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Shoes for the dressage horse

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  • Shoes for the dressage horse

    I am NOT trying to cause a barefoot vs shoes brawl. I am just looking for data. If you can post that without a tirade I'd appreciate it.

    In a recent discussion, we were comparing hoof management for the horse who never goes off groomed surfaces; in other words, from the arena to the stall to the pasture.

    NEVER out on the trail. Maybe shows 2-3x per yr.

    I've heard of people who keep shoes all around on their horses and was rather surprised, since I thought a horse with "a good hoof" should be able to handle this sort of use without shoes.

    So I'd like to hear from regular dressage riders who use their horses primarily for dressage or arena work:

    My questions:
    1. Do you ride like this (where your horse never goes off easy footing)? If so:
    2. How many times a week?
    3. For how long? At what level are you riding/training?
    4. Do you keep shoes on your horse all year round? In front only or all 4?
    5. If you do keep shoes on, why? Seriously -- what prompted you to make this choice? Reasons could be: tradition, I've been taught to do it this way; vet/farrier/trainer said, 'better safe than sorry'; horse has crappy feet -- I'm lucky he can walk; our footing really isn't THAT good;

    Again, I'm not trying to start a war...I may simply have an inaccurate picture of the preferred management of the "mostly dressage" performer.
    Last edited by Kyzteke; Mar. 2, 2013, 03:24 PM. Reason: To help keep the ADD COTHers on track...

  • #2
    My simple test for whether or not a horse benefits from shoes is to simply put them on. If he moves more freely, they stay on. If there's no difference, they come off.
    Patience pays.

    Comment


    • #3
      my older mare had shoes all around for competition because she went "off" without front shoes so we just did all around. Now that she is retired and just walk trot, she has shoes in front only. My 10 yr old arab mare working first level is barefoot all around. Doesn't act like she needs shoes, not off so doesnt get them. One day I may do as Melissa suggests and put them on for three months and see what we get, and if it is the same back off they go. But not now.

      My TB who has "issues" eg no right lead canter was barefoot for a year and a half, and has been in shoes for a little over half a year at vets insistance that he "needs support on his hind end". Well his hiney is the same, but he does seem to reach better in front so... He is currently shoes on all four but if finances dictate then I do feel like I could drop to shoes in front only.

      You do what the horse needs. Its just a big experiment.

      Comment


      • #4
        I can honestly say I don't know anyone who puts shoes on a dressage horse because of "tradition" or appearances. People, including myself, put shoes on because some issue requires it according to my vet or farrier (usually this conversation occurs because the rider says "something isn't quite right - what do you think?). Perhaps a quarter crack, perhaps excessive wear due to footing, perhaps whatever. I really don't know anyone who enjoys unnecessarily paying 2-4 times the price of a trim on a regular basis.

        Your best bet is to ask this woman what she means by "needs more support". Keep in mind that owner and/or trainer may not want to talk about a hoof problem knowing that you bred the horse. Some breeders think the owners might blame them if the horse has a problem with the feet, or some might think that the breeder will think that they caused a problem if the horse has a problem with the feet.
        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

        Comment


        • #5
          1. Do you ride like this (where your horse never goes off easy footing)?
          Yes

          2. How many times a week?
          5-6x/week

          3. For how long? At what level are you riding/training?
          45 minutes - 1 hour usually, sometimes longer. My trainer is training him PSG but I'm only doing 3rd level.

          4. Do you keep shoes on your horse all year round? In front only or all 4?
          All 4

          5. If you do keep shoes on, why? Seriously -- what prompted you to make this choice?
          I have no idea!! I only bought him last year but he's been in shoes all his life and goes really well so I never thought to change it. All the horses in our barn (who all have pretty much the same lifestyle as my own) have shoes year round - I'll have to ask why tomorrow.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            I think that's probably anyone's way of judging. But that isn't what I was asking. I am asking for specific using info for a dressage horse (as posted in the first entry) and why did the owner/rider/trainer decide the horse needed shoes.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              (From Inne):I have no idea!! I only bought him last year but he's been in shoes all his life and goes really well so I never thought to change it. All the horses in our barn (who all have pretty much the same lifestyle as my own) have shoes year round - I'll have to ask why tomorrow.


              See, I am fascinated by this. When I asked the woman who bought my colt, she said, "Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Meaning the horse has been doing just great for the last 3+ yrs and so she's gonna keep it up.

              But I know even on the race track it was the goal to pull a horse's shoes for at least 3 months o/o the year. Of course it was always a time when the horse was not in training. Anytime they were in training they wore shoes.

