Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Tri-State (IA, WI, IL) area
My gelding 2-Pak, from the time he was 2 and was started riding until he was ten, we tried everything we could come up with to make his hooves strong and adapt them to the rocky terrain here, but he still stumbled around and refused to walk on gravel because they hurt his feet, and his hooves were always cracked, no matter how well we kept them trimmed. At ten, we finally decided to just start shoeing him. It hasn't solved all of his problems (he still can be a little ouchie on really rocky areas, and won't attempt anything beyond a walk on gravel, so we have to use hoof freeze to numb his feet.) but he's definitely better and happier.
My mare, Magic, came to us with badly split hooves... one front hoof is actually split in two places all the way to the hair line. We've tried keeping her well trimmed and her hooves conditioned, and finally our farrier suggested some shoes with clips on them, that will help hold the hoof together so it'll stop splitting and cracking. We just put her first shoes on her two days ago, so I couldn't tell you how well they'll work or not yet, but we've had the same farrier for quite a few years, and I trust his judgement.
Ruby has had shoes on before, to help with a crack she had in her hoof and then for sensitivity on rocks, but this year, we didn't shoe her, since she's mostly being ridden in a sandy arena and hasn't been too bothered by rocks.
Tanner we most likely won't shoe, and Bandit and Dante both have really hardy 'pony hooves' (like my farrier calls them) that usually don't need much more than the ocassional trim.
I say it depends on the horse. A lot of horses have basically had their hooves bred right out from under them, and some horses just need corrective shoeing. I've tried temporary shoes and, quite honestly, I can't say I'm impressed. Every temporary shoe we've had on 2-Pak, he's lost it, or destroyed it, or it rubbed his legs raw, and in the long run, it simply cost more and had more negative sides than regular shoes.