To shoe or not to shoe?
   

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To shoe or not to shoe?

This is a discussion on To shoe or not to shoe? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Are horses with light colored hooves more likely to need shoes?
  • Bracken gelding

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    10-18-2011, 05:03 PM
  #1
Foal
To shoe or not to shoe?

Hi all, my horse is about 15.2hh, 4year old gelding on light work. He will tip toe over small stones when ridden, go weeks and weeks without needing a trim..

He is a little flat footed, and it's never bothered either of us working, I just have always has this question in my head 'to shoe or not to shoe'

Sometimes he will get a touch of thrush in his front foot. I catch it immediately and it's gone the next day. Hooves picked when needed, but are looked at everyday. He has had a crack jn his back hoof since I got him. Farrier said it wasn't anything to worry about as it's just a surface thing, but see if it goes Amy deeper.. Recently the farrier cut in to the bottom to create an upside down v so there was no pressure on the crack to make it go any worse. But his hoof looks a bit bruised.( been bruised since he done the crack, possibly galloped on a large stone or kicked a fence ??) the severity of the bruise has gone but it looks a pale pink on a wider scale.

Bracken is brushing his back legs in the field, but not ridden. ( bruising in on the outside of his hoof) and he is also over reaching. I was turning him out with over reach boots on, but the daft thing lost 1!!! And I have no idea how!!!

If I can I will upload images of his foot/frog.

I only ask because he is coming to be due a trim soon and I am thinking of a barefoot trimmer. She very good and been recommended via a few people on my yard. She has also seen bracken and said he has good feet. But to me it looks as though the underside of his foot has changed shape with depth an flatness.. ( hacking in the area is road work)

Comments? Xxx
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    10-18-2011, 05:29 PM
  #2
Trained
It totally depends on the horse, where you ride, and who you ask.

If he were mine, I would put shoes on him because of the rocks that I ride on. All the bruising would go away and he would do great.
Other people think that shoes are terrible.
My horses do much better with shoes than without them.

Now I will go hide from the coming assault by the bare-foot Nazi's......
     
    10-18-2011, 05:38 PM
  #3
Weanling
I prefer to keep my horse barefoot, but if I was doing a lot of riding on gravel or hard surfaces, I would have her shod. Her feet are good and strong, and the majority of our riding surfaces are soft arena footing or natural trail/grass.

I'd consult with a farrier that is experienced in both shod and barefoot horses. S/he could give you the best, most unbiased opinion for your horse, without pushing one or the other.
     
    10-18-2011, 09:19 PM
  #4
Started
I prefer not to shoe. Even riding on rocks and gravel all my horses are fine barefoot. Not only that but I honestly can't really afford to shoe if I don't absolutely have to. My TB was always fine barefoot after I pulled her shoes when I got her, then in April I moved her where I take lessons and had the farrier that they use trim her, since then she is a little tender on rocks so I got her boots, tonight tho I rode her for the first time in a long time without boots and she was 100% normal on rocks again
     
    10-18-2011, 09:56 PM
  #5
Trained
A lot of it could depend on the horse.
My mare is tender on rocks. I don't want to have to baby her and use boots.
She went over three years without shoes; when I started riding her heavily, she had problems. As long as I keep her shoes in good shape, she is 100% sound.
It would, of course, be a lot more economical just to trim her. I am happy for those people that have horses that don't need shoes. Mine does.
I take my horse shoe money out of my budget first, before food and electricity........
     
    10-18-2011, 11:21 PM
  #6
Trained
Hi,

The general question of 'to shoe or not' is one that you'll need to decide for yourself I'm afraid. I would advise you learn all you can about the principles of hoof health & function and the pros & cons of different approaches. Hopefully the link to the other thread in my signature will help get you started. My personal opinion is that generally speaking horses are far better off without shoes(not that that necessarily means bare), but in some situations, conventional shoes may be the best option.

Given his age, I would be extremely hesitant to shoe him yet(or ride much/hard). His feet(& back) are still maturing and I'd wait until he was fully developed first at least.

