Farrier advice at the Westcountry Equine Fair

How do I find a farrier?

Ask friends or professionals in the equestrian industry for recommendations. You can also log on to the Farriers Registration website https://www.farrier-reg.gov.uk/, on the opening page is a link “find a farrier” where you can enter your post code. This will give you all of the registered farriers in your area and their qualifications.

How often should my horse be shod?

Most horses are shod every 4 to 7 weeks. The length of the shoeing cycle is very important and directly influences foot health and performance. It should be discussed with your farrier, taking the following factors into consideration; The type of horse, conformation, strength of the hoof capsule, rate of foot growth, work load, home environment and in particular the discipline you are competing your horse at.

Recent research shows that for every cm of foot growth after trimming the balanced foot increases 5 degrees of pressure on the deep digital flexor tendon and impacts an increased weight on the horses back by 50kg. Maintaining the right shoeing cycle for your horse will influence the longevity of your horse’s career and performance.

Would you recommend I use hoof dressing on my horse’s feet?

Yes, especially in the summer months. The daily use of hoof conditioners i.e. hoof moist/ hoof oil will help maintain a healthy hoof capsule, by keeping the moisture content in the horn more consistent. The summer months is when moisture content is at its most inconsistent within the hoof capsule. This is as a result of the feet getting saturated in the dew or wet conditions and then rapidly drying out in the warm weather or the stable. This causes the feet to move and sink, resulting in risen clenches and weak brittle feet.

One thing that hoof conditioners don’t do is kill unwanted bacteria in the white line and nail holes causing white line disease and poor horn quality. In this case an antibacterial solution which is made up of eucalyptus and iodoform is the best form of treatment.

Why do horses lose shoes?

Any horse can lose shoes as horses are quadrupeds and front and hind feet or opposing feet will often come into contact with each other. Over reaching and hyper extension of the hind limb are the most common cause of shoe loss. This mainly happens in deep muddy conditions where the horse is unable to get the front limb out the way quick enough before the hind limb tracks up.

Most shoes are lost in the field when the horse is not collected and they let off steam when pulling up at a fence line, or the horse is attempting to get to better pasture on the other side of the fence and gets a shoe caught in the wire.

Poor horn quality and horses that are overdue for shoeing can also experience shoe loss as the shoe loses its nail fixture.

What do I do if my horse loses a shoe?

  • Make contact with your farrier so they can book it in their diary.
  • Check the heels for obvious over reach injury’s around the bulbs of the heels that may need treating.
  • If the horse is foot sore. Cleaning the foot up and applying a poultice will help supress inflammation and also give the farrier a blank canvas to work with when they come to replace the shoe. This makes it easier to notice solar puncture wounds injuries.

What is the best way to prevent repeated shoe loss?

  • Identify the cause!! If the horse is repeatedly losing the same shoe there will be a reason. Whether that’s the horse’s conformation, action, shoeing style or environment. Good communication between owner and farrier will help us identify the cause and find a solution.

At the equine fair this year there will be tuition and advice on all aspect of foot care and farriery. We have our blacksmith buddy which is prosthetic horse’s limb. You can get hands on and we can teach you what to do if your horse half pulls a shoe off, and how to make it safe until your farrier arrives or safely remove the shoe without injuring yourself or the horse.


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