No matter what kind of performance horse you might happen to have, cutting, reining, roping, or pleasure, one thing is a constant fact: your horse must be in balance with his body to perform at his optimal level. It is your farrier’s job to trim and shoe your horse to allow for optimal balance.
I have been lucky with my reining cow horse, Smoke ‘em. He has never needed any corrective shoeing. I simply have my farrier trim him flat and level based on the conformation of each of his legs. I have his feet trimmed short to ensure that he moves naturally. Horses with toes that are too long or heels that are too high do not stride naturally and do not look pretty to the judges. Eventually, excessively long feet cause problems that may require correction and even rehabilitation down the road. You can compare this problem to the human athlete. If a runner wore shoes one size too small, or too large, for even one training session he would feel a lot more stress and strain in the legs than with shoes which fit properly. The same is true for your horse. The most important factor in the shoeing of your performance horse is to have him land level on the ground, You can notice this by observing your horse move at a walk. View him from the front and from the side. Does the inside or the outside of the shoe hit the ground first? Or, does he put the entire hoof down level? If his walk is level, he will most likely lope and trot level also. And, most importantly for cow horses, he will stop level also. If he does not land perfectly level his timing (and yours) will be off. This problem will only get worse as you work him at a quicker pace. Remember, all foot and leg problems intensify as the horse moves faster. The best way to make decisions about your performance horse’s shoeing needs is to watch him move from the ground, and learn to listen to your seat. If you have any tips on shoeing the performance horse please post them here and share your experience.
What an experience! Greg and I arrived a day early to rest the horses after our long journey across two states from California to southwest Utah. Camp was nice with a few trees, sandy footing, showers, horse water, and outhouses. Anne and Dave Nicholson were courteous and welcoming. For the most part, about 75 to 80 riders started each day with a very high completion rate. The weather co-operated with us, but on day three in base camp we had a sudden hail storm which the riders missed out on the trail. We had applied Hoof-it before leaving home, and after a quick check to make sure all eight hooves of our two horses were covered, we started day one with much anticipation. Luckily for us, the ride started a little late as we forget to reset our clocks forward by one hour. The scenery was gorgeous with the Red Rocks providing a spectacular view. Besides the sandy soil and the Red Rocks, it felt like we were in the California Sierras most of the time. The footing was rather rocky and we re-applied Hoof-it to seven of the eight hooves after day one. Each day progressed into the next with the main difference being the accumulation of tiredness. Greg and I stayed in the back of the pack as Greg weighs in at 270 pounds with tack and I was on a fairly young horse who hadn’t even done two days in a row before. Greg did manage to finish all five days on the same horse and I finished day 1,2,4, and 5, giving my horse day three off. All the days were large loops with lunch being out of camp so we prepared crew bags which were taken out to lunch for us. Usually lunch was about 25 miles into the ride with great views, green grass for the horses to munch on, horse water, people lunch provided, and great vet checks. Most of the days were pretty technical and a seasoned horse sure helped. Some of the trail was following the side of a canyon, some of the trail took you right up to the edge of a mile long drop off with a birds eye view of the Red Rocks. There were places where the trail was on the side hill of a shale rockslide, but everything was passable with common sense and no sense of urgency - meaning slow down, dismount, walk your horse in hand, and pay attention. When it doubt, check it out! It wasn’t an easy ride on horse or rider. Some days we would climb up to 9500 feet, drop down to 6500 feet, climb again to 8000 feet, and repeat this process many, many times during the day. Other days we would follow the side of the mountains around one bend to the next, and after doing this about six or eight times, wonder if we would ever get to lunch. This is not a ride you would want to get hurt on. Many places it would have been tough to get you or your horse out. But the Duck was always aware of where his ducklings were, what they were up against, and remained a calm and commendable leader throughout the course of the week. There were quite a few rock sore horses by the end of the ride and some didn’t get to finish all five days. Ours looked great using Hoof-it for the duration of the ride. Some of the riders were using Easy Boots which worked ok, but some of the Easy Boots were pulled off in the bogs and muddy areas. We re-applied Hoof-it after some of the more rocky days, but after using it at home and on the single day rides, it was an easy job after we came in from the trail. Great ride, great trail, great company, and I’m glad I found Hoof-it.
If you are a horse owner, you share in the challenge of keeping your horse comfortable and sound. If you're like most of us, you've experienced lameness issues with your horses. You know that unraveling the source of lameness is a team effort between your vet, (or often more than one vet), your farrier, and you. Caring for your horses' hooves on a daily basis is as important as keeping clean water in front of him/her. Choosing a good farrier is also critical to keeping your horse sound. What do you think are the qualities of a good farrier? We are looking for top farriers around the country and for that matter around the world so we can build a farrier referral directory at hoof-it.com. We need your input, so if you are a farrier, or you have a good farrier, contact us. We'll need your name, the name of your farrier, location of your farrier business, your farrier's contact info - phone number, and email address (optional). Also, if you want to share why you like your farrier, or what makes you a good farrier, we'll add that to your free listing in our directory. Thanks! The Hoof-it Horse Care Team