While each equestrian discipline has different requirements, the basis of each one – the trim – is universal.
“When I trim, I trim to an ideal,” says Mike Poe, CJF. “That ideal is the individual horse’s leg. I trim for balance for that horse, for their individual conformation.
“It isn’t until the shoe selection and fitting itself that there is a difference between, say a dressage horse and a foxhunter.”
The Dressage Horse
According to Poe, the dressage horse can have a wider shoe fit because he moves in a uniform fashion in consistent conditions and is ridden in a controlled frame.
“I shoe the dressage horse with thoughts toward freedom of movement and support for the limb.”
As in other performance disciplines, dressage horses require a properly fit shoe that covers the entire foot.
“Because of the athleticism expressed by dressage horses, I tend to provide a fuller shoe fit to give the horse addition surface area and a wider base of support,” he says. “As always, balance is key.”
Eventers and Foxhunters
The eventing and foxhunting horse, on the other hand, needs a tighter fit and a shoe with more traction because he is going to be moving at different rates of speed on uneven ground in addition to jumping.
“I generally want them to have a concave shoe or any sort of a full wedge shoe, which provides more traction,” he continues. “When needed, I can also use removable studs for even more traction”
In his years working with some of the top endurance sport horses in the U.S., Poe has developed a clear picture of the special needs of these equine athletes. He truly enjoys the shoeing challenges distinctive to this discipline.
According to Poe, endurance horses are “are true performance athletes that cannot tolerate any imperfections. There is no room for error when trying to maintain the health and soundness of an endurance horse.”
He goes on to say that, “while it is sometimes possible do a passing decent shoe job on a horse that is performing in a controlled environment for a short period of time, this is unacceptable for an endurance horse.”
Endurance horses are working at a higher intensity level for a longer period of time on unknown and varying surfaces. These horses need to be shod to exacting standards or they will not succeed.
Poe was the regular farrier for a Pan American team member on the west coast and the event farrier at multiple FEI 100-mile rides. He also worked on lameness cases and day-to-day maintenance of endurance horses at the clinic of international endurance vet Mike Foss.