The question is often asked – When should my horse be reshod?

A simple enough request, and the standard answer is around six weeks, on the average. But the real problem is that the average timeframe for reshoeing a horse is extremely variable, for a whole lot of reasons, and we need to consider them all.

Firstly, the basic aim in shoeing a horse is to improve its performance. So we can assume that immediately after shoeing, the horse’s hooves are as close to correct as possible. A normal hoof grows at the rate of half an inch every six weeks, by which time the horse’s action has changed considerably, and his performance has deteriorated.

The fact is that in a very large number of cases six weeks is far too long, because hoof growth is dictated not only by the horse’s health, but also by conformation, age, workload, and seasonal conditions.

So let us consider the healthy horse, say three years old, with long sloping pasterns. Within three weeks this type of horse will have developed no heel growth, but maximum growth at the toe. He will be experiencing tendon strain and delayed hoof break-over. Allowed to continue for a further three weeks, the possibility of injury is too high and the situation is even more critical if he is a performance horse.

Now let us consider a similar three year old with short upright pasterns. Three weeks after shoeing he will have developed high heels with very little toe growth, his action also will be changing, becoming short and choppy, he will be experiencing excessive heel concussion and jarring up the leg. If left for another three weeks, he will be in lots of trouble.

The horse by nature is very adaptable, so given that his lot is to endure that infamous six week period between shoeing, he will change his mechanical action in order to compensate for excessive hoof growth, and still perform his daily work programme. So now we decide to reshoe the horse. His hooves will be cut back and shaped to where Mother Nature intended them to be; now because his hoof length has changed from maximum to minimum, his mechanical action has to change again.

My point is that maybe it is more desirable to shorten the periods between shoeing,

thus maintaining a more even hoof growth, and a more even work related performance pattern. Seasonal changes are also very important, as just to add to the horse’s dilemma, Mother Nature dictates that the hoof growth will speed up, harden up, spread out, and slow down with the four seasons of the year.

In conclusion I think you will all agree how vitally important it is that the horse owner, the trainer, the rider and the farrier should consider all these factors, to determine the answer to the question…..

WHEN should my horse be RESHOD……