Replacing lost shoes

Q: My new farrier charges me to replace a cast shoe, but my old one never used to. I feel a bit resentful, as why should I pay if he hasn’t nailed the shoe on properly in the first place and it falls off or gets sucked off by the mud? What do you think?

Roz, Manawatu

A: Hi Roz. I suggest that it’s highly unlikely that a shoe falls off on its own! If your farrier nailed a shoe to a fence post, it would very likely still be in place six weeks later (and probably six years later too) and not have fallen off. It’s more likely the horses’ behaviour in the paddock or something in the paddock environment itself that is causing the problem.

A farriers job should be to shoe the horse for the benefit of that particular horse, their comfort and long term soundness as a priority. With regards to the shoes, it’s the owners job to care for and ride the horse to ensure the shoes stay in place (to therefore compliment what the farrier is trying to achieve). The owners responsibility includes where the horse is kept, how it is ridden/competed and so on.

If your horse is shod well but losing shoes frequently then you need to look at what is causing the problem. If you think they’re getting sucked off in the mud and you’re not keen on paying the farrier to replace it then I recommend moving the horse to a drier paddock.

The fencing around horse paddocks is very often unsuitable in NZ. The number of horses with wire cuts from getting their feet through unsuitable fencing is huge in this country. Other than the physical damage to heels, pasterns and the like, the likelihood of pulling shoes off on fences is high for these horses.

I expect your farrier is keen to avoid coming back to replace lost shoes too regardless of whether he charges you for the visit. If you talk to him and work together to find a possible cause of the problem then you can all benefit (including the horse of course). Although talking about “shoes just falling off” might be best avoided for finding the best solution!

David Hankin Dip.WCF

This question and answer first appeared in NZ Horse & Pony magazine, August 2011