that believe their way is the right way. As with most things equine, there’s more than one right answer.

I’m not here to trash barefoot hoof care or barefoot horses. The fact is, most horses don’t need shoes. If they’re hanging out and not doing much, this is usually the case. Farriers and trimmers can do amazing things with angles to help all sorts of problems a horse might have. Most of the horses my husband sees in our farrier company on any given week just get a trim. It’s all they need, and it’s all he recommends unless the horse or the owner gives him a reason to put on a shoe.

However, we occasionally come across enthusiastic “barefooters” that are devastated when their vet (or farrier) tells them the answer to their horse’s problems is a horseshoe of some sort.

It is true that wild horses, in nature, do not wear shoes. That is an indisputable fact. Wild horses also get eaten by coyotes and die from diseases and injuries modern veterinary medicine can easily treat. Sometimes you take the good with the bad. They wore their feet down wandering the plains all day, which is tough to replicate on most farms unless you have a lot of land. They also ate a pretty different diet than most of our domesticated horses.

When MIGHT a horse need shoes:

The bottom line is, you’re not a bad horse owner if you keep your horse barefoot. You’re not a bad horse owner if your horse wears shoes. You’re only a bad horse owner if you don’t have a color-coordinated outfit for your horse to wear for every weather possibility (kidding!).

Just enjoy your horse, do what’s best for him, and stop worrying so much!

About the Author

Nancy Rich-Gutierrez is an IT professional and manages her husband’s farrier company. When she’s not busy with her full-time job or running the office for her farrier, she’s chasing their two-year-old and riding her Arabian horses. Check out the HG Horseshoeing blog at

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