Understanding the Basics Of Horseshoeing
There are some very simple procedures that the horse owner should know about when having their horse shod.
Firstly the hoof should be dressed flat with the heels of the hoof level with the ground surface of the frog, and the toe should be dressed down to the white line which will be level with the sole. When this is done the farrier should have a level surface for the shoe to be nailed to.
The wall of the hoof should be kept fairly even, especially round the toe area as the hoof wall will generally grow thicker at the toe when the horse is shod. This can be easily achieved by taking the hoof forward and rasping the toe back prior to fitting the shoe. This will ensure that the horse has a natural pastern hoof axis – by this I mean when you stand at the side of your horse on a level surface, you should be able to draw an imaginary line down through the pastern and hoof that is in line.
Not all horses have a perfect pastern hoof axis but when you let your horse wear his feet down naturally, you will find that he always realigns to his pastern hoof axis. Even when the toe wall is too thick, he will wear a break over at the toe to compensate.
Having achieved the correct hoof preparation we are now ready to fit the shoe. It is important that the correct type of shoe is selected that will suit your horse and the job that you want to do with your horse. Shoes can be fitted either hot or cold – this depends on your farrier and the conditions with which he has to work in. He naturally won’t be able to shoe your horse hot if it is a total fire ban day and you are out in the open.
There are benefits in shoeing hot as it seals up the tubules that have a membrane in them and keeps the moisture in the hoof. It also cauterises any infections in the white line.
When selecting the appropriate shoe for your horse you need to consider how thick the wall of the hoof is as this determines weather a wide webbed shoe with the nails placed towards the center of the shoe is suitable. If the wall of the hoof is thin and a wide webbed shoe with coarse nails is applied, the nails will enter the hoof wall through the white line and over a period of time can cause an infection.
Mustad Australia sells various types of steel horseshoes and aluminium horseshoes to suit horses with both thick and thin walls, and these shoes come in various widths but have the nail holes placed closer to the outside edge of the shoe. This caters for horses that have thin walls but still need to have a reasonably wide shoe.
Once the hoof is dressed the shoe should then be fitted to the hoof with the heels of the shoe coming right back and finishing at the heel of the hoof. Shoes should never be fitted short of the heels as this will cause all sorts of hoof and leg problems. Nails should be driven up about a third of the way up the hoof as this ensures a strong nailing into strong hoof wall.