Not all horses need a set of shoes, but there are times we might take the horses shoes off or if a horse is working on a surface a lot you might keep the front shoes on and the back shoes off.
A paddock trim is what your farrier might do if you have a brood mare or some horses have hard enough horn in the walls of their feet that they can go without shoes. When you are thinking of doing this, it is a good idea to chat with your farrier as not all horses are good in this situation.
There used to be a part shoe called a grass tip which used to be used when you turn a horse away. Now, we tend to turn a horse out with front shoes on, as the grass tips could cause a problem with cracking where you might have two toe clips.
Some horses are great without shoes and it suits them really well. Above you can see a horse with very strong hooves. Some get abscesses a lot and it is better for them to have their shoes on. When it comes down to it, all horses are individuals and you might want to go down the natural root, but depending on your horse you need to do what helps your horse.
As we explained in the post about hot shoeing a farrier is trained for over five years and he or she has to take into consideration the structure of the horse or pony and their bio-mechanics. There are also Barefoot trimmers who have been on a course and have worked with trained individuals but, might not have worked as long as a farrier has.
I would take off a horse’s shoe if it was in a problem, but I would never in 35 plus years of working in around horse every think I could trim a horse’s hoof. In writing this blog I have looked at both a farrier and their paddock trims and barefoot trimmers. I know that some barefoot trimmers have done some good work, but I have to trust the farriers I have worked with and I have also know people that have wanted to go down the natural root with their horses and ended up back with the traditional farrier.
It is a personal choice, but at the end of the day it is what is best for your horse. Most farriers will come out to your horse every four to six weeks and a barefoot trimmer tends to come out every four weeks. Some ponies have been known to go eight weeks, this again depends on the horse or pony, but six weeks due to hoof growth tends to be the norm.
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All horses need their feet looking at approximately every four to six weeks. In this blog post we are doing to go through the process of ‘hot’ shoeing a horse and what happens during this process.
We talked about how to prepare for the farrier in the last blog Keeping your farrier happy. Nearly all farriers have a website, and are contactable by phone in the modern climate. It is straight forward to get hold of a farrier, as you can go to the Registered List where you will find all the registered farriers in the United Kingdom.
It is a good idea to have your horse in and ready for your farrier, on a flat area and the horses feet dry and ready for shoeing. If the horse is new to you it is a good idea to find out from the previous owner how they are to be shod and what they are used to. This is so you can tell your farrier and have an idea yourself. Most horses are happy with the process, but it is good to know the history.
You can also let your farrier know what type of horse you have got and what work they are going to do. This will give your farrier chance to have the correct type of shoes on board so that they can fit the shoe to the horse and not the horse to the shoe.
Removing the Shoes.
The farrier will first remove the shoes of the horse. To do this he will need his hammer, buffer and pincers. The hammer and buffer will knock up the clenches (the end of the nails on the wall of the horses hoof) on the side of the hoof and then having knocked up all the clenches, using the pincers the farrier is able to take off the shoe.
Once the farrier has lifted up all the clenches, he then takes the shoe with the pincers and lifts off the shoe. There is usually three nails on the inside of the hoof and four nails on the outside, as a guide allowing less chance for the inside clenches to cause a problem. This looks easier than it is and when a farrier does it, it looks like he pulls the shoe off at the toe, when he is making sure that he pulls the shoe off level and does not brake the wall off the hoof.
Once the shoes is off the farrier can get a good look at the hoof and start to dress the hoof with the paring knife and rasp. This is a skill that each farrier has under gone over a five year apprenticeship to achieve. We are allowed to take our own horse’s shoes off, if the need arises. For instance, if the shoe gets sprung (when the shoe twists and moves on the horse’s hoof) or if a nail has come out and the shoe is in a difficult position.
If is a good idea to have a buffer, hammer and a pair of pincers just in case you need to take a shoe off. It is also an idea to ask you farrier to show you how, just in case you are caught out with a shoe half off.
We are not qualified or legally allowed to shoe a horse. In the five years the farrier is training they study the anatomy of the horse, it’s legs and feet and how the hoof grows. It is not something that can be done easily and a lot of hard work, time and skill goes into this process.
