Why Do Wild Horses Not Need Shoes?

Why do Wild Horses not Need Shoes?

In contrast to domesticated horses, wild horses live freely with little or no contact with humans. They became wild by escaping from man to live with the wild and, as such, adjusting to the wildlife. So why do wild horses not need shoes?

It’s rare to find a wild horse with shoes. Since they don’t have human contact, they don’t work. In addition, they don’t have an owner to shoe them. 

Living out in the wild means there will be a lot of movement. Therefore, with the regular long-distance runs and walks through different terrains, they can maintain their hooves. 

On the other hand, in domesticated horses, their feet wear out quickly since they walk on rough surfaces. Let’s dig in and learn why you need not be shoe a wild horse.

How do Wild Horses Maintain their Hooves?

No one trims the hooves of wild horses. So how do they maintain them? The reason the hooves don’t overgrow is when they run; they cut the hooves naturally. The hard surfaces they walk on also boost the process. 

As for the domestic horses, they need farriers to trim their horses. This need arises due to their indoor lifestyle. 

The natural trimming in wild horses has many benefits. They include:

  • They rarely get problems like joints, muscles, and chiropractic pains. 
  • Hooves naturally contract and expand, increasing blood in the hooves, which keeps the horses’ hearts safe from stress. 
  • Arthritis navicular syndrome is common in domestic horses. But it’s rare in wild horses, thanks to the natural trimming.

Sometimes trimming domestic horses looks like slaughter. The process can be scary, especially in the last stages. But it happens annually or even twice if the circumstances demand. For the wild horses, they trim their hooves every day unknowingly. 

Besides the natural trimming, what keeps the wild horses healthy? Do they get infected? 

The weary part is always the outer parts of the hooves. The inner part spreads the pressure by distributing and absorbing hence keeping the horse safe from danger. 

How Fast do Hooves Grow in Wild Horses?

Unlike wild horses, domestic horses live a pampered life. It’s not up to them to be responsible for their food, movement, or where to live. That’s why their hooves grow faster. With the wild lifestyle, wild horses tend to grow hooves slower than domestic ones. 

Wild Horse Hooves Vs. Domestic Horse Hooves

Here are some fantastic facts about domestic and wild horse hooves. 

Hooves in Wild Horses are Stronger

Though domestic horses get all the care they need, they have weaker hooves because they only roam in wet areas. Wet surfaces weaken the hooves of any horse. 

Hooves in domestic horses are so delicate that even an inexperienced person can trim them. But for the wild horses, the hooves are solid and resilient for walking on rougher surfaces. 

Wild Horses Can Survive Without Shoes.

Now that we have seen domestic horses have delicate hooves, they must wear horseshoes. They can also damage their hooves if they are on unfamiliar roads. Wild horses are tough enough to run barefoot on any surface.

Wild Horses’ don’t Get Hoof Infections.

Hoof infections are rare in wild horses since their toughness enables them to endure such problems. Horses are natural beasts, so they can’t get hoof infections when using their hooves according to their purposes.

Wild Horses don’t Need Hoof Care.

Hoof care is something a horse owner has to observe. Hooves in domestic horses are one of the sensitive parts of a horse’s body. They risk getting their hooves wounded, damaged, or injured every day.

However, hoof supplements are not necessary for a wild horse. Wandering and running around is just enough care. 

What Makes a Horse Uncomfortable with Shoes?

Horse hooves are like human fingernails. So when mounting your horse, it will be conscious during nailing. However, this discomfort is incomparable to the pain caused when walking barefoot on hard surfaces. 

Veterinarians compare the pain with a nail tap on a human fingernail. It isn’t that painful, but you will encounter a weird feeling when tapping the nail. That means it isn’t that bad for the horse.

However, horseshoeing should be done by an expert. As easy as it may seem, never do it yourself. You might nail the shoes too deep, and this will torture your poor horse. Therefore, ensure the farrier handling your horse is well experienced. 

Horseshoeing can get ugly and painful to your horse. Let’s see how and ways to avoid them:

Hoof Bruises

After long rides with your barefoot horse, the hooves can get bruises. Therefore when the farrier cleans them to shoe the horse, it can be painful due to soreness. In addition, the bruises can be pretty uncomfortable, so you need to visit a farrier before riding it barefoot. 

Deep Nailing

If you get your horse an inexperienced farrier, the chances of nailing the shoe too deep are high. Compare it to the pain of fixing your skin. It is similarly painful, so the process should be done keenly. 

In case the accident occurs, the horse will react instantly and alert you just as you would do if a nail interfered with your skin. But an experienced farrier will rarely cause such an accident since it has received precise training entails.

