Horse shoeing

HorseshoeHorseshoeRegarding the topic horse shoeing we can say only little - all our horses walk barehoof! But step by step: Who has his horses shoed should be aware of the fact that he restricts the effect of the hoof mechanism of his animals. To minimize this effect horse shoes are indeed nailed at the front only and not edgewise by the farrier, however this limitation is still present. Consequentially you should conclude that a horse should walk barehoof if possible and should be shoed only if this is compulsory required. If you take a look at the status quo you will observe that most of all horses are shoed - why is this? Well, probably there's a hole lot of reasons for this:

  • There are horses that have poor hoof horn simply by their strains or disposition. You probably cannot avoid shoes in this case.
  • If I move my horse a lot on bad terrain, e. g. as a coach horse predominantly on tarmack, then shoes are mostly unavoidable, too.
  • Many a horse constantly stands in a poorly mucked out box, maybe even with a matress litter. The extensively formed ammonia by the plenty dung affects the hoof horn, it gets soft and crumbly. This could be remedied by relocating the horse, e. g. into a clean paddock box. After a while (~½ year) the hoof horn has grown back in better quality and the shoes could be removed. The owner probably has to be accused of the fact that this doesn't happen.
  • Unfortunately a couple of farrier still have only little experience with barehoof walkers. On occasion the horses are trimmed in a way that the hoof must develop quarter cracks unavoidably, e. g. because notch forces build up at the walls. Or shoes are adviced generally and undifferentiatedly, or the shoe is beeing justified by the correction of a malposition. To correct a malposition you could equally well trim the hoof itself so that the horse is corrected, right*? And consider that a shoed hoof wears off unevenly during the usage time of a shoe! At the front due to the fixation by the nailing only little up to not at all, further behind the wall abrades onto the shoes's steel and wears up due to the constrained functional hoof mechanism. The hoof positioning thus changes over usage time, the hoof tilts towards the rear and has to be retrimmed with every new shoe.
  • Then there's the category of the impatient owner. If the hores wore shoes for a very long time the hoof substance often is of deficient quality. The haptic stimulus for the horn growth is missing and nature shuts down its efforts. If you remove the shoes at first horn will rupture and the owner states "It doesn't work with my horse". Instead it should say be be patient and ride the horse less or on a soft ground only for a while. After about ½ year sturdy horn has grown down from the coronet band and the brittle hoofs come to an end. Maybe you'll be additionally plagued by stable colleagues during this time how you could mistreat your horse that way. Then it's time to stay factual and show self-confidence Hier heißt es sachlich bleiben und Selbstbewußtsein beweisen.
  • And least there's the cause nescience. Many owners simply didn't worry yet about the topic, "All horses wear shoes, so mine will do as well. And my farrier also says that befits." We can only recommend as a general guideline here: Fight nescience! I want to understand what I do/let do with my horse and want to have it motivated logically and feasibly. Besides it has to fit into a larger sensual interrelationship - the art of riding. If that's not given I'll try to get to them bottom of things and take a look whether someone is capable to fortify a statement with raison d'être.

After all maybe with these words in mind one or another decides to give the barehoof a try with his horse. Besides the unrestricted hoof mechanism barehoof horses have  the advantage of a significantly lower risk of injuries during small scuffles happening on and off in an open stable.


* Of course this isn't 100% correct! Consider for example a hoof that is too flat-angled and would need to be angled steeper. In case of a barefoot it's needless to say that this can be achieved only by shortenig the toe. However, if this already lacks the available material so that after shortening the horse would be lame you have an implementation problem. In case of shoeing on the contrary, instead of removing substance at the front you could prop up the rear with a suitable shoe. Shoeing therefore offers more possibilities for a correction that barehooves and thus by all means there are situations/hoof problems that make shoeing rather unavoidable, at least for the time of the correction to be performed.

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This page was last modified on 19/01/2015 from Sabine Brockamp