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How to Remove a Horse Shoe



There are some skills that are so preliminary in veterinary practice that they rarely rate a mention in the veterinary texts. Or if they are mentioned, it is in so casual a manner that it belies the time and effort it actually takes to complete that step in the set of instructions. And yet if you can’t get that first step done, you are unable to progress further. Then there you are – with all that knowledge in your head, and no possible way of utilising it – like a starving person in possession of a can of food, but no can opener. There are many examples of this, but possibly the most apt is removing a horse shoe.

Why learn to remove a horse shoe more efficiently?

The first reason vets should learn to remove a horse shoe efficiently is obvious – the quicker you can remove yourself from any position in proximity of a horse’s legs (particularly if it is young, skittish or bad-tempered) the better. But there are other reasons as well.

“What’s wrong with this image?” one radiologist roared at us during a University lecture on radiographic errors. We were looking at a DP view of a horse’s foot, and the shoe was in place, overlying part of the pedal bone. Not only is removal of the shoe necessary for the treatment of some common foot problems, including simple complaints like a ‘hot nail’, but it is a necessary step in the diagnostic workup, if the hoof is to be thoroughly examined [1] and a complete set of foot radiographs is to be taken [2]. Furthermore, shoe removal needs to be achieved without causing pain or damaging the hoof wall [1]. And since time is money in this profession, making this step as efficient as possible is one way to improve the profitability of the consultation without compromising the attention spent on the clinical components.

“How many vets remove shoes well?” I ask Rodney, the farrier demonstrating in this video, as he works. “Not many”, he says with a grin, “I often have to do a bit of tidying up afterwards”.

Here are a master farrier’s top tips for removing a shoe the right way.

About the Presenter

Rodney Brazzill and Proforge Farriers specialise in performance horses, with Rodney having shod horses at the highest international level of competition, including the World Equestrian Games and Olympic Games.  Rodney and Proforge Farriers welcome referrals from veterinarians for both routine and corrective farriery work. Contact details can be found on the Master Farrier’s Association of NSW website.


[1] Radostits , O.M., Mayhew, I.G and Houston, D.M (eds). Veterinary Clinical Examination and Diagnosis, Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 2000, pp 617-618

[2] Thrall, D.E. Textbook of Veterinary Diagnostic Radiology, 4th Edition, Philadelphia, Saunders, 2002, p 270

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