When The Darn Things Just Won’t Stay On

Adding "barbs" may be the answer for horses who are constantly losing shoes

Almost any farrier will encounter one sooner or later; a horse that seems capable of losing shoes as fast as you can tack them back on.

You try clips. You shoe tighter. You add a couple more nails. You ask the owner to keep the horse away from paddock mates who might be stepping on shoe heels and to check fences for loose rails or some other object that might be the culprit.

You do all of that, yet long before your next scheduled visit, the horse is as barefoot as a day at the beach.

Hooking ’Em Up

When you’ve tried everything else, Ambler, Pa., farrier Bob Skradzio suggests trying a barbed shoe.

“I probably came up with this 50 years ago,” says the member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame. “It absolutely works. It’s for one of those horses who just won’t keep the shoes on.”

It’s a simple process, he says. Using a hammer, make a small “fish-hook barb” on the foot side of both heels of a front keg shoe. When you put the shoe on the foot, you tap the barbs into the buttress of the hoof.


HOOKING UP. Pennsylvania farrier Bob Skradzio puts small, “fish-hook barbs” on the heels of keg shoes. He says such shoes are useful for a horse that often loses shoes. The barbs are tapped into the hoof.

Cold Work

If pads are needed with the shoe, Skradzio simply draws more metal into the barb.

It can be done…

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Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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