Gaited Curly farrier / shoes question? 

Florida, 6 and 24 year old Curly Foxtrotters, ridden in Big Horn Trail Saddle with browband headstall and low  port curb bit in round pen ring trail and pasture by advanced beginner rider.

Question: Our farrier is not familiar with gaited horses and I would like to be able to suggest the best angle for the best fox trot.  They do not wear shoes down here and I have them trimmed every six weeks.  This summer they will be in the mountains of NC mostly on trails with rock and dirt.  Will it be necessary to shoe them at that time?  They have hard sound  feet like most Curlys.  Thank you for your help. 

From Panelists Nancy

I would suggest that you keep the feet at the same angle that you have them 
while they are barefoot, but I do believe that while you are riding in the 
mountains on rocky trails, that they should be shod.  Just use plain keg 
shoes.  I don't believe in altering a horse's feet to make them gait.  If 
they can gait as young foals in the pasture and later while they are turned 
out in the pasture and barefoot, they can certainly do their gaits while 
under saddle if ridden correctly.  Have a wonderful time trailriding in NC 
this summer!!

Nancy Cade

From Panelists Lee

The "best angle" for Fox Trotting (or any) horses is their natural angle, 
which will vary from horse to horse and from front to back.  Try to avoid low 
heels and long toes, and to approximate the angle of the shoulder, without 
causing the pastern to be broken forward or back and you will be 
shoeing/trimming pretty close to the best angle for the horse.

If you plan to ride on rocks and rough ground, it is a good idea to have the 
horses shod with ordinary keg shoes to protect the hoof wall from excessive 
wear.  Again, have them shod to their natural angle, not to any specific 
formula, and they will stay sound and comfortable on the trail. 

Lee Ziegler

From Panelists Laura

Stay close to the horses' natural angles.  By this, I mean match the slope of the front of the hoof wall (viewed from the side) with the pastern angle.  Trimming and shoeing to improve gait (the fox trot) depends on what gait the horses are currently doing.  If it is smooth, your angles are fine as long as they are within a few degrees of the natural hoof angle.  If you will be riding on rocks, I would suggest you have your farrier put on plain keg shoes to protect the hoof wall from chipping and breaking.  Even curlys with their hard feet can break a piece of hoof off on a rock. 


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