              Inne, do you mind me asking how old your horse is?

              And when you do your "survey" I'd like to know the ages of the various horses and how long they have been being managed this way (shoes x4 365 days a year).

              Comment


              • #8
                No shoes on any of mine currently. Even the ones on hard work...I do have a bunch of Cavallo boots in various sizes that I use if I go on a trail ride, or plan to walk on roads for more than a few blocks. My horses all have great feet ( part of why I chose them). I do not shoe a horse unless there is a compelling reason.
                The sand in the arena is wearing the hind toes on a couple of them, but not excessively. One of my student's barefoot horses had VERY bad toe wear issues on one hind hoof, but that was due to sacral pain. We put shoes back on him all around, and he is getting acupuncture.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Kyzteke View Post
                  I am NOT trying to cause a barefoot vs shoes brawl. I am just looking for data. If you can post that without a tirade I'd appreciate it.

                  The reason: I recently spoke to a woman who had purchased one of my colts as a weanling. He is now 6+ yrs old. His dam and damsire were both known for their excellent feet -- in fact his damsire did his 11 mos Celle testing barefoot.

                  This colt, per all, also has great feet. Even the trainer says he has great feet!

                  So -- just talking, the woman confesses she has ZERO interest in trail riding and the horse goes from arena to stall to pasture and 2x a year, to a local show. That's it.

                  Naturally I was amazed to find out she keeps shoes on him all around! To me I can not believe a horse who never is on any kind of tough footing would need shoes.

                  My questions:
                  1. Do you ride like this (where your horse never goes off easy footing)? If so:
                  2. How many times a week?
                  3. For how long? At what level are you riding/training?
                  4. Do you keep shoes on your horse all year round? In front only or all 4?
                  5. If you do keep shoes on, why? Seriously -- what prompted you to make this choice? Reasons could be: tradition, I've been taught to do it this way; vet/farrier/trainer said, 'better safe than sorry'; horse has crappy feet -- I'm lucky he can walk; our footing really isn't THAT good;

                  Again, I'm not trying to start a war...I may simply have an inaccurate picture of the preferred management of the "mostly dressage" performer.

                  BTW, when I asked the person why she started putting shoes on the horse, she said the vet/trainer felt "horse could use alittle more support." However the trainer had just finished telling me what great feet said horse had and the rider is quite small, so certainly not a big burden for this animal.

                  Do you think the vet/trainer were just CYAing?

                  I suppose I just can't see how you could tax a good foot by carrying around a 130lbs, fairly accomplished rider 5-6x a week for 45 mins or less...

                  Please tell me what I'm missing
                  You're missing the fact it's not your horse. Leave it be.

                  G.
                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I rode my older horse all over creation barefoot for a number of years. I was so proud to have a tb that I could keep barefoot (after he spent the first 8 years of his life at the track, probably shod most or all of that time!). It wasn't until I basically quit trail riding and focused on dressage that I put shoes on him. He was fine to trail ride on pretty much any terrain without shoes, and he got to pick his footing and we went at a pace dictated by the terrain (and we did ride hard and fast sometimes, he loved that!). But when the dressage got serious and I needed him confident and ready to do a lengthening NOW, the shoes helped a lot. And they give him the extra support he needs to give me that extra stride length, and to do 5-7 days a week in the hoof-wearing sand(from the wear on his shoes, the sand is WAY more abrasive than the dirt/gravel/pavement/etc on the trails). I've had just front shoes on this boy, and now he's starting to play with tempi changes and pirouettes and I'm thinking I might try some back shoes on him and see if that helps him with the collected work. Dressage(performance)-sound is a whole 'nother level from trail sound, and "careful-footed" sure won't cut it!

                    My other horse has front shoes because he tends to be a little sore or "careful" without and I hate to see him moving that way (he's a GORGEOUS mover when he's confident and comfortable, why take that away from him when shoes are so easy to give him??), and the other one has shoes because he was barefoot but somewhat neglected in the hoof-trim department when I got him and we are trying to help him re-shape one foot so he's more even. He was a trail horse before I got him, so it probably didn't matter if he was "even" or straight before, he was sound enough and that was good enough, but I want him to trot a perfect centerline and with a high heel and a low heel that will be much more difficult!

