These Are Not Reasons To Shoe A Horse, Young or Old

horse1Interesting 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.

When we later learned that Dorado has several old injuries from the racetrack that make his legs a tad more fragile than some other horses, it confirmed my suspicion that he’d likely need to remain shod at least until his competitive life comes to an end. And as he’s aged, his “bad” leg just doesn’t handle lost shoes well at all—even subtle changes in angles or support levels generally mean a sore horse. (And, of course, which shoe does he always seem to remove? The one on his bad leg. Is there some connection there? I’ve no idea, but it’d be an interesting theory to test!)

The only ‘aged horse’ re shoe issue broached is whether an older horse can tolerate being shod – impact of nailing and holding up the legs. So there is an admission, if subtle, that the shoeing process itself is intolerable. But not a reason to not subject younger horses to it! But nothing about the need for shoes themselves vis-a-vis the older horse. horse2

  • Short and choppy stride demands a need for shoeing? Really? Maybe the horse would have a smoother, more flowing stride without shoes.
  • Metal shoes don’t ‘support’ anything. By ‘support’ on varied terrain I assume the author means studs for traction. Bare feet have more traction than shod ones, it’s once those parts are covered with slick metal that you need to counteract that with additional traction devices
  • Hooves chipping ‘like crazy’ because the horse is working? Maybe they need to be trimmed/filed more frequently. Sounds like they’re plain too long.
  • And what a coincidence that the ‘bad’ leg loses a shoe all the time. The fact that he loses a shoe constantly is not an indication that he needs to be shod. The concussion caused by shoes is harder on arthritic old joints and boney flaws like chips. The angle that is attempting to be ‘maintained’ with shoeing is likely actually contributing to that shoe always being lost.

All in all this is a ‘crappy’ article and I’m sad to see it given credibility by appearing in The Horse magazine. 




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