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6-17-09 004_edited-1-2

This article is intended to show the basics of horseshoeing. Please get a little more experience before you try it yourself. 

Horses have to have new shoes every 6 to 8 weeks for 3 primary reasons: the hoof grows downward about 3/8 to 1/2 inch in this time, the shoes wear & the nail heads wear.

In this article I知 resetting Joyce痴 front shoes and putting new ones on the rear.

1. The first step is remove the old shoe. In these next two pictures I知 doing that.  First I cut the old nail clinches (when the shoe is put on the ends of the nails are folded over to hold the nail on).

In the next picture, I知 using a tool called the pullers to remove the old shoe.  I start at the heel of the shoe and pry it upward a little.  Then I start pulling the nails out. In the end I pull the shoe off.  Pull in with the pullers so you don稚 rip off a piece of the outside hoof wall.

2. Then the hoof has to be prepared for the new shoe.  Basically, we have to trim away about 3/8 of an inch of old hoof.  Here I知 using a hoof knife to cut away excess frog (the fleshy V in the bottom center), I also cut a 3/8 inch deep channel about 1/2 inch from the edge of the hoof.  This is so my nippers can trim the hoof wall back. I also scrape away a little bit of the sole towards the middle.

There are two hoof knives, one for the left hand and one for the right.  The left hand knife I知 using has the cutting edge closest to me.

3. Then the hoof wall is trimmed with the nippers. You have to be very careful here to trim it so you will have a flat hoof.  The toe seems to grow faster then the heel, so only trim about 3/16 from the heel and trim on a slant, so you trim 3/8 to 1/2 at the toe.  If you take too much hoof from the heel, it will cause the horse痴 heel to drop, stretching the large tendon in the back of his leg (flexure tendon) and cause him to go lame.

4. After the wall is trimmed, the hoof is rasped flat. This is done so that the shoe has a flat surface to sit on. It also gives the final shape to the hoof. For a final shape you want the horse to be balanced over his feet, with both hooves the same height. Angle is important too. The outside of the hoof should slant up at a 45 to 55 degree angle.

Some farriers don稚 use a rasp.  They still do it the old way where they just press a hot shoe on the hoof so the shoe will sit flat.


Nailing on Shoe away view
Cutting old clinches
Pulling Shoe
Using Hoof Knives
Using Nippers
Using Rasp

5. Since I use horseshoes with toe clips, I知 cutting a notch for the clip. Many horseshoes use side clips or no clips so this would not be necessary.  This picture shoes the white line (about 1/4 below my nippers).  The inside of this line marks the line between the hoof wall and the inner sole.  When hammering in a nail it has to go to the outside of the inside of the white line. If it went inside, the nail would hit the inner-sensitive sole and the horse could go lame. If you do this by accident, you値l see blood.  Pull the shoe, heat a rod and cauterize the wound.

In this picture, Joyce痴 right foot (your left) is ready for a shoe, her left is not.  You can see that the right hoof is shorter, she痴 more up on the toe (like she should be) and the hoof is balanced and carries her weight equally.

6. Here I知 fitting the new shoe for her foot.  Since, I知 resetting this shoe, I didn稚 have to do anything.  On her rear shoes which were new, I had to use a hammer to bend the shoe in about 3/8 to make it fit. It痴 easier to bend horseshoes hot, but if you池e careful, you can bend them cold. The nail holes for the properly fitted shoe should line up with the middle to the outside edge of the white line on the hoof.

Before we nail on the shoe, I wanted to explain a little about shoes and nails. The heads of the nails are tapered, as are the insides of the nail holes on the shoe. This allows the shoes and nails to wear and still keep the shoe in place. The heads of the nails have a side with a burl and a flat side.  The burl always points to the inside of the shoe.  This is because the nail tips are slightly curved so that the nail wants to drive away from the inner sole and come out the outside of the wall.

Notching for toe clip
Untrimmed feet with shoes pulled
Fitting Shoe
Horseshoe and Nails

7. Nailing on a shoe can be quite a trick the first time you do it.  The shoe has to be held in the right spot. The nail has to be held straight and you have to swing the hammer (all with two hands). Drive the nails straight in (with the burl on the nail head towards the inside of the hoof).  Make sure the nail point comes out the outside of the hoof.

After the nail is fully seated, use the claw to twist off the excess point protruding from the outside of the hoof. This is important. If the horse has to put his foot down, a protruding nail point can slice you open pretty good.

Here you can see the hoof with two nails coming out each side (I later added a third nail to each side).  The points are twisted off.  To ensure that  the nails firmly holds the shoe on, I値l have to clinch the nails (bend over the protruding ends). 

You can also see in this picture the old nail holes (located lower on the hoof as I trimmed off about 3/8 of old hoof.)

8. Here I知 using a hammer to clinch the nails. Most farriers use a clincher and I have one too, but mine isn稚 big enough for draft horses, so I usually hammer clinch the nails. This works better on a hard surface like a driveway.


9. Using the back of the rasp to file away excess hoof wall (hanging over the outside of the shoe.)  I have Joyce痴 foot resting on my knee. Most farriers today use a little stand, but I知 doing it the old fashioned way.

This is the finished product.

Draft horses tend to wear out their rear shoes faster then the fronts (especially the outside edges.)  This is because most of the force used to pull a load comes from the hindquarters. Riding horses usually wear out the front shoes faster as 2/3 of the horse痴 weight is on their front feet.

Trotting a horse on pavement will cause shoes and bare feet to wear much faster. Here a side view of the old and new rear shoes after six weeks of moderate road work pulling a wagon.

This is a view of the tools required to shoe a horse.  When buying farrier tools, always buy the best - cheap ones don稚 last.

Chaps are important to not only protect the leg, but also to provide some friction between the outside of the hoof and your lap/legs to keep the hoof in place while you work.


Nailing on Shoe Hoof View
Twisting off point of nail - away view
Hoof with Nails shoeing through
Hammer Clinching
Filing away excess wall
Bottom view hoof with new shoe
Old vs new shoe
Farriers tools

From left to right, the tools are: 1. Small claw hammer for nailing shoes. 2. A large hammer for shaping shoes (a forge and an anvil help, but a hammer and any hard surface will make do.) 3. Clinchers 4. Left and Right Hoof Knives  5. Rasp 6. Nippers  7. Shoe pullers

I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to shoeing a horse!