I've read about bare foot and it sounds reasonable and healthy.
When asking my farrier he recommended to have her with shoes, but I didn't expect him to say something else (he is a farrier after all...).
I don't have the tools to evaluate the hoof myself. I asked some of my friends who are more expirienced than I am. The one with the "traditional" point of view said it will hurt the mare if I take the shoes off. The "barefoot lovers" say I'll harm her if I'll keep her on shoes...
I am confused... Any suggestions?
You're welcome, and I'm so glad you enjoy the site. Your training program sounds terrific with the addition of trail riding for the horse.
To shoe or not to shoe, that is the question I am sure that is in many riders minds. What a great topic for discussion. It was a question I was looking for answers to myself. A few weeks ago, my farrier and I had the same conversation and he gave me some great advice.
Jim said "It depends on the horse." I asked, "how? ". He then went through some different scenarios for me and it all made sense. He went on to explain how some horses wear out one shoe and not the others, or the shoe wore on one side and not the other, and he would have to do corrective shoeing. Those horses would have trouble going barefoot because the wouldn't have the support or hoof angles they needed. Then there are other horses who are barefoot and have no trouble at all.
I could then understand what he meant by looking at all the different horse's hooves. Some are barefoot, but their hooves seem to crumble. If a hoof supplement worked, and the horse no longer had trouble, then there would be no need for shoes. However, if it didn't and then we tried shoes and the hooves stayed in better shape, then shoes really help that horse.
Some horse's depending on their job need shoes. For example, if you are riding reining horses, then your horse will need sliding plates on the back hooves.
Another thing to think about is when and if you transition from shoes to barefoot is to take to the different surfaces slowly. Don't pull off the shoes that have been on the horse for years and head straight out on a trail ride. I would build up to rocky uneven surfaces.
In the wild the horse's don't wear shoes and they walk, trot, and even gallop over all different terrain. On the other hand, wild horses also travel up to 20 miles per day, and the diet that they eat is more natural and organic than a stabled horse's diet. Wild horse's don't eat processed food which is not a natural diet. So the hooves of wild horse's are somewhat different than our coddled creatures hooves.
My answer to your question would be, take a look at your horse's shoes. How are they worn? If they wear normally you can try it! You can always put the shoes back on the horse if barefoot doesn't work. I'm glad to have shoes for the horse's that need them, and I'm glad that some horses can easily go barefoot. Especially when I get the bill for a trim, it's a fraction of the price of shoeing.
I would also suggest that you ask your farrier the question "Why?" When he says that he recommends keeping the shoes. He may have a good reason that relates directly to your mare or he may not. You will never know for sure unless you ask.
OK readers, what are your opinions? Pros and cons of shoes and barefoot? Something I haven't tried but has been around for years are easyboots. Has anyone tried them? What do you think of them?
Thanks again for the question Zahi and I hope I helped.