All horse shoes are not created equal! In fact, the type of shoes your horse wears, as well as how he is shod, will depend upon the discipline he participates in. Shoeing your horse according to discipline gives your horse the best opportunity for success. In this article, we'll look at the shoeing needs of the long-distance riding horse, show jumping horse, driving horse, and race horse. As always, consult with your veterinarian and vet regarding your horse's particular shoeing needs.
Long-distance riding, which focuses on the horse's physical fitness, is one of the horse world's fastest growing divisions. Rides can be different lengths, but some rides go 100 miles in a day, and some even extend over several days! To say that long-distance riding is gruelling and challenging is an understatement indeed!
The distance riding horse must go long distances on varied terrain, and the concussion to his feet is prolonged and intense. To this end, safety and comfort should always be the first consideration when shoeing a horse who goes the distance. This will cut down on early fatigue. Your farrier can ensure that your horse's shoes fit correctly according to his conformation, and are comfortable and balanced. Some people use full sole pads under the shoes. The advantage of these is that they protect against bruising and other injuries from rocks, stones, etc. The disadvantage is that pads will cause the sole to soften over time.
There are a few types of shoes in particular that are attractive to owners of distance horses. A popular choice is wide-webbed aluminum shoes. These disperse the concussive effect, are light, and wear well. Some even come with steel inserts in the toes to prolong wear.
What is the job of a driving horse? To pull weight, of course! Whether you are using your horse on your farm, or whether he is followed by a fancy show carriage, it all boils down to the same thing. Your horse is pulling a load!
Since driving horses usually work at relatively slow speeds, interference isn't usually an issue. To that end a plain stamped shoe without any fullering or groove through the metal allows for the most wear. Since the driving horse usually sees the most wear on the toes of the hind shoe, this is usually thickened. The hind shoe is also fitted with a toe clip for more wear.
In order to do his job right, the racehorse must have the right conformation for racing. To this end it's always a good idea to find a farrier who has lots of experience monitoring and trimming the feet of racehorses. Obviously, the shoeing should be designed so that the horse can perform at his highest speed. Light, correctly fitting shoes are sensible. Since the horse isn't carrying too much extra weight on his feet he won't tire as easily as he would wearing heavier shoes. A horse who tires will most likely have some interference, which can cause injury, especially in a horse moving at such high speeds. Front shoes are generally fitted according to the shape of the foot, while three-quarter rear shoes ensure that brushing is prevented.
In addition, how a horse is shod will have a lot to do on the surface he is racing on. In wet conditions, for example, the hind shoes might be removed to prevent the horse from over-reaching. Again, the importance of having a farrier who knows a bit about racing can't be stated enough!
The goal of the show horse is to jump as high and as fast as possible. Horses place a lot of stress on their feet, joints, and tendons on both the take-off and landing. Your farrier should trim your horse's feet to make up for any conformation issues, and a shoe should be applied that provides maximum cover on the ground surface. Shoes with short toes and good support at the heels are extremely important to the show jumping horse.
So make sure you talk with your farrier and make sure that you address your horses specific needs and listen when he/she gives you some advice on what you can do to help your horses feet.
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