In my many years of owning horses it became obvious to me that not all horse feet are alike! Duh! My thoroughbred, for example, often needed to have hoof pads on her front feet but not her hind feet. My Tennessee Walker never needed hoof pads nor did he need shoes on his hind feet. Other horses that we owned did not need any shoes at all. One of our horses, a Racker, had stifle problems and lifts were put on his hind feet to raise him up about 3 degrees to relieve the pressure and pain in the stifle. The lifts were removed eventually over time and the stifle problem resolved. Another was inclined to stone bruises so he wore pads on his front feet in certain terrain conditions. There are many reasons that horses need or do not need pads and shoes. Sometimes you will hear people say that black horn on the hoof is stronger than white horn. That, apparently, is a myth.

When considering pads there are many variables: Your horse's "work, turnout, behavior, way of going, conformation, condition of hooves, and whether any of these variables will change during the shoeing period..." From the owner's point of view there are also many variables such as cost, maintenance, topography, environment, nutrition and what discipline you and your horse enjoy together. Do you trail ride, barrel race, team pen, endurance ride, fox hunt, etc.? Pads can be a benefit as well as a problem. Farriers have different views on the use of foot pads as with everything relating to horses. However, it seems that the goal of applying a hoof pad is to improve foot condition. The idea of the pad is to restore the foot to its natural function so the horse can do without the pad. You do have the choice and it is not forever.

A Closer Look Into Pads

For More Information:

Horse Hoof Pads
Index Farrier Wisdom
Horseshoe Pads
First posted: Oct 17, 2017
Last update: Jan 21, 2020