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Shoes on Young Horses?

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  • Shoes on Young Horses?

    Hey everyone! Just wanted to start up a discussion regarding shoes on young horses - thoughts? I have a coming 3-year old in April, had her vetted when I purchased her at 2 years 4 months old and the vet informed me that she had thin soles and recommended shoes (at the very least) on her fronts.

    Upon bringing her home, my farrier advised me that she would be OK for the time being and to keep shoes off of her as long as possible. She is not currently in work, so for now I am not overly concerned. However, we will be re-starting her come April in a 4/5-day per week program (we are in the H/J discipline). I will of course ask my farrier on what he recommends, I just wanted some outside opinions regarding shoes on young horses and if I should wait / how long should I wait.

    For the record, her feet are in *okay* shape, she has a slight deformity on her front right hoof that definitely creates a point of weakness and has since developed a superficial crack (nothing big enough for anything to get in and cause an abscess) and can only imagine it will get worse with work. Have been using an all-natural conditioner for this with no real results / improvements.

  • #2
    Did you have her feet xrayed with the PPE (is that how the vet diagnosed thin soles?) Or just by hoof testers? If she has only "ok" feet, with a deformity - shoes might be a good choice. But it's pretty impossible to argue that over the internet.

    I don't know why your farrier would think that you should keep shoes off "as long as possible." Did you ask why?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by S1969 View Post
      Did you have her feet xrayed with the PPE (is that how the vet diagnosed thin soles?) Or just by hoof testers? If she has only "ok" feet, with a deformity - shoes might be a good choice. But it's pretty impossible to argue that over the internet.

      I don't know why your farrier would think that you should keep shoes off "as long as possible." Did you ask why?
      Yes, we took 40 radiographs including many of her feet (last horse I leased developed navicular syndrome and I will NOT go through that again), which is how she identified thin soles!

      Unfortunately no, I didn't ask as I wasn't there for the farrier, just a message passed along from the barn manager to myself. It seems to be a common theme at my barn where the younger horses are kept away from shoes - there are babies with worse feet than mine who are still barefoot, perhaps the farrier's preference? I'm unsure.

      Comment


      • #4
        What kind of diet is she on? How much actual work/movement does she get daily? Of course most think young = runs around, but if she is a more docile youngster her frog won't get the stamina and compression to help the hoof grow. Not saying for sure that would help strengthen the sole, but a good feed program and adequate exercise should. Maybe your vet can reccomend a good supplement?

        You could apply a sole/ hoof hardener as well. We used keratex with great results.

        I am guessing the farrier wants to delay shoes to allow her legs to strengthen more without the weight of shoes, and / or giving her soles and outer walls time to toughen up a bit more, if they can toughen up.

        I think it is great that your farrier wants to wait. Many would be like "yep shoes, shoes, shoes!!!" With dollar signs in their eyes, sounds like you have one that thinks more about the horse's well being in the long run, which is a great thing these day.

        Happy training and jingles that her soles can toughen up as she grows more!!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Assuming the crack you mentioned is vertical, my shoer showed me how to rasp perpindicular to the crack, across the top of it to prevent it spreading further. Just rasp a shallow groove & crack stops there.

          Re: shoeing youngsters My 3rd generation Hackney Pony friends put plain keg shoes on 2yos. No stacked shoes until further along, but not uncommon for 2 going on 3 to be shod.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by carman_liz View Post
            What kind of diet is she on? How much actual work/movement does she get daily? Of course most think young = runs around, but if she is a more docile youngster her frog won't get the stamina and compression to help the hoof grow. Not saying for sure that would help strengthen the sole, but a good feed program and adequate exercise should. Maybe your vet can reccomend a good supplement?

            You could apply a sole/ hoof hardener as well. We used keratex with great results.

            I am guessing the farrier wants to delay shoes to allow her legs to strengthen more without the weight of shoes, and / or giving her soles and outer walls time to toughen up a bit more, if they can toughen up.

            I think it is great that your farrier wants to wait. Many would be like "yep shoes, shoes, shoes!!!" With dollar signs in their eyes, sounds like you have one that thinks more about the horse's well being in the long run, which is a great thing these day.

