Everything You Need To Know On How To Take Care Of Your Horse’s Horseshoe Settings FAQs 2021 (Part 1)


The horse owner should have an understanding of the various shoeing methods to evaluate work being done on their horse or prepare them to ask questions out of curiosity to expand their knowledge. We will try and explain some of the reasons for common shoeing problems that occur. Also to establish criteria from which the owners can decide how their horse might benefit from certain shoeing changes or why they are now performing as well as they are. Most of us are not mechanics, but we sure know when there’s something not right with our vehicle. Likewise, a rider can feel when their horse is not striding out or bending as they normally would.

After all, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep on learning about the things we are interested in and involved in. After all these years, I still feel very passionate about what I do for the animals I love.

What Should You Look For In A Properly Trimmed Hoof For Shoes?

Here we assume that we have a normal hoof to dress for shoeing. Starting with the frog which grows in layers, the hoof knife should be run down both sides to clear the channels. This makes it almost impossible for a stone or other debris to lodge in the foot. Rarely should any be taken off the ground surface of the frog. The frog acts as the pump for the whole circulation of the foot and most of the leg.

The sole should be cleaned and checked for bruises or any irregularities. If there are bruises around the outside of the sole this usually means the shoes were resting on the sole or left on too long.

There should be ample concavity to the sole but enough thickness left for protection against stones, etc. The sole should never spring under thumb pressure.

The bottom of the hoof wall should be absolutely flat and with ample heel so as not to expose the navicular area to injury. At the heels you will notice the hoof wall seems to angle in towards the toe of the frog. This is the bar of the foot and should be left even with the wall at the heel creating what is called the buttress. The bar should never be cut out at the heel but should not be allowed to grow around the toe of the frog. This causes an unnecessary concussion hazard.

At the heel between the bar and the wall, the sole should be lowered to avoid corns. There can be some sole touching the shoe when it is fitted to the foot. This sole helps support the wall and the coffin bone.

A foot that is only to be trimmed should conform to all that the shod foot requires. There are three differences:

  1. An extra 1/4″ length should be left for protection
  2. A little extra sole should be left to help strengthen the hoof wall and support the bony column
  3. The outside edge of the hoof wall should be well rounded to prevent chipping.

Are Horse Corns The Result Of Poor Shoeing?

For those that don’t know exactly what a corn is, they are found in the heel area, where the wall angles in toward the tip of the frog, forming the bars. The triangular piece of sole in this corner becomes bruised and forms a corn. It has deep roots and is to be cut out if possible, with the hook of the knife so that there is no pressure on that area. That whole area is known as the buttress at the heel and needs to be kept as a triangle with the bar level with the heel wall, for approximately 1″ for strength. The bar then should be tapered down to the sole.

While corns are a shoeing problem, they are not necessarily the fault of the farrier. If the shoes are left on too long before the farrier is called in in to reset or replace the shoes, then the fault lies with the time between shoeing. By being left on too long the shoes are forced inside the hoof wall and breaks down the buttress at the heel, creating a corn with the shoe pressing on sole in that area. Galloping on hard ground will also push the heels of the shoe up into the corn area. A good setting free of corns mainly depends on proper scheduling and riding according to the ground surface, as well as being set correctly in the first place.

When a blacksmith is responsible for corning a horse he simply has not cleaned the sole out from the seat of the corn area. This is careless dressing of the foot. Also if the heels of a shoe have been shaped too narrow, in no time at all, the shoe will dig down into the heels which will result in corns.

What Can Be The Results Of Bad Horse Shoeing?

Proper horseshoeing is one of the foundations of your horses’ health.  A horse that is shod properly will avoid a vast number of lame conditions.  A horse that is not shod properly is exposed to a wide array of lameness and health problems.  Here’s just a few conditions that can occur due to improper horseshoeing:

  • Thrush
  • Chronic Laminitis
  • Founder
  • Navicular Disease
  • Contracted Heels
  • Arthritis in Spine
  • Capped Elbows
  • Blown Tendons
  • Forging
  • Stumbling
  • Hitting
  • Arthritis in Stifle Area
  • Quicked (Nail is touching sensitive)

Why Hire A Farrier For Your Horse’s Horseshoe Settings?

As a horse owner,  you must be able to assess the quality and relevance of your horse’s horseshoe settings.  This is a must-needed skill.  It’s very hard to find the answers to questions regarding a proper horseshoeing job.  There are so many different opinions out there for the horse owner to come upon, it’s important to point out the solid foundational knowledge that has been evolving over the years.  Farriers are blessed with a huge amount of informational sources, some historical, some from recent scientific developments.  It is with this knowledge a farrier is able to professionally assess each horse’s situation and provide horseshoes adhering to proper size, shape, angle, traction, and numerous other factors for the fit.

What Does A Horse Owner Need To Know When Assessing A Horseshoe Settings?

Obviously, the task of learning the intricacies of the art of farriery is not the goal of every horse owner,  but as horse owners, we can learn to assess the quality of a horseshoe setting.  There are many indicators and signs to look for when a farrier does a horseshoeing job of poor quality.

All it takes is the knowledge of these signs and you will take your horse ownership to the next level – potentially increasing your horse’s health and lifespan as a result.   Taking proper care of your horse’s hooves means not willingly allow him or her to be subjected to a poor horseshoeing job.

As a horse owner,  we all want to know true, sound principles for keeping our horses’ lives healthy, long and enjoyable.  There are 15 key topics that a horse owner should know when assessing a horseshoeing setting. 

  • How long it takes to become capable of good horseshoeing?
  • What to look for in a properly trimmed hoof for shoes or without shoes?
  • How much should be trimmed off your horses’ hooves?
  • What is the proper angle for your horses’ hooves?
  • What is the difference between hot and cold shoeing?
  • What good nailing is when applying a horseshoe to the hoof?
  • What is the cause of “corns”?
  • What kind of traction is good for your horse?
  • Why a shoe is lost?
  • Benefits of “corrective” shoeing?
  • How much rasping is too much?
  • How to know if your horse has been lamed through a misplaced nail?
  • What to do for hoof expansion?
  • How to handle a farrier session?

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