How Often Should I Shoe or Trim my Horse?
by: Charlie Roach (Farrier/Blacksmith)
As a general rule, a horse should be shod or trimmed every six or seven weeks. Like anything else, there seems to be exceptions to every rule. Remember your horses feet are growing at some rate of speed, no matter the use of your horse. Usually faster in warm weather and slower in cold weather. On average, the hooves grow one inch per month.
Because some horses feet grow faster than others, we must make the decision of when the care is needed. In the following paragraphs, I will try and help you understand why it
is so important to know exactly when and why to care for your horses feet.
One important question to clarify is: Does my horse actually need shoes? To properly answer this question we must first understand an important principle.
The principle is : Horses feet do one of two things. 1). Grow faster than they wear off.
2.) Wear off faster than they grow. With this in mind let’s discuss the solution for both circumstances.
If the hooves are growing faster than they are wearing off, at some point it would be necessary to have them trimmed to a sound, balanced suitable length. If the hooves are wearing off quicker than they are growing, the feet will become sensitive and it would be a necessity to place shoes or protective boots to protect the hooves.
The question I often hear is, do all horses need shoes? Many horses can go without shoes, although that same horse, if the use changes, will need to change foot care. Therefore we find with the change in the use of the horse, along with the changes in the terrain we ride upon, so changes the care.
The bottom line is, short broken up feet usually need something on the bottom of the hooves to provide protection. I personally lean towards placing shoes on my horses because there is less maintenance . For some it is more convenient to utilize other protective measures. If you personally prefer the selection of protective boots, this certainly is a great avenue if it works best for your particular situation.
The ” Natural Trim” wave is growing in popularity. If one has the patience to toughen up the feet, that may be the correct solution for your particular needs. In summary we will all agree that our goal is to keep the horse’s feet sound using procedures that best suit our needs along with the horses needs.
Let us now address the pros and cons to shoeing to soon and not soon enough. When one allows the shoes to stay on an extended length of time, perhaps thinking a longer foot may encourage a gait desired or save money, there are definite pitfalls. The number one pitfall is that the wall is breaking down and soon one will not have a sound wall , therefore making it impossible to hold a shoe.
When the wall of the hooves brakes down you will find the horse shoeing specialist explaining to the owner that we must cut the hooves down to a length that is shorter than is desired. Not what you want to hear with a big show just around the corner. Going two weeks longer to shoe the horse usually gets us in trouble in the long run.
Shoeing your horse too often can be hazardous also. The pitfall is too many nail holes, which will also weaken the wall of the hooves. Shoeing the horse too soon may also put the thickness of the sole in jeopardy.
We will conclude with the idea that timely, and balanced hooves is the remedy for sound feet.
If you have any horseshoeing questions don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org