Ex eventer with Ringbone

This is the story of ‘Gideon’ a 15.3hh 7/8 Thoroughbred 1/8 quarter horse who has been part of our ‘family’ for 3 ½ years. His diagnosis of ‘ringbone’ in October last year, and a chance meeting with a pair of talented and committed people, lead me and my horses onto the beginning of our barefoot journey.

Gideon started his career as an eventer, and had spent most of his life in shoes. I purchased him at 14 years of age for a trail riding / pleasure horse, and continued to keep him shod by a reputable farrier every 5 to 6 weeks. In 2006 I started to notice that he was a little ‘off’ at times: occasional short striding, often subtle, intermittent lameness and then he would be OK again. Things started to escalate to reluctance to go down hills, constant tail swishing, and head bobbing on tight circles. Alarm bells were ringing, and so I arranged for him to be investigated by a well respected equine veterinarian.

Xrays of his near left leg revealed severe ringbone. The vet pronounced him unrideable, and sent me home in a flood of tears ( with his set of 2 day old shoes still insitu), with no hope for recovery . I was resigned to the fact that Gideon would be a ‘paddock ornament’ and I would do whatever it would take to make his life as comfortable as possible.

gideon1About 3 weeks later we were fortunate enough to happen across a lecture about ‘barefoot trimming’ given by Andrew Bowe at the opening of a local equestrian centre. After Andrew had finished, I asked for his advice about my horse with ringbone. Much to my amazement, Andrew described every subtle feature I had observed in my horse’s behaviour over the past few months, without me having to say a thing. He did not promise me a magic cure, but he did offer to look at him the next day, and to pull his shoes. Andrew performed a set up trim, and sent us on our way with a simple set of instructions, not the least of which was to keep him moving.

Due to the absence of a local barefoot trimmer, I commenced trimming Gideon myself with the greatest degree of trepidation at this stage, while I waited to attend a barefoot trimming workshop with Equethy. There began a frenzy of information gathering and learning, including attending trimming workshops with Equethy and Andrew & Nicky Bowe, and reading everything I could get my hands on related to barefoot trimming. My career as a critical care nurse had taught me to use an evidence based approach, and I was certainly finding evidence, and plenty of it! Not only that, we had started barefooting 4 of our other horses and ponies with splendid results. Finally in February 2007 we had the shoes removed from our remaining 2 horses (in a flood of guilt that we’d not done it sooner) and we’ve never looked back.

Below: Left – Left fore during first trim Nov 2006. Right – Left fore after 3 months of  barefooting Mar 2007.


gideon3Gideon has been barefoot for  9 months now. I have been taking him for gentle trail rides in padded Easyboot Epics since February this year. He is no longer lame, he lands heel  first, and best of all, tears about the paddock with his mates like a young fella! Gideon does still have some of the muscular issues that had built up over many years of him being uncomfortable on his heels, and subsequently his stride is not always as free as I would like to see, but this will take time to resolve.

It is worth noting that I had been advised in the past , not to remove his shoes because his feet would “fall apart”. Gideon had white, flat feet that were always dry and cracked despite regular shoeing. Well, I am delighted to say that they are golden, waxy and healthier than I have ever seen them! We had no issues with chipping while his nail holes were growing out.  We noticed that the growth of his hoof escalated enormously after his shoes came off, and if I had contemplated leaving his feet more that 2 weeks between trims, it would have been too long.Gideon’s heels are still underrun, but they are gradually improving. He is no longer walking on the sides of the tubules, and his willingness to move tells me he must be feeling better! I am so grateful to Andrew & Nicky fortheir guidance along the way, and I would urge anyone and everyone with the necessary commitment, to learn everything they can about their horses’ feet and give barefooting a go. I have watched with delight as all 7 of our horses’ feet have improved. The results speak for themselves.

Kelly Crombie, Metung Victoria.



Left: front feet after first trim nov 2006

Right: front feet after 3 months Feb 2007