To be able to nail on a lost or removed shoe is very practical for any horseman, however one’s ability to remove a horseshoe is essential in the care of shod horses. There are many situations that require the removal of the shoe as soon as possible. The farrier cannot always come the same day and so it is important that we learn how to do it ourselves. In instances where the shoe is bent or twisted it must be removed immediately, because if left in such condition, it could cause serious injuries to the horse e.g. fracture of the coffin bone etc. Other reasons that may require the removal of the shoe are hoof abscess, hot nail and similar problems.
Pulling off the shoe is fairly easy, depending on how the shoe is fastened and how long the shoe has been on. First of course you need to remove the clinches by either cutting them off or by rasping them off. In cases where the shoe has side clips, or when shoe was recently nailed on, it is recommended that you remove each and individual nail one by one and not use the pull-offs, lest you will break up the hoof. The same goes in situations where there is some inflammation in the sole of the hoof, usually caused by some sort of abscess, hot nail or foreign object penetrations. In such cases we must exercise caution, because the pull-offs will press against the sore sole and horses will tend to react strongly, usually by quickly pulling the leg from you or in case of hind legs possibly kicking. In such situations it is best if we again remove one nail at a time, using the nail pullers. Using the nail pullers, when removing a shoe in a case of a hot nail, will also help us identify the nail that caused the injury, since the horse will more likely react strongly at the slightest pull on the nail in question. There are some instances when the nail pullers will not work, depending on the condition or type of the nail head or the groove in the shoe. In such cases try to pry off the shoe just a little, then tap the shoe back down and pull the nail that is partially raised above the shoe with the pull-offs. Then simply repeat this process, prying and tapping down the shoe little by little from the heel part toward the toe removing one nail at a time. If the horse’s sole is sore, start first on the side that is not sensitive or hurts less.
Tools needed: (from the top down) nail pullers, pull-offs and a rasp
Rasp or cut off the clinches first
Remove one nail at a time. Practical if the shoe is still very tight, in case of abscess or hot nail. Also much easier for the novice and the shoe will not bend, which is handy if we want to put the shoe back on.
Using the pull-offs can be somewhat more difficult for some folks. Be careful not to damage the hoof.