dressage and shoes

Last post 04-06-2009 7:23 PM by cjstumpf. 21 replies.
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  • 02-18-2009 8:39 AM

    dressage and shoes

    I am thinking about removing shoes and let my horse to be barefoot. I ride dressage and the arena is soft, for trails I can buy him easyboots.
    I heard that without the shoes the horses gaits are more flat , less "springy". The shoes has more traction and grip even on a soft grassy or arena footing. Since I ride this horse dressage I want as much lifted action as I can get.
    Is it true?
  • 02-18-2009 9:32 AM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    I really prefer barefoot to shod if it is done right. That being said, the transition can be difficult, and you definitely need to give your horse time to get used to it as he will be sore. 

    Check out this thread:http://forum.equisearch.com/forums/t/43608.aspx from when one of our other members decided to try her horse barefoot, it has a lot of good advice/experiences. 

    Good luck and keep us updated!
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  • 02-19-2009 12:02 AM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    I am also a dressage rider. What I am about to say will not be popular with many dressage riders. I would never shoe my dressage horse. I think a horse becomes less springy with shoes. Two books and over 50 years of training thousands of young horses tells me this is the case. Those two books are '' A Life time of Soundness and Shoeing a Necessary Evil. both written by-Dr. vet med. Hiltrud Strasser. My dressage horses have feet like that of a wild mustang. I don't know what an unsound horse is like.  Shoeing the horse restricts hoof expansion and increases concussion thus restricting the ''springy'' feel we dressage rider all strive for.

  • 02-19-2009 12:32 AM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    With all due respect I must disagree with the notion that horses will be sore after removing the shoes. It may appear that the horse is soar as he responds more noticeably to stepping on rocks and small pebbles. This is not because he is soar but is a result of an increase in blood circulation to the foot thus increasing his ability to feel the ground under him. A shod foot is anesthetized or numbed foot because it lacks the necessary circulation for feel.

  • 02-19-2009 1:13 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    (1) Shoes do not make a horse "springier."  That would defy the laws of physics.

    (2)  I personally would never shoe a dressage horse unless it needed some extreme corrective shoeing -- these horses primarily work in an arena and have no need for shoes.  If trail riding or road riding, just slap some boots on.

     Of course, one needs to study up on barefoot horse care, it requires its own level of attention, just like a shod horse does.



    Solaris -- 16 hh Appendix Quarter Horse = MY DREAM COME TRUE!
    We Are Flying Solo
  • 02-19-2009 5:30 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

     I have to agree with Solaris. The notion of the horse losing his "spring" by removing his shoes is kind of ridiculous. The way a horse moves can be INFLUENCED by adding weighted shoes (hence the crazy weighted boots/shoes you see in park horse rings, with breeds like Saddlebreds and other "big lick" showhorses), but no shoes isn't not going to turn him into a clodhopper. Big Smile

     Plenty of horses have shoes on and don't need them for any particular reason. With dressage horses, the nature of the footing means the chances of dealing with a lot of rough terrain is pretty darn limited...a stray stone is maybe the worst you'll come across. So unless your horse is shod for a specific reason - crappy feet, a tendency towards sore feet, a deformation (I have to leave my TB shod up front b/c of a club foot, otherwise he's lame and very uncomfortable) it's very likely he doesn't need them. But it's going to be trial and error as to how well you're horse handles barefoot. Most can make the transition with little to no fuss. 

    I actually found that fulling the hind shoes off my dressage partner made a big difference in his ability to stay sound. He's had serious tears in the suspensory ligaments of one hind leg, and it was almost impossible to keep him sound, even with bar shoes for support. Finally, we decided to pull them, and after some more time off and very slow reconditioning, I have not had a single problem with lameness. His hind feet look great and are hard as rocks. Metal shoes do limit the hoof's ability to absorb shock; given, the hoof isn't the only shock-absorbing structure in the leg, but it's pretty important.

  • 02-24-2009 1:28 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    Well isnt this a very timely discussion for me and my horse.

    Long story short - in January I had new shoes put on my horse, he only wears front shoes after a very bad overreach 2 years ago left him in plaster for 3 weeks and no bulb to his heel, 3 weeks later one shoe fell off, the one being damaged from the overreach, farrier came out put shoe back on 2 days later it fell off again, so another 5 days later he came out took the other shoe off charged me another $145 for 2 new shoes and left, 2 days later my horse was so lame he couldnt be ridden, farrier comes out and removes clench, horse sound, 2 days later is even lamer than before, farrier comes out again takes shoe off and says it is an under run sole after talking to the vet and he will be back to make him a special shoe, that was 2 weeks ago, farrier will not return calls and I'm done with him!  Horse by the way is sound and back in work albeit with one shoe on and one shoe off I am so reluctant to let ANYONE put another shoe on him I have decided that we will now go without shoes al together.

