The debate on whether or not to wear shoes for a horse is one that has been around for a long time, and frankly speaking, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon!
Proponents of raising barefoot horses argue that leaving a horse unshod encourages the development of stronger and healthier hooves. On the other hand, those in support of shoes commonly claim that horseshoes help improve and optimise a horse’s physical performances.
However, the correct answer to the question of whether or not horses need shoes lies somewhere in-between; And there are instances where a horse may need to rock shoes, while in other situations, horses will do just fine going unshod.
When Are Horseshoes Necessary?
Horses that need shoes include those that’ll be regularly used for work activities and in equine sports. Shoes help relieve pressure on the horse’s hooves during tasks, and they also provide a certain degree of stability during sporting performances.
In the same vein, shoes are required for horses that have poor hoof conformation or injuries, and on those that will be regularly exposed to rough, non-uniform surfaces.
When Are Horseshoes Not Necessary?
You may not wear not need to wear shoes for your horse if there are no plans to use such a horse for work or sporting activities. Also, a horse that lives on soft land and pastures will usually do okay being unshod.
Horses with otherwise healthy hooves and proper hoof conformation may not need to wear shoes throughout their lives; However, such horses should receive regular hoof trimming to keep their feet in shape.
Why Do Wild Horses Not Need Shoes?
The first and foremost reason that wild horses can live without shoes is that, unlike their domesticated counterparts, they’re not subjected to physical activities that may put pressure on, and reduce the quality of the hoof.
Additionally, wild horses tend to travel over great distances, and over time, their hooves become hard and conditioned to deal with a wide variety of surfaces. Also, constant travelling helps to wear down and trim a wild horse’s hooves, but it isn’t unusual to hear of wild herds being caught and confined to trim their hooves.