Shoeing the fronts only? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 08-09-2009, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Shoeing the fronts only?

I'm going to be calling my farrier in a few days to shoe my mare, but I got to thinking... I'm planning on working with my 3 year old gelding a lot this fall/winter, as well as riding my 15 year old mare as usual.

I ride a lot of rocky trails, gravel, and the road... my mare has to have shoes or else she gets very tender. My gelding doesn't get tender, but he hates walking on the larger rocks and tries to get in the grass whenever we ride. He'll willingly walk on the road, and on gravel, but the rocks give us problems every now and then.

I don't have the money to get them both shed on all four legs... but my mare doesn't have much of a problem with her rear hooves (when I started riding her, for the first year or two she only had front shoes and never had a problem) and my gelding doesn't have a problem with his rear hooves either.

I'm not sure how much my farrier charges for fronts... I think about 35 dollars, but I may be wrong.

What are the pros and cons of getting only the front hooves shod?

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding) & Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding)
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post #2 of 23 Old 08-09-2009, 09:46 PM
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I'm no expert, but I've seen plenty of horses with only the front hooves shod and they haven't had any problems. If your horse goes fine with only the front shoes, stays sound, etc, I don't think it will be a problem.
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post #3 of 23 Old 08-09-2009, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure if she'd be fine, though... I rode her with fronts only the first year or two after I got her, and she went perfectly... then we started shoeing her backs and she's been shod all around ever since (and that's been about 4/5 years). I'm pretty sure she'd be ok, but I'm just... hesitant.

As for my boy, he only needs his fronts done and he'll be fine, I know... but it'd be his first time ever getting shoes.

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding) & Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding)
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post #4 of 23 Old 08-09-2009, 09:58 PM
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Its probably going to take some time for the backs to toughen up. I would shoe the fronts but give her some time to transition her backs to the rougher terrain.
Back when I used to keep shoes on our horses, we always only did the fronts.


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post #5 of 23 Old 08-09-2009, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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If I do just shoe her fonts, I'll definatley give her a few weeks before we hit any of the really rocky trails. If I can start just shoeing both my horses fronts, it'll definately save me a lot of hassle, too.

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding) & Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding)
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post #6 of 23 Old 08-09-2009, 10:11 PM
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I think it would be better to go ahead and ride her on some rougher terrain to hasten the transitioning. Just don't take her out for a long time on really huge rocks.
I keep talking about putting rocks around our water tanks to keep the feet in shape.
The more they walk on that sort of thing the better off they are.


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post #7 of 23 Old 08-09-2009, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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I can't put rocks aroynd the water tank because we have ponds... Lol. If we had water tanks, I'd definatly put rocks and gravel around them...

I didn't mean that I wouldn't ride her on some rough terrain, just not the roughest trails out here (which are, incidentally, the most fun... lol).

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post #8 of 23 Old 08-09-2009, 10:28 PM
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Just a side story but...When we first bought our mares, they were out with a huge herd on 500 acres that was grass with large limestone rocks just under the surface, some sticking through. We brought them home and immediately had our farrier see to their feet. He was amazed at how hard and healthy their feet were. He could hardly get the nippers to clip through them.


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post #9 of 23 Old 08-10-2009, 03:05 AM
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I had a Thoroughbred mare, who came to me at 8 years of age with shoes on all 4 feet. Since she was race bred, I'm sure she probably had shoes on from about 2 on up, and after having her for 3 years I ended up pulling her hind shoes after she tore her superficial flexor tendon on her front leg. Since I had bought her, the farrier was pleased with how hard her feet were especially for a TB, and she was fine even after being able to be worked again with only front shoes. Good enough to be able to do trails, and jump 5 foot courses with no problems. The one thing that I would be careful of, is making sure that the shoes fit him properly, and that they are not preventing proper growth of his feet. A very common problem I see in horses is people shoeing them young, 2-4 years of age, when they are still growing, and their feet end up getting messed up because the shoes weren't changed often enough, and correctly, and the feet ended up getting constricted, stayed too small, and the frog and heel got squished, all which results in a horse with soreness issues. So I would just watch for that, since he is still growing, and just make sure that his feet are still developing normally, but I don't see a problem with just the front being shod on him or your mare.
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post #10 of 23 Old 08-10-2009, 07:24 AM
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We keep our mares barefoot, but most folks around here that have problems or concerns with tender footed horses over rough terrain shoe or use boots on only the front (which carry 2/3 of the weight of the horse).
BTW, I agree with dressagebelle about being very careful shoeing a young horse while their hooves are still growing/changing a lot, and if your goal is to be barefoot, it's much easier to let them toughen up while they are still young.
Also, wrt your gelding prefering the grass over the road, that is not necessarily because of being tender footed...some horse like our mare, Lady, have very tough feet and will also walk over anything willingly and never get sore, but she always prefers the grass over the road (especially very black asphalt) if you give her the choice...I think she just thinks it's more natural

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