Should I shoe or not? - Page 2

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Should I shoe or not?

This is a discussion on Should I shoe or not? within the Horse Grooming forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    12-15-2013, 08:04 PM
A lot of horses will do equally well with or without shoes as long as the farrier or trimmer knows what they're doing. (There are a surprising number out there who don't, though, and I'm finding that I pretty much need to learn to trim myself to know whether or not my horse's feet are being done correctly!) It's usually cheaper to have the horse barefoot.

As others have said, some horses really do need shoes to be comfortable and sound. I don't believe a properly applied shoe causes harm, so I can understand that a lot of people seem to err on the side of "caution" and leave shoes on, or are so used to seeing shod horses only that they don't realize that shoes may not be necessary for a horse in work.
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    12-15-2013, 08:13 PM
Some horses need them and some don't.. I always shoe show horses. Ask your shoe guy.
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    12-16-2013, 05:23 AM
Sometimes shoes are a necessary evil.

There are hoof boots available (a whole variety) if you don't want to shoe. Expensive in the beginning but will pay for themselves in the long run compaired to shoeing cost. They must fit well and are applied before riding and removed afterwards. I only shoe when I need to. I have used the Easy boot (the modern ones work even better) with the Gator application with success. There are various good ones out there though to choose from.

If you show you might have to shoe for I am not sure if shows allow hoof boots.
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    12-16-2013, 06:46 AM
I would ask your farrier what he thinks if your horse's hooves are strong enough and the terrain is all right ect.
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    12-16-2013, 11:24 AM
Talk to your farrier--if they are knowledgable they should be able to give you an answer.

Personally, I'm with Skyseternalangel. If my horse doesn't need them, they aren't on.
My boy is shod on all four feet because he needs them /shrug
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    12-16-2013, 03:15 PM
Originally Posted by Meadow    
I have been wondering this for a while. Some say not to, some say you need to. But it is rather expensive and I know it really depends on your ground, but will it help or cause problems down the road?
"down the road" being shod causes more problems than being unshod could hope to create. I've spent more time fixing feet that where shod than anything else that has to do with a horse.

No horse "needs" to be shod. They just need to have feet that are conditioned to hard terrain. That's been proven for a LONG time. The problem people run into is trying to do things without first preparing the horse's feet. If you have a horse that is shod to "protect" it's feet all your doing is preventing the foot for functioning properly (e.g. Food is unable to expand under weight and blood flow is reduced) and preventing the foot for becoming conditioned for the ground you want to ride on. I won't go into the host of problems that tend to be all too common with having a horse shod (and too often not even noticed....e.g. Constricted heels)

I ride on the road all the time. Have for over 40 years with any horse we had. Granted I had to condition many of them for doing a lot of miles on a road, but once done it's not a problem. Gordon Naysmith (I might have the last name spelled wrong) rode unshod from south Africa to around central Europe back in the early 70's. (I shudder to think of what he was told and/or called by people when he did that)

Science and even logic disproves the some can and some can't go unshod. The hoof of every horse is made of the same material. Different pigments, but same material. If it's condition it will hold up.

Start out slow with short rides on hard ground (e.g. Paved roads work, but you can move to harder surfaces too). If you ride daily you can increase the distance after some weeks which can be gaged by the level of wear (e.g. .25 miles to .5 miles, but that's a small amount unless the horse has been on really soft ground or has been shod so that the feet are basically "soft" and would need a slower start). A softer hoof will wear more at first but eventually you'll notice a reduction in the wear. Do not over do it, as that will wear the hoof down to much (to the sole) and force you to take a week off from hard ground to let the hoof grow out enough.
As you do this you'll find the feet will wear and require less trimming and more of just touch up now and then. As they become more conditioned and toughen up they'll wear less unless you ride more. If you keep at it the hoof can become so tough that it's not worth trying to use a hoof knife on it and they only become useful for the bars and frog.

In my teenage days (long ago) even my white mare's feet (whom everyone except my family members (none of our horses were shod) told me I had to shoe because "white feet are soft" (rubbish) ended up with feet tough enough to ride on the highway 5-15+ miles a day 3-6 days a week depending on where we were going to be that day. But that was true of all our horses (I just had the only white one....who's hoof was supposedly to "soft" )

If the need arises that you need to ride on hard surfaces a significant amount before the feet are ready I'd suggest trying boots. They protect the foot better than a shoe (it's really tough to get a stone bruise in boots and shoes don't protect against that) and allow the foot to continue functioning properly (just doesn't allow for continued conditioning). And unlike a shoe you can use them for day take them off then use them again if the need arises again. Allowing you to continue working on conditioning in the mean time.
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    12-16-2013, 03:26 PM
Oh, and asking a farrier if horses need shoes is like asking a pig farmer if people should eat pork, how a chicken farmer if people should eat chicken or a vegan if people shouldn't eat meat. See how many automobile mechanics you can find who think that the use of automobiles should be abandoned and we should switch to man and animal powered transportation (e.g. Bicycles, horses, etc....)

No one who makes money doing something is going to say that it isn't needed (and certainly isn't going to admit that it's a problem )
    12-17-2013, 04:23 PM
Originally Posted by its lbs not miles    
Oh, and asking a farrier if horses need shoes is like asking a pig farmer if people should eat pork, how a chicken farmer if people should eat chicken or a vegan if people shouldn't eat meat. See how many automobile mechanics you can find who think that the use of automobiles should be abandoned and we should switch to man and animal powered transportation (e.g. Bicycles, horses, etc....)

