Fish Hook Nailing

For a horse with damaged hooves, this unique nailing technique may be a life-saver. And it’s also got plenty of potential for nailing shoes on normal horses

Hooked is the way Joe Vass readily describes his belief in the fish hook nailing technique he uses to hold shoes on horses he deals with on a daily basis.

The Kenosha, Wis., farrier maintains the fish hook nailing technique is very successful in keeping shoes from coming loose.

A long-term user of fish hook nailing, Vass uses this nailing technique on all the horses that he shoes, even though it adds about a minute per hoof to fit into his shoeing routine.

The fish hook technique calls for placing a slight arch on the end of the nail, starting just above the bevel, says equine veterinarian Ric Redden, who has used the technique on many of the horses he has shod for years.

The nails are normally bent with the claw of a hammer. Since bending the nails can be time consuming, Vass usually bends eight nails for each foot ahead of time. Softer Nails

“I’ve been adding a kink to nails for eight years to make the nail come out at a right angle to the hoof,” Vass says. “The nail comes out perpendicular to the hoof wall and tightens up very well.

“I use the softest nail available, which is usually a five light or a four light nail. For big horses, I may use a Mustad 6 nail, Delta E-heads or Save Edge ultra light nails.
“I want the nail to be soft enough to go through the hoof wall without splitting the hoof. I aim

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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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