Interesting article from The Horse, addressing the question whether older horses need to be shod. I find these to be the most frustrating sort of articles to read. The author comes to the conclusion that some horses ‘just need shoes’ (as so many so often “just” do). But, not only are her ‘reasons’ for shoeing flawed, nothing in them or the article addresses the specific issue of an older horse needing shoes. And think about it – what about an older horse would make his hoofcare needs any different from a younger one’s? (Answer: nothing) Only thing I can think of is that they’re assuming an older horse’s workload is reduced and thus the need for shoeing. But the article doesn’t go into that, discussing active horses.
Although he has pretty decent feet for a Thoroughbred, it was pretty clear he needed some extra support to successfully navigate the varied terrain on which eventing takes place, based on his short and choppy stride coupled with the fact that his front hooves started chipping like crazy once he started jumping. Our farrier tacked on a pair of front shoes and things have been going well. Continue reading
People often ask this question, so I thought I would copy a question/comment from one of the case studies which is typical of owners trying to decide whether to go barefoot – temporarily or longer:
I have an Appendix gelding (15 y/o) who has terrible feet. They can go from too dry and hard to soft and mushy just within a shoeing period. His walls are very thin, and I had a farrier once tell me it “was like nailing through kitty litter” If we are careful, he can keep his shoes on a full shoeing period, but he often looses a LOT of wall around the nails/holes. I have decided to pull his shoes for a few months and let him wear Cavallo boots to protect his foot while in turn out. Do you think that letting him go barefoot for longer than a few trims (before I move barns) will be beneficial. If he gets lame without shoes, we might have to put them back on. I also heard that there is a difference in concussion absorption in aluminum vs. steel shoes. is this true? We are currently actively training for the 2’9 – 3′ hunters.
Select comment christina
Submitted on 2014/09/29 at 9:04 pm | In reply to Kristen.
So glad to hear you are going to give your horse a chance to improve his feet by removing his shoes, at least for a while. There are several reasons that horses have poor hoof horn quality like yours does, and ironically the main reason for this is the presence of shoes. The other main reasons are stalling and exposure to wet/dry cycles – but these are all mitigated by removing shoes!
The reason shoeing causes poor hoof horn quality is that it reduces blood flow to the hoof (for a variety of reasons) which negatively affects the quality of the wall. As soon as you remove shoes you will see an improvement in the quality of the wall. There will be a ring that grows down the foot where it will be very apparent where the shod growth ends and the barefoot growth begins. It will look different and feel different and have more ‘life’ to it. It is ironic indeed that a horse has to be barefoot in order to grow wall thick enough to be able to hold shoes – LOL! In my own horse’s case (typical TB) his wall thickness went from about 1/16″ thick to more than 1/4″ thick! Continue reading
I came across this post on my new favorite blog, Good Horsekeeping and thought I would share it. The focus is on the two extremes – from very unheatlhy to very healthy, but there is a lot of room in between the two. It is important to learn to recognize what hoof rings are telling you. It usually means there is some form of inflammation going on inside the hoof.
An upset in the horse’s metabolic system eventually shows itself in the hoof wall texture and horizontal rings. The hoof becomes a mirror of the internal imbalances.
MMP enzyme, (matrix metalloproteinase) controls the growth and direction of the laminae in the hooves. This enzyme is well regulated in a healthy system providing flexibility in the connective tissues of the hoof wall.
The cecum, in the hind gut is part of the digestive process. It is a fermentation sac containing microbials that assist in breaking down the forage.When the diet is high in grains and sugars this causes the bacterial population of the hind gut to rapidly increase damaging the lining of the colon and releasing toxins into the bloodstream.