why do horses need shoes

why do horses need shoes

20 Mar Horseshoes: What Are Their Purpose?

What Are Horseshoes For? And Other Common Questions Answered by Our Experienced Staff

Ever ponder the rationale behind horseshoe use? What function do horseshoes serve? Well, we at Mountain Creek Riding Stable are here to give you some quick answers!

A horse's hoof from the boottom.

The Purpose of Horseshoes

Horseshoes are quite ubiquitous: it would rare to come across a person who does not know what they look like. But why do they even exist? And why do almost all horses (apart from wild horses) wear them?

On working horses, horseshoes are used to increase the durability of the hoof. Keratin, the same substance that makes up your fingernail, makes up the hoof itself. However, the hoof has a soft and tender inner part called the frog (circled in the picture above) that can be injured. The hoof will naturally wear away when horses walk so adding a shoe onto the hoof helps to diminish that and keep the frog in healthy condition.

A typical horse shoe.

Of what material are horseshoes are made?

The majority of horseshoes are constructed of steel, however there are few outliers. Because aluminum horseshoes are lighter and perform better when speed is the primary goal, racehorses often wear them. In the event that a horse has a foot or hoof damage, there are also “boots” that they may put on. These “boots” are constructed of rubber and include a built-in rubber horseshoe that offers a considerably softer walking surface and more support.

A box of horse nails.

How horseshoes are put on the horse

Farriers are those who fit horses with horseshoes (also spelled ferrier). Nails (like the ones seen above) are used by farriers to fasten the horseshoe to the hoof. Like we said before, horses’ hooves are made of the same material as your nail and, just like when you cut your nails, the horses don’t feel anything when affixing the horseshoe to the hoof. The farrier bends the nails so they form a type of hook after driving them into the outside edge of the hoof. To guarantee a proper fit, they will next file away any remaining sharp edges and a portion of the hoof. You can tell when they need to be reshod because when the hoof spreads out, it will ultimately cross over the shoe.

Wild horses galloping on the plains.

Barefoot horses

You could sometimes come upon a horse without any horseshoes. Wild horses also do not wear shoes. In the working environment, horses that don’t wear shoes often do so because they have a foot issue. Sometimes their hooves are too fragile or a portion of their hoof may have broken off, making it difficult to properly fasten the shoe. These horses can still do trail rides or work the farm, but they will have greater limitations on how much they work.

First off, since they do not “work” as hard or as often as a horse with an owner, wild horses are able to survive without shoes. As a result, they wear down their hooves more slowly than they develop. Secondly, they do not have anyone to look after their well being, so if they have an injured frog or another situation where a shoe would be put on an owned horse – they have to deal with it.

A horse hoof with a shoe that has Drill Tech

Why horseshoes are essential for trail riding

Hack horses are horses that are used for trail rides, and their shoes are crucial. Mainly when the trail rides are done on some paved surface or hard-packed ground (like that of the Grand Canyon), the hooves would wear away faster than they grow. This can prevent the horses from working. Well maintained horses will always have shoes to protect their feet and allow them to do the 8-5 grind.

In addition to the aforementioned, our horses at Mountain Creek Riding Stable have horseshoes for the anti-skid qualities. Each of our horses has “Drill Tech,” which is a material composed of carbraze, put to their shoes. Tungsten carbide particles are combined with a brass/nickel matrix to create carbraze. The tungsten bits and the steel of the shoe both get attached to the matrix when it melts. Similar to ice cleats for people, the tungsten bits stand out once it cools and provide more grip on slick surfaces. The most crucial aspect of our company is safety, and this traction is crucial throughout the winter.

We hope you gained some knowledge about horseshoes, and please feel free to ask any more questions. contact us !

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