Horseshoes are designed to protect a horse’s hooves and prevent it from wearing down. Learn what they are and when they’re used.
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The purpose of horseshoes
Horseshoes are designed to protect a horse’s hooves. They’re made of steel or aluminum and are attached by nailed the shoe to the hoof.
Not all horses wear shoes. The main reason that a horse wears one is to protect its hooves if they come in contact with harsh or uneven terrain regularly.
Another reason is when a horse has poor growth or imbalances. Horseshoes can be used to provide support and stability.
They’re also used for workhorses. If your horse is pulling high amounts of weight, shoes provide protection and traction.
The hoof is similar to a human fingernail, and it’s constantly growing. Wild horses wear down their hooves naturally as they roam around.
However, domesticated horses don’t. As a result, a farrier must trim and balance the hooves. If needed, they’d also apply the shoes.
It’s also important to understand that applying and removing the horseshoes doesn’t cause pain. The hoof is like a human fingernail, and when you cut a nail, it doesn’t hurt. Hooves don’t have nerve endings, and it’s a painless process.
Drawbacks of horseshoeing
Horseshoes that are applied correctly by a qualified farrier are beneficial. If shoes are applied incorrectly, problems can arise and do more harm than good. If the shoes don’t fit properly or are imbalanced, they can damage the hooves.
It’s also possible for a horse to pull the shoe off. If this happens, it can damage the hoof wall and cause strains.
Should your horse wear horseshoes?
If your horse has healthy and strong hooves and spends most of its time on grass or arena footing, it may not need shoes.
A horse without shoes is known as being barefoot. If your horse can go barefoot, make sure you take great care of its hooves. This means trimming and balancing them every four to six weeks.
While it’s great for a horse to be barefoot, sometimes it isn’t healthy. If your horse does trail rides or works in rough and uneven terrain, horseshoes are important for protection and traction.
If you’re unsure about horseshoes being right for your horse, consult with your veterinarian or a qualified farrier.
If you need to protect your horse’s hooves from wear and don’t want to shoe your house, there are other options.
The most common alternative is to get hoof boots. Typically, they’re made of leather or synthetic material and offer hoof protection and traction.
Cavallo is an excellent brand for hoof boots. You can purchase a Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot from Amazon for $164.80.
The Simple Hoof Boot features quick front fastening and industrial-grade Velcro closures. Expect them to last a year or two of consistent usage.
You can also try glue-on shoes, which are generally made of synthetic material, metal, or an aluminum core that’s covered with synthetic material. Glue-on shoes require good hygiene because the glue can potentially seal in bacteria.
If hoof boots or glue-on shoes aren’t the right fit for your horse, you can also try hoof wraps, pads, or rubber shoes.
When applied correctly, horseshoes are beneficial because they offer protection, traction, and can help the performance of your horse. If your horse doesn’t need shoes, be sure to trim its hooves and keep them well-maintained.
Featured image courtesy of Canva.
About David Em
David Em is the founder of Nola & Luna Pets, a leading resource for everything you need to know about pets and adorable pet accessories.