Why go barefoot

By Siobhan Dillon

Grooming and Care Advice

09 July 2012 17:01

Siobhan Dillon DAEP, Licensed Instructor (www.siobhandillon.net) gives you some questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether your horse should go barefoot... 

- Why are you going shoeless? To improve performance, to improve the health of the foot, to be natural, to gain soundness, to save money?

- Make sure that you understand that not all ‘barefoot’/shoeless practitioners/trimmers/trims are equal

- What philosophies and theories does your prospective practitioner follow? – hoof/limb axis, wild horse model, internal arch apparatus, other.


Take a look at other factors that affects performance:

Many barefoot/shoeless practitioners are holistic in their approach, so they will consider the environment that the horse is in; its body mass, or rather the body score; the feed and general appearance of the horse.

You cannot get away from the simple physical law:  Force = Mass x Acceleration

The shoeless foot will respond to the applied forces, so mass of the horse, tack and rider will influence the performance capability of the feet.  Asymmetries in any of these are likely to be seen the feet, so physical therapists may be needed to help here.

Nutritional health is important to generate healthy tissues and permit a robust immune system.  If the diet appears to be sufficient to provide the correct balance and level of micronutrients and the horse still looks dull and the feet are not growing as expected then further medical and nutritional advice should be sought.

Going shoeless is a team effort – the owner/carer is a key player in that team.

Will you save money?  It depends what you are comparing it to and what is needed to return functional health to the foot.


There are several associations in the UK that have trained practitioners for shoeless foot care. These are some of the main ones…

- Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry – Active members