            Happy training and jingles that her soles can toughen up as she grows more!!!
            She keeps weight on fairly easily so she's on minimal grain, just a mix of high fat / high fibre. She gets turned out ~10 hours per day and comes in late afternoon, how much she actually moves around in that time I'm unsure. It's fairly snowy / icy here around this time of year so the horses don't move around a whole lot!

            She isn't on any supplements right now, both my trainer and vet advised me to stay off anything until we get her back into work. Which then I would assume she would be on something for her feet. I never thought about it that way though, it is possible that this farrier just knows what he's doing and has learned from past experience! I try not to question his expertise but I can always wonder.

            Comment


            • #7
              Is this crack a vertical crack? If so, this is an indication that the way she is being trimmed is creating shear heel, and this can be fixed by fixing the trimming.

              I find this a lot, honestly, and it is often because the farrier is trimming on a plane other than what the horse naturally lives in. I.e., we have this idea that the toes must point forward, but very few horses actually have limbs and bony columns that create this kind of alignment...yet we trim to try and create this alignment. This creates tremendous shearing forces on the connective tissues and after a while results in vertical cracks that can be incredibly insidious.

              I also think it is worthwhile to try and shore up the health of your horse's feet before adding the stress of being shod. If she has poor hoof quality to begin with, adding shoes to that isn't necessarily going to help and may even hurt in the long run. If she's sound barefoot right now, better to really work on getting her angles correct (and honestly, making sure the horse is being trimmed correctly and the angles getting closer to what they should be goes MUCH farther in creating better quality hoof than adding supplements, topicals, etc)
              Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post

                She keeps weight on fairly easily so she's on minimal grain, just a mix of high fat / high fibre. She gets turned out ~10 hours per day and comes in late afternoon, how much she actually moves around in that time I'm unsure. It's fairly snowy / icy here around this time of year so the horses don't move around a whole lot!

                She isn't on any supplements right now, both my trainer and vet advised me to stay off anything until we get her back into work. Which then I would assume she would be on something for her feet. I never thought about it that way though, it is possible that this farrier just knows what he's doing and has learned from past experience! I try not to question his expertise but I can always wonder.
                Oh of course!!! With the snow and ice though, are her feet cleaned out nightly when she comes in to her stall? If you want her feet to be the best they can then I would make sure the ice n snowballs are removed while she is in so they can dry out, the moisture n all that cannot be good for it. There was always a kid around at my old barn n i would pay him a dollar for every day he picked out my mares feet during wet nasty snowy weather lol.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Work or not, she needs high nutrition, especially given her age, and small amounts of a feed won't provide that. Depending on how much if the high fat/fiber mix she's on (what is that anyway?) you'd likely do much better with at least 1lb of a ration balancer.

                  Not knowing how her feet are trimmed, what they look like, I would let her tell you. It doesn't sound like she needs shoes right at this moment, but may as she gets into more work. Whether that's in the Spring, or not until later in the year, who knows.

                  Shoes weigh so little they are not a factor in developing legs/feet. Properly applied shoes on properly trimmed feet don't inhibit hoof growth.

                  I would also stop anything "conditioning". Healthy feet are hard and dry.

                  Does the superficial crack go from the top down, or bottom up?
                  ______________________________
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I also try to keep my young horses barefoot for as long as possible. Ideally, IMO, it's great for them to be barefoot while the foot is still growing and changing shape. But every now and again I get a late bloomer who goes through that "foot development" part of it while shod to no apparent detriment.

                    What's the hoof deformity? I have a mare who sustained a minor injury to her coronet band when she was young and will forever have a visible crack on the back quarter of one of her front hooves. It's not a functional crack.....just superficial and visible. It's a total non-issue (and not anything that any shoer could fix no matter their skill). Work has zero impact on the crack and the mare has jumped around the 1.40m happily.

                    I do usually put shoes on when I start riding. I have coarser footing, so that's part of it, but realistically I'd probably still do it even if my footing wasn't super coarse. I start mine at 3 and put a couple of months of light rides on them. I usually put them in fronts only at that time. Once we start more serious jumping at 4, they go in hinds as well. I used to keep them in fronts only until they started showing, but then I had a couple in a row where hinds made a massive difference to them, and now I put them in 4 shoes as soon as I bring them out of their break between being started at 3 and going into real work the spring of their 4yo year.

