Just as shoes are designed to protect our feet, horseshoes are meant to help protect the hooves of your horses. Yet, whether or not your horse actually needs to wear these shoes is a subject of great debate.
Keeping the Hooves Protected
Horseshoes originally became popular as a way to protect the hooves of domesticated horses in inhospitable climates. They were also thought to be beneficial for certain breeds of horses, as some have a tendency to have weaker hooves. Yet, while the center of a horse’s hoof is very sensitive, the outside does not feel pain. In fact, it is much like the nails that humans have on their fingers and toes, but the material on the horse’s hoof is much thicker.
To Shoe or Not to Shoe
Under normal conditions, most horses do not need to wear shoes. In this case, the horse is referred to as “barefooting”. Some do believe, however, that shoes should be in place if the horse participates in certain activities that can put their hooves at risk. Those who are against using horseshoes, however, maintain that even serious hoof problems can be treated with the proper trimming of the hoof and without the need for shoes.
The bottom line is that the decision should be based on the needs of the individual horse, so discuss it with your vet and your farrier to determine whether or not horseshoes are needed.