Read our blog tips, tricks, and what you need to know about Barefoot Equestrian Riding and keeping your horse healthy.

Ever Heard of the Phrase, A Horse Has Five Hearts?

By Carole Herder

In simplistic terms, the heart pumps blood around the body through arteries. From the arteries, the blood moves away from the heart into capillaries and then into venules and then into veins. Unlike arteries, veins are not elastic and they need muscles to move the blood back towards the heart.

Evolution has dictated that the horse has no muscular structure to its lower leg. So how does the blood get back up the leg from the hoof to the heart?

Horses, like other mammals, have only one heart. However, the frog in each hoof acts like a pump to push blood back up the leg with each step a horse takes. The frog also acts as a shock absorber. Of course, this is when the hooves are in a natural barefoot state. When the hoof is set down on the ground, it expands and fills with blood. When it is picked up, it contracts and the blood is sent back up the hoof to the heart. Roughly a liter of blood is pumped through the body every twenty strides. Hence, each hoof is a ‘heart’ giving a horse five hearts.

Horse Hoof Boots

Horseshoes imprison the hoof, disallowing expansion and therefore reducing circulation and this in turn strains the horse’s heart. That is one mighty reason for going barefoot! Hoof boots allow for this expansion and are only used when necessary on rough terrain or during barefoot transition so are the prefect replacement for metal shoes.

Here are some fun facts about horsey hearts:

• The equine heart is not much different to the human heart, only bigger. Both are 4-chambered and pump warm blood.

• A horse heart is located in the same place as a human heart: between the lungs and ribs and above the diaphragm.

• A horse heart weighs on average seven to nine pounds. Secretariat had the largest ever recorded heart at 12 pounds.

• A horse’s heart rate at rest should be from 40 to 60 bpm.

• A horse can have a heart attack.

• What animal actually has five hearts? An earthworm!

Horse Hoof Boots

First Woman to Win in 155 Years!

By Carole Herder

This title says it all! Last week, jockey Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup. She is the first woman to do it since the inception of the iconic race 155 years ago. The Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most prestigious Thoroughbred race rivals the Kentucky Derby in magnificence.

When Michelle Payne got off her Melbourne Cup-winning horse Prince of Penzance and accused racing of being a “chauvinistic sport”, she did not exempt the owners of her mount from criticism. In true Australian fashion, she told it with gusto, just as she sees it. “Everyone else can get stuffed [who] think women aren’t good enough.”

Horse Hoof Boots

As of 2015, no woman has won the Kentucky Derby. Today the importance of women in racing has progressed significantly.

Kudos to Michelle Payne!


The Tail Wagging The Dog

By Carole Herder

The rain paused briefly as the Hunt in Roberts Creek kicked off today. Careening through the countryside with 30 horses and riders at top speed is a pretty exciting pastime. Riders from 12 to 80 years old set off bounding along our trails, ponies and drafts, every colour combination imaginable and all complete with the wagging eager hounds.

Even though there were several barefoot horses, the majority was shod with metal. So, as always I ponder my biggest bewilderment – WHY metal shoes?

Horse Hoof Boots Last week The British Columbia Veterinarians Association banned the practice of cropping dog’s ears and docking their tails. They say it is inhumane and unnecessary. The practice continued for historical reasons, because that’s what they did, because that’s the tradition and certain breeds just look like that. In fact, some were not allowed to compete UNLESS they looked like that. And in further fact, there is no hard scientific evidence to support that the now outmoded practice was not in reality, detrimental to the animal.

Do you see where I am going with this? Metal is nailed into horse’s feet because that’s what we are accustomed to. History, custom and tradition make horse owners cling to this as normal practice. It’s like the wake driving the boat or more appropriately perhaps – the tail wagging the dog.

I don’t know of any scientific evidence that could reasonably claim that the practice is NOT harmful to horses; however I am aware of evidence that exposes horseshoeing as potentially destructive and damaging.

So, what do we do? It’s simple. Pull off those metal shoes and use Cavallo Hoof Boots when you ride!

horse hoof boots

Refusing to Jump The Fence

By Carole Herder

Along my country road there is an amazing black and white Paint stallion. If he is out, I always slow down to admire him. The other day, he was racing across his sandy paddock heading straight for the fence line that separated him from a lush grassy field. He could easily have sailed over this fence, but he stopped short and stood absolutely still. I could see his hot breath pumping from his nostrils. He could be gobbling up grass on the other side, but he just stood there. It made me wonder if we too are like that. Do we stop short of taking a leap into new things, new possibilities – even if it’s something we really want?Horse Hoof Boots

Everyone has a comfort level. It’s that place in our awareness that serves to maintain the status quo, maintaining an “at home” feeling. We may wonder why we are not making progress, either financially or emotionally; why our relationships aren’t working out; why our work is tedious; why we seem to be in a cycle of daily repetition. Is it that we are refusing to jump the fence?

