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Home > Horses > How Often Do Horses Need New Horseshoes? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

How Often Do Horses Need New Horseshoes? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Black and white horse hoofs with horseshoe

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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A horse with a horseshoe is called a shod horse, and horses get horseshoes for a number of reasons. Horseshoes are used to protect hooves from damage, especially on hard or uneven surfaces. They can also be used for specific sports or for additional grip. Horseshoes are put on by tradespeople called farriers who specialize in horse hoof health. But how often do horses need new shoes put on? Experts say that horses should go no longer than 6 weeks without having their feet trimmed and inspected.

Here is everything you need to know about horses, their shoes, and how often to get them replaced.

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Shoes Should Be Changed Every 4 to 6 Weeks

Every horse should have their feet done by a certified farrier or equine veterinarian every 4 to 6 weeks. That is doubly important for horses that have shoes. A horse’s foot health is incredibly important. Hooves need to be checked for infection and bad growth. Hooves also need to be trimmed, preferably once per month. Letting a horse’s feet grow without being checked and trimmed can lead to severe health problems.

Horseshoes are very particular. They need to fit your horse’s feet perfectly for the best results. They can wear down or come loose. Poorly fitting horseshoes can cause severe discomfort to your horse. Farriers will form, mold, and adjust horseshoes so that they fit your horse’s feet just right. Letting your horse’s hooves grow too long will impede the horseshoe from doing its job.

man wearing horseshoe on horse hoof
Image By: aglaya3, Pixabay

Horses’ Hooves Grow Continuously

The reason that horses need such constant attention for their feet is that their hooves grow continuously. That means that horses’ feet will continuously change. They will grow out of their shoes if you do not have them looked at every 4 to 6 weeks.

In the wild, horses can roam for dozens of miles. This constant walking over varied terrain keeps their hooves down to a minimum. In captivity, horses spend long hours standing on soft ground or confined to a stall which allows their hooves to grow without getting naturally worn down.

If you let your horse’s hooves grow out of control with shoes on, it can lead to lameness. Lameness can evolve into further health issues, and it can even become fatal. That is why it is critical to have your horse’s shoes changed every 4 to 6 weeks to avoid these kinds of serious issues.

Can You Reuse Horseshoes?

Sometimes. Whether or not you can reuse a horseshoe will be up to your farrier. Sometimes, a horseshoe can be altered to fit a hoof, even if the shoe has been worn before. In other cases, the horseshoe will need to be replaced completely. The shoes wear down over time and can even fall off. Farriers will adjust horseshoes by heating them in a small portable forge and working them on an anvil to ensure it fits your horse’s foot perfectly.

farrier filing horse hoof shoe
Image By: Lena Bauermeister, Unsplash

When You Might Need an Earlier Replacement

There are situations in which you might need to replace your horseshoes earlier than expected. Horses can have a number of issues that will require you to call out your farrier or an equine vet earlier. Shoes can fall off. This happens when the shoe gets ripped out of the hoof. Horseshoes can commonly be sucked off of a hoof in muddy and mucky conditions. A horse might also have a blowout. That is when an abscess or injury causes a part of the hoof to come apart, which can lead to lameness or an ill-fitting shoe. If your horse is lame, missing a shoe, or has a blowout, you should call your equine veterinarian right away to get their feet checked, even if they are not due for an appointment for another few weeks.

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Final Thoughts

A horse’s hoof health is critically important to its overall health. That means that having your horse’s feet looked at periodically is also important. Horses should have their feet trimmed and checked every 4 to 6 weeks, especially if they have shoes. Many times, horseshoes will need to be replaced at these intervals but sometimes they will need new shoes earlier and sometimes they can reuse a set of horseshoes for another few weeks. These decisions will ultimately be made by your professional farrier.

Featured Image Credit: Anastasija Popova, Shutterstock

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