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To Shoe or Not To Shoe
 By Artista   •   11th Jan 2011   •   3,019 views   •   13 comments
New shoes ~If you're a horse owner, you are undoubtedly familiar with that empty space in your wallet where your money used to be after the farrier comes. What do your farrier bills run? How do you know your farrier is competent? Does your horse need shoes?

Consider this.
Horse shoes were developed by human beings, circa the medieval ages (developed shortly after the stirrup.) They came into play because horses had very short life spans during these times – they were kept in squalor with pigs, cattle, and sheep and their feet suffered because of it. Since then of course, our horses have gone on to become well-maintained pets, in clean stalls, heated barns, and well-kept pastures in corrals. So then, why do we still use the metal shoe in todays horse world?

The answer is manyfold and complicated. How old is the horse? How long has it been shod? Is it on a strenuous competition circuit? Does it have “weak feet?” Does it get driven on hard surfaces, or live in an area of profuse moisture?

The process of barefoot shoeing starts with pulling the shoes (of course!).

This period is known as the “transition period” where the new, stronger hoof is allowed to grow while the old hoof is shed and trimmed away.

This is also the period of close monitoring done by farriers and horse owners, as it's a sensitive period for the horse; being driven over hard surfaces or running in competitive sport is out of the question. It's a period of mixed lameness and soudness (though, devices like the Swiss Boot can make the transition period very smooth, as it both protects the hoof and allows it to “flex” as it would naturally, without a metal shoe.)

Every time we put a shoe on a horse, we weaken the natural wall that protects the sensitive interior. Driving nails through the wall of the hoof is much like biting your fingernails; they come back weaker and weaker every time. Furthermore, horses that wear metal shoes lose the circulation that horses without shoes have. They also need special tendon care as they can often kick themselves with their metal shoes and cause serious injuries.

However, shoeing is also a very common practice, usually with best intentions in mind. For one, horses with shoes can travel rough terrain longer than horses without them. They can also compete in courses like stadium jumping, where shoes with metal inserts and cork “traction” gives them more of an advantage than nature intended. Horses that live in wet conditions also benefit from the shoe for the same reason the horses of the knights did, many years before them. Sometimes, when it comes to shoeing horses, the benefits can often outweigh the risks. However, it's always best to keep the interest of the horse in mind, and examine all possible angles.

So the it's up to you – to shoe, or not to shoe?
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Artista
ImaCoolCowgirl  
Ever since I got my Quarter horses they have never been shod....I did see these really neat boot like things that substitute for shoes but that can be taken on and off!! I rode a horse that wore them once ant it was so cool!!
  Jan 11, 2011  •  1,890 views
 
Madeirey  
For me its no shoe. My pony would probaly buck me off if I shoed her!
  Jan 11, 2011  •  1,886 views
 
weezapony  
most of the horses where I ride aren't shod, and it works great for them. It all just depends on the horse and what you're doing with them. Good article!
  Jan 11, 2011  •  1,887 views
 
Pintie  
Well, I never really had a choice when it came to shoe my pony. He was kicked out because of the owner never paying The bill. So, if he had shoes, they were taken off and he had to rough it out. But, Chip hooves are trimmed as needed, and I get out therenat least twice a week, and pick hose hooves, so his feet are well cared for.
  Jan 11, 2011  •  1,902 views
 
ForcesOfNature  
Since my horses are ridden in competition I oretty much dont have a choice when it comes to shoeng. My horse needs the extra traction to perform in the show ring. Also being ridden 4-6x a week can be do damage on an unshod hoof.

That being said every winter I take shoes off my horses. They are not being ridden as much and shows are few and far between. No reason to keep shoes on a horse if it isn't being used.

My retired show horse wore shoes every show season for 15 years, now he is barefoot all the time. My three year old also is barefoot, but this show season he will have to wear front shoes. If he starts jumping I will most likely have to put back shoes on him as well.

I totally agree that a horses foot is happier with no shoes. They get better circulation and the hoof quality is better.
  Jan 12, 2011  •  1,983 views
 
Suffolk Rose Stables  
Great Article!
My horse is shoed only when we plan to do hours of ride time in the hills, or just lots of riding. She has weak walls, and is always chipping. so we just shoe her when We work her a lot. if not they come off as soon as they are ready. And she is the only one shoed. Because the others have great feet
  Jan 12, 2011  •  1,989 views
 
Winny the Poo  
My Horse Does Not Wear Shoes. My Horse Does Not Need Shoes Because We Don't Ride On Pavement Or The Road All The Time. So, He Doesnt Need Shoes
  Jan 12, 2011  •  1,910 views
 
No Walkin Farms9  
Great article. I'll keep this all in mind should I ever be able to actually own a horse. The horse I rode for many years at my neighbors never wore horses. She didn't like them. The farrier would come put them on and she'd find ways of taking them off. And it doesn't seem to hurt her when we ride her without shoes so her owners just decided to stop spending the money.
  Jan 12, 2011  •  1,893 views
 
Dark Star  
my horse needs hoof supplements, so he must have shoes on all the time, so I can't ride in the snow or it hurts his legs (due to ice packing into his shoes). His hooves are constantly cracking and splitting without them
  Jan 12, 2011  •  1,885 views
 
halfbrokehorses  
we just got eggbar shoes on our horse today but so when it gets colder his abscess doesnt come back again
  Jan 13, 2011  •  1,918 views
 
Crz4Horses  
For me, the answer is "To Shoe". Personally,I think that though shoeing isnt what nature intended, neither is riding! Horses in the wild obviously don't (or didn't) need shoes because they were ridden daily, or even weekly, not even at all, so of course, there was no reason to shoe, but we have taken them into an alien enviroment and began riding them heavily! So of course their feet need some help!
  Jan 14, 2011  •  1,908 views
 
Seven Sins  
i think needing shoes depends on the horse, my QH never needs them, but the thoroughbred i had did
  Jan 31, 2011  •  1,891 views
 
Little Bitty Farm  
Great article!
  May 9, 2011  •  2,065 views
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