If he lives in a soft pasture, or otherwise has no way of developing strong feet by getting lots of stimulation on hard ground, he will likely always be a bit 'ouchy' on rough going at least. Therefore I'd work at building his hoof strength. Putting down 'pea gravel' in his pasture, around water & in hang out spots, & in his stable is helpful. I would also protect his feet with boots or such if going on rough trails, etc. While exposure helps feet develop, I don't think forcing them to gimp along if they're not comfortable is desireable or helpful to development either. Horses need to be able to use their feet correctly to function properly & get strong. Sand or pea gravel tends to be generally comfortable for horses regardless of the state of their hooves.

I think it's important to trim hooves frequently enough to *keep* them in functional shape, rather than allowing them to overgrow & then have to 'correct' them. Generally I find somewhere between 3-6 weeks is optimum. When you say 'weeks & weeks without needing a trim, is this because they're hardly growing or perhaps that you're waiting for them to overgrow to provide a significant amount for the farrier to remove? (I'm guessing it's not because he is in an environment that wears them down) If they're not growing much, this can be due to diet, nutrition &/or amount of exercise/hoof function.

Being flat footed can be a problem, can mean that the horse has little between internal structures and the ground. But I don't think it's necessarily so - can be natural & fine for that horse & that environment.

Re the crack in the back hoof, it may well be of little consequence - due to overgrown hooves before you got him which are growing out. If it's been there a long time though, I would be thinking the hooves are allowed to become overgrown &/or being trimmed in an imbalanced way &/or there is infection in the crack that is perpetuating it - eating away the horn as fast as it can grow down. I think it depends how it's done as to whether cutting a 'v' will help or further hinder it's healing. Also wouldn't be inclined to shoe feet with cracks, until they've grown out at least. I think that generally speaking, shoes are not a good move for unhealthy feet.

Where abouts are his feet looking bruised? Is it all feet or just one? Bruising can be not much of a deal or can be an indication of problems. Eg. If he has a small bruise somewhere, it could be that he trod on a particularly sharp stone or kicked something, but if he has bruised soleS, particularly in the toe region this could be due to thin soles providing too little protection for his corium & pedal bone. Could also be to do with trimming.

Brushing & overreaching could be natural conformation, lack of fitness, injury, inadequate or imbalanced hoof care.

Hoof pics(check out the link in my signature for tips on those) and more info on diet, environment, etc would be helpful if you want any more specific advice.
     
    10-18-2011, 11:27 PM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by brackabrack    
... He will tip toe over small stones when ridden, go weeks and weeks without needing a trim..
There are four reasons to shoe a horse.

Your opening description just defined reason number one; 'Protection'.

Quote:
He is a little flat footed, and it's never bothered either of us working, I just have always has this question in my head 'to shoe or not to shoe'
It might bother you if roles were reversed and you had to carry the horse around on your back for awhile.

He's flat footed. That predisposes a horse to tender feet over challenging terrain as evidenced by your assertion that "he will tip toe over small stones...".

Wear exceeds growth (also a reason to shoe), as evidenced by your assertion that, "go weeks and weeks without needing a trim".

In short, you've answered your own question. Your horse would appear to better meet your use expectations if he were shod.

Quote:
Recently the farrier cut in to the bottom to create an upside down v so there was no pressure on the crack to make it go any worse.
Sometimes this works; often it doesn't.

Quote:
But his hoof looks a bit bruised.( been bruised since he done the crack, possibly galloped on a large stone or kicked a fence ??) the severity of the bruise has gone but it looks a pale pink on a wider scale.
Happens all the time and more visually evident if the horse has a light colored hoof. Usually no big deal.

