How to Know if Your Horse Needs Shoes

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Look for signs that your horse has a bruised sole.,
Check to confirm that your horse has a bruised sole.,
Look to see if your horse is showing signs of foot soreness.,
Check your horse’s hooves for causes of the soreness he is experiencing.

Shoes have a thickness to the steel that physically lifts the hoof from the ground. Thus the depth of the shoe reduces the impact of stones on the sensitive sole of the hoof. When a horse is barefoot he is more likely to tread on stones and cause bruising to the sole or frog of his hoof. If you recognize symptoms of a bruised sole, it means that your horse should most likely get shoes.Symptoms of a bruised sole include:

A mild lameness on rocky ground (on a score where 10 is holding the leg up, and 0 is sound, the lameness is around 2 to 5 out of 10). This is because stones making contact with the bruised areas and cause him pain and discomfort.
When standing, the horse carries his weight evenly spread over all four legs. This is because the sole does not contact the ground and so any discomfort is minimal.;
, To test for a bruised sole, lift the hoof and use a hoof pincers to probe for tenderness. Pincers use a scissor-like action to apply blunt pressure to a particular area. Place the pincers so that one head of the pincers is in contact with the sole and the other is over the hoof outer wall so that when pressure is applied, the sole is compressed.

If pain is present typically the horse reacts by pulling the hoof away or vocalizing. If this occurs it means your horse should get shoes.

, An unshod horse has the potential to be sore on all four legs at the same, which can make it difficult to spot lameness (he is equally lame on all legs which make him appear sound).However, signs may include:

At rest he may keep shifting his weight, resting different feet in turn.
Never staying more than a few minutes on each foot.

, Test each hoof for signs of discomfort. If an unshod hoof is sore, then the likelihood is that he needs shoes in order to protect the soles of his hooves. To test for soreness:

Pick up each hoof and inspect the sole, frog, and bulbs of the heel for red, inflamed, or bruised areas.

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