A: All our horses go barefoot through breaking. Once they reach the racetrack, we fit them with square-toed aluminum shoes.

If they’ll be running on a deep track or in muddy conditions, we add a longer toe grab. If they’re going to run on turf, we have to remove or minimize the toe grab, per horseracing rules.

— Luanne Bean, Arcadia, Calif.

A: There are several things to look at. How does the horse land? How much does it weigh?

If the horse has shoes, you need to be able to read them and if the horse is barefoot, you’ll have to be able to read the wear on its hoof. Does it need to be in the ground or on top? Traction — toe grabs, Borium, Drill tek, studs — and its placement are major considerations.

— Jim Horn, Santa Fe, N.M.

A: I’ve studied footings for over a decade and changing shoes is done not only because of the footing the horse will compete on, but also the forces and injuries that are common and consistent for that footing.

— Scott Lampert, Lake Elmo, Minn.

A: Depending on weather and hoof condition, sometimes you can’t put on a wide-web shoe. Do I want the feet to stay closer to the surface or have a little less stick? A wide-web shoe is apt to get torn off on a rocky trail.

— Peter Klein, Makawao, Hawaii

A: There are several aspects to consider when the horses you shoe are traveling around the country to different shows and footings. Shoe wear, traction, support and sole protection need to be discussed with your clients.

I shoe all of the polo horses on my books with a full rim shoe up front as opposed to a polo shoe, which usually has a raised inner rim and a lower outer rim. There’s nothing wrong with polo shoes, but when you go from the dirt fields of the Midwest to the sandy ground of Florida, the sand is much more abrasive and it can wear through a thinner-rimmed polo shoe much more quickly than a full rim. For that reason, I always use the full rim shoes up front so if a client decides to go somewhere with abrasive ground, the horse is already prepared to handle that footing.

— Pete Rosciglione, St. Louis, Mo.

A: Would you wear ice skates in deep snow? No, they’ll make you sink. The same theory applies to horses. You need to look at the footing the horse is working on to properly shoe it. In deeper footing, a wider shoe provides more support. Sliding shoes help horses glide through a sandy arena where traction would shorten the slide.

— Brandi Bachmann, Oneida, N.Y.

A: Environment is everything when applying traction. Even if the horse doesn’t get used for arena events, knowing how and when to apply different traction devices is important.

Some horses need a lot of traction to stay safe for their jobs, yet others will get sore if too much traction is used without allowing some slide. I found this out shoeing in the winter when horses work in arenas and then back outdoors where there is snow and ice. I would put Borium on them and the horse did fine outside, but as soon as it would go to work in the indoor arena, strains showed up.

What works for one horse might not work on another. I make sure that I carry different grits of Borium to address this issue. Sometimes Borium isn’t used and you’ll have to build a calk or something (depending on the time of year) and then you have to choose what kind of calk
to make.

One more factor to consider is whether the horse’s conformation will allow for the traction you apply. Take this into consideration when determining where to apply traction.

I ask the person handling the horse a lot of questions. Regardless of what jobs they do, horses all have very different requirements.

— Heidi S. Larrabee, Palmer, Alaska

A: On jumpers, I base the shoe choice on the training footing and what will fit both indoor and outdoor work. In the Midwest, this is generally washed sand outside and maybe a tan bark, rubber base inside. I’ll drill and tap traveling horses.

When shoeing dressage horses, I choose a shoe that will help the horse move as freely as possible, whether at home or traveling to a competition. I use a lot of full web rockers, sometimes on both ends.

On 3-day horses, I use a rocker rim front shoe and conventional hind shoes. Both types get tapped and clipped, with a combat fit.

— Roger Newman, Somerset, Wis.

A: Sometimes I’ll use rim shoes on barrel racing horses, front and back, if they will be running in an arena where dirt has a tendency to pack hard.

— Mike Foreman, Caldwell, Texas

A: For dressage horses, I use flat or plain-stamped handmade shoes with a synthetic footing because of its tendency to grab. On grass, mud or rocks, I use rim shoes or Eventers for traction.

With a sand footing, shoe choice depends on the discipline, the degree
of float, desired traction and the individual horse.

— Chip Busick, Calhan, Colo.

A: My shoe choice is based on whether the horse needs and wants more or less traction. Typically, a rim shoe is used for more traction and a flat shoe for flotation and less traction.

However, every horse won’t respond the same way. So I value getting to
know the client, rider and horse. How they function together can change the shoe choice for the footing they are competing on.

— Lester Yoder, Shreve, Ohio

A: In the U.K., the vast majority of horses wear concave shoes on all four feet. From March to October, some competitions take place on grass. For this purpose, horses tend to have either one or two screw-in stud holes in each shoe. This allows the horse to have sufficient grip, particularly if there has been any rainfall.

Dressage horses that compete year-round on artificial surfaces tend to wear 3/4 fullered shoes to help prevent sinking into the surface.

— Marc Jerram, Brewood, England

A: For deep and sticky footing, I usually apply wide-web shoes and make them a little wider than usual to provide more area of support and less sinking into the footing. Rockered toe shoes have little effect in such conditions. Horses also will benefit from light, aluminum shoes with a wide web.

On hard surfaces, I usually apply regular web shoes with rockered toes to utilize the natural shock absorption capability of the horse’s foot. In extreme cases, I’ll use full pads and silicone for maximum shock absorption.

— Nikita A. Malakhov, Moscow, Russia