Horse Shoeing Questions

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Trimming

Lameness

Hoof Injuries

Horseshoes

Horse Shoeing

Hoof Angles

Record-keeping

Q: I have a racehorse with a blown suspensory, is there a shoe that I can forge to hold up the suspensory? with straps maybe?

 A: This is a case where it is extremely important for the owner, farrier and veterinarian to work together to develop a satisfactory plan to get the horse back on its feet.

The first thing is to determine the extent of the injury. Is it just a mild case of suspensory strain or more serious, involving possible injury to bones as well.

Your vet should be able to perform diagnostic tests to determine this. They also should be able to work with your farrier, or you, if you shoe your own horses, to suggest the type of support (shoe and/or brace) that offers the best chance for recovery.

While there are a number of shoes (a run down shoe, for example) and braces used to treat suspensory injuries, the exact construction will depend on the individual situation. I’m sorry I cannot be more specific, but it is impossible to suggest one over another without actually examining the horse and situation.

Examples of some specific horseshoes and surgical leg braces can be seen in the book, The Principles of Horseshoeing II, by Dr. Doug Butler. This is an excellent resource for anyone who owns a horse and/or works on horse’s feet.

Custom made orthopedic braces for horses: http://www.horsebrace.com/

Also here: http://www.nchorsenews.com/horse_brace.htm

I think it is great that you are able to forge your own shoes. Perhaps you could locate a farrier with experience treating this type of injury who would be willing to assist you in designing a shoe that fits your horse’s exact needs. The American Farrier’s Association has a find a farrier service: http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/index.php

I hope I’ve been able to help with your situation. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. Best of luck to you and your horse.

Q: Have a 5 yr old gelding who had an injury to his heel pastern area 2 yrs ago. Last year he got a quarter crack and was off on the leg.  We used a bar shoe and biotin to fix it. The crack has returned again this year and is cracking with the bar shoe, his heels are contracting now too. Is there anything else or something different to do. He is continuing to take 50mg of biotin a day.

 A: A quarter crack that is the result of an injury to the coronary band where the coronary band itself sustains permanent damage is one that most likely will have to be addressed for the lifetime of the horse. In other words, once you find the correct measures needed to heal the crack, then in order to prevent the crack from reoccurring, you may have to maintain these corrective measures.

If you have a shoeing record, you should be able to refer back to the time last year that the crack appeared and confirm that his feet are being trimmed and shod exactly as they were then. It only takes a small deviation to make a large difference in how the concussive forces affect a hoof and sometimes the result is enough of an imbalance to produce a crack or prevent one from healing.

Proper trimming of the hoof to its required balanced state, especially with a hoof carrying other problems, is a must when trying to heal a crack.

The basic principle behind fixing a hoof crack is to first identify, and correct if possible, the reason for, and then immobilize the crack, thereby permitting sound hoof to grow down from the coronary band.

Something you and your farrier may wish to consider is lowering the bearing surface of the hoof wall posteriorly to the crack (from the crack to the heel) so there is a space between the shoe and that part of the hoof wall. This technique and its ramifications are something that your farrier needs to be familiar with before attempting on your horse.

Here is an article on contracted heels that you may find useful. http://www.anvilmag.com/farrier/prmcnthl.htm

Contracted heels require special attention on the part of whoever is trimming and shoeing the horse. The best advice I can offer is probably not the easiest to be able to accomplish … that is to find a farrier with the knowledge and experience in the treatment of hoof cracks and corrective shoeing for the contracted heels. It is much easier to prevent contracted heels than to correct them. Contraction may be caused by a number of conditions, such as a lack of moisture in the hoof and the lack of pressure or weight bearing on the heels and especially the frog. Throw in the earlier injury to the hoof and the reoccurring hoof crack and the situation is serious enough to require the attention of a farrier familiar with and working with these conditions.

As with any supplement, if the use of Biotin is resulting in good solid hoof growth, then that should be helpful in helping the crack grow out as new healthy hoof growth appears.

The measures that allow the crack to heal, now have to take into consideration the matter of the contracted heels in order that fixing one doesn't interfere with the correction for the other.

I’m sorry I cannot offer a simple fix for either the quarter crack or the contracted heels, but individually, the methods used to correct them vary so much by individual case that it is impossible to simply say do this or that and all will be well. Combine the two and the situation truly does require a farrier experienced in these matters.

Here are a few sites that may prove helpful in locating a farrier near you:

http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/state_results.php?state=10
http://www.horseshoes.com/ffinder/frfndr.htm

This website provides a list of farrier schools where you may be able to locate a referral.
http://www.neosoft.com/~iaep/pages/farrier/farrierschools.html

I hope I’ve been able to provide some information that will helpt you in getting your horse back on its feet. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: I’ve just started training for endurance racing and my Arabian threw a shoe, when I looked at the shoe I noticed it was uneven.  it was the back left shoe and the left side of the shoe was thinner than the right side. I ride ten miles 4 days a week at a fast pace on dirt roads.  was wondering what could be causing the uneven wear on the shoes? 

A: Congratulations on your taking up endurance riding. It is a great sport and a wonderful way to spend time on a horse.

Uneven wear on a horseshoe may be caused by there being an unequal amount of concussive forces being applied to the shoe as it makes contact with the ground during each step.

Contributing factors may include the conformation of the horse, how the hoof is trimmed/shod, the flight path of the leg and hoof and whether or not the hoof twists or drags during the ground contact phase of a step.

It is good that you noticed this. Asking your farrier for a further explanation will allow him/her the opportunity to help you understand how they are trimming your horse to achieve its maximum performance. This will also let your farrier know that you are paying attention to your horse’s feet. By alerting him/her to this particular situation, you may actually be telling them something they did not know was happening thereby giving them the opportunity to address any problem. Most farriers are more than happy when an owner expresses an ongoing interest in being involved with their horse’s hoof care.

 Good luck with your endurance training. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

 

Q: My 5 year old has a bad quarter crack that was healed last year with bar shoes. it recracked this year and he went lame. even stalled he seems to still be cracking. he is on a biotin supplement and hoof ointment. is there a better way to manage this or special way to trim and shoe. the reason for this cracking is from a leg injury two years. he has seen a vet without any new advice.

A: Managing a quarter crack that is the result of an injury presents a unique set of challenges for the horse owner and the farrier as well. In some cases where the injury has resulted in a permanent weakness to the hoof and/or altered the way in which the normal everyday stresses are applied to the hoof structure, that hoof may develop special trimming/shoeing needs in order to remain sound and to prevent the crack from reoccurring.

The key here is that once you have identified the reason for the crack (as you have), your farrier (in conjunction with your vet, if such a consultation is warranted) should develop a hoof care program that will keep the foot stabilized. This not only allows the crack to heal, but should prevent it from reoccurring.

I think that Biotin supplements and hoof treatments are fine as long as they are producing results.

The actual particulars as to how to trim and shoe the foot will vary with the individual situation. It will depend on the location and severity of the injury as well as how the injury affects the hoof’s ability to handle the stress loads placed upon the hoof and how those changes affect the other hooves as well.

It takes an onsite examination and evaluation to figure out the nuances of each case and therefore, the best advice I can offer is to find a farrier with experience in dealing with these types of injuries. I realize that this may be easier said than done, but this type of hoof care problem needs to be addressed by someone who understands all that it takes to keep a horse with this type injury from cycling back and forth from sound to lame due to the same old problem.

If the farrier and vet are not able to offer anything that helps you move forward with the problem, then I would suggest it may be time to find a farrier and vet who will. Just fixing the crack without offering a plan to deal with the long-term effects brought about by the injury is only half a solution at best. The American Farrier’s Association has a “find a Farrier page: http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/state_results.php?state=10 You may wish to contact the state farrier’s associations for your location to see if they can offer a referral.

It is encouraging that you were able to fix the crack once, which would lead one to believe that it can be done again, only this time with provisions for the long-term care to be included.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: We bought a 6yo anglo-trakahener mare who had never been shod previously. The horse was broke wtc but had minimal training and had been worked only about once a week. My daughter bought her for dressage and rides her 3-4 times a week. Her trainer wanted the horse to have front shoes because “all horses in work need shoes.” We put front shoes on and the horse's gaits seem markedly different to me “more up and down instead of her previous long even arc” Is this my imagination? How does shoeing a horse effect gaits or doesn't it?

 A: Congratulations on getting your Anglo-Trakehner. They are beautiful horses with wonderful dispositions.

Horses are shod for medical reasons, correction, protection or any combination of the three. Not all horses need shoes just because they are in work. If the horse can perform the work asked of it and still maintain healthy hooves, then shoes are not necessary. Paso Finos are shown barefoot all the time, for example, and to say that every horse needs shoes, “just because,” does not take into consideration the individual characteristics of the horse, the work it is going to be doing or the environmental conditions it will be working on.

Adding shoes to a horse’s feet is one of the simplest ways to alter a horse’s gait. The placement, weight and type of shoe has a major effect the flight path of the leg and foot. Combine that with how the hoof is trimmed, and you enter an area where the knowledge and experience of the farrier is most important.

