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The shire
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As we know, a horse´s hooves are an extremely important part of its anatomy, so we feel that this subject deserves closer attention, especially concerning the Shire breed.
The Shire is a big, heavy animal. The size of its hooves is closely related to its body weight. It is important to understand that the shape and size of the hooves are to some extent the result of the stresses and strains they are subjected to, but are also formed by inherited factors.

Concerning heritability, hoof shape and the posture of the legs can both be passed on. Often a fault in either parent becomes more noticeable in its offspring. Faulty stance can lead to problems not only in the legs and joints, but can particularly affect the hooves too, often giving them an unsuitable shape.
The horse rests 60 percent of its body weight on its forelegs, which means that normally the front hooves are larger than the hind hooves by approx. one shoe size, but there can be individual variations.

We believe that the Shire needs its large hooves to act as `shock absorbers´, partly against pressure from the ground, and partly to bear its own body weight – a Shire horse weighs a great deal! When we say `large hooves´ we reject large, cracked and spread hooves. Allowing a horse´s hooves to spread in order to make them larger is painful for the horse and is to be condemned. A large hoof at the coronet will be reflected by a large hoof at ground level. Hooves should be round in shape, not pointed and narrow, be broad at the heel and should allow frog pressure. Forming a large hoof by rasping the walls to fit a smaller shoe is bad practice. The shoe should be slightly (2-3 mm) larger than the hoof. Fitting a Shire with shoes that are too narrow will constrain the hoof´s natural function so that it cannot expand as the horse shifts weight from foot to foot. In the long run this can cause it to hobble and also give rise to other problems in sinews and joints. The bigger the hoof, the larger the `shock absorber` will be so as to reduce the strain on the legs and joints. A smaller hoof bears more pressure per surface unit, which can result in greater strain in legs and joints.We have asked many breeders and Judges why they believe that hoof size is so important; their answers are listed below.

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