Thankfully, a loose shoe hasn’t happened to me in a very long time but when it has happened it has always been at the most inconvenient time. Here are some tips for dealing with a loose shoe before the farrier arrives.
Helpful tools: Nail clincher, small hammer, duct tape or boot, rasp, and clinch cutter
Perhaps you noticed it as you were cleaning out your horse’s hooves just before your ride, which is when I always seem to discover mine, or maybe you heard it during your warm up at the beginning of your ride. Regardless, for a shoe that is only somewhat loose often times all that is needed for a band aid approach is a pair of clinches and a small hammer. Just as you have likely seen you farrier do hundreds of times, tighten each of the nails with your clinch. For any nails that were slightly looser than the others, lightly tapping them down with your small hammer can do just the trick. Of course each situation is different but in most cases you won’t have to completely postpone your ride for a shoe in this condition. Instead, keep close to home, monitor the shoe often, and dial back your ride to something light on good footing.
Shoes that are moderately loose will cause your ride to be postponed. In this case the hoof and shoe will need to be wrapped. I’ve used duct tape with good success but it does have its limitations and will require frequent changes if it will come in contact with damp or wet surfaces or corrosive surfaces such as rock or gravel. Boots can be a good option of you have one that can be worn over shoes.
Shoes that are extremely loose will need to be pulled altogether. If you’re unsure how to do it correctly, have your farrier demonstrate the method for you the next time he or she is out for a regularly scheduled visit. Wrapping or booting the shoe may be necessary to protect the hoof until your horse can be reshod. It should go without saying that your horse should also not be ridden until your farrier has visited and reattached the shoe.
Even if your horse’s regularly scheduled visit with the farrier is weeks away, place a call to him or her alerting them of the situation and arrange for them to come out early before the loose shoe causes any damage.