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Riding Parade Horses

Riding Your Horse in a Parade

So, you are thinking about riding in a parade with your horse. Sounds pretty fun right? It can definitely be a great experience if you and your horse are prepared and have the right tools and information for the job. If you are thinking about pavement riding in any capacity, there are a few things you should know so that you can create a safer, more comfortable experience for you and your horse.

When a person takes on a sport like soccer, basketball or track, or you enjoy backpacking, hiking or running, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Your shoes right! This is because when we do these activities the most important tool for a comfortable and positive outcome is what we put on our feet. Try to do these activities in the wrong shoe, and you are setting yourself up for pain and injury.

The same goes for your horse. When considering riding in a parade or riding on pavement at all, you should consider what horseshoes are on your horse's feet. It can make a difference between a happy ride for you and your horse, or pain and injuries due to the shock of riding on the road, or the potential of your horse slipping and injuring himself or you.

When the horse’s weight descends, the hoof is sandwiched between that load and the ground. It is meant to spread apart upon weight bearing, with the coffin bone dropping down like a trampoline. This is the natural shock-absorption feature of the hoof. The walls spread apart and the sole draws flat. Horses with this elasticity and hoof function are most adequately prepared to absorb shock and concussion. When metal is nailed in all around, how does the hoof perform its duty? Where is the shock absorbed? Most likely it is absorbed in the sensitive tissue of the hoof or further up the structure of the leg, which is what needs to be prevented. If we allow our horses to function more naturally they would not be showing increasing symptoms of pain and discomfort.

The metal shoe is nailed on when the hoof is in the air. It is at its smallest, most contracted shape. It is not weight-bearing or in movement, and is held firmly in this state by the metal – no expansion and nowhere for the coffin bone to descend. As the coffin bone pushes down under the horse’s weight, it is then bruising the solar corium which cannot expand and draw flat to get out of the way. This lack of flexibility and cushioning can cause problems with circulation, foot and joint pain and may cause damage to the structure of the foot in some cases. Not to mention put undue stress on the ligaments and tendons and irritate connective tissue. Metal horseshoes can also be very slippery and provide no traction. Think about this scenario when you are riding in a parade for instance. Your horse is pounding the pavement for a couple of hours. Maybe trotting some of that distance and his hooves, joints, ligaments, and tendons are feeling every step. Or, your horse gets overly excited or spooks and slips right out from under you.

Horses were first shod before we understood the physiology of the hoof and certainly before we had our current level of technology. Today’s compounds have far greater shock absorbing features than metal. If you take a metal shoe and bang it against a rock, you will feel the reverberation all the way up your arm. So imagine your horse walking or trotting down the road in a parade and experiencing that reverberation and shock the entire time. Plastic horseshoes, however, absorb the shock rather than transmitting it through the hooves so that the sensitive lamellae of the hoof is not compromised but supported. The main support system of the coffin bone can remain strong and integral when the high-frequency vibration of impact on metal is not constantly jarring. Plastic shoes also aid in improved circulation and healthy blood flow aids in the prevention of injury and facilitates healing.  

So before you hit the pavement, consider your options and what can provide the safest and comfortable ride.

