Horseshoes: Types and Uses

Last Updated on July 28, 2020 by Allison Price

It might be interesting to share with you the common types of horseshoes.

There are several types available for different purposes. A good farrier chooses the correct shoe by assessing the horse’s feet, way of going and confirmation. Considering previous injuries, the type of work and riding surface as well.

Here are the types of horseshoes and their uses:

Regular Shoe

This is what the majority of horses wear.

It’s often called “keg” shoe when it’s pre-made by machine.

This shoe supports the normal hoof. And protects it under regular riding circumstances. The grooves where the nail holes lie are called “fullers.” And they are a channel to allow space for the nail heads to sit so they are more secure.

Rim Shoe

A rim shoe is like a regular shoe. But it has a deep, wide groove through the middle. The groove allows the horse to get a little more traction.

Rim shoes are very useful for sports that need speed and quick turns. Like roping and barrel racing.

Bar Shoe

Bar shoes have extra bar on the back part of the shoe. It is generally for extra support in the back of the hoof, heel or leg. It also helps hold the hoof together if excessive hoof movement is counter-indicated. Which might be the case in a hoof injury.

Egg Bar

An egg bar shoe gives even more support to the back of the hoof and leg by extending beyond the heel.

It is usually used for horses with navicular disease.

It is made of aluminum which is lighter in weight. And easier to add wedge if the heels need to be raised.

Heart Bar

Heart bar shoes have the same advantages with other bar shoes. But it has an addition of frog support. Oftentimes, it is used for horses with laminitis. You can add pads or stand-alone packing materials. This is to fill the gaps between the hoof and the frog support.

Why do horses need shoes?

You may have heard of the saying: “No foot, no horse”

Without healthy hooves, the horse is unlikely to remain sound.

Horse’s feet perform vital functions. It supports the weight of the horse, absorbs shock, provides grip, and helps pump blood up the horse’s leg. So, we must take care of the feet properly.

Benefits of shoeing a horse:

  • Comfort and protection
  • Excessive hoof wear
  • Prevents injury
  • Increase in balance
  • Increase in stability and traction on most terrains

How do I know if my horse needs shoes?

Like human beings, horses are individuals. Knowing whether your horse needs shoes or not depends on a variety of factors. These include:

  • Age of your horse
  • Size
  • Confirmation
  • Workload
  • Action
  • The type of terrain and surface they are expected to work on
  • Living environment
  • Hoof care needs

Having correctly fitted shoes allows your horse to work and perform better. Therapeutic shoeing can help correct horse’s gait. This enables the horse to be excellent in their performance. And helps with lameness conditions.

You may talk to your farrier and vet to help you decide on the best type of hoof care and shoeing needs for your horse.

How to remove a horse shoe?

As horse owners, we should know how to remove a horseshoe. In times when your horse’s shoe loosens, and you can’t get a hold of your local farrier. Follow the simple steps below to remove a horseshoe:

  1. Move your horse to a hard surface like a concrete floor or a horse stall mat
  2. For the front foot, position yourself as close as possible to your horse. Grip the horse’s foot between your thighs
  3. Carefully saw off the nail clinches using the narrow edge of the horse rasp. Hold the rasp parallel to the hoof wall. Remove as little of the hoof wall as possible.
  4. When a nail clinch loosens, switch sides to another nail. Keep switching sides until each nail clinch pops out of the horseshoe.
  5. Use the horse nippers until all the nails have loosened enough for the horseshoe to come off.
  6. To remove a shoe from a back hoof, stand beside your horse with your bank to his flank. This reduces the chances of you getting kicked. Keep your horse’s fetlock in your lap as you remove the shoe. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5.

How often should I change horseshoes?

You should plan to have the farrier reset your horse’s shoes every six weeks. When you see these signs, your horse’s shoes might need to be reset:

  • Nails are loosened and pushed up from the hoof wall
  • Nails that extend further out of the shoe on the underside than the time they were first put on
  • The shoes become loose or come off altogether
  • Hoof starts to overgrow the shoe and is starting to get out of shape
  • Shoes have become excessively thin or unevenly worn
  • When shoes are twisted on the foot

The signs might mean it’s time for a reset. But it’s not advisable to wait until you notice one of these things. Most of these signs show that the shoes have been on too long. Although nails can loosen and shoes can twist or wear prematurely.

Six weeks is a guideline for good hoof health. This is also the time that your horse will have to be trimmed. Some horses may need to be reset sooner. And some can go a little longer. But don’t leave shoes on for months, that is too long already. It can damage the hoof. And overgrown hooves can lead to soft tissue damage – like strained tendons and ligaments.


Horseshoes are a need in professional horse riding. They protect the feet of your horse. And keep them from getting sore when they perform jumps and gallop at fast speeds. But using them incorrectly can harm the horse. Make sure to use the correct type and size. And be careful when angling or attaching it to the hoof. Also, trim the horse’s hoof regularly.

Bring your horse to a local farrier and get your horse’s horseshoe professionally placed. During training, observe if your horse is uncomfortable or in pain. It could be a bad fit, a lost horseshoe or an infection.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!