Why Do Horses Need Shoes?

Regarding horseshoes, the answer is complex and depends on the individual animal and environment. Some equestrians believe that keeping barefoot is healthier for them physically, while others opt for shoeing them instead.

Domesticated horses require shoes because they weigh more than their wild counterparts and carry that extra weight while working, which may weaken their hooves.


When considering whether horses need shoes, the answer can be complicated. It depends on several factors, such as your ’s work and what kind of ground they’re working on. Before making any final decisions, seek expert advice from your veterinarian or another qualified professional.

Some believe shoeing a ’s feet, and hooves can be detrimental. They say the nail holes dry out the horn, weaken its wall, and allow fungi and bacteria to invade, leading to infection and physical harm.

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Some people believe shoeing can be beneficial and prevent a ’s hoof from developing into something too soft or fragile. Additionally, it helps stimulate hoof growth and improve circulation within the foot.

Although some people disagree, some horses do not need horseshoes. Many pleasure and hobby horses can go barefoot; however, racing and farming horses require them to protect their hooves from daily stress.

Domesticated horses typically spend much time on softer ground, such as hay or grass. This makes them more flexible and agile but may also leave them susceptible to hoof issues.

Wild horses, on the other hand, roam around on various types of terrain to wear down their hooves and keep them short and in excellent condition. This also helps them avoid stepping on sharp sticks or rocks that could injure their hooves.

Domesticated horses require regular trimming of their hooves and, if needed, shoeing. Although shoeing is more costly than trimming, it may be the most suitable option if your horse requires extra support, traction, or protection due to certain conditions.

Shoeing can also be employed to correct conformation flaws and leg weaknesses and support the horse’s feet. This is especially crucial if the horse has a skeletal condition like laminitis or arthritis. Furthermore, shoeing provides extra protection and traction when working on hard tarmac or concrete roads, for instance.


Horses can go barefoot for comfort and performance, but there are times when shoes may be necessary to enhance performance. For instance, if your horse participates in a barrel race or ropes competition, having them wear shoes gives them the best chances of success.

Another reason horses need shoes is to provide them with traction. Traction will aid your horse’s ability to track when landing and prevent them from falling on its sides, which could cause injuries.

Shoes provide excellent traction to prevent your horse from slipping and getting hurt on ice and snow. This traction is especially essential for horses that do heavy work like pulling tractors, farm machinery, or trailers since it reduces the stress on the hooves.

One of the simplest methods a horseshoe can provide traction is by adding a rim around its front or hind foot, trapping dirt and mud between it and the ground surface. This allows horses to focus their weight along this rim for improved grip on any surface.

In addition to rim shoes, various horseshoes can give your horse traction. These include egg bar horseshoes, straight bar horseshoes, and slide plates or sliders.

Composite horseshoes offer excellent traction and shock absorption for your horse. These shoes are especially beneficial to the carriage and police horses, as they provide excellent grip on the pavement while saving their joints from excessive joint wear and tear.

Horseshoes are constructed from a metal plate custom-fitted to your horse’s feet. A farrier will use an instrument to cut a hole in the shoe that corresponds with your horse’s hoof width and length, then secure it onto his hoof using small nails that penetrate both outer parts and into its interior.

Diamond Farrier 0PONYB Horseshoe 0 Pony, 40-Pair
  • Forged from Special steel (like the regular horseshoe) to give long wear
  • Six properly spaced nail holes fit the average Pony hoof
  • Length: 3-3/4″, Width: 3-5/16″
  • Note: For No. 2 Pony shoe, use Diamond Cat. No. 000 Plain Bronco horseshoe.


Shoes are essential to the well-being of most horses. Without them, hoof cracks and damage to the navicular bone (known as the pastern bone) can occur without protection. Furthermore, shoes can benefit horses whose hooves have become weak due to exposure to abrasives like urine or from spending extended periods in stalls or small turn-out areas.

Horses require shoes for three main reasons: protection, performance, and conformation. The primary goal is to shield their feet from painful injuries or bruising caused by walking on hard, abrasive surfaces.

The second reason is to optimize the horse’s performance in specific scenarios, such as snowy or icy conditions. Horses who work in these conditions typically require snowball pads and studded shoes for improved traction.

Finally, shoes may be necessary for horses with conditions like laminitis or founder. A horse with these conditions tends to have soreness in its front foot, making it difficult to move. Therapeutic shoes shift weight onto the rear part of the foot and stabilize its bones – relieving pain while helping the horse regrow a healthy hoof.

Depending on his environment and activity level, there are various reasons to shoe your horse. Consult with your farrier about these factors and decide what’s best for your horse.

Some horses are sensitive and need shoes, while others naturally have solid and hard feet and don’t require them. It all depends on the horse and his owner.


Horses have been an iconic part of human transportation and agriculture for centuries. They also serve as a form of entertainment. The sound of hoofs stepping through an aisle in a barn is one of the most unique sounds, while their metal shoes signify the power and speed that has endured throughout history.

Wild horses have long been known to walk barefoot, but domesticated horses must endure the same rigorous conditions their wild counterparts did. Rough terrain causes calluses on the feet, which harden them beyond what would otherwise be possible and create stronger, tougher hooves to withstand better the daily abuse that domesticated horses put them through.

However, if a horse is required to cover long distances over hard surfaces or perform strenuous rides with an unbalanced diet, their hoof wall may weaken and develop a low heel and split hoof. Horseshoes come into play here as they provide stability and strength to prevent this damage from occurring.

No, it is not always necessary to shoe a horse. Some horses with naturally robust feet can go the full day without needing protection; others may require it to maintain the optimal performance or mitigate the effects of conformation flaws and medical issues such as arthritis, laminitis, or ringbone (a degenerative joint disease that produces extra bone growth).

When determining whether a horse needs shoes, several factors, such as their environment and activity level, come into play. For instance, one that is frequently ridden will wear its hooves out faster than a horse that rarely gets to move its feet.

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