I often get asked when is the best time to remove a horse’s shoes. The truth is in the U.K. I do not think that summer is better than winter or that winter could be better than summer. Each season has its own challenges. The right time is when it is best for you. As a horse owner I know how we worry about our horses. I know that taking the shoes off your horse is a big step and you need to be happy that you are making the best decisions for your horse
How a horse copes when first having his shoes off depends on many things. The most obvious is the overall health of the foot. I find that most horses that I take the shoes off have something that makes their feet unhealthy. Going barefoot from shod isn’t just a matter of taking the shoes off, having a pretty trim and away you go. Having said that every now and then I get horse that transitions from shod to barefoot without taking a single faulty step. Most horses take a little time for their feet to start to work as they were intended to do.
One of the first things I will talk about with any client is correct movement. The importance of correct movement is often glossed over as obvious. However, defining correct movement can confuse many professionals. I like to keep it simple. Correct movement starts with a heel first landing in walk on a flat surface. Sometimes the foot placement will look flat, however if you look at the foot in slow motion it will be heel first.
It’s often easier to spot incorrect movement such as the foot placement being toe first. There are other areas of foot placement that I look for such as loading, and reach, but I can not stress enough that heel first is correct, toe first is wrong.