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How Do You Choose the Appropriate Horseshoe?

Work, intensity, duration, terrain and horse are the five considerations farriers should consider when selecting footgear for a horse


Pictured Above: These shoes are all approximately the same size, but have different uses. How does a farrier determine which one to use?

Farrier Takeaways

  • No one shoe is going to be the best choice for all horses. The correct shoe for an individual horse depends on a variety of considerations.
  • Work, intensity, duration, terrain and horse (WIDTH) offer parameters to guide shoe selection.
  • Cross-section and ground surface features are the most important considerations for horseshoe selection. Front hind patterns, pre-made clips and factory modifications are secondary conveniences.

Horseshoe production has developed to a high level of quality and variety that’s unparalleled since the 1900s. The many companies that have emerged in the last 35 years, as well as the ease of manufacturing and importing shoes from all over the world, have enabled farriers to have unprecedented choices in our modern age.

Even with all the manufactured shoes available, hand-forged horseshoes have also risen to high levels of quality and popularity, due to contests, clinics and the willingness of farriers to pursue this skill. The growth of the farrier industry has led to many companies competing for market share. Often, there are many good copies of a particular horseshoe type or style, as well as many specialty shoes aimed at the various niche markets. The only problem with all this is at times, farriers may have a difficult time deciding which shoe is the best option for the horses that they are working on. The finest manufactured shoe or the…

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Steve kraus 2

Steve Kraus

Steve Kraus, CJF, is Cornell University’s head of farrier services and senior lecturer for large animal surgery. He has been a farrier for more than 45 years.

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