Hooves are not as strong as many people believe. They are made of very hard skin and are flexible. The hoof sole and the frog are designed to move and flex when the horse is walking or trotting. The frog is called the heart of the foot because it will pump blood into the micro-vessels of all the tendons and tissues inside the foot. But should a horse wear shoes?
When you put a shoe on your horse, you prevent the hooves from getting damaged. The only way the foot will get these necessary micro-nutrients from the micro-vessels of the hoof tissue is to move around and create circulation.
Many horses are not allowed to go out as they did before. And many horse owners have been told that they need to have shoes on their horses to keep them healthy.
Why Does A Horse Wear Shoes?
So why do we shoe horses? In the wild, horses continually move to find new pastures and roam a variety of terrains and surfaces in their hunt for food. This naturally keeps horses’ hooves in a smooth, hard, and uniform state. Our domesticated horses walk less, and their feet do not have the same opportunity to harden. Nutrients such as carotene are essential for healthy hooves, and carotene is found in much higher amounts in living vegetation, rather than processed or dried foods. Our horses are also invited to do more – they are ridden or led – which means that their legs and feet are more buoyant than they would be in the wild and as a result, horseshoes are necessary
When Were Horses First Shod?
As horses’ hooves are delicate, and people depended on them as far as ancient Asia wrapped hooves in rawhide and leather.
The Romans were the first to use a combination of leather and metal to shoe their horses so that they could travel further along the Roman roads. Metal shoes as we know them appeared in Europe around the 6th or 7th century. Hot shoeing became common in the 15th century.
A balanced foot is the most important way to keep your horses’ feet healthy. Balanced means that the sole of the foot should be flat and level and the toe should be brought back into line with the coffin. This will give your horse a proper break. It needs to stay healthy.
An unbalanced foot will cause the horse to walk or move improperly and could cause back and shoulder pain and possibly inclined tendons or shins.
It is much easier to find a good farrier who will know what a balanced foot is than to maintain a sick horse.
Many riders agree that horses can walk barefoot without any problems as long as they are properly maintained and balanced. Horseshoes were designed by cowboys to prevent the foot from wearing out after long kilometers of riding on rough terrain.
It is very popular now for people to try to use shoes to correct the foot, but in reality, if you just balance the foot properly, the rest will take care of itself.
Shoeing A Horse
To put a horseshoe on a horse you need to be properly trained. It is not enough just to have a horseshoe of the right size; you need to understand the horse’s hoof and its conformation and how its feet affect the way which it moves. Domesticated horses need the regular presence of the farrier.
Shoeing a horse requires expertise and knowledge. To become a farrier, you need to do an apprenticeship of just over four years.
- Straighten the claws: These are the pieces of nails bent on the side of the hoof wall. They are straightened with a pad and hammer. The shoe can then be removed using pliers.
- Level surface of the roof using a grater: Horse hooves grow like our nails, so excess growth should be cut with hoof cutters. Finally, a drawing knife is used to put away the shredded pieces of the sole and the frog. It doesn’t hurt the horse – it’s like having our nails cut. The shoe is now prepared for the shoe.
- The shoeing can be hot or cold: Precise measurements must be taken, and the shoe normally formed off-site with cold shoeing. Since only very slight adjustments can be made to a cold shoe, the hot shoe is more common and more versatile. The farrier wears either a range of horseshoes of different sizes or straight pieces that can be shaped with the foot. With hot shoeing, the shoe can be shaped very precisely at the foot.
First, the shoe will be placed in the forge until the metal turn’s hot red. Using a pritchel, the claw is held against the surface of the hoof. When you look at this for the first time, it is quite dramatic because hot smoke and steam escape from the shoe, and the air is full of a burning smell. But the horse feels nothing.
The slight burn marks left on foot will show where the changes need to be made, and the farrier will remove the shoe and shape it on an anvil. The process will be repeated until the farrier is satisfied with the adjustment. Once the farrier is satisfied, the horseshoe will be soaked (submerged) in a bucket of cold water.
The shoe is now ready to be nailed to the horse’s foot. Normally, seven nails are used, but the condition of the hoof will dictate the number required. The nail is driven in so that it tilts outward, allowing part of the nail to stick to the outside of the hoof wall. The excess nail is cut, and the sharp point smoothed with a grater. The nail is then folded to form a clamp.
Assuming the horse hasn’t lost a shoe in the meantime, the farrier will return in about six weeks to replace the shoe set.
Take Care Of Your Horse’s Feet Today
A horse in regular work must also have his feet checked regularly. Otherwise, the hoof will become large, long, and brittle, and cracks may appear. If his hoof becomes deformed, his legs may be damaged if he walks abnormally – not only will this be uncomfortable for him, but he will not be able to be fitted.
Even horses that have been shown to be without activity must have their hooves checked and trimmed regularly.
Horses normally need to shoe every six weeks, and arrangements must be made for a farrier to be able to attend this interval. Sometimes shoes that have not been too worn can be reused and replaced after the clogs have been cut. Some clogs grow at different rates depending on the time of year – fresh spring grass can cause growth spurts.
Horses don’t get sick as often as other animals because of their interesting nature.
However, due to the way their bodies work and the fact that they spend most of their lives standing and cannot lie down for long periods of time without getting sick, their hooves are very important.
Horse Disease Linked To Horse Hooves
One of the most common diseases in a horse’s hooves is called white line disease. It attacks the part of the foot where the hoof actually meets the foot and begins as a simple white line, which may not seem very serious. This white line is actually a deterioration of the hoof itself, and if you do not notice it in time, it will start to gnaw at your horse’s hoof and cause him great pain.
If you do not catch it and do not solve the problem, your horse will become lame, and you may have to kill it.