To answer your first question, it is most likely that adding shoes to your horse has caused the changes in her gait that you are witnessing. Your second question is a bit more complicated. Basically, anything done to a horse’s hoof, be it trimming or shoeing or a combination of either, has the potential to alter its gait. Shoes come in different weights, types and are manufactured from a variety of materials. They can be applied with nails, glu-on or be of the slip-on variety. As many different shoes that are on the market, it is up to you and your farrier to understand the consequences of whatever you decide to use.

If your trainer insists on shoes then you have two options; either you shoe the horse or you don’t. If you decide to shoe her, then it is up to the farrier to see that her gait remains within an acceptable range.

There are a number of books on the market that attempt to explain this process in a manner that is useful to the horse owner. I list some on my website at: http://www.antelopepress.com/Blacksmith's%20Page.htm#Suggested%20Reading

I would suggest checking with your library to see if they have any books dealing with horse training/horseshoeing.

In your mare’s case, the added weight is most likely causing her to use added exertion to lift her feet, with the increase in knee action being the result. I would suggest discussing this with your farrier. They should be able to shoe her to eliminate or reduce the unwanted up and down motion and allow her to return to her previous smooth stride. This is something well within the realm of what farriers do. If your farrier is not comfortable with handling your situation, they should be willing help you find someone with the experience to work with you and your horse.

You may also wish to contact the United States Dressage Federation, http://wwwarmbloods.com/sports/dres.htm, and see if there is a chapter near you. I’m sure those folks would be happy to share their knowledge and experiences with you as well as possibly being able to refer a farrier experienced in managing the hoof care of a Anglo-Trakehner in training. There is much more to shoeing a horse than simply nailing on a shoe.

I hope I’ve addressed your questions satisfactorily. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

 Buz

Q: What is a name for horseshoer that people used in early times, and what do they call horseshoers nowadays?

A: Blacksmith (Smithy) is a word used to describe someone who took care of horse’s feet in “early times.”

While this particular term is still used today in some parts of the world with regard to the modern-day horseshoer, the term “Farrier” has gained acceptance as one who makes, repairs and fits horseshoes.

Thanks for asking this question. 

Q: My horse has been shod twice with what appears to small shoes, can this be causing stiffness and favoring front left foot? 

A: Fitting a horse with the improper size shoe can cause long-term permanent damage to the horse. Stiffness and favoring can certainly be signs of a foot shod with a too small shoe.

However, as I’m sure you are aware, there are numerous other possibilities that may cause similar symptoms, including, but not limited to, the trim itself.

That being said, there is no excuse for a horse to be fitted with shoes that do not fit its feet. Fitting a horse with shoes that are too small for its feet is unacceptable … period.

If you feel that your horse’s shoes are too small for its feet, then you need to bring this to the immediate attention of your farrier and if he/she is not able to adequately address your concerns, then you need to find another farrier who will.

This is a good example of why every horse should have a record of how its feet are being trimmed/shod. If you know the toe lengths, heel lengths and hoof angles that your horse needs its feet to be trimmed to, along with its shoe type and size, then if you suspect that something has changed, you have a very simple way to verify your suspicions. Plus, it makes it simple to show a new farrier exactly how your horse’s feet need to be trimmed and shod (if necessary) in order to keep it sound.

If your horse exhibits signs of stiffness and/or favoring or any of its feet, this is reason enough to have a farrier re-examine the horse. If the fault lies in an improperly fitted shoe, it needs to be removed at once and the hoof fitted with the proper size shoe.

The best way to determine this is to have a qualified farrier examine the horse.

It is good to see that you are paying close attention to your horse’s feet and how they are being trimmed and shod. There are a number of books on the market (they may also be available in or through your local library) that have been written for the horse owner wishing to learn more about the whole business of trimming and shoeing their horses. You can see some titles here: (http://www.antelopepress.com/Blacksmith's%20Page.htm#Suggested%20Reading)

If you’d like to see a sample record book, either to use or as a model for developing one of your own, please follow this link: http://www.antelopepress.com/horseshoe_record_book.htm

I hope I’ve been able to answer question to your satisfaction. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. Best of luck to your and your horse.

 

Q: I have been told that a veterinary surgeon is also known as a farrier .  Is this true?

A: It has been my experience that the term “Veterinary Surgeon” is another way of referring to a Veterinarian ... that is, one who practices veterinary medicine.

The current use of the term “Farrier” usually refers to an individual trained in the care and treatment of horse’s hoof care needs and problems … most often, but not limited to, the trimming and shoeing (if needed) of horse’s hooves.

Thanks for asking this question.

Q: How do you make a horse change its leads?

A: Hello,

While the manner in which a horse is trimmed and shod will definitely affect the way it travels, I’m guessing you are looking for information on the training aspect of teaching a horse to change leads.

Toward that end, I’ve found a couple of Web sites that may help you in discovering what it will take in order for your horse to understand what you are asking it to do.

http://www.equisearch.com/train/
http://www.marioboisjoli.com/training_tips/23200303342.html

http://www.agctr.lsu.edu/horse/training.pdf

http://www.naturalhorsesupply.com/feel.shtml

Additionally, depending on the type riding you are interested in, almost every particular riding discipline has a Web site that contains loads of information in addition to having open forums that allow you to ask questions over a wide range of topics. I believe you will find that most horse owners are very generous in their willingness to share their knowledge with others.

You might wish to discuss your desire to teach your horse to change leads with your farrier as he or she will most likely want to work with you in making sure your horse is properly set up for the type of riding will be doing.

Good luck to you and your horse. I think that once you have found a training method that suits you and your horse’s needs, you will be making flying lead changes with the best of them.

I hope I’ve been able to provide you with some information that may help you in discovering the answer to your question. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

Buz

Q: I have had horses for 20 years but have just backed a young one, but I am unable to lift her back feet.  She is very good with her fronts.  When I do manage to lift one from the floor she instantly leans so far she would fall if I did not let the foot go.  I have been trying everything for the last 8 weeks but am not moving any further forward.  The blacksmith came did her fronts but he was unable to lift her back legs and said she had stringhalt.  I have read all what I can on this but she does not seem to have any of the ailments.  Can you suggest anything?

A: A horse with Stringhalt usually will show pretty specific symptoms, which although they may be erratic in appearance, are fairly easy to recognize. From your statement, I assume that you have been able to find reading material that covers the basics of this problem.

I found these Web pages to have some interesting material relating to stringhalt. One specifically mentions that stringhalt does not affect the horse’s ability to stand.

http://www.equusite.com/articles/health/healthStringhalt.shtml
http://ponyclubvic.org/about/halt.html

http://www.equisearch.com/care/lameness/dtstringhalt3803/

http://www.horseshoes.com/farrierssites/sites/rooney/stringhalt/stringhalt.htm

If, after your research and your farrier’s diagnosis you were to seriously suspect your horse of being affected by stringhalt, the first thing would be to have it examined by a knowledgeable veterinarian.

On the other hand, if your horse shows no symptoms (sometimes, backing a horse tends to showcase the symptoms best) of this or any other problems relating to how its hindquarters are able to perform, then I would start from scratch to try to determine why this horse will not allow you to pick up its hind feet.

First I would ask if the problem is with both hinds or only one side or the other. If she will not lift either hind foot and there is no medical reason for this, then as simple as it sounds, she may just have never been trained to lift her hinds. Some folks have a real aversion to handling the hind feet and consequently you can end up with a horse that has no idea what you are trying to do.

Another possibility is that she may have had a bad experience with someone who mistreated her or was rough with her when trying to get her to lift her hind feet, or even something like her falling down during a session and now she is scared to death when you ask her for her foot.

If you’ve been around horses for twenty years, you know that it only takes a fraction of a second by someone losing their temper to ruin a horse or at least seriously set back a training program. And then, the new owner inherits the problem. One thing to consider when purchasing any horse no matter how young or old, is to insist seeing someone pick up all four feet just so you know it can be done.

Training a horse to lift its feet for a farrier is something so basic and so readily accepted by most horses, that when one will not accept the training, then I look for one of two reasons. It has been my experience that barring an injury or medical condition, poor hoof handling characteristics are most often the result of unsatisfactory human performance which can range from ignorance to abuse through the lack of patience.

Laying down on you is one way a horse will passively try to avoid doing what you ask, which while preferable to a swift kick in the shins, still leaves you with having to find a way around the problem.

One horse I trimmed was very reluctant to lift its hinds and the owner was equally reluctant to work with the horse’s hind feet. What worked in this situation was to trim the horse’s hind feet when the horse was on a mild downhill slope. I put the horse’s head downhill and aside from the slight discomfort of having to work on a less than flat surface, the horse didn’t seem to mind and lifted its hind feet without objection. I do not advocate this method as a replacement to sound training, but simply as an example of what one farrier did to work within a horse’s capabilities in order to get the job done.

If your horse shows any signs of being afraid when you try to lift her hind feet, I would think that a “bad experience” may be the reason for her reluctance. This type of problem really takes a great deal of time and re-training to overcome. If you think she is just being stubborn, then you will have to be more creative in trying to convince her that this is something she needs to do. Either way, patience is the key.

