Cornell University's head farrier Steve Kraus reminds that horseshoes can deliver benefits or cause harm. Horseshoes can harm feet when applied improperly but they also are used regularly to help lame horses become sound and keep sound horses healthy, competitive and productive.
He says it is critical for farriers to apply these absolute truths to thinking when shoeing horses:
- How well a hoof is trimmed is the foundation of any shoeing (or barefoot care) and creates the blueprint to which the shoe is shaped.
- An incorrect blueprint yields an incorrect shoe.
- An improperly trimmed hoof cannot function well no matter how well the shoe is made or fitted. Conversely, a horse with poor fitting or inappropriate shoes is better off barefoot.
- A horse that needs shoes to do its job and is denied them will underperform or suffer.
- “Cookie cutter” style shoeing or trimming does not work. When all horses are trimmed or shod the same way, most are shod/trimmed incorrectly.
You can read more of Kraus's thoughts and advice concerning an objective protocol to hoof care in the May/June edition of AFJ.