Shoeing FAQ - Is Barefoot Better?

farrier shoeing a horse
Farrier shoeing a horse. Getty images

Question:  Is going barefoot better for horses than wearing nailed on shoes? 

Answer: Some people think horses should never wear shoes and if trimmed and maintained properly, a horse can participate in any discipline and remain sound without them. Many barefoot proponents believe that even serious hoof problems that would traditionally be treated with specialized shoeing by a farrier, can be solved with natural trims, changing the footing the horse stands on and changing its diet.

  Some people even maintain that shoeing is inhumane. There is some controversy over whether this is true.

Does your horse need shoes? For most pleasure horses, shoes probably aren’t necessary and sensible maintenance including regular trimming may be all that is needed. You need to pay attention to the wear of the hoof and the comfort of your horse as you ride over all sorts of footing. If your horse is getting sore feet, you have some several options. Your horse may need protection like hoof boots, that can be worn only when you ride. Or, you may opt for traditional nailed on shoes. There are also glued on shoes. The best resource for information about what hoof protection your horse may need is your farrier.

Barefoot enthusiasts point to shoeing as the cause of many problems and, indeed poor shoeing can do more harm than good. But shoeing has also many benefits. Whether or not barefoot is best is up to you and your horse.

Learn more about the pros and cons of barefoot VS shod. Better is what suits you and your horse, whether that means shoes or going barefoot.