Something you may wish to consider is for you to ask her to lift her foot rather than you reaching down and trying to lift the foot for her. If she lifts a foot for you, then she cannot be leaning on you at the same time because her weight will shift to the other side as she raises that foot. Basically, she cannot be lifting up and pushing down at the same time. Additionally, try to keep some separation between you and her body (if only a fraction of an inch) so that she cannot feel like she has something to lean on for support.

Any able-bodied horse should be taught to lift its feet and hold them up rather than make a person lift up a foot and then become a leaning post for the horse. The work is hard enough without having to hold up an extra thousand pounds at the same time.

If you find yourself at the end of your rope, you might want to see if you can locate a farrier or trainer that enjoys working with horses that have problems of this nature. Most states have a state farrier association and they may be able to put you in touch with someone who would be willing to work with you in overcoming this problem.

Best wishes to you and your horse. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: What side of the horse is commonly called the near side?

A: The horse's left side is referred to as the “near side.”

Q: What is the Commissure on the horse's hoof?

A: According to my dictionary the term “commissure” is defined as a line or place where two things are joined.

The most common use I know of for the term with regard to a horse’s hoof is in describing the area that forms a crevice on either side of the frog. In other words, the area where the frog meets with and joins the bar structure.

This link has an illustration of the bottom of a horse’s hoof and you can easily see the space between the frog (#1) and the bar (#2). The commissure.

http://www.equusite.com/articles/basics/basicsPartsOfFoot.shtml

Thanks for the question.

Q: My 6 yr. old Clydesdale mare hasn't had her feet messed with much.  It has taken me 2 weeks just to allow me to put Hoofmaker on her feet.  She has one large crack on each one of her front feet and her back feet look like they've never been trimmed.  I'm concerned she's going to hurt the farrier when he tries to do her back feet.  She don't kick and she's not mean at all.  But she will dance away from you while your trying to touch her feet!  I picked up her front hoof the other night and she danced around a little and then settled down.  But it was like she couldn't hold her self because she kind of bowed down and had her weight on my wrist.  Hence, I have a fractured wrist.  Any  suggestions to getting her to let me work on her feet?  We have just started to gain some trust, I don't  want to make her fearful of me.

A: Hi,

I’m very sorry to hear of your problems and wish you a most speedy recovery from your injury.

On of the nice things about working with the big horses is they do seem to be aware of their strength and rarely use it to its fullest extent ... the other side of that is that even a little push from a big horse translates into a lot of energy focused in one place. Her bowing down and transferring her weight to you may have just been her way of saying she did not want to do this.

From your description or her behavior, it sounds like she either doesn't know what you are trying to do or she has had a bad experience in the past and wishes to avoid a similar situation. This of course, assumes that the horse has no injury the she is trying to protect.

I would think that the first step is to approach her reluctance to allow you to handle her feet as if she has never been instructed as to what is expected of her.

The following web pages discuss different approaches to getting a horse to pick up its feet. I think the most important aspect is to “ask” a horse to lift and hold up its foot, rather than having to pinch, squeeze or otherwise hard cue a horse to pick up its foot. If you pinch or squeeze hard, then they might just respond in kind. Now, they can do this. They have all the muscles necessary to lift their foot and to hold it up so you can work on it. This is very important, especially when working on large horses.

I would add that you seem to be on the right track when you speak of gaining her trust. That is most important because what you are asking of her is to give up her main defense mechanism … her ability to flee. Teaching your horse to give up her feet when asked is something that will take patience and dedication on your part. It may happen quickly or it may take longer. Either way, the end result should be a horse that will lift its feet on voice command with a feather-light touch to the individual lower leg. It should not take anything more than that.

Each of these articles is just a little different, but the main thing to remember is that your horse is an individual and you can take what parts of each technique that you are comfortable with and develop a plan that suits you and your horse’s particular personalities. Short lessons, in a calm setting without trying to force the issue will go a long way toward gaining your goal.

http://www.infohorse.com/html/pickingupfeet.asp

http://www.equilog.com.au/howto.htm

http://www.equisearch.com/care/hoofcare/eqcleaning368/

The cracks may very well be the result of a poorly maintained hoof care program and her hind feet may not received the attention they deserve. Your farrier should be able to help you develop a hoof care plan that will remedy the situation.

Your farrier will depend on you to be completely honest in your appraisal of your horse’s current status with regard to having her feet handled when it comes time to picking up its feet to be trimmed. Once a farrier knows what to expect, he or she may be able to offer some advice to help you with this part of your horse’s training as well as be willing to offer some hands-on training. You may ask if the farrier offers professional training and inquire about their rates. The one thing you do not want to do is either omit or misrepresent your horse’s attitude toward having her feet handled. Farriers as a rule, rarely like surprises when to comes to handling problems. Being forewarned a horse is skeptical of anyone touching its feet gives the farrier a chance to work with the owner in correcting the situation before anyone gets excited or hurt.

The main thing is to take your time, be patient and have a plan going in that will allow both you and your horse to arrive a point where picking up its feet becomes second nature. After all, picking up its feet is not just something that is done when the farrier comes to visit; a horse’s feet should be checked before and after every ride, training session or just once a day to be sure there is nothing jabbed into, wedged across or otherwise stuck in the hoof that will cause a problem.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions or if I can be of further assistance.

Buz

Q: How do you remove an old shoe and replace a new shoe from a horse?

A: Hello,

I commend you on wanting to become more involved with your horse’s hoof care program. The more you know and are able to do will be of great benefit to your horse.

However, one thing to always remember is that no matter how well-behaved your horse is, horse’s get distracted easily and kick even faster, so anytime you work around any horse’s feet, you have to be aware of the danger involved.

Before trying to remove or replace a horseshoe, you should seek out professional assistance. Most farriers are more than willing to help an owner learn how to remove a shoe. It not only takes the horse out of a potentially dangerous situation, but removing a loose or damaged shoe may  prevent further damage to the hoof thereby protecting it until the farrier can replace the shoe.

There is a very informative article on removing a horseshoe located at the following website. http://horsecare.stablemade.com/articles2/shoe_off.htm

You may also wish to check out the shoeing related books written for horse owners located at:

http://www.antelopepress.com/Blacksmith's%20Page.htm

And it wouldn't hurt to ask your farrier to show you how to pull a loose shoe the next time he or she is working on your horse.

As for nailing a shoe to a hoof, that process is something that requires professional hands-on instruction. The actual nailing part is the last step in a process that will determine the ability of your horse to remain sound on its feet.

Before a shoe is nailed on, the hoof must be trimmed. Trimming is probably the most important aspect of a hoof care program. Trim the hoof out of balance and you do a great disservice to the horse. Lameness can be immediate, or worse, develop over time in such a manner that it is possible to measurably shorten the life of the horse.

Your farrier should be a valuable source of information and be willing to help you in your quest to learn how to handle your horse’s hoof care. If you are looking for a farrier, then it’s possible that either of these professional organizations may be able to help you.

The American Farrier’s Association has a “Find a Farrier” service on their website at:

http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/state_results.php?state=34&Submit=Submit

The Brotherhood Of Working Farriers Association (BWFA) also has a referral service for horse owners looking for a farrier.

http://www.bwfa.net/

Most states have a state farrier association that is a wonderful resource for hoof care information. They may even be able to put you in contact with a farrier willing to provide some hands-on training for you.

Additionally, you may wish to explore the possibility of attending a horseshoeing school. Some will have courses specially designed for the horse owner who just wants to take care of their own horses and not become a full-time farrier.

The important thing is that you are interested in your horse’s hoof care and want to do the best for your horse. I think it is great and your horse is going to be the one benefiting from your interest. My suggestion is to find a farrier willing to help you learn how to safely remove a shoe and if you are serious about learning to trim and shoe your horse, schedule the time to attend a class that will teach you the techniques necessary to successfully trim and shoe your horse and manages all your horse’s hoof care needs.

Best of luck to you.

Q: How do you remove an old shoe and replace a new shoe from a horse?

A: Hello,

I commend you on wanting to become more involved with your horse’s hoof care program. The more you know and are able to do will be of great benefit to your horse.

However, one thing to always remember is that no matter how well-behaved your horse is, horse’s get distracted easily and kick even faster, so anytime you work around any horse’s feet, you have to be aware of the danger involved.

Before trying to remove or replace a horseshoe, you should seek out professional assistance. Most farriers are more than willing to help an owner learn how to remove a shoe. It not only takes the horse out of a potentially dangerous situation, but removing a loose or damaged shoe may  prevent further damage to the hoof thereby protecting it until the farrier can replace the shoe.

There is a very informative article on removing a horseshoe located at the following website. http://horsecare.stablemade.com/articles2/shoe_off.htm

You may also wish to check out the shoeing related books written for horse owners located at:

http://www.antelopepress.com/Blacksmith's%20Page.htm

And it wouldn't hurt to ask your farrier to show you how to pull a loose shoe the next time he or she is working on your horse.

As for nailing a shoe to a hoof, that process is something that requires professional hands-on instruction. The actual nailing part is the last step in a process that will determine the ability of your horse to remain sound on its feet.

