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Trail vs. show shoeing?
My riding buddy just bought a TWH from a show barn, he didn't make it on the show circuit but seems to be a great trail horse which is what she wanted. Neither of us have ever had a gaited horse and know nothing about how their feet should be (they look really long) but we often ride through narrow, rocky areas, up and down hills, over bumpy trails and he seems to stumble more than average and often is forging or overreaching and either we hear clicking or he has gouged his front heels. His feet were done at the show barn when she bought him and we were wondering if there is a difference in shoeing for a show horse vs. a trail horse? Thanks!
For TWH there is a big difference. They like long toes on them for more action in shows. Talk to the farrier and let them know you want him trail shod and not show shod. If you don't explain that to your farrier you are likely to end up with long toes again. If you explain it to them and still get long toes, find another farrier!
-The stumbling comes from not getting their feet flipped back up in time due to the long toes. So he's stubbing his foot into the ground.
-Back feet hitting the front is a pretty common issue for show trained walkers. For their whole show life them been asked to stretch out that over step and now he's suddenly being asked to shorten up his stride. With luck he'll figure it out and shorten that stride but some never do figure it out. You can ask him to step up his speed until the clicking stops until he learns. But, that could be a problem with his non gaited partner.
Agree that you definitely need different trims and shoes for trail TWH. It may take some time to correct the show trim, over several farrier visits - so don't be in a rush to go trail riding too soon. The change in hoof angles will put strain on his tendons and ligaments during the transition, just like learning to wear flat shoes after being in high heels for weeks.
One suggestion for the short term - use bell boots to protect the front feet from the back feet 'forging'.
Thanks! She is using bell boots on him since he clipped his heel last week. We're trying to stay on mostly dirt roads for now. I have an 18 hd. draft cross and we always leave everyone behind at just a regular walk so she got this gelding to help her sore back and keep up. She's still fairly tentative with him, had a bad spill on her previous QH and so we're still having the same issue with them falling behind and I think when he's just walking along, he is doing the forging, etc. I sent her your responses so when the farrier comes next week, she'll know better what to say or do. Her farrier says he does gaited horses so we'll see....... Loving this little guy though! He's such a sweetheart, so sensitive, pretty head shy so we're working on that with persistence and patience.
My farrier, who is amazing, believes that the gaited horse's hoof should be trimmed to fit the foot, not the shoe. So, my TWH goes in a regular shoe (just like my quarter horses) with a trim to match her leg and foot angles. She can do 7.3 MPH at a running walk on gravel....even faster and smoother on a dirt trail but I haven't clocked that. So, I vote for simple shoeing instead of anything else with weighted shoes or longer toes or whatever. Your friend's horse will still gait with 'natural feet' if it's a natural gait vs a mechanically-induced gait. Caution, though - those show muscles are different from trail muscles...and it will take time to loosen the first and strengthen the latter. Her horse might take a spell where it wants to pace instead of running walk, because it's easier for some horses, so make sure she knows if she starts to shift from side to side in the saddle, to make sure the horse isn't pacing. Have her slow down and start over to build speed. Have fun!
Just a suggestion, your friend should take some lessons from a TWH trainer. It will help her learn what a gait should feel like and just how to get him to gait properly.
Excellent advice, Darrin!
Yes, we've found a trainer in our area and she's planning on doing that so she doesn't "mess him up." My horse hears him coming and thinks he hears another horse cantering! He's finally catching on to what Wesley sounds like when he's gaiting :)
Please have your friend be careful in her choice of trainer. When talking about TWH and training there are soooo many different "methods" of training. Talk with the trainer first, before they even touch this horse. Ask to watch a training session of someone elses horse. Ask if a drop in visit is okay before a contract is signed.
I know drop ins aren't welcome at a lot of trainers, and I get the logistics of it. But I'd want to at least ask.
My personal opinion, so many lovely Walkers are ruined, broken, and crippled by certain types of training methods that I would be extra cautious in the choosing of a trainer. Please tell your friend there is a whole internet out there, do her research on methods, and results, of her trainers chosen training methods.
*Goes to look in on her pasture puff TWH* I love my boy :)
p.s. Shoes are very different for showing versus trails. Shoe the horse for the job he is doing, not his past life.
Up here, our show horses wear plain old trail shoes or are barefoot. I have learned that TWH having a longer toe is beneficial for support on the back end and they do have a different process than say a QH, but in doing that you also need to have proper shoes to compensate for the angle of the hoof as well (as far as I have learned anyways). But we have had them done by a QH farrier for the past few years with no issues and they still walk and gait.
As for him tripping on the trails, a true walking horse can and will do that as they drag their back toes when gaiting, so if they are too long they can easily be caught on a mound or anything that sticks up... At a clinic last year Barbra Civils had said although TWH are fabulous trail horses, a fox trotty or step pacey TWH is likely a bit better on the trails specifically as they pick their feet up higher and that often results in tripping less. That being said, our TWH show horses are our trail horses and they are quite sure footed and gait all the time...they do trip occassionally though if they need their feet done.
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