Icelandic horses – shoeing for tölt and pace
Farrier and Icelandic horse specialist Werner Kimmel explains how shoeing can help the Icelandic horse to develop a clear tölt and pace
Shoeing icelandic horses
If the horse is able to show a clear and stable four-beat gait in different tempi, no special shoeing is required, but if the aim is more movement, shoeing techniques are often used to get optimal performance. Some horses have problems lateralising, meaning that they change the gait mechanics from a clear tölt towards a pace. These horses benefit from heavier shoes on the front feet and lighter shoes on the hind feet. In some cases, it might help these horses to put pads and filling material with 8 mm shoes on the front feet. The opposite is a horse that diagonalises the tölt, meaning that it exhibits a trot tendency. Here lighter front shoes and heavier hind shoes can help.
As the weight difference is what influences the gait, leaving the feet at different lengths does not make too much sense. A heavier or lighter shoe works only via the weight difference, whereas longer feet add different mechanics and leverage with often negative consequences. For breeding tests, the horses are often presented with maximum hoof length, as the thickest front shoe possible is 8 mm.
Two problems typically occur in the pace. One is a tendency to move closer to the tölt and the other to gallop. For horses that, when pacing, tend to show a four-beat or tölt tendency, lighter front shoes and heavier hind shoes can help to stabilize a clear two-beat pace. If the horse shows galloping tendencies the front shoes should be heavier and the hind shoes lighter. If the horse was shod heavier in front it might be enough to use the same shoe weight for both fronts and hinds.