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Shoeing for the Trail

Horses who are used by their owners in shows as well as for pleasure can present a real challenge for farriers


Shoeing horses for trail rides can be challenging for farriers. The terrain a horse is being ridden over can vary as horses encounter soft dirt, hard rock, water and even paved roads or trails. Trail conditions also vary with the seasons.

Trail riding ranks high on the list of things horse owners do with their horses — no matter what other riding discipline they may be involved in. In fact, it’s thought that getting out of the ring is good for everyone — mentally as well as physically. It gives a horse the chance to “clear his head” and learn to pay attention to where he’s going. In addition, it’s a great way to get him “muscled up,” particularly if hills are involved. And, it’s fun, too, probably the main reason it’s so popular.

That presents a challenge for a farrier, who has to figure out a shoeing approach for a reining horse that may need heel extensions when he in the ring competing, and a wide-web Eventer-type of shoe when he’s being used for trail rides.

Here’s advice from three veteran farriers who deal with that challenge in their day-to-day shoeing work. While shoeing in very different parts of the country, the trio had similar opinions on shoe choice, the use of clips, providing traction and the importance of a sound approach to balancing, trimming and shoe fit.

Trail Riding In High Desert County

Andrew Varela has been shoeing horses for over 20 years in his native New Mexico…

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Toby Raymond

Toby Raymond is a horse owner and freelance writer who lives in Vermont. She is a frequent contributor to American Farriers Journal.

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