As a horse owner, it is imperative that you know the horse shoeing basics. That is not to say that you will be shoeing your horse yourself – it is a very tricky job and should be done only by experts. An inexperienced farrier can cause serious harm to your horse – and therefore, you as a novice do not even qualify for the job.
But today we’re dealing with some of the basics, like –
- Why does your horse need shoes?
- What is actually done when shoeing a horse?
- How do you know if your horse needs shoeing?
Let’s answer the questions one by one:
Why does your horse need shoes?
Horse hooves are like nails. They surround a soft area of living flesh. A horse shoe is therefore used to cover the hoof. The horse shoe protects the hoof, and also the sensitive frog sole and other areas of the foot. A shoed horse is less likely to have cracked hooves, and other hoof related ailments.
You may be asking, “Then how do wild horses get by without shoes?” and the answer to that is – domestication has affected horse hoof anatomy in such a way that they need shoes. Wild horses, on the other hand, do not need these!
What is actually done when shoeing a horse?
When the farrier is shoeing your horse, here’s what is usually done:
- First the insensitive areas of the hoof are trimmed.
- Then the horse shoe is measured along the hoof.
- The farrier then modifies the shoe by bending it to the right shape with or without the application of heat.
- After this, the old shoes, if any are removed.
- Now the shoes are placed over the hoof and nailed in place.
The area where the horse shoe is attached does not have any sensation, and so the horse does not feel the nails being driven in.
How do you know if your horse needs shoeing?
This is hands-on information you can use as a horse-owner. Whether your horse needs shoes or not depends on three factors:
- The condition of the hooves – if they are strong and healthy then your horse can actually do without shoes.
- Where you will be riding your horse – if you will be riding over rough pebbly terrain, then shoes are absolutely necessary.
- What your horse will be doing – horses that will take part in competitions or jumping rings need to be shoed specifically for the purpose. Also horses used to draw loads will require shoes to protect their hooves.
Ultimately, however, your farrier is the best judge of whether your horse can or cannot do without shoes. For this be sure to discuss all the three above-mentioned points at length with your farrier. And armed with this essential information, an experienced farrier can be your best guide!
While the task isn’t one for you, as an owner of one or a few horses, you too should know the horse shoeing basics. But that apart, you should let all practical tasks to your farrier, and for any additional advice – ask your farrier!