Is there anything more annoying than when you get your horse in from the field to ride only to find he’s lost a shoe? Not only does it mean your ride is immediately put on the back burner, but you then have the problem of getting your farrier out ASAP to put it back on — and what to do with the shoe-less hoof in the meantime?

Farrier Jack Climo shares his insight as to what could be causing your horse to lose his shoes.

1. He pulls them off himself

“When a horse loses a shoe it’s often a front shoe, and it’s caused by the back foot coming into contact with the front shoe, either through forging or overreaching,” says Jack.

Overreaching is where the toe of the hindfoot comes into contact with the heel or pastern region of the front hoof. Forging is where the toe of the hindfoot comes into contact with the sole of the front hoof.

“A front shoe can also be pulled off if the horse’s other front foot stands on the inside of the hoof,” continues Jack. “There are odd cases when a hind shoe gets pulled off, such as if the other hind foot stands on the inside of the other shoe and pulls it off, or another horse stands on the shoe and pulls it off, such as if they are playing in the field together.”

Shoes can also be lost or twisted if the horse gets its hoof stuck in something such as a fence, bucket or haynet, or goes into deep mud.

2. His conformation

“There are a million reasons why some horses are more likely to pull shoes,” says Jack. “Conformation is a big indicator. If you’ve a horse with a short back and long legs, they are more likely to pull shoes off. If you have a horse who tracks up well, they are more likely.”

3. The type of shoes he wears

“Horses with a broken back pastern axis (long toes and low heels) are typically shod with more shoe sticking out of the back to offer heel protection and encourage heel growth,” explains Jack. “Having more steel sticking out of the back increases the risk of them standing on their heels with the back feet.

“You have to weigh up whether it’s more beneficial to support the poor conformation or shoe the horse to prevent lost shoes. The problem is that only shoeing to prevent lost shoes and not to support the hoof will cause issues over time.”

4. The duration of his shoeing cycle

“They either lose them within the first week or in the last week before they are due to be shod,” states Jack. “When horses are freshly shod, there can be a lot of steel sticking out of the back of the shoe, as already mentioned, which means there is more of an edge for them to catch.

“At the end of the shoeing cycle, their feet will be longer, so they’ll be more likely to stand on their front feet with their hind feet because there is more surface area.

“With longer feet, it’s like walking with flippers and you have to lift the foot higher to break over,” adds Jack. “Ensuring an appropriate length of hoof is vital to prevent shoe loss.”

5. Hoof conditions

Certain conditions, such as ringbone or sidebone, can increase a horse’s risk of losing shoes.

“They cause the horse to overreach or forge because they will be hesitant to articulate the joints of the front feet, meaning that they are slower at getting out of the way of the hind feet.”

6. Dry, weak hoofs

“Throughout all the seasons, you are trying to keep an ideal moisture content throughout the hoof. This is difficult in this country because of the sudden extremes of weather we can experience,” says Jack. “In the summer, soak the feet and apply a thin oil layer, so that you help trap the water in but don’t prevent more moisture getting in.

“In the winter, you want to keep the feet drier so wash the mud off and then dry before applying a thicker hoof oil.”

A crumbly, weak hoof will be more likely to lose shoes and can be a sign of a diet lacking in nutrients.

“Hoof supplements can help — look for products with a high level of biotin and remember that it takes new hoof nine-12 months to grow fully from coronet band to the floor, so give it plenty of time to get in the horse’s system and work. Ask your farrier what they recommend for your horse’s feet.”

Meet the expert: Jack Climo Dip WCF is a farrier based in Worcestershire. Jack qualified in November 2019 from Warwickshire College and returned home to Worcestershire to set up his own farriery business. He shoes all shapes and sizes of horses and ponies, from leisure horses to three-day eventers.

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