Hoofin’ It – Part 1
What do you look for in a horse? Is it Breed? Is it color? Is it size? Is it conformation? How about the hooves? The old saying “No hoof – no horse” is undeniably true. You can’t saddle up and ride a horse with sore feet.
Until recently, I didn’t think much about hooves as being a primary determinant for selecting a horse. You just keep the horse shod with new shoes every six to eight weeks and pick whatever breed, color, size, or conformation you want. Just feed-em, shoe-em, saddle up and ride.
Then, I started noticing my five-year-old Morgan horse (Captain Morgan). Captain’s hooves must be as hard as steel. We live in an area with rocky soil. Rocks protrude through the surface of the ground at some places. Some places rocks cover the ground. Some places the ground is covered with cobbles and small boulders. Captain Morgan’s hooves have never been shod or even trimmed yet they look as they have recently been trimmed (I do examine the hooves and clean away the dirt and rocks that may be lodged in the grooves). I have taken him on trail rides through the Ozarks in Missouri, the Kiamichi mountains in Oklahoma, the Texas Hill Country and other rocky areas with no damage occurring to the hooves. My other horses are APHA paints. Their hooves will not hold up to this treatment. In fact, the paints frequently lose a shoe or two before being re-shod.
Around here (Northeast Oklahoma), I usually pay $50 to $55 each time I have a horse shod. You may pay more or less in your area. If your horse is shod on a six week rotation, you will pay more than $400 per year and around $325 per year on an eight week rotation. What if your horse doesn’t need shoes? Can you use $325 or $400 each year? With this money you could buy a new saddle or go on another trail ride or fix that broken corral gate.
But how do you find a horse with such hooves? Unfortunately, I don’t have a reliable method of doing this. I have seen a fair number of horses and Captain Morgan is the only horse I’ve been associated with hooves like these. I mentioned this to Charlie, the guy who shoes my other horses and he said he had once owned such a horse. His expression was “never shod and never struck the ground with a sore hoof”. Charlie said this type of hoof was sometimes called “mule hooves”. In fact, I own a mule with such hooves and this mule has gone to the same trail rides as Captain Morgan, also unshod. But not all mules have such hooves. Charlie owns a really good mule with hooves that.. honda financial services customer service