My Barefoot Journey

by Kate Weeks
(Somerset, UK)

I started my barefoot journey when I took on a 16.3h TBxID who had been diagnosed with navicular at 4 yrs old! I offered him a home as an alternative to his other option of euthanasia.

I tried various routes with him, not believing he could possibly go without shoes, but was not able to keep him comfortable. His feet looked dreadful (when I look at old photo's - at the time they looked normal) and his movement was more like that of a 12.2h pony!
Interestingly, he would pull his front shoes off on the fence, and when this became a weekly habit I resigned myself to pulling all shoes and giving him some time off, still not believing it was possible to ride without shoes. (Should have been listening to him more carefully - took me a while to hear what he was asking me to do!) He barely moved for three days in the paddock (he was living out by then) but then gradually things started changing.

I started leading him up the lane for ten minutes a day, and then increased the time until he was as comfortable on the road as he was in the field. I had an excellent trimmer, and educated myself to trim too. I had also met Lucinda McAlpine, who had shown me that part of barefoot success is re-educating the horses locomotion when ridden.

After six months, I was riding every other day on miles of roads on a very sound and free moving horse. Ten years later I have four barefoot horses, my 'navicular' horse is now 18yrs old and going as well as ever. One is an ex polo pony I took on, who was the easiest to transition, having spent six months of every year barefoot when the polo season was over.
One is a rehabilitation case I took on, a quarter horse mare with similar confirmation problems to another story I have read on this site. Her feet are very small too, but I have found that with her it has been most important to address the way she carries herself when ridden, this makes all the difference to sensitive or not. She definitely needs to be not on the forehand.

I have also been using the Performance barefoot, forage plus mineral supplements. Extra magnesium made a huge difference to our boy who was rather flat footed and likely insulin resistant, he grew in a much straighter foot and gained significant concavity. It's well worth looking at their website.

I trim all of my horses now, although this is minimal because we do plenty of roadwork. I do have hoof boots for the quarter horse, but don't use them any more as they are all just as sound without. My horses live out 24/7, using a track system from April to October, making haylage off the centre, and then free ranging in a large and interesting field over the winter as it gets too wet to use the tracks. We have a pea shingle area and a large barn they can choose to use or not. I also move them to a different field for a month twice a year to allow for harrowing, rolling and resting and to hopefully satisfy the horses migratory instincts somewhat.

My husband and I took the horses over some very challenging, rocky terrain on Exmoor last week and they didn't miss a bit, in fact I wouldn't have ridden it with shoes on for risk of them slipping on the rocks.

Comments for My Barefoot Journey

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 08, 2014
Great story!
by: HHT

Thanks for sharing your story with us! It's a great example of how sticking with it leads to success - even with cases such as Navicular.
It's so good that you have provided the lifestyle and diet that are such an important contribution towards healthy barefoot hooves.
We also believe that the way horse's carry themselves is very influential to the function of their feet and limbs - it's another part of the holistic picture.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Share Your Barefoot Horse Story!.

The pages on HHT are so wide-ranging and interrelated that we strongly recommend you look at the site plan to find other subjects that may interest you.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

New from HHT!

AudioRide is a series of exercises designed to listen to while you ride.

Audio descriptions guide you through each step of developing a balanced, dynamic connection with the horse through your position.

This truly innovative learning tool gives you a whole new way of being guided in your riding, in a calm, clear, step-by-step way.

Free Download! Introductory Exercise: Riding in the Now

Click here for full details

The Gymnastic Rider eBook

Now available exclusively from HHT!

A unique, comprehensive guide to practical rider biomechanics. This professionally produced eBook takes the rider through the process of developing their body in the specific way that brings the horse's movement into harmony and balance, without force and constraint. Click here for full details, and to download the 15-page introduction to the book for free.

Join the Happy Horse Training group on Facebook!

See and share topical info, news and photo's, and take part in lively discussions.

Click here to go to the HHT group (make sure you log into fb first) and then click on the 'join' button at the top of the page.

Join the Whole Horse Newsletter!

HHT's free monthly newsletter giving you wide-ranging and intelligent insights into holistic horsemanship.
Just enter your details below to join.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you the whole horse newsletter.

Free bonus on the riding position with all new subscriptions: Ten Top Tips To Instantly Improve Your Connection With Your Horse.

Click here to see back issues of The Whole Horse newsletter

Train Your Horse
The Holistic Way

How To Train A Horse Without Force is a unique guide to training horses through energetic connection and gymnastic training. Part 1 covers everything on the ground, from handling to the lungeing technique that develops strength, straightness and engagement. Comes with a free eBook supplement on Horse Trauma.
Click here for more details.

"As a student of Zen Buddhism for nearly three decades, I've often wondered when someone was going to write the book on Zen and the art of horsemanship, and I think that your emphasis on mindfulness and energy connection gets right at the heart of the matter."

- Prof. Teresa Lloyd, U.S.

Do You Have
A Horse Story
To Share On HHT?

So many people have been through wonderful experiences with horses, whether in training or otherwise. If you've made a change in a horse's life - or one has made a change in yours - tell us about it here.

Learn The Natural Barefoot Trim - The Simple Way

The Simple Seven-Step Natural Trim is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to a cutting-edge barefoot trim. Click here to find out more.

What people say about HHT:

"The riding instruction is outstanding, if instructors in the UK taught this way there would be a lot of happy riders and horses."

"The riding tuition exceeded my hopes and expectations by a long way; giving me an exciting new facet to horsemanship which is lighter. more subtle, more elegant and more meaningful. It is as if a new door has opened bringing more sunlight and air."

"My goodness - what a change has taken place in my riding. I think that I'm starting to sit 'into' the horse rather than on top of him. I felt my horse's movements in a way that has almost never happened before"

Click on Testimonials for more