No one who makes money doing something is going to say that it isn't needed (and certainly isn't going to admit that it's a problem )
Actually, I just had my horse's shoes pulled based off my farrier's opinion that he would benefit from it. An ethical farrier will recommend what he truly believes is best for the horse (whether he's right or not is another story)
    12-17-2013, 05:12 PM
Originally Posted by verona1016    
Actually, I just had my horse's shoes pulled based off my farrier's opinion that he would benefit from it. An ethical farrier will recommend what he truly believes is best for the horse (whether he's right or not is another story)
I'm happy that your farrier recommended that.

The statement was asking a farrier "if horses need shoes".
I'm sure there are plenty of farriers who might say that a specific horse might not need shoes. That's probably why so many people believe that some do and some don't (the reality being that none do). Shoeing horses was something that came out of Europe. None of the great horse societies of history had shod horses. Ever wonder why feral horses (e.g. Mustangs and Brumbies) don't have terribly messed up feet? And they range over some pretty rough terrain, but the poor, neglected creatures don't have anyone to put shoes on them. (unless they get caught and returned to a domestic state). OH, it must be domestication that makes them need shoes.
A farrier would not be a farrier if he didn't believe that horses need shoes. If they didn't believe that they wouldn't be putting shoes on a horse .
They'd recommend that all horses remain unshod (since it's what's healthy for the foot) and tell you how to best care for and prepare the foot for the ground you plan to ride on.
And for those who want to use the farriers answer that "there are cases when shoeing is necessary" for treating things like severe laminitis, well, that special shoeing isn't actually necessary either. In fact, especially with all the things available today, shoeing isn't required. E.g. Cases with coffin bone penetration have been successfully treated without the horse being shod. Other ways can allow checking the progress up close as often as desired without having to pull shoes and put them back on and does not damage to the hoof (which, however slight someone might want to argue it is, nails always damage or degrade (use whichever you prefer ) the hoof. Law of physics still applies )

Everyone has the right to do what they want to their own horse. So for those who want to believe that some or even all horse need shoes...knock yourselves out. It's your horse and no one is likely to stop you from doing it (no one's going to stop you from smoking either, but it doesn't change the fact that it's harmful).

I've never had mine shod, but that was at first the result of my family never keeping shod horses. Later I learned more about equine feet medically (along with the more information about their digestive system and why we never fed grain, but that's a different topic although it can end up as a foot issue). There have certainly been some that had been shod that required time to fix and make the foot right again.
I also don't fix the feet on someone's horse(s) if they are going to have them shod again. What would be the point? It's like saving a condemned man so he can be hanged a few days later . I let them go to a farrier. They and the farrier both happy and I'm not stressed over it.
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    12-17-2013, 10:30 PM
I guess for the sake of the OP, who really just wants to know for the well being of her horse I'll provide a piece of the tip of the ice berg on having unshod horses vs shod. Expecting anyone to just take my word for it is really expecting a leap of faith (especially when farriers and even some vets...including mine back in the 70's...might be telling you different. Personally I don't really care if anyone believes me. I have enough people who do because of the feet I've worked on, but I'm by no means that best at all of it. They just keep coming to me because of the results and I don't charge for my work (I do it for the horse so long as it will remain unshod and that's always been enough for me) There are many studies that have been done, but you can dig them up for yourselves.

I do however want to give the OP some source of information to start with and hopefully help them see that shoeing really isn't the best thing. I've selected a person who had a tough fight to over come the traditional mindset of dealing with horses in Germany (you'd have to understand the Deutsch mentality about horses). Dr Hiltrud Strasser.

I'm sure there are loads of things out there. Here's a link to just one thing. It covers more, but I'm posting it mainly because it gives examples of repairing severely damaged feet on horses that were going to be put down (i.e. Not even shoeing could save them). It is likely that being shod led to this, but they were saved unshod.

Dr Hiltrud Strasser and Her Holistic Hoof Care Method - Academia Artivm Didacticvm Eqviorvm in Liberti

I'll also post two VERY short clips showing in slow motion the impact of a shod horses foot on pavement and the same thing for an unshod horse. What you want to look at is the foot (you'll be drawn to the flexing of the leg, but look at the foot). You'll see the shod foot does not allow any expansion or flexing of the foot (which is needed) since the shoe holds it rigidly in place and really has little traction as it slides slightly. The unshod foot lands pretty solid with good contact and thus is able to expand (although you won't be able to actually detect the not slow enough and not close enough).

Lastly I'd like to give a slight example of how long it's been known that horses functioning on any terrain is subject to the feet being conditioned and prepared. If you've never heard of Xenophon he was the leader of the Greek Cav over 2,000 years ago. Some attribute the him with the saying "no hoof no horse". But he had much more to say (most people just don't read it ). This will be rather paraphrased, but he also noted that the hardness of the ground that horse lives on will determine how hard the hoof is and thus how much it will wear. So even over 2,000 years ago they knew that a horse that spent time being conditioned to hard ground could stand up to being worked on that ground (without being shod). If you've ever been to Greece you know just how hard and rugged the land is there.
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