CLIP DAMAGE. The author prefers not to use side clips on front hooves because of the damage they can cause when the shoes are loose or thrown.

I recommend using clips to reduce the sliding and shifting of shoes, especially on the rear of racehorses. Clips have been used regularly on event and show horses for years, but now we have shoes for racing stock with toe clips and side clips. This is a huge jump forward for shoeing products.

It used to be that farriers had to make their own clips. Some of you would draw the clips cold, while others would draw them after heating the shoe. Most of these clips were functional, but they compromised the integrity of the shoe. When heating an aluminum shoe, its temper is compromised.

For instance, Victory shoes are tempered during production to make them a little harder and stronger. If they are heated, they will regress to a softer aluminum that will not hold up as well. Fortunately, Victory is now clipping just about every style of shoe it makes. Most of the styles are toe-clipped, while selected styles are side-clipped. The clips on the Victory shoes are as hard and strong as the shoes themselves, which makes for a more reliable shoe.

Other manufacturers also offer clips on various styles of shoes.

Change Of Mind

Everyone has a preference for either toe clips or side clips. I have always preferred side clips because I felt they held the shoe in place better and relieved stress on the nails. I still feel this way about the hind feet.

However, I am more cautious these days about the front feet because I see hoof wall damage where the clips rest. And I have noticed that if a horse springs a shoe, the section under the clips tears out completely, leaving very little wall to nail to. Also, when they spring a shoe, some horses step on the clip and puncture the sole, creating an abscess situation.

I have run into this problem so often that it has turned me away from side-clipping the front feet, although I still recommend side clips for the hind.

Part of the problem is that a horse carries most of its weight on the front feet, which creates more movement of shoes that have come loose. Plus, all that weight makes the clip wear a groove or a hole in the hoof wall. The hind feet don’t carry as much weight and therefore the shoes don’t come as loose or have as much movement on the feet, keeping the side clips from creating a hole in the hoof wall.

Like Old Times

A lot of farriers don’t like toe clips up front, but I encourage the use of them because of the problems with side clips. When I was taught to shoe long ago, this was the traditional way to use clips. I did not appreciate the reasoning then, but I do now.

I had drifted away from this tradition because I believed toe clips caused the shoe to be drawn forward on the hoof as it grew out. It still does, but now I think that this is only an indication that the horse needs to be reshod.

Here’s a tip for setting the toe clips: use a half-round nipper to cut a notch in the toe, then set the clip into that notch. The clips usually fit perfectly into the notch you provide and are just as stable as side clips. I have almost never seen damage to the wall from a toe clip and have never seen a horse step on the toe clip when the shoe is sprung. My only warning would be to not set the notch so deep that it is inside the white line.

I still like side clips on the hind feet because they keep the shoe from slipping side to side when the horse kicks the walls or spins on pavement. However, toe clips work just as well on hind feet for stopping the shoe from sliding back, which is the main reason for using clips.

Kicking Shoes

Wall kicking is the major reason that racehorses slide their rear shoes, and I know of no training method to stop a persistent wall-kicker. If they are wearing blocked heels, they will spread those shoes more frequently because hitting the wall with the raised steel sections concentrates the force on the areas making the shoe spread.

Clips will stop the shoe from sliding back, but when it comes to spreading block heel shoes, you will never win by adding clips. Instead, convince your client to make a shoe style change that will give you a fighting chance. For those horses wearing plain shoes or queen’s-plate style rear shoes, you have a good chance of curing the problem by adding side or toe clips.

Like many farriers, I put clips on the hinds of almost all the horses that I shoe, and I put front clips on about a 25 percent of them. Clips are a tool that can be useful to all of us, and they are available on almost all of the shoes that we use.