Thursday, 26 March 2015

All About .... The Hot Shoeing Process

Back in January I blogged about Shoes and Shoeing.  Today's blog is all about the process of shoeing and hoof trimming.  An increasing number of people like to keep their horses 'barefoot' now ie: without shoes, and if it works for them that is great.  There are still a majority that have their horses shod, Basil is shod but  Chesney and Fidget are not as they do not go out on hard man made surfaces.

In the UK only qualified Farriers can shoe a horse.  The Farriers Registration Council have a list of qualified Farriers on their website! 

The Tools

  • Drawing Knife: trims the horn, sole and frog

  • Driving Hammer: used with the buffer to raise the clenches and to hammer the nails into the hoof, it is also used to trim the ends of the nails
  •  Clenching Tongs or Nail Clencher: used to fold over the ends of the nails so that they are flush with the hoof wall

  •  Rasp: levels the surface of the foot and finishes off around the edge once the shoe is on

  •  Pritchel: carries the hot shoe from the anvil to the foot

  •  Buffer: raises the clenches
  • Pincers: these are used to lever off the shoe

  •  Hoof Cutters: trim the hoof (one side has a sharp blade, the other is square)


Taking each foot at a time and usually starting with the front the farrier removes the shoes as follows:
  1. Holding the shoe between their legs the farrier will put the buffer under each clench and use the Driving Hammer to knock the clench end up.  
  2. Taking the Pincers the farrier levers off the shoe.  Starting with the outside heel the farrier moves the Pincers forward away from the hoof.  The same is then done with the other heel. Next the outside quarter of the shoe is prised away and then the inside quarter.  Finally the toe of the shoe as the whole shoe is prised away. 
  3. The farrier then uses the Hoof Cutters to cut excess hoof growth away.  This is the crucial part where the balance of the foot must be correct! 
  4. The Drawing Knife tidies up the foot and the frog. 
  5. The Rasp levels the foot. 
  6. The Drawing Knife is used to make a gap in the hoof wall for the toe clip (or clips) 
  7. Usually whilst this is happening the shoes will be heating up in the forge. 
  8. When the shoe is red-hot the farrier uses a pair of Tongs to take the shoe to the anvil. 
  9. The shoe is hammered to the approximate shape and size of the hoof and then the Pritchel is driven into one of the nail holes to carry it to the horse. 
  10. The shoe is then 'burned' onto the foot.  These marks will show the farrier how well the shoe fits and how flat the foot is. 
  11. The foot may then be trimmed a little more but usually the shoe is hammered to the correct shape for the foot. 
  12. Once the farrier is happy with the shape he will move on to the next foot. 
  13. Once all shoes are ready they are then secured onto the foot.  Usually 3 nails are used on the inside of the foot and 4 to the outside.  This can vary depending on the condition of the hoof. 
  14. The farrier will firstly put a nail in near the toe to prevent the shoe slipping.  The nail is hammered in between the outside of the hoof and the whiteline.  The end of the nail is then twisted off leaving only a short length. 
  15. Once all the nails have been hammered into the foot the farrier will use the Rasp to smooth off the twisted edges of the nails and will make a small 'bed' for the nail in the wall. 
  16. The Clenching Tongs are then used to make the clenches ie: bend the nail end over into the 'bed' .
  17. The toe clip is then knocked into place with the Hammer.


Unshod horses or ponies still need their hooves trimming regularly.  Trimming will maintain the shape of the foot and so the foot balance.  It also helps keep a level bearing surface.   This will reduce the chance of strain to the horses leg from incorrect movement.

As an owner you can help your farrier by providing the following:
  • a clean, dry standing area with good light and a non-slip surface 
  • a secure and safe ring for tying the horse 
  • a properly fitted, sound headcollar with a good rope of adequate length 
  • competent assistance available, should the farrier require it 
  • protection from rain, wind and bad weather (this can be more difficult)

Other things you can do are:
  • ensure the shoeing area is safe for the horse and farrier 
  • ensure that the horse is used to being handled and having his feet picked up (it is NOT the farrier's responsibility to teach your horse to lift his feet!) 
  • if required have a companion animal close by 
  • agree with the farrier regarding management of the horse and methods of control in the event of the horse being difficult 
  • understand that the farrier has the right to decline to shoe a horse or discontinue shoeing if it is felt that to proceed would compromise their own health and safety or that of others or the horse.

Finding a good, reliable farrier can be difficult so treat them well!  I have a fantastic farrier who I book in regularly every 6 weeks and pay on time.  I provide the points above, give him coffee and he has been looking after my boys for many, many years now!  

Have you seen this weeks video 'My Spring Favourites' ? Horse Life and Love
Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

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Until next time!

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