After the shoe is taken off, the farrier needs to ‘dress’ the hoof. They will take into consideration the growth of the hoof and how the confirmation of the horse affects the hoof.
In the pictures above, Sam is dressing the hoof and looking to see what he needs to do and how much hoof has grown over the last six weeks. Silvie is slightly pigeon toed. This is where her toes point inwards and this has to be taken into consideration.
When a farrier dresses a hoof, he needs to look at the growth on the frog as well. The horse’s wall, sole and frog, all grow rather like our nails. These areas like our nails are not tender if treated correctly. Always remember the saying ‘no foot, no horse’ which is so true. All of the horse’s weight is on their limbs and feet and if the foot is in pain or has a problem this stops the horse from doing anything. This is why farriers have to train for such a long time, so they do not hurt the sensitive part of the horse’s hoof.
Once the hoof is ready the farrier will forge the shoe.
Forging The Shoe.
The farrier will have a size of shoe ready to use, or if the shoe hasn’t worn to much he will replace the shoe. This process is call ‘removes’. For both processes you need to heat the shoe.
A farrier will have a mobile forge in the van and is able to heat the shoe up to a very hot heat. This is why you also need to provide a bucket of water, so that the shoe can be cooled off after it has been shaped as required.
The farrier will have made the shoes earlier or theses days they can get different weights and sizes made and get them ready for their clients horses. They are then able to on site fit the shoe to the horse, not the horse’s hoof to the shoe.
Once the shoe is near the size and shape required the farrier will take the shoe to the horse and see if it fits or it there are any more adjustments to be made.
The farrier will take the hot shoe to the horse and check it’s fit and shape. This does not hurt the horse. Some horses do not like the smoke and have to be ‘cold shod’ which can be done if necessary. Some horses are also barefoot, all processes can be used and we will discuss the other systems in another blog post.
This process does help the shoe ‘sit’ to the horse and it gives the farrier chance to see if any work needs to be done on the shoe. Most farriers tend to do the two front shoes and then the two back shoes. This allows the horses to be comfortable on their front feet and stand easier whilst the back shoes are being done.
Once they have taken off the front shoes and have forged the shoes the will then nail on the front shoes and finish them before doing the back shoes.
Once the shoe is forged the farrier might file down the heals with a rasp as this will encourage the horse to not step on the heals of the shoe. Here Sam is using the anvil and a anvil vice to hold the shoe.
Nailing on the Shoe.
Once the shoe is ready the farrier will nail on the shoe to the horse. He will work with the area between the white line (the line between the sole and the wall). This area does not have any feeling and the farrier will work at keeping the nail in this small area. If the nail gets to close to the white line you can have a ‘nail bind’ or a ‘pricked foot’. Your farrier gets to know your horse really well and understands where the best area is on your horses hoof to nail on too.
Once all the nails have been nailed in the farrier will work on the clenches and finish off the hoof. To do this he will use the buffer and the hammer again.
In the picture above Sam is working with the buffer and hammer to set the clenches in. Then the farrier uses the clencher to secure the clenches. The horse’s hoof is on a foot stand , this helps keep the hoof still and allows the farrier to work on the hoof.
Once the clenches have been done the farrier rasps the hoof to finish off the hoof. This will allow the farrier to look at the hoof and check his work.
Above are the finished shoes. You can see the toe clip and that the shoe has been made to fit the hoof. This hoof has one toe clip and is a front shoe. Back shoes and some front shoes will have two toe clips. This is because with a back shoe the toe clip does not catch the heals of the front foot when the horse is working.
With a front shoe, two clips are used to balance a shoe that might have long heals to protect the heals of the horse. All the clenches are tight and the shoe has been finished well.
I would like to say a big thank you to Sam Phelps for letting me use pictures of him for the blog and a big thank you for the work he does with Silvie and Lolly.
We will be covering cold shoeing and barefoot in a future blog, so keep your eyes out for our new posts. If you have enjoyed reading this please feel free to leave your email on our site and we can keep you connected with the blogs we are writing. Thank you.
Are you ready for your farrier to visit?