Before a shoe is nailed on, the hoof must be trimmed. Trimming is probably the most important aspect of a hoof care program. Trim the hoof out of balance and you do a great disservice to the horse. Lameness can be immediate, or worse, develop over time in such a manner that it is possible to measurably shorten the life of the horse.

Your farrier should be a valuable source of information and be willing to help you in your quest to learn how to handle your horse’s hoof care. If you are looking for a farrier, then it’s possible that either of these professional organizations may be able to help you.

The American Farrier’s Association has a “Find a Farrier” service on their website at:

http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/state_results.php?state=34&Submit=Submit

The Brotherhood Of Working Farriers Association (BWFA) also has a referral service for horse owners looking for a farrier.

http://www.bwfa.net/

Most states have a state farrier association that is a wonderful resource for hoof care information. They may even be able to put you in contact with a farrier willing to provide some hands-on training for you.

Additionally, you may wish to explore the possibility of attending a horseshoeing school. Some will have courses specially designed for the horse owner who just wants to take care of their own horses and not become a full-time farrier.

The important thing is that you are interested in your horse’s hoof care and want to do the best for your horse. I think it is great and your horse is going to be the one benefiting from your interest. My suggestion is to find a farrier willing to help you learn how to safely remove a shoe and if you are serious about learning to trim and shoe your horse, schedule the time to attend a class that will teach you the techniques necessary to successfully trim and shoe your horse and manages all your horse’s hoof care needs.

Best of luck to you.

Q: How do I remove a horse shoe?

A: There is a very informative article on removing a horseshoe located at the following website. http://horsecare.stablemade.com/articles2/shoe_off.htm

You may also wish to check out the shoeing related books written for horse owners located at:

http://www.antelopepress.com/Blacksmith's%20Page.htm

And it wouldn't hurt to ask your farrier to show you how to pull a loose shoe the next time he or she is working on your horse.

It is also possible there is a farrier school located nearby that offers a course for horse owners that would be beneficial to attend.

There are also a couple of books written for the horse owner you might wish to check out at:

http://www.antelopepress.com/Blacksmith's%20Page.htm

Good luck.

Q: I have a 7 year old mare that has a problem of clicking from overreaching. This happens before and after shoeing.  My ferrier says that I need to make her pick up her feet when she is being ridden (She is lazy). Knowledgeable friends think I need to square the back feet.  What do you think?

A: First, I think I’ll describe how I interpret the terms “overreaching” vs. “forging.”  I understand overreaching to mean there is interference between the toe of the hind shoe and the bulb or heels of the front foot on the same side of the horse ... the toes of the hind feet overtake and strike the rear of the front feet

Forging is the interfering between the bottom of the front shoe and the toe of the hind shoe on the same side of the horse …where the toes of the hind feet hit the bottom of the front feet. When this occurs with a shod horse, the result is a clicking sound from the steel on steel contact.

You will want to be sure that the forging is not the result of a lameness problem that is causing the horse to change its stride while compensating for an injury.

There are many possible causes for forging ranging from conformation of the horse to the rider’s seat in the saddle.  The saddle itself may be positioned incorrectly for the horse and the likelihood of forging increases with a fatigued, overworked horse. A “lazy” horse may be more apt to forge, especially if it is not being ridden in a collected manner. Long toe – low heel trimming may lead to forging as it goes against the basic principle of corrective measures for forging that can be summed up by speeding up the front feet and slowing down the hind feet. This is a simplification of the process, of course, and if the problem is with the horse needing to be more aware, then that is the simplest, cheapest and easiest way to correct the problem.

You want to be sure your horse is being trimmed to a balanced state and that the shoes are fitted properly. A lighter shoe on the fronts may help move the fronts out of the way of the hinds enough to prevent the forging.

A square-toe shoe on the hinds can also be effective in certain cases. This is a decision that needs to be made by you and your farrier. It is not something that can be taken lightly or decided without actually seeing the horse and observing it onsite.

If in fact the problem is the result of, “laziness,” then squaring the toes on the hinds is not really doing the horse any favors. Inattentiveness caused forging and the resulting clicking noise is usually just an annoyance and an indicator of something not perfectly right. This same inattentiveness may lead to stumbling or worse, with much more serious consequences for horse and rider. Better to concentrate on getting the horse collected than ignoring that problem while attempting a fix that ignores the larger problem.

You might wish to have someone else ride the horse and see if you can observe when the horse forges and when it does not. This may offer some insight into how you wish to approach the problem.

J. Scott Simpson is a well-known and respected farrier who has written a wonderful book called, The Identification, Analysis and Correction of Gait Faults in Horses.

His contact information from the American Farrier’s Association website lists his phone number as 406-388-5646. You might give him a call to see where you can get a copy. It is well written, easily understood and well worth having as a reference book.

I hope this answers your question and helps you with your problem. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Good luck to you and your horse.

Q: How do I find a good ferrier in my area, Murphy, NC?

A: Hello,

The first thing I would do is contact Jerry Langdon at the phone number listed below.

North Carolina Horseshoer's Assn # 20
Jerry R. Langdon, CJF (# 1879), President
3312 Old Milburnie Road
Raleigh, NC 27616-8518
Phone:  919-266-4804

The American Farrier’s Association has a “Find a Farrier” service on their website at:

http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/state_results.php?state=34&Submit=Submit

The Brotherhood Of Working Farriers Association (BWFA) also has a referral service for horse owners looking for a farrier.

http://www.bwfa.net/

Of course, sometimes the best thing is to ask horse owners in your area who they would recommend. Vets are another source of information for someone looking for a farrier, since quite often both your vet and farrier will work together in solving a particular horse/hoof problem.

Good luck with your search and if you talk to Jerry, please tell him I said hello. I lived and worked in North Carolina a number of years ago.

Buz

Q: Where in Texas can you find the bronzed herd of cattle.????? And where can I find a photo? 

A: http://www.dallasconventioncenter.com/facility/pioneer.asp

http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?_pageid=33,97375&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&item_id=15555

Q: Where can I find a picture of the biggest authentic cowboy boots that are a size 328-d weigh 100 lbs and are just under 5 feet tall?

A: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/content_pages/record.asp?recordid=53153

Q: What side of the horse is commonly called the near side?

A: The horse's left side is referred to as the “near side.”

Q: What is another name for a blacksmith?

A: How about a Farrier?  Horseshoer? Shoer? Smithy?

Q: My horse hoof started growing out white, like a film on top outer part of hoof, it is now about a inch long, it goes across hoof like a ring.
Do you know this is?

A: Hi,

I’m going to have to take a guess at this since I have seen neither the horse nor a picture of the hoof.

It sounds like you may be talking about the periople. The perioplic ring is a narrow ring located just above the coronary band next to the hairline of the coronet. Basically, it produces the periople that normally extends about ¾ to 1 inch down the wall of the coronet, blending in with the frog at the heel of the hoof.

The periople, very strong and with about the same consistency as the horny frog, protects the sensitive coronary band at its juncture with the skin and hoof.

Here are a couple of websites that discuss the structures of the hoof in general, including the Perioplic Ring and periople. You may find them helpful in your quest.

http://www.foxtrotters.org/artdry_hoof.htm

http://www.equinextion.com/id31.html

Your farrier and/or vet should be able to tell you if this is what you are seeing. If you feel your horse’s situation warrants, then a call to either of these professionals would be in order.

Please let me know if this is not what you are seeing and we’ll look elsewhere for an answer.

Q: What is the preferred name for a horse manicurist?

A: Hello,

How about a Farrier? Blacksmith? Horseshoer? Shoer? Smithy?

I think you will find that most people who trim horse’s feet would answer to any one or all of the above.

Thanks.

Q: Hi. I was asking about hair loss around the hoofs.  I have two horses with this problem.  It is on all four feet. I have a mare that is in the same pasture and she doesn't have this.  Could it be because there is too much water on the pasture?

A: Hello,

Well, it seems you have a rather unique problem. It is interesting that the mare  (the other two are geldings?) is not being affected with this hair loss.

My suggestion would be to make an appointment with your veterinarian and solicit his or her opinion. Because this is only affecting two of the horses in the pasture and not the third then I would be worried that there is something going on there that most likely will require an onsite examination of the horses.

While you are waiting for the vet to come out, if you think moisture levels in the pasture may be the problem, you may wish to move the horses to drier ground until you have eliminated that as the problem. Although, in my opinion, I would still have a vet examine the horses in case the problem, even if caused by excess moisture, requires medication to effect a cure.

If you have another pasture available, then putting the horses there may help in determining the cause of the hair loss. Something to consider and which your vet most likely will be able to confirm, is if there is perhaps a particular plant or weed in the pasture that may be affecting the horses.

Here is a link to a website that discusses hair loss in horses.

http://nd.essortment.com/horseshealthpr_rmha.htm

I do think the last paragraph of the article offers some very good advice in saying that the best advice with any skin problem on a horse is to consult a veterinarian. There are any number of possibilities and your vet should be able to pin down the problem in short order.

Good luck with this and I’ll be very interested in hearing what you decide has caused this problem and what steps were necessary to correct it.

