Sprung shoe when riding question

My horse sprung a shoe while I was riding him a few days ago and one of the nails went right into the sole of his foot. Fortunately, the farrier happened to be visiting my neighbour and so he was able to remove the shoe. But I’d like to know, if this happens again, should I try to remove the shoe myself, and if so, what is the best method? Or should I wait for the farrier?
SV, Northland

Answer :Thanks for your great question SV. It’s always convenient to have a farrier at hand when this kind of situation arises but although you were fortunate this time, more commonly you’ll be alone or in the middle of nowhere when it happens!

My advice is if the shoe or nails are sticking in the sensitive part of the hoof and causing lameness then it’s best to remove the offending object as soon as possible.

It is sensible (and highly recommended) for every horse owner to have some emergency tools for removing shoes. Taking off shoes can be hard enough for those who are not used to it even with the right tools. Trying to perform the exercise with an old chisel, heavy hammer and pliers with a horse who is already sore and likely to give you a hard time might be very frustrating and end in tempers being frayed.

It could be a good idea to keep your emergency shoe removal tools locked in the float so you have them at the paddock but also with you when you’re at a competition or riding away from home.

It’s probably best to receive some instruction from a professional to show you how to correctly remove a shoe in an emergency if you haven’t done it before. However, some of the basic steps include:

  • Prepare the horse (in a suitable place, away from hazards etc)
  • Prepare yourself (with the correct tools, equipment and frame of mind)
  • Pick out the hoof
  • Raise the clenches (with the hammer and buffer)
  • Gradually work around the shoe levering the shoe away from the hoof (with the pull-offs or pincers)
  • Remove any leftover nails (and offending objects)
  • Leave the hoof in a safe and comfortable state
  • Notify the vet ensuring tetanus jabs are up to date etc
  • Notify the farrier to arrange a time to replace the shoe

It’s always best to be prepared and even better to prevent this happening in the first place. Regular checking of shoes should be done daily when you are picking out the feet and the farrier notified if you notice anything out of the ordinary or a loose shoe.

This question and answer first appeared in NZ Horse & Pony magazine December 2007