Your horse really needs shoeing about every 4 to 6 weeks. Some ponies manage to go 7 to 8 weeks depending on the growth of their feet. So it is good to make sure you have a good area that your farrier can work on.
First a flat area preferably concrete that the farrier can look at the horse and his hoof and work out what needs to be done.
If at all possible and area that has a roof over it so that both the horse and the farrier can stay dry whilst the horse is being shod.
A good natural source of light and if your are going into winter lights, so that the farrier can see what he is doing.
The horses feet to be dry and clean; some old towels also help take the dirt of the horse’s hoof.
A bucket of water ready for the hot shoes to be cooled off.
Have your horses or ponies in so that the farrier can get on with his work and then if at all you get caught out sometime, they are more likely to get a horse in for you.
Plenty of tea and coffee, white one sugar! Also biscuits.
It is also an idea to have the string ready on the ring ties and if you have a horse that might pull back, make sure you undo the knot so that they do not break free and are easier to keep hold of.
Remember if you look after your farrier he or she will look after you after all there is truth in the saying ‘no foot, no horse’ and 90 % of all lameness start in the foot.
We will be covering shoeing in the next couple of blog posts, so if you would like to know more about what is happening please feel free to leave your email address on the hot off the hoof blog or like our page Sam Goss Coaching on Facebook.
There are several types of clip that you can use when clipping you horse or pony. Depending on what type of work your horse will do throughout the winter and whether the horse or pony will be turned out or not.
This is when all of the hair is taken off the horse. Some full clips keep the hair on the legs of the horse. They also have a small area on the horses back about the size of the panels on the saddle. This clip has become more popular with dressage horses, show horses and ponies and some show jumpers. I do find that it can cause some problems with the hair being taken off the horses legs, as this can cause some skin problems like mud fever.
This is when the hair is left on the legs of the horse and a saddle patch is left on the horse. Some times you can leave a line down the checks of the horse if you have a horse that doesn’t like their ears being clipper or if they are turned out to grass a lot throughout the winter.
This is when your leave an area of hair over the back of the horse. You can take the hair off the horse’s neck and under the belly, but leave a line in line with the bottom of the saddle cloth, up to the withers and an arch around the area above the horses stifle where the hair goes in different directions.
This is where the hair is taken off the horse from a diagonal line from the crest to the stifle. This clip has been used by racing yards a lot, hence the name Chaser Clip. This clip has become more popular with horses that live out over the winter as you keep the hair on over the back. Also the hair is left on the legs of the horse.
This clip is when a line is left in the area where the traces would have been on a trap. So the hair would be left on the legs and then clipped off the belly, lower neck and a line left in line with the bottom of the saddle flap and up the next to the check. Some people also go down the line of the check pieces on the bridle.
This clip is a good one for ponies that live out and do a lot of winter pony club rallies and competitions.
Neck and belly clip.
This is when you just clip the hair off the lower area of the neck and the belly. Horses with lots of hair and do light work throughout the winter, find this a great clip to stop them getting too hot after work.
Key hole Clip.
This is when you just clip the hair off the lower part of the neck and around the front of the chest of the horse. Again, this is a good clip for ponies that do not have to do a lot of work in the winter, it allows them not to sweat up too much when they do some work, but allow them to stay warm in winter.
It has become popular to clip stars, hearts and different things on ponies and horses, just make sure you have someone that is good at clipping and can do these shapes, so that it looks neat and tidy.
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Ready to Clip.
So here we go, you have sorted out an area to clip as shown in our blog Preparation for Clipping.. You have put the clippers together as we did in the blog Clipping with battery Clippers. So now it is the clipping.
First you need to have the horse ready. You can see below that we have put Cass’s mane
up in plaiting bands, so that we can get to each side of his neck and not get pieces of the mane caught in the clippers and see where the mane starts and the hair finishes. Getting too close to the mane can cause the main to come out.
Also we have put his tail in a tail bandage, this makes sure that again you do not get any hairs in the clippers and if you are going around the hind quarters you can see where you need to go and be aware of the horse’s hind legs.
If you haven’t clipped before or if you’re not good at lines, you can use either some saddle soap with water or chalk to draw the lines you are going to use. This way you can match up the lines on both sides. A lot of people who have clipped for some time find it straight forward to clip and understand the horse’s body and lines so do not use them. It depends on the situation and what you feel happier doing.