If the horseshoe is too big or small

Trying to fit in a smaller or bigger shoe to your horse can be painful. Good shoe shape is also necessary. The shoes come in different forms. Therefore, you should be careful in choosing the best fit for your horse.

If a horse wears shoes that don’t fit, the hoofs might crack and lead to severe pain if no quick treatment is given.

Hammering Noises

Hammer noises aren’t very appealing to some horses. It might scare them and make them uncomfortable during hammering. 

Don’t Be Hard on the Horse After Shoeing.

After shoeing, give your horse a one or two-day break before riding to familiarize itself with the shoes. However, you can allow it to take long walks after shoeing.

Are Horse Shoes Important?

Horseshoes are essential, similar to how humans view theirs. Horse owners want the best for their horses. They can have different reasons why they want their horses with shoes. But mostly is due to the following benefits:

Environmental Conditions

Domestic horses and wild horses have different lifestyles. Since wild horses are feral, the fancy shoes don’t matter to them, but their hooves’ health deteriorates. They move on rough surfaces encountering all kinds of obstacles like sharp rocks and broken branches. Therefore, their hooves grow weaker and sometimes even crack. 

As for the domestic horses, living their lives in stables can be big trouble if they lack shoes. But stables minimize their movements! Yes, they are moving in one place, but on dangerous grounds. The ammonia from urine and the wet bedding can consume the hooves and weaken them. And within a short time, they crack.


Hooves are the only body parts that have to bear with any body weight. So an overweight horse highly impacts its hooves. It doesn’t matter the role; whether a man rider or pulls machines like carriage or plow, overweight is a significant problem to the hooves. 

The weight issue doesn’t imply that we relieve off the duties of an overweight horse. Of course, working reduces weight. However, ensure they are moving on softer grounds to reduce the stress on the hooves. 

A horse moving on dry grounds and rough terrains has a high chance of hoove damage. It’s common in agricultural horses (horses working on the farm) because they plow on grounds full of moisture. 

For More Control

Probably you enjoy riding your horse regularly, but you have to go through snow or mud. The shoes will help the horse balance over any obstacles it encounters. The horseshoes can have studs or a unique pad for more control in snowy areas. 

Showcase Gait

Horse movements matter in show rings. Though the action is usually natural, horseshoes boost the activity and make it look more graceful.

Improves Bone Problems

Some horses suffer from bone problems like musculature. However, there are unique horseshoes that deal with such issues. The horse movements depend on shoes’ thickness, weight, and shape. Therefore, a farrier should be responsible for fitting the shoes according to these factors. Racehorses also wear these particular shoes if their feet grow weak.

Avoids Tripping

There are various causes for a horse to trip. However, most of the time, it’s due to inexperience. With shoes, tripping is rare in horses. They are made in such a way that a horse can pick its feet with less effort.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Shoes in Horses

Horseshoeing is one of the many endless debates. However, here are some pros and cons that will help you make your decision. 


Enhances Performance

Most horses wearing horseshoes perform better than barefooted horses. It’s better for horses that participate in horse show events to wear shoes for better performance. 

The Hooves Wear Out Slowly

Domestic horses have delicate hooves compared to wild horses, hence a faster rate of hoof wear. But with shoes, the rate decreases. 


Horseshoes protect the hooves making them durable and robust. It also reduces injury risks on hard surfaces. 

Corrects Problems

Shoes balance horses’ problems that occur when gaiting and striding. It also corrects the hooves’ cracks and chips.


Higher Risks of Injuries

A horse needs a fitting shoe to prevent the sensitive hoof from damage. 


Trimming is cheaper than shoeing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Barefooted Horse

Wild horses go barefoot, but what are the pros and cons that come with the lifestyle?


More Natural

All horses are naturally wild, so shoes aren’t necessary. Living in a natural state is comfortable and healthier but doesn’t apply to all horses. 

Enhances Performance

Some horses perform better when barefooted, especially in arena activities.

Less Expensive

A horse going barefoot is more economical since you will not have to purchase shoes.


Higher Chances of Injury

Though bare footedness is naturally comfortable, a horse is prone to get injuries while working. 

It Needs More Maintenance and Trimming

A horse owner with a barefoot horse will do extra trimming and maintenance than one with a shoed horse.

Final Verdict

For domestic horses, much care and maintenance are needed since we are keeping them in an unnatural habitat. As such, they must wear horseshoes. 

Contrarily, the lifestyle that wild horses lead doesn’t allow them the pleasure of wearing horseshoes. They run and walk on harsh and rough surfaces every day. As a result, their hooves are adaptable to these conditions and become strong. 

It may be correct to say that domestic horses are safe since they spend their lives in stables and pastures. However, their hooves need regular maintenance because of the wet environment in the stables.