- Before a horseshoe can be put on the hoof of a horse, the hoof must be trimmed properly. Trimming a horse's hooves begins with the front and sides of the hoof, making sure they are properly leveled, aligned and angled. The hoof pastern axis is the first area to look at when trimming. When the hoof is not aligned straight up through the pastern when viewed from the side or the angle of the pastern does not match the angle of the point of the shoulder and point of the withers, your horse may end up with lameness issues.
Hoof walls should be trimmed so they are flat and straight without flares on the sides. Flares are areas of the edge of the hoof that are obviously not in alignment with the other areas of the edge of the hoof.
- The most important thing to remember when it comes to shaping the horse shoe for placement on the hoof is that the shoe must be shaped, not the hoof. Once the hoof is trimmed to the correct angles, alignment and levels, the shoe should complement the hoof. Shaping the hoof to fit a standard-shaped shoe may cause problems with the horse in the future and defeats the purpose of a correct trim.
Front and hind hooves are shaped different and should be shod different. The front hooves, which bear most of the horse's weight, are more rounded while the hind hooves are more oval shaped. The shoes should be carefully shaped to fit the hoof without further trimming the hoof. The toe of the hoof should remain at an even slope to the ground, not rounded to fit on the shoe.
The length and size of the shoe should be fitted with future hoof growth in mind. The shoes should be long enough to cover the heels, but not so long that the horses could step on the ends of the shoes with his hind hooves and pull the front shoe off. The rear of the shoe should extend, very slightly, under the edge of the hoof near the heels.
- Horse shoeing jobs do not have to be finished as long as they are properly fitted and the hooves are properly trimmed. Finishing involves a few steps to make the hoof look nice but has no effect on the function of the shoe or hoof.
The placement of the shoe nails should be level with the ground, about a third of the way up the hoof from the ground and be placed on the widest part of the hoof. Placing the nails too far back can prohibit proper function and growth of the heels.
The nail clinches should be uniform, smooth and tight against the hoof. A loose clinch means the shoe is loose and should be repaired.