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Why Do Horses Wear Shoes?


Horseshoes are ubiquitous with luck, backyard games and ranch life, but if you have ever stopped to think about it, you may have wondered why horses need shoes in the first place. After all, horses have hooves and survive in the wild without shoes—so why do most horses that live in barns wear them?


Below, we will take a look at what horse shoes are and why many people do (or don’t!) choose to get them for their horses.


What Are Horse Shoes?

Horse shoes are a U-shaped plate, typically made from steel or aluminum, which are nailed into the edges of a horse’s hoof by a farrier. Horses do not have feeling in their hooves (aside from the triangle-shaped part in the center, called the frog), so this does not hurt them one bit!

Horse hooves are similar to human nails and will keep growing indefinitely if not trimmed or worn down. A horse that has shoes on is referred to as “shod,” while one without them will be called “unshod.”


What Purpose Do Horse Shoes Serve?

Horse shoes provide several benefits to the horse and the rider, and may be a good choice depending on a horse’s activity and habits. They provide a barrier that prevents hooves from wearing down too quickly and can add durability and strength to the hoof.

Additionally, horseshoes can provide extra traction in snowy, rocky or other rough conditions and can add protection for horses that participate in high impact events like jumping or cross country.


Do All Horses Need Horse Shoes?

Not every horse will need to wear shoes; it mostly comes down to the owner’s personal preference, the terrain the horse is exposed to and what functions the horse performs in its normal life.


Horses that pull heavy loads, racehorses and other performance horses should typically be shod, but for regular riding conditions on soft terrain, they may not be necessary. The best person to give advice about whether or not a horse should be shod is a farrier, as they can check for hoof sensitivity, wear patterns and other indicators that might influence the horse’s comfort.


If you’re ready to experience the Rocky Mountains on horseback, we would love to have you out to the ranch! To book a scenic horseback ride at Sombrero Stables click here.


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