Buz

Q: My horse is losing hair around the hoof.  What is causing this?

A: Hi,

Unwarranted hair loss anywhere on a horse is cause for concern.

I have a few questions that may help point you in the right direction in your search for an answer.

Is this the only place on the horse experiencing a loss of hair?

Is the problem on all four feet or just the fronts or hinds or one of each or only one?

Is it possible that a boot or wrap is causing the problem through irritation or being applied to tightly? Is the horse outgrowing any boots or wraps being used?

If it is only on one foot, is it possible that foot (or feet) has gotten tangled up in a piece of wire, rope or hose and scraped the hair off in attempting to get loose?

Have you checked to be sure there is not some sort of an injury to the area? Maybe a puncture or porcupine quill that has become infected resulting in a hair loss?

Is it possible the horse has gotten into some chemical or petroleum product and this is causing the hair to fall out?

Is the horse on any medication? Is it possible the horse has developed a reaction to a hoof dressing?

Are you able to keep this area of the horse’s leg and hoof clean and dry?

Does the horse paw and may have caught his leg on the fence and removed the hair in pulling back?

If after a close inspection of the area, you still are unable to determine the cause of this hair loss, then I would suggest calling your vet and/or farrier to help you and your horse out.

If you could send me a picture of the legs showing the hair loss, it would help in trying to figure out the problem.

Good luck and please let me know how things work out or if there is anything else I can help you with.

Q: Hello, I have a quarter horse gelding. His front hoofs are angled differently. The right front almost has no heel, the left front has a good heel, and he looks good on it. How can I get him shod to grow heel on the other foot.  He is way down on one side and sits up correctly on the other.

A: Hi. I think the first thing to do would be to determine exactly why your horse’s feet have arrived at this condition.

In this same vein, you will want to be sure that you are not dealing with a conformation situation such as an “upright hoof” or “club foot” as it is sometimes called. This condition is totally different than a case where one hoof has been trimmed out of balance, broken off heel, or left too long between trimmings resulting in a long toe/low heel configuration. A horse with a “club foot” can lead a perfectly normal life and requires only that the farrier recognize the situation and be knowledgeable about the correct trimming methods to use. It is no big deal.

However, if a horse’s heels are incorrectly trimmed, broken off or allowed to grow out of balance to the point you have described, then every effort should be made to bring the horse back into balance as soon as possible.

First off, you need to find someone to trim and/or shoe your horse who is capable of recognizing the problem and comfortable with his or her ability to fix it.

The easiest way to fix an imbalance is by trimming. If that is not feasible or practical because of the amount of heel that has been lost and now needs to be replaced, then I would most likely use a plastic wedge pad to raise the angle of the hoof while allowing the heel to grow out.

Wedge pads come in a variety of types, sizes, degrees and hardness that can be further modified if necessary, by the farrier to suit a particular situation. Once you determine what the correct angle is for the hoof, a corresponding wedge pad can be used to make up the difference between what is there and what you are aiming for. In a case where a lot of heel is missing, it may be necessary to start with a 5° wedge pad (or more) and over a period of trimmings, use smaller angled pads until you reach the optimum angle for the hoof.

Heel can be removed in the blink of an eye … it takes quite a bit longer to grow it back. It is important that you maintain a regular schedule of trimming and shoeing until your horse is back to normal and thereafter, of course. I would suggest keeping a written shoeing record so you will have some way of knowing how fast the hoof grows as well as knowing what angles/lengths are necessary to keep your horse balanced. If you or your farrier is unable to determine the actual angle, then a (bulb) heel-to-ground measurement can be substituted. The idea is to have a way to determine that the hoof is being trimmed the same way, every time to a known toe-length and corresponding heel angle.

One thing to consider is the additional weight a wedge pad will add to the one hoof. If it is determined that this may cause a problem due to the type of activity the horse will be engaged in, one simple way to balance this out is to use a “light” shoe with the pad and a “regular” weight shoe on the other hoof. Horseshoes vary in weight by manufacturer and you just have to work with the types available to you to achieve a balance.

While a low heel situation is not one you ever hope to have to deal with, it is fairly common, and with the proper care, most horses are able to recover with the combined efforts of the owner and farrier (who may be one and the same).

Good luck and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: hi I am looking at alovely standardbred mare who is perfect in every way but has these rings atleast 4 or 5 on every hoof but the only thing we know about her is she never raced and that she has had  4  foals(her fist when she was  3 and she 14 now&#41 ...

A: Hello,

It is great to see that you included the feet in your pre-purchase inspection.

Because nothing can take the place of a hands-on inspection, I would suggest asking your own vet and farrier to inspect the horse or at least speak with the vet and/or farrier who work on the horse in order to be sure the owner has not forgotten something that may influence your decision.

Rings that circle the hoof and that run parallel to the coronary band are quite common and are called by a number of names: fever rings, hot rings, grass or growth rings. These rings are normal and can be associated with changes in a horse’s feed, nutritional intake, climatic changes as well as a change in location or other systemic changes in the horse’s environment.

Rings that are wavy in appearance or those that slope toward the ground at the heels may be cause for concern. Sometimes, but not always, these rings can be associated with founder, especially rings that slope and are widest apart at the heels. Other causes for wavy lines can be thrush, various yeast infections of the hoof, ring bone, side bone, abscesses of the hoof and uneven weight distribution.

While the rings that appear on a horse’s hooves may not be able to tell you the age of the horse like the rings in a section of a tree, they are similar in that they do indicate different events in the horse’s past.

First, the rings themselves do not appear to cause the horse any harm. They are indicators of changes that have occurred during the normal routine of its life.

They are sometimes called stress rings or stress indicators because one of the reasons they appear is when the horse experiences a period of increased stress in its life.

Hoof rings may result from something traumatic such as a serious illness or injury or something as simple as a seasonal change in diet. Moving a horse from one pasture to another or from one stable to another is sometimes all it takes for rings to form.

The only time I really worry about hoof rings is when the ends of the rings drop down uniformly a considerable distance as they come around the hoof and reach the heels. Laminitis and/or founder will sometimes produce rings that drop down at the heels.

Quite often, you can determine the cause of the rings by figuring out when they would have first formed. Assuming it takes approximately one year for a hoof to replace itself, then if the rings appear midway down a recently trimmed hoof, a check of your records from six months ago may give an indication of a change in your horse’s routine. A simple way to keep track of your horse’s hoof program can be found here: http://www.antelopepress.com/horseshoe_record_book.htm

There is nothing you can do to make them go away once they appear other than to use sandpaper or a sanding block to smooth them out. However, I do not recommend this as they cause the horse no harm and I do not think using an abrasive on any hoof is a good idea. You are bound to remove some of the natural protective covering that Mother Nature has provided and as the saying goes, "It’s not nice (or wise) to fool with Mother Nature."

Hoof rings are definitely something to look for during a pre-purchase inspection. It is good that you noticed them If their appearance is not something that you are comfortable with, then I would suggest having your farrier/vet perform a pre-purchase inspection to address your concerns.

Good luck and I hope this horse turns out to just the one you are looking for.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Q: Can you show pictures of horseshoes from circa 1860?

A: Hello,

Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of the type you are seeking.

However, you might try the web links below to see if they may be able to point you to reference sources that will have pictures of horseshoes used in the 1860’s.

http://www.horseshoes.com/cgi-bin/htgrep2.cgi?file=henry.txt&isindex=old+horseshoes
http://www.horseshoes.com/advice/invtshoe/winvhrs.htm

This British website that may provide some historical insight to horseshoes of the 1860’s.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/beyond/factsheets/makhist/makhist6_prog6d.shtml

Anvil Magazine is a wonderful resource and you may wish to contact them directly for samples of the pictures you seek.
http://www.anvilmag.com/

Additionally, depending upon your location, you might visit a museum, historical center (specifically a Calvary unit) or a farrier school nearby. A list of horseshoeing schools can be found at the American Farrier’s Association website.

I'm sorry I couldn't help you more. Good luck with your search and let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Thank you.

Q: How does the blacksmith know where to put the nail in the horse's shoe so that it does not hurt the horse's foot?

A: Hi. This a very good question. As one can imagine, hammering nails into the bottom of a horse’s foot can be extremely dangerous both for the horse as well as for the person doing the hammering.

Knowing where to place a nail and how to make it come out of the side of the hoof exactly where it is supposed to requires training, practice and skill.

There is literally a very fine line where a horseshoe nail can be driven that will not harm the horse and yet, will provide the necessary strength to keep the shoe on the hoof for its allotted time period.

You cannot just stick a nail into the hole and hammer away. It does not work that way.

No matter how easy your farrier makes it look, it takes a great deal of skill and practice to be able to hammer a horseshoe nail in such a way to be able to determine exactly where it will exit the side of the hoof wall and not hurt the horse.

Every time a farrier places a nail in a hole in a horseshoe, he or she will more than likely use sight, feel or sound (or any combination thereof) to be sure that when driven, the nail will not hurt the horse, and will exit the hoof wall exactly where the farrier wants it to.

