How can I help prevent my horse from yanking his shoes?

Let me guess - he always yanks or tweaks a shoe when the farrier is on a rare vacation…  So many factors go into the stickability of a horse shoe, and of course these factors can change day to day.  In basic terms, any horse with any horse shoe is going to have that shoe loosen over time.  It’s because your horse moves, sometimes gracefully and sometimes not, and his hooves grow.  His hooves also expand and contract with moisture and movement (or lack of).  This all plays into the life span of those nails.  We can, however, look at a lot of factors and make some adjustments.



You can spend A LOT of time looking for lost shoes.... 


  • How healthy are your horse’s hooves?  Brittle and dry hooves tend to crack and fall apart.  Your Veterinarian can suggest some dietary adjustments to make and your Farrier can update you on progress.  Your Farrier will likely have some topical suggestions for you, also.  


  • Is your horse on a regular trimming and shoeing schedule?  It’s important to keep the trimming schedule appropriate so his hoof isn’t growing too much. Otherwise you have a hoof that goes from ideal, to needing another time, to way past needing a trim and the correction is more severe.  This likely means that 8 weeks is too long for some horses.  Note that the schedule changes with seasons, genetics, the quality of your horse’s feed, his exercise schedule, lots of factors. 


  • What’s the moisture situation at your farm?  Lots of mud and wet, or super dry and arid?  This all plays a part in how well the nails stay in the hoof.  Of course you can’t control a lot of this, but keeping his feet out of the extremes might help.  Your Veterinarian and Farrier can advise you on that. 



Don't wait too long between farrier visits.  



  • How much mud is your horse exposed to?  Mud doesn’t actually pull shoes off - it’s the extra time that your horse spends puling his feet out of the mud that allows the hind leg to interfere and catch the front shoe.  And yes, it might just be a millisecond.  


  • How much fly stomping does your horse do?  This is wear and tear on his shoes and nails - not to mention his joints and soft tissues!  Get the fly situation under control and go from there. Tips on battling flies can be found here. 


  • How balanced is your horse when he moves?  Horses that travel on the forehand have the same predicament as being in mud, or deep footing for that matter.  The hind legs come off the ground first and can step on the front shoes.  


  • Does your horse stall kick or weave?  Or like to stick his leg through the fence?  All super ways to weaken the bond between shoe and hoof.  Not to mention causing some property damage along the way.   Address those behavior issues and shoe losing might subside. 


  • Is your horse’s routine consistent?  I’ve known lots of horses with limited turn out that take full advantage of being a shoe pulling hooligan when they are turned out.  Daily and regular turn out often eliminates the need to celebrate, it becomes his routine and not a luxury.  




  • You might want to invest in a good pair of bell boots for your horse, and address any movement issues he’s having under saddle.  Perhaps this will cut down on your shoe hunting missions in the pasture!  For more info on all sorts of bell boots, read this!