Four Years on

My friend Anne reminded me that it’s exactly four years since we took the momentous step of removing our horses’ shoes.  Today I went for a three hour ride with two friends.  I thought it might be interesting to share some photos with you, to show you just what sort of terrain my barefoot horse now takes in his stride.

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Tacking up at the back of MC’s house. Flurry in the foreground, Shadiyah behind him and Quieto hidden at the back

There was one shod horse (Shadiya, the bay), one horse wearing front boots (Quieto) and one horse that was 100% barefoot (Flurry).

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We started off on a gravelly road.  It was noticeable that the two unshod horses chose to go along the grass verge where possible.  In fact, gravel is the surface that Flurry likes least.

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Then we went through some woods, descending steadily.  The ground here was mostly damp and muddy, with a couple of steep stony stretches. I noticed Shadiyah slip a couple of times but the two boys were fine.

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We came out onto a road for a short while, crossed a river and started going up a hill on the other side.  This, to me, seemed like the worst ground, but Flurry took it in his stride.

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Shadiyah, the shod horse, slipped really badly on the smooth rocky stretch you can see int front of the riders in the photo below.  She very nearly went down completely.  That’s one huge disadvantage of shoes.

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We took a short break before tackling the last part of the climb towards Lincel.

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Then we had a nice grassy, leaf-strewn trail.  The building at the side is called a Borie.  They are used for storage all over the place here.

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Back onto a tarmac road, climbing up to Lincel.

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We stayed on the road for at least a kilometre, then we had to climb back down into the valley.  The trail was not any better… On ground like this, I leave the reins loose and let Flurry choose where he puts his feet.  Within reason.  He has a penchant  for walking along the edge of cliffs 😦

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Home again, after three hours, probably about 15 kilometres, in 20C temperatures.  We had three very sweaty horses.

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Despite that, Flurry was in great form when I turned him out after his shower!

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2 thoughts on “Four Years on

  1. I found this interesting as my horse is recently barefoot due to lack of a regular farrier (and cost). His feet are great so far, but now we’re into serious mud, so we’ll see what happens. Nice to see where you ride as well as the range of surfaces. We don’t have much stony stuff, mainly tarmac, grass or sand.

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    • The biggest challenge for my friends in Ireland is giving the feet a chance to dry in the winter. If you are having trouble, maybe standing him in for a couple of hours a day might make the difference. Also, if you see the chance to go on a hoof-trimming course, take it! I’ve never done one, but I have a very supportive farrier and another farrier friend to turn to for advice if necessary.

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