This is the second in a two part series on hoof care for shows. Last month, we talked to show organizers about arena surfaces and hiring a show farrier. For this month’s blog, we will be discussing hoof care as it relates to showing for owners.
As you begin to schedule shows and clinics to be attended, hoof care should also be planned. There are a couple reasons for this. First, by sharing your show schedule, your horse’s hoof care can be scheduled around the show season to keep their feet in optimum condition. Second, due to different surfaces at each show, shoe selection is critical for optimum performance as well as soundness.
To be able to understand why scheduling ahead is important, we need to remember some basic anatomy and function of the horse’s foot. As the hoof grows, it does not simply grow in length but rather it also distorts, growing forward. As the hoof distorts, the force on the parts of the hoof itself changes as does the strain on each ligament and tendon. In order for the horse to perform comfortably and at his best, we need to keep undesirable stress and forces to a minimum. By keeping the horse on an appropriate schedule, no more than 5 weeks in most cases, and trimming or shoeing at an appropriate time in relation to an upcoming show or clinic, we are able to help the horse perform at their best while minimizing the risk of injury.
Knowing what type of footing you will be competing on, and letting your farrier know, is extremely important to be able to help your horse perform at its best. You might have to do a little research on their website or make a call. With the modern surfaces that are present at many showgrounds now, that will also change what shoe we select based on where the horse is going. The synthetic surfaces we are seeing in many dressage and jumping arenas are extremely sticky, and if we don´t change the shoes to something with less traction, the horse is at risk for suspensory issues due to the foot not being able to slide as it contacts the ground thus taking a tremendous amount of shock.
Whether you will be showing, going to clinics, or heading out on the trails, if you are traveling with your horse to an event that is important to you, talk to your farrier well ahead of time. By setting appointments in advance you will be sure that you and your horse are ready to go, at least as far as hoof care. If you are at a show and loose a shoe or have an issue, stop by and see the show farrier, they will get you taken care of. If your farrier is at a show you are competing in, stop by and say hi, hopefully we will even get to watch you compete.