Why do horses wear shoes? | Live Science


Horses have been central to human transportation and agriculture for centuries. These symbols of power and speed require hoof care and new shoes every four to six weeks to stay on the job. But why?

Horses (Equus caballus) that are domesticated for human use and selectively bred for performance wear shoes because their feet are delicate and therefore need protection, said Dr. Fernanda Camargo(opens in new tab), a veterinarian and equine extension agent at the University of Kentucky. “Shoes provide protection to some areas of the foot of the horse,” Camargo told Live Science in an email. “They prevent the hooves from wearing out too much, and thus becoming sensitive.”

The exterior of the hoof, known as the wall, is made of a horn-like material that grows continuously and has to be trimmed, just like a person’s fingernails, according to University of Missouri Extension(opens in new tab). “Shoes also help the foot maintain its proper shape,” Camargo said.

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