I am not saying, we should do things that we know we shouldn’t. It’s just that we are beings of enormous possibility, just like our horses, and we can liberate ourselves from just standing still in the life we know. We can leap into higher levels of happiness, performance, passion and be living our very best life. Mostly all it takes is an increased level of self confidence. To take that action – to hop over our own self- imposed boundaries sometimes all we need to do is jump.

horse hoof boots

Barefoot in the UK

I though you all would be interested in a recent interview with a barefoot horse owner in the UK!

Q1: Where are you from, what type of horse do you have and what do you use him for? I am from Essex in the UK and I have a 14.2 coloured gelding who is a 5 year old trotter. I have owned him for just over a year and during this time I have broken him to be ridden. I am currently in the process of exposing him to the world and have taken him to low level dressage. We have also been to a few clinics, one Show Jumping and two Cross Country and he is proving to be very amenable to any discipline.

Q2: How long has your horse been barefoot? My horse was only four when I got him and he did not have any shoes on at this point so I decided to try and maintain this. Initially he was trimmed by a farrier who would carry out a normal pasture trim. My horse then had his first official barefoot trim on 13th August 2014 so we have been barefoot for just over a year now.

Q3: What made you decide to stay barefoot? I have had several horses in the past all who have worn shoes, it was only when my sister-in-law introduced me to barefoot by giving me a book to read called ‘Feet First: Barefoot Performance and Hoof Rehabilitation’ by Nic Barker and Sarah Braithwaite. After reading this and doing some research on-line, I decided to try and maintain my horses as barefoot and from this point I started to look for a barefoot trimmer.

Q4: What is the best thing about your horse being barefoot? The best thing about barefoot for me is knowing my horse can cope with all sorts of surfaces without the need of shoes and that he can be comfortable at the same time. Another positive is that I no longer have to worry about my horse ever losing a shoe! Obviously the money I have saved since being barefoot has meant that I have been able to take my horse on more outings and even a couple of competitions.

Horse Hoof Boots

Q5: Have you ever tried hoof boots? I have not tried hoof boots on my horse purely because I have not needed them as his feet are quite strong and able to cope with most surfaces. I have been looking at buying some Cavallo Trek’s, as recommended by my barefoot trimmer, as I wish to undertake more road work with my horse and feel this is likely to be the time that I will find a need for them.

Q6: Are your horse’s feet easy or difficult to keep? My horse’s feet are extremely easy to keep; he has a strong structure but I have found that the exercises I do and the feed he gets helps maintain them. Also having a knowledgeable trimmer helps.

Q7: How often do you get him trimmed and do you trim yourself? My horse is trimmed every six weeks by my barefoot trimmer. I have been on a day course with her to learn how to trim my horse’s feet myself. I am still undergoing training but hope to get to the stage that the trimmer’s visits become less frequent.

Q8: Can you describe the environment he lives in and what is in his diet? My horse is on a DIY livery yard and he is turned out in a small herd with three other horses. We are very lucky that we have all year turnout. During the summer months, he is out from about 7pm until 6.30am and is stabled during the day as there is no shelter from the sun. During the winter months he is stabled overnight and back out in his field from 6am until about 3pm. When my horse is stabled he is kept on Nedz Bed Pro and fed ad-lib hay. My horse’s hard feed consist of: Agrobs Muesli, Agrobs Pre Alpin Aspero, Micronized Linseed, Speedi Beet, Pro Balance, (Dobson and Horrell) Digestive Support, Turmeric, freshly ground Black Pepper and Glucosamine.

Q9: Would you recommend going barefoot? Why? I would definitely recommend barefoot to other horse owners and have done so, to two friends, who are now both barefoot. I find my horse is less likely to sustain injury from concussion that shoes often give. I feel that my horse is on a better diet which is more manageable to standard compound feeds and that he feels better for it. For me it is very cost effective but my priority is my horse.

What a wonderful success story!

horse hoof boots