Have you ever seen clips on a horseshoe and wondered why? Or maybe you’ve had a bad experience with clips, like when your horse loses a shoe and rips off all of his hoof wall.
I have noticed that there are a lot of people who really don’t like clips on their horses. If someone added clips and their horse suffered as a result, I don’t blame them a bit! However, I would like to encourage everyone to keep an open mind. As with everything in life, clips are no exception.
Like any good tool in an industry, clips have the ability to either help or hurt, depending on the application.
I believe that the trim is always the most important part of any shoeing, so let’s start there. If you leave any distortion on the hoof while you’re applying the shoe with clips, it’s nearly impossible to apply it correctly.
Hot fitting or burning the clips in isn’t required, but will make it significantly easier. If clips aren’t seated into the hoof wall, they lose a lot of their stability. I always say clips are a lot like rebar in concrete. You want it in the concrete (hoof wall) so that it adds strength and stability.
Clips are great for stopping shearing forces, such as keeping a shoe from twisting or sliding back and breaking the nails. One single clip has the strength of three nails! Imagine a massive draft horse pulling a wagon with traction shoes on a street, or a big warmblood jumping horse landing after a jump. That’s a lot of force on the shoes! It doesn’t matter what you’re using for nails, they won’t be able to consistently handle that force pushing the shoe back.
Clips are not as common on Quarter Horses, but they have their place there, too. Cutting horses really benefit from quarter clips on the hind end, due to all the stopping and turning. Other examples include reined cow horses that have studs in their sliders, barrel horses that turn excessively hard, and head horses that step on themselves when facing.
Anytime you have a weak–walled horse, they will benefit from clips. In this situation, the clips will absorb all the force, leaving the nails and walls unharmed and resulting in a better hoof wall.
If you pull a shoe off it should pull clean, leaving the hoof wall unharmed if was applied correctly. If you do lose a lot of hoof wall after pulling a shoe, low nails that were driven into the wall (as opposed to the white line) are usually to blame.
The main complication associated with a correctly applied clips is being stepped on after a shoe is pulled off. Even then, there shouldn’t be an issue unless the hoof is over–trimmed or the clips are sharp and tall. For that reason, we usually try to make shorter, more blunt clips just in case. The bottom third of the clip does most of the work anyway, and peace of mind is worth a lot.
So, the next time you’re trying to maximize your horse’s performance, I recommend at least considering whether applying clips is the right fit for you.
God Bless America
Lee Olsen CJF