                    I think there are lots of horses that can trail ride or do lower level work without shoes but will need shoes to move it up another level. It sounds like this person is taking good care of the horse the way she knows how, and keeping him comfortable for the job she wants him to do, so don't worry about it! If other horses can do it without shoes, that's great too! But they are all different, footing is different (even if it's "just sand"), and expectations for performance are different.
                    Gallant Gesture "Liam" 1995 chestnut ottb gelding
                    Mr. Painter "Remy" 2006 chestnut ottb gelding
                    My Training Blog: www.dressagefundamentals.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I bought one of my horses as a 4 y.o., he had never been shod and had fantastic feet. As we began to really gets serious about dressage I began to think he needed shoes as he felt, for lack of a better description, cautious. I started with fronts and then about 6 months later added shoes all around. he simply went better in them then out of them. It was never a matter of his feet falling apart, it was simply that he felt more confident and stronger once I put them on.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kyzteke View Post
                        Inne, do you mind me asking how old your horse is?

                        And when you do your "survey" I'd like to know the ages of the various horses and how long they have been being managed this way (shoes x4 365 days a year).
                        My horse is 12. I just got called into work until Monday but now I'm really curious and will respond next week. The only horse I remember who didn't have back shoes was an 18 year old who was only with us for a year and I don't know what he did before that in terms of shoes. He was a former PSG horse who was purchased as a part-time schoolmaster/easygoing 'pleasure' horse with a relatively light workload and was probably our only horse who wasn't in full-time training, which I'm guessing is the reason for the different shoeing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am an eventer, so only do dressage for one phase. However, I do practice our dressage at least four days/week.

                          My mare is a Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, who is supposed to gait. The only time that she came close to gaiting (she has a lovely trot ) was when a farrier put steel shoes all around. I was told by my trainer that she would need studs. We moved to KY, from OH, and I had a terrible time finding a farrier who understood how to balance her feet. She went from a size2 shoe, down to a 0.

                          Several Winters ago, I decided to pull her shoes, so her feet could expand. What I found was that she actually went better without shoes. My Dressage instructor was quite shocked. We qualified and went to three American Eventing Championships with her feet bare. She goes just fine barefoot, in mud, deep or dry footing. I feel much safer jumping her without shoes and studs.

                          I believe that it has become a habit for trainers to put horses in shoes, without consideration of how the horse moves barefoot. This is what they understand, so they continue with what they know. If the person who bought your horse never gives it a Winter break, then I doubt that she will ever try having her horse go barefoot. Since she owns the horse, you will just have to take a deep breath and ignore it. It is sad, because she would save a boatload of money just having her horse trimmed.
                          When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My horse was barefoot until he was around 5 or so, when I put shoes on him to have the option of using studs when I felt it was necessary (jumping on grass, mostly.)

                            Over the years I have had a couple of bad farrier experiences - the horse has a slight flare to one foot that some farriers always want to "fix" which always causes issues. However, with the correct balance and a decent farrier, his feet are actually terrific.

                            Unfortunately when I moved to GA last year, my then-trainer's farrier messed things up and caused a quarter crack. I moved to a different barn/took up dressage and the new farrier got things back on track right away, but it required a bar shoe to support that foot while the angles were corrected and the damaged area grew out.

                            He is almost done growing that damage out (maybe 1/2" to go) and has been barefoot behind for that entire time with no problems. I am hoping to pull the front shoes as well in a few more months.

                            Horse is generally ridden on good footing (groomed arena, grass, plus a weekly trail ride on decent surfaces.) He is generally ridden about 5-6 times per week, for around 45 minutes to an hour per session. I show at first level since I am fairly new to dressage, but my trainer does the third level stuff with him, and we school those movements at home. When we were doing a lot of jumping and showing, I did keep him shod all the way around, mostly because we never really knew what kinds of footing we'd be faced with, and I liked having the option to put in studs when necessary. I also felt that with the amount of jumping we did, shoes helped this particular horse. Now that we are doing less jumping (only on our very nice grass field at home) it is not a necessity.

                            I found it very interesting that when we pulled the (hind) shoes, my horse was not even *slightly* sore - there was no transition time for him at all. And he definitely moves better and finds the barefoot arrangement more comfortable.
                            **********
                            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                            -PaulaEdwina

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think a lot of us would much rather have our horses barefoot, just because it's so much less expensive.

