Q: Hi, I live in Apache
Junction, AZ, and have bought my first horse. A 14 month old filly, Rocky
Mountain Horse. She has had regular trims, no shoes and has been pastured on
desert land since birth. My question is, I am going to be stabling her on wood
shavings and will be turning her out daily in a dirt arena. When would you
suggest shoes for her, or should I wait to shoe until I start trail riding her
or exercising her in a more rugged terrain? Can you recommend a qualified
farrier in my area?
A: Congratulations on your first
horse! You have a new life with horses in front of you and a multitude of
exciting things to learn so that your little filly will be healthy and happy and
you will be able to enjoy her that much more.
You are correct in thinking that you should wait until your girl is ready for
serious training before you shoe her. Allow her to be a youngster. Give her the
opportunity to enjoy her youth and mature mentally as well as physically before
starting her under-saddle training. I recommend (and so does my wife who trains
here in Oregon) that your Rocky Mountain Horse should be at least 2 1/2 years of
age before this training begins.
Equine specialists in the field and at vet schools all recognize that the
thinness and immaturity of the hoof wall of young horses make it unsuitable for
shoeing. Also, shoeing tends to restrict the natural growth of a horse's foot,
as did the binding of young girls' feet in China. Therefore it is best to put
off shoeing until the horse has reached most of its growth. Early shoeing
impedes bone, sensitive laminae, vascular, and elastic structures, as well as
horny wall structures from developing normally. Generally speaking, shoeing
should be done in young horses only for pathological reasons.
Lets be sure and get your little girl a qualified farrier, and he should be able
to discuss your horse's needs with you. You need to make it your business to
educate yourself concerning your horse's needs so that you can intelligently
understand and discuss those needs with your vet, your trainer, and your
Be sure and read all my Q&As and articles. I recommend that you subscribe to
at least one horse magazine such as Equus or Western Horseman. Another wealth of
information are your tack catalogues. Just reading the item descriptions is an
education in itself. The internet, as you are already discovering, has an
incredible amount of information for people who are seeking knowledge concerning
their equine friends. Just be sure that the person offering the advice is
qualified as many self-proclaimed experts have found the internet to be the
perfect podium because it is difficult to really check out a person's
Now let's see what we can do about finding you a qualified farrier. My
suggestion is that you contact Al Curry in Phoenix. He is the 1995 president of
the Arizona State Farrier's Association. Al is a really great guy and a terrific
horseshoer and a lover of horses. He will do everything in his power to find you
a good farrier in your area. He can be reached at 16006 North 47th Place,
Phoenix, Arizona 85032-4214, or phone 602-971-0385.
I also recommend you contact the American Farrier's Association at 606-233-7411,
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a copy of their "Choosing a
Farrier" brochure. It is loaded with good information and pointers that a
horse owner should be aware of. You can also access their Member Directory on
their web site at www.amfarriers.com.
Good luck with your first horse. If there is anything I can do to further assist
you, I will be glad to do so.
The Village Blacksmith