Is There a BETTER Way?


Mother Nature is showing her wild side this month! From my cosy chair I watch enormous evergreen trees dance a crazy jig in the high winds. Heavy rains create streams where streams have never flowed. Lightning and hail make me run for cover. Grass grows inches overnight daring us to bring out the lawnmower. There is the occasional day when the sun finds its way through the clouds but these days are few. The big pasture is so rich that I can't put Vanille out in its lushness. It's a dangerous time for a horse that is already overweight. She's happy enough in her pasture though, with room to gallop. She and Bella enjoy chasing each other which is a joy to watch.

Vanille is so wide that we've had to order a new piece for T'oti (palonier in french. swingletree in British english). The one that came with Toti is too narrow squishing Vanille with the traces. She looks like me in my jeans.

Tòti is wrapped up in a big blue tarp waiting for calmer days. I have been studying the possibility of keeping Vanille barefoot and at the same time researching harness possibilités. Vanille's collar has arrived from THE DRAFT HORSE SUPER STORE in Ohio. It's beautiful! We'll know next week if our measuring was done correctly. Sure hope it fits properly!

We have decided to order the bridle and harness from a Zilco distributor in France. It will be synthetic which is easy to keep clean.

Is there a better way than nailing iron shoes on Vanille's feet? This is the big question!

There are many different types of boots for horses as well as plastic shoes which are glued on. After reading all the information I can find, I prefer the POSSIBILITY of keeping her barefoot with proper trimming and care of her hooves and also to have Easy Boot Epic for her front feet close at hand in case there is a problem when travelling.

This is an excellent article from 2006, take a look at

Is “Barefoot” an Option for Your Draft Horse? 1-10-06 Pete Ramey

In addition to a constant conversation about hooves and harness and feeding of the “easy keeper”, Jean François has been sending me internet links to study. He is researching in depth other possibilities than metal shoes for our horses. He contacted a young man who only works on barefoot horses. This passionate and extremely competent man spent several hours trimming Vanille's hooves properly, explaining everything and answering questions. That was 13 May. Since he trimmed her feet I have been taking her out each day on a lead line and walking her on gravel and pavement for 15 minutes to slowly help her become accustomed to rough surfaces. The first few days she reacted as I might do if I took my shoes off in the summer to walk barefoot, but now she is walking normally on all kinds of surface. We will begin long reining her in a few days. There is so much to explain that I prefer you read the internet information at the bottom of this posting if you are interested. As for Vanille, we are watching her carefully. Since she will not be working every day, it will be much better if we can avoid metal shoes. We are still studying, watching and learning. Patience is important as it will take time to know if this is possible or not.


English names for the bottom of the horsés hoof

Vanille's hoof, 16,5 wide

We have had Vanille here with us every day since November. Our understanding of each other and the communication between us has grown enormously. It takes time to develop trust and we are doing great! However respect from both of us must always be present!


Interesting reading on the internet:


AND….an excellent video if you want to know if your horse is at its proper weight




About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
This entry was posted in Art, barefoot draft horse, Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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