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I am wondering if shoeing a horse is bad for them.

For clarification the word "bad" here covers any negative affect it can have on the horse. I will only be accepting an answer that argues both sides of barefoot and not.

I understand this is a controversial topic so this is open for different answers(Yes,No, circumstancial etc.). I ask that any answers provided stay away from the "In my opinion." Simply argue with facts and source links.

Extra brownie points for research studies.

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    As a general rule bare foot is better. If there was an issue - I'd prefer boots over shoeing.... will write an answer.
    – user6796
    Feb 27 '20 at 17:15
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    It will be difficult to provide you with studies as most studies with horses are bullshit (source to that: my minor subject at university is medicine, and we did have a course on medical studies there after which I analyzed and got very amused). Medical doctors just as veterinarians ofttimes are not taught how to do good studies and often fail on the simplest points as observing more than 3 subjects, or logical reasoning. Also, in this era of digital marketing you ought to stay away from information on most websites, too. I do appreciate that you ask for sources, but will get VERY difficult :)
    – kaiya
    Mar 8 '20 at 0:27
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    @MelissaLoos exactly! Many of the studies only have 3-5 horses, it's not enough to produce a statistically significant sample. There's good anecdotal evidence, but the anatomical evidence is by far the most convincing.
    – user6796
    Mar 8 '20 at 2:26
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This is a potentially contentious issue. Personally, I advocate and practice natural horsemanship. What is in the best interests of the horse.

Hammering nails through a horse's hooves is not usually ideal for a horse. It puts holes in the hoof, there is the potential for injury, plus the shoes are hard and slippery. The metal slamming against hard surfaces removes the natural flexibility of the hoof to cushion each step. On concrete or roads they can be slippery.

If there's issue with the hoof and riding, it is better to address the source of the problem, which is often nutritional or can be related to poor trimming. Healthy hoof growth relies on a balanced nutritional diet, so all trace elements and requirements such as biotin are met. It is also important that horses have a dry place to stand during wet weather. Standing in bog or mud constantly can cause the hoof to become infected.

The other issue which can be related to nutrition (founder) or mechanical (poor hoof trimming, poor shoeing, relentless riding, is laminitis. Some people advocate showing the help adjust the angle the hoof sits.

If there's a lot of riding and it is taking its toll on the hooves, boots are a less invasive option than shoeing and can be removed after the ride.

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    I agree with everything above. Also, a bare foot hoof will widen when it meets the ground and narrow again when it is lifted. When the hoof is nailed, the hoof cannot widen as much which will influence even the metabolic system via the decreased hoof mechanism. The cushion effect Yvette describes is essential here, too. A shooed horse often gets arthrosis way sooner than on barefoot. Even tough there might be cases, where shooing is inevitable, in most case it isn't and should be replaced with better methods. There are great boots since this century (src: observation at work+logic+anatomy)
    – kaiya
    Mar 8 '20 at 0:22
  • @MelissaLoos it sounds like you and I have common attitudes towards horses. It's about putting the interests of the horse above the interest of the person.
    – user6796
    Mar 8 '20 at 2:24
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    Holding a horse is like holding a slave. We can only legitimate it (if ever) if we take our very best to give them a good life and be a friend to them. Anything else is mean and selfish, and I am still undecided if it is selfish even if we treat them well ;)
    – kaiya
    Mar 8 '20 at 10:07
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    @MelissaLoos totally agree! I occassionally call my horses my prisoners, as they are trapped by fences and I have a few brumbies that were trapped in the wild. However the alternative is the government slaughters them! So I try to give them the best life possible. Earn their trust and take care of them and never sell them on. Horses don't have a good fate in Australia or in a lot of other countries. They're overbred and such expensive, and time consuming pets to keep. I have a pregnant mare and bought a pregnant mare a couple of years ago- I don't breed. If people want the experience...
    – user6796
    Mar 8 '20 at 11:54
  • ... of foaling, there's plenty of pregnant unwanted horses or just pregnant horses for sale.
    – user6796
    Mar 8 '20 at 11:54

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