For several years, we’ve been adding a boxed list of important points to many of the feature articles that appear in American Farriers Journal. We call these points, “Farrier Takeaways.”

In this article, you’ll find some of the best tips from articles that were featured during 2015, as well as the names of the hoof-care professionals who shared these ideas with AFJ readers. Use these top 50 tips as a reminder for yourself, as a source of information you can share with fellow hoof-care professionals and as a useful learning tool for the apprentices who work with you.


1 There are more similarities than differences in what farriers around the world are trying to accomplish — creating strong hoof capsules through controlling hoof distortion and focusing on medial-lateral and anterior and posterior balance.
— Grant Moon, Staffordshire, England

2 Avoid trimming the hoof wall too short at the quarters, which will cause the sole to flare.
— Bob Peacock, Hamilton, Ohio

3 Because subtle changes in a trim can have huge impacts, it’s essential that Standardbred shoers record toe lengths and hoof angles.
— Conny Svensson, East Windsor, N.J.

4 The combination of the shape of P3 and the shape of the arches determine the shape of the hoof capsule.
—Mike Savoldi, Shandon, Calif.

5 If black lines remain after trimming the bars, they haven’t been returned to their point of origin.
— Tab Pigg, Azle, Texas

6 A heel-first landing contributes to the highest peak accelerations and peak frequencies, although the potential dangers are unknown.
— Jeff Thomason, Guelph, Ontario

7 It’s often easier on an injured horse to trim and shoe an affected foot on one day and then work on the other feet a few days later.
— Todd Gillis, Richfield, Wis.

8 Feet that function well have a horizontally planed hoof capsule, a well-shaped arch that holds the distal border of the P3 bone above the proximal border of the white line and an arch that is supporting a horizontally planed P3 bone.
— Mike Savoldi, Shandon, Calif.


9 A wooden shoe often offers a horse more comfort because it supports the entire sole and you can be more aggressive with breakover.
— Raul Bras, DVM, Lexington, Ky.

10 Some slipping during the stride is acceptable — it helps the horse’s body dissipate energy from the impact of stepping on the ground.
— Chris Pardoe, North Mymms, England

11 Less attention is often given to shoeing the hind feet in the erroneous belief that the front feet are more important.
— Red Renchin, Mequon, Wis.

12 Carrying size 0 and size 2 plain horseshoes and relying on your forging skills can save you money and valuable space in your farrier rig
— Bob Schantz, Foristell, Mo.

13 Gather data about the environment, conformation, discipline and rider to help determine the horse’s proper shoe fit and the frequency of shoeing.
— Steve Sermersheim, Divernon, Ill.

14 Ease a horse into traveling with traction devices if it has never experienced them before.
— Lester Yoder, Shreve, Ohio

15 If breakover assistance is necessary, avoid setting the shoe back past the toe pillars, which can be found by mapping the foot.
— Simon Curtis, Newmarket, England

16 Shock vibrations appear to transfer from the hoof wall and sole, through the laminae and up the limb through the metacarpal bones.
— Jeff Thomason, Guelph, Ontario


17 Soak leather hoof pads in water so they “mold” better to the foot.
— Doug Workman, Cleveland, Ga.

18 The heel expansion and flexibility that a flip-flop pad offers is intended for dealing with lameness issues, but it can also change a horse’s gait to limit interfering and improve soundness.
— Tim Cable, Blasdell, N.Y.

19 With a pour-in pad, try applying the material freehand so you can directly control the volume and placement of the material.
— Todd Allen, Vandergrift, Pa.

20 Drill a hole into pads using a countersink bit before you nail them onto a foot so you can lift the pad and inject a urethane or other type of packing material.
—Tim Shannon, Moreno Valley, Calif.


21 Sharpen your hoof knife at a buffing wheel without wearing gloves so you can feel the heat building up in the blade.
— Roy Bloom, Drummond, Wis.

22 A quality set of nippers should have a razor-thin amount of light between the blades when they are gently closed. When the handles are squeezed, the blades should eliminate the gap.
— Danny Ward, Martinsville, Va.

23 Rasp aluminum shoes rather than grinding them as the grinder places hazardous dust particles in the air.
— Doug Workman, Cleveland, Ga.

24 Use a stall jack at the horse for minor tweaks to avoid making more trips back to the anvil.
— Doug Houge, El Paso, Texas

25 Applying a soft sole packing material to the jaws of your nail cutters works best when the area is small, allowing the material to adhere to the tool and stabilize.
— Bob Smith, Plymouth, Calif.

