Do Horseshoes Hurt Horses?

Why Do You Shoe a Horse?

Horses wear shoes to protect and strengthen their hooves and feet and keep their hooves from wearing down too quickly. But, do horseshoes hurt horses? This is a question that we will be answering in this article. Some people believe that every horse needs shoes, while others think they should never wear them. So, read on to find out.

Do Horseshoes Hurt Horses?

Unless the farrier hits the nail into the wrong spot, putting shoes on and taking them off does not usually harm horses. In addition, you shouldn’t worry about the horse hooves nerves since correctly attached shoes are nailed through the nerve-free hoof wall.

So, do horseshoes hurt? Usually, horses will feel the force of each hammer blow as nails are driven into their hooves, but they will not be bothered by the sensation of nails going in and out of their hoof wall. 

Naturally, choosing a good farrier for the job is critical. And, unless you’ve been trained, you shouldn’t do horseshoeing. You may end up injuring your horse by driving nails into the wrong spot.

Putting horseshoes on a horse

Is Horseshoes a Cruel Practice?

Do horses feel pain in their hooves? What happens is that a farrier drives nails through the hoof wall and secures the horseshoe to the horse’s foot. This has made many people believe that applying and removing this shoe can be painful for both the horse and the human – but it doesn’t hurt either way.

The good thing is that the nails that hold the shoes in place only go through the nerveless part of the hoof. This makes putting on and taking off horseshoes painless. Horseshoeing, in short, is not painful, cruel, or inhumane.

The majority of horses do not even flinch when being shoed. If they could talk, they’d probably tell us that being shoed is like having your fingernails clipped.

Do Horses Like Being Shoed?

Horses differ according to the quality of their feet. Horses used to wearing shoes will prefer to wear them and will move more comfortably with them on. On the other hand, some horses are very picky about shoes, and if they aren’t put on correctly or bother them, they will find a way to get them off.

When the farrier arrives, horses appear to be excited. It may be because they like his attention or because they like their new shoes. However, most of them enjoy having their hooves picked and didn’t mind shoeing– as long as it’s done by a professional.

Nonetheless, most horses are relatively “neutral when it comes to being shod.” They don’t like the process, but they also don’t despise it.


What Happens if You Don’t Shoe Your Horse?

Why do you shoe a horse? Now and then, you might come across horse feet without shoes. This is because some horses’ feet are naturally rigid and can withstand riding without shoes.

You should frequently remove horseshoes for horses when you turn them out in the pasture. Another reason to remove their shoes is if the horse has difficulty wearing shoes— its hooves may be too brittle to nail a shoe on. Finally, we recommend riding a horse with a horseshoe because if you ride it without, you’ll struggle on paved surfaces. 

Your animal’s hoofs will wear out and become lame if they are not adequately protected. In addition, when galloping over trails with a mix of pavement and dirt-packed ground, your working horses’ hooves need protection from wearing down– so always have some protective gear on hand! 

Hoof boots are an excellent alternative to shoes because they provide excellent grip, solid protection, and the ability to remove them when not required.

Horseshoe Terminology

Every newcomer to the equestrian sport knows that it has its language. Horseshoeing is not an exception, so here are a few terms you should be familiar with:

  • Farrier: A farrier is a professional horseshoer. They’ve been specially trained to prepare and trim hooves, assess and treat lameness, and fit shoes.
  • Hoof: The tip of the horse’s “toe,” located at the end of each leg and made of keratin, a fibrous protein.
  • Horseshoe: A horseshoe is typically made from steel or aluminum and is individually fitted to each horse’s unique hoof. Horseshoes are also good luck symbols!
  • Trimming: It is the process of removing excess outer hoof material, reshaping the hoof’s underside, and rebalancing the hoof before shoeing.
  • Lame: A lame horse has difficulty walking or standing or is in pain. Riding lame horses should be avoided until the underlying cause is identified and resolved.
  • Sound: A sound horse walks and stands without discomfort and is ready for work.
  • Frog: It is a V-shaped structure located in the center of the hoof and is the human fingertip’s equivalent. It creates a grippy and shock-absorbing surface.
  • Wall: Consider the hoof wall to be the horse’s foot’s outer protective shell. It also serves as a traction and shock absorber.
  • Sole: The sole is a grayish-tan surface covering the hoof’s underside. It’s waxy and has different textures depending on whether the horse is shod or barefoot.
  • Hoof bars: The sharp angle at the heel and on either side of the frog is formed by hoof bars.
  • Nippers: Consider nippers to be the human equivalent of nail clippers. They’re used to remove excess hoof before putting on new shoes.
  • Rasp: Consider the rasp to be the human equivalent of a nail file. The instrument is used to level off the hoof by moving it back and forth.
  • Hoof Knife: This curved blade is used to trim the hoof sole to lower it than the outer hoof wall. This prevents pressure from being applied to the sensitive inner sole of the hoof.
Removing worn out horseshoes

FAQs on Horseshoes

Q: How do I know whether my horse is lame?

A: Keep an eye out for signs of imbalance or discomfort. (If you’re not sure what to look for, consult your trainer, farrier, or veterinarian.) Changes in attitude (e.g., refusal to trot), tripping and stumbling, reluctance to move, and head bobbing are all symptoms of lameness.

Q: Should barefoot horse feet still be trimmed?

A: Yes, barefoot horses still need to be trimmed regularly.

Q: Are there alternatives to metal horseshoes?

A: The Megasus Horserunner, a plastic clip-on “sports shoe” for horses, is one of the most recent innovations in horseshoeing. There’s also FormaHoof, an Ireland-based company doing incredible things with equine feet. They offer simple-to-use, no-glue, and no-nail molded shoeing systems. 

Essentially, you purchase hoof molds (hind and front) that are then injected with FormaHoof material, which forms around the hoof and appears to be a thick gel coating.

Q: Can my horse go barefoot in winter?

A: Some people enjoy wearing “pull shoes” in the winter, but this may or may not be a good idea for you. Give it a shot if your horse spends most of the winter off (or has a very light workload), has naturally hard feet, and has shown he can adjust to going barefoot without too much discomfort.

However, if your horse has thin soles, requires special shoes for a chronic condition, maintains a high activity level, or lives in an area with little snowfall, keeping him shod may be the best option. But, again, consult with your veterinarian and farrier before making any changes to your hoof care routine.

Q: Should I consider letting my horse go barefoot?

A: If your horse has naturally good confirmation, hard feet, and no health issues, barefooting may be worth a shot (with consistent trims). Continue shoeing if you have a horse with no hooves soft feet or participate in activities that require shoes.

If the Shoe Fits…

Your horses’ health and happiness should be top of your priorities, and proper hoof care is a big part of that. Whether your horse goes barefoot or is shod, it’s up to you (and your vet or farrier). But at least you know the decision shouldn’t be based on the myth that horseshoes hurt your horse.