Having been following various folks and the ‘barefoot thing’ for 12+ years now, the only rule I have found is to be willing to break just about everybody’s rules, because there is a horse who is going to need you to in order to find their best foot.
That being said–I tend to adopt most of Pete Ramey‘s method, if you have to label my style.
I say mindset over method because many assume that, to go barefoot, all they have to do is change the feet. This is NOT the case; your horse will not transition through trim alone.
Diet, environment, movement, and trim work together in synergy to create the barefoot performance horse. We are aiming towards the wild horse model in all ways, not simply their feet.
This means, ideally:
- 24/7 turnout in a herd environment where everyone moves constantly;
- a forage-based diet of low sugar hays such as bermuda and teff, fed in such a way as to mimic grazing (such as slow feeder nets);
- minimal concentrates (grains);
- exercise over varied terrain to provide abrasion and stimulation to the hoof;
- and a vitamin/mineral supplement to counteract one of the main nutritional issues we face, which is excess iron.
Poor quality hoof rarely needs ‘hoof supplements’–it needs basic nutrition, less sugar, and copper and zinc. Copper and zinc work together to balance out iron. In much of the US, and most certainly in the Southwest region, we have hard water. Our horses drink hard water and eat hay grown with hard water. We have plenty of iron! (If you feed Red Cell, you’re doing your horse a grave disservice.)
My first suggestion to anyone, no matter what they do with their horse’s feet, is get them off the alfalfa, on to a low-sugar forage diet, feed minimal concentrates, and supplement with either California Trace Plus or Horsetech’s Arizona Copper Complete. If you have a horse that needs a concentrate, I have found that Purina Ultium works well–you don’t need much to get results, it’s very palatable, and easily purchased. Otherwise, just feed hay pellets to give your supplements. Chances are your hard-keeper TB will flourish and your air fern pony will slim down.