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Cutting Back on Shoe Loss on Hard-Working Western Horses

Farriers share tips for keeping shoes in place while still supplying proper support for horses working in arenas and ranches


Shoe loss often occurs during the quick, back-and-forth lateral movements required of horses working cattle against fences. which puts additional strain on the lower legs.

On occasion almost any horse will experience the loss of a shoe — catching it on a gate or fence while pawing and jerking it off, or scrambling in deep mud and stepping it off, or some other abnormal situation. Some horses, however, routinely pull their shoes off due to the way they travel and overreach. In these cases, careful measures must be taken to eliminate foot contact.

Most farriers have a variety of ways to do this, depending on the individual horse, and what that horse’s job is. Some horses are more apt to snag a front shoe with a hind foot at certain gaits or when performing a specific activity.

When some cutting horses or reined cow horses are moving back and forth laterally working a cow against a fence, for instance, they may grab a front shoe with a hind  or even step on one front foot with the other.

Young Horses Prone To Shoe Loss

Shawn Renshaw, a farrier in Southern California who shoes a lot of reiners and reined cow horses, says that a lot of the fence work is so fast that young horses may pull a shoe.

“The young horse has not yet developed his coordination, yet he is being worked at high speeds,” says Renshaw, who also competes with his own horses. “Some of these horses are…

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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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