Why Do Horses Wear Shoes?
A horse is shod with horseshoes to protect its feet from injury and wear. A horse’s shoe is a metal plate that fits around the outer edges of the hoofs to help give the horse better footing. Shoes also keep the horse’s hoofs from splitting on hard roads. The shoe is held in place with horseshoe nails.
The nails go only into the horny hoof, and not into flesh, so this doesn’t hurt the horse. Work horses wear heavy shoes with cleats to prevent them from slipping when pulling a heavy load. Race horses wear shoes so light, they can wear out after a single race. Wearing shoes provides all of the following to horses and their feet: protection, traction, gait improvement and aide in soundness.
There are two types of shoes: (1) an open-heeled shoe which is rounded over the front of the hoof but does not close in the back and (2) a bar shoe that wraps around the entire hoof, even the back of the foot. The most commonly used material for shoes is steel and a close second is aluminum.
There are two ways to shoe a horse: (1) a hot shoe is when the farrier heats the shoe in a cast iron stove and molds the shoe on to the foot and (2) a cold shoeing is when the farrier just applies the shoe without heating it first. Shoes can be applied with nails, or with a new application that includes gluing the shoe on the foot. Nailing shoes on the horse’s feet does not hurt them, unless the nail is placed improperly.