Check Hoof Temperatures!

An inexpensive and highly versatile diagnostic tool may help you do a better job of shoeing

By using a hand-held infrared radiation thermometer, Andrew Elsbree never worries about hot nails.

When he’s done nailing a double nail pad on a short or broken hoof, the Greenville, N.Y., farrier frequently uses a pocket-sized infrared thermometer with a laser beam sighting device to scan the hoof’s temperature.

“If I find an area around a nail where the temperature is higher than the rest of the hoof, I’ll pull the nail and start over,” he says. “Since I bought one of these inexpensive infrared thermometers, I haven’t had to go back to a barn to deal with a nail.”

Normally, Elsbree can use his hand to determine if there’s any excessive heat in a portion of a hoof, but not always. Using the infrared thermometer, a typical temperature in the coronet band area measures 90 degrees but drops to 87 or 88 degrees a half inch lower on the hoof.

“If your heel or toe nails are warmer than the rest of the hoof, the temperature reading may show you have a problem with a hot nail,” he says.

Pull The Trigger

Elsbree finds the thermometer works best when held an inch or two from the hoof. “Just aim the pistol-like instrument at a specific hoof area, pull the trigger and read the temperature on the screen,” he says.

hoof temp

POINT, SHOOT, READ. With a pocket-sized, easy-to-use infrared thermometer, varying hoof-area temperatures can help you immediately spot shoeing troubles before finishing a horse.

While infrared thermometers have been used for…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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