There are many arguments regarding the requirement for horseshoes. There are owners who have their horses barefoot and there are those that have regular shoeing. Horseshoes were created out of necessity when horses were domesticated. Their hooves wore down at a slower rate than wild horses that cover large distances and a variety of different terrains.

Hooves are very important to the health of a horse. If the hooves are not in a good condition, the entire horse will be affected. There is a lot of hoof care that is required to ensure that the health of the horse is at an optimal level for its age. There is no known documentation for the first instance of the horseshoe. But it is something that has been used in many civilisations across the globe. There are farriers that are able to apply horseshoes as well as carry out the cleaning procedures and make sure that there are no infections regarding the foot and the lower limbs of the horse. They have the right training to ensure the health of the animal and to make sure that the right shape and size of the horseshoe is being used.

There is research that supports both arguments. You can let the horse go barefoot if they have good conformation of the hoof and leg and they are left to forage to find the majority of the feed. If they are not working at a high capacity and regular trimmings and visits by the farrier are guaranteed to ensure no injury to the hooves are done, you will be able to have the horse working unshod. But it is best to speak to your farrier as well as the veterinarian to see whether your horse can go barefoot. If your horse has been wearing shoes till then, there will be a period for them to get accustomed to the change. But you need to make sure to stay on top of their hoof health. Most domesticated horses will require new horseshoes as they don’t have a large variety of textures when it comes to the ground they walk on. Also, they don’t forage for food and will be confined in a stall when they are not working.

So domestic horses are not accustomed to the natural conditioning that wild horses go through and their feet will grow more than what is comfortable and the hooves can become quite fragile. This can be further aggravated by an unbalanced diet. This is why it is so important to work with your veterinarian to make sure they get the right nutrition to maintain healthy hooves and feet. Soft soil does not offer an opportunity for the hooves to be worn down and this gave rise to the popularity of horseshoes. Because of specialised breeding, the musculature of domestic horses is different from wild horses and they can be heavier. So their feet have to endure higher stress. Some horses are used for performance such as racing or competition events and the training they undergo can put a lot of stress on the hooves and the lower limbs, especially the joints. A well designed horseshoe can ensure that the stress is alleviated.

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