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To shoe or not -- for dressage gaits

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  • To shoe or not -- for dressage gaits

    Do horses move better with front shoes? I have a horse who is barefoot. Incredibly nice quality feet.

    If I put shoes on the front, would he move any differently?

    We're going to a show soon.
    www.oakhollowstable.blogspot.com

  • #2
    It depends.

    My younger mare definitely moves more freely when she has shoes on, unless you're riding on fluffy clouds from heaven-type footing like the rubberized/felt stuff.

    However, if you're happy with how he's moving, he's happy in his work, and his feet are holding up great, why bother?

    One way of knowing is to try (borrow!) some hoof boots and see if he moves out more freely, but a couple of caveats: hoof boots are not horseshoes and there is no guarantee that the change (if any) in movement will be the same if you go from one to the other. Also, it can take a little while for a horse to get used to boots and move out confidently with them on. The same may be true to a small degree for nail-on shoes, by the way, if the horse is naive to them, although IME the "adjustment time" for nail-ons is minimal.
    Click here before you buy.

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    • #3
      my personal opinion is if you are doing nothing to the balance of the hoof but just slapping shoes on, save your money and the horses hoof wall.
      are you experiencing any soundness issues that concern you?
      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
      chaque pas est fait ensemble

      Comment


      • #4
        Horses may or may not move better with shoes.
        If the barefoot horse has sound, and has strong feet that are balanced correctly and he is comfortable on the footing he is being asked to go on, he may be already moving as well as he can.
        On the other hand if the horse is weak or tender footed, or has some lameness issue that can be helped with correct shoeing ,or has foot imbalances that are best helped with correct shoeing, or is not OK on some surfaces then perhaps you may want to consider shoes. (correctly applied shoes, that is)
        And lastly, poor (incorrect) shoeing can be detrimental to his movement and to his feet so if you do get him shod be sure it is done by someone experienced and well trained.
        So it is not a simple issue, all factors need to be considered.
        Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
        Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.
        www.hoofcareonline.com

        Comment


        • #5
          You can ABSOLUTELY change movement with a different trim or shoes. Question is.....is the change GOOD?

          LOL

          The ol' conundrum.

          Is there an issue you're concerned about or some movement you're after?
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by deltawave View Post
            It depends.

            My younger mare definitely moves more freely when she has shoes on, unless you're riding on fluffy clouds from heaven-type footing like the rubberized/felt stuff.

            However, if you're happy with how he's moving, he's happy in his work, and his feet are holding up great, why bother?

            One way of knowing is to try (borrow!) some hoof boots and see if he moves out more freely, but a couple of caveats: hoof boots are not horseshoes and there is no guarantee that the change (if any) in movement will be the same if you go from one to the other. Also, it can take a little while for a horse to get used to boots and move out confidently with them on. The same may be true to a small degree for nail-on shoes, by the way, if the horse is naive to them, although IME the "adjustment time" for nail-ons is minimal.
            This. Try and borrow some hoof boots from someone, let the horse wear them a few times, then put them on the longe/ride them and see if you notice a difference.

            This is how I discovered my mare needed her shoes put back on. I had thrown her hoof boots on just because the outdoor was particularly dry and hard that day, and turned her in there loose while I went to get her stuff. Came back to find her doing the most AMAZING extended trot I had ever seen from one end of the arena to the other, over and over and over.

            Yup, called the farrier, got front shoes put back on, and it was like turning on a light switch. Suddenly we had huge trots, swingy walks, smoother jogs, it was a big difference for her.
            Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

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            • #7
              My opinion, a normal, sound horse should be better without shoes. Would YOU move better with steel on the bottom of your feet? I stopped putting shoes on horses awhile back and have never had a problem-all types of horses, all ages, all kinds of ground, concrete, gravel, mud, hills, etc. They jump, and I;ve had horses at all level of dressage through Grand Prix, barefoot.

              AND it saves a lot of money. Shoes shouldn't really make a difference in how they move unless there's a problem.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Beentheredonethat View Post
                My opinion, a normal, sound horse should be better without shoes. Would YOU move better with steel on the bottom of your feet? I stopped putting shoes on horses awhile back and have never had a problem-all types of horses, all ages, all kinds of ground, concrete, gravel, mud, hills, etc. They jump, and I;ve had horses at all level of dressage through Grand Prix, barefoot.

                AND it saves a lot of money. Shoes shouldn't really make a difference in how they move unless there's a problem.
                That's really anthropomorphizing. Humans don't have hooves, so it's irrelevant if we would do better with steel on our FEET or not.

