Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shoeing a dressage horse: A farrier nails it (sorry)

I read an interesting article in the American Farrier's Journal: Remember these pointers when under dressage horses written by Ron Perszewski interviewing Dave Farley. The author makes some interesting points about shoeing dressage horses, and I'll share the highlights of the interview with Dave and his advice to farriers....
  • Any farrier  interested in dressage shoeing of any type should go watch the horses work.
  • Dressage horses are often started at age 3 (late for some disciplines), and they are often started barefoot. This is good for the farrier since it's easier to tell where the horse is breaking over and where he's compensating for his conformation faults.
  • Dressage horses get good nutrition and their feet grow fast. 
  • Experienced dressage riders can detect changes in their horses' gaits. When they get to that fourth or fifth week, they'll call you to to reshoe.
  •  Ninety percent of what you're doing is in the trim, and you'll need to get good at balancing the foot -- you can't do it all with just muscle. 
  • Farriers that shoe dressage horses as a specialty will get fewer horses done in a day; they'll be more tired, and more sore.
  • When shoeing a dressage horse spend more time evaluating the conformation and gaits.
  • Pay extra attention to the hind feet. Problems show up on the front end, but about 80 percent of the problems  are secondary to the hind end."
  • Check to see if each hind foot is centered. If it's too far one way or the other, it's going to affect the diagonal front first, and that starts a chain reaction. Look at these horses laterally. Get down on your knees, ten feet behind the horse, to see if the heels are level. 
  • Once you get down to a clean sole, leave it there. Some dressage horses weigh 1,500 or 1,600 pounds. If you take a horse like that down to only 1/4 inch of sole, you're in trouble.
The whole section called "Keep it simple" is worth reading, and it's too hard to summarize -- so read it!


  1. I have a great shoer....he as and always has been meticulous about all those things.

    My vet also once noted that dressage riders are far quicker at calling about lameness issues, etc. He said they tend to be far more sensitive to changes in their horses' gaits.

  2. Jean, I know there are tons of shoers out there, but are his initials GM?

  3. This is actually kind of comforting to me.

    I have felt like I must be super prissy, that I call my farrier on week 4 and say my horse needs done soon, and by the end of week 5 I REALLY want him out if he hasn't been there. We end up doing my dressage horse every 5 weeks, and our two barefoot horses every 10 weeks so we can coordinate farrier visits.

    I'm also the one always pointing out that my horse isn't perfectly right - sometimes due to sore muscles due to building strength, sometimes needing chiro, sometimes played too hard, etc. He hasn't been lame yet (knock on wood!) - just not 100% perfect sometimes.

  4. I do like some of the ideas expressed in this article, but I'm a little... worried? annoyed? over one thing, maybe it's not what their aiming at, but to me, this comes across as, "pay extra attention to dressage horses"
    And surely all horses deserve those extra minutes to make sure they are balanced and moving freely also. Maybe dressage riders are more apt to notice if their horse isn't moving as well as he should, but to me that just means all riders need more education.
    I understand the movements required and stresses on the hoof are different from dressage to racing to roping to mustering, but they ALL need to be well balanced and regularly shod.

    An interesting article all the same, but that just got up my nose a little...

  5. i liiike this post haha, i don't think there are many, if any, discipline specific farriers here in nz!

  6. Intersting news on Totilas and shoeing:

  7. Stacey...nope. His name is Scott's OK, I'm proud of him.

    Scott has established EquineBaseline to track horse's movements, etc. Here is a link to a youtube video:

    Scott gets a bit nervous before the camera. I can't seem to access his website..."locked" for some reason.


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