There still seems to be a raging controversy about whether or not shoeing our horses is the best thing for them. The “pro” argument says that it’s better for the horse to be as much in a “natural” state as possible, like wild mustangs. The “con” debate points to the very different lifestyles our horses have from wild horses.
Take a look at what Buck Brannaman has to say about wild horses and their feet:
“The Mustang migration is relative to the feed, the weather and the ground conditions. Going into winter, a Mustang will have pretty long feet, because they’ve got to paw through the snow all winter long. By spring their feet are getting very short, and they’re getting sore-footed. But about that time they’re ready to have their foals, and they go have their foals where the snow melts first, in the bottoms of the canyons, where the ground is really soft and there are no rocks and the feed’s good. So their feet start growing all over again.”
Conversely, if yours is a working or riding horse, you might ride him many miles over rocky ranchland or trails, possibly much farther than a mustang will travel. Add your weight and gear, and you’re going to have a very uncomfortable horse, possibly one in pain, which is just plain cruel.
Common sense seems to dictate that if you have a horse-pal that spends his days pastured, strolling along soft ground to graze -- and if his legs and feet are sound to begin with -- you might get away with not shoeing him. But if your horse is active, you ride a lot on unpredictably hard surfaces, or he’s working your property with you, it would be a blessing to him to hook up with a good farrier and be shod with the appropriate shoes.
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