There are horses that have good quality hooves and remain sound with regular farrier attention. They are able to perform their activities "bare foot", i.e. without shoes.
However for some equine sports or for performing under certain conditions, shoes may be advisable. Examples of situations where shoeing may benefit the horse are:
- When the horse is needed to continually perform on hard surfaces such as racetracks.
- A horse with a breed predisposition to thin soles and and is thus susceptible to bruising.
- Horses that require increased traction due to the surface they are worked on and/or the type of work they are doing. In these cases shoes with 'calks' (projections on the ground surface of the shoe) might be recommended.
Cold versus Hot Shoeing
In cold shoeing a previously manufactured shoe is shaped cold and applied to the foot. In hot shoeing the shoe is heated in a forge and applied to the ground surface of the foot while still hot. The heat sears and levels the trimmed surface of the foot. Hot shoes are easier to shape than cold shoes, and it is possible to get a better fitting shoe this way.
Special nails to hold the shoe on are driven into the ground surface of the foot at the outside of the white line and exit the wall.
Removal of shoes and retrimming the foot with reapplication of the shoes need to be done at regular intervals, which for most horses range from 4 to 8 weeks.
Corrective or Therapeutic Shoeing
For some conditions, your veterinarian may decide to collaborate with your farrier to discuss application of a particular type of shoe to benefit the horse. There are a variety of different types of shoes available that can provide support in specific areas of the foot. Which shoe is used depends on the needs of that horse and that foot. Pads are also available that may be placed under the shoe to further support and protect the sole from concussion. Shoeing is recommended for horses with a variety of conditions such as quarter cracks, contracted heels, and navicular disease as well as some types of gait interferences.