This barefoot school takes a whole-horse approach to education and hoof care.

Chris Jonason first tried bare hoof trimming 11 years ago, after purchasing a Kiger Mustang. The AFA certified farrier started by shoeing her horse, but the quality of his feet, which had never previously been shod, went from great to poor. Chris tried other shoes and a few new farrier styles in an effort to achieve a better hoof, but she eventually returned him to barefoot. Once the shoes were pulled and the barefoot trimming began, the mustang’s feet started to regain their original shape, density and hardness. After witnessing such a successful transformation, Chris decided to transition her entire herd of horses to barefoot, and they’ve remained that way ever since, even for endurance rides.

Opportunities for learning

Inspired by her success with her own horses, Chris participated in clinics with Pete Ramey and other practitioners and soon had four apprentices of her own. She began to realize there was a need for a more comprehensive trimming program that would be similar to a traditional farrier program.

Chris founded the Bare Hoof School in 2013 on her 80-acre Rendezvous Ranch in Cashmere, Washington. It sits at the base of the Cascade Mountains and provides a beautiful scenic environment in which to enjoy all types of programs. The ranch hosts the five-week Bare Hoof School, Mountain Trail clinics, Women In The Wilderness clinics, Dressage clinics and lessons. Chris is a certified Mountain Trail Instructor and loves to guide clients through any of the experiences at the ranch.

A whole horse approach

The school doesn’t just teach trimming, because a whole horse approach is necessary for the successful barefoot horse. “Barefoot or Natural Hoof Care is essentially the art and science of trimming horses’ hooves to a state close to how they would be in the wild,” explains Chris. “The starting point to going barefoot is maintaining healthy, well-functioning and properly-formed feet, free from nail-on shoes. From there we can move forward to establishing a holistic discipline, which considers diet, pasturing, equipment, training and bodywork. Barefoot trimming is also used to assist in rehabilitating horses with postural and structural problems. Going barefoot requires both commitment from owners and education from well-trained practitioners.”

In addition to teaching the most up-to-date trimming techniques and standards, the school educates students on safe tool use, horse handling techniques, and how to set up a small business. “We use a holistic approach to equine care which seeks to respect and mimic the horse’s natural setting in the wild as the focal point of our curriculum,” says Chris. As such, the five-week course also focuses on homeopathy, herbal remedies, bodywork, nutrition, training, and environmental considerations. Chris works with other instructors and professionals to offer students a broad education on trimming and training, and incorporates field trips and guest lectures.