Most keg shoes, those manufactured and sold in stores, come with nail holes already punched in them. These are set at an angle that assists in the placement of the nail; however, it is up to the farrier to make the final placement of the nail, the actual “aiming” if you will, before it is hammered into the hoof.

Handforged shoes allow the blacksmith to set the angle of the nail hole to the angle best suited for the horse at hand.

Horseshoe nails themselves are designed for the sole purpose of attaching horseshoes to horse’s feet. They have a bevel at the point that helps direct the nail out of the hoof wall at the location chosen by the farrier. They come in various shapes and sizes allowing the farrier to choose the best nail suited for the hoof itself as well as the shoe to be fitted to the horse.

Here is a webpage that has additional information concerning your question.

http://www.horseshoes.com/advice/nails/horseshoenails.htm

If you would like more information about horseshoeing, you might contact horse owners in your area and see if they would let you observe the next time they have their farrier over.

 You may also wish to check out the American Farrier’s Association at: http://www.americanfarriers.org/ to find a farrier or farrier school near you.

In the final analysis, the farrier determines the placement of the nail using his or her training, experience and judgment before ever striking the nail with a hammer. It is a precision skill that comes with training and experience.

Thank you for your question

Q: How many times do my horses shoes need to be changed?

A: Hello,

The simple answer is whenever his feet need trimming and/or the shoes have worn out.

However, even that is not as simple as it sounds. Unless you are comfortable trimming and shoeing your own horse, you will most likely use the services of a farrier in developing a hoof care program that will allow you to maintain your horse’s feet in a healthy manner.

The time between “changing” horseshoes varies from horse to horse. And, it usually, but not always, has more to do with the growth rate of the hoof, than the actual wearing out of the horseshoe itself.

Racehorses for example, during the racing season, are usually shod far more often than a typical pleasure horse over the same time period.

The average schedule for most pleasure and show horses, fits somewhere between six and eight weeks. Horses grow hoof at different rates. Some contributing factors include the age of the horse, the quality of its feed, the amount of exercise it receives and climatic changes.

 It is necessary to keep a horse’s feet trimmed within its comfortable operating range. Allowing a horse’s feet to go too long between trimmings most often results in the hoof becoming unbalanced and creating a hazardous condition both to the horse and for the rider.

A simple way to keep track of when your horse needs to have its feet trimmed and re-shod if necessary is to keep a shoeing record. This will allow you, the horse owner to know when your last farrier appointment was, when the next one is scheduled as well as the information about how your horse’s feet are to be trimmed in order to keep it sound.

One of the most important considerations of any hoof care program concerns consistency.

A horse needs to have its feet taking care of for its entire life. In order to provide the best care which will contribute to a long and healthy life, its feet need to be trimmed regularly and once the correct lengths and corresponding hoof angles have been established, you want the feet trimmed the same way every time.

The easiest way to confirm this is happening is to be able to personally check your horse’s feet after they have been trimmed to verify they have been trimmed correctly. Your maintaining a shoeing record will allow you to do this as well as help you manage all aspects of your hoof care program.

I hope I have been able to answer your question in a satisfactory way. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me again, anytime.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you with your question.

Q: How do I find a horse to buy?

 A: Hi,

My first suggestion would be to contact the Agricultural Agent in your area. They should be able to put you in touch with the local Horse Council, horse clubs, 4-H club leader, horse trainers and riding centers in their area of operation. They often know who in the horse world is most likely to be able to help you with your search.

Additionally, you can go online and locate the contact information for the organizations that are dedicated to one specific breed of horse and contact a local chapter near you.

You may wish to contact those people who deal with horses as part of their everyday life, such as farriers and veterinarians, horse shows, rodeos and riding clubs, ranchers and outfitters.

I hope that this gives you a few places to start your search.

Good luck and I wish you the best in finding the horse you are looking for.

Q: How often do you have to change your horses' horseshoe, or does it depend?

A: Hello. Thank you for the question.

The time between “changing” horseshoes varies from horse to horse. And, it usually, but not always, has more to do with the growth rate of the hoof, than the actual wearing out of the horseshoe itself.

Racehorses for example, during the racing season, are usually shod far more often than a typical pleasure horse over the same time period.

The average schedule for most pleasure and show horses, fits somewhere between six and eight weeks. Horses grow hoof at different rates. Some contributing factors include the age of the horse, the quality of its feed, the amount of exercise it receives and climatic changes.

 It is necessary to keep a horse’s feet trimmed within its comfortable operating range. Allowing a horse’s feet to go too long between trimmings most often results in the hoof becoming unbalanced and creating a hazardous condition both to the horse and for the rider.

A simple way to keep track of when your horse needs to have its feet trimmed and re-shod if necessary is to keep a shoeing record. This will allow you, the horse owner to know when your last farrier appointment was, when the next one is scheduled as well as the information about how your horse’s feet are to be trimmed in order to keep it sound.

One of the most important considerations of any hoof care program concerns consistency.

A horse needs to have its feet taking care of for its entire life. In order to provide the best care which will contribute to a long and healthy life, its feet need to be trimmed regularly and once the correct lengths and corresponding hoof angles have been established, you want the feet trimmed the same way every time.

The easiest way to confirm this is happening is to be able to personally check your horse’s feet after they have been trimmed to verify they have been trimmed correctly. Your maintaining a shoeing record will allow you to do this as well as help you manage all aspects of your hoof care program.

As to the actual horseshoe and when to replace it, this also has a “depends” attached to it. I would suggest replacing the shoes at every trimming. The exceptions would be for special corrective shoeing considerations and those cases where there is no sign of wear to the ground surface of the horseshoe.

First and foremost, a new show eliminates the possibility of a shoe with a heavy wear pattern aggravating or intensifying an anomaly in the flight pattern of the leg and foot. I think it takes as much time to shape a new shoe as it does to properly prepare an old shoe to be nailed back on the hoof. With an old shoe, in addition to the wear pattern, you have to consider the condition of the nail holes and whether or not they will still allow for the proper seating of the nails.

Farriers have different opinions as to this and pretty much all aspects of their work. The ideal situation is for the horse owner to locate a farrier that they trust. This includes a willingness to keep the owner informed as well as being willing to listen to the owner and explain the what, how and why they are trimming a hoof in a certain way and most importantly, keeping the horse sound and on its feet.

If you would like to see an example of a shoeing record please follow this link:

http://www.antelopepress.com/horseshoe_record_book.htm

 I hope this helps answer your question. Please feel free to contact me if I you have any others. 

Thanks again.

Q: should my stallion have his front shoes tooken of for season(?)

A: I have found that in most situations, stallions do in fact have their shoes removed before a breeding session. Of course, as there are usually exceptions to every rule, you should consider the needs of your horse as well as the safety of the mares to be bred.

Here are a couple of books that you may find helpful. You might be able to find or request these books from your local library or bookstore. They are also available online.

Modern Horse Breeding: A Guide for Owners by Susan McBane (Author)

Storey's Guide to Raising Horses: Breeding/Care/Facilities by Heather Smith Thomas

Best of luck to you.

Q: One of my horses has nice hard black hooves. She is sound, but I've noticed evenly spaced lines that run parallel with the coronary band on all 4 hooves. The lines are about an inch apart and run down the entire length of the hoof. Any ideas as why they are there?

A: Bill, thanks for asking this question.

Rings that circle the hoof and that run parallel to the coronary band are quite common and are called by a number of names: fever rings, hot rings, grass or growth rings. These rings are normal and can be associated with changes in a horse’s feed, nutritional intake, climatic changes as well as a change in location or other systemic changes in the horse’s environment.

Most rings are indications of things that have happened in the past and are not harbingers of bad things to come.

Rings that are wavy in appearance or those that slope toward the ground at the heels may be cause for concern. Sometimes, but not always, these rings can be associated with founder, especially rings that slope and are widest apart at the heels. Other causes for wavy lines can be thrush, various yeast infections of the hoof, ring bone, side bone, abscesses of the hoof and uneven weight distribution.

A short time ago, I received a similar question. You might enjoy reading that answer. The link below should take you to it.

My horse has rings on his hooves. I never noticed them before and wonder what causes them and if there is something I should do to make them go away?

I hope I’ve been able to answer your question satisfactorily. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Buz

Q: What is the fastest/most effective way to get rid of thrush in your opinion?

A: Thank you for your question regarding “thrush.”

Catching thrush early is important to preventing a minor annoyance from becoming a major hoof problem with the potential to cause serious and permanent injury to your horse.

Entering the term “thrush in horses” into the search box on Google reveals a number of websites where “thrush” is the main topic of discussion.

There are a number of products on the market specifically directed to the horse owner with a thrush problem. I have seen any number of them used with varying results.

Of course, if the thrush has advanced beyond the beginning stage, then I would recommend you contact your farrier and veterinarian in helping you develop a course of action.

The fastest/most effective method I have personally seen used in combating the beginning stages of thrush is with a 50/50 mix of household bleach/tap water solution.

Mixing one part household bleach with one part water and placing the solution in a squirt-type bottle helps prevent any of the solution from splashing into your eyes. Be very careful doing this as the bleach, even diluted, is extremely harmful if allowed to come in contact with your eyes. Needless to say, if your horse does not pick up its feet and stand quietly, I would enlist the aid of your vet or farrier.

