• 1.About shoeing
  • Does my horse need to be shod?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    This will depend on what your horse is being used for and how much work you ask it to do. If the wear rate of the hoof is above the growth rate of the hoof then you have two options. You can either reduce the amount of work the horse is doing or you can shoe or boot your horse to protect its hoof from the abrasive effects of riding.

  • Do shoes restrict the hoof capsule movement?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    In a word, NO! In fact ask a farrier to show you a shoe that has been removed from a horse and the chances are that it will show evidence that the hoof has worn a groove in the steel surface that the hoof rests on. A well fitted shoe with the nails placed correctly forward of the widest part of the hoof cannot restrict movement in the heel region. That is why vets prescribe remedial shoes to be fitted to a horse that fractures its coffin bone. Vets know that an ordinary shoe will not give the hoof enough support nor will it limit the amount of heel expansion the hoof undergoes on each stride therefore making it nearly impossible for a successful outcome. To take it even further most farriers would opt for casting material in conjunction with a handmade or extremely modified keg shoe to eliminate heel expansion which is essential in the successful repair of a fractured pedal bone.

  • Does the horse lose feeling in the hoof due to restricted blood flow when the shoe is nailed on?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    This is by far one of the more ridiculous claims made by some of the so called 'hoof care experts' and it only serves to show how little they know about the internal structures of the equine hoof.

    It would take a very special horse indeed to be able to lose all feeling in its foot yet retain enough sensitivity to be able to feel an abscess forming in that same hoof.

    One of the vet's more useful tools in diagnosing lameness is the diagnostic nerve block. The suspected lame hoof is anaesthetised if the cause of pain is thought to be in the hoof. If the source of pain does in fact originate in the hoof then subsequent to the block the horse will trot up sound.

    If the above question held any truth at all then farriers would nail shoes on lame horses and put vets out of business. Clearly this is silly in the extreme.

  • Are there any problems associated with shoeing the hoof?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    Good farriers are well aware that their chosen profession is fraught with danger not only for themselves (dealing with horses that are not accustomed to being shod) but also for the horse. (Nails can prick the sensitive structure of the hoof if nailed too coarsely).

    There would not be a farrier in the country who has not experienced this problem not to mention the raft of other potential problems associated with shoeing horses.

    It is important for the horse owner to deal with a professional qualified farrier where possible. (Some parts of the country are very isolated and in those places owners tend to shoe their own horses or get a friend to give it a go.)

    The farrier constantly tries to mitigate the effects of shoeing by paying particular attention to correct trimming and hoof preparation, choosing the correct size and style of shoe most suited to the horse and ensuring that the shoe is nailed on so that the shoe does not cause any discomfort through the nails being driven too coarsely or sole pressure from the shoe being clamped too tightly to the hoof that has been over trimmed.

    The qualified farrier has a broad knowledge base and experience that serves him well when dealing with problem feet. A shoeing job that is not completed to a high standard, if repeated at each subsequent shoeing, will eventually cause further problems for the horse later in its life. Common shoeing faults begin with poor trimming. Hoof balance is essential so placing a well fitted shoe to a poorly trimmed or unbalanced hoof is unacceptable and counterproductive.

    Likewise a poorly fitted shoe on a well balanced hoof is equally prejudicial to the horse's long term soundness.

  • Is there an affordable alternative to shoeing horses with steel shoes?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    The real problem is partially included in the question. Affordability is a major concern to most horse owners and farriers alike.

    Farriers do not impose steel horseshoes on the client however it is the most affordable and durable material currently in use.

    A good farrier will have a range of alternatives at his disposal. Aluminium, titanium, glue on shoes, plastic shoes as well as the range of different products designed to replace missing hoof wall.

    All these products can be substituted for steel and in some cases are more beneficial for the horse, however they all come with a higher dollar value and usually they require your farrier to prove he has greater skills than the bloke who just hammers steel shoes on to poorly prepared hooves.

    Most farriers would agree that nailing steel shoes onto a horse hoof is not ideal.

    Interestingly, enough the Merovingians of the 7th century are thought to be the inventors of the nailed on shoe. They used iron of exceptional purity that was both malleable and tough.

    Apparently it would conform to the natural movement of the hoof while also protecting it from excessive wear. Unfortunately this metal working technique was lost and later replaced with the advent of high-carbon iron, a much more durable and robust product. The farriers of the time identified the problems (too thick and heavy) associated with this product which was to become mild steel and they have been searching for a viable alternative ever since.

  • Why is it important to shoe your horse regularly every five to seven weeks?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015
    • Regular shoeing done to a high standard is the best way of maintaining your horses feet and legs in optimum condition. Prevention is always better than cure.
    • A shod foot will rapidly grow at the toe and less at the heel causing the pastern angle to change. This places disproportionate pressures on the heel of the hoof.
    • If the shoes are left on too long, the hoof will eventually out grow the shoe at the quarters and heel. This is a prime cause of corns, quarter cracks and weak heels.
    • Irregular shoeing will also contribute to: Hook cracks - Thrush - Seedy Toe - poor horse performance - gait problems
    • Regular shoeing for most horses will result in: Stronger feet - healthier feet - less cracks and seedy toe - a more athletic horse.
  • 2.Barefoot and Trimming
  • How often should my horse be trimmed?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    This depends on the amount of work your horse is doing and the type of riding you do. As a general rule most horses should be trimmed every 8 weeks. Some horses require more frequent visits by the farrier as in those that are being used for competition. Competition horses need to have perfectly balanced feet to be able to perform to their best ability. It also reduces the risk of injury to the lower limb having your horse correctly trimmed.