Make sure you have the correct tension on the clipping blades Usually you tighten the spring above the blades and when the noise changes on the blades, turn two had half turns back. This is just a rule of thumb and you need to check each pair of clippers as you use them. This will make sure that the clippers and the blades do not work to hard and get to hot.
When clipping make sure the blades do not get hot. Give them time to cool down and add clipping oil between the blades and in the small hole under the spring, to help the blades run more smoothly. This will make sure the horse hair doesn’t get caught in the blades and then the blades get too hot and this can cause the horse to twitch, move around and get unsettled.
Once all this is done you can quietly turn on the clippers and I usually do this near the horse’s neck on the near (left) side of the horse. If you gently turn them on and start at the neck the horse will quietly get used to the sound. If you have a nervous horse it is good to have a helper and possibly a hay net tied up at a sensible height. You could also have another horse (a friend of the horse you are clipping) tied up with them if the other horse likes to be clipped.
Once you start clipping it is a good idea to have one hand on the horses body and the
other on the clippers. You want to go towards the direction of the coat and have the whole of the clipper blade flat on the horse’s skin. Also, do not press too hard but firm enough that you take the hair off and do not cause any lines. Practice makes perfect, so if you know someone who has a good horse to clip it is a good idea to ask if you can help them and get some tips.
Always have the horse tied up to string even if you don’t have any tie rings. You can also get Safe-T-Tie which can be used and break if the horse pulls back. If you are going near the head you can untie the quick release knot and it makes it easier to gently clip around the face.
When moving over areas where there are uneven surfaces like the shoulder, put the skin firmly with your other hand, as shown above, this will allow you to have an even clip on the skin.
When you need to get a straight line it is a good idea to line the blades up with the area you would like to clip and gently put the blades away. As you can see below, this will
allow you to get a straight edge. This is handy to know especially if you are doing a chaser, trace, or blanket clip. In these pictures we are doing a chaser clip, which is good for horses and ponies that are in work and go out to grass in the winter.
When you need to clip inside of the elbow, you can use an assistant to pull the front leg forward or if you are experienced and the horse you are doing is quiet enough you can hold the leg yourself. This horse is very quiet and I was able to demonstrate this procedure. It is much safer to have someone pull the leg forward.
When clipping the head, you can loosen the rope that the horse is tied to and with the help of an assistant gently clip around the jaw. I tend to leave the hairs around the nose on as they have lots of tiny sensors in them. If you like you can go to the line that would run where the cheek pieces of the bridle lie on the cheek of the horse or you can clip the whole head.
If you are going to do the whole head it is good to know if the horse is comfortable with this and have an assistant to help hold the horse. When you are moving around the face, it is good to undo the head collar and then you can move about the jaw a lot easier.
Sometimes, it is good to use cordless clippers then these are quieter and easier to use in that area. If the horse is happy to have his ears done then you can go around the outside, it is not advisable to clip inside the ears. The hair in a horse ear is to protect the sensitive parts of the ear.
Here you can see the bottom of the head collar undone and the clipper just finishing off on the off (right) side of the horse. As I have said before, this horse is very good to clip so we have tied him back up having had the knot undone for working around his head.
Once you have clipped the horse you can wipe the horse over with warm water and surgical spirit this bringing all the grease and dust to the surface and you can clean the horse ready for his or her rugs. This can be done with a chamois leather and doesn’t leave too much water on the surface of the horse.
Once you have clipped the horse, cleaned him off and put his rug on and you also need to clean the clippers.
Using a small brush, brush off the hair and unscrew the blades. You need to get all the hair out of the head of the clippers and between the blades. Also check any areas that have a cooling vent for the motor inside the clippers and these need the filters cleaned and brushed out as well.
Once you have cleaned the clippers off you can then put them away and I usually wrap them up in a slightly oiled cloth as this helps maintain them.
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What’s great with this modern age is that many clipper manufactures now have battery clippers. These are great to use and the more modern ones are quieter and help horses that do not like being clipped or having the electric cable around on the floor looking like a snake.