First, the hoof is cleaned of all foreign material. This can be accomplished with a hoof pick, brush and running water. The hoof, picked up and held in such a manner as to deflect any of the solution from being accidentally splashed toward your face, should be held as level as possible, sole side up. This allows the solution to be gently squirted into the space between the frog and the sole, the commissure, left there for a short 10 count, before being allowed to drain off.

It is important to note that you do not want to soak the hoof in this solution. This could cause permanent serious injury to the horse. I suggest wrapping a towel around the leg at the coronet to catch any of the solution from running up and onto the horse’s leg. If some of the solution does run onto the leg, simply wash it off with lots of water.

In mild cases of thrush, the application of the solution a couple of times a week seems to take care of the problem.

If the thrush does not go away, or if it becomes worse, then you definitely need to have either a farrier or your vet examine the horse to help determine a proper course of action.

I would like to mention again, that there are a number of commercial products on the market that can be effective against thrush. You might talk to some horse owners in your area to see if they recommend a particular treatment.

Finally, I have seen thrush on horses of every type and in every imaginable situation, including spotless barns and well-tended horses. I believe the best preventive measure involves the cleaning and inspection of a horse’s feet on a regular basis. If thrush does appear, then a regular cleaning schedule gives the horse owner a leg up in ridding your horse of this affliction.

Good luck and I wish you a most enjoyable riding season

Q: What is another name for blacksmith?

A: Other names for blacksmith in the animal husbandry field would include Farrier, Horseshoer, Shoer, Smith, Smithy.

Q: how can i get my horse to take a bit he is very leery and i have tried everything that i have been told. he saddles and rides without a bit but no matter what he will not let me put the headstall over his ears or bit in his mouth please help!

A: I can understand your frustration and hope I can put you in touch with some very knowledgeable and helpful people who will be able to guide you to a solution.

The folks at The Mane Street.com http://www.themanestreet.com/ have a wonderful site that has links to superb trainers as well as some very active forums located at http://www.themanestreet.com/forums/ where you can ask your question and receive answers from people who most likely have experienced a situation similar to yours.

I also recommend you visit HorseCity.com at http://horsecity.com/ as this, too, is a very fine resource for information concerning any problems you may be experiencing with your horse. The people who contribute to the forums are very polite and it has been my experience that they are all more than willing to assist anyone who asks.

One thing both sites have in common is their willingness to share their knowledge in helping one another.

In the meantime, you might check to see if there is a riding club or horse council in your area that may have an individual who could help you out. Sometimes it takes someone who can look at the horse from a different perspective to recognize the problem.

A horse may be reluctant to accept a bit or headstall for any number of reasons. My first suggestion would be to make sure there is not a physical reason, such as a sore mouth, teeth, gums, jaw or ears. You may wish to have a veterinarian help you make this determination.

Once you determine there is no physical reason for the problem, then I would ask if the horse has ever had a bit in its mouth and if so, was this a problem in itself or did he ever accept it readily. If the horse has just recently developed the problem, I would try to discover that cause of his no longer accepting a bit or allowing anything to pass over his ears.

Once you can determine whether the problem is either a physical problem or a simply a training problem, you can develop a plan to overcome the obstacle.

If you post your question to either or both of the forums, be sure and include as much information about your horse as you can. I would include everything from its age, previous training and current riding status, to type of bit as well as a detailed description of when this problem first occurred and how long it has been going on. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for someone to help you out.

In the meantime, I would keep looking for a horse owner or trainer in your area who will be able to come out and observe your horse in person. I think this will provide you with the most likely avenue for success.

If you type the words “training a horse to take a bit” into Google’s search box, I think you will find a number of sites devoted to different aspects of horse training. You may wish to check them out and ask your question on those sites that allow you to do so. This particular site: http://www.horsewhisperer.com/Horse%20Problem%20Solutions/introducing_the_bit.htm has quite a bit of information about horses and getting them to accept a bit.

I wish you the best of luck in solving your problem. Please feel free to contact me again if I can be of further service.

Q: Name of blacksmith's block (?

A: A Blacksmith's Swage Block is a metal block with holes or grooves in it to facilitate the shaping of metal objects.

More information on swage blocks can be found at the following website. http://www.fholder.com/Blacksmithing/swage.htm

Q: How many times do horse shoes have to be changed?

A: Horseshoes are put on a horse for a particular reason or reasons. It may be for a medical reason, corrective shoeing or because of the work and/or work surfaces the horse is going to be asked to traverse

There is no need or benefit to be derived from shoeing a horse simply because everyone else does. If your horse can comfortably and safely perform the work asked of it, without shoes, then shoeing the horse serves no useful purpose.

That being said, how often a set of horseshoes needs to be replaced depends upon the individual circumstances involved. The average time between trimming a horse's hooves is generally somewhere around six (6) to eight (8) weeks. At this time, both you and the farrier will be able to look at the horseshoes and decide if they need to be replaced.

You will need to take into consideration the reason for the horse to be shod in the first place. Perhaps the conditions requiring the shoeing of your horse have changed and you won't need to have it shod at this time.

If the need for shoes still exists, then a decision needs to be made concerning reusing the old shoes or replacing them with new ones.

A main reason for not reusing old shoes is that after being on an active horse's hoof for any length of time, there will be a wear pattern established on the ground surface of the shoe caused by the shoe's contact with the ground. This "worn" area of the shoe can and will aggravate any imperfection in the travel pattern of the leg and hoof. 

It is for this reason that most farriers will replace old shoes with new, even if there does not appear to be that much wear on the shoe and even if the horse has not had much use since the shoes were put on the horse. Irregularities in the way a horse's leg and hoof travel will be greatly exaggerated by even a slightly worn horseshoe. This can lead to degradation of muscle, bone, joints, cartilage and tendons. Definitely not something you want to encourage.

If the reason for the shoes is medical or corrective, then it may be possible to re-set a shoe or shoes, rather than replace it as long as it has not worn to the point of interfering with the travel of the leg and hoof.

As with most things concerning horses, there is no simple answer to this question that can be made without actually being in the company of the horse. Horses grow hoof at different rates and this, too, has  a major impact on how often a horse's feet need to be trimmed.

A record of your farrier appointments will help remind you when it is time for your horse's feet to be trimmed. Knowing exactly how your horse's feet have been set up will allow you to be certain that it is being trimmed the same way each time. A written record provides you with the comfort of knowing that you can show any farrier exactly how you want your horse set up, thereby giving it the opportunity to perform at its best and in a manner most beneficial to itself and to you, the rider.

An example of a very simple, inexpensive shoeing record book can be seen by clicking on the following link: Personal One Year Shoeing Record.

The question of when to replace horseshoes is a very relevant one and one that you should discuss with your farrier.

Thank you for asking this question and please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions concerning your hoof care program.

Q: How many times do horse shoes have to be changed?

A: Horseshoes are put on a horse for a particular reason or reasons. It may be for a medical reason, corrective shoeing or because of the work and/or work surfaces the horse is going to be asked to traverse

There is no need or benefit to be derived from shoeing a horse simply because everyone else does. If your horse can comfortably and safely perform the work asked of it, without shoes, then shoeing the horse serves no useful purpose.

That being said, how often a set of horseshoes needs to be replaced depends upon the individual circumstances involved. The average time between trimming a horse's hooves is generally somewhere around six (6) to eight (8) weeks. At this time, both you and the farrier will be able to look at the horseshoes and decide if they need to be replaced.

You will need to take into consideration the reason for the horse to be shod in the first place. Perhaps the conditions requiring the shoeing of your horse have changed and you won't need to have it shod at this time.

If the need for shoes still exists, then a decision needs to be made concerning reusing the old shoes or replacing them with new ones.

A main reason for not reusing old shoes is that after being on an active horse's hoof for any length of time, there will be a wear pattern established on the ground surface of the shoe caused by the shoe's contact with the ground. This "worn" area of the shoe can and will aggravate any imperfection in the travel pattern of the leg and hoof. 

It is for this reason that most farriers will replace old shoes with new, even if there does not appear to be that much wear on the shoe and even if the horse has not had much use since the shoes were put on the horse. Irregularities in the way a horse's leg and hoof travel will be greatly exaggerated by even a slightly worn horseshoe. This can lead to degradation of muscle, bone, joints, cartilage and tendons. Definitely not something you want to encourage.

If the reason for the shoes is medical or corrective, then it may be possible to re-set a shoe or shoes, rather than replace it as long as it has not worn to the point of interfering with the travel of the leg and hoof.

As with most things concerning horses, there is no simple answer to this question that can be made without actually being in the company of the horse. Horses grow hoof at different rates and this, too, has  a major impact on how often a horse's feet need to be trimmed.

A record of your farrier appointments will help remind you when it is time for your horse's feet to be trimmed. Knowing exactly how your horse's feet have been set up will allow you to be certain that it is being trimmed the same way each time. A written record provides you with the comfort of knowing that you can show any farrier exactly how you want your horse set up, thereby giving it the opportunity to perform at its best and in a manner most beneficial to itself and to you, the rider.

