Take time to remove broken nails, says Bob Smith, owner and operator of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, Calif. Sometimes the nail will break off when you remove shoes.

"Use the pritchel end of your clinch cutter to push those nails to the point where they can be pulled out of the hoof wall," says the 2009 winner of the Summit Achievement Award. "Cutting through the nail will only chip or dull your nippers."

"You want nippers that are strong enough to cut nails, but you don't want to cut nails with them," says Roth. "You don't want to ding the blades. Take your time and be careful."

If you hit a nail with your nippers, Chris Gregory says you should either stop and back out completely or nip right through.

"When you push or pull on the reins if the blades are halfway into the nail, you will chip the blades," says the operator of the Heartland Horseshoeing School in Lamar, Mo. "Often, nipping right through does little or no damage."

Steve Stanley, who shoes out of Versailles, Ky., knows that no one likes finding nails with their hoof nippers.

Still, inevitably you will cut through an imbedded nail. He likes to notch the corners of the cutting edge just slightly.

"This keeps those corners from breaking out if you happen to hit a sheared-off nail that remained hidden in the hoof," suggests Stanley. "This is an advantage because if the corner breaks out, you lose much more than just that little bevel. If you catch one with the corner of your nipper, it will break out."

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