What Are Horseshoes For?

Do you know what are the purposes of horseshoes for our equine friend? Or what are horseshoes for?

Humans wear shoes for the horses to help prevent excessive wear and tear and hoof breakage. Shoes will support horses in daily activities on the farm.

At the same time, wild horses travel daily to get food and water. So that they maintain their hooves naturally instead of wearing shoes like domesticated horses.

What Are Horseshoes For

Why Horses Wear Shoes?

Since the domestication of the horse, horses need shoes for numerous reasons. The primary reason is that horses’ hooves are less hard and more vulnerable to injury.

In the wild, a horse may travel up to 50 miles (80 km) per day to obtain enough food. As a result, horses naturally maintain their hooves in a small, smooth, even and hard state. The continual stimulation of the sole keeps them thick and hard.

wild horse hoof

A wild Mustang hoof, untouched by human hands. Credit to: Jeff Dixon for the photo.

However, in domestication, the ways horses serve humans differ from what they would encounter in their natural environment.

Human beings bring domesticated horses to colder and wetter areas than their ancestral habitat. These softer and heavier soils soften the hooves and make them prone to splitting, making hoof protection necessary.

Domesticated horses are also subject to inconsistent movement between stabling and work. They must carry or pull additional weight.

Moreover, they are often kept and work on very soft footing, such as irrigated land, arena footing, or stall bedding.

Even when cleaned correctly, horses’ hooves are exposed to more moisture as well as ammonia from urine. To protect already weakened feet, the owners should wear shoes for their horses.

Horseshoe History

A horseshoe is a fabricated product, made of metal, although sometimes made partially or wholly of modern synthetic materials. They are designed to protect a horse’s hooves from wear.

Since humans’ partnership with horses began, the idea of horseshoes has been in place.

Native Americans and long-ago riders in Asia provided their horses with sturdy leather boots to protect the entire hooves. Ancient Romans also used leather to fashion shoes for horses.

Horseshoes are available in a wide variety of materials and styles, developed for different types of horse and for the work they do.

The most common elements are steel and aluminum, but specialized shoes may include the use of rubber, plastic, magnesium, titanium, or copper.

Determining whether to shoe your horse or not

You can decide whether to wear shoes for your horse by discussing these seven questions with your farrier or your vet:

  • Are your horse’s hooves smooth, tight and well-formed?
  • Does your horse have good conformation?
  • Does your horse have any musculature, bone or joint problems?
  • Is your horse’s workload light, moderate or heavy?
  • Does your horse get enough exercise?
  • Is your horse provided ample time to graze?
  • Does your horse suffer from any condition, disease or injury that would necessitate shoeing?

If your horse is not experiencing any hoof problems now, and you do not anticipate a change in circumstances or workload, shoes may be unnecessary.

As the horse’s owner, you should listen carefully to the advice of your vet and your farrier. Then you can come up with just the right hoof treatments for your horse.

Conclusion

Now, you know what horseshoes are for, right?

Well, the presence of the horseshoes is to protect equine hooves from being injured by excessive movement. These shoes originated from the domestication of horses.

Is this article useful? Comment your thoughts and share this knowledge with your friends.

References:

  1. https://horsesandfoals.com/what-is-the-purpose-of-horseshoes/
  2. https://www.thesprucepets.com/shoeing-faq-is-barefoot-better-1885965
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe#Environmental_changes_linked_to_domestication

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