                    Very broadly, my feeling about shoes is that you're never going to regret putting a young horse in shoes, but you might regret leaving them barefoot. And by that, I mean that putting a horse in a legitimate work *could* leave them a bit foot sore in a situation like yours. And from my personal experience, leaving them barefoot behind *can* leave a young horse struggling a bit more to develop power behind. I've been lucky that the youngsters I've had have maintained a positive attitude despite, but I don't want to risk letting them think "I can't do it" or "it hurts" for even a second at that stage of their development.

                    To be clear, I am not "anti-barefoot," nor do I think that "all horses need shoes." But in a H/J environment and on your average horse, I think that shoes can make the job a bit easier for the horse.
                    __________________________________
                    Flying F Sport Horses
                    Horses in the NW

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post
                      Yes, we took 40 radiographs including many of her feet


                      - there are babies with worse feet than mine who are still barefoot, perhaps the farrier's preference? I'm unsure.
                      Let me just put that straight.

                      You paid a vet for plenty of radiographs and it was determined that the horse had thin sole and shoes should be applied.

                      Your farrier decided that it was no concern and that your horse should remain barefoot.

                      You have a horse with a « deformed » hoof, that has now developed a crack.

                      Horses trimmed/shod by this farrier are in worst condition than yours.

                      My point is : you need a better farrier and most probably a better farm where horses are better taken care of.

                      Hoof care is very important during the developmental stage of the horse - it shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

                      And if someone wants to argue to keep them « as natural as possible »; you know what happen to horses in the wild that have crappy feet? They get eaten.
                      ~ 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


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post

                        Let me just put that straight.

                        You paid a vet for plenty of radiographs and it was determined that the horse had thin sole and shoes should be applied.

                        Your farrier decided that it was no concern and that your horse should remain barefoot.

                        You have a horse with a « deformed » hoof, that has now developed a crack.

                        Horses trimmed/shod by this farrier are in worst condition than yours.

                        My point is : you need a better farrier and most probably a better farm where horses are better taken care of.

                        Hoof care is very important during the developmental stage of the horse - it shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

                        And if someone wants to argue to keep them « as natural as possible »; you know what happen to horses in the wild that have crappy feet? They get eaten.
                        I like that, good way to make a point.

                        If a vet said the horse needs shoes, a farrier really should stay out of that and put shoes.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          First, how does your horse act when walking over hard surfaces or gravel? I bought a yearling, did a basic ppe but no xrays of feet and noticed right off the bat he was hesitant walking on gravel. About 6 months later he did have a lameness issue and we xrayed a bunch of stuff and his front feet showed thin soles, hinds were fine. Per the vet I put shoes on. About a year later we had an incredibly muddy year and then the ground froze fast and he became incredibly sore. Turns out he had lots of bruises in the already shod front feet so we put pads on. That fixed his soreness immediately and made a HUGE difference for him. He was trotting around flipping his feet out like ooo look at me my feet don't hurt. Xrays don't lie, my horse will be wearing shoes with pads most likely until he dies or until follow up xrays show me something different. The most recent follow up xrays showed no more bruises but still thin soles.

                          I would get a new farrier (ask who the vet recommends) and listen to the vet. The last thing you want is a young horse being sore on his feet as she starts training and riding. You might then create some resistance and training issues that wouldn't be there if they weren't associating pain with work.

                          I'd also call out your vet or a nutritionist to discuss what you're feeding your young horse. As a growing horse they need more nutrition to properly grow their bones, soft tissue, muscles etc. It's not just about weight at that age. Plus hoof supplements take 6 months to a year to see a difference so why wouldn't you start that now? Just because it's a young horse doesn't mean it has super basic needs.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post

                            Let me just put that straight.

                            You paid a vet for plenty of radiographs and it was determined that the horse had thin sole and shoes should be applied.

                            Your farrier decided that it was no concern and that your horse should remain barefoot.

                            You have a horse with a « deformed » hoof, that has now developed a crack.

                            Horses trimmed/shod by this farrier are in worst condition than yours.

                            My point is : you need a better farrier and most probably a better farm where horses are better taken care of.

