The Cost of Shoeing a Horse

When asking yourself what the cost of shoeing a horse is, a better question may be what are the potential costs of not shoeing your horse. 

This is so because, having your horse fit for shoes (also known as being shod) can help fix conformation faults, protect weak hooves and prevent bruising for constant impacts and stones. 

The cost of shoeing a horse often is the only factor people take into account when deciding whether or not to shoe their horses. 

But when making that vital choice. It’d be vital for you want to look at the bigger picture. 

Shoeing a Horse: Should Your Horse Wear One?

There are several factors to take into account when deciding if your horse should wear shoes or go barefooted. 

Your horse’s natural hoof health and structure and the level of activity your horse engages in will help to determine if your horse needs shoes or not. Many horse owners keep their horses on a rotating schedule between shoeing and keeping their horses unshod. 

Shoeing a Horse: Should Your Horse Wear One?

Horse Shoe Pros

  •       Prevents wear and tear
  •       Adds protection against rocky footing

Horse Shoes Cons

  •     Buying a horse’s shoes spells out an additional expense
  •     Poor quality shoes could invariably cause damages to the horse’s goof 

Barefoot Pros

  •       Horses will build up natural protection
  •       Thicker soles 

Barefoot Cons

  •       Wont allow the correction of conformation faults
  •       The foot will get easily sore and bruised

Shoeing a Horse: Is it Necessary?

As with many points of discussion in the equine world, the answer to the question ‘is shoeing a horse necessary’ depends on the actual horse. According to the Practical Horseman,  horses with naturally strong and healthy feet who are not inexperienced in rough terrain or jumps, could in fact go barefooted in most occasions.

On the other hand, horses with nutritional deficiencies, like arthritis or ringbone, or conformation issues and a high level of inactivity, will most likely need shoes. 

Why Should I Shoe My Horse?

As stated earlier, the choice of shoeing your horse is dependent on the very horse in question. For instance if you’re working with a show horse, shoeing them will add protection to their feet when outside the arena, and also help in preventing costly injuries. 

Shoeing a Horse: Is it Necessary?

Also, high-level jump and event horses, may also benefit from wearing shoes because of the increase in concussions their feet experiences. 

And finally, workhorses who are always out in the wet(slippery ground condition) can benefit from wearing some special shoes which will help in adding traction to their movement.

Four Reasons to Shoe Your Horse

According to Travis Burns, CJF, TE, EE, FWCF, assistant professor of practice and chief of farrier services at the VMCVM, there are four good reasons to shoe your horse; 

  1.     Protection: For horses whose feet often wear off faster than they grow, as a result making it soft, wearing them a pair of shoes might probably be an ideal option, at least temporarily.
  2.       Therapeutic: The main reason why some horses need specifically designed shoes, is to help them treat disease conditions or to manage/compensate for conformational defects. A shoe can help a weak hoof capsule hold its shape, and get back its proper balance. 
  3.     Proper traction: Depending on what purpose a horse is used for, some do require different levels of traction. For instance, those that run and jump need more traction, while reining horses, which are often obligated to make sliding stops, need less of it.
  1.     Gait alteration: For instance, if a horse is interfering (hitting opposing limbs with his feet as he moves), the farrier can use special shoes to prevent this.

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Also, wearing your horse a shoe can help in changing or enhancing a certain phase of the horse’s stride and alter animation, especially in some gaited breeds. 

*This list was featured in  the article, Got Healthy Hooves? Here’s How to Keep Them That Way by Heather Smith Thomas, published on thehorse.com on May 22, 2019 

Do Horse Shoes Hurt?

It’d interest you to know that if done properly, shoeing your horse will be one of the most pleasant thing you will ever give to your horse. 

Horse hooves can be compared to human fingernails in that, they keep growing and protect the skin underneath. And just as you rarely feel any pains when you trim your nails, the same goes for a horse’s hooves. 

But just as our nails may break off when engaging it in a rigorous activity, a horse’s hooves are likely to be damaged in the same way when running barefooted. This is why most people put shoes on their horse’s hoofs.

How Much Does it Cost to Shoe a Horse?

According to the latest Farrier Bus­i­ness Practices survey conducted by American Farriers Journal, the average nationwide price for trimming four hooves and applying four keg shoes is $142.09. 

