The horse world must be the only industry where despite all of our modern technology, we appear to be going back to the dark ages when it comes to shoeing.
Over the last couple of years I have had the opportunity to look at horses in most areas of this great country, and now I am more concerned than ever that we really have lost the plot!
Breed registration and classification have produced better types of horses with a much greater performance potential. Rider tuition and schooling has never been more readily available for all forms of competition, but so often that beautifully bred and highly trained horse’s natural athletic ability is drastically reduced by having to wear the wrong shoes. The horse didn’t have any choice, but we did.
The golden rule for shoe selection is that a shoe should be as light as possible to allow the horse to perform his task. Not as heavy as possible.
Perhaps it is an economic thing, and you may think that if you fit heavy shoes they will last longer and you will save money – that is wrong thinking! He will have to be reshod every four to six weeks regardless of what shoes are fitted so that cost never alters. Sure, heavy horses need heavy shoes but light horses with fine leg bones do not.
I constantly see light framed horses around fourteen or fifteen hands wearing size three to size five shoes that are far too heavy, both in flat or concave profile, complete with quarter clips to help hold them on; these horses are usually clumsy and have a plodding action. Every time these horses are shod with the correct weight shoes, the owners notice the increased freedom of movement and ability.
The real cost is to your horse’s performance and the destruction of his lower leg and hooves. Heavy shoes create greater concussion to joints and are usually fitted with heavier nails which destroy that delicate hoof wall capsule.
There has never been a greater choice of ready made horseshoes available for us to choose from, as well as nails to suit any shoe. All we have to do is spend a little more time while we evaluate the horse’s needs and your expectations of his performance, both as a rider and as a farrier. Let common sense prevail – could you as a ballet dancer perform your best in heavy working boots?
Fitting the correct weight shoes will lift your horse’s athletic ability dramatically, and will also reduce downtime from lameness and injury.
In my day to day work, my personal choice is a lightweight concave shoe such as the St Croix Concorde. These shoes have the advantage of being light in weight and providing good coverage with ideal nail placement.
Nowadays it is possible to select the correct factory made shoe, regardless of the horse’s size, weight, bone structure or working expectations, and, with the use of care and consideration by the farrier, fit them to enhance your horse’s performance.
Shoes are also available in various grades of hardness as well as a flat or concave profile. The choice is huge, and so is the need to be particular and get it right.
Your horse’s needs for the correct footwear for the job are exactly the same as your own, so be fussy.