Here's how farriers inspect, trim and shape horses' hooves

Image: 123RF/auremar.

Farriers observe horses’ legs and hooves while the animal is stationary as well as in motion to check for irregularities, interference, peculiarities in gait or abnormalities in the size and shape of hooves.

They consult with horse owners or trainers to decide on the type of shoe required, then remove worn or faulty shoes and note wear patterns and any foreign bodies, bruising, infections or deformities.

They examine, clean, trim and shape hooves using knives, hoof cutters and rasps. Then then measure hooves, make a template of each hoof on a piece of cardboard and estimate the length of metal required for the shoes. Metal is selected and cut according to the type, size and weight of the shoes and use of the horse, and suitable nails chosen.

They hold shoes against hooves to find out the amount of shaping required, and then heat shoes in a forge, shape them on anvils and hammer them to size.

Once a shoe is ready it is placed and nailed to the hoof and checked carefully so that clips and clenched nails are smooth and lined up with the walls of each hoof.

Farriers may remove steel shoes from horses before they race and replace them with light aluminium shoes or ‘tips’ and after the race replace these again with the steel shoes. Some farriers work in the areas of corrective or surgical shoeing. 

Farriers spend a great deal of time travelling to attend to horses, mainly in country or outer metropolitan areas. Weekend and after-hours work is often necessary. Farriers must work very quickly and have the ability to handle horses, as they may be unpredictable or agitated.

Farriers usually wear some form of protective equipment.

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