Above is a picture of a showman battery pack, you can get these with a set of clippers and blades from different suppliers like Amazon, and search for Horse Clippers.
The latest clippers are a little more modern, but as you can see from these pictures they last a while. I have had these lister clippers for over 5 years and with regular servicing and care can last.
As you can see the cable connects to the battery and you can attach the battery around your waist. There is also a loop that you can put around your wrist whilst clipping and this will make sure you do not drop the clippers and brake either the clipper or the clipping blades.
If the clipping blades brake, this will lead to lines in the clipping and will give you an uneven clip.
It is usual to use A2 Clipping Blades. You can get these from most saddlers locally to you, but you can also buy them online from Amazon. As you can see there are two blades and the blades come in pairs.
When you start clipping you need to consider all the points in our previous blog post Preparation for clipping. where we look at the area you are going to use and what you might want to wear etc.
Fitting Clipping Blades.
When you are ready to clip you need to have a look at the blades and make sure they are the correct tension. Below we have some pictures of how to fit the blades. FIrst, you need to make sure that the blades and clippers have been kept clean and that the blades are sharp enough to use.
Above you can see the Clippers and both blades ready to fit. The smaller of the blades on first. Then when they are in place then you put the larger blade on as you can see below.
Once you have put both the blades on then you can put the screw through from the flat surface of the blades.
Once the screw is in place then put the spring in place.
Once this is in place you can put the nut on the top of the screw.
When you have put the blades in place you need to add some clipper oil, This you can squirt into the whole under the nut and spring and add between the blades.
Once the blades are on you can turn the clippers on and adjust the tension. This you can do by tightening the nut until the sounds changes from the blades running and then turn the nut half a turn back on its self. This usually gives you the correct tension to clip.
Whilst clipping make sure that the blades do not get hot and give the Clippers a break when you can feel some heat. If you can feel the heat so can your horse, and this can put them off clipping.
Make sure you clean the clippers and blades as you clip and that you add oil regularly so that the give the horse or pony a good experience. We will be looking at clipping in the next blog and if you would like to keep ahead of our blog please feel free to leave your email on our website or like our Facebook page Sam Goss Coaching.
A lot has been written about clipping, but very rarely do you hear about what you need before you start to clip.
When you think about clipping you need to make sure you have a safe environment. You are dealing with a live animal and electricity. We do have battery clippers these days and they can help with taking the cable element out of the equation, but you need to make sure that all your bases are covered.
First of all, you need to have boots that have a rubber sole, this will make sure you are not a conductor for electricity. Also, it is advisable to wear overalls as clipping can get horse hair everywhere on your clothes and on your body. Also, something that can cover your hair as well and allow you to see what you are doing.
The area that you would like to clip needs to be well lit and if at all possible natural light as this will allow you to see better. Sometimes, in winter and with the darker nights drawing in it is not always possible, but good planning helps with a better quality clip.
If at all possible the floor could have rubber mats on it, which will allow the horse to stand comfortably and with the bedding out of the way so that all the hair does not drop into the bedding. This takes ages to pick up and you end up loosing bedding in the process. Also, have two tie rings so that the horse can have a hay net to keep him/her busy and a tie-ring and string to attach the horse too.
Any plugs need to have a circuit breaker. These stop any electrical surges causing a problem when you are clipping the horse. If something goes wrong with the electrics then both you and the horse could get an electrical shock. The circuit breaker can stop this. Also, any water needs to be kept away from the area you are clipping in and also on a similar note, it is impossible to clip a wet horse as the hair clumps together and blunts the clippers and would also be a problem with the electrics.
So, it is necessary to:
- Make sure the area you are using is dry and out of the wind.
- The area needs to be well lit, preferably with natural light.
- Make sure all plugs have a circuit breaker.
- Surfaces should have rubber mats down.
- At least two tie rings and string to secure the horse and tie a hay net.
- The horse needs to be familiar with the area and have a rug ready to put over it they get cold.
- If necessary a help to lift any legs when clipping under the elbows and to help if the horse needs support.
