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Performance with shoes?

In many years of doing lots of different things with horses  I have learned
the following:

Timed arena events;
  If the arena footing is just right, some barefooted horses do OK.  If the
surface is hard or rocky barefooters run "carefully" rather than boldly and
times are slower.  If it is a wet, slick day barefooters that have "short"
feet slip more.
 The "flat plate" type shoes do not hold well on turns, but horses run OK on
the straight.
  We had good results with the "rim" shoes, best times with rim shoes that
had been worn several weeks then reset.
Never had the "eventers" to try then.

  When doing hard, long, days gathering and moving cows in the mountains,
barefooted was rarely possible more than one day, horse often had a hard
time getting back to camp the first trip.
The flat plat type shoe is dangerously slick on dry or wet grass,  OK on
some kinds of rocky going, not secure on other stuff.
Rim shoes work fine,  they pick up more dirt in the fullers and hold on
slick rock, and eventers are also pretty good, they give a little wider web
protection to the sole.

I'm presently using eventers on endurance horses because of the wider web,
used the rim shoes for many years and had good luck with them, too.

Have had several horses I used pads on the fronts, both for endurance and
hard daily mountain riding.  They travel boldly and safely,  seem to feel
more comfortable.   Never had any problems with them.

Never tried any kind of "boots" in timed events,  but found them
unsatisfactory in sorting cattle in pens and pastures.  They don't stay on
with hard turns or in the mud.   They are dangerously unstable on greasy
mud, wet grass.
 Not bad on dry hard surfaces, or pavement, but I have never liked the
"feel" of the way the foot breaks over with them.  Horse seemed to be more
leg weary after several miles.   (Wonderful spare tire though)

  Have one horse that has worn the "natural balance" shoes on the fronts all
this season.  He has always been hard to keep his feet from growing out in
front of himself, low heel, long toe thing.  Shoer did not set them
extremely far back, just medium, and he has done just great.  Don't think
they are correct for many horses, but wonderful for some.

Don't remember any of my horses ever staying shod year round, always a
couple months barefoot, usually more.
Lame horses are pretty rare for me, occasional sprain,  have had a sole
bruise, but never an abscess.
Lots of horses still worked well into their 20s,  sound and healthy, no
colics or other strange illnesses.

Do think it is valuable for horses to be barefoot whenever practical.
If you are just riding quietly for a few miles in decent footing, there may
be no reason to put shoes on your horse.
For more difficult jobs you should consider all the alternatives.

  Hard for me to accept that a system of hoof care that has been working for
1000s of years can be all bad.

  By the way, if you look carefully at a properly fitted shoe that has just
been pulled you will see the shiny places in the area from last nail to the
heel where the foot has been expanding and closing with every step.  Shoes
do not keep the foot from flexing.

  I shod my own horses for many years,  and have watched lots of shoers,
good, bad, and so so.   Have almost never seen a lameness caused by shoeing,
but have seen lots of improvement in gaits and performance when shoes were
properly balanced for that horse.

Just some food for thought by someone who has been working and playing with
horses longer than some of you have been alive.

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