Q: We are in the walking
horse business. At the present time, we have a coming three year old show horse
that we are having problems with his feet. We have had him barefoot since the
first of November, 1996. Everything was going along really well, then his feet
began not being able to hold his shoes. His feet seem to be growing outward into
a point, rather than rounding as they should. They have improved since we took
his shoes and padding off and have been using a hoof dressing on them. Do you
have any advice for us?
A: I received your question and
would love to try to help you and your horse. However, the question is very
vague and a little confusing. If you would care to restate it and include more
information perhaps I can be of assistance.
Some things that would be helpful to me are:
•Where (state or at least part of country) are you located?
•What conditions is the horse kept under (turned out or stalled, wet or dry
pasture or dry-lot, etc)? What is his diet?
•Is he still being ridden and if so how much and how hard?
•A better description of the condition causing him not to keep shoes on (feet
shelly, thin walled etc). Could he have been stepping them off with other feet?
•Do you have a certified Journeyman Farrier? What experience does he have
•A better description of how his feet are growing now (outward into a point
bring a picture to mind). Do you mean a flare? Where is the flare?
•With more information at hand I will be better able to give you an
The Village Blacksmith
Q: Will try to answer your
questions and give you a better description of my situation. This horse, as I
stated, is a coming three year old walking horse. He is a show horse and is
stabled inside at all times. At the present time he is barefooted all the way
around (we took his shoes off around the first of November, 1996). We bought him
as a coming two year old. They had him shod, small shoe and light pad. We
gradually brought him up with bigger shoes and more pad as he matured into it.
It seemed everything was going well. Then we would be riding him on the outside
track, or even inside the barn in the hallway, and off would come a front shoe.
This started around the early part of the fall of 1996, around October. He
seemed to be throwing the shoe off, not stepping on it with another foot. He was
not pulling any hoof away, fortunateley, but he was making the walls of his hoof
weak from having to put so many nails back in them. We do have a qualified
blacksmith, but my husband does some of his own shoeing, and has been shoeing
this colt. Having talked with our blacksmith, he was not able to satisfy my
wanting to know how things could be corrected. The front hoofs are growing out
at the front almost like this >, as opposed to being nice and round. They are
not spreading at the toe, so therefore we have nothing to nail to and cannot get
the pad and shoe back on. I am not sure if you are familiar with the shoeing of
a walking horse, but the nail pad is nailed to the hoof, and then the shoe and
built up pad is nailed to the nail pad, not to the hoof. There is a band that is
put across the shoe, from side to side, to help hold the shoe on. Walking horses
are usually reshod every 6 to 8 weeks. The back hoofs are in fine shape. We
would like to get him back to work as show season starts soon, but at this
point, I don't think we have a strong enough hoof to hold the shoe. His hoofs
seem to be healthy, but since they aren't growing very fast, there must be
something wrong. His diet is 12% ground horse feed, timothy hay, salt, and all
the water he will drink. His stall is cleaned twice a day and bedded with
shavings as needed. He is in good shape, weight wise and so forth. I hope that I
have helped some. I know this is a difficult thing to ask and try to put down on
paper everything you need to know. I really do thank you for answering me and I
look forward to hearing from you.
A: You stated that your horse
came to you as a coming two year old with small shoes and light pads and healthy
feet. Then your husband took up shoeing this young horse, building the youngster
up to bigger shoes and more pads. He thought that the horse matured into them.
Obviously this was not the case because the horse seemed to be throwing the
shoes off. Of course he was. He doesn't have walls strong enough, thick enough,
or mature enough to hold this kind of weight on the ends of his feet.
You stated you have a qualified blacksmith. I would ask you, why isn't he
shoeing this horse rather than being asked to try to explain to you how you can
correct the mess? I would be willing to bet that he probably is not shoeing this
horse because he would not bring the horse up as quickly as you and your husband
obviously want to.
I am very familiar with the shoeing of Walkers, Morgans and other horses that
require Big Lick shoeing. This type of shoeing is a very specialized field as is
the shoeing of running horses, reining horses, park horses, and other equine
disciplines having unique shoeing requirements. This work should not be left to
amateurs (including husbands). If there is even a slight imperfection in the
balancing or leveling of the feet, the weight and length of bigger shoes and
more pads will not only cause shoes to come off, but will do irreparable damage
to a horse's feet and legs, and even to the structures higher up.
Your original post says you are in the walking horse business. I am in the
homeowner business but I do not do the electrical wiring, the plumbing, or the
roofing of my home. I leave this to professionals. You should leave the shoeing
of your horses to qualified professional farriers.
I suggest that if in fact you do have a qualified blacksmith (or as properly
identified, a qualified farrier), you should have him shoeing this horse. I
might also add, a qualified farrier does not mean someone who happens to be
tacking on shoes in your barn. If you do not know what a qualified farrier is I
suggest that you contact your state farrier's association and/or the American
Farrier's Association (1-606-233-7411), firstname.lastname@example.org or www.amfarriers.com
and get yourself educated as to who should be shoeing your horses.
My comments are not intended to scold or punish you but simply to try and help
you understand that when we domesticate the horse we take on the responsibility
to provide adequate care. The further you deviate from natural conditions the
greater the responsibility. Big Lick shoeing must be done extremely well in
order to avoid ruining the animal.
The Village Blacksmith