They have only the “pads” on their hooves, which turns hard over time and wear (walking.) Source(s): It was not until the onset of humans, who put the metal shoes on the horse hooves in aim to provide a safer “pad” on their horses hooves.
Horse owners use shoes for various reasons, from protection and therapy to performance in equestrian events. Horseshoes attach with small nails that pass through the shoe into the outer part of the hoof.
But don’t worry, since this part of the hoof has no nerve endings, the horse doesn't feel any pain during the process (it is similar to cutting your fingernails). Your large animal veterinarian will be able to recommend a good farrier in the area, or you can always ask around among fellow horse owners.
Early domesticated horses were often exposed to conditions differing from their natural habitats as humans began using them for traveling, hunting, and pulling plows. The early Western Europeans thought that evil fairies were driven away by iron, which was a common material used to forge horseshoes back then.
During the Crusades of the 12th century, horseshoes were accepted as a form of tax payment and horses were often adorned with a lucky silver shoe before a big parade. Horseshoes can improve traction for equestrian events, protect hooves from wearing out, and even provide therapeutic relief.
While horses in the wild can maintain trimmed feet naturally as they move many miles a day across different surfaces, most domestic horses require regular hoof trimming to stay comfortable, pain-free, and to prevent foot distortion. Excessive growth can even cause the hoof to deteriorate or lead to injuries, fungal infections, bruising, or abscesses.
Studies have shown that the foot's internal workings, from the tendons and ligaments to the animal's overall movement, will all be affected by unbalanced hoofs. For example, some horses have diseases or conditions that may require shoeing to relieve pain or stress, while others naturally have tough, smooth hooves without deformities, bone, or muscular issues.
Domestic horses, on the other hand, require regular hoof maintenance regardless of if they wear shoes or not. Horses with good hoof and leg conformation who have limited workload and are able to forage for most of their feed may be able to live happily without shoes.
In fact, many farriers prefer that their four-legged clients go barefoot for part of the year, since cold weather can sometimes slow hoof growth rates. The metal horseshoes are there to protect the horse’s hooves.
Horseshoes are curved pieces of metal that cover the bottom of a horse’s hoof. A person called a farrier uses small nails to hold the shoe on the hoof.
The nails go into a tough part of the hoof where the horse can’t feel them. Farriers have to trim a horse’s hooves, so they don’t grow too long and get injured.
An animal called the horseshoe crab lives in the ocean. Due to domestication, horses hooves grow faster, often requiring trimming by a farrier every six to eight weeks.
Hard ground can cause concussive damage to the hooves, increasing the risk of particular disease and other potential lameness issues. The purpose of the horse shoe is often to protect the hoof wall.
Racing or jumping horses can develop cracks in their hooves, but a shoe helps strengthen the landing and offers added traction and additional protection, especially if the horse is traveling over long distances. Rubber can be placed between the hoof and the shoe for extra cushioning as well, common in carriage horses trotting along pavement.
Show breeds are sometimes fitted with shoes to change their gait, as with Tennessee Walkers. Farriers might also recommend shoes if a horse's gait is putting stress on its body.
Generally, horses on rough or hard terrain, such as those that jump, race, or pull loads, use shoes. Whether your horses wear shoes or are barefoot is a decision made between the owner, farrier, and veterinarian.
Creating horseshoes has traditionally been a significant part of blacksmith, so I thought it was relevant to discuss this topic. Domestic horses live in very different environments on cold, wet farms than the arid steppes they’re used to in the wild.
Domestic horses also traditionally carry weight such as riders, plows, wagons, and packs that put additional strain on their hooves. In addition to preventative care, horseshoes can be used to treat muscle or bone problems in injured horses.
The only time a horse needs to run at higher speeds in the wild is for short durations while it’s outrunning a predator. Since domesticated horses aren’t traveling 50 miles or more per day, their hooves get overgrown or wear unevenly unless they’re trimmed regularly.
Horses naturally live in quite dry and arid climates, bordering on deserts. Traveling in a dry climate at a slow rate means a horse’s hooves naturally get worn evenly and hardened.
Walking on heavier and softer soil makes a horse’s hoof weaker over time. They were commonly used to pull plows, wagons, pack loads, and obviously ridden as a form of transportation.
Caulks help horses stay stable over unstable terrain, at high speeds, or when jumping. A high step is desirable, and specially shoeing a horse can accentuate their natural gait.
Farriers can also assess lameness and other issues that might be affecting a horse’s ability to walk. Racehorses typically wear aluminum shoes due to their lighter weight.
Some people believe that hanging them above your doorway will bring good luck to your household. Horseshoes are made of iron, which is believed to ward off evil spirits, giving them an additional use.
Later on, the British and Romans made an early predecessor to the modern horseshoe called a hippo sandal. This metal or leather object was strapped to the bottom of a horse’s hoof, like a big sandal.
Since iron was still a valuable resource at the time, any worn out horseshoes would have been melted down and reused to make something else. But it’s believed that crescent-shaped horseshoes nailed on like we know today weren’t largely in use until around the year 500 AD.
In Europe, horseshoes made of cast bronze became common around the year 1000 AD. Making horseshoes was also a staple for blacksmiths at the time and comprised a lot of the work they did.
Since they were made of iron and had value, you could even pay your taxes with horseshoes if you didn’t have coins! In 1835, an American man named Henry Burden invented a machine that could make up to 60 horseshoes every hour.
For people who prefer their horse to be barefoot most of the time, it’s a good short-term protection during riding and other activities. Then he needs to trim the insensitive hoof wall, which doesn’t cause any pain to the animal.
The farrier then measures the horse’s foot and bends a horseshoe into the right shape using an anvil and hammer. Hot shoeing makes for a better fit, but it’s also more time-consuming and requires more specialized equipment.
A hot shoe can be held against the horse’s hoof to measure, but it can’t be left too long or it will cause damage. Finally, the farrier uses a large file called a rasp to smooth out any sharp edges.
They argue that proper trimming can prevent and correct any hoof problems that horseshoes are traditionally used for. That’s because the thick outer part of a horse hoof is similar to a human fingernail and doesn’t feel pain.
A horse may move when a horseshoe is being attached, causing the nail to get too close to the sensitive inner part of the hoof. Getting too far into a horse’s hoof can cause them to feel pain in bleed, similar to hitting the quick while cutting a dog or cat’s nails.
In horses, it’s even worse, and they might show signs of pain while walking for several days. It depends on the horse and the amount of wear on their shoes, so it’s important to frequently check to make sure they’re properly fitted and the right size.