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How to Remove a Loose Horse Shoe

An alternative to removing clinches is to rasp them off using the fine side of a rasp.

An alternative to removing clinches is to rasp them off using the fine side of a rasp.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your horse's shoe is loose and in need of immediate attention? In this article, we will guide you through the process of safely and effectively removing a loose horse shoe to ensure the well-being of your beloved equine companion.

Be Prepared

If your horses are shod it is ideal to have the basic tools required to remove a loose or sprung horseshoe. Tools to have in your tack room on stand by include: a clinch cutter, pincers/shoe puller, rasp and a hammer.

Signs of a Loose Shoe

Usually if a shoe is loose, you will hear a clicking noise as the horse walks particularly on a hard surface such as concrete. The shoe will hit the ground before the hoof does causing the clicking sound. If the sound is evident check each shoe to ascertain which shoe is loose. If you can wriggle the shoe, there are nail/s missing or the shoe has sprung at the heels, it is best to remove the shoe as it is likely to move and place pressure on the sensitive structures of the sole that may result in a abscess, bruising and ultimately lameness.

Removing the Clinches

The nails also known as clinches must be removed first, for you to remove a shoe. The clinches can be straightened by using a clinch cutter and hammer to straighten the nail shanks. Simply place the pointed end of clinch cutter below the nail shank and tap the other end of the clinch cutter with a hammer to straighten out the nail shank for every clinch. An alternative option to remove clinches is rasping them off by using the fine side of a rasp to file off the clinchs until they are flush with the hoof wall.

Remove each nail.

Now that the clinches are straightened or rasped off flush with the hoof wall use the pincers to remove all the nails from the shoe that you possibly can, to make the next step of removing the shoe as easy as possible.

Levering the shoe off

Using the pincers or shoe puller place it under the heel of the loose shoe carefully checking that both sides of the pincers are fully closed so it is only the shoe you are pincing and not the horse’s sole!

Once the pincers are in place use a slow, gentle rocking action moving the pincers down towards the toe and back to the heel to loosen the shoe on one side and then repeat the process on the other side of the heel. As the shoe becomes loose at the heels, move the pincers along the shoe and repeat the motion as the shoe becomes looser along the rest of the hoof and continue this until you reach the toe.

Lift off

At this stage of the process, all of the nails should be nearly out of the horse’s hoof and the shoe is just about off. For the final lift off use the pincers to gently wriggle the shoe in a back to front motion to remove it totally. It is ideal for the shoe to come off straight so there is less change of widening the nail holes in the horse’s hoof.

Final check

Double check the hoof for any stray nails that could have been inadvertently left in the hoof wall and remove if present. Carefully check there has been no nail penetration of the sole as this is a serious problem and requires immediate veterinarian care.

Lastly discharge any nails, nail heads and the off ending shoe away from the horse so there is no chance of stepping on the debris and causing an injury.

Seek out a farrier

If your horse has a compromised hoof, protect the hoof with a hoof boot, wrap and/or duct tape and confine to a stable or yard until the farrier arrives.

Article: Kerri Cock

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