The 411 on Horseshoes

The 411 on Horseshoes
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During the colder seasons, you change your shoes to accommodate the weather. Did you ever really stop and think about the shoes on your horse? Though you don’t change them for the seasons, they are essential to protect their hooves. You are probably accustomed to the Farrier coming and putting on new shoes and making sure everything is in top shape. Domestication changed everything. We must remember that horses in the wild don’t have such luxuries, and they don’t need them. History shows us that shoes were used as early as 1000 A.D., though other methods were used to protect the hooves before that time.

The Making of Great Shoes

Horseshoes are made of various materials. The first accounts were leather booties tied around the hoof. Today, there are numerous materials and combinations used. The most common is iron, plastic, rubber, and even rawhide.

Installation is done in one of two processes. A cold process prefabricates the shoe and then installs it on site. The second process is using a hot iron and molding the shoe right onto the horse’s foot. Doing an actual mold onto the hoof is best. It guarantees a better fit and requires minimal trimming.

The Installation Process

Installing the horseshoe is a simple process, but it must be done by a professional to avoid any damage to the hoof. The Farrier can use glue or nail them. The most commonly used method is hammering. While the horse may feel some vibration and pressure, they won’t feel any pain. It’s very similar to having your tooth worked on at the dentist.

At the dentists, you may feel the pressure and vibrations from the instruments, but the tooth isn’t in any pain. As far as materials, the hoof is much like a human fingernail. Within the foot is softer areas that are sensitive because they are full of nerves. Even an experienced professional must be wary of these areas to prevent injuring the animal. If the shoes don’t fit right, it’s usually immediately noticed. The horse may limp or refuse to walk.

Why Some People Don’t Shoe Their Horses? 

To shoe or shod the horse is dependent upon many factors. First, if the horse is domesticated and used for work purposes, shoes are essential to protect their feet. Since the hoof is like a fingernail, it will require trimming. In the wild, a horse naturally walks many miles and wears down the nail typically. A domesticated horse doesn’t have the same lifestyle, so this doesn’t happen.

A horse that is ridden often needs the shoes to help them stop and start easier. It makes them more versatile for riding. A horse can go barefoot, but it puts them at risk when they are being ridden and worked. If a horse is being ridden on terrain that is rocky and abrasive, it won’t take long for the hoof to wear out. If a horse uses a sandy loam, then they are not going to have the same issues with their feet. Keep in mind that any horse that doesn’t have proper trimming is going to have problems, regardless of their terrain.

Some people prefer to keep their horse barefoot. They include reasons such as:

•Too Expensive
•Bad Experience with Farrier
•Horse Won’t Stand Still for The Process
•Horse Refuses to Have Their Feet Touched
•Rider is Disciplined and Doesn’t Need Horse Shoed
•Horse Has Superior Posture and Build – No Shoes Required
•Horse Isn’t Working Stock and Ridden Infrequently

All in Good Fun

Everybody knows about the game of horseshoes. While it’s not as big of an outdoor sport these days, it was once quite the competition. Greece is responsible for making up this game, and they called it discus throw. Those who were poor couldn’t afford the expensive discs, so they began using the old shoes from their horses instead. It wasn’t until the American Civil War that the English settlers brought the game here. History shows that the first championship took place in Benson, Kansas in 1910, and this state retains the title of the “Home of American Horseshoe Pitching.”

Do Horseshoes Bring Good Luck? 

Hundreds of years ago, people thought that the horseshoe brought good luck. They would hang them over their doorways for decoration. They also believed that the luck of the shoe would touch anyone who entered that door. They also thought that hanging them on the door would protect them from any evil spirits that tried to enter the house. Though most of these traditions and games have fallen by the way, the horseshoe is still ever-present.

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