    We compete dressage, and the worst terrain we will encounter is the 2 step walk over the driveway to his paddock, We work in an arena, we compete in sand arenas and we dont trail ride, so I see plenty of other people here competing without shoes, and now I am beginning to see that there probably is very little need for the shoes unless the horse is unsound without and just cannot be ridden without shoes.

    I have read much about Strasser and I have heard that horses can be extremely sore and lame after the first barefoot trim, this is in fact due to the laminae still being soft and over time it has to harden - I am not going down the Strasser trium just yet but am happy to get another very good farrier who lives near by to come over and dress his feet and take the other shoe off and we will take it bit by bit.

     Thank you for this timely discussion it has made my decision feel more comfortable knowing there are other people going through the same thing.

    We have a big competition year ahead and as for movement the last lesson I had (again with only one shoe on!) was the best ever my coach was astounded at how well my horses moved out - so I'm done with shoes for now and at least I have a sound horse!

     




    Moorah Park Arabians - breeders of
    Moorah Park Miss Tiffany - deceased
    Moorah Park Mickerby - FEI WORLD RANKED ENDURANCE HORSE

    Home of:-
    Springtime Park Carrington - Anglo Gelding
    Karizmah Park Echelon - Aust Warmblood
    Charlotte - 1x Q Horse - Deceased
    Chancey Late Lucy - Palouse Pony
  • 02-24-2009 5:41 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    I think a great deal of it is about 1) education 2) popularity 3) how hard your horse works and what he does.  Basically, if what you are doing is working for you, why change it?  If it is not working, you need to explore other options and figure out why it isn't working and find a solution.  If your shoeing is not working, your options are to either work with your vet and farrier to find out what is wrong, or to go a different route.  I know when my friend and trainer had problems with her horse, they explored all the vet routes, eventually found that the problem could be corrected by shoeing.  For her that was what worked, and as an FEI horse, with his work load, that was what worked for her. 

    There are many interesting replies with very valid points.  I'd find it interesting if all replies also posted the level of training that they currently school and/or if they compete at these levels.  We (meaning me and both my trainers) try to keep our horses barefoot as long as we can because young horses, or horses schooling basic dressage are not doing that much and don't need all that much support.  My  two 3 year olds, who are lightly ridden and schooled, doing basic training level certainly don't need shoes.  One works in a nice dirt based arena and on grass the other works on a stone dust arena and grass.  With all things being equal, until they either show unusual wear (probably due to the stone dust) to the feet I would not forsee putting on shoes until 2nd level.  Typically, at that point, we see the horses need a bit more support because they are engaging the hind end more. 

    Some of it, philosophical differences.  I'd be interested to see or sit with a judge and see if they actually saw a difference in engagement or not at some of the upper levels.  That to me, would be very interesting and more telling.

    The other horses I rode/ride are 2nd/3rd level 6 year old gelding.  He was shod at 5 when his feet showed odd wear due to the stone dust arena.  He did show better movement and gained support when he was shod behind.  He tended to be a late maturing horse and this is what worked for him.  Certainly, you have to listen to what works for the horse.  As it helped him, it was what was right.  I'm fortunate to have a very open minded, knowledgable, educated farrier.  I certainly have not asked him about barefoot trimming because this is not something that I am interested in pursing in relation to higher level dressage (which is why I suggested education).  The other horse I currently ride is GP TB gelding and he's in shoes all the way around as well.  He goes in a sand arena, grass as well, and at one point, he had specialty pads, but he doesn't any longer. 

    I do know of and actually know one of the trainers who use barefoot trim.  One used to ride and show dressage and now she has devoted her farm and talent to rehabbing horses I believe.  She has done extensive study.  Her web site is very informative--http://www.hoofcareunltd.com/aboutus-claudia.html  The other trainer is pretty cool too.  Most of her horses though are younger but still very interesting to see a dressage trainer committed to this method. 

     For me, in the end, it would depend on what level you ride, how often you ride, and what goals you have.  If my horse was 2nd and above, and in serious work, I would want shoes because for me, the hind end engagement needs the support that shoes are going to provide.  You have to have the hind end quick, and just from what I've observed over the years, shoes do make a difference (if you have a good farrier) in the support your horse has.  For the development of what you need, it helps/aids the horse.  However, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. 

     

  • 02-24-2009 6:13 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    Interesting Mikhail, my horse currently training at level 2/3 competing level 2 has only had front shoes for the past 3 years, my coach is an A level dressage judge, his feet are in good condition and we have no issues with hind end engagement - it was my coach who suggested if he was happy with no shoes then go for it - in fact his work was awesome before my shoeing/farrier issue surfaced and that was with only ONE shoe on!

