Lost Shoes by Chris Gregory, CJF, FWCF Heartland Horseshoeing School

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   December 6, 2012 16:17


Losing shoes is a part of having shoes on a horse.  When you look at the physics of what is involved in putting and keeping a shoe on a foot, it is a wonder that we don’t lose more shoes than we do.  Horses work and live in a variety of terrains and environments, and keeping a piece of metal between them and the ground with a few square nails can be quite a feat.

Since losing shoes is a fact of life for a horse owner, you should be prepared for when it happens.  The first thing you want to do is to call your farrier so that they can have as much time as possible to get an additional stop worked into their schedule.  Between the time that you contact the farrier and the farrier’s arrival, you should try hard to find that shoe. 

Finding the shoe is important for a couple of reasons.  First, it may give clues as to how the shoe was lost, and the farrier can then make changes to keep it on.  Second, the farrier won’t have as much work or expense in putting the shoe back on if you have the lost shoe available.  No one is happy about a lost shoe, but when the shoe has been found, it is likely that at least the farrier will be a bit happier.

Be patient when you get hold of your farrier.  Most farriers are booked from can to can’t, so adding another stop is not necessarily an easy thing.

If you have to use the horse, then try very hard to use it in the gentlest way.  Stay to the softer terrain, or look for some of the boots that are offered for this purpose.  If the horse is in need of a reset and the feet are long, it is often a good idea to pull the opposite shoe so that the feet wear evenly.  Check with your farrier first, because they won’t want to nail on 2 shoes if the horse is not getting reshod.

For shoes that are partially still on but hanging by a couple of nails, you should get those off of the foot immediately.  There is good chance that the horse will injure itself with the shoe on the foot in the wrong place.

Every farrier practice has different policies to deal with this situation.  For us, we try very hard to shoe in a way that the foot will always be improving and the horse is comfortable.  There are times when the best shoeing for the horse is not likely to stay on the foot.  Making a decision of millimeters to provide the best support and protection, and still keep the shoe on is part of the learning curve that comes with shoeing each and every individual horse.  That being said, the prettiest shoe that won’t stay on is not a good outcome. 

For me, I shoe each horse as if it were mine.  If it loses a shoe, I will make the changes that I feel are needed to keep that from happening again.  Some of the options are clips, tighter length and expansion, and in extreme cases, barbed heels.  My policy for the owner is that nailing the lost shoe back on is free if they are able to find the shoe.  If not, then it is kind of a case-by-case basis.  A mean owner is likely to get charged and lose their farrier, and I rarely charge the ones that really appreciate the extra effort that it takes to service a horse with a lost shoe.

When your horse loses a shoe, remember that the farrier is probably more upset about it than you are.  It is a fact of life for horses with shoes on, so deal with it and move on.  A lost shoe does not mean a bad farrier, it just means a lost shoe.

Chris Gregory, CJF, FWCF
Heartland Horseshoeing School
327 SW 1st Lane
Lamar, MO.  64759

(417) 682-8484