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Hoofbeats - The Blog 

Welcome to our blog page, HOOFBEATS, where we talk about the countryside with a main emphasis on training and caring for horses and ponies. If you would like to contribute ideas and information about your own experiences, we would be delighted to hear them. Please email to editor@horseandponyinfo.com or post to our Facebook Page, Horse and Pony Info. If you're into Twitter, you can contact us @horse_ponyinfo.

The opinions expressed here are from personal experience and we strongly advise you to contact your vet or your riding instructor if you are seriously worried about your horse.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Are shoes really necessary on horses and ponies?

Here is another question which was asked by a visitor to our website. Let's deal with ponies first because they're more straight forward when it comes to shoes.

Very small ponies and ponies for beginners
I don't put shoes on small ponies because they usually have hard little feet. Shetlands rarely, if ever, need shoes. I have a 12 hh pony who has shoes on his front feet only because he is prone to laminitis and his front feet are sensitive when walking on hard ground. Ponies without shoes are not a hazard to each other when grazing in the same field as a kick without shoes won't do as much damage.

Ponies for more advanced riders
It really depends on how much work the pony is doing. I have a 13.2 hh pony who is used for beginners and also for more advanced riders and I only have front shoes on him. He can do a bit of road work like this and is fine in the arena. Again he can't do much damage if he kicks another pony in the field.

Ponies competing
It depends what surface ponies are competing on. Small lead rein ponies don't need shoes unless they have sensitive feet. Ponies competing on sand or artificial surfaces can also do without shoes but most serious competition ponies would have shoes all round.

Shoes on horses
My horses are large - over 16.2 hh - so I always put shoes on them all round. This means there's no problem about road work or riding them on hard ground. However, it does mean that I don't put them in the same field. I divide a field with an electric fence so that they can still talk to each other and groom each other but they can't kick each other. I know many people might think this is overcautious and many horses with shoes on hind feet are put in a field together but I have had the misfortune of having two of my horses put down from broken legs after being kicked by other horses. Neither was on my property at the time and I would always advise people to avoid this heartbreak if at all possible by only putting horses in the same field if they have no hind shoes on.

Horses used for leisure riding don't always need shoes, especially if they are only ridden in an arena on an articifial surface. Young horses don't need shoes unless they are doing road work or might only need front shoes if they have sensitive feet.

In summary
I suppose the basic rule regarding shoes on ponies and horses is the smaller and lighter the animal, the less likely it is to need shoes, especially if not competing nor doing road work. It is obviously much cheaper to keep a horse or pony without shoes as the feet only need paring.

5:57 pm gmt 

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