Shoeing the Wet Hoof

Shoeing the Wet Hoof

For many farriers, dealing with wet hooves is part of the job, so it’s important to know how to do it right

Wet seasons or wet climates present challenges in hoof care. The horse’s foot functions more normally when dry than when it is constantly wet. The hoof becomes harder and dry in dry seasons, and softer when wet. Too much moisture in the horse’s environment leads to deformed feet and a hoof wall that won’t hold nails. A soft hoof capsule loses structural integrity.

Hoof Capsule Deformity

Bruce Hague, a farrier in Vancouver, British Columbia, says horses’ feet in his region rarely get a chance to dry out. He says constant wetness weakens the structure of the foot. The hoof is like a sponge, absorbing moisture and getting softer. The hoof capsule cannot retain its shape when it’s that soft and spreads out, leading the sensitive inner tissues to spread as well.

“It’s harder to nail shoes on; the walls become thin and the hoof capsule becomes very flexible,” Hague says. “You can flex the hoof capsule a quarter inch or more with just thumb pressure. When it gets that wet and soft, you can actually push the hoof capsule underneath the shoe.”

In these conditions, all a horse has to do, to pull a shoe off, is lightly bump it with another foot. Even with shoes fit short, the horse can still step on a shoe quite easily because there’s so much give to the hoof wall when the other foot hits it. Everything can shift, pushing the hoof away from the shoe and leaving the shoe exposed a bit…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. Her new book, Horse Tales, is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other online retailers.

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