Read more about HOOF-it Natural Flex Plastic Horseshoes

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Preparing for your Farriers

Preparing for your Farriers

The horse’s foot is completely surrounded by a substance similar to your fingernail to protect it against having to sustain the wear and tear of having to carry one quarter of your horse’s weight over the varying terrain you may be riding him over. A horse’s foot consists of an outer layer of horn (hoof), inside which is contained the pedal and navicular bones, and the deep digital flexor tendon which is attached to the pedal bone.
The foot also contains the digital pad, lateral cartilages, coronopedal joint, blood vessels, and nerves. The foot as a whole absorbs concussion and by its continuous growth, it is able to replace its striking surface which is lost through everyday wear and tear. As a horse owner, you can help assist your horse in this latter process by choosing the right farrier for your particular horse’s needs. Farriery is one of the most vital of all the professions connected to the horse. If there were no farriers, the entire horse world would just about come to a stop; except for a few fortunate individuals lucky enough to be able to ride always and exclusively on grass, or in an arena completely void of rocks.
Even these folks would find it difficult to keep their mounts sound and true if there were no one to trim, shape, and generally care for their pony’s feet. The best way that I have found to increase my own knowledge of my horse’s feet is to watch my farrier shoe my horses. It will also be to your advantage to pay attention, and actively participate when your farrier comes out. Here are a few things that I always try to do to help out to make the whole process easier. I always let my farrier know in advance if I am going to have any special shoeing needs, or if I have a youngster that is going to be shod for the first time. Horses being shod for the first time should be used to having their feet picked out and be familiar with having the wall and sole of their foot tapped. You should ALWAYS present your horses for shoeing with clean, dry feet and legs. And always provide the farrier with a well lit area, and dry solid footing; undercover if possible. The first time the farrier shoes your horse, let him know how your horse is going and what discipline you use him for: trail, cutting, endurance etc. Assuming the horse is already shod, he will look at the wear of the shoes and the growth of the hoof to determine wear and growth patterns. With your help, the farrier will then determine whether your horse has any problems such as overreaching, stumbling, dragging its toes etc. If such problems are discovered, your farrier will discuss alternative shoeing solutions with you. The above ideas will help you and your farrier develop a relationship that will benefit you both, and more importantly, benefit your horse.  

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Navicular Syndrome

Navicular Syndrome

Navicular syndrome is a critical problem with the riding horse. Navicular is usually suspected when your horse is showing pain in the caudal aspect of its hoof. Typically when this problem is diagnosed the horse owner will not only need to revise the horse’s training program, but will also need to look at corrective shoeing. I have found the composite shoe to be a more than competent corrective shoe for navicular problems. Every horse owner or caretaker should fully understand hoof mechanism, proper trimming, and how it affects the horse’s entire body, health and longevity. Navicular problems are not hereditary. Many horse people may believe that navicular problems are hereditary. Do not mistake this for a hereditary weakness. It is a very common health care problem. Navicular problems are almost always man made through improper trimming, short term or long term shoeing, and/or inadequate natural environment throughout the horse’s life. This type of improper care can cause problems in the navicular area of your horse’s hoof. The navicular bone is located directly behind the coffin bone, held in between the short pastern and coffin bone by tendons and ligaments. The navicular bone has two main functions: To protect the joint and tendons from pressure and concussion; and to act as a valve for blood flow to the coffin bone and corium in the hoof. An insult to this region causes pain and lameness in the horse. When your horse is diagnosed with navicular syndrome by your veterinarian a common drug therapy will normally include isoxsuprine hydrochloride, a drug which causes dilation of the small blood vessels. This is a long course of drug therapy which can become quite expensive. Corrective shoeing is always going to be required in more chronic cases of navicular syndrome. Your horse should be trimmed according to its own conformation and properly fitted with a corrective shoe. The main point is that to be able to continue using your horse, you are going to need to be proactive in making your horse comfortable while he is working. Remember, you are never going to be able to cure navicular problems, you and your farrier can, however, assist in relieving him from pain.

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Barefoot vs. Shoeing

A common debate in the horse world these days is whether or not to shoe your horse. Of course this can only be answered by knowing what you are requiring of your horse and the current condition of its feet. A horse that is retired and spending his days on pasture has different needs than a competition cutting horse. Other than an occasional hoof trim the pasture horse should be fine going barefoot. The question becomes more complicated when the level of your horse’s activity is raised. One thing that I have noticed is that you rarely see a non-working horse come up lame. I believe that a big part of this is that when we ride we are placing unnatural stresses on the hoof. While it is true that wild horses live out their lives unshod, it is also true that natural selection takes the horses that have weak feet. In addition, the restrictions we place on the horse’s movement in various disciplines are issues which the wild or pasture horse does not have to deal with. For example, when we ride we control the headset of our horse for appearance more often than for function (i.e. pleasure classes), our horses also constantly have to compensate for the weight of the rider above them, which compromises their balance. We also ask them to move in ways that generally affect their overall carriage and hoof placement. Finally, working horses are first and foremost athletes, subject to the same types of injuries as their human counterparts. In the wild, a horse moves freely without a lot of repetitive motion. The working horse is asked to repeat gaits over and over again causing the hoof to strike the same way. In humans, runners in particular, this is called Repetitive Motion Injury. I feel that this sort of disciplined movement is the cause of most hoof problems. I have found that a happy medium between steel shoes and barefoot to be the composite shoe. In a composite shoe or a hybrid composite horseshoe you get the benefits of support and shock absorption, while retaining the flexibility and the circulation of going barefoot.