Also, when clipping make sure you have chalk or saddle soap to mark out the clip you are doing to use. Many people that have clipped for some time have a good eye with lines and shapes, but it is good practice to have the area marked out as there is nothing more annoying than wonky lines and clipping too much hair off a horse.
Make sure that you also have your clippers, blades, and oil available ready to clip and if at all possible have another set of clippers and blades around in case these do not work.
Having got all of the above together you will be ready to clip your horse or pony. If you have enjoyed reading this, please feel free to sign up to our newsletter here on the website for this blog or like my Facebook page Sam Goss Coaching @SamGossCoaching and you will be able to keep up with all our information.
After our first blog post about cleaning and preparing stud holes for horseshoes, I have taken some pictures of different types of studs and the tapper that you use for cleaning the stud holes so that you can get an idea of the different types of studs available.
This first picture is of a ‘tapper’. These are used to re-thread the thread in the stud holes. This is a traditional one and you can see where the dirt can come out on the areas that are grooved out. You can also get tappers that have a solid plastic circular top, which helps when the horse puts his hoof down and you can’t hold the horse’s leg up any longer if he/she is moving about and not relaxed.
You can use different types of studs and people have different ideas. I personally have two stud holes in each shoe, so that the hoof isn’t unbalanced from left to right. Lucinda Green MBE and Russel Guire from Centaur Biomechanics are looking into the effect studs have on the horse and its limbs at the time of writing this blog and I look forward to the results of this study.
Here are some different types of studs.
The studs above are all road studs. These are smaller studs and can be used on the front shoes of the horse. I have always been told to use small studs in front shoes as when you fall off you are more likely to be in contact with the front feet of the horse and therefore, this stops you having too much injury. Also, keeping the studs small in front means that the horse will not injure itself when they jump a fence and fold up their front feet.
You can also use a stud girth to prevent any scraps on the underneath of the horse, by his girth. Once a horse injures himself in this area, he or she tends, not to pick up their feet so well whilst jumping.
The picture above has soft ground studs in the top of the picture, the more pointed studs in the middle are hard ground studs and the studs in the bottom of the picture are medium/soft ground studs. I found the most I have used have been the road studs in the front shoes and the studs in the bottom of this picture in the hind shoes.
The studs in the picture above are for use on extremely soft ground and they are squarer in shape and give firm grip in soft ground conditions. The picture below will show the size better against the size of the adjustable spanner. This type of spanner is brilliant when you are trying to put studs in between classes or disciplines when eventing.
Different studs are used on different horses and some horses never need to use studs. Some are able to go cross country or show jump on grass, with just a nail in their shoes with a tungsten grip on it. It’s horses for courses really, each is different and it takes time to find out what is needed.
Below are the new rescue studs that are on the market. If you find that the thread in the stud hole has broken, these studs have been developed to work. A farrier developed them so that they can be put in with a spanner and will stay in the stud hole. They have been used by a friend that said they worked really well.
I hope that this has been able to give you an idea of the different types of studs available and there are different ones on the market from the studs above. Like I have said above it is a personal thing to both the horse, rider and owner and can change with the different types of ground that the horses have to work over.
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When you start using studs in horseshoes, it’s a good idea to plug them with either some cotton wool and hoof oil (which is the traditional method), or as Emma Packford-Garrett suggested the cotton wool tubes that dentists use (you can get them from Amazon) and cut to length as required. Also, Alison Payne suggested using some WD40 as this also helps the thread in the stud hole where the studs screw in.
Doing this each time the shoes are replaced and also the night before a competition stops you getting and small pieces of grit in the hole or some stones. It also stops a backache or pain from having to spend lost of time bent double trying to hold on to your horse’s hoof, whilst at a competition or event.
As we all know horse and ponies are more excited at competitions and trying to do anything to your horse’s feet can be more difficult. So, spend some time at home using either a horseshoe nail or an awl make sure you clean out the stud hole and re-tap the thread if necessary and make sure the studs will go in. This saves you time at the competition and allows you the chance to complete the task quicker so that your horse is more comfortable.
Also when putting the studs in an adjustable spanner is a great asset, as it helps you get the studs in firmly, with the different shapes. Then remember to plug the holes when you remove the studs for the journey home and this will make life easier for you.
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