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Why Are Hot Horseshoes Put On The Horse’s Hooves

Why Are Hot Horseshoes Put On The Horse’s Hooves

Horseshoes have been used for centuries to protect horses’ hooves and improve their performance. While there are various types of horseshoes available, one common practice is to put hot horseshoes on the horse’s hooves. This article will explore the reasons behind this practice and shed light on the benefits it offers to horses and their owners.

The Purpose of Horseshoes

Horseshoes serve multiple purposes, including:

  • Protection: Horses’ hooves are susceptible to wear and tear, especially when they are subjected to hard surfaces or uneven terrain. Horseshoes act as a protective barrier, preventing excessive wear and reducing the risk of injury.
  • Support: Horseshoes provide additional support to the horse’s hooves, particularly for horses engaged in strenuous activities such as jumping or racing. The added support helps distribute the weight evenly and reduces strain on the hooves and legs.
  • Traction: Horseshoes can improve traction, especially on slippery surfaces. This is particularly important for horses that participate in activities like eventing or trail riding, where surefootedness is crucial.

The Process of Applying Hot Horseshoes

Hot horseshoeing, also known as hot shoeing, involves heating the horseshoe in a forge until it becomes red-hot and then shaping it to fit the horse’s hoof. The process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Cleaning the hooves: Before applying the horseshoes, the farrier cleans the hooves thoroughly, removing any dirt, debris, or old shoes.
  2. Measuring and shaping: The farrier measures the horse’s hooves and selects the appropriate size and type of horseshoe. The hot horseshoe is then shaped using specialized tools to match the contours of the hoof.
  3. Heating the horseshoe: The farrier heats the horseshoe in a forge until it reaches the desired temperature. The temperature may vary depending on the type of horseshoe and the horse’s specific needs.
  4. Application: Once the horseshoe is hot enough, the farrier carefully places it on the horse’s hoof, ensuring a snug fit. The heat from the horseshoe helps shape it to the hoof and allows for adjustments to be made if necessary.
  5. Cooling and finishing: After the horseshoe is applied, it is allowed to cool and harden. The farrier then trims any excess material and files the edges to ensure a smooth finish.

The Benefits of Hot Horseshoeing

Hot horseshoeing offers several benefits over other methods of horseshoe application:

  • Better fit: The process of hot shoeing allows the farrier to shape the horseshoe precisely to the horse’s hoof, ensuring a better fit. This customized fit helps maximize the benefits of horseshoes, such as protection, support, and traction.
  • Improved hoof health: Hot shoeing can promote better hoof health by addressing specific issues. For example, if a horse has a hoof imbalance, the farrier can make adjustments during the hot shoeing process to correct it.
  • Enhanced performance: Horses with properly fitted horseshoes experience improved performance. The added support and traction provided by hot horseshoes can enhance a horse’s movement, balance, and overall athletic ability.
  • Increased durability: Hot horseshoes are generally more durable than cold-fitted horseshoes. The heat treatment during the hot shoeing process strengthens the metal, making it less prone to wear and breakage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Does hot shoeing hurt the horse?

No, hot shoeing does not hurt the horse when performed by a skilled and experienced farrier. The horseshoe is heated to a temperature that is safe for the horse’s hooves, and the process is generally painless.

2. How long does a hot horseshoe last?

The lifespan of a hot horseshoe depends on various factors, including the horse’s activity level, the terrain it is exposed to, and the quality of the horseshoe. On average, a hot horseshoe can last between four to eight weeks before it needs to be replaced.

3. Can any horse be hot-shod?

Most horses can be hot-shod, but there are exceptions. Horses with certain hoof conditions or injuries may require alternative shoeing methods. It is essential to consult with a professional farrier to determine the most suitable shoeing approach for each horse.

4. How often should a horse be reshod?

The frequency of reshoeing depends on several factors, including the horse’s activity level, hoof growth rate, and the condition of the horseshoes. On average, horses are reshod every four to eight weeks, but this can vary.

5. Can hot shoeing prevent lameness?

While hot shoeing cannot guarantee the prevention of lameness, it can contribute to overall hoof health and reduce the risk of certain hoof-related issues. Regular hot shoeing, combined with proper hoof care, can help maintain the horse’s soundness and minimize the chances of lameness.

6. Are there any alternatives to hot shoeing?

Yes, there are alternative methods of shoeing horses, such as cold shoeing and glue-on shoes. These methods have their own advantages and may be more suitable for certain horses or specific situations. It is best to consult with a professional farrier to determine the most appropriate shoeing method for each horse.


Hot horseshoeing is a time-tested practice that offers numerous benefits to horses and their owners. By providing protection, support, and traction, hot horseshoes help maintain hoof health and enhance a horse’s performance. The process of hot shoeing allows for a customized fit, improved durability, and the ability to address specific hoof issues. While hot shoeing is not the only method of shoeing horses, it remains a popular choice due to its effectiveness and long-standing tradition in the equestrian world.