A Quick guide to common hoof problems & solutions

This quick guide will identify the main hoof problems that I as a Farrier see in my work and hoof problems you can recognise and identify with your Farrier and provide basic treatment. How many of these hoof problems are you aware of?

How many of these hoof problems are you aware of or have encounted with your own horse? Has your hoof care provider made you aware of any problems during their visit and given instructions to manage them?

There is little information on what problems horse owners experience with their horses’ feet, and what sort of hoof care they provide their horses with and why. Melbourne University Researchers conducted a survey into Horse Owners Hoof Care Expectations and Experiences with results shared at the Australian Farriers Conference in 2018.

You can read the citation of the Horse-keeping practices in Australia survey at the bottom of this article.


Start at the heel bulb and pull tight around the toe ensuring half Elastoplast is over sole and the other half is on the hoof wall.


Wrap several layers (approx. ½ roll) around the perimeter of the hoof to build up thickness. Avoid pulling Elastoplast too tight when crossing the heel bulbs.


Make several crosses over the sole with remaining Elastoplast and one or two final layers around the perimeter of the hoof.


Finish by sticking it back on itself. It is important to check the bandaged hoof morning and night to ensure it is not rubbing or restricting any part of the hoof.

Sprung, bent or lose shoes

A sprung or bent shoe is when the back of the shoe bends away from the hoof at the heel and is usually caused by being stepped on by a shoe of another hoof or from the heel of the shoe being caught in a fence or paddock object.

If the shoe is more than 10mm lifted from the sole, the shoe should be removed. If the horse steps down on a clip or nails, it can cause a puncture, bruise, or abscess. If the horse rips the shoe the rest of the way off, it could tear off more hoof wall making it difficult for the farrier to replace the shoe. Taking the shoe off yourself will save the foot, save the shoe, and help your farrier. If it is less than 10mm, use the technique mentioned above and wrap the hoof and shoe with Elastoplast until the farrier can attend.

Have you ever removed a shoe yourself?

In most cases, it isn’t very hard if you have the right tools. All horse owners should have a pair of pincers in their horse kit, along with a few rolls of Elastoplast for situations such as these. Using the pincers, each nail can be removed by pulling the nail sharply down towards the toe. Once all the nails have been removed, the shoe can be lifted off. Ask your farrier to demonstrate the process of removing a nail.

A final word on lost shoes 

Communicate well with your farrier. Don’t wait a week before calling your farrier out to fix the shoe or the day before a horse show. Call or text them immediately, so if they happen to be in your area they can schedule a visit accordingly.

Author: Erin Stevens, Professional Master Farrier

Erin Stevens has been a Master Farrier for 20 years and runs a successful Farrier business in the Hills, Hawkesbury and Wisemans Ferry districts of NSW, Australia.

Erin specialises in Performance horses and working with equine Veterinarians on lameness and therapeutic cases.

Connect with Erin the Farrier.