How Often Should Your Horse Be Re-Shod?

A Guide to Caring for Your Horse's Hooves

Close-up of a horse's hoof with a new horseshoe

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Having your horse's shoes taken off, the hooves trimmed, and the shoes reapplied is called resetting or re-shoeing. Your farrier is the best person to consult in order to determine just when a reset is due. He/she can recommend the type of shoes, a schedule, and any corrective work that could be done to enhance your horse’s hoof health.

The condition of your horse’s hooves should not deteriorate because they have shoes on. A good shoeing job will maintain or even improve your horse’s hoof health while allowing you to ride over a variety of terrains without hurting your horse.

The Importance of Re-shoeing

Keeping shoes on your horse’s hooves requires a bit more maintenance and attention than letting your horse remain barefoot. A hoof still grows with a shoe on, just like your fingernails still grow even if you are wearing polish. As the hoof grows, the nails that keep the shoe on become loose and the horse can lose a shoe. Regular hoof trims and re-shoeing help keep your horse's hooves in good condition and properly balanced as well as replacing loose nails.

Signs Your Horse's Shoes Should Be Reset

As a rule of thumb, you should plan to have the farrier reset your horse’s shoes approximately every six weeks. There are a number of signs you can look for that your horse's shoes need to be reset:

  • Loose nails that push up from the hoof wall
  • Nails that seem to protrude further out of the shoe on the underside than when they were first put on
  • A shoe becomes loose or comes off altogether
  • The hoof is starting to overgrow the shoe and is getting out of shape
  • The shoe has become excessively thin or unevenly worn
  • The shoe seems twisted on the foot

While all of these signs mean it's time for a reset, it really isn't a good idea to wait until you notice one of these things. Instead, most of these signs indicate that the shoes have been on too long—although nails can loosen and shoes can twist or wear prematurely.

Six weeks is a general guideline for good hoof health. This is also about the time that a barefoot horse will have to be trimmed. Some horses may need to be reset sooner, and some can go a little longer. Don’t leave shoes on for months, though. That can damage the hoof, and overgrown hooves can lead to soft tissue damage like strained tendons and ligaments.

Cropped image of hands working on horseshoe
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The Re-shoeing Process

When the shoes are reset, the farrier will pull the shoes off, trim the hoof growth off, shape the hoof, and nail the same shoes back on. Because there is no natural wear on the hoof—as there would be if your horse was barefoot—the hooves may seem to grow a bit faster. Your farrier may have to reshape the shoes, especially if a problem needs to be corrected.

Shoes can be reset as long as there is no excessive wear to the metal. This will depend largely on the type of terrain you have been riding on. For instance, shoes may only last through one or two resets if you typically ride over an abrasive surface like rocks but may last months if your horse walks mainly on grass.

Once the shoes start to thin, a new set will have to be put on. The initial shoeing will cost more than a reset.