Shoeing a Horse: How to Do it Safely

Horseshoes are an important part of the well-being of domesticated horses. Today, we'll tell you how to go about the shoeing of a horse safely.
Shoeing a Horse: How to Do it Safely

Last update: 10 September, 2021

Shoeing a horse is a decisive moment that determines an animal’s performance in the future. Improper practice when horseshoeing can cause a great deal of pain and even affect a horse’s health. Therefore, it’s important to choose a skilled professional and plan for the operation ahead of time.

Three horses in a row.

The technique of shoeing a horse is complex and requires very specific knowledge and expertise. That’s why we recommend seeking the assistance or orientation of a professional farrier–or horseshoer—before taking any risks with your animals.

How to guarantee the safe shoeing of a horse?

As we said above, the most important thing you need to do is find a professional that’s qualified in the art of horseshoeing. The life experience and behavior of a farrier is a key factor in guaranteeing the proper shoeing of a horse.

However, there’s a step you need to take, and this is something that all horse owners need to know. It consists of massaging your animal in order to prepare him or her for shoeing. Many expert horseshoers possess experience in calming horses and helping them to relax. But the fact of the matter is that this isn’t an obligatory part of their work. What’s more, it can be especially difficult when it comes to adult horses.

That’s why a growing number of horse owners choose to shoe their horses when they are still young. “Adolescent” horses have a more malleable nature, tend to be more trusting, and are even curious in the face of new experience.

The shoeing of adult horses

Adult horses have a stronger personality which can make them more difficult to handle. At this point, it’s harder to disguise the risk that this completely unfamiliar situation poses for them. Most horseshoeing accidents occur when trying to shoe older horses.

No matter when the shoeing of a horse takes place, it’s best to shoe horses that have been tamed since they were foals. This is the phase of life when horses learn to get along with their owners, and submit their instincts in order to obey the commands of their rider.

Ideally, it should be the horse owner or the person that will be riding the horse who performs the massage. Animals must learn to recognize their leaders and to respect them. Developing a relationship of trust will be the foundation for the training and activities that take place later on.

Experienced farriers

Experienced farriers know how to position themselves correctly and how to demonstrate their leadership. If not, the animals will consider themselves as dominant in the situation. As a result, it may act evasively or try to get its own way. This is the most common cause of accidents when it comes to the shoeing of a horse.

There is one technique in particular that horseshoers use most often in order to submit animals. It involves forcing horses to perform movements that they don’t exactly enjoy. For example, most make them walk backward. Logically, this involves skill and patience–and should never involve violence.

When the animal finally demonstrates its submission, then the professional can proceed with the shoeing process. Normally, the farrier knows that the horse is ready when the animal makes certain relaxed gestures with its mouth.

How to be sure that the shoeing of a horse was successful

At first, prevention should be enough to guarantee the proper shoeing of a horse. That’s why it’s so important to choose a good horseshoer, use the right materials for your horse, and prepare your animal beforehand.

Horses running in a field.

Normally, it’s easy to spot the improper shoeing of a horse immediately. Basically, a poor fitting will cause the animal to lose balance and will affect the way the horse walks.

On the contrary, when a horse’s heels are visibly even at the same height, then you know the shoeing was successful. What’s more, the horseshoes should be in line with a horse’s hoof and centered according to its axis. In general, this coincides with a horse’s frog apex.

On very rare occasions, in the absence of proper preventative measures, animals may suffer injury. What’s more, this can lead to a decline in the horse’s health. Therefore, in the case of injury, consulting with a trusted veterinarian immediately is crucial.

Preparing adequately for the shoeing of a horse is investing in a better quality of life for the animal. At the same time, it’s a way to preserve a horse’s valuable abilities.

Source of main image: Lamuga

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