How To Remove a Horse Shoe

While it is generally preferable to have a professional shoe your horse, situations may arise where you may have to remove a horseshoe on your own. For example, while out riding, your horse's shoe might come loose or even partially twisted off, exposing your horse to potential injury. For such emergency situations, knowing how to remove a horseshoe in the absence of an available farrier is a skill every horse owner and rider should have.

  1. Safety first! A good pair of leather gloves will protect your hands from injury.
  2. Stand so that you are facing away from the horse's head. This will place you in the most comfortable angle for both you and the horse. Pick up the hoof and rest it between your legs just above your knee. If you own chaps, wear them. Like the leather gloves, chaps offer better protection.
  3. Remove the clinches either using nippers to cut them off or, better yet, a rasp to file them off. Remember to use only the smoother side of the rasp on the hoof wall.
  4. Loosen the shoe by grasping it with a pull-off, or pinchers, and pulling carefully towards the opposite quarter of the hoof. Repeat on the other side of the horseshoe. This will loosen all of the nails in the shoe.
  5. When the shoe is loose, tap the shoe back down. The now-exposed nails will be easier to grasp with the pull-off.
  6. Remove each nail with the pull-off. Nail nippers will also do the job and the smaller tips may be gentler on a sore hoof.
  7. Once all the nails have been removed gently pry the shoe free, starting from the heel and angling toward the toe of the foot.
  8. When removing a horseshoe, always use caution, especially if the hoof is inflamed or sore. Too much pressure or sudden movements may cause the horse to kick out or pull its hoof away unexpectedly.
  9. If there is no serious injury to the hoof, use the rasp to file down the edge hoof a bit, especially toward the toe. This will prevent the horse from cutting itself with a ragged edge (or you, if you need to pick up the hoof again).
  10. If the hoof is injured or inflamed, use a hoof boot or slipper to help protect and pad the hoof.
  11. Schedule an appointment with your farrier to have your horse's hoof examined as soon as possible.


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