Does a horse need a hoof shoe? This is a common concern among horse owners. A horse, especially one living in the wild, would naturally have tough hooves that can withstand all manner of terrains. However, domestic horses differ considerably from wildlife horses in many aspects.
As far as hoof structure and strength is concerned, the domestic hoof shows some signs of weakness for different reasons, including:
Domestic horses do not move as much a wild horses
Domestic horses tend to eat more sugary foods, resulting in hoof weakness
Selective breeding of domestic horses often leads to hoof weakness
Over the years, these weaknesses have been concealed by the practice of shoeing. If you are shopping for a hoof shoe, here are some factors that might help you decide what is right for your horse.
Most hoof boots are made from aluminium or steel. Ideally, hoof shoes made from steel tend to be durable and inexpensive. On the other hand, aluminium shoes tend to be a long lighter and offer therapeutic benefits, but they are relatively costlier than steel shoes. However, the range used keeps increasing, with less traditional materials such as rubber, plastic, and fibreglass becoming increasingly popular.
The Web size essentially describes the dimensions of the metal used to make the shoe. Narrow webs offer better support while a wider one provides a soft footing. It is also worth noting that having a wide web provides optimal weight distribution, mimicking the barefoot horse.
You also need to pay attention to the fitting. Ensure you get the sizing right. Using a small size on a big hoof will ultimately compromise the horse’s productivity. Also, an oversized hoof shoe is likely to get pulled off when the horse is on the move, possibly hurting the horse.