An example of a very simple, inexpensive shoeing record book can be seen by clicking on the following link: Personal One Year Shoeing Record.

The question of when to replace horseshoes is a very relevant one and one that you should discuss with your farrier.

Thank you for asking this question and please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions concerning your hoof care program.

Q: I just bought my first horse. Where do I find a farrier?

A: Congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of the horse. All horses, with notably few exceptions (the main one being wild mustangs that roam freely) need to have their hooves trimmed on a regular basis. Choosing the right individual for this job is critical to the safety and overall well-being of horse and rider.

My first suggestion in locating a farrier would be to ask horse owners in your area for their recommendations. They should be able to tell you who they use and perhaps, just as importantly, who they don’t.

Next, I would check with your veterinarian and see if there is a farrier he or she prefers working with and who may be taking on new horses.

The local Horse Council, Extension service, 4-H equine specialist, boarding stable or a college equine program are all places to find people with horses that may be able to help you locate a farrier. Horse trainers, show barns, rodeos, riding stables and anywhere else you can think of where people and horses get together put you in the position of talking to people who will be speaking from personal experience.

State, provincial and national farrier associations as well as the numerous horseshoeing schools are worth investigating. A lot of this information can be found on the Internet.

Finding the name of a farrier who works in your area is just the beginning. Whoever you choose, you have to choose wisely. All the careful training that makes your horse a joy to be around can be undone in an instant if a farrier loses control and takes his frustrations out on your horse. Ask if you can watch the farrier at work on other horses before making a final decision and request references. If you get references, be sure to check them out. Your horse’s simple ability to walk is going to depend on how serious you take choosing a farrier.

A license, diploma or years of experience are no guarantee that you have found someone who is willing and/or capable of treating you and your horse with respect and consideration and who is able to keep your horse sound. This is why I recommend talking to people with horses, who know how important quality hoof care is and never settle for anyone less than your horse deserves.

Q: Do I need to put horseshoes on my horse or can he go barefoot?

A: If your horse is able to do what you ask it to do, without shoes and without injury, then by all means go barefoot. This is its natural state.

However, bear in mind that the main reason for horseshoes is to provide additional protection for the horse so it can do things that otherwise would render it lame.

For a long time the conventional wisdom was that all horses had to wear horseshoes. If you wanted to be a good horse owner … you put shoes on your horse. It didn’t matter if the horse was ridden once a day, every day or only once a year. Well cared for horses wore horseshoes … period.

Today we recognize that this is simply not true. Barefoot horses compete in just about every venue imaginable. With the advent of glue-on and slip-on shoes and boots, the horse owner has a number of options if the need for temporary extra hoof protection arises. Once the extra hoof protection is no longer needed, you remove it and the horse goes back to being barefoot.

However, there are circumstances where these temporary devices are not practical and/or the horse owner feels that having the horse fitted for horseshoes is necessary in order to insure the safety and comfort of the horse and rider.

This is not a bad thing. The vast majority of shod horses have worn shoes for some, if not most of their lives, without suffering any untoward consequences.

Today there are large numbers of horses living more comfortable and productive lives solely because of corrective shoeing.

Shoes or no shoes …either way, your primary concern should be the comfort and safety of your horse. You have to remember that each horse and situation is different. What works for one may not work for another.

You should discuss this with your farrier. He or she will be able to give you the benefit of their experience while your input as to what you expect of your horse will allow the two of you to formulate a workable hoof care program.

Q: How do you put horseshoes on your horse's feet?

A: "Very carefully" is the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks me about how one goes about shoeing a horse. And this is not a smart-aleck answer ... it is the simple truth.

Basically, the hoof is trimmed to a balanced state, the horseshoe is shaped (either hot or cold) to fit the hoof (not the other way around) and then it is attached to the bottom of the horse's hoof.

Horseshoe nails are the most common method for attaching steel or aluminum horseshoes to a horse's foot.

First the leg is lifted and placed in the farrier's lap or between the farrier's legs.. Then the hoof is cleaned and the bottom of the hoof tended to, which usually involves a razor sharp hoof knife. The hoof wall is trimmed using the equine version of nail clippers ... only the ones your farrier uses are about fifteen inches long with a cutting head also honed to a razor's edge.

Next, the equine equivalent of an emery board is used to smooth and flatten the bottom of the hoof in order for it to mate perfectly with the hoof surface of the horseshoe. The rasp used in this process is approximately eighteen inches long and an inch and a half wide. It has a rough side and a not-so-rough side. Either one will file off a layer of the toughest hoof in a single pass and will definitely remove more than one layer of human hide if the farrier slips. The rasp is also used to remove any flaring of the hoof wall. This  involves holding the hoof in your lap in different positions in order to wield the rasp properly. Or, the horse may be required to place his foot on a foot stand as an alternative to this bit of acrobatics.

Depending on the quality of the hoof, the work surface to be encountered, the type of activities to be performed and any seasonal considerations involved, a particular type of shoe will be chosen and shaped to fit the foot.

Now comes the part that you really have to wonder about. You are going to ask the horse to stand still, no flinching, pulling back or jerking its foot away allowed, while you hammer very sharp nails into the bottom of its feet and finish the job by cutting off the excess nail and applying the "clinch" that holds the shoe to the hoof. Of course, the nails are placed in such a manner as to inflict no pain upon the horse.

Shoeing a horse may not be rocket science, but you miss with a nail and you are pretty much guaranteed a "launch" that will involve a short flight and a hard landing.

The opportunity for serious life-threatening injury is literally a fly bite away for both horse and farrier.

I cannot think of any other animal that is asked to stand quietly while going through a similar process or any job where an individual hammers nails into the feet of  a thousand pounds of living, breathing, quick as lightening, kick you into the next solar system, trust you explicitly, soft-eyed creature that allows this to happen every six to eight weeks of its entire life.

There are alternatives to nail-on horseshoes. Slip-on and glue-on shoes offer the horse owner an option to nail-on horseshoes. However, the feet still have to be trimmed and even if the horse is going to remain barefoot, whoever is going to be working under the horse is depending on the naturally good nature (and training) of the horse to get the job done without complications..

The horse owner and the hoof care provider should get together and jointly determine what the proper hoof care program is for the individual horse.

Like just about everything in life, no one is born knowing how to trim and shoe a horse. If this is something you wish to do, then by all means make the effort to locate a horseshoeing school or farrier to teach you the skills you'll need to successfully take care of your horse's feet. 

A large number of people take care of their own horse's feet. This is not a job that depends upon brute strength to complete. Horses have all the muscles they need to lift and hold their feet in the necessary positions in order for the work to be done. That being said, I have found nothing else that compares to putting yourself in the various positions needed to do farrier work. Do this on a regular basis and you will be in shape in no time at all and be able to complete the job without discomfort.

... very carefully indeed!

Q: The other morning when I went to take my pony out of her stall, I noticed she had extreme weakness in her front legs and was very reluctant to move.  The day before she was out in the pasture with the other horses but off in the back, without them, which is really not like her.  Her feed has not changed and there are no signs of wounds, swelling or any of the like.  If I pick up her front foot, either one, her legs shake and she falls down.  Please give me some ideas on what could be the sudden cause of this severe weakness, lameness.  

A: While it is always difficult to prescribe a course of action without actually being able to be 'hands on' with the horse, in your case, with what you are describing happening to your horse, I would suggest scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Anytime a horse is unable to stand and is exhibiting behavior as you describe, then my first recommendation would be to consult with your vet and farrier.

If all of the horses are eating and drinking from the same sources and if the pony is the only one exhibiting symptoms, hopefully a further examination of the pony will reveal a cause.

You mention that when you pick up either of her front feet, she falls down. Is there a similar reaction when you pick up her hind feet?

Is she standing with her feet under her as she would normally?

While waiting for your vet to arrive, I would suggest checking the soles of her feet for puncture wounds, abscesses or any other severe trauma (a nail or sliver of wood or wire) to the bottom of her feet. Any of these can cause unbearable pain to the horse.

The same for her legs (any porcupines about?) but only if you are comfortable handling her in this way.

It is possible that in her current state that she will not react as she normally would. Be careful!

I would check for evidence that she may have been kicked or possibly collided with an object in the pasture or stall.

You say “the other morning …” and “the day before she was out …” so I’m assuming that this situation has been ongoing for a few days. Is the pony getting better … worse or has she stabilized in her current state?

How is she eating and drinking? Is her digestive track functioning normally along with her kidneys?

How about her teeth and gums? Is there an odd odor to her breath? Are her eyes clear and normal?

The symptoms you describe are so disturbing that I believe your situation warrants a visit from a veterinarian.

I’m sorry that I am unable to be more specific, but as I said earlier, without being there and actually seeing the horse and being able to discuss the situation with you onsite, I would recommend a visit from the vet.

Please feel free to contact me at bensmithin@montana.com  if you would like to discuss this further. Also, I will be very interested in knowing what you find out as to the cause of your pony’s lameness.

 Best of luck to you and your pony.

 

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