Book Excerpt: Shoeing for the Job
by: Heather Smith Thomas
January 26 2009, Article # 13508
There are many kinds of horseshoes; try to select shoes well suited to your horse's work. While a horse with a problem may need a farrier to create a special shoe, many horses get along fine with factory-made shoes.
Shoes should always be as light as is practical, taking into consideration the wear demanded of them, so that they interfere as little as possible with the normal flight of the horse's foot. Weight, no matter how it's added to the foot, tends to reduce speed and agility. Added weight can also make a minor deviation in foot flight more noticeable.
The normal flight of the foot is a relatively straightforward line. No horse's foot moves perfectly straight, but good leg conformation creates the most straightforward motion with the least wasted effort and movement. Any significant deviation from normal foot flight takes the form of an arc--either to the outside or inside of this relatively straight line. Adding weight to the foot in the form of a shoe will increase the arc because of the additional swing it makes. Ordinary shoeing thus accentuates a horse's foot flight and any gait defect.
Most horses never hit themselves when running barefoot (with short, properly worn hooves) but some will forge or interfere when shod due to the added weight of the shoe. A horse that tends to interfere (strike one front limb against the other, or one hind limb against the other hind) or forge (strike a front heel or sole with the hind toe) does so even worse when shod. The weight makes the horse's strides slightly longer and the arcs of foot flight even more pronounced. Thus, he must be carefully (correctively) shod to prevent these problems.