Show Shoes

In the recent discussion about the costs associated with going to Grand National, there was a mention of changing the shoeing package on a horse to make it more competitive.  All my life I’ve been a western/hunt rider, so I’m not very familiar with saddle seat shoeing, other than knowing there’s more to it than a simple pad/plate.  Why would changing the package make a horse more competitive?  Is it just the fact of a change having been made pulls the horse out of it’s “normal” routine (a certain level of stimulus)?  Or would it be that you’d make a change that actually improves the horses motion?  If it’s the latter, why would you not just show the horse with that package all season?

I’m sure there’s probably more to it than I realize.  And it may not be such a simple answer.  But I’d love to know more about the why/what/how behind saddle seat shoeing.  It’s a mystery to me.  What’s behind the curtain?  :)

5 Responses to Show Shoes

  1. empressive says:

    As an amateur I have been very curious about this myself and found mixed and withheld answers from shoers and horse owners alike.

    Technically the overall use of the shoe is to improve action without the use of chains or “strechies”. Chains and Strechies strengthen the muscles that cause the higher action, when you add weight (the shoe) that works the same way and shows nicer, if you will. The shoe I guess could be likened to the end product?

    Anyway, my knowledge (or lack of) knows of two different types of shoes. The “cake” show which is a heavy piece all the way around and the (can’t remember the name, but “tipped” shoe.

    The “tipped” shoe has weights predominately at the tip/ front of the shoe. This creates the reach effect seen in horses the wave their legs in a rainbow arc.

    The “cake” shoe has an up effect that creates the high style and tucked in action.

    Depending on the horse, if a horse has more “dressage movement and strides are long the “cake” shoe is used. It adds to the up and out look.

    If the horse picks up it’s legs right infront on itself and has a shorter stride the “tipped” shoes would be used.

    The padding can have weights in it I believe, not completely sure, but weights are added to the shoe as well for a livelier effect. Padded as well protects the hoof and frog from overt trauma.

    Length of hoof is also important for heavy show shoes. It helps with the desired effect.

    That is the extent of what I know and I am still looking into myself. (between college classes of course LOL) Please if anyone has a stronger and more extensive knowledge, please add or correct what I said. I think this is a very interesting and often overlooked part of our horses performance package. I know that when I first got into Morgans there was no one that could explain the “gawdy” shoes on the fancy horses.

    It would be delightful to have answers for the newcomers to the breed or curious bystanders that often inquire into the differences of Saddleseat Morgans.

  2. StacyGRS says:

    I believe you’re referring to a “keg” shoe and a toe weight shoe.
    Shoeing can get very detailed. the pads are not weighted and there is nothing (but foot and filler, depending on the likes of the horse) under the pad. The shoe itself can be heavier or lighter, but most of the changes we tend to make are in angles. We wouldn’t typically change a horse’s shoeing for OKC, per say, but we do pull show shoes after OKC every year and leave them either barefoot or with plates for their winter break. When they go back to work we’ll put a plate and a pad on them to protect their foot. It is not uncommon for us to have a “middle ground” shoe for them to show with for the first part of the year and we’ll put their ultimate finished shoe on for the second half of the year. That way their legs are built up and strong when they get their show shoe on. Mind you, the difference in these 2 shoeings is a matter of ounces, but it also gives us a chance to work them with less and make sure we aren’t just putting on the same thing as always when they’d be better with less…or more. We can watch the changes as we change the shoeing to see how they react. Several years ago one of our clients had a big park horse. He had huge feet and wore a park shoe and she had a mail scale:) She took his shoe and weighed it and then weighed her paddock boot. She found out that, when she compared her 2 paddock boots to her body weight, she carried more on her feet than he did when she compared the weight of all 4 of his shoes to his body weight. Just as a reference for those that wonder. Anyway, the biggest difference we make is in angles. Some horses like theirs a little lower, some a little higher, depending on how you are trying to help their stride and their conformation. Some need to be shod so they don’t interfere. We measure and take angles all year long every time we shoe each horse. We generally know how long they go between shoeings, which horses are their best right after being shod, which ones need a week or two’s growth, when in their shoeing cycle they are their most comfortable and trot the best, if they have feet that grow slightly differently we know when that difference starts to effect them. We time their shoeing accordingly and with care to try to make each one at the peak of it’s shoeing cycle and within shoeing regulations at the shows. So, in answer to your question, everyone does things differently, but we wouldn’t have a cost in shoeing changes because we’d hope to have all of that figured out and in place by then, but we would have to reset the horse pre-OKC so that would be a cost.

  3. RaeOfLight says:

    Thanks for commenting Stacy! That pretty much confirms what I had guessed based on what little I did know. It was just that comment about changing up for GN that made me think there was more to it than I thought.

    That’s really interesting about comparing weights of the show shoes versus what we put on our feet. I guess anyone who claims they’re torture devices must think we’re all masochists :)

  4. empressive says:

    Thank you Stacy for correcting me.

  5. leslie says:

    I’ve never understood why show shoeing works. I get the idea of using chains and stretchies (first-hand experience…my sister and I once tried running in stretchies down the barn aisle when we were teenagers…hilarity ensued) but if you put weights in my shoes I would drag my feet. Why does it make horses trot higher? A friend of mine dated a second-generation Arabian farrier for a while, and even he couldn’t explain it. Still a mystery to me.

    My beef with show shoes isn’t that I think it’s too much weight for a horse to carry (I weigh a whole lot more than the heaviest shoe, and I expect my horse to carry me around!) but that if your horse is wearing them, he’s confined to a stall full-time, which is a fantastic way to create or exacerbate joint problems, respiratory issues and stable vices.

    Your boots may be proportionally lighter, but in the unlikely case that one goes flying off, it’s not going to take half your toenail with it.

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