To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 5

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In this seven part series I sat down with one of this country’s leading farriers to tackle the age old debate of shoeing your horse verses leaving him or her barefoot. The series is both controversial and enlightening and in the end, my goal is to provide information on both sides of the fence so that you may make an informed decision about your horse’s shoeing needs.

In the first two installments, To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 1 and To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 2 I introduced the series and provided some initial shoeing factors. In To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 3 I covered the healthy hoof and options to protect it. Finally, in To Shoe or Not to Shoe: Part 4, my expert provided some trimming options to consider should you decide to leave your horse barefoot. In this week’s post, Part 5, we’ll talk about reasons an owner may decide to shoe his or her horse.Part 5 (Reasons to Shoe):  If you feel that your horse may be a candidate for a change to his current level of podiatry care Davis recommends that you consider the following signs:

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• Interfering.  If a horse that has not previously had a history of interfering begins to do so you should discuss this with your farrier. He or she, in addition to visually and physically examining the horse, may ask to see him move out in hand and/or perform under saddle before making a recommendation.

• Reluctance to move out. A change such as this in your horse’s behavior may indicate a need for further examination.

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• Changes to the horse’s feet.  An observant owner should always take special care to observe the horse’s feet when cleaning them out. If an owner notices that the horse is walking more on the sole or has sole bruising, this should be discussed with his farrier.

• Changes in riding disciplines. A different discipline may have different shoeing regulations. Even if the regulations remain the same, your horse may need to add shoes or require a different type of shoe than the one he is currently shod in in order to provide, for example, more traction.

• Signs that horse isn’t “right” while under saddle. If an owner/rider begins to notice changes to the horse’s way of going while under saddle he or she should discuss this with the horse’s team of caregivers. In some cases, this may indicate a need for a change in his shoeing methods.

Interested in learning more? In the final two series installments we’ll cover steps you can take in order to make certain that you choose the best possible farrier both to advise you with this and other challenging decisions and, once the decision has been made, to implement that decision with your horse. In the last post of the series you’ll learn ways to that you, regardless of your trimming and shoeing decisions, you can provide optimal hoof care.

About the expert: Jeremy Davis has been a professional farrier for nineteen years. He is a Certified Journeyman Farrier with the American Farriers Association and is a Diplomat with the Worshipful Company of Farriers. He is currently the Farrier in Residence at The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

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