In short, they don’t. While it’s common practice to keep many of our horses shod at all times, the frequent attention can actually be to the horse’s detriment.
When deciding how to manage your equine’s hooves, consider the following;
- Is your horse ridden?
- On what surface?
- How are they kept? (in a grassy paddock, on rocky ground?)
- Do they have any medical reason for needing constant hoof protection?
- Are horseshoes the best option?
Simply because it’s the most common practice, doesn’t mean it’s the best for your animal. The removing of and replacing of nails in the hoof wall can create weakness and lend itself to cracks and chips.
Horse hooves are also designed to pump blood back up the leg. When the hoof hits the ground, it expands, creating better circulation and often gently wearing at the hoof wall. Metal shoes can prevent this and lead to further problems if worn constantly.
In addition, it’s a never-ending cost. The more your horse wears shoes, the more likely she is to need them. Alternatives are things like barefoot trimming (trimming the hooves) or hoof boots.
Boots offer a once off purchase; you can just put them on for the duration of your activity, while still allowing the hoof to function as it’s supposed to.
If you choose to trim the hooves, it is recommended to have your horse’s hooves trimmed every 4 – 6 weeks. However, this interval can be shortened or lengthened. To determine the right frequency for your horse, consult your farrier or barefoot trimmer, and assess your horse’s diet, exercise regime and hoof quality.
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