This is the process in which horse shoes are applied to the bottom of the horses hoof by a qualified farrier, the farrier will either hot or cold shoe depending on their preference and the shoe will be held in place by using nails or in some cases glue. In order for the farrier to apply the shoe the horses hooves must first be prepared, this involves trimming and balancing the insensitive structure of hoof and from there the horse shoe can be tailored to fit the prepared hoof. The type of shoe chosen will be shaped to the needs of your horses foot.
These are predominantly made of steel but can also be made of aluminium, rubber and plastic.
There are many different types of horse shoe available but the main thing to remember is that whichever type of shoe your farrier uses it must fit the horses hoof correctly and aid there way of going and be appropriate for the type of work your horse does.
The Aim Of Horse Shoeing
The aim of horse shoeing is to provide the horse with a well balanced foot that will allow them to work for longer periods of time without excessively wearing the hoof down and to help maintain the hoof shape. The use of horse shoes can give the horse a secure grip, due to the groove called a fuller which runs around the surface of the shoe, grip can also be aided when the use of studs are correctly used. Horses with hoof ailments and poor conformation can be assisted with the use of specific horse shoes which are specially designed to help with that ailment.
In hot shoeing the old shoe is removed and the hoof is expertly trimmed and re balanced, then a new shoe is chosen and assessed against the hoof for suitability. The shoe is then placed into the forge and when removed the farrier can then work the steel into the correct shape as required and be placed back into the forge again if necessary. To obtain the perfect fit the shoe is lightly placed onto the hoof to assess if it is the correct fit and it is this process of holding the hot shoe onto the hoof for a few seconds which burns the insensitive structure and causes all the smoke and smell. The shoe can then be altered again using a hammer and anvil until it fits the horses foot exactly. By using this process the shoe is made to fit the hoof with great precision. Once the shape of the horse shoe is correct it is placed into cold water to cool it down and then nailed onto the hoof so that the shoeing process can be continued.
With cold shoeing no forge is used in the actual shoeing process, after the old shoe has been removed and the hoof has been expertly trimmed and re balanced a pre prepared shoe of the correct size and shape is used. It takes a great deal of skill to match the correct shoe to the hoof as making alterations is not as easy on a cold shoe. Once the correct shoe has been chosen it is then nailed onto the hoof so that the shoeing process can be completed.
Horse Shoeing Procedure
If the horse has a shoe already on, then it must first be removed.
Signs Your Horse Needs Shoeing
Have your horse regularly shod at least every 6 weeks, horses that are in a lot of work may well need to be shod every 4 or 5 weeks but your farrier will advise.
Signs to look out for are nail clenches raised, overgrown toes, shoe physically loose, shoe excessively worn, shoe fallen off.
Lameness After Shoeing
Horse shoeing is not a painful process and if your horse is lame directly after shoeing then there is a problem and your farrier should be contacted immediately to relieve the problem, for example if a nail is driven in too close to the sensitive structure it can cause a nail prick or nail bind to occur and once the nail is removed soundness usually returns very quickly.
Healthy Hoof Growth
Some horses hooves are brittle and cracked, this can be due to diet or other factors such as ground conditions or conformation, the addition of a Biotin supplement to the horses diet can in some cases greatly help to obtain strong healthy hoof growth. The application of a topical product such as hoof oil can also greatly help with cracked hooves. Horses hooves crack when the moisture balance is disrupted and by applying hoof oil daily to the hoof wall the moisture balance is maintained and this helps to prevent cracking.
Preparation For Shoeing
A horse that stands quietly when being shod will give your farrier the opportunity to successfully shoe your horse, if your horse is young and has never been shod before then well before the farrier is booked practice picking up each of the horses feet and holding them up.
Tying up a hay net can help to occupy your horse while it is being shod and therefore help to cut back on the fidgeting.
Ensure that you have somewhere that is well lit, undercover and on a flat surface for your farrier to shoe your horse.
Your horses legs must be as clean and as dry as possible before the farrier comes.
What A Well Shod Hoof Should Look Like
Specialist Horse Shoes
There are many variations to the traditional horse shoe available that can be used for specific disciplines, assist horses with specific veterinary ailments and conformation weaknesses.