OGrady trimming photo diagram

Casting Method May Benefit Transitioning Horse to Barefoot

Carelessly transitioning a performance horse from shod to barefoot may negatively affect its footcare

Farrier Takeaways

  • Before making the decision, consider the many variables before transitioning a horse to barefoot.
  • This hoof cast method helps stability, provides additional mass and protects the hoof capsule without interfering with any physiological functions or improving the structures.
  • A transition period will improve the likelihood of success when changing a horse from shod to barefoot.

The equine foot with healthy structures is superior in its barefoot state with regard to accepting weight, dissipating the energy of impact and absorbing concussion.1 Furthermore, the structures of the foot have an inherent ability to change, strengthen and improve over time by the process of adaptation.1 Shoes are applied to prevent wear, add traction and provide a means to apply therapeutic farriery when necessary. As a farrier and veterinarian, I have always been a proponent of allowing a horse to remain barefoot or compete barefoot when possible.2

When given the opportunity and time, I try to rehabilitate distorted or compromised feet, especially the palmar/plantar section of the foot, in the barefoot state.2 Still, to be clear, I also believe a horse can be trimmed and shod in a proper physiological manner with minimal damage to the hoof capsule.3,4 The advances in synthetic and deformable footing at competitions and on farms have allowed many horses to compete barefoot. At the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, the Swedish show jumping team won the gold medal, competing with their horses barefoot, creating a renewed interest in this farriery option…

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Stephan ogrady 0215

Stephen O’Grady

Dr. Steve O’Grady is a veterinarian and a farrier. He operates Virginia Therapeutic Farriery in Keswick, Va., which is a referral practice devoted to equine podiatry and therapeutic farriery You can read informative papers by him at Equipodiatry.com. He is a member of the International Equine Veterinarians Hall Of Fame and the American Farriers Journal Editorial Advisory Board.

Agustin rosales

Agustin Rosales

Agustin Rosales is manager, trainer and rider at Caliburn Farm in Marshall, Va., and Ocala, Fla. Caliburn Farm is dedicated to breeding, raising and training quality show jumpers.

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