As the skill and quality of a farrier’s work increases, the cost of shoeing a horse will increase as well. Thus, keep in mind that not only will you be paying for the farrier’s time, but also covering the cost of materials that will be used in shoeing, the delivery gas mileage, and any other overhead the farrier might take on.

How Often Does a Horse Need to See a Farrier

Horse owners typically have both their shod and barefooted horses seen by farriers every four to six weeks for maintenance. 

Regardless of if you decide to shoe your horse or let them go barefoot, you should schedule them to see a farrier at regular intervals throughout the year. 

In addition to shoeing your horse, farriers trim hoofs and can accurately assess your horse’s hoof health, which can be a serve as a plus, no matter how your horse performs.   

What to Look for in a Farrier

 The American Farrier Association can help you find experienced  farriers in your area by searching country, location and special certifications you may be looking for.  

To get help from a quality farrier, you can ask for recommendations from your veterinarian as well as other horse owners, and be sure to inquire about their educational and training status.

Do not let the cost of shoeing a horse deter you from talking to farriers and learning how their trade can help you keep your horse healthy and safe from harm. 

How Often Does a Horse Need to See a Farrier

Is The Cost of Shoeing a Horse Worth It?

Given the length of time between shoeing and the expertise you’re paying for, the cost of shoeing a horse can be incorporated into your horse care budget. 

Meaning, while some horses can go barefooted, filing your horse’s hooves and shoeing them can help fix a variety of issues and protect your horse from injuries.

FAQ’s

Is it legal to trim your own horse’s feet?

As a horse owner, you may choose to trim your horse’s feet yourself instead of hiring someone to do it for you. But have you ever wondered if it is legal for you to trim your horse’s hooves? Well, if you do choose to trim or rasp your own horse’s feet that is a perfectly legal thing for you to do. But, if your horse wears shoes or you are planning to have shoes put on your horse it is illegal to prepare the hoof for the shoe to be put on. This is illegal because if you are not a professional farrier it is likely that you could cause serious injury to your horse and put the horse through unnecessary pain by putting on the shoe incorrectly.  

What is the difference between a farrier and a barefoot trimmer?

Well, the answer will vary some depending on who you are asking, a farrier or a barefoot trimmer. So on this topic, most farriers will say that they believe the horse’s hoof will function the best and it’s the highest potential when a shoe is placed on the hoof for additional support.

Barefoot/natural trimmers believe the horse’s hoof becomes constricted when wearing shoes. They feel the shoe causes the hoof to no longer function properly and restricts circulation within the hoof, compromising the horse’s overall health. 

Can I shoe my own horse?

Technically, yes, it is your horse so you can do what you feel is best, but within the last five years, it has become illegal for non-farriers to put shoes on or prepare any hoof for a shoe to be put on. If you are not a farrier and have not attended farrier school or worked as an apprentice you run a very high risk of hurting your horse from improper shoe placement.

Farrier classes are available from short two week courses to others that last a year and more. It is also important to make sure the course is accredited so you are receiving proper instruction.  If you are not planning to offer farrier services for a fee and will only be showing your own horses, taking a farrier class is still encouraged to learn how to shoe so injuries may be avoided.

Should a farrier trim the frog?

It is important for the farrier to trim the horse’s frog just as they would trim the rest of the horse hoof. Trimming the frog is helpful in maintaining proper hoof balance. The frog also acts as a guide for the farrier to trim and follow the natural shape of the hoof. For most horses, the frog will naturally slough a couple of times per year, but for some, it remains attached leaving rough edges and an uneven surface. This can lead to discomfort in the horse’s feet due to uneven weight distribution. Having the farrier trim frog makes the sole of the hoof uniform and helps maintain proper hoof function.

How long are horses sore after pulling shoes?

Under the perfect circumstances when a horse’s shoes are pulled they would be perfectly sound, but oftentimes that is not the case. Horses’ feet come in many shapes and sizes and can become sore under many different circumstances. When a horse’s shoes are pulled the sole is now having more direct contact with surfaces they are walking on. So depending on your horse and how long their shoes were on they could not be sore at all or they could be sore for as long as three weeks. 

When pulling your horse’s shoes it is important to remember that not having shoes on is not the cause of hoof soreness. A horse’s hoof becomes sore writhing the hoof that is creating discomfort. Some horses may be sore for up to three weeks.

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