    However hacks and ponies used for pleasure riding can be left a little longer. These horses will be ridden a few times a week and will have a wear rate quite near to the growth rate of the hoof. In some cases they may only need a very light trim just to tidy up the ragged edges of the hoof. The other type of horse that is sometimes forgotten is the horse that is not used for riding. Brood mares, unbroken and retired horses fall into this category.

    They will continue to grow hoof and the wear rate will be very low so they also require frequent visits from the farrier.

  • What is the difference between barefoot trimming and a trim that the farrier does?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    Farriers and horse owners have been trimming horse's hooves since the horse was first domesticated. However if you are to believe the rhetoric published by some barefoot trimmers you would think that it is a recent advent. While it is true that farriers trim the hoof with the aim of fitting a shoe this is not always the case.

    Most professional farriers have a client base made up of about a quarter to a third of owners who only want their horse trimmed. Regardless of who trims your horse the most important objective is to end up with a sound balanced hoof. Lameness or soreness should always be regarded as unacceptable and the farrier should be questioned about this outcome immediately. Generally the horse that presents as sound before the trim will remain sound after the trim if the job is done correctly.

    Occasionally trimming may expose or reveal an abscess that was not causing the horse any problems before the excess hoof was removed. However the owner should be informed and the abscess should be treated right away. Treatment includes draining, poulticing and protecting the hoof with a shoe and pad, boot or bandage until healed.

  • Is there a transition period from shoeing to bare footing a horse?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    Not usually, although some horses are not well suited to go barefoot. Thoroughbreds are a good example.

    Humans have bred the TB for speed and this has necessitated the hoof being made as light as possible. As a result most TB horses have weak hoof walls and souls. There are exceptions but typically the TB struggles to remain sound when ridden on gravel roads or abrasive surfaces without being shod. Most horses however can have the shoes removed if their work load is to be reduced or they are turned out, without any ill effect. Sometimes you may hear that a horse is being transitioned from shoes to barefoot and that they are moderately lame or in extreme cases severely lame. This is typically due to over trimming or abscessing and should not be tolerated.

    Lameness caused by farriers or barefoot trimmers is always unacceptable.

  • Isn't barefoot trimming more natural and therefore better for my horse?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    If you're suggesting that there are no farriers in the wild then yes you are quite right to think that farriers are not a natural part of the wild horse's life but equally neither are the barefoot trimmers. (Wild horses rarely jump, never do a dressage test and don't take leisurely strolls along forest tracks or country roads.)

    Domesticated horses are distant relatives of the truly wild horse. Over the years horses have had to adapt to our changing needs.

    As a result breeders have chosen horses with significantly different characteristics than the wild horses of the Mongolian steppe or the brumbies of the Australian outback or even the wild mustangs of the Americas. Some are bred for speed, Quarter Horse, TB and Standardbred while others are better suited for strength, notably the draughts and shires.

    Some need to jump 1.6m or more while others need cover 160km in a single race, all while carrying a person on their back. There is very little of the wild horse left in our equine friends these days.

    The wild horse is not big enough, strong enough nor fast enough to compete with the modern equine athlete. Therefore it is inconsistent to reason that we should try to model our horse on its wild ancestors especially where the hoof is concerned.

    The wild horse model is helpful only in showing us what a hoof looks like when the feral horse has adapted to its environment. However if that same horse was taken to the lush pastures of Cambridge or Matamata it may well find that its hard boxy hoof changes to resemble something akin to that found on a neglected hack. No longer would it be able to wear the hoof at the same rate as it grows and eventually it too would require some farriery assistance.

  • 3.Hoof Boots
  • What are boots and are they any good?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    There are many boots on the market ranging in price from under one hundred to several hundred dollars a pair. They should be used on a well trimmed hoof and can be very useful if you do not use your horse very often.

    Owners that use their horses daily find it a bit frustrating having to put boots on and off all the time, however boots are fairly easy to fit and remove and give your horse the protection it needs when required.

  • Are there any problems with using boots?
    NZ Farriers Assn04-02-2015

    No, as long as you use boots that fit the hoof correctly. If not then the boot can rub the sensitive part of the hoof and cause irritation.

    Sometimes it can be a dirty job removing boots if you've ridden through mud and you don't have a hose to wash them off first. Some boots are attached with Velcro straps while others have a clip system similar to ski boots. Some of these come with a pneumatic bladder that can be inflated to give a snug fit. These are usually more expensive and are not particularly suited to hacking out in the forest as the valve can be ripped off in rough terrain.