Does Your Horse Really Need To Wear Shoes?
Not every horse needs to wear shoes. Here's how to tell whether yours does.
It depends on the horse and the type of riding you plan to do.
Ponies have terrifically hard hooves and typically do not need to be shod if ridden by a child. If the pony is going to be doing a lot of jumping (as in Pony Club), shoes on the front feet may be a good idea.
Warmbloods also have terrifically hard hooves, and often are ridden barefoot—again, unless they are going to be doing a lot of jumping.
Other breeds should be shod if they are going to be ridden frequently, particularly if they are going to be ridden on hard ground. Thoroughbreds are notorious for having “shaley” feet, and need to be shod. Their hooves tend to chip easily.
This is what shoes do for horses
Wild horses walk and graze continuously over a wide range of natural terrains, which causes their hoofs to become hard and strong from the constant stimulation. But domestic animals typically don’t graze over long distances. Instead, they live in fields, stalls, or paddocks that have soft footing. As a result, their hooves are not as strong and hard as wild horses. Unless their hooves are trimmed and shod, their hooves can grow overly long in the toe and become fragile. Shoes provide protection.
Most domestic horses also participate in sports like jumping or barrel racing that put a good deal of concussive force on the hooves, legs, and joints. Shoes help absorb that force and protect the horse’s legs and feet.
Denise Cummins has over 30 years experience as an equestrian and horse business owner. In The Thinking Equestrian, she shares valuable tips on caring for and training horses, giving riding instruction, and running a successful horse business.