                Although I did used to call my mare's hoof boots her "sneakers"...
                Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Farrier is coming at 8 tomorrow.
                  The horse has great feet. He goes out on the trail with no problems.

                  My curiousity is if the weight of the shoe will give him a bit more animation.

                  We have a show on 03/23.

                  I could always try it and if there's no detectable difference, just leave him barefoot in the future.

                  He has a really nice canter. Trot is a bit flat. Most people look at the trot.
                  www.oakhollowstable.blogspot.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I may be naive...and if so, please forgive me. But IMHO, shoes are something to be used for a physical need, not a cosmetic issue. Get that action barefoot if you can.

                    Adding shoes is not going to improve your horse's overall movement as a function of training. It's just going to be a matter of hauling around shoes.

                    I am not anti-shoe. But I don't think that shoeing for better than the horse can accomplish when already balanced is a good thing. It kind of ranks just below injecting tails and putting on weights.

                    Get the best you can from yours without the extras. In the long term, that probably is BEST for your horse.
                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sublime--I'm actually not anthropomorphizing. The hoof is built so it expands and contracts. When you put something on it that restricts that, what do you think it does to the horse's feet? Human feet move much the same way. Humans don't wear steel, but ever had on a pair of hard shoes that don't allow your feet to expand? Boy, you get really "lame" after that.

                      Yes, the shoe of course allows some expansion because it has an open end, but not as much as natural. Now, if you have something going on where the natural expansion is causing a problem or pain, a shoe will be better.

                      Oaks--think about it. You CAN get more animation by doing a lot of things. The Saddlebred people and such put giant clogs on their feet and bracelets around the fetlocks to cause that. I'm not going to even get into what I think of that. You would never do something like that. In the end, you can probably use a device to get a reaction from a horse, but in dressage the assumption is you take natural ability and movement and condition and train to get it. So, animation would come from more impulsion.

                      Again, I'll defer to Patty on specifics as she's way better at all of this. This is just from my horse experience and training.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've never seen a horse get increased action due to the weight of a flat shoe. They're light enough as to be pretty much negligible. When horses show increased action and better gaits after shoes are applied, it's because they are more comfortable and able to move to the best of their abilities.

                        Talk to your farrier, but personally if it were my horse and I thought he was comfortable, I'd leave him barefoot.
                        exploring the relationship between horse and human

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Would YOU move better with steel on the bottom of your feet?
                          Maybe. It is just so silly to compare horses to humans in this regard. When's the last time any of us went running barefoot down the gravel driveway wearing a 30 pound backpack?
                          Click here before you buy.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Anyone know of any upper level dressage horses showing barefoot?

                            My horse is comfy.

                            His feet are balanced.

                            I supposed I could try one shoeing and see if it matters.
                            www.oakhollowstable.blogspot.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Delta--Well, I just don't get it. Yes, I walk everywhere barefoot when I can, even on gravel, and lots of people do around the world. I've also walked across part of the Sahara with a 30 lb backpack. A lot of people do. Just saying. My feet hurt when I wear shoes too much.

                              Oaks. Yes, my mare was Grand Prix and barefoot from the day she was born through the day I lost her. Her daughter was schooling I-1, barefoot since birth. My new mare is now working her way through 4th level, barefoot. Was a broodmare when I got her with front shoes 3 years ago, pulled them off, no problem. I know there are some international level GP horses barefoot. Here are a few more references:
                              http://www.thehorseshoof.com/barefootperf_dress.html
                              http://www.hoofcareunltd.com/Emma%20Hindle.htm

                              It sounds like you have a horse with nice feet who's doing just fine.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Hind shoes would be the most likely to help a dressage horse.

                                In deep footing the lateral heel can sink as at the trot a good percentage land lateral heel first. This can make the hocks work less efficiently(unbalanced push-off).

                                Adding some float to the lateral heel can VASTLY improve a horses ability to work off the hind end.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Yes, I walk everywhere barefoot when I can
                                  Uh huh, and when you can't, you need shoes. It is the same for horses, and that is the limit of the comparisons we can make there, I think.
                                  Click here before you buy.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Delta--Well, I don't think you're understanding the point. But, that's fine. I won't elaborate any further. To each his own.

                                    The thread is focused on shoes for dressage and whether it helps. Do you have a point to make about how shoes will or will not help movement? I can't tell whether you disagree with the point of this or not.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      See my first post: my point and my opinion is that it depends . . . on the horse, the feet, the footing, and the demands being made. Sometimes they help, sometimes not. Horseshoes have no agenda, and neither have I. The same is not as often true of horseshoe-haters, IME.
                                      Click here before you buy.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Oh, sorry. Been here, then out doing other things, so sort of losing track of who's talking.

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