By Lee Olsen Have you ever had a horse lose a shoe? Chances are, that if you have ever had a shod horse you’ve most likely experienced the frustrations that come with a thrown shoe. Whose fault is it? Is it because the farrier did a poor job applying the shoe? That’s usually where the blame goes first, and it’s totally possible it could be due to an incorrect trim or application of the horseshoe. With that said, there are a lot of other variables that directly affect how successful you will be at keeping shoes on. In this article, we are going to consider the variables of environment, performance, balance, soundness, confirmation, rider error, and physical condition as they relate to losing a shoe. Environment Environment can play a big role. If it’s wet a lot of the time where your horse is at, or if you wash your horses excessively, the hooves can get water logged and be a lot like a sponge. In this case, clips can be very helpful. They do not stop a shoe from being pulled off, but it will stop shearing forces and twisting effects. In effect, this will strengthen the hoof wall by limiting movement and stress on the nails. When a horse gets daily baths, the hooves will expand when they’re wet, and then shrink when they dry out. Shavings will suck out moisture quickly as well. Clinches will eventually loosen with all of that expansion and contraction. When a shoe is lost like this, most often it doesn’t take much force to pull it off and usually appears flat. In the US, clips aren’t really that common, but if you get into most other countries, they are the norm. Performance Knowing the job the horse is going to be performing is critical to a successful shoeing. How a horse’s shoes are fit greatly depends on what job the horse is doing and the length of shoeing schedule it is on. A good rule of thumb is that slow horses, such as dressage and show jumping horses, get shod with plenty of expansion (meaning a little extra shoe left behind for support). When these horses are turned out in a small pasture, it is usually supervised and for a short period. Racehorses are shod short and tight, meaning no extra shoe left out for the go grab at all. That is for two reasons. First, they are on a short schedule, usually four-week cycles or less, so there isn’t going to be much growth. The second reason is for safety. These horses are running very long lengths as fast as possible. [...]
Have you ever looked at a terrible shoeing and thought to yourself, “That horse must be hard to shoe?” Usually, the first reaction seems to question what the farrier did wrong or what he could have done better. You rarely hear anything about how bad the situation may have been, or that maybe the horse was really difficult and dangerous to shoe. Perhaps the conditions could have been windy, raining and the farrier was standing in mud or snow. Maybe it was the farrier’s last horse of the day and he was worn out, or maybe a parade went by. Whatever the case may be, no one cares why the horse was shod wrong. I believe that setting yourself up for success before you start anything in life is very important. Take shoeing horses, for example. I believe if you want to protect your reputation, a farrier should never put himself or herself in any of the situations listed above. The chances of success in those situations are very low, and I believe you always need to do a high-quality job, no matter what. That’s one of the reasons why I only shoe on concrete or rubber mats- it’s simply easier to do a good job. So how can we set ourselves up for success? On the part of the horse owner, sometimes it’s a reality that a horse will be challenging to shoe. I think every horse owner has probably owned a horse that’s difficult to work on. In these cases, you can either work with them or sedate them. Alternately, one controllable factor is the shoeing environment. If your shoeing area has grass that’s knee-high, soft ground, or obstacles and distractions, you’re putting your farrier in a no win situation. For farriers, I realize that when you’re first getting started, you’re going to end up in some undesirable situations. But with some thought and ingenuity, you can cost-effectively turn some of the worst situations into good situations. One easy way we ensure a good situation is through the use of rubber mats. A few rubber mats can make any shoeing area a lot better and easier on everyone. Pretty affordable and they could also double as a wash area, too! Don’t forget about the twine! Don’t have a good place to tie your horse up? You can cross tie your horse to about anything if it has twine on the ends, if there is an issue the twine will break. Cross ties are my personal favorite, and you can easily install them between stalls, rafters, trees, etc. Having a good shoeing area and horses that are easy to [...]
Coming soon! A new clinic for horse owners will be held at Olsen Equine November 10-12, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (lunch included). Register today to save your place! If you have ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to safely trim and shoe your own horse and wish you were able, this clinic is just for you. Lee is passionate about equipping the horse owner to better understand, care for, and protect their horses' soundness. You'll also have the opportunity to learn more about hoof care maintenance, how the foot functions, and how to recognize early warning signs of unsoundness. Questions? Contact Lee Olsen for more details.