Q: I need some advice with a shoeing problem. I hot shoe all my horses, as I have found this cuts down heaps on lost shoes. I have one horse, however, that constantly loses his front shoes. The shoes usually hold for the first 3 to 4 weeks, then they almost always fall off. This happens only on this particular horse that most often is ridden on rocky trails.

I know a lot of farriers won’t agree with me, but I don’t like using side clips on the front shoes for two reasons:

1. I think side clips look ugly.

2. When they come off, I find that they tend to take a lot of hoof wall with them. Yet this phenomenon doesn’t occur in hind shoes with side clips. Are there any theories on why the side clips on the fronts are tearing away hoof wall when a shoe is pulled, yet hind side clips don’t present this problem?

—Mark Freeman

A: Are there any “nail shanks” left in the hoof after it comes off? If so, then moisture could be sneaking in and rusting the nail. I have had this trouble with certain brands of nails since they rust and then lose the head of the nail. I only use Mustad nails now.

Sometimes it’s simply that the horse is just good at pulling the shoe off. Have the owner observe the horse and see if it’s engaging in any behavior that pulls the front shoe off.

If you can find an old shoe that had been previously pulled, see if it’s shiny around the heel area. If it is, then pull a spoon from the heel about half the distance to the hair line and get it to lay flush with the hoof wall. If you decide on this fix, I’d also recommend that you use a toe clip — but don’t put it on hot.

Once the shoe is in place, just tap the clips into the hoof wall, so they can’t grab anything with it. This method has worked for me and after the third shoeing, you’ll find that you won’t need that “fix” any more.

As far as front clips tearing away the hoof wall, I place the shoe on cold so it won’t be as likely to take away as much hoof wall when it gets pulled off. In this instance, it causes the bottom of the clip to protrude outside of the shoe. I only want the clip there to protect the hoof from flexing too much and allowing a crack to enlarge. Also, reset the shoe as soon as possible — once a month or so. The clips should be bent to conform to the wall so that they won’t become caught on anything.

It takes an owner who pays close attention to the horse and lets you know any result — good or bad — so you can make adjustments as circumstances dictate.

An unusual amount of hoof-wall tearing on a pulled shoe happens mainly because of the groove that’s usually cut for the clip and the pressure created when it’s drawn into the hoof wall. Remember, also, any removal of the hoof wall weakens it at that point. Use a clinch gouge instead of the corner of the rasp to set the clinch after being bent.

— Rickey Benningfield

Urethane Shoes

Q: I’m a farrier on the West Coast with a client that shows Swedish Warmbloods in high-level hunter and jumper competitions. She is an ardent believer in keeping her horses barefoot and, as far as I’m concerned, these particular horses have excellent hoof health and are well-suited to staying barefoot. They excel when competing barefoot.

The problem lies with the trainers riding her horses in these competitions. To date, every trainer she has worked with refuses to ride in shows without shoes. We’ve had excellent success using Ground Control urethane shoes as a compromise, but they tend to be bulky and heavy in their appearance. Questions have also been asked of my client as to lameness issues and why her horses need to wear therapeutic shoes. Her latest trainer quit over this very issue.

Can anyone recommend a urethane shoe that is thinner and more refined in appearance, yet has the excellent durability of Ground Control shoes? These horses live in a rocky, hilly pasture that tear off glue-on shoes within days of application, so we need something that can be nailed on securely.

—Diane Greene

A: Urethane shoes are great. As far as having a trainer quit because he or she didn’t like the shoes, then that trainer is probably not looking out for the horse’s best interest.

If the horses are performing well and lameness isn’t an issue, then what’s all the squawking about?

As for an alternative urethane shoe, you might want to try E-Z Walkers. They’ve been used extensively in Austria and other European countries with excellent results and have acceptance among the high “Muckity Mucks” in the eventing endeavors.

E-Z Walkers can also be studded and clipped. The manufacturer suggests you follow their certification course for application (I happen to be certified with them). Whereas the Ground Control shoes have a general universal shape, the E-Z Walkers seem to have the typical European “fullness” shaped into them. I like both and use both for various horses.

Do a Web search on your browser for E-Z Walker horseshoes. A word of warning, though. If those trainers balked at the Ground Control shoes, you just may shock them with the look of the E-Z Walkers! They are bright yellow and green!

Boost your client’s self esteem and commend her for being progressive in her thinking and for allowing her horse’s feet to act naturally, but also reassure her that she’s doing the right thing by protecting the horse’s feet with urethane shoes.

As to heaviness, I think they weigh about the same as a typical St. Croix Extra Eventer clipped shoe. Combine that shoe with the pads you see on a lot of jumping horses and the Ground Control shoe is probably lighter and absorbs more concussion.

Tell your client to ask the trainer if he or she would rather run in clogs or sneakers? Or run track hurdles in penny loafers or sneakers? I guarantee they’ll pick sneakers every time. Ground Control shoes are sneakers for horses.

