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Hoof Care

Hoof Care

Photo by Lena Bauermeister on Unsplash

There will be lots of – usually, very forthright – opinions about shoeing or not shoeing your horse, but this is a subject best discussed with your vet and farrier. For those simply wanting to know the basics about hoof care and the options out there, read on…


Proper hoof care is vital for your horse’s overall well-being and soundness, and regular trimming plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy hooves and preventing potential issues. Whether your horse wears shoes on or not, seeing a farrier or barefoot trimmer every six to eight weeks should become an unnegotiable part of your horse’s routine.




For centuries, shoes have been put on horse’s hooves to provide protection, support, and to address certain hoof-related issues. Historians differ on the origin of the horseshoe, but the first references to the nailed shoe appears around 900AD.


One of the primary reasons for shoeing horses is to provide protection. Domesticated horses often travel on harsh terrain – rather than grassy plains – and horseshoes act as a barrier between the sensitive hoof structure and the ground they tread on. Wearing shoes is said to reduce the risk of injury, bruising, or excessive wear of the hoof wall.

Horseshoes can also help with traction issues, especially in sports such as showjumping and cross country where riders improve grip with studs screwed into the shoes.

Some conformational issues, such as imbalances or deformities, can also be helped by a farrier skilled in corrective shoeing techniques who can restore correct hoof alignment, balance, and movement. Shoes can also provide crucial support and relief for horses suffering from hoof-related conditions, such as laminitis.

When it comes to your horse’s hooves, a good farrier is worth their weight in gold – not to mention, endless cups of coffee – because incorrect trimming and bad shoeing can have a detrimental impact your horse’s health.

A good farrier not only understands your horse’s conformational needs, they will also take into account your horse’s workload, the type of work they do, the condition of your horse’s hooves, the stable management of your horse and what surface your horse is most commonly worked on. 

Image by Katharina Kammermann from Pixabay

Barefoot Trimming


In the past, when horses didn’t require so much protection from environmental factors, they went barefoot. This was quite common during winter months when the ground was softer and they were used less.This barefoot break was said to give the horses’ hooves time to grow naturally and rebalance.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards keeping horses barefoot on a more permanent basis, and it is no longer uncommon to see barefoot horses in high-level disciplines.

To facilitate this growing movement, farrier training now includes more hours on barefoot trimming and there has been a noticeable increase in hoof professionals from equine podiatrists to specialised barefoot trimmers. For more information contact the Equine Podiatry Association (UK).

Note: some insurance policies won't cover you if a non-registered farrier treats your horse's hooves and a problem arises, so check with your broker.

Among the reasons that some owners and riders choose to go barefoot is natural hoof mechanics. A barefoot hoof flexes and expands upon impact, allowing it to absorb shock and to effectively distribute the horse’s weight to reduce any strain on the tendons, ligaments, and joints. Maintaining this natural mechanism is said to promote better balance, posture, and overall soundness in the horse.

Image by Masakazu Kobayashi from Pixabay

If you are considering transitioning your horse to a barefoot lifestyle, we would advise you to consult with a qualified hoof care professional to assess your horse’s specific needs.

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