Loose Shoe And No Farrier In Sight

Learn how to remove a shoe in an emergency and take an important step in preventing additional hoof damage

Sometimes a horse owner is faced with a loose shoe between farrier visits. If you are out on the trail and a shoe is clanking and dangling, it needs to be removed, or it may catch on something and pull off, tearing the hoof wall. It could also injure the horse’s opposite leg, or cause a corn or bruise.

An emergency removal is easier if you have pliers. You can often get hold of still-holding nails and either pull them out or unclinch them to a point where you can get hold of them to pull out. Then you can remove the shoe without tearing the hoof. If you try to wrestle the shoe off, the hoof wall may tear where clinches are still holding.

That’s one reason it makes sense to pack a few basic tools in your saddlebags for a trail ride. A hoof boot can also be a good thing to have, to serve as a “spare tire” of sorts if needed.

Farrier Tools Work Best

Not surprisingly, farrier tools work best for this job. A shoeing hammer, clinch cutter, nippers and rasp will make the job easy. But you can also use a flat-edged screwdriver in place of a clinch cutter and a carpenter’s hammer, if necessary. If you don’t have pulloffs (and the shoe is quite loose) you can use a pair of Vise Grips or pliers.

The shoe will be most easily and safely removed if you first unclinch any remaining nails that…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. She has been writing books and articles for nearly 50 years.

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