                            Hoof care is very important during the developmental stage of the horse - it shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

                            And if someone wants to argue to keep them « as natural as possible »; you know what happen to horses in the wild that have crappy feet? They get eaten.
                            Agreed ^^^^ why would you pay for so many x rays(40 sounds very excessive) and then disregard the advise of the vet to shoe the horse and purchase a horse with hoof problems after having been through navicular. Have you brought up the issue of a hoof supplement with the vet or farrier? No mention of any topical to help toughen I agree no other supplements are needed as long as she is on a balanced diet and also agree with giving her feet some time to see if they thicken up, but they needed every advantage they can get in the meantime and if no improvement was being seen step in. It really sounds like you sort of bought some real expensive china table settings and then decided to eat off the floor.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ahhh did not see the xrays part, makes more sense now though!!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post
                                Hey everyone! Just wanted to start up a discussion regarding shoes on young horses - thoughts? I have a coming 3-year old in April, had her vetted when I purchased her at 2 years 4 months old and the vet informed me that she had thin soles and recommended shoes (at the very least) on her fronts.

                                Upon bringing her home, my farrier advised me that she would be OK for the time being and to keep shoes off of her as long as possible. She is not currently in work, so for now I am not overly concerned. However, we will be re-starting her come April in a 4/5-day per week program (we are in the H/J discipline). I will of course ask my farrier on what he recommends, I just wanted some outside opinions regarding shoes on young horses and if I should wait / how long should I wait.
                                If it were my horse, I'd put the horse into training barefoot and then add shoes **IF** the horse indicates they need them for thin soles.

                                Just because thin soles are there, does not automatically mean they need shoes. But if the horse's behavior indicates the thins soles are bothering them, yes, then by all means, shoe. Do whatever the horse tells you they need. Age does not matter to me. I prefer to keep my horses barefoot if I am able as I do feel that is best for the horse, but if they need shoes then they get them.

                                Since your horse is young, it doesn't sound like you *know* if the thin soles seems to be bothering the horse?

                                Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post
                                For the record, her feet are in *okay* shape, she has a slight deformity on her front right hoof that definitely creates a point of weakness and has since developed a superficial crack (nothing big enough for anything to get in and cause an abscess) and can only imagine it will get worse with work. Have been using an all-natural conditioner for this with no real results / improvements.
                                Without seeing photos of your horse, of course, hard to recommend what to do here.

                                I have always been told that hoof conditioners are a waste of money because nutrition comes from within.


                                Regarding vets vs. farriers. Some vets don't have an understanding of the mechanics of the hoof like a farrier does. Some do. I feel extremely lucky to have a great lameness specialist near me, as well as an amazing farrier. He usually knows what she will recommend, and she usually knows what he is going to say. Most of the time, they agree on most things. However, using my horse Dexter as an example (who has navicular changes), my farrier will never put him higher than 2 degree wedge because of his individual anatomy (x-rays) and his individual way of moving and conformation, and he's told me that. So if vet ever says she wants him higher (not that she did) but he won't do it. Period. I do trust them both but I also know he has a much better background in the biomechanics of the hoof and he understands how the horse lands/loads pressure, and what it does to their hoof/foot. A vet may or may not have that; depending on the vet.

                                My farrier has always told me that vets are taught to treat condition X with treatment Y in school, but sometimes you can't always apply a "blanket treatment" to certain horses, if their individual conformation doesn't support using that treatment. Makes sense to me, anyway.

                                So just something to consider when you have conflicting advice from your vet and farrier. But in my opinion, again, let the horse tell you what you should do. If the horse indicates the thin soles are a problem, then you need to do something. If they don't seem to bother the horse, then leave them be until something changes.

                                Of course, I am totally curious. 40 xrays???? What all did you x-rays? That's a ton!!!

                                It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post
                                  She isn't on any supplements right now, both my trainer and vet advised me to stay off anything until we get her back into work. Which then I would assume she would be on something for her feet.
                                  Just like vets usually don't know enough about feet, they, and trainers, usually don't know enough about nutrition. They are not the ones I'd be taking feeding advice from, especially given their comments about staying off anything until she's in work. That makes no sense.

                                  You wouldn't put her on something just for feet - that's missing a whole component of nutrition. Personally, I'd get her on a good ration balancer today, give things 4 months or so to see what new hoof growth looks like (roughly 1/4" growth a month), and go from there.

