Spring Fling!

*Note: This journal post was originally published on April 1, 2009*

Farrier Mike Poe trimming a miniThe days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and horses are losing shoes. Every year around this time I experience massive amounts of “flat tires.” A couple of times a week I get a call to come out and replace a lost shoe.

Typically the shoe is truly lost. as in it cannot be found. This is usually attributed to the mud, which is getting fairly deep in most pastures by now. The misnomer is that the mud is “sucking” the shoes off. In reality the mud is merely causing the horse to take a misstep and catch the edge of the shoe with one of his other feet (typically the hind foot coming up behind it).

There are a few things that can be done to help prevent this, both on my part as the farrier and on your part as the horse’s manager.

  • I start by applying clips to the shoes to take the stress off of the nails and assist in keep the shoe snug to the foot.
  • Then I hammer and grind the shoe to remove any abrupt edges and make it easier for the other feet to slip off of it if foot to foot contact does occur.
  • The last measure that I can take is to tighten the fit. By this I mean that I leave less shoe expansion room outside of the hoof. If the horse can’t reach it, he’ll have a harder time pulling it.

The steps that you can take as the manager of the horse are fairly simple ones.

  • Turn out in bell boots. They don’t work every time, but they do help protect the shoe from pulling.
  • The other big management strategy isn’t as easy. If possible, rotate your turnout. Mud is made much worse by horses being turned out on it and churning it up, making it deeper. I understand that not everyone has enough room to leave a paddock unoccupied for more than a few hours at a time, but if at all possible, it will help your horse’s feet.

Finally, if you do happen to look down and see your horse has lost a shoe, please do not hesitate to call. I would much rather come out unexpectedly to do a minor repair than to find a shoe has been off for two weeks when I come back for a regular appointment.