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Navicular Syndrome and HOOF-it Composite Horseshoes

Navicular Syndrom Dear HOOF-it Technologies: My mare was diagnosed with “Navicular Syndrome”. One day I noticed that her stride had become short and stabby like. We took her to the vet for a full examination and x-rays and sure enough she was diagnosed with “Navicular Syndrome”. The vet prescribed meds (isoxsuprine) that were given to her religiously but she still seemed too uncomfortable to go back to her regular workouts. After looking on the internet I found your HOOF-it plastic horseshoes and was eager to try them. I bought a pair and gave them to my farrier to put on. My farrier is a bit of a traditionalist and gave me a cross eyed look but after some convincing he went ahead and put them on. Much to our amazement she walked out of the cross ties a different horse. We put her on a line and her movement was night and day. Her short and stabby stride became once again free and long. She has now been able to go back to regular work and has even been shown in the childrens hunters. I know she will never go back to the 3’6 ring but she is comfortable and happy. Who could ask for anything more? Thank you for making a horseshoe that just makes sense! Sincerely, Ann Alexander

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Plastic Horseshoes

I began using plastic shoes on my draft horse that kicked himself in the side of the foot as his confirmation was base narrow and because of the weight of a steel shoe. In looking for alternatives to protect him from brushing, I found HOOF-it horseshoes in draft size and tried them.   I noticed so much growth in his feet and that he was so much more comfortable , moving more fluid, and yes he stopped brushing and injuring his hind leg. I began to try them on my cross country and event horses and haven't gone back to steel since. The plastic shoes contribute to increased hoof growth. This gives the farrier more hoof to work with if the horse needs correction in his hoof.  The shoe flexes, this creates more circulation in the foot and a healthier foot. The shoe flexes and this protects pasture mates form injury of serious kicks from steel shoes, but protects the using horse from hard surface or stone bruises. I've had one thoroughbred with under-run heels for ten years. With plastic shoes and my certified farrier's expertise in trimming and setting the shoe, he has grown upright heel for the first tine in 10 years! I love plastic horse shoes. People ask if there wear as well as steel. I actually had them re set three times on my draft horse. He weighs about 2500lbs. We were doing trail rides and arena work with him. I think they wear better than steel. Thank you Hoof-It! Christine Amber, owner/trainer www.equestriantraining.com

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Horseshoe for Mounted Patrol Horses

Horseshoe for Mounted Patrol Horses

Minneapolis Police Mounted Patrol

Thank you for your help in addressing the concerns of the Minneapolis Police Mounted Patrol Unit regarding shoes for our horses.

When I first contacted you, we were preparing for protests related to the International Scientists of Animal Genetics conference that was being held in our City. We were looking for a shoe for our horses that would provide proper grip on the wide variety of surfaces our horse's encounter, as well as flexibility and durability.

We received our order in less than a week and our Farrier had no problem putting the shoes on. The test would be how they held up during the protests. During the protests, we had other Mounted Patrol Units from other agencies providing mutual aid. One of the things we noticed immediately was the fact that our horses had much less slipping than the horses from the other agencies that were using steel shoes, barium shoes, or a combination (steel with barium tips).

Our horses definitely had much better footing, which was a great advantage! The shoes have been extremely durable while remaining flexible, which is healthier for the hoof.

