Horse shoes are essential to the health and wellness of the hoof. They provide a protective covering of the horse's hoof, which is essentially their nail. While proper grooming of the hoof is necessary, shoeing your horse with a horse shoe to meet their needs is just as important as cleaning. There are a variety of horse shoes available, made from various materials.
Two Configurations of Horse Shoes
Horse shoes are composed of two configurations, no matter what the material. An open heeled shoe is rounded over the front of the hoof, but does not cross in the back. A bar horse shoe is a closed shoe, wrapping around the entire hoof and back of the foot. All shoes except for some synthetics are nailed to the hoof. Some farriers will choose to use glue, but it does not wear as well.
Steel or Aluminum?
Steel horse shoes are the most common and are readily available. Most farriers will prefer a steel shoe due to the ease of placement and the ability to modify the shoe to fit the hoof properly. Aluminium horse shoes are used on horses that barrel race or harness race. The weight of the front shoe is very important for these events, and the lightweight nature of the aluminium allows for a wider thicker shoe to protect the hoof.
Synthetic Horse Shoes
Synthetic horse shoes are a solid rubber or plastic, encasing the entire hoof. They limit the horse owner to the application methods, but are excellent protection for horses walking on a hard surface such as concrete, or those with hoof problems. Synthetic shoes, although for better protection, trap moisture inside the shoe causing an environment for thrush to form on the hoof and in the frog of the foot..
Titanium Horse Shoes
While titanium horse shoes are more expensive, they are beneficial for horses that need extra protection from a thick sturdy shoe without the weight of steel. Jumpers or barrel horses that bend aluminium shoes during practice or competition are ideal candidate for titanium shoes.
Brass Horse Shoes
Brass horse shoes are nailed in place, like most shoes, but brass nails are used. While brass shoes are rather uncommon in today's time, they are still used on areas of coal mines. This was their primary function in the early days.