The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has been working with the American Farrier's Association (AFA) lately; the two organizations have an educational partnership exchange.
To that end, the December issue of America's Horse, the AQHA's promotional magazine, has an article about the conduct of an AFA Certification Testing Day in Oklahoma earlier this year.
I highly recommend that anyone who reads this blog find a copy of that magazine (it's not posted online, I checked) and read it. Pay particular attention to the last page, which shows a finished shod foot as presented to the examiner, who then reviews the clinches and explains what is wrong or right with each.
If you know anything about nailing horseshoes, it's interesting to see if you saw what the examiner saw.
My guess is that the nailing shown, imperfect though it may have looked to the examiner's eyes, is of a higher standard than most readers of that magazine would normally see. They might miss the whole point.
What I did find on the AQHA site was a poll of site visitors on the types of shoes their horses wear.
Barefoot was given as a choice, of course, but with the comment "barefoot is better" embedded in the survey question; roughly one-third of the site visitors agreed and said their horses were not shod. If that percentage is indicative of Quarter horse owners in America, then one-third will really disconnect from the AFA's nailing critique in the magazine.
More interesting, though, is that the AQHA listed Natural Balance as a separate category of shoes (bar/therapeutic? normal? sliders? Natural Balance?) To me, Natural Balance is a "normal" shoe.
I wonder how many owners are truly conscious that their horses wear Natural Balance shoes. Apparently five percent of the total is savvy to their brand name shoes, but the actual total might be higher. There are also Natural Balance lookalike shoes sold, and regular shoes can be re-shaped that way. And just to confuse matters, a horse could be shod with sliders made by Natural Balance or therapeutic shoes based on the Natural Balance pattern, as well!
Hoof boots were not listed as a choice. I've just heard about a sliding plate hoof boot that is coming to market; that should be interesting!
The poll is ongoing; check it out here. Results showed that only roughly 52 percent of the total horses were shod with normal shoes; 32 percent were barefoot, 5 percent wore Natural Balance, 7 percent had sliding plates, and 4 percent wore therapeutic or bar shoes.
Thanks to the AQHA for the educational initiative. It's a jungle out here, isn't it?