Keeping Trail Horses On The Trails

Several farriers share how they manage the footcare challenges of weekend trail riders

A lot of discussion and worry surround trimming and shoeing performance horses. But the truth of the matter is that the majority of farriers handle backyard and pleasure horses.

While they are common to the industry, that’s not to say maintaining their footcare comes easy. In particular, what about those that sit as pasture ornaments throughout most of the week but hit the trails on the weekends? There are a variety of ways farriers can help make these horses more comfortable on those trails.

Tips For Shoeing

Mike Bagley, whose clientele mostly are trail horses, says he has to watch the fit because he can’t fit them as full as he does on a show horse.

“I have to box the heels, which means I grind a slight chamfer on the foot surface of the shoes, to keep them from getting snagged on anything or to keep the horses from stepping on them,” says the farrier from Canton, Ohio.

“On trails, full-fitting shoes become a target for the opposing limb and bar shoes get material stuck in them and can snag on roots and rocks,” adds Bob Smith, owner of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, Calif.

While no two horses are alike and you must shoe for the individual horse’s needs, Smith finds a set-up that works well for maintaining the sound trail riders of his region of trail horses, and offers this advice: parameter fit the shoe with quarter or side clips, avoid therapeutic devices, leave the…

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