One question has stirred debate among horse enthusiasts and animal welfare advocates- do horse shoes hurt horses? Since the Roman times, these devices have been an integral part of equine management. They are believed to provide support and protection to the hooves from the perils of modern riding and work conditions.
However, some sections of the equestrian community have doubts regarding whether horses need shoeing. This article delves into the heart of the controversy with insights from experts.
Do Horse Shoes Hurt Horses?
Absolutely not, if the horse shoes are applied correctly. Horse hooves are made from keratin. This is the same material for human hair and nails. Just like our nails, the hooves lack pain receptors. This means that nailing the shoe into the hoof doesn’t hurt.
The nails for securing the shoe go into the insensitive ‘horn’ part of the hoof. These are angled outward to avoid affecting the inner tissue. Although the heat of the red-hot shoe while fitting to the hoof may startle the animal, it’s not painful.
Additionally, professional horse shoers known as farriers, are well-trained to perform the task with hoof care in mind. These understand how to balance sound, comfort, and correct movement to prevent the horse from getting hurt.
The farriers understand that each hoof is different and each horse moves differently. So, they shape each hoof to enhance the animal’s movement. They shape each shoe to match the shape of the hoof to avoid interference with the shaping and balancing of the hooves.
1. Why Give My Horse Shoes?
There are various benefits to giving your horse shoes. These protect the animal from stress, wear, and tear when running on rough terrain. The shoes may be custom-made to help your horse with bone or muscular problems.
The shoes also enhance traction by boosting grip on the ground. You can also use them on show horses and high-step breeds for gait support. Horse shoes also improve performance on the track by boosting grip, adding support, and making the animal run faster and smoother.
2. How Do I Tell My Horse Needs Shoeing?
Although it’s a personal choice to give your horse shoes, you have to consider a few factors, including:
• Kind of work your horses are currently doing.
• Overall health and condition of the horse.
• Ground they work on more often.
• Hardiness of the hooves and feet.
• Sensitivity of the sole.
3. When Can Horse Shoes Hurt Horses?
We’ve noticed earlier that horse shoes don’t hurt horses. However, there are circumstances when they actually do. The horse has to stand for longer than usual as the shoes are being fitted, including in awkward positions.
It may also hurt when:
• If nail concussions are driven to irritate the arthritic joints.
• The animal has to lift their feet higher than comfortable.
• Owner not taking the necessary steps to prepare the horse for the process.
• When the nail gets too close to the living part of the hoof causing mild pain or discomfort.
• If the animal has an underlying process such as an abscess.