How do I pull a tweaked, twisted, almost off horse shoe? 



Have your farrier give you a lesson at your horse's next appointment for new wheels!


Luckily, I know a horseperson (me) and a Farrier (Ernest Woodward) that both have experience with pulling shoes.  Ernest helps us out here with technical side of things, and I stick to the funnies.  

If you own horses, work with horses, or even look at horses in a book, you will need to do this at one point or another.... Pull a shoe yourself.  

This inevitably will happen when you are far from the barn, it’s cold and/or rainy, and your Farrier is taking a vacation.  (Farriers are like Grooms - they deserve vacations, even if they are few and far between!!)

So let’s tackle why and how to do this.  You will sometimes see shoes that are tweaked a bit, maybe the end is pulled away from the foot.  Sometimes the shoe is twisted, and sometimes there are crazy nails and clips going everywhere.  In all of these situations the shoe needs to be pulled to prevent injury and the nails/shoes from causing damage to the legs or nose or belly.  (Yes, belly.  Horses can get themselves into quite the pickle!)  I have one particular horse whose name shall remain secret (COMET - you know who you are!).  His special trick is to step on the clip.  To the point of hopping 3 legged around the pasture.  So, I learned how to pull a shoe pretty darn fast.  


In an ideal situation, you need the following tools: 

Cell Phone.



If you don’t have one of those handy, a well prepared emergency kit will have:

Shoe puller (logical name)


Clinch Cutter

Crease Nail Pullers


At bare bones minimum, please have a:

Shoe puller


So - what to do?  The most important thing is to remove the shoe without causing further damage. First, you will need to remove the nails.  The nail is first driven through the hoof, then the tip is bent over and rasped smooth, this helps hold the shoe on. So first you will need to bend those hooks up to make it easier for the nail to come out of the hoof and cause less damage.  So once you have crawled under your horse, in to that lovely position that your farrier enjoys all day, use the mallet and cinch cutter to get underneath the clinch of the nail and tap the clinch back straight from the bottom up.  The nail will then exit the hoof wall much smoother and cause less damage to the hoof wall.  



Second, remove the nails.  The crease nail pullers are ideal here, they can get into that groove that the nail sits in (called the crease, thereby “crease nail pullers”) and grab that nail.  This is the safest way you can pull a shoe of without causing damage, because you are simply pulling the nail out straight and not putting any stress on the wall of the hoof.  If you don’t have one of these creased nail pullers, use pliers or your shoe puller.  Likely, if the shoe is tweaked, you can bang the shoe back towards the hoof and the nails will poke out a little and will be easy to grab and remove.  


At this point, if you are able to get all the nails out with the nail pullers the shoe with basically fall right off.  If there are still nails in the shoe or you don’t have crease nail pullers, a pair of shoe pullers can also be used to pry off the shoe. Using this tool works best if you follow a simple pattern, insert the shoe pullers around the shoe towards the heel, grip tight and push inward towards the toe.  Remove and repeat on the opposite side of the shoe. Keep repeating this process moving the shoe puller forward an inch or so each time, always pushing in towards the foot. This will help prevent damage to the hoof. When you get to the toe pull side to side and that shoe will fall right off. Holding on to the leg and bracing the hoof against you knee when using the pullers will make this whole process much easier and more effective.


And we all know how to pack and wrap a hoof, right??  Having a roll of duct tape on your trail ride can not only help protect the foot while you ride back with no shoe on but can also be used to tape a shoe back on that is partially loose, enough to get you back to the barn.


Thanks so much to Ernest Woodward for sharing the knowledge!!

 Your turn!!  Share your stories and experiences!!