Sometimes shoes are absolutely critical, such as when dealing with a coffin break, as is the case for the foot on the left, or resolving post-surgery issues, as with the foot on the right.
By Brian Crandall
Great debate has arisen recently concerning whether to shoe or not. The simple answer is maybe.
A great number of variables fall into determining an answer. Owners must answer the following questions with the help of a qualified farrier:
— Where will I be riding? In an arena, on trails, or a combination?
— On trails, are there lots of rocks that could cause chips and cracks?
— How often will I ride? Excessive riding can wear barefeet down too short.
— If predominantly arena work, what about footing at various show venues?
— Horses can get sore on the gravel areas between arenas at shows. Be cautious.
— How is my horse’s hoof health? Are there thin walls, flat soles, existing chips, cracks, or poor frog development?
— Does the horse tend to grow too much toe or heel, which can cause greater muscle and tendon fatigue or failure?
— Are there deviations or irregularities in the confirmation of the horse where a therapeutic shoe will be beneficial to the soundness of your horse?
— Will my horse be comfortable with a trim and slip on boots?
There are a great many number of boots on the market. Determine which is right if any for your horse. Feet come in all different shapes and sizes and many feet differ from left to right foot. Certain boots may fit better than others. Some may rub the heel bulbs creating sores. This may be a result of incorrect size or subtle confirmation variances with the horse.
Each horse is an individual and must be treated as such. Not all horses need shoes and not all horses can go barefoot.
Featured image by Alex brollo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=456024