Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to remove a horseshoe

I think everyone who has a horse should know how to remove a horseshoe. For those of you whose horses are shod you never know when something will happen and you either a.) won't be able to get in touch with your farrier, or b.) your farrier will be too busy to come out when you need them. For those of you whose horses are barefoot, you probably know someone whose horses are shod and will run into the above situations.

You really only need two tools to remove a horseshoe: An old rasp and an old/cheap pair of nippers.

Any trimmer or farrier could supply you with the old rasp (I've got one you could have) and they might have an old pair of nippers they'll give you, otherwise just buy a cheap pair. Cheap nippers are cheap because they don't cut particularly well but that's okay, you don't need them to cut to remove a shoe.

Get the horse on a hard, solid surface like a concrete floor, rubber mat, pavement, or a piece of plywood; plop some hay in front of their face (this will take a while); and grab that rasp. While the horse stands on the foot, use the narrow edge of the rasp to carefully saw off the nail clinches. Hold the rasp parallel to the hoofwall and saw downwards on the clinches one-at-a-time until they are just shiny little squares flush with the hoofwall. Try to take off as little hoofwall as possible. It's very easy to dig a ditch in the hoofwall while you're rasping those clinches so check often to make sure you aren't doing this- if you are then you need to change the angle of your rasp.

Make sure not to position yourself directly in front of your horse's leg. It's very easy to get clocked in the head by a knee if you don't watch what you're doing.

Once all your clinches are off, pick up the leg and carefully place the teeth of the nippers between the shoe and the hoofwall at one heel behind the last nail. Don't cut into the hoofwall! Once you've got the nippers positioned pull the handle down and inwards toward the toe. When you've got it loosened a little switch sides. Keep switching sides until those last nails start popping out of the hoof, then position your nippers in front of those nails and continue on until all the nails have loosened up enough for the shoe to come off.

Voila, you've removed a horseshoe!

What is nice about this method is that you don't have to do any banging on the hoof to get the shoe off. If the horse is laminitic or suffering from an injury, reducing the amount of tools pounding on the foot really makes a difference.

This first video shows a slightly different method. Notice that she just rasps the whole hoofwall to remove the clinches. This works but it kills your rasp and takes off a lot of excess hoofwall. I would also NOT recommend using a claw hammer like she shows unless you absolutely have to. It would be too easy to not get it anchored well, pull too hard, and end up with a claw hammer in your face or your horse. EEK!


This second video is hawking a product, an emergency shoe pulling kit, and shows how to use a tool to pull the nails out one by one. That's fine if your horse doesn't mind the banging, but it's not necessary. I put it up because I enjoyed watching this woman with her nicely manicured nails and shiny tall boots pull a shoe without even using gloves to hold the rasp. She's more hardcore than she looks!


Hopefully you'll be lucky and never have to do this, but in case you do- it doesn't hurt to keep a rasp and nippers on hand!

15 comments:

  1. Only one of my three wears shoes, and only in front, but knowing how to safely and easily remove a shoe, to me, should be in the knowledge base of all horse owners.

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  2. Exactly, because you never know when you'll need it and leaving a loose shoe on can cause a lot of damage!

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  3. I found this very interesting! A great number of the horses where I board have shoes on because they compete in reining. Now I wonder if these riders know how to safely pull off a loose shoe! To be honest, seeing a shoe removed or put on sort of gives me the willies. :-)

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  4. They probably don't, but think of what a hero you'll look if they're running around in a panic about a loose shoe one day and you can tell them what to do ;)

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  5. I finally learned how to pull a shoe earlier this year (just in time, right?). It was an emergency and we didn't have any of the proper tools so we used a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Good times... After that I decided I should buy some tools and keep them in my trailer for the next time.

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  6. It's funny I've never learned to do this; I think there is such a stigma against not using a professional farrier that we aren't even taught the basics!

    Every girls needs to know how to open a bottle of champagne... and pull of her horse's shoe!

    Cheers! Corinna

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  7. Ugh, I can guess how that went. Good idea picking up those tools, even if it was after the fact. You can use them to learn how to trim now :)

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  8. Hi Corinna- yeah farriers are kind of protective of their practices but they'd probably be much happier putting a shoe back on an intact hoof where the owner pulled the shoe knowledgeably than one that got ripped off some other way.

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  9. Hey, where would you buy a rasp? Is it a specialty item or can you pick one up at a saddlery?

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  10. Your local feed store might have some in stock. Tack shops don't seem to have them, at least not in the States, but it wouldn't hurt to take a look.

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  11. Oh, this is something I should probably learn. Not for myself because my horse is barefoot, but I would hate to see a horse with a twisted/loose shoe and not know what to do. I do already have a rasp (of course!), but no nippers.

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  12. Very informative! Now I think that I could pull a shoe in a pinch. The second video was hilarious and well done.

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  13. Thanks for this, it's always good to know how to pull a shoe if you need to. With all this hoof information to take the mystery out of hoof care we'll all be experts soon enough. Seriously, it's a great post.

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  14. Definitely Frizzle, like I said to Wolfie it doesn't hurt to be the hero of the barn!

    Val- I'm glad I wasn't the only one to get a chuckle out of it.

    GHM- you're welcome :)

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  15. Great instructions! Very good information to have. I've watched the farrier remove shoes many times, but never had to do it myself. Now I think I can if needed :)

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