A huge number of bloggers keep their horses barefoot with pictures of healthy hooves, sound horses, and even competition results to go along with them. Of course, there are plenty of you out there who do the same with shod horses, but...
Izzy spends most of her time barefoot, in general. I like it because it's cheap and I'm poor. She got front shoes on this summer because she was not dealing well with flood irrigation and the ridiculously rocky footing we have in the desert. In theory, I'm fine with this. I wholeheartedly believe that some horses can go barefoot and some can't, and there's no point in worrying too much about it one way or the other.
Here's the kicker--while I will never pretend to be any sort of high performance athlete, I do run to keep myself fit to be a rider. I have found that I am at my best when using the very least in footwear--minimalist shoes that allow me to feel "barefoot" while protecting me from the hazards of an urban environment. I am more balanced, have better posture, am more comfortable, and am far more aware of how I am using my feet and my body.
Furthermore, Andrea mentioned some months ago that in her observation, horses were frequently more clumsy when shod, to the tune of tripping and stumbling more often. At the time, I wrote it off as circumstantial evidence from a biased observer (sorry), but that was when my mare was barefoot and almost never tripped on anything.
On to the past month. We still have nasty, rocky footing. Izzy is fine walking over the rocks in her shoes, but when we work, I've noticed that she tends to trip a LOT more than before. Yes, the footing is crap, but it's been crap all along. It's just that now her ground feel and feedback is reduced that she's begun having problems.
There is an obvious solution to this: pull the shoes. This is what I'd do this time of year anyways. The only problem is that as of 11/1/11, Izzy and I are moving in with beloved event trainer to spend 6 months working hard. That is exactly two weeks from now. (OMG 2 weeks from this very second I will be with my pony at the barn!!!!)
Two weeks simply does not seem like enough time to try and re-transition Izzy to barefoot in preparation for a serious training regime over presumably also-rocky terrain. In fact, it seems rather hair-brained. I'm going to contact my (very pro-barefoot) farrier and get an opinion, but I'd like some thoughts from you guys, too. How long would it take to successfully switch a shod horse back to barefoot? Have you done it? Are you currently (or have you in the past) dealt with barefoot performance horses?
Am I completely insane to even think about this? My plan was to stay in shoes for 6 months, then go back to barefoot when we moved back to our current barn, but 6 months is sounding like a long time of a stumbly horse.
If you have a barefoot horse with occasional tenderfoot issues, how have you dealt with it? Please, share your thoughts. Obviously, if I'm going to move on this, it needs to be sooner rather than later.
World's most beautiful big mare appreciates your opinions.