15 Aug 2022

Why Horses lose Shoes

It can be frustrating to be on a ride only to discover that your horse has lost a shoe. You often must wait days for a farrier to arrive to resolve the issue, resulting in lots of wasted riding potential. Lost shoes are also more than just an inconvenience. When your horse loses a shoe, it can cause damage to the hoof wall and put the animal’s soundness at risk.

To understand why horses may lose shoes, it’s important to understand how horseshoes stay on and the importance of properly applied shoes. Learn more about why horses lose shoes and what you can do to prevent this problem in the future.

How do horseshoes stay on?

How a horse shoe stays gripped to the foot depends on the type of shoe. Traditional metal shoes are attached to the horse’s foot using several small nails that are hammered upwards from the bottom of the foot. These nails are driven right outside the white line and into the horny hoof wall. Where the nail heads emerge from the hoof wall are then bent downwards to create a clinch that grips the hoof and holds the shoe in place.

Horse shoes generally need to be reset about every four to eight weeks on average due to normal wear and tear and hoof wall growth. The nails that hold the shoe in place will eventually wear out and the nail holes can start to get larger as the nails get thinner. Ideally, the owner will notice the problem before the shoe becomes lost which allows the owner to remedy the issue and prevent damage to the hoof.

There are several signs that could indicate that a shoe needs to be reset or replaced, including:

  • Nail heads that appear sunken or have become so worn that they blend with the shoe.
  • A hollow clinking sound when the horse’s hoof hits the ground.
  • The heel or toe extends past the edge of the shoe.
  • Clinches that protrude above the hoof wall.
  • A shoe that looks offset, twisted, or protrudes from the side of the foot

What causes a horse to lose its shoes?

A horse may lose a shoe for a variety of reasons. When a front shoe is lost, it is usually because the back foot has come into contact with the front shoe, often from overreaching. Overreaching occurs when the toe of the hindfoot hits the heel of the front hoof. When the hindfoot comes into contact with the sole of the front hoof, it is called forging.

The type of shoes being worn can also play a role in why they fall off. When a horse has a broken back pastern axis, they often have more shoe that sticks out the back to protect the heel and promote heel growth. However, having excess steel sticking out of the back increases the risk of them coming off. The overall condition of the hoof can also contribute to the length of time that a shoe stays on.

Other factors can also play a role in how long a shoe stays on, such as the duration of the shoeing cycle and whether the horse has weak or dry hooves. Genetics can also play a role in hoof strength as many Thoroughbreds have thin soles and weak hoof walls. A weak or crumbly hoof is more likely to lose a shoe and signifies that the horse could be lacking in nutrients. Hay and grain alone do not always provide the vitamins needed to support a strong, healthy hoof, so many owners turn to supplements to help.

How Elite Equine Can Help

Many customers have remarked how Elite Equine helped their horse’s feet grow quicker and stronger. This organic rosehip supplement is high in vitamin C and other essential nutrients such as copper, vitamin B, Vitamin E, and biotin which are necessary for equine hoof, joint, and coat health. Contact Elite Equine today to learn more about our pure rosehip supplement!