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Are you Driving Proper Nails?

If you’re shoeing horses that are coming up lame, look for signs that your hammering is missing the mark

While shoeing, nail placement can mean the difference between a well-shod horse and one that’s lame. 

Selecting the proper shoe, accurate shaping, nail selection and attentiveness will prevent driving troublesome nails.

Here are some basic mistakes that some farriers make and how you can avoid them.Nail Hole Position. 

If you think about the average hoof, the hoof wall thickness is about 3/8 inches. So, the average depth of the shoe is double that thickness, which is 3/4 inches. The term average refers to how the majority of horses are being shod, which is why more horseshoes are sold in standard 0 and 1 U.S. sizes.

Standard size horseshoes have a 3/4-inch web. If more coverage is necessary, select a wide-web shoe, which increases that measurement to 7/8 inches. So if that shoe is nailed on a typical foot, those nail holes are placed closer to or may be inside the white line if the shoe is fit to the perimeter of the hoof wall. A wide-web shoe has to fit the foot fuller on a normal foot to avoid placing a nail where it could harm the horse.

The other scenario is that a horse with a thicker than average hoof wall needs a wide-web shoe to accommodate the hoof wall without sacrificing or removing it. The wide-web shoe places the nail holes where the most secure nailing can be accomplished.

If the nail hole in the shoe is too far out toward the outer edge of the hoof wall…

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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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