Quote:
Bracken is brushing his back legs in the field, but not ridden. ( bruising in on the outside of his hoof) and he is also over reaching. I was turning him out with over reach boots on, but the daft thing lost 1!!! And I have no idea how!!!
Brushing; over-reaching; tearing off bell boots; tender over rock. I'd guess excess toe length. Given he "goes weeks and weeks without a trim", the excess toe is likely all forward running distortion and accompanied by dorsal wall distortion. In other words, someone is trimming the bottom of the feet but not addressing wall distortion by dressing. Horse ends up with overly long, dishy feet; d/p imbalance and.... brushes/interferes.

Is this horse gaited? Perhaps a Tennessee Walker?

Quote:
If I can I will upload images of his foot/frog.
Please do.

Quote:
I only ask because he is coming to be due a trim soon and I am thinking of a barefoot trimmer. She very good and been recommended via a few people on my yard. She has also seen bracken and said he has good feet. But to me it looks as though the underside of his foot has changed shape with depth an flatness.. ( hacking in the area is road work)

Comments? Xxx
Posted via Mobile Device
Sure, I'll comment. Why would anyone employ a practitioner who intentionally limits their hoofcare education and experience to less than required of most farriers in their first 30 days of training?

Worse, you're located in the UK. Barefoot trimmers are recognized in that area as being so poorly educated/experienced in equine hoof care that they are forbidden by law to do anything more than just a trim.

Select an experienced, full service farrier that can meet ALL the needs of your horse; current and future. Licensing requirements in the UK for hoofcare practitioners are tough and produce a necessarily high level of farrier quality. That law is intended to protect you and your horse. Just to give you an idea of how strict those legal, educational requirements are, the lower class Associate Farrier in England is considered equal to the top AFA journeyman farrier certification in the United States.

Avoid the charlatans and leverage that legal quality requirement to assure your horse the best possible care it deserves.

Cheers,
Mark
     
    10-19-2011, 02:32 AM
  #8
Foal
Wow! Thank you all!!

Bit of background for you all to understand. My boy was an abused youngster, and when I bought him he was knee deep in mud for turn out and was given hay in the field. Previous owner didn't feed him after working him if he had been a bit naughty. In the end she was whipping him for a walk and trot rather than asking and teaching his aids.
Since buying him I have taken him off the calmer she had him on, and tried a couple offered Pt to see what's best for him. Currently he is on hi-fi and low cal.. This is also changing soon as it's not giving us the best results..
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    10-19-2011, 02:48 AM
  #9
Foal
Sorry, **** iPhone!

My nutritionist mentioned alfalfa chop, and pony cubes. So we are going to give that a try soon.

Also, since buying him I have moved him from the postage stamp of mud he was stabled, onto possibly 6acres of good grazing, no bogginess ect. He is also walking on concrete, cobbles, and sometimes small lose stones coming in to the stable.

I take into account his condition and hooves are gettin better, and I know it takes a long time to see a difference with hoof condition.

The farrier he had before I got him was trimming wrong. He let his apprentice trim my horses feet (before I had a say), and he was trimming him to be more on his toe than heel, this is when the crack and bruise happened.

He has has soft feet in the past, but now with the wet weather am having in the uk, his feet are still pretty hard. The crack doesn't seem to be getting worse.

When I say he can go weeks and weeks I mean 6-8 weeks with ease as he has slow growing hooves, and once I learn to upload images of his feet on my iPhone, he is due in a week or so.. **just for the record he has never been lame as far as I know**

The barefoot trimmer has noticed his feet are beginning to bulb or flare out a touch due to incorrect trimming. She seen him 2 weeks after being trimmed.

Hope this helps, and after mucking out my stable, I will try figure out how to upload images xx
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    10-19-2011, 03:38 AM
  #10
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by brackabrack    
I only ask because he is coming to be due a trim soon and I am thinking of a barefoot trimmer. She very good and been recommended via a few people on my yard.
I don't think sweeping statements about 'barefoot trimmers' are any more rational than those about farriers. If your farrier is experienced, well educated & doing a good job, no reason to change IMO. If the trimmer is indeed experienced & well educated, then she's likely good too. There are good & bad on both sides of the fence. It's up to you to learn the difference.
     

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