Why do horses need shoes but not cows?

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  • Post last modified:April 2, 2023
  • Reading time:15 mins read

If you are a horse lover that grew up reading stories and watching TV shows that involved this animal, one thing would be clear to you. 

Horses wear shoes on their feet. However, if you are reading this article right now, there is one thing that you sure are not clear about. 

Why do horses need shoes but not cows? Is it because horses are often taken on rides and shows and have to look presentable? 

Or do these shoes serve a more important purpose? That is what you are here to know, and that is what, on reading this article, you will find out. 

Be patient and read till the end of the article and learn all you have to know about horses and shoes. 

Why Do Horses Need Shoes But Not Cows?

Why do horses need shoes but not cows? Two four-legged animals, a cow and a horse, stand side by side in a lush green field. The cow is black with white patches, while the horse is brown with a white blaze on its forehead.

To begin with, horses walk a lot more than cows do, galloping as they carry us, humans, on their backs. All this galloping could injure their foot, and this is the reason why horses wear hooves, just like it is with humans.

Can A Cow Be Shoed?

So, now you are worried about the cow, are you? The partiality of it all perhaps seems to be affecting you. 

In that case, let us talk about the cow too. Cows spend leisure time on the grass, feeding all the while instead of galloping as horses do. 

And that is the reason cows don’t have to be shoed, so don’t go about troubling one unless you don’t mind getting a kick on your back while trying to make him wear shoes. 

How Did Horses Survive Without Hoof Trimming? 

Horses are hardworking animals that can cover kilometers a day, and the distance they cover is not just refreshing pasture and grassy fields but all kinds of surfaces that, include roads and rocky grounds.

This can lead to shocks on a horse’s foot, which will, in a matter of a short time, ruin its hooves. 

Does it make sense to say that horses need shoes to protect their feet? These abrasive surfaces that a horse’s feet often meet can play a role in harming their feet. 

Shoes, on the other hand, help a horse’s hooves to absorb shock better and, at the same time, give them the traction they need to be able to trot and gallop on all kinds of surfaces without anything happening to their feet. 

What Is the Shoe Of A Cow Called?

Why do horses need shoes but not cows? A close-up photo of a cowshoe.

This is for those who are not convinced and still believe that cows need shoes for their feet. 

In that case, a cow’s shoes are also known as hooves. However, telling you again a cow does not need hooves on his feet. Can you leave him to graze comfortably?

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Is It Okay Not To Shoe A Horse?

The answer to this lies in your wisdom, judgment, and discretion. If you own a horse for pleasure and not for winning races or going places, then it would be okay not to shoe a horse. 

But chances are, if you own a horse, even as a pet, you will be tempted to ride on him; he is going to love taking you on rides too, so what is stopping you from enjoying it?

Just shoe him and enjoy riding him.

Do Horses Like Being Ridden?

Reading this has brought about another doubt in your mind, especially if you are new to horses.

You are now sitting there wondering whether you are too heavy for your horse and whether to ride him would be to place a burden on him. 

What you should know is that a horse likes to be ridden, as they like the companionship that comes with it. 

Your horse will be sad, bored, miserable, and frustrated if you will make him sit in his stable all day thinking this is how he likes to be. 

Remember that this is not a cow that is content with long hours of grazing but a horse that is energetic and loves riding. 

Can Horses Live Without Shoes?

Why do horses need shoes but not cows? A man wearing jeans and a plaid shirt kneels on the ground next to a brown horse. He is holding a metal horseshoe in his hand and appears to be fitting it onto the horse's hoof. The horse stands calmly beside him.

You seem to be bent on not making your horse wear shoes. You either think that these things will be uncomfortable for him, or you have lost and are too busy to replace your horse’s shoes. 

Either way, the answer again depends. It depends on how often you take your horses on rides (which is most probably going to be more often)

Now you may have heard of Arabs that take their horses on rides without shoes which can be okay, but only if you provide the horse with the right training to get through an experience like this. 

There are you willing to provide your horse with this?

How Long Do Horseshoes Last?

Horseshoes last between four to six weeks, that is, anywhere between a month and perhaps a fortnight more, after which you will have to replace them with better shoes if you want your horse to be happy with you. 

This is irrespective of whether your horse has worn his shoes or not, run with them or not. 

Keeping a horse will require some care and maintenance from your side, you know? But since you love your horse, this shouldn’t be so much of a concern for you. 

Do Horses Feel Better After Horseshoes?

It doesn’t matter. It’s like dressing a child in his nightgown or diapers. He has other things to be excited about and couldn’t be bothered less about what you are doing at the moment.

Horses don’t feel anything when you put on their shoes. They may just wonder what you are up to, but then, being horses, they won’t judge but instead will love you. 

Relax, will you?

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Do Horses Enjoy Being Shoed?

Let’s be honest. Animals are like children and may not cooperate. 

But shoes don’t make a horse uncomfortable.

The good news here is that the horse feels no pain and will soon get used to his new shoes, just as you did as a kid, didn’t you?

Don’t feel bad with each blow you give your horse’s feet in the process of putting on his shoes, as his feet are stronger than you think, and he will not be hurt or angry with you. 

In other words, hooves are like fingernails. Horses don’t have a sense of feeling there and hence will not experience any pain. 

Are Horseshoes Painful?

Three white horses gallop through shallow water in a river or at the beach. Their manes and tails flow in the wind as they move, creating a sense of energy and freedom. The water splashes around them, and the sky behind them is blue with white clouds.

No, they are not; please relax. Your horse will be happy and comfortable with his shoes and will enjoy walking and trotting all the more, much more than he would barefoot. 

The latter could be more painful, with stones and other objects on the road harming your horse’s foot. 

Hope that convinced you of the need for placing shoes on your horse’s foot.

What Did Horses Do Before Horseshoes?

So, you are now going back to the time when horseshoes weren’t invented and are curious to know what was in store for horses at this time. 

In other words, what did they wear instead of shoes? To answer your question, horses wore rawhide, a kind of protection that was made from leather and acted as horseshoes.

This was an ancient form of protecting a horse’s foot which began in ancient Asia, where rawhides were sewn together with foliage.

However, this was more of a primitive method that was not very effective in protecting horse hooves. What it did was to mildly soothe a horse’s sore hooves. 

Today you don’t need them as horses have something better and more comfortable, namely the horseshoe. 

Who Invented Horseshoes?

Then came the Romans with their invention, which we are reading about now, the invention of the horseshoe. 

What was needed in the end was a pair of good shoes that a horse could wear to make the most of his ride, and the Romans recognized the need for it, coming up with what is today known as the horseshoe. 

So, you see, this is something we need to thank the Romans for, don’t we? 

FAQs on (Why do horses need shoes but not cows?)

What Does It Cost To Shoe A Horse?

Worried about the price, are you? Yes, it can cost quite some amount to get your horse a pair of good shoes, but your love for your horse makes it worth it, doesn’t it? Maintaining a horse is no cheap task, but if you are someone with a passion for horses, you won’t be affected by it. 

What To Do If A Horse Throws A Shoe?

You reattach it. The answer is simple. The process may not be easy, and you may need the help of a professional for it if you are not the one who placed it on his feet. Nevertheless, you must do it. Make sure that you stop riding immediately as soon as you notice your horse is missing a shoe.