We are very pleased with the performance of your HOOF-it shoes and plan to continue to use them in the future. Thanks again! I look forward to meeting you soon.

Sincerely,

Officer Angela M. Dodge Minneapolis Police Department Mounted Patrol Unit Coordinator

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HOOF-it Glue On Horseshoes

Somken Up Lee (Smoke) is a 22 year old own son of Mr. Gunsmoke who has had careers in cutting, jumping and now dressage. He's been way above average in all three sports, and though he's proven himself to be "golden", he does have one problem... he does have BAD FEET. They are thin and shelly, and after a full summer and fall of competition, his feet are so broken up my shoer has to be quite clever to even find a place to put nails to hold a shoe on.   Enter the glue shoe and HOOF-it!! My vet, shoer, and I felt he needed to go barefoot for the winter, but being very flat footed and tender without shoes he couldn't be ridden. We decided to try a glue shoe and keep ridding. It was suggested that I have Steve Samet take over as he did most with the glue shoe in my area. To make a long story short... Steve has found a way to help keep glue shoes on. HOOF-it is an incredible product for helping in many situations, this being one. He brushed HOOF-it over the glue shoe, thus helping hold the shoe on, and in doing so he stabilized the whole hoof capsule, gave the foot lots of support, and Smoke traveled and performed well... he was one happy camper, as was I. Now going to summer, we have a healthy, not so toey foot that should hold a shoe until winter when I certainly will use HOOF-it and glue shoes once again. Many thanks to HOOF-it, Steve and Sean for their help!!!

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Fitting a HOOF-it Natural Flex Plastic Horseshoe

Question: I'm ordering my second set of shoes. I was hoping your shoes would encourage hoof growth and expand my horses feet. Well good news it seems to be working. Why do I sound surprised because I've tried all kinds of supplements,... well nothing really seemed to be all that effective. The only thing that seemed to make a difference was pulling my horses shoes and turning him out with a horse that really kept him moving for the winter. (no shoes & exercise) My only concern as I'm looking at the shoes that were pulled off, it appears my horses weight on the outside of the shoe pushed up the inside of the shoe. I see that the shoe was rasped round on the outside edges so as his foot expanded he was on the very very edge that did not have shoe under touching the ground. On his fore feet off and over the inside edge. I'm sure as my farrier gets more accustom to these shoes he will make adjustments. Also he though his standard clincher was a bit awkward. He wanted me to ask if he should be using a special one made for your shoes?  Thank you very much, Leigh Cahill Answer: Dear Leigh, Have your farrier leave as much expansion room around the heels as he feels comfortable with. I usually leave 1/4 inch or a little less. With the shoe being flexible if a horse steps on the edge 90% of the time the shoe just flexes back into place. The extra expansion room will ensure that you get a reset if the shoe isn't to worn. I use regular clinchers and try to get my nails a little higher than I would with a steel shoe. There are times when I use to punch the nail heads down with my clinch cutter but I seldom do that anymore.

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Trainer & Driver of Carriage Horses

As a trainer and driver of carriage and draft horses I felt very fortunate to find and use the composite horseshoes put out by HOOF-it Technologies. We train approximately twenty driving horses a year here at Winter Hill Driving Center in the mountains of Florida with the biggest demand being for CDE horses and ponies. As you can imagine there is a great deal of twisting and turning and a lot of road miles (up to 15 miles per day) to get in condition for these events. We have one set (four shoes) which is on it's fourth reset and that's on my Purcheron, Lexie, who trains every horse that comes in. We go eight weeks on reset for her and outside of replacing a nail or two we've never lost a shoe. As a hitch driver from 1971 on, I was probably the most skeptical of these products then anyone until a client's horse, another Pucheron, Ben, came in for training. After that it was love! So if you have any questions feel free to stop by our training center in sunny Florida if you want to see some great driving horses and HOOF-it Composite Horseshoes. Bob Giles Winter Hill Driving Center Morriston, Florida http://winterhilldrivingcenter.com/

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