Alabama 7 year old Racking horse, worked in  medium block port with 6 inch shank and English saddle in round pen, riding arena, pasture by intermediate rider.

Question: When I purchased this mare, she had been shown padded with great success.  She can be quite pacey, so I have tried using plantation toe weights to help.  The last
time she was shod, my shoer decided to leave her toes long, but did nothing to the back, now I can only get her to rack going up a hill.  I love the way she picks up her feet now,
but the pacing is worse than ever.  I am certain it has to do with the shoeing and I was going to suggest that he fix the back by taking the toe off and leaving the heel high.

Is that the correct method, or perhaps her toe should not be so long in front.

From Panelist Liz


I think removing the heavy shoes and trimming this horse correct for any breed is called for here. Trying to get gait by gaited horse shoeing fads such as weight and long toes is only temporary and forcing gait not teaching gait. Teaching a horse how to carry them self and hold gait is permanent if the rider knows how to ask for it and support the horses frame correctly to get it.

Sounds like you like the animation you are getting in the front end but is it worth the loss of gait to get it. I think we should only ask what a horse is physically built and conditioned to do, asking more than that from a horse especially at a ventoflexed gait such as the rack could take you too some stress on the horses body that could haunt you later.

Have her trimmed so that the hoof angle match the pastern angles, take all the extra toes off and start doing lots and lots of flat walking to break up the pace. Also this will get her back in a neutral (level)frame to help her back stay stronger so she can hold the ventro(hollow) gait of the rack.


From Panelist Nancy

I suggest that you tell your farrier to quit playing games with her feet and trim them so that the foot is kept healthy and the angle is correct for her conformation.  Keep the toes short so that she can break over easily and quickly - all four feet.  Also, when the toes are too 
long there is a lot of stress put on the bones of the feet and on the tendons and ligaments in the legs.

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Bob

All of this is a common misconception about the shoeing of gaited horses. The pace is bred in or trained on. It does not come from, or cured by shoeing! A long toe and short heel make for a slower breakover and thus higher action. The down side is the extra stress and strain that this puts on the joints and tendons. The rule to remember is that a horse's foot moves toward weight and away from pain. (This is the basis of BL training) I would suggest that you have your mare trimmed to her natural (shoulder/pastern, hip/pastern) angles and have her shod with flat keg shoes. You can then work at lowering her head 
and rounding her neck and back to eliminate the pace. 

Just because pads, toe weights, and plantation shoes are "legal" to use does not mean that they are comfortable for the horse. A horse was not made to carry heavy shoes and/or have built up feet. Many plantation shoes weigh over 3 lbs each whereas a keg shoe weighs less than 15 oz. (a #3 toe weight weighs 1 1/2 lbs)  Which would you prefer to wear? 

In my 57 years of shoeing I have seen MANY horses ruined for life due to heavy shoes, improper angles, and other practices allowed or ignored under the current system in an effort to get higher action, often at the expense of the comfort and long term soundness of the horse. 

Bob Blackwell

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