Shoeing critique, and some questions.

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Shoeing critique, and some questions.

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    08-09-2012, 06:40 AM
Shoeing critique, and some questions.

First, my disclaimer.

I am in no way a farrier but have been thrown into this out of necessity. I'm working on a remote cattle station where it is not feasible to get a farrier out. Shoeing of the 20 odd work horses and breakers is done by the manager and stationhands. Once a year we have a shoeing school with a master farrier to help us out, and our manager has a fair bit of experience, but isn't a qualified farrier by any means. So we get by as best we can. The horses live and work on sharp rocky country (Iron ore country) and shoes are worn through pretty quick or are thrown. So we have shoeing to do every couple of weeks.

I have been trimming my own horses at home for a few years now with the guidance if a professional, but they are bare and on soft ground so I only ever have to rasp. Using nippers and the hoof knife and the actual shoeing part are completely new to me.

My problems are that I have little hands and not a super strong grip, so I struggle getting through the wall with the nippers, I have to have a hand on each handle and swing off them kind of, which means I find it quite hard to maintain a straight cut. Ditto with using the hoof knife on any part of the sole or bars - Their feet are just so hard I don't make a dent. Any tips?

I also find it hard to see if the foot is level. I think it is, then I try to nail the shoe on and it lifts on one side or twists. Once I have someone check it and tell me where to adjust I can see it plain as day. Any tips on this?

Lastly, I can't for the life of me hammer the first two nails in. Either my aim is off and I bend the nails, or the shoe starts to move and it all goes pear shaped. I've been having to get someone else to get the first two nails in and then complete it myself, which is kind of embarrassing and inconvenient! I don't know if I am holding the shoe/foot wrong, or if I just have bad aim with the hammer which moves the shoe... And tips here greatly appreciated.

I'll post some photos of the two hind shoes I did on one of my work horses yesterday. Please be kind as i'm doing the best I can, but I wold love some constructive criticism. I am really keen to learn as much as I can and improve at this, I hate not being good at something, and seeing as I have to do it anyway I want to be the best I can at it, for the horses sake and my own.

Ok, here is the right hind:

And the left hind:

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    08-09-2012, 06:41 AM
Forgot to add, this is only my second time shoeing, I did all four on this mare at the shoeing school, and then these two hinds.
    08-09-2012, 08:11 AM
I've seen worse done by proffesional farriers;) Something that I've watched my SO do when nailing up is to start on the toe nails and not quite sink the first one home, gives you a little room for maneuvering while helping hold the shoe in place.

Are your nippers good and sharp? Instead of taking a whole blades width in a nip just take a half or less, whatever you can manage. If done right you can creep your nippers along the whole way and get a nice even cut.
loosie and smrobs like this.
    08-09-2012, 08:55 AM
Thank you!

Our manager half sinks the first nail then fully sinks the second and goes back to the first. I tried that yesterday and was having more success, but then it turnoud out the foot wasn't level and the shoe was lifting on one side. So my moment of celebration about getting the first two nails in soon died when I had to pull it off again lol! That was when I went and got help to judge the level.

The nippers and probably not sharp - They are station gear so I don't know how old and probably never sharpened, and normally used by men! Are the difficult to sharpen do you know?
    08-09-2012, 11:34 PM
As you know, no shoeing expert here, but thought I'd offer my 2 bob's worth & interested to hear opinions from some experienced shoers. Looks pretty **** good to me especially for a second ever effort! In the last pic it looks like the shoe has been placed a bit off centre - on heel bulb bit covered, and looks like you forgot to pare the bars on that one. Nails are low, but that's safer than in too far/high when you're learning IMO. I think that's just a matter of practice.

After my first ever shoeing lesson the farrier told me not to come back until I'd had some practice driving nails! I started nailing into wood, then when I got pretty consistent with that(using horseshoe nails, having them come out the side), got me a few cadaver hooves to practice on... & then found the live legs with a horse attached to steady them much easier to work with!

As for your nips, angle & thickness of the blades make them a lot more or less effective. Eg. If you have a look at say March brand nippers compared with el-cheapo horseland ones.... the horseland ones do OK as clinch cutters & shoe pullers I reckon.

As for balance of the ground surface, IME this seems to be just practice & a technical term known as 'getting your eye in'. If you just have someone check your work & point out imbalance, or use something flat(I found I sometimes thought the foot was uneven but it was the shoe), eventually you'll get the hang without having to keep checking so often.
smrobs likes this.
    08-10-2012, 02:24 AM
Ugh, yeah I did forget to pare the bars on that foot. Of course that was the one my boss picked up and looked at lol!

This mare got real fidgety at the shoeing school but she was actually really patient with me nailing this time. I just got through putting her other front shoe on. I was pretty proud, I got the first nails in on my own - The shoe twisted a tiny bit but not too major. I did everything on this foot myself except for a bit of the nipping and just the final check to see if it was level.

This is the front shoe:

    08-10-2012, 04:07 AM
Pardon the pun.... not too shoddy at all
equiniphile likes this.
    08-11-2012, 03:41 PM
Looks good. You pullin those clips? The trick to nailing without the shoe moving is to start with the heel nails and don't try to hold the shoe in place once the nail is started. Also try to get the nails to come out about 3/4 inch above the shoe. Clinches should be square. These look too long. They should be clinched tight, then rasped flush with the wall. The rasping will thin the clinch, allowing it to straigten and slide out in the case of a pulled shoe. Result-no torn hoof walls if you throw a shoe. You'll have something left to nail to.
smrobs likes this.
    08-11-2012, 08:09 PM
Oh really? That might help! Everyone here does the toe nails first, so I thought that was how you had to do it. I'll definitely try the heel mails first. I also hadn't seen anybody rasp the clinches flat. Would that make it easier to pull the shoe? Perhaps that is why they don't do it. These horses pull shoes fairly often, they all have the bad habit of pawing so often hook a shoe in the fence and pull it off. The mare in these photos somehow snapped a back shoe in half - one half still nailed on, the other gone! What do you mean by pulling the clips?

Thank you very much for your feedback!
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    08-11-2012, 08:27 PM
I agree, I've seen a lot worse jobs done by folks who got their main source of income from shoeing.

All in all, not a bad job at all. There are a couple of little things that will come more consistently with more practice, like keeping the shoe straight while driving the nails (my brother starts at the heel as well) and getting the nails to come out an even length from the bottom of the hoof. Some of yours are coming out pretty low, but that may be due to the shoe being off center or it could even be due to the brand of shoe you are using. For example, my Dad uses one brand of shoe and his nails come out higher, my brother uses another brand and his nails come out lower.

Pretty dang good job! You'll only get better the more you do it and it won't be very long at all before you are great.

As for the nippers, they may be dull or old or just a poor quality. The handles may be too short to provide enough leverage or it could just be due to the hooves being so hard.

One thing I can tell you, the more you spend on the initial nippers, the more they save you in the long run. I don't know if they are available in Aus, but my Brother swears by GE brand nippers.

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