The past year has been interesting, to say the least.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions in our daily lives, it also has been one of the busiest years within the farrier industry as horse owners spent more time with their mounts. With increased business comes a greater need for hoof-care education. As the year comes to a close, American Farriers Journal editors compiled the articles that you read most from each month in 2020.

1. Farrier Registration Council Bans Shoer for Attacking, Injuring Horse

The Farrier Registration Council is removing a Cornwall shoer from its roster after he was convicted of physically harming a horse while providing hoof-care services.

Michael McNamara, 41, who has been a farrier for 24 years, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal after punching, kicking and striking the tethered horse with his nippers 18 times. The incident was recorded on closed circuit video. A judge issued a 6-month community order, a night-time curfew and banned him from working with horses for 3 years.

2. Alfalfa and the Insulin Resistant Horse

Alfalfa can be an excellent addition to most horses’ diets, even for those that are insulin resistant.

Equine nutritionist Juliet Getty often recommends feeding it because it boosts the overall protein quality of a grass-hay diet and, in general, enhances the horse’s muscle tone, immune system and overall health. Some people, though, just don’t want to feed alfalfa — they believe it causes laminitis. After years of working with horses, it appears that it may, in fact, lead to laminitis in some horses.

3. Pack a Foot Easier with a Soufflé Cup

Hoof packing is an incredibly useful tool in farriery. If only the application wasn’t so messy.

Farriers have come up with a variety of ways to apply it in a cleaner, efficient way, whether it’s using a putty knife or a bilge cloth. As a long-time farrier and owner of Horseshoes Unlimited farriery supply shop in Gill, Mass., Ray Steele experiments with ways to improve the use of a number of products. Packing is no exception.

4. Try Beeswax to Combat Fungi and Bacteria

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Many farriers across North America told American Farriers Journal that 2018 was one of the worst years for fungal- and bacterial-related problems in the hoof wall. To help keep the invading microbes at bay, one farrier uses an all-natural solution — beeswax.

“People talk about how it has natural anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties, so why can’t we use beeswax?” asks Shane Westman, farrier at the University of California, Davis.

5. Pricing for Trimming and Shoeing | Farriers' Horse Ownership

Nationally, the typical full-time U.S. farrier charges $131.46 for a trim and nailing on four keg shoes while part-time farriers charge an average of $94.49 for the same work.

Some 94% of U.S. farriers are not only involved with the footcare needs of numerous horses, but they and their immediate families also own horses, ride and/or compete in many different events.

6. Sugardine — A Stinky, Gooey Mess That Works When Treating Wound Injuries

Sugardine is simply a paste of granulated white sugar and betadine solution or scrub mixed to a toothpaste or peanut butter consistency, and it is a remarkably safe and effective wound dressing.

It’s so simple that people can’t believe that it actually works until they see it firsthand. Then afterward, they can’t believe no one ever taught them about sugardine.

7. Effects of Trimming on Shape and Dimensions of the Hoof Capsule as Well as on the Phalangeal Alignment


No other routine procedure carried out on horses has more impact on soundness and performance than hoof trimming and shoeing.

The main goals of hoof trimming are to promote the soundness of the hooves and the limbs, to support the biomechanical efficiency, and maintain functionality of the equine foot. However, there is no agreement on how to achieve these goals. A wide range of trimming methods exists, and no other topic is so controversially and emotionally discussed as how to ideally trim the equine hoof. This might be related to the fact that very limited scientific studies directly focused on the effect of hoof trimming on the biomechanics of the equine distal limb exist.

8. Saving Your Rotator Cuff


Being too busy to pursue a fitness program or finding exercise boring is no excuse for neglecting your rotator cuffs. Though you may not enjoy exercise, the one muscle group that all farriers should be concerned about above all others is rotator cuffs.

After age 30 the rotator cuff muscles begin to atrophy and without exercise will be gone or useless between the ages of 50 to 70.

Rotator cuff muscles don’t receive a good blood supply, but circulation can be greatly improved with exercise. Given the unpredictable nature of horses, you can strain your rotator cuff if a horse misbehaves while you’re lifting its front or hind leg.

As a farrier, you use repetitive motions daily, which causes wear patterns on the joints, overdeveloping some muscles while under developing others. The rotator cuff is often the weak link in a person who has strong arm and back muscles, as most farriers do.

9. Farrier Injured On The Job: Who Is Liable?

You, an experienced farrier, are shoeing a horse belonging to a new client. As you approach the horse’s hindquarters and reach for his leg, the horse delivers a sudden, swift and wild kick. Your leg is shattered and you are going to be unable to shoe horses for several weeks.

Do you have a case against your client? 

10. Dealing With Thin-Soled Horses

The sole is the guardian that shields the sensitive structures of the hoof from contact with the outside world. Acting as the primary barrier against ground surface trauma, it is designed to handle concussion naturally; however, it seems that this once efficient protector has become one of the most abused structures of a horse's anatomy.

While the sole itself can grow quickly, it is the formation of callous that creates the necessary cushioning effect and that develops slowly.

Using healthy hooves from domestic horses as the standard, sole thickness normally is about 3/8 inch, with a uniformed callous extending to the underside of the lateral cartilages and the coffin bone.

Seen in a standing horse, a naturally shaped hoof would also have an arch to reflect the coffin bone's position at the front half of the foot, with the lateral cartilages forming the underpinning for the back half. This type of configuration allows for flexibility of movement, which enables the foot to effectively dissipate the shock of impact. And, while a stone bruise can happen as quickly as stepping on a rock, the amount of force placed on a thin-soled foot will have a direct effect on its susceptibility to harmful trauma in general.