                              But. It doesn't always work. Mine was barefoot until I bought her, but the New England rocks did a number on her hooves so we added front shoes. She stayed that way until she had suspensory surgery, and was barefoot until I started riding her again and she went back into front shoes only. At a certain point during rehab, the vet said I should try rear shoes to see if she'd be less careful with her hind end, and she was, so she's been an all-fours horse ever since. He says that horses worked in deepish or uneven footing often do better in shoes, and the footing at the barn can be either or both of those things at times. The problem is not really her hooves at all -- farriers LOVE them as they are strong, solid "good Morgan feet." If I could keep her barefoot, I would have some sort of boots for trail riding as it's very rocky around here.
                              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My young horses all start out barefoot - but once they are in regular work, I put on front shoes. They ALWAYS go better once shod. I've had a few small-breeder friends who have asked me about it, and some of them started putting front shoes on when the horses are working, and they also all commented on how much better the horse goes. Reality is - even with good feet, adding shoes often helps the horse with concussive work. A horse can be absolutely sound, going well barefoot, but often goes even better with shoes - so why question that?

                                I have hard, rocky ground with rolling hills and seasonal creeks and ponds - my "kids" develop great feet, but I've learned over the years, they do go better in shoes. And as they develop in their training and start doing more weight bearing work (aka schooling collection), it can help them if I add the support of back shoes.

                                The other things to remember - if a rider is showing, the horse is on all kinds of varied surfaces at show grounds. Parking lots may be gravel, show rings may be spread out, some portable stabling is on concrete - so again, why not offer the horse a little more support? AND - sand is very abrasive - so feet can be heavily worn down in the arena.

                                For all these reasons, I do shoe my riding horses. They go better in shoes. I'm not sure why someone would question this decision?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  BTW, when I asked the person why she started putting shoes on the horse, she said the vet/trainer felt "horse could use a little more support."

                                  Do you think the vet/trainer were just CYAing?

                                  Please tell me what I'm missing
                                  Why would you dismiss the vet and trainer advice? Especially if the horse has been doing great all these years? Why would you try to fix something that isn't broke and working well?

                                  Just because the dam and the sire had great feet doesn't mean the colt won't ever need shoes.

                                  It is no longer your horse, the owner can spend the money on her horse the way she wants. If the horse was crippled, nasty or whatever maybe you should be concerned but because someone trust her farrier and vet about putting shoes on her horse is none of you business.

                                  My mare has shoes all around and leather rim pads in the front all year long. She has hard and sturdy feet. (I need to put forshner at least once a week to actually try to soften them...) She does ok without shoes but she got a few bruises. She does great with shoes, so why would I unshod her for 3 months and risk her toget bruises? No point.
                                  ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                                  Originally posted by LauraKY
                                  I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                                  HORSING mobile training app

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Having had a horse that was actively shown without shoes for no better reason than shoes simply weren't necessary. And having had a very BNT look at those bare feet and comment, "lucky you", I'd say go with what ever suits you and the horse.

                                    Sadly, too many shoe all around because "that's how it's done".
                                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Here's what I do. I have 2 horses: a semi-retired mare and an "in full work" gelding. I pull the shoes from both of them in late November and don't put them back on until March. (I live in the snow and ice zone and they have better traction without shoes...). The mare isn't in work during the winter, so it doesn't matter. As soon as she goes back into the arena to get in shape for trailriding, she needs shoes...because she has crappy TB feet and is ouchy without them on my sand (with a few stones) arena. The gelding moves to a barn with an indoor for a couple months during the winter. Until he moves, we ride at home on either soft sand (rain) or snow and he's fine without shoes. At the barn on the dirt arena, he's fine. Once the sand firms up at home, he needs shoes, because he gets ouchy without them. I WISH I could leave both of them barefoot, but the conditions don't warrant it.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        1. Do you ride like this (where your horse never goes off easy footing)? If so:

                                        My horse is barefoot. Pasture, stall, arena. Occasional light trail rides. Dressage horse.

                                        2. How many times a week?
                                        Works 5x a week in arena, T/O daily.

                                        3. For how long? At what level are you riding/training?
                                        Horse works 45 mins- 1hr 3x a week and light ride 1-2x or longe 1-2x. Horse is somewhere training-second level depending on day, but we don't just WTC.

                                        4. Do you keep shoes on your horse all year round? In front only or all 4?
                                        Never had shoes on him

                                        5. If you do keep shoes on, why? Seriously -- what prompted you to make this choice? Reasons could be: tradition, I've been taught to do it this way; vet/farrier/trainer said, 'better safe than sorry'; horse has crappy feet -- I'm lucky he can walk; our footing really isn't THAT good;

                                        I would use shoes if it was needed. I prefer not to have shoes on. I worry about slipping.

                                        Comment

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