When are Clips Appropriate and Inappropriate?

Usage should be determined on a horse-by-horse basis


When is it appropriate or inappropriate to utilize a clip on a horseshoe? As the old joke goes, if you ask five farriers you’ll get six different answers.

In this case, a panel of three farriers — Jacob Butler, Steve Kraus and Jim Quick — tackled the topic during the panel discussion “Toe Clips, Side Clips, Quarter Clips, No Clips” in early November 2018 at the Cornell University Farrier Conference in Ithaca, N.Y.

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Steve Kraus pulls a toe clip.

It Depends on the Horse

There’s such a disparity in shoeing prices and the types of horses we shoe, and since anybody is allowed to shoe a horse, the price and the quality are all over the place. A farrier once told me, “I toe clip all my fronts and side clip all my hinds because that’s what sets me apart from all the other farriers.” He even admitted that, “I may not even be doing that much better of a job, but the clients think I am.”

In talking with farriers around the country, there are some who would say to me, “The job is not complete unless the shoes are clipped.” I actually don’t believe that. It depends on the horse. Then you talk to other people who say, “Boy, clips do a lot of damage to horses’ feet.” That’s possible too, but not guaranteed. Some of the Europeans I talk to think we’re barbarians for side clipping shoes. If you see anything in Europe, it either has a…

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