Why Do Horses Need to Wear Shoes?

Shoeing a horse should be treated as an important decision that takes into account factors like protection, performance, conformation and medical conditions. Shoeing is also affected by its surroundings – will it be used on hard or rocky terrain or not?

Wild horses don’t require shoes, as their feet naturally traverse natural terrain which wears their hoof walls down at an optimal rate. But owned horses who live or ride on hard ground will require shoes.


Shoes for horses provide them with increased traction, making it vital for domesticated working horses who spend much of their time on hard flooring or rocky terrain. Shoes also add durability to hoof walls while helping prevent premature wear-and-tear problems from developing in hoof walls that could otherwise lead to issues down the line.

Horses competing at the highest levels often need shoes due to increased traction and concussion on their feet. While going barefoot may be suitable for some horses, your farrier can help determine the optimal choice based on its environment and type of work.

Domesticated horses that carry riders or pull carriages require shoes in order to protect their hooves and improve performance. Specialized shoes allow horses to cling tightly to the ground while swiftly traversing over tough terrain without risk of injury.

Determining whether a horse should wear shoes can be tricky. Consultations between farrier and veterinarian should help make an informed decision, however if shoes become necessary due to environment or type of work a horse engages in, their effects could prove positive in terms of health and well-being of the animal. In addition to protecting from the elements and providing extra traction during rides, horseshoes also help develop other riding skills like turning.


Horseshoes provide protection for a horse’s hooves from damage and improve traction. Horseshoes are U-shaped bands that fit under each hoof to provide additional layers of protection between it and ground surfaces that may become worn down, cracked, or slippery; and provide greater grip. Hoofwall is made up of horn-like material called hoof wall that grows continuously like fingernails so must be regularly trimmed for proper shape. Horseshoes provide extra layer of protection between hoof wall growth like fingernail trimming so hoof wall must also grow continuously so hoofshoes provide extra layer protection between ground surfaces preventing wear down or cracking while providing improved traction on slippery or hard surfaces.

Wild horses travel quickly over varied terrain, which helps wear down their hooves and maintain good health. Domesticated horses typically travel at lower speeds in hot climates; therefore their hooves lose some of this natural toughening effect over time.

Some horses that carry abnormal loads often need shoes to protect their hoof walls from wearing down too quickly. Others require them for added traction in rocky or rough conditions or therapeutic relief from navicular disease, osteoarthritis or other ailments. Your farrier will be able to recommend the most suitable type of shoe for your horse based on his work environment as well as any health or sensitivity concerns they might have.


Domesticated horses that carry riders or pull carriages require shoes to protect their feet and reduce hoof distortion. Shoeing also improves equestrian events traction as well as helping those suffering from medical conditions that cause their hooves to grow unevenly or become weak and brittle.

Some riders and trainers believe that with proper trimming of hooves, a horse’s hooves can remain healthy and sound without shoes causing lameness or other problems; other equestrians (including top competitors) utilize shoes on all their horses for greater support of their feet and help their horses perform at their best.

Environment can also play a factor in whether or not horses require shoes. Horses that work on rough terrain in warm climates tend to have hard hooves that are less susceptible to bruising or soreness than those living and competing in rocky or snowy regions where shoes will likely be necessary.

Horses accustomed to groomed arena footing or other artificial surfaces may not need shoes at all. Conversely, high-level eventers compete on various surfaces that necessitate them being shod to increase traction and decrease pressure on their feet. Furthermore, horses with poor conformation or long backs may cause interference between front and hind feet when walking resulting in pain or discomfort; corrective shoeing or special shoes can help avoid this complication.


Shoes provide horses with improved traction on various types of terrain, particularly those used for sports or activities, while also strengthening and supporting their feet and hooves to prevent damage or injuries to them. This is especially important in protecting soft areas like the frog where damage could easily occur.

Domesticated horses that are used to perform work may wear their hooves down more rapidly due to heavy loads and stress they carry, causing pain, discomfort and lack of fitness in these domesticated horses.

Shod horses tend to wear out their shoes faster than unshod ones due to being kept in stalls or small turnout areas that expose their hooves to urine, leading to constant ammonia exposure that weakens hoof walls and ultimately splits them.

Some may view shoes as restricting horses’ natural movements and gaits, reducing efficiency and effectiveness. However, farriers offer an array of shoes designed to address medical, conformation or balance issues to help improve gait and performance of horses shod with shoes – ultimately outweighing any drawbacks of shoeing them with shoes! Hoof care must remain paramount so as to maintain healthy hooves that can withstand their use without incurring damage due to shoewear.

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