                                  Originally posted by beau159 View Post
                                  Just because thin soles are there, does not automatically mean they need shoes.
                                  So far we've seen nothing that indicates the *horse* says she needs shoes.

                                  OP - how many mm thick are the soles? "thin" doesn't tell us anything. Thin as in 5mm? if so, then I think I would be getting protection on asap, no matter what the horse says, because that's scary thin. 8mm? 10mm? Very different story. Can you depress the sole just by pressing on it? 8-10mm is relatively thin, but if it's hard as a rock, it may not be a big deal

                                  Regarding vets vs. farriers. Some vets don't have an understanding of the mechanics of the hoof like a farrier does. Some do.
                                  Agree, and we don't know what the vet knows, or feels, or has had experience with.

                                  ​​​​​​​


                                  ______________________________
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    What JB says, x100

                                    no sense creating more issues by not properly feeding for healthy food development. Cover the biological bases to ward off future issues. And add shoes if needed.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'm not convinced that getting advice from anonymous people on the internet with no education in nutrition and who have not seen the horse is better than advice from a licensed board certified veterinarian who did a PPE including 40 xrays and a farrier who sees the horse and who makes a living shoeing horses. That is sheer arrogance.

                                      If the horse of topic was born in April 2017 and was purchased at age 2 years and 4 months, the vet saw it in August. How many times has the farrier trimmed the horse, and when was the last trim? What is this "slight deformity?" Where is the horse located?

                                      Some horses develop flares when they need a trim. If the horse is located in an area that has recently had a run of freezing temps, the horse may be standing on hard frozen ground for the first time in many months. If it was muddy up until the freeze, the horse's feet were probably soft and now they are cracking a bit due to needing a trim and the frozen ground, not because there is an issue with the farrier. But I have not seen the horse, so can't really comment on what to do.

                                      I agree with those that say put shoes on when the horse needs shoes. Anything that I have on my place that is not being ridden is barefoot. Anything that is being ridden that needs shoes gets shoes.

                                      OP, if you xrayed the feet, can you get copies emailed to you that you can share with your farrier?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by JB View Post
                                        Just like vets usually don't know enough about feet, they, and trainers, usually don't know enough about nutrition. They are not the ones I'd be taking feeding advice from,
                                        So vets know squat.

                                        Trainers know squat.

                                        Farriers knows better.

                                        And the OP should take advice from... People off the internet?

                                        Right...

                                        especially given their comments about staying off anything until she's in work. That makes no sense.
                                        That actually makes plenty of sense.

                                        Why giving supplements to a horse that gets the required amount of everything it needs for its activity level?

                                        « minimal amount » doesn’t equal « nothing ».

                                        I don’t feed my horses in full training the same as the olders, youngsters or those in light training.

                                        Actually, the best is to have a vet do some testing.
                                        Oh, right, they’re not competent enough...

                                        (Really, if your vet is incompetent regarding hoof issues and nutrition, find another one.)

                                        You wouldn't put her on something just for feet - that's missing a whole component of nutrition. Personally, I'd get her on a good ration balancer today, give things 4 months or so to see what new hoof growth looks like (roughly 1/4" growth a month), and go from there.
                                        That’s why Farrier Formula exist!
                                        For those horses who need more in the hoof department that regular food don’t seem to provide.

                                        A ratio balancer won’t do squat if the horse’s nutrition is already balanced.


                                        So far we've seen nothing that indicates the *horse* says she needs shoes.
                                        Well, the vet, as incompetent as you might think s/he is, said that this horse has thin sole and should get shoes when started into work.

                                        The horse also has a deform hoof and a crack starting.

                                        But yeah, dismiss that.

                                        Let’s wait for the horse to show discomfort and pain before putting shoes on.

                                        OP - how many mm thick are the soles? "thin" doesn't tell us anything. Thin as in 5mm? if so, then I think I would be getting protection on asap, no matter what the horse says, because that's scary thin. 8mm? 10mm? Very different story. Can you depress the sole just by pressing on it? 8-10mm is relatively thin, but if it's hard as a rock, it may not be a big deal
                                        Oh... Now it’s time to ask the vet.

                                        Why can’t the OP just rely on her farrier now?

                                        Agree, and we don't know what the vet knows, or feels, or has had experience with.
                                        Oh. Yeah, those 40 x-rays might come handy.

                                        ~ 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

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