I took Chief over from my daughter about 3 years ago. She had bought a younger horse for her eventing and the occasional hunt. The last horse I had owned was as a youngster in Zambia in the late 50’s and early 60’s. None of our horses had been shod so I had a natural aversion to shoes when I started riding again after some 47 years. In an effort to change from steel shoes I tried the plastic Easy Walkers. These were a big improvement on the steel shoes but I was still not happy about nails in feet! To cut a long story short, my daughter bought Chief a set of Gloves and he took to them immediately.
Noel & Chief
In all, it has taken about 18 months to get to a stage where I can ride out for rides of 5 to 10 kms without boots but anything further than that I use the Gloves. Our going is pretty hard as we are restricted to made up dirt and tar roads. The terrain is very hilly so the horses work fairly hard. I like to alternate between Gloves and barefoot mainly to keep his hooves tough as well as to promote a bit of natural trim. I clean chips and flares on a regular basis myself so the use of a barefoot farrier is kept to an absolute minimum. We are fortunate that our in-house farrier is also an advocator of barefoot where possible so that helps a lot.
Gloves with black power straps - each boot marked per hoof
Chief turns 20 in September and I am really pleased to have proved those who insisted that it was unlikely that I would ever get an aging THB to go barefoot. I firmly believe that almost any horse will go barefoot provided one is patient and goes about the transition carefully. There is no doubt that one can literally take the shoes off, fit a set of boots and never look back. This means that the horse can still be worked during the transition – one of the major stumbling blocks for those who simply do not have the time to have his or her horse out of work for any length of time.