26 Earplugs or earmuffs should be worn when working at the anvil or grinder to prevent hearing loss.
— Dan Bradley, Lucedale, Miss.

27 Rasping at the vise will help you learn to control the tool and improve your work on the foot.
— Cody Gregory, Lamar, Mo.


28 With the injury risks involved in farriery, it’s critical to establish an emergency savings account that to cover a year of living expenses.
— Shane Westman, Bow, Wash.

29 Your farrier business should have a ratio of about 70% gross income vs. about 30% for costs.
— Adam Wynbrandt, Sacramento, Calif.

30 Your goal in forging competitions shouldn’t be to win money, but to learn as much as possible from the other competitors.
— Victor Frisco, Crestwood, Ky.

31 It is critical that you understand what you can and can’t do in your farrier practice under your state’s veterinary practice act.
— Jamie Cooper, Cleveland, Texas

32 Team members in a multi-farrier practice should be identified as equal associates by your clients so your employees will have their respect and confidence in your absence.
— James Gilchrist, Wellington, Fla.

33 Your independent contractor status might be in question if you collect a large proportion of your income from one or a small number of commercial barns, trainers or vet clinics. In addition, you could be financially at risk if you employ an apprentice or a series of apprentices.
— Buck O’Neil, Horse Shoe, N.C.

34 Remaining firm on keeping clients’ horses on a schedule is crucial to maintaining good feet and making customers happy.
— Kyle Crawford, Lawson, Mo.


35 If clients have a question that is important to them, stop what you are doing, take off your apron and listen.
— Doug Houge, El Paso, Texas

36 Taking the time to educate a new owner can pay off when they become more alert about the signs of an unhealthy foot.
— Tommy Boudreau, Mineral Wells, Texas

37 Document your hoof-care advice to owners and trainers in a notebook that you keep in your truck. In addition, include the advice on invoices and receipts that you send to the client, as this can help avoid situations in which your advice isn’t being passed on to the client.
— Scott Chandler, Ocala, Fla.

38 Weigh the benefits of some client experiences that may not be as directly rewarding financially, but offer tremendous educational opportunities.
— Doug Houge, El Paso, Texas

39 Although offering certain services, such as polishing hooves, won’t improve the way a horse moves, it can make a difference in how the client perceives you.
— Craig Stark, Chelsea, Okla.

40 With new clients, try to gather as much information about their animals as possible so you can be aware of any special needs or difficulties in working with their horses.
— Steve Kraus, Ithaca, N.Y.


41 When there is a possibility of extensive involvement of white line disease, shoeing the foot before resecting the hoof can be helpful. The shoe must provide caudal frog support and have a blunted, pulled back, rolled toe so the lever arm is decreased at the toe.
— Red Renchin, Mequon, Wis.


42 A modified heart bar shoe that uses the strong part of the foot, while floating the sore area, will help a horse get much more
comfortable in order to aid in the healing process.
— Cricket McLaren, Eagle, Colo.

43 Early diagnosis of a locking patella can be difficult because it might appear to be a low-grade lameness or a behavioral problem.
— Stuart Muir, Lexington, Ky.

44 To prevent soft tissue injuries, it’s important to understand and identify conformational flaws and the sprains and strains that often accompany them.
— Eric Gilleland, Social Circle, Ga.

45 Being present when X-rays are taken is the best way for farriers to ensure that you receive the images you need.
— Laura Pylman, DVM, Laingsburg, Mich.

46 While a flare that’s caused by a medio-lateral imbalance should be corrected if possible, some conformational issues might be better left alone.
— Cathy Lesperance, Fergus, Ontario

47 Before debriding and removing a keratoma, build and apply a shoe to spare the horse from having you hammering on a sensitive foot, as well as providing support and protecting the integrity of the hoof capsule.
— Joe Santos, Woodbury, Conn.

48 A foundered horse should not be treated without first taking radiographs.
— Raul Bras, DVM, Lexington, Ky.

49 Horses that have a sheared heel on the medial side usually also have an inward rotation of the distal limb. Horses that have a lateral shear are fetlock varus.
— Remington Leach, Lexington, Ky.

50 Shoeing options to manage caudal heel pain revolve around easing breakover and can include pads, bar shoes, wedges or increasing the hoof angles.
— Kevin Kersh, DVM, Ames, Iowa