الإثنين 27 مايو 2024

Should My Horse Be Barefoot or Shod? It Depends.

موقع أيام نيوز

The topic of having horses go barefoot vs. shod has been discussed at several American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Annual Conventions and always generates some very informative dialog while raising many important questions. I must say from the onset that I favour horses being maintained without shoes when possible, but it depends on multiple factors. Barefoot is not generally possible with upper level competition horses. On the other hand, I also feel that horses can be shod in a very sound physiological manner such that minimal damage to the hoof capsule will occur.

The factors used to make the decision on barefoot or shod include:

  • The use of shoes for protection when wear of the hoof wall exceeds growth at the coronet;
  • The need for traction, especially in the performance horse for athletic activities;
  • Therapeutic reasons in order to treat lameness, diseases of the hoof (such as laminitis), or to address limb conformation

Any one or a combination of the above reasons may dictate the necessity for shoes. Whether or not it is feasible for a horse to go without shoes will further depend on the owner’s expectations, the owner’s commitment to the project, and the hoof care the horse receives, especially during the transition period. Much of the horse industry is involved in competitive athletic disciplines and the question of whether the horse can compete and perform at a given standard without shoes arises.



Wear vs. growth

Wear versus growth is the first point to consider. Factors include the genetics and breed of the horse, the structure and conformation of the hoof, the surface on which the horse will be worked, and most important, the job the horse will perform. These variables all influence the wear of the feet and will affect the decision as to whether the horse can be maintained barefoot. The structure of the foot is usually the determining factor in deciding whether the horse can remain barefoot. 

Hoof development, particularly for the first three years, is dependent upon stimulation from regular exercise and turnout. Yearlings are often shod for the sales. The majority of horses’ feet remain healthy until the time they are broke and enter training, usually as two-year-olds. As training begins, the hoof capsule and its related structures are still immature. The animal is confined to a stall or small paddock, a rider is placed on its back which leads to additional weight bearing on the feet, and the horse now begins to work. Training may lead to abnormal stresses being placed on an underdeveloped foot along with excessive wear to the feet.

The animal begins to show discomfort and shoes are then placed on the feet for protection. It has been