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Horses that are used for work or recreation on hard surfaces require horseshoes to preserve the hoof. Wild horses would not have needed a harder hoof since they spent most of their time feeding and roaming grassy, soft areas. Their hooves wore down at the correct rate for their needs. Once horses were domesticated, they spent more time on roads, in towns, etc. Hooves now wore down too quickly, and were damaged. A metal horseshoe, uniquely fitted to the animal, gives the horse stability and protection from these new elements that nature did not design their hooves for.

Not all domestic horses have horse shoes. Some owners let them go "bare feet". But if the bare feet horses go on rides they need boots, for their hooves. Most bare foot horses are just companion horses not riding ones.

However, horses are fine being barefoot as long as they are being ridden mostly on dirt or sand. As long as the hooves are in good shape (not too long, not too short, not cracked, and of the right angle), it does not bother a horse to walk barefoot. In fact, shoeing a horse when not necessary can compromise blood circulation in the foot, causing lameness. Keeping them barefoot creates better circulation, important to keeping their feet and hooves healthy. On average, a horse's hooves should be trimmed by a farrier every 6-8 weeks (or, if shod, their shoes should be replaced about that often). The horse should wear shoes if it is ridden a lot or if it is often ridden on pavement or gravel. This prevents their hooves from wearing down faster than they can grow, and protects them from these hard surfaces. Also, some horses need special shoes if they have leg or foot problems.

And yet, wild horses do not live on lush green soft pastures, nor dirt pastures, nor any other soft surface. They run on rocks that could be used as a rasp. That is how their feet are gradually trimmed as they need it. The truth is that in the wild, horses hooves are just as hard as the ground they travel on. The frog develops calluses and becomes tough against the rock too. Barefoot horses are way better off for many reasons, the main one being hooves flex with every step. This helps pump blood through the legs, and horseshoes prevent that, so it actually shortens your horses lifespan.

So in reality, there are various reasons that each horse owner has for their horses to have shoes and not have horse shoes. To each his own.

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โˆ™ 2010-09-16 18:03:31
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Q: Why do horses need to wear horseshoes?
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