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Contrary To Popular Opinion

Research indicates that the positive effects of particular shoe selection for Western Pleasure horses are guided by the perceptions of judges and trainers rather than reality

Many trainers and owners often try to convince a farrier to adopt a certain style of trimming or shoeing based on a myriad of factors. Sometimes the motivation comes from a belief that a particular change will improve the horse’s overall performance, resulting in better scores from judges.

Farriers receive requests or demands like this in any breed or discipline. El Paso, Texas, farrier Doug Hogue finds that it is fairly common among Western Pleasure trainers, particularly with favoritism for square-toe shoes. He recalls shoeing at a barn just prior to the 2014 World Show. The trainer asked Hogue to switch the shoes from a perimeter fit to a square-toe shoe. After the farrier questioned why, the trainer replied because the shoe would help improve the horse’s movement.

“I happened to talk to Paeden (Underwood), who was finishing his degree,” says Hogue. “He mentioned that he wanted to conduct a research project and wasn’t sure what he should investigate. I told him that I would love to see research on the performance effects of square-toe shoes and if there is truth to the popular theory.”

Developing The Project

This conversation launched a year and a half-long undergraduate research project on the subject as part of Underwood’s Bachelor’s of Science degree in animal science from New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces. NMSU assistant professor Laura White joined the project as the advisor. Hogue was the farrier for the project.

The trio presented their research findings at the March 2016…

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Jeremy_mcgovern

Jeremy McGovern

Jeremy McGovern has been a journalist for nearly 20 years. He has been a member of the American Farriers Journal staff for 7 years and serves as the Executive Editor/Publisher. A native of Indiana, he also is a member of the board of directors for the American Horse Publications organization of equine media.

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