Performance Report: Fast Feet
One thing that can improve a horse’s performance drastically in the rodeo arena is having a good shoeing job. Having your horse’s feet in good condition, whether they are shod or barefoot, helps ensure they are able to move correctly and well. It is important when you are thinking about having your horse’s feet done, that you choose a good farrier to get the job done. A good farrier can make a world of difference in the way your horse performs, but a less skilled farrier can worsen your horse’s performance or even injure them.
Horses’ feet are an important aspect of how they move and on what level they are able to compete. Horses need to be trimmed and shaped properly in order for them to break over well when they are moving, especially at a run, which is pretty key in rodeo. Each horse needs their own personal type and size of shoe that fits perfectly. Some horses even need special devices like wedges or pads. There are many different types of horseshoes and each has its own individual purpose, some types are better for one discipline over another. Other horses are better off trimmed and left barefoot.
I had the chance to talk to two professional farriers on the issue, Casey Terry and Same Espe. Espe and Terry both work in and around the Region II area and shoe multiple Region II horses. Both Terry and Espe specialize in performance horseshoeing. Terry is a farrier from Loraine, TX who was trained at Cowtown Horseshoeing School in Miles City, MT. It is one of only two horseshoeing schools in the country that teaches the type of horseshoeing Terry uses. He spoke a little bit about the process he uses when shoeing a horse, “I use a form of natural balance shoeing. I find a horse’s break over point and back the shoe and foot up. As for what shoes I put on horses, I usually put rims on the front and plains on the back, but it really depends on each horse’s needs and if they have anything wrong that needs correcting.” Terry believes the most important part of performance horseshoeing is getting each horse as level as possible and getting as much of the toe off as possible, also to shoe each foot individually because every foot is different. Terry also added that a good shoeing is everything to a horse’s overall performance and health, “If their feet are off then everything is off. It’s like if your feet hurt you don’t feel like running or doing anything.” Terry is knowledgeable about his profession and is very good at what he does.
Sam Espe, a farrier out of Gardendale, TX, was trained at the Oklahoma horseshoeing school. Espe, like Terry, has an individual style when it comes to his horseshoeing. Espe said about his style, “I don’t have a particular style or method of horseshoeing I use. I try to shoe the leg not the foot, meaning I like to look at the whole leg to determine how I need to shoe a horse. I keep my shoeing very individual to each horse.” When it comes to his equipment, he has specific shoes and nails he uses. He uses the Kirk Hart shoes and K12 nails. Espe shoes mostly western event and ranch type horses so he shoes to the needs of each horse’s job, “I shoe each horse according to their event or what they are being used for. For instance I wouldn’t put rims on a heel horse’s back feet because they need to slide and stop, but I’m going to put rims all the way around on a barrel horse to give them the traction needed. I also make sure on horses who would be prone to pull a shoe, like a head horse on their left front or a barrel horse, I will make sure and get that fit of that shoe as tight and close as I can.” Espe also stressed the importance of a good shoeing saying, “I try to keep the horses I do as level and sound as possible because without feet you don’t have a horse. A horse’s feet are everything to them, if their feet aren’t sound their legs and whole body won’t be either.” Espe is also very knowledgeable and good at his job! Terry and Espe are both great farriers with many years of experience.
As you can tell from the wise words straight from the professionals’ mouths, having your horses feet cared for properly is so important! There are many different styles of horseshoeing and different types of shoes to be used, it’s just important to find the right combination for your horse! So with that, good luck Region II, in all that you do.