If you do not take proper care of your horse's hooves, you can almost guarantee that he will go lame as a result of neglect. A well-maintained horse should have his feet trimmed by the farrier every six to eight weeks and have shoes put on or replaced as the farrier deems necessary. Horses that have an active work life, weak feet or hoof problems can benefit greatly from a set of horseshoes.
Horseshoes protect your horse's hooves from damage that can result from frequent riding on hard surfaces. A horseshoe absorbs a significant amount of the impact when your horse takes a step, preventing that impact from chipping away at the hoof wall. The horseshoe wears down due to the work your horse is performing, but his hoof does not. Horses that have shoes on are less likely to suffer from chipped and cracked hooves.
A horseshoe can add extra traction when your horse walks on slippery surfaces. Studs and other devices can be attached to the shoe to improve your horse's ability to grip the ground without slipping or sliding. Racehorses, jumpers, polo ponies and other competitive horses can benefit from increased performance with the right type of shoes.
A wide assortment of shoe designs exist specifically to correct hoof problems. A specially designed horseshoe can be used to keep medicine on the hoof, protect the hoof from bruising or damage, change the shape of the hoof and even change the angle of the hoof. Corrective shoeing can be used to help keep horses with genetic deformities, such as a clubfoot, sound and able to work, greatly improving their quality of life.
Extreme shoeing modifications can change and alter a horse's gaits. Trainers and exhibitors of gaited breeds of horses often employ special shoes to magnify or amplify the gaits in competitions. These shoes change the way the horse moves by changing the height and angle of the hoof.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.