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Losing Horse Shoes
 By Winniefield Park   •   19th Oct 2018   •   418 views   •   0 comments


The decision to put shoes on your horse isnít something you should take lightly. Most horses donít need shoes and putting shoes on can sometimes cause problems if the job isnít done right. But if, in consultation with your farrier, or perhaps even your veterinarian, youíve decided to have your horse shod, you need to learn what to do if your horse loses a shoe or two.

Why Shoes Come Off
Horses lose shoes for a number of reasons. Some horses will have naturally soft hoof walls and that may be good enough reason to put shoes on. The horse may have genetically punky hooves, or nutritional or moisture problems might be weakening the hoof wall. So shoes arenít always the answer. But shoes may help prevent chipping and excess wear that could lead to tender sore feet. A soft hoof wall may not hold the clinches - the nails that hold shoes on, as securely as a tougher hoof. If you determine your horse needs shoes, extra nails or clips might help. If the shoes just wonít stay on, you might do more damage than good by putting in extra nails. Your farrier will help you with a strategy.

In the summer months when the bugs are bad horses do a lot of stamping. A horseís hoof isnít solid like the head of a hammer. Rather it flexes, absorbs moisture and drys out. The extra impact on an unshod hoof can cause wear, splits and chips. On a shod hoof, the stamping can cause the clinches and clips to loosen. The same goes for horses that paw a lot, whether in their stall or on a trailer.

Forging is a sign that your horse might not be fit, and it will cause your horse to knock a back hoof into a front. If the horse is shod, it could catch an edge of a shoe and pull it off. Or, a sideways misstep can rip a shoe off. An unbalanced rider can cause a horse to misstep and rip off a shoe. Tricky footing, through slippery grass, mud or deep sand can also cause a horse to catch an edge of a shoe with another foot and pull it off. So fitness, watching your speed through difficult going and working on your riding skills may help prevent a horse from pulling shoes off.

What to Do
If your horse loses a shoe, youíll want to protect its hoof, so it doesnít become ragged and chipped. Some horses will be tender on an unshod hoof. A hoof boot will help protect the wall or wrapping the foot with duct tape until the farrier gets there can help. And do call the farrier promptly. Then find the shoe. Shoes left lying in a pasture or along a trail can become hazards to other users. If they are kicked up by machinery, they can become a dangerous projectile. And, your farrier can probably salvage the shoe and re-use it, which saves money and other resources.

If a shoe is very loose, it may be a good idea to either tape it into place until the farrier arrives, but if itís flapping and half off, itís best to pull it off altogether. Your farrier will have special tools to do this with but you might not own these. Instead, you can pull a shoe by using a file or rasp to cut through the clinches on the outside of the hoof, and then prying the shoe off with a shoe puller. A sturdy pair of hoof clippers will also do the job in a pinchóbut this will dull them.

If losing shoes seems to become a habit, consult with your farrier for advice. You may be able to feed a nutritional supplement, change your riding habits, or change your horseís environment so its feet are healthier.

Of course, the easiest way to prevent lost shoes is to simply not shoe your horse. Most horses, especially pleasure horses, donít need shoes. If you ride out and are worried about wear and tear, a set of hoof boots may be cheaper and healthier in the long run.
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