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The structures of the equine foot have the unique ability to adapt, change shape and restore. There are multiple beneﬁts in shod vs. barefoot or in allowing the horse to be without shoes for a given time period to improve the palmar section of the foot.
However, it requires a transition period, a change in the manner in which the foot is trimmed, a commitment from the owner/trainer and, in the case of leaving the horse without shoes permanently, it depends whether the horse can perform the desired function without shoes.
The equine foot with healthy structures is superior in its natural or barefoot state as opposed to the shod state with regard to accepting the weight of the horse, shock absorption and dissipating the energy of impact.5 Furthermore, the structures of the foot have an inherent ability to change and improve over time by the process of adaptation.5
Shoes are applied to the horse’s foot for a number of reasons: protection when wear on the ground surface of the foot exceeds growth at the coronet; maintaining or enhancing functionality such as traction; and as a therapeutic aid to improve the structures of the foot and treat lameness.
The use of traditional farriery or the application of a shoe with regard to the elite athlete or competition horse is necessary; but recently much of the approach to traditional hoof care by veterinarians and farriers has been challenged by barefoot proponents.1,2. This…