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History[ edit ] A hipposandal , a predecessor to the horseshoe Since the early history of domestication of the horse , working animals were found to be exposed to many conditions that created breakage or excessive hoof wear.
There are no extant references to nailed horseshoes prior to the reign of Emperor Leo VI and by occasional references to them can be found. Common was a design with a scalloped outer rim and six nail holes. In a common design, a metal horseshoe holds a flat wooden shoe in place. Environmental changes linked to domestication[ edit ] A hot horseshoe in a forge.
In the wild, a horse may travel up to 50 miles per day to obtain adequate forage.
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While horses in the wild cover large areas of terrain, they usually do so at relatively slow speeds, unless being chased by a predator. The continual stimulation of the sole of the foot keeps it thick and hard. However, in domestication , the ways horses are used differ from what they would encounter in their natural environment.
Domesticated horses are brought to colder and wetter areas than their ancestral habitat. These softer and heavier soils soften the hooves and make them prone to splitting, making hoof protection necessary.
Domesticated horses are also subject to inconsistent movement between stabling and work; they must carry or pull additional weight, and in modern times, they are often kept and worked on very soft footing, such as irrigated land, arena footing, or stall bedding. In some cases, management is also inadequate. The hooves of horses that are kept in stalls or small turnouts, even when cleaned adequately, are exposed to more moisture than would be encountered in the wild, as well as to ammonia from urine.
The hoof capsule is mostly made from keratin, a protein , and is weakened by this exposure, becoming even more fragile and soft. Shoes do not prevent or reduce damage from moisture and ammonia exposure.
Rather, they protect already weakened hooves. Further, without the natural conditioning factors present in the wild, the feet of horses grow overly large and long unless trimmed regularly. Hence, protection from rocks, pebbles, and hard, uneven surfaces is lacking. A balanced diet with proper nutrition also is a factor.
Without these precautions, cracks in overgrown and overly brittle hoof walls are a danger, as is bruising of the soft tissues within the foot because of inadequately thick and hard sole material.
Physical stresses requiring horseshoes[ edit ] Abnormal stress: Farriers may forge custom shoes to help horses with bone or musculature problems in their legs,  or fit commercially available remedial shoes.
Traction devices such as borium for ice, horse shoe studs for muddy or slick conditions, calks, carbide -tipped road nails and rims are useful for performance horses such as eventers , show jumpers , polo ponies , and other horses that perform at high speeds, over changing terrain, or in less-than-ideal footing.
Some breeds such as the Saddlebred , Tennessee Walking Horse , and other gaited horses are judged on their high-stepping movement. Special shoeing can help enhance their natural movement. Many generations of domestic horses bred for size, color, speed, and other traits with little regard for hoof quality and soundness make some breeds more dependent on horseshoes than feral horses such as mustangs , which develop strong hooves as a matter of natural selection.
A hoof boot can be used in place of a horseshoe or as a temporary substitute for a thrown shoe Nonetheless, domestic horses do not always require shoes. When possible, a "barefoot" hoof, at least for part of every year, is a healthy option for most horses. However, horseshoes have their place and can help prevent excess or abnormal hoof wear and injury to the foot.
Many horses go without shoes year-round, some using temporary protection such as hoof boots for short-term use.
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The farrier will then cut the nails, and bend the cut end over to form a clinch. Shoeing, when performed correctly, causes no pain to the animal. Farriers trim the insensitive part of the hoof, which is the same area into which they drive the nails.
This is analogous to a manicure on a human fingernail, only on a much larger scale. Shoes do not allow the hoof to wear down as it naturally would in the wild, and it can then become too long.
The coffin bone inside the hoof should line up straight with both bones in the pastern. If the excess hoof is not trimmed, the bones will become misaligned, which would place stress on the legs of the animal.
Farriers may either cold shoe, in which he bends the metal shoe without heating it, or hot shoe, in which he places the metal in a forge before bending it.
Hot shoeing can be more time-consuming, and requires the farrier to have access to a forge; however, it usually provides a better fit, as the mark made on the hoof from the hot shoe can show how even it lies. It also allows the farrier to make more modifications to the shoe, such as drawing toe- and quarter-clips. The farrier must take care not to hold the hot shoe against the hoof too long, as the heat can damage the hoof.
The farrier then nails the shoes on, by driving the nails into the hoof wall at the white line of the hoof. The nails are shaped in such a way that they bend outward as they are driven in, avoiding the sensitive inner part of the foot, so they emerge on the sides of the hoof.
When the nail has been completely driven, the farrier cuts off the sharp points and uses a clincher a form of tongs made especially for this purpose or a clinching block with hammer to bend the rest of the nail so it is almost flush with the hoof wall.
This prevents the nail from getting caught on anything, and also helps to hold the nail, and therefore the shoe, in place.
This may sometimes result in a nail coming too close to the sensitive part of the hoof putting pressure on it , or a nail that is driven slightly into the sensitive hoof, called quicking or nail pricking.
This occurs when a nail penetrates the wall and hits the sensitive internal structures of the foot. Quicking results in bleeding and pain and the horse may show signs of lameness or may become lame in following days. Whenever it happens, the farrier must remove the offending nail. Usually a horse that is quicked will react immediately, though some cases where the nail is close to sensitive structures may not cause immediate problems. These mistakes are made occasionally by anyone who shoes horses, and in most cases is not an indication that the farrier is unskilled.
It happens most commonly when horses move around while being shod, but also may occur if the hoof wall is particularly thin common in Thoroughbreds , or if the hoof wall is brittle or damaged. Occasionally, manufacturing defects in nails or shoes may also cause a misdriven nail that quicks a horse.
However, the term "farrier" implies a professional horseshoer with skill, education, and training. Some people who shoe horses are untrained or unskilled, and likely to do more harm than good for the horse. This can cause serious problems for the animal, resulting in chronic lameness and damage to the hoof wall.
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Poor trimming will usually place the hoof at an incorrect angle, leave the foot laterally unbalanced and may cut too much off certain areas of the hoof wall, or trim too much of the frog or sole.
Some horseshoers will rasp the hoof down to fit an improperly shaped or too-small size of shoe, which is damaging to the movement of the horse and can damage the hoof itself if trimmed or rasped too short. A poor horseshoer can also make mistakes in the shoeing process itself, not only quicking a horse, but also putting shoe on crooked, using the wrong type of shoe for the job at hand, shaping the shoe improperly, or setting it on too far forward or back.