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ButtInTheDirt 11-30-2011 03:58 PM

Do My Horses Need Shoes? Sincerely, Clueless.
I do not know really anything about shoes. My first horse has been barefoot all of his life, so I did not learn much about it. The second horse we got had shoes on her front feet because they were planning on taking her for a ride in some rocky, hilly terrain. Our third horse is a little Morgan that was used for riding and extensively as a trail horse. She has really nice little feet and I'm sure she has had shoes on at least once. Then our most recent horse has never been shod. She is not broke and isn't really on hard surfaces very often.

We are planning on doing more trail riding on dirt paths and the trail we have mapped out goes on roads a little bit, aswell. We would be riding them on it at least once a week and more often in summer, and I was wondering if they might need shoes for this sort of riding?

Also, over winter on the days where it gets in the negatives and blizzarding they will be in a barn that has a concrete floor. We will bed it down thickly so hopefully it will help but would they need shoes if they had to stand on concrete? It is a large area with two sides that have half-walls, so they are not completely sheltered from the elements, but a lot more than if they were huddling around their three sided shed in the pasture.

I really do not know what to do, so any advice is appreciated. If it matters, our pastures get really muddy whenever it rains. It snows ALOT in winter and spring. Spring is either snowy or muddy 90% of the time. I can imagine shoes would not stay on very well, but I do not know how else to protect their feet. Is there an alternative for shoeing? Just for trails and such?

Main questions~
~Do horses that ride on trails [packed dirt, fields, and roads] weekly need shoes?
~If a horse is housed somewhere with bedding on top and concrete underneath should it be shod?
~Is there an alternative to shoeing?

Sorry if I am asking a dumb question. I am sort of a dumb person when it comes to shoes. :S

Jumper4ever 11-30-2011 04:20 PM

i am not the biggest fan of shoeing. all of my horses are barefoot, and although they haven't always been are doing really well. I live in the hills and i event, trail ride, among other things, and i find that my horses have never really had a lameness issue from not being shod. From what it sounds like your planning on doing id say keeping your horse barefoot sounds fine...unless after going barefoot your horses feet don't hold up. There is always the option of easy boots. it is really a personal preference/what you can afford/what your horse needs/what you are doing with them.

Rachel1786 11-30-2011 06:25 PM

I agree with Jumper4ever, none of my 3 horses wear shoes and all of them are sound over every surface even going down the gravel driveway. You can always get hoof boots for riding if your horses have any sort of trouble, but for as often as you are going to be riding I wouldn't shoe. Also about concrete, Your horse is better off barefoot on surfaces like that, the hoof gives to absorb the impact, shoes do not give so the joint would absorb the impact if your horse was wearing shoes, you should never do more then a walk on a paved road if your horse is wearing shoes because over time it will cause damage to the joints.

animalartcreations 11-30-2011 07:24 PM

Some horses need shoes, some don't. Watch the wear on their hooves and check for tenderness. If you can, get a farrier with good references that specializes in barefoot trimming. For the type of riding you plan on doing, I'd look into hoof boots in case you have to go into rocky areas.

Get some good rubber mats to put on top of the concrete in their shelter and provide plenty of bedding.

Joe4d 11-30-2011 07:43 PM

the concrete flooring is a much bigger problem in the summer when they are stomping at flys. Just standing with bedding isnt gonna put any wear on their feet. I'd ride em and see how they do. One thing I dont like is horses that refuse to walk in the middle of a trail becasue they dont wanna step on the gravel Those guys get shoes.

caseymyhorserocks 11-30-2011 08:15 PM

Horses DON'T need shoes. The wild horse moved 15-20 miles a day MINIMUM, often 30 miles or more. And they did it BAREFOOT. Sure, domesticated horses dont have as hard hooves, but our horses are probaly only moving 6-8 miles a day. For riding on pavement, a barefoot horse TROTTING on pavement has three times LESS the impaction the a shod horse WALKING on pavement. Shoeing is a lot more expensive, and if you bought easyboots (or big macs, or some other hoof boot) they will start saving you money after about 2-4 trimmings. (at least for the easyboot that is) Average barefoot trim $35-$45. Average shod trim $80- to even $120. Barefoot horses also wear their hooves moving around, so its usually done 6-8 weeks, rather than the every 4 or so weeks. Hoof boots protect ANYTHING from getting in the hoof. And the fact is, shoes dont always protect from rocks. I have many times hoofpicked shod horses and picked out rock out of their hooves (they didnt live on rocks either its just the occasional rock in the pasture) Shod horses have less circulation, meaning they are more prone to stumbling, also meaning they get injured easily.

Skyseternalangel 11-30-2011 08:23 PM

730 Attachment(s)
Just carry a hoofpick with you, they should be fine barefoot.

ShinaKonga 11-30-2011 08:31 PM

They don't sound like they'd need shoes, but keep an eye on it. My gelding is shod in front because we do rocky trail riding and have to cross quite a few paved areas to get there. If its rocky and the rocks can't squish down in the ground when they get stepped on, I'd advice some front shoes. But if their feet seem hard enough to go barefoot, go for it :)

NorthernMama 11-30-2011 08:43 PM


Originally Posted by ButtInTheDirt (Post 1249444)
~Do horses that ride on trails [packed dirt, fields, and roads] weekly need shoes?

Most do not if they have proper diet and hoof care.

Originally Posted by ButtInTheDirt (Post 1249444)
~If a horse is housed somewhere with bedding on top and concrete underneath should it be shod?

Very little impact if any on hoofs. But stalling is harder on a horse in general overall.

Originally Posted by ButtInTheDirt (Post 1249444)
~Is there an alternative to shoeing?

Barefoot; hoof boots

There are lots and lots of threads on this stuff here and tons, I repeat: TONS of reading material online. Start reading and keep asking those questions! :)

trailhorserider 11-30-2011 09:04 PM

~Do horses that ride on trails [packed dirt, fields, and roads] weekly need shoes?

Only if they are gimpy and have trouble in the rocks. Or their feet wear down quicker than they grow (I've had that happen but it takes LOTS of riding, like 5 hour rides 3-4 times a week, and even then it depends on the horse). But basically if they can handle the terrain they are fine. And you will know if they aren't fine. They will slow down and pick their way through the rocks. A little bit of carefulness in the rocks doesn't bother me, but you will know if they go "ouch" frequently.

~If a horse is housed somewhere with bedding on top and concrete underneath should it be shod?

Actually, I think it would be better if they were NOT shod in that situation. Concrete and shoes are slick. Traction would be better with out. And concussion would be better without shoes as well.

~Is there an alternative to shoeing?

Hoof boots when needed. I like Easyboot Epics, but everyone likes something different. A lot depends on what fits your horse best.

Why not give barefoot a try? If they need shoes, you will be aware of it because they will have trouble in the rocks or road areas. If they don't, you are great barefoot. If they do, you can either shoe them or just use hoof boots when you ride.

I ride 5 days a week in the summer and rotate 2 horses (for a while I only had one). We frequently go out for 5 hours at a time. My guys are barefoot. I only use boots (carry them with me in a backpack actually) when the terrain demands it. If we ride in non-rocky areas, they go barefoot. :-)

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