Horse’s Hooves- Barefoot or shod?


Post Written By: Makaila Lapointe

Should a horse have shoes or should he be barefoot? This is a popular equestrian debate in this day of age that many riders and owners of horses often discuss. Today I will not tell you my opinion, but instead I will lay out the pros of each topic and let you decide. You don’t even have to “take a side.” But it is good for most equestrians to know the differences and to be knowledgeable in the subject so when it comes down to it, you can decide.

Shod- Many upper level competition horses or athletic horses cannot go barefoot. They need traction on the ground for eventing, jumping, steeplechase, etc.  Horses that also work in the snow need shoes for traction so the horse and the rider do not fall. There is also the need for therapeutic shoeing in order to help hoof capsule distortions or lameness.

Barefoot- When it comes to horses, it can be an expensive hobby. When your horse is barefoot it can save you hundreds of dollars. They need regular trimming, not regular shoeing.  Some owners are even capable of doing the trimming by themselves, which saves even more time. Some horses have greater balance and grip on the ground when they are barefoot.  When a horse is barefoot they have a greater supply of blood flow, which can increase hoof health.

Overall there are many benefits for a horse to be shod or barefoot. You, as the horse owner, can make the call whether your horse is for pleasure, or in performance competitions. There are pleasure horses that are shod, and performance horses that are even barefoot. It all depends on your horse.