horse hoof shoes

Horse hoof shoes out in the open, horses naturally maintain their hoof growth by roaming roughly 25 miles each day, traversing diverse terrains.

Yet, our domesticated companions are spared the need for constant travel in search of sustenance, leading humans to devise horseshoes.

Now, let’s delve into why your horse might benefit from wearing them…

About your horse’s hoof

Did you know?

Your horse’s hoof shares its composition with a rhino’s horn!

Containing keratin, the same protein present in nails and hair, horse hooves grow swiftly, emphasizing the necessity for proper care.

The age-old adage “no foot, no horse” underscores the importance of maintaining healthy hooves for your equine companion’s welfare.

It’s imperative to provide correct hoof care for your horse. Here are some essential steps you can take:

  • Nourishing your four-legged companion with the perfect diet.
  • Clearing out their hooves on a daily basis.
  • Scheduling routine visits with the farrier.
  • Applying hoof dressings approved by the farrier periodically.

Your horse’s hoof structure facilitates the incredible activities you both relish, whether it’s dashing through fields or navigating a jumping course.

Within the hoof, there are distinct sensitive and insensitive regions.

horse hoof shoes

The triangular ‘frog,’ resembling a flattened frog, is both robust and pliable, serving as a vital hub for circulation and a cushion against shocks. In contrast, the ‘outer wall’ of the hoof is insensitive, akin to our fingernails.

Basic shoeing process

Please note: Important: The shoeing procedure outlined below pertains to a specific farriery practice in the UK and may vary depending on the unique requirements of each horse.

The individual tasked with shoeing your horse is known as a farrier, an artisan with a lineage that predates the Romans!

Step 1: The farrier begins by meticulously inspecting your horse’s hooves, assessing their overall health and condition with a trained eye akin to a skilled detective surveying a crime scene. With practiced hands, they deftly trim the hooves, sculpting them to perfection much like a sculptor chiseling away at a block of marble to reveal a masterpiece. Once the hooves are trimmed to the ideal length, the farrier employs precision instruments to take meticulous measurements, ensuring a bespoke fit for the new shoe, akin to a tailor crafting a custom suit for a discerning client.

Step 2: To cater to your horse’s unique requirements, the farrier employs either the ‘hot shoeing’ method, where shoes are heated and shaped precisely to fit the hooves, or the ‘cold shoeing’ technique, which involves shaping shoes by hammering them into place horse hoof shoes.

Cold shoeing is recommended for young horses, those sensitive to the smoke produced by hot shoeing, and horses prone to anxiety during the shoeing procedure due to previous encounters.

Step 3: Lastly, the farrier secures the shoe onto your horse’s hoof using nails. With precision and caution, they ensure that the nails are firmly placed in the insensitive outer area of the hoof before tidying up both the hoof and the horseshoe.

Reasons your horse might need shoes

Just as every person possesses unique characteristics, each horse has its own individual requirements as well. While some horses benefit from wearing shoes, others may not require them at all.

1.) Roadwork

If your horse’s exercise regimen involves roadwork, they may be prone to experiencing concussion, potentially resulting in discomfort (think of it like ‘percussion’—if you continually strike a drum, it can lead to a headache!).

Additionally, extensive roadwork can accelerate the wear and tear on your horse’s hooves. While varying the surfaces your horse exercises on is preferable, having them fitted with shoes by a skilled farrier can mitigate the adverse effects of roadwork.

Other surfaces your horse could be exercised on to reduce the impact of roadwork include:

horse hoof shoes

2.) Hacking along stony bridlepaths 

Do you and your horse relish exploring new bridle paths? Stony or uneven terrain can accelerate the breakdown of your horse’s hooves. Wearing shoes can shield hooves from the rigors of challenging landscapes.

3.) Conformation

Every horse is stunning in its own right, though some may possess minor leg conformation issues that could potentially lead to long-term lameness. Skilled farriers possess the expertise to fashion custom shoes tailored to alleviate much of the discomfort stemming from these unique anatomical traits.

4.) Naturally brittle hooves

For certain horses and their caregivers, dealing with brittle and crumbling hooves can pose a significant challenge.

Despite diligent hoof care, some horses still suffer from easily damaged hooves. Weather fluctuations exacerbate the issue, with dry summers and wet winters rendering them susceptible to conditions like hoof abscesses.

While shoes may not always be the ideal remedy for horses with brittle hooves, your trusted farrier will offer recommendations tailored to your horse’s specific needs, ensuring their well-being remains the top priority.

5.) Recovery from illness or injury

Horses recovering from illnesses such as laminitis or injuries that impact their hooves may require custom-designed shoes to aid their rehabilitation.

Tailored to the individual horse’s needs, remedial shoes offer targeted support precisely where it’s needed most.

Does it hurt to have horseshoes fitted ?

As previously mentioned, each hoof of your equine companion comprises both sensitive and insensitive areas. The sensation experienced when a shoe is applied is akin to tapping the tip of your fingernails. While horses can detect vibrations from the hammer driving nails into the insensitive portions of the hoof, they should not experience any discomfort horse hoof shoes.

Research on shoeing horses spans thousands of years, with ongoing efforts to refine techniques. Farriers undergo rigorous four-year training programs to master the safe and precise fitting of shoes onto horses without causing harm.

In the UK, all farriers must be qualified and registered with the Farriers Registration Council (FRC), ensuring a high standard of expertise and professionalism in the field.

horse hoof shoes

How often do horseshoes need to be replaced ?

It takes approximately 12 months for a hoof to fully renew, your horse’s hooves grow about a quarter of an inch each month!

Therefore, farrier appointments typically occur every 6-8 weeks, although this frequency can vary based on the unique requirements of each horse.

Your horse’s shoes fit properly, are securely fastened, and that the hoof hasn’t outgrown the shoe is crucial. If your equine companion appears to be in discomfort due to their shoes, it’s vital to promptly contact your farrier or veterinarian for assistance horse hoof shoes.

Are there different types of horseshoes ?

Indeed, the world of horseshoes is diverse and multifaceted. Take, for instance:

  • Traditional concave steel shoes, commonly utilized for the majority of riding horses.
  • Featherweight aluminum shoes, favored among racehorses for their agility and speed.
  • Heartbar shoes, specially designed to provide crucial heel support for horses in need.
  • Polymer shoes, tailored for the tender needs of delicate hooves.

Only your farrier or vet will be able to advise as to the best type of shoe for your horse. 

Explore the wide array of horseshoe options with Brook Vets’ comprehensive guide. If you’re considering alternatives to traditional shoeing methods, check out our informative article on the topic.

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