Pitara Kids Network

Why Do Horses Need Shoes?

Clip-clop, clip-clop goes a horse on the road. If you look carefully you will see that it walks on the tips of its toes – like a ballet dancer. Walking on tiptoe for a long time is difficult for us, but horses find it the easiest thing to do.

The foot of a horse is divided into a toe with a broad tip. While other animals have nails and claws, the horse has a hoof surrounding the toe. The hoof area cannot feel any sensation; it is made of dead tissue (A similar example is our fingernails: we do not feel any pain while cutting them, because they are made of dead tissue.) The heels of the horse do not touch the ground.

Why Do Horses Need Shoes? [Illustration by Sridevi]
The centre of the horse’s foot is soft. It is called the frog. When the horse is carrying a rider or a heavy load, the hoof comes down heavily on the ground. The frog may not be able to bear the weight and could swell up. The horse could even become lame. It is to prevent this from happening that an iron horseshoe is fixed to the horse’s foot. It protects the frog and ensures that the horse can run as fast as the wind, or dance like a ballerina without worrying about its foot. Of course, horses that run free have no need to put on their iron shoes.