If the E-Z Walkers aren’t the answer, I know of a couple other urethane shoes on the market, but I have not used them. One is a rather clear, hard urethane with a bar attachment at the heels. Another is a combination-shoe featuring aluminum with urethane molded onto it. I have also heard of a “Marathon” shoe, which is urethane.

—Kim Hillegas

Duckett’s Dot And The 4-Point Trim

Q: I’ve been shoeing for quite a few years and am embarrassed to say that I don’t have any information on Duckett’s Dot or the 4-point trim. What I’m looking for is complete instructional information on both, so that I can study and make my own comparisons. There is a lot of talk on both techniques, but I’m more interested in the step-by-step procedure and history of both techniques.

—Jeff Ohaco

A: Check out American Farriers Journal back issues (the AFJ Web site site has a valuable article-search index for finding articles on specific topics) for information on both techniques.

4 Duckett’s Dot: Deals with visualizing an internal pivot point of the foot and then modeling the hoof around that point.

4-Point Trim: Is modeled after the way so-called “wild horses” wear their feet down and the farrier is encouraged to copy that hoof shape.

Of the two methods, I’d say Duckett’s Dot is more valuable as a training technique because it trains you to “see” inside the foot and to be aware of how the foot relates to the rest of the leg.

I don’t necessarily subscribe to the theory that what works for wild horses will work for our domestic horses — mainly because Mother Nature breeds them for survival and we breed these horses for entirely different purposes. Besides, a lame wild horse is a dead horse. A lame domestic horse, more often than not, can be rescued.

This July/August, 2004, issue of the American Farriers Journal has an excellent article by Dave Ferguson (Page 40) regarding various methods of trimming.

—Kim Hillegas

A: I did a little research and went back to the articles and sources I consulted when I did a research study on medial and lateral balance when I was at Colorado State University. The main Duckett article I found was by Susan Bumbaugh in the Summer 1992 issue of Hoofcare and Lameness. It explains the dot and the bridge very well.

Some of Duckett’s concepts are similar to those in William Russell’s book called Scientific Horseshoeing, published around the turn of the century (1879). Jno Dollar’s book, A Handbook of Horseshoeing, also written around the same time (1898), and contains numerous concepts in it that are still viable today. Duckett’s concepts match hoof and limb, anatomy and physiology very well.

It’s great to hear that you’re learning everything you can about the various trimming methods. Once equine anatomy is learned, it’s quite easy to determine how horses should be trimmed and shod according to their individual needs. You can never learn too much about equine anatomy and physiology.

Remember to never just take someone’s word for it at a clinic or lecture. Make sure you see the trimming method in practice and over time. See the proof. You need to be careful, as not all methods of trimming and shoeing are equal. And some are based on faulty principles of anatomy and physiology.

—Nate Allen

EDITOR’S NOTE: The upcoming 2005 International Hoofcare Summit, January 26 to 29, 2005, in Cincinnati, Ohio, will feature an informative and highly educational lecture by Huntsville, Ala., farrier Mike Miller called “Trimming Effectively For Multi-Conformations.” This must-see lecture compares and contrasts a wide array of trims such as the “4-point trim,” “high-performance trim,” “natural trim,” “barefoot trim,” “natural-balance trim,” “universal sole-thickness trim,” and more, with traditional trimming techniques that have served farriers well for over 100 years.

For more information or to register for the 4-day, 2005 International Hoofcare Summit, call (800) 645-8455 (U.S. only) or (262) 782-4480. Or mail to International Hoofcare Summit, P.O. Box 624, Brookfield, WI 53008-0624. Or visit the Web site at: www.americanfarriers.com/ff/IHCS.

In our efforts to fine-tune our Web site, we’ve added a “Help Desk.” The Help Desk link is located at the bottom of the left-hand column on each page on the site. Clicking on it takes you to a list of frequently asked questions that answer any questions you may have about the Farriers’ Forum. Here is the procedure for posting on the Forum.

1. Go to our Web site at: http://www.americanfarriers.com

2. Register on the site (on the top left-side of the screen). Registering allows you access to post on the message board and allows us to notify you whenever something new has been posted. You don’t need to register to view any of the messages on the Farriers’ Forum. To view messages, go to the Web site message board at:


3. Once you’ve registered, make sure you login as a user (so the system knows you’re on the site and allows you to use the board). Simply click on the “Login” button at the top left of the screen. When you’re logged in, the Login button will change to “Logout.”

4. After you’ve logged in, go to the message board by clicking on the “Farriers’ Forum” button on the left-hand side.

5. Select one of the discussion boards to post a message on by clicking on it.

For example, you would click on the “Forging” message board to post a question or answer regarding modifying a keg shoe. You also need to click on a discussion board to see what discussions are already started on it.

6. To post a message, click on the “Start New Thread” button, which is just above the boards on the upper right. If you want to reply to another user’s message, simply click whichever highlighted thread (a thread is another name for a message) you want to post on and double-click on “Post Response.”

(Please note that you cannot post on the “Archived Boards.” Those boards are “read only.”)

7. When you click the “Start New Thread” button, a box will pop up. Type in your message and post. Using The New Farriers’ Forum