    We shall take it step by step if he needs shoes back and thats what is best for him then we shall go back to shoes on the front only, we shall see




    Moorah Park Arabians - breeders of
    Moorah Park Miss Tiffany - deceased
    Moorah Park Mickerby - FEI WORLD RANKED ENDURANCE HORSE

    Home of:-
    Springtime Park Carrington - Anglo Gelding
    Karizmah Park Echelon - Aust Warmblood
    Charlotte - 1x Q Horse - Deceased
    Chancey Late Lucy - Palouse Pony
  • 02-25-2009 10:46 AM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    Having an issue with a farrier is not fun at all.  We are lucky to have a good farrier at both farms. 

    You have to go the route that works for you.  Every path is different for each person, which is what makes life interesting.  Like I said, although you will certainly find people who feel strongly about the issues, there is no right or wrong either way but what works best for the individual horse. 

  • 02-27-2009 2:26 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    Well yesterday was our first day without shoes, the last shoe was taken off, I rode him about 5 hours later and he felt no different to when he has had a break from work , a bit stiff and lazy, I didnt push him hard, we worked for about 30 minutes, he did find it different at first but he was SOUND, and thats the most welcoming feeling, as I was so worried he would still be lame or go lame as I was riding him.  So this morning when I let him out, he literally bounced out of his box and wanted to trot up to his paddock, he is feeling good, so I am confident that he will be ok now and as we train and compete on soft surfaces I am happy to let him go barefoot - it will be interesting to see our competition results now, our first comp of the year is in 3 weeks time. 




    Moorah Park Arabians - breeders of
    Moorah Park Miss Tiffany - deceased
    Moorah Park Mickerby - FEI WORLD RANKED ENDURANCE HORSE

    Home of:-
    Springtime Park Carrington - Anglo Gelding
    Karizmah Park Echelon - Aust Warmblood
    Charlotte - 1x Q Horse - Deceased
    Chancey Late Lucy - Palouse Pony
  • 03-01-2009 4:29 AM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    Sounds exciting for you.  Hopefully you will get the answers you need and this will work out super.  I was doing some further thinking and I recalled that the sire of my past couple of horses (all of whom had really good feet) actually did not wear shoes for the majority of his competitive career and he was shown through FEI, eventually getting his rider his USDF Gold medal.  So, for individual horses it can work. 

    On the flip side of the coin, I've seen horses (like my 6 year old) who moved so much better all the way around, when he had shoes put on.  Sounds though like you are approaching it well, and being smart and educating yourself.  Good luck--it will be interesting to see how you progress.  Will you learn to do the trimming yourself or have a farrier do it?  I was under the impression that a "regular" farrier's trim was somewhat different than what was put forth in the Strausser (sp??) methodology.

  • 03-01-2009 1:37 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    I will let my farrier trim him, I have not embraced the Strassur method I do not like the idea of parring away the sole of the foot especially as my horse grows no heel on the white hoof, so we are not truly "barefoot" in that sense but his feet are getting a good break from shoes but if he needs them in the future I wont hesitate to put them back on, my horse will tell me!

    Yesterday I took him out to my local club for a bit of "socialising" we didnt compete but worked out in the grassy area and amongst the other horses, as he hasnt been out in a while, he worked really really well, I was careful not to ride him on any really hard gravel areas and he was quite comfortable and relaxed, we didnt work long as it was 37 degrees C and VERY hot, but I was happy with him and he got to go home and sleep the rest of the day away.  So onwards and upwards and only 2 weeks till we compete.




    Moorah Park Arabians - breeders of
    Moorah Park Miss Tiffany - deceased
    Moorah Park Mickerby - FEI WORLD RANKED ENDURANCE HORSE

    Home of:-
    Springtime Park Carrington - Anglo Gelding
    Karizmah Park Echelon - Aust Warmblood
    Charlotte - 1x Q Horse - Deceased
    Chancey Late Lucy - Palouse Pony
  • 03-06-2009 1:59 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

    I ride Third level - horse is barefoot behind shod up front. WinkOnly reason she's shod up front is she likes to paw and has a slightly clubby right front foot, so shoes reduce her making the club foot worse.

     If you don't need to show then don't. Many riders do but it's either because the footing suggests they need it, the horse has soft feet and needs it or because they think they have to have the horse shod.

    My mare actually drags behind a bit (i.e. travels flatter) until she gets accustomed to rear shoes (she was shod for 2 months to fix a problem). Hope than answers your question - the "flatness has more to do with how you ride the horse and the horse's natural gaits then if the horse is shod.

    Dressage R US
  • 03-09-2009 5:16 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage and shoes

     

    Another really good website resource for going barefoot and the actual trim itself: http://www.barefoothorse.com/

    It discusses some variations of the Strasser trim and also compares it to the Wild horse trim, which is the basis of the website. The Strasser trim can be harsh and severe, but it was originally designed for pretty messed up and deformed hooves. If the horse is sound and has good hooves, the trim doesn't have to be severe, and the soles don't have to be thinned if the concavity of the hoof is normal. This is a great site and I used it to learn how to trim our Thoroughbreds, and we keep them barefoot all the time. 





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