The Long Riders' Guild

Horse shoes and hoof care

In a region with stony soil, horse-shoeing is an art which developed alongside that of horsemanship.  This picture shows the necessary equipment (minus the nails) to shoe a horse in North Africa for one year.

Few products hold as much potential to change the basic course of equestrian travel as does the revolutionary new material known as Superfast and the assortment of Hoof Boots which you will discover in this section. But before explaining the details of "how" these items work, let me say a few words about the rigors of equestrian travel to those who have not yet set out on an extended horse journey - thus giving you a background on why Long Riders should be vitally interested in hoof care.

Any Long Rider who has made a trip through the less developed portions of the world will quickly tell you that finding proper fitting horse shoes is a major concern. Unlike North America and Western Europe, (who have developed an absolute fetish about shoeing every horse in sight regardless if they are standing idly in pastures or actually travelling on hoof damaging surfaces), other countries and cultures often have no history of hammering metal plates to horse's feet.

For example, you won't find horse shoes in places as disparate as Costa Rica and Mongolia because the native horsemen allow their horses to run barefoot on the hoof friendly terrain of those countries. Consequently, the very concept of "shoeing" horses by a "farrier" is a cherished Western notion that fades from sight the further you travel away from those centres of First World commerce and philosophy.

There are three classic recipes for a Long Rider disaster.
1 - You ride into a country and are unable to locate horse shoes at any price because they do not exist in that country.
2 - You ride into a country which has a tradition of horse shoeing, only to discover that a local drunk with a hammer and nails is eager to operate on your beloved horse's feet and then overcharge you for his services.
3 - You ride into a country that has horse shoes but discover there is no one ready and willing to assist you.

Now, before any of you bother to write us here at the Guild saying, "Why don't you go to a horse shoeing school before setting off on an extended journey", let me say this is not an option for all Long Riders. Howard Saether, from Norway, made a special trip to Texas to learn how to shoe horses. Only then did he set out on his two year journey from Uruguay to North America. Raul Vasconcellos also attended a horse shoeing school before setting off to ride from Arizona to Argentina. But while we applaud both these Long Riders for their diligent efforts, it is simply not practicable or possible to always carry horse shoes with you as make your way through various countries.

We have an old saying in The Long Riders' Guild. Its not the kilometres that kill your horse. Its the kilograms. So the idea of "travelling light" flies in the face of carrying the heavy dead weight represented by extra horse shoes.

We have therefore prepared this section of the Equipment issue with careful forethought. The section begins with comments sent in by Long Riders from around the world. Following that you will discover alternative answers to an ancient question. How do we travel far and wide on our horse, while protecting his feet, not just from harsh terrain - but equally dangerous and incompetent farriers? In conclusion, we have provided information, and a web link, to an amazing on-line hoof care expert who publishes an internet magazine about this critically important topic. And keeping in mind those who wish to follow tradition, we have also included a link to a Farrier Products Group which specializes in supplying the very best horse shoes, tools, videos, etc.

Historically there have been two major reasons that equestrian journeys have failed - saddle sores and bad feet. With the invention of the adjustable pack saddle and light weight riding saddles, saddle sores, while still a concern, are now within the realm of control. Yet few Long Riders have taken the time, had the foresight, or possessed the vision, to fully study the critically important issue of their horse's feet before setting out on extended journeys.

We hope that the small study presented here today will open up your mind to the 21st century alternatives being developed to the Roman age answer of iron nails and steel plates hammered through hoof walls !

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