There is an old saying in the horse world, “No feet, No horse”. If you have just purchased your first horse, it probably would be a good idea to investigate and contact a reputable blacksmith in your area. Most blacksmiths will be more than happy to make an appointment with you and evaluate your horses’ feet, and explain whether your horse needs their feet trimmed or need to have shoes put on them. Riding a horse with feet that are either too long or too short is not a good thing. Too long and the horse may trip and fall causing extra strain on their limbs, or causing large cracks or chipping of the hooves. Too short and your horse will be reluctant to go forward as it is similar to having a very painful hang nail.
If you have a trail horse or a horse that you just enjoy riding from time to time, then most likely your need for a blacksmith will be routine maintenance; usually every four to six weeks. If your horse is barefoot, (meaning no shoes), then maybe a bit longer. Overall, most horses have good feet with a minimal amount of problems especially if they have the correct diet. The exceptions are usually horses that have either a regular regiment of being ridden or are being campaigned vigorously. Checking your horses’ feet and picking out their feet on a daily basis is an extremely good habit to get into and an absolute necessity if your horse is spending most of their time in a stall. By becoming familiar with your horses feet will enable you to notice any changes. The quicker you are to address these changes, the least amount of problems you will have down the road.
There is also something called corrective shoeing or trimming. This has become very prevalent in the horse world; mostly practiced in the competitive part of the horse industry. If it is necessary to venture into corrective shoeing you should consult a blacksmith that specializes in this area. Horses, as they travel, will follow the shoe when placing down their foot. If the shoe is put on incorrectly, then the horse will start to move incorrectly. In turn, as the body tries to compensate, there will be other issues arising and so on. Corrective shoeing can be costly in more ways than one. On the other hand, it can take a problematic animal and turn them into a very productive and happy horse.
During the times that you may encounter occasional problems, such as abscesses or other types of lameness caused by foot issues, you may need to use a veterinarian as he or she will instruct you on the procedures for curing these ailments. Paying attention to your horses’ feet is a very simple task and will become second nature in a short amount of time. Be there when your blacksmith comes to trim or shoe you horse or horses. It will be a learning time for you and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Long term horsemen are a book of knowledge and are usually ready to spread this knowledge freely to those that are eager to learn. Understand that we are in this together as we all love horses.