Last Updated on November 18, 2022
Most horse fans will know that horses normally wear shoes on their feet. But why do horses need to wear shoes, and how often do horses need new shoes? Let’s find out everything you need to know about caring for horses’ hooves.
Are Horses Born With Horseshoes?
If you see a horse being ridden, you will notice that they often have shoes on its hooves. A horseshoe is normally a crescent-shaped piece of metal that is attached to the bottom surface of the horse’s hoof. This has many purposes but primarily protects the hoof from being worn down on the hard ground.
But are horses born with horseshoes, or do they get them when they are older?
Horses are not born with horseshoes and without human interference, horses would not wear shoes at all. Horseshoes are man-made products designed to protect the hooves when the horse is ridden or exercised.
When a foal is born, it will have fully developed hooves, although these are normally very soft for the first few days of life. Foals are born with a soft outer coating on the hooves, often referred to as foal slippers. The purpose of these is to protect the mare from injury from the hard hooves as the foal is born.
After the foal is born, the hooves quickly start to harden and the softer outer layer will fall off. This enables a newborn foal to be able to stand and walk or run within a few hours of birth.
What Is Farrier Services?
If you own or care for a horse, you will need to hire the services of a farrier on a regular basis. A farrier is a person who cares for the hooves of a horse, helping to keep them in peak condition.
The reason the horses need a farrier is that their hooves are a hugely important piece of their anatomy. The hooves of a horse must carry the entire body weight and absorb this as the horse moves. Although the hooves are very solid, they can be worn down and damaged by hard or uneven ground.
Horse hooves grow continuously in the same way as our fingernails or toenails. A farrier will trim the hooves to keep them in the correct shape and prevent any cracks or damage. In some circumstances, a farrier will also use horseshoes to protect the hooves from damage.
Your farrier will also be able to offer you useful horseshoeing tips based on the type and condition of your horse’s hooves and the type of exercise you intend on doing with it. For example, a horse with good-quality hooves that only works on the soft ground may not need shoes at all. Horses with brittle or cracked hooves, or those that do a lot of road work, will most likely need shoes to prevent the hooves from deteriorating.
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How Often Do Horses Need New Shoes?
When a horse wears shoes, this is normally to protect the hoof from wearing away quicker than it can grow. Shoes can also be put on a horse if it feels sore or uncomfortable exercising on rough or uneven ground.
When a horse wears shoes, the hooves continue to grow but will not be worn away in the same way as an unshod horse. This means that every four to six weeks, your farrier will need to remove the shoes and trim the hooves. This helps to keep the hooves in the correct shape, as well as prevent them from getting too long.
Once the hooves have been trimmed, the shoes will be replaced. The metal shoes themselves will wear down over time, losing their grip and becoming slippery.
If the shoes are not too worn down, your farrier may replace the same set of shoes on your horse. Horseshoes that have become thin or lost their grip will need to be replaced with a set of new shoes.
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How Long Do Horseshoes Last? – How Often Do Horses Need New Shoes
For horses that are exercised regularly on rough or uneven ground, the shoes will wear out quickly. This is particularly the case for horses that are ridden on tarmac surfaces. In some cases, the horse may need a new set of horseshoes every time the farrier comes to trim the hooves.
Other horses seem to barely wear their shoes out at all, and their horseshoes can last a lot longer. The shoes will still need to be removed regularly so that the hooves can be trimmed, but the same set of shoes can be replaced.
How Much To Shoe A Horse?
The cost of shoeing a horse will vary according to your region and whether the horse needs a new set of shoes or is having the current set replaced. The average price of a trim and a new set of horseshoes is $130. In some areas, this price may increase to $200 or more.
Some types of shoes are very specialist and may incur a higher price tag. This includes lightweight racing plates worn by racehorses and supportive shoes for horses with hoof problems.
If your horse does not need to wear shoes, then the farrier costs will be a lot lower. Trimming a horse’s hooves that does not wear shoes will normally cost around $50. Unshod horses do not need to tend to need trimming as frequently as their hooves will wear down naturally.
Summary – How Often Do Horses Need New Shoes
So, how often do horses need new shoes? Horse hooves grow continuously, and when a horse wears shoes, the hooves do not wear down in the same way as an unshod horse. This means that every four to six weeks, the shoes will need to be removed and the hooves trimmed and reshaped. Your farrier may be able to refit the same set of shoes, or the horse may need new shoes at this point.
We would love to hear your thoughts on how often do horses need new shoes! Do you have a horse that loses shoes all the time no matter what you do? Or perhaps you’ve got some questions about the best way to ride a horse that doesn’t wear shoes? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE