Understanding the Basics of Horseshoeing

There are some very simple procedures that the horse owner should be aware of when having their horse shod. Firstly, the hoof should be dressed flat, with the heels of the hoof level with the ground surface of the frog. The toe should be dressed down to the white line, which will be level with the sole. When this is complete, the farrier should have a level surface for the shoe to be nailed to.

The wall of the hoof should be kept fairly even, especially around the toe area, as the hoof wall will generally grow thicker at the toe when the horse is shod. This can be easily achieved by taking the hoof forward and rasping the toe back prior to fitting the shoe, which will in turn ensure that the horse has a natural pastern hoof axis – by this I mean when you stand at the side of your horse on a level surface, you should be able to draw an imaginary line down through the pastern and hoof that is in line.

Not all horses have a perfect pastern hoof axis, however, when you let your horse wear his feet down naturally, you will find that he always re-align’s to his pastern hoof axis. Even when the toe wall is too thick he will wear a break over at the toe to compensate.

Having achieved the correct hoof preparation, we are now ready to fit the shoe. It is important that the farrier selects the correct type of shoe – that is, a shoe that will both suit your horse and the job that you want to do with your horse. Shoes can be fitted either hot or cold, this depends on your farrier and the conditions with which he has to work in. He naturally will not be able to shoe your horse hot if it is a total fire ban day and you are out in the open.

There are benefits in shoeing hot as it seals up the tubules that have a membrane in them and keep’s the moisture in the hoof, it will also quarterise any infections in the white line.

When selecting the appropriate shoe for your horse, you need to consider how thick the wall of the hoof is as this determines weather a wide webbed shoe with the nails placed to-wards the center of the shoe is suitable. What will happen is, if the wall of the hoof is thin and a wide webbed shoe with course nails is applied, the nails will enter the hoof wall through the white line and over a period can cause an infection.

Once the hoof is dressed, the shoe should then be fitted to the hoof with the heels of the shoe coming right back and finishing at the heel of the hoof. Shoes should never be fitted short of the heels, as this will cause all sorts of hoof and leg problems. Nails should be driven up about a third of the way up the hoof as this ensures a strong nailing into strong hoof wall.

Article courtesy of O’Dwyers Horseshoe