There are several different types or styles to be considered when deciding how you want your farrier to care for your horse’s hooves. These considerations effect cost and maintenance of the shoeing “application” as well as the effectiveness of the shoeing in general. By maintenance, I mean turnout considerations, the need to pick out feet, bell-boots, medication, things like that.
This list is in order of skill and experience required by farrier and rider.
Performance and therapeutic farriery are often very closely related unfortunately. Experience, skill, and understanding of the horse, client and forge are very important for success. Both performance and therapeutic aspects have the tendency to be more bothersome in terms of turnout limitations due to expensive and time consuming work being sabotaged by the ever-present shoe gremlins.
The basic trim should always be well balanced and smooth. This does not change.
Performance: Focus on the horse’s way of going and reliability. A farrier must have a keen eye and ear with an understanding of the sport and the horse. The farrier and rider/trainer must keep in communication and pay close attention to changes in movement and training. Expect changes. If you change the horse, the hooves will certainly reflect that. This is why you need a quality farrier.
Therapeutic: Focus on stability of an imbalance or pathological condition. Part of the issue in dealing with lameness is how many chiefs take part in pulling on your emotions and pocketbook. Many situations are easily resolved, but, again it takes experience, skill and communication. Farriers and vets need to check their egos at the door and just do the job. Always have an exit plan, but keep in mind that may change at any time, especially if you are attempting to compete or train the horse.
Trail: Protection, reliability, and traction are the focus of a horse shod for the trail.
Backyard: Focus on ease of maintenance. This horse may just need to be comfortable standing in the pasture and maybe ridden occasionally.
Barefoot: Focus on simplicity. This horse is not as likely to be campaigned or used on various rough footing. Hoof boots can be used as a replacement for shoes in some circumstances and are getting better all the time. The secret to maintaining a reliable barefoot horse is to keep them trimmed frequently, before they get any real length to break off or distort. When I grow up, I wanna be a barefoot trimmer. It would be sooo awesome to not have to keep all this shoe’n stuff going all the time and be able to service my clients on a freak’n moped.