I hate the sound of a lost shoe.

Bell boots can help keep your horse from stepping on his front shoes.
Bell boots can help keep your horse from stepping on his front shoes.

You know that sound. The light clink or metallic ping that a loose horse shoe makes when your horse steps on pavement. In the beginning it’s so slight that you try to imagine you didn’t hear it. Until it gets louder and more obvious.

I heard that sound today as I put my horse in the aisle to tack him up.

I’ve been away this week working on site at a client and was really looking forward to a relaxing ride to counteract the three 10 hour days and the 500-plus miles of driving.

I rode him on the grass for a brief ride but didn’t want to chance having him pull the shoe and damage his hoof wall. Luckily my farrier is wonderful and agreed to come out tomorrow put the shoe back on.

So what makes a horse lose a shoe?

Too much moisture. Freedom has had trouble holding shoes since this spring when we had several weeks of wet weather. His hoof walls got soft and just weren’t holding the nails. Over the summer I moved him to a barn with better drainage. It’s helped but he still needs more time for his feet to really recover.

Too many flies. Even though it’s cooling off and the horse flies are gone, there are still plenty of bugs out in the pasture and I know my horse has been stamping his feet. This puts a tremendous strain on the nails
that hold the shoes on.
Eventually the clinches loosen up and the shoe comes off.

Too much mud. While mud doesn’t actually suck the shoes off a horse’s hoof, it is a big contributor to lost shoes. When a horse slips in the mud he often leaves that hoof on the ground longer, and as he regains his balance he may step on the shoe and pull it off.

Forging. A horse that hits its front feet with its hind feet can actually step on its front shoe and pull it off. Sometimes this happens because the horse has a huge overstep. Sometimes it’s because the horse is leaving his front feet on the ground too long, allowing his hinds to catch up. There are several reasons why this can happen — soreness or long toes are two reasons. If the reason is an overstride, then bell boots can help. Other solutions include shoeing with a quicker breakover point so that the front hooves have the chance to get out of the way.

Too long between shoeing. If you leave too much time inbetween farrier visits you might notice that the nails start to get loose, that the hoof begins to overgrow the shoe, or that the shoe has started to slide off the hoof. I generally have my horse shod every 5 weeks, especially in the summer when hooves grow faster.

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