I cannot begin to tell you how useful this is to have available, close-by, at all times. When I was a teenager and kept my horse on a big livery yard, any shoe dramas (twisted and pulled 1/2 off in the field, that sort of thing) were sorted by a junior hacksaw (to saw off the nail heads against the hoof wall, NOT easy or ideal!), a claw hammer, sometimes a crowbar if there was a spare person to wield it, and about an hour of struggling and cursing by the YO. Is that a familiar scenario?
A few years later I was taught how to remove a shoe properly, and how to trim and then properly round the edges of a foot, and bullied into buying a full farrier’s kit. At the time I seriously resented the expense. Now, many years later, I bless the friend who made me do it. The kit is still so useful, and has paid for itself a hundred times over. It is never drama if there’s a twisted shoe half-off, a huge chunk out of one of the unshod hooves, or one of the unshod ones needs a ‘rub-round’ with the rasp to prevent splitting. Having the right kit is 3/4 of the battle!
Firstly, a proper leather apron. This was ££ and I fought against this one the most, thinking it unnecessary. But if you’re trying to pull a shoe off and some nails are sticking up, you’ll get those gouged through your thigh if the horse tries to pull away. The apron totally protects your legs from this kind of thing. I still get huge bruises above my knees from gripping the foot, but obviously I’m just a delicate little princess (or something…) 😉 😉
Next, single-nail pullers. I’m sure they have a proper name but that’s what I call them! They will grip the top of a nail where it is set into the shoe, and enable you to pull out nails one at a time. For those of us who lack the strength to pull them all out at once, these are a total godsend. A farrier I used to use was strong enough to pull a shoe off cleanly without knocking any of the nail-heads up first, and used to laugh at me, but as long as I can get a shoe off reasonably quickly without causing damage to the horse’s foot (or to my back!), they’re good enough for me!
A rasp. I sometimes do my own trimming, and also roll the edges between trims if they are looking as if they might split. It takes a bit of practice (and a few skinned knuckles) to wield it reasonably well, but it’s great to be able to do it yourself and not need the farrier so urgently. You can see I also have a homemade T-square (in the bucket, top photo) to check the foot balance.
A proper farrier’s hammer (much more accurate and easier to use than a regular hammer, as I soon discovered.)
A buffer, for knocking nail-heads up to make pulling the shoe off infinitely easier, unless you are built like Arnie Schwarzenegger. I also have clinchers for tightening a nail whose head has raised up, shoe-pullers (again, essential for removing shoes without a struggle, hoof-nippers for taking off chunks of hoof from the unshod ones if absolutely necessary, and a knife (hardly ever used, as I’m really squeamish about trimming the frog!)
I also have a proper farrier’s stand (tripod) to hold the foot while I knock the nail heads up if they’re really flat and bedded in – if you have a dodgy back and can’t hold the foot up for ages, this really helps. My horses are great, they will stand with their foot on the tripod and let me knock all the nail heads up with the buffer and hammer, so that the shoe is ready to pull off. There’s also a pair of clinches for tightening individual nails. Even a roll of silver ‘duck tape’ to secure a shoe until the farrier comes, if a few of the nails have been pulled out but it’s (miraculously) still straight and can stay in place. I have just about everything except an anvil… I know my limitations!
But the most important thing is being able to get a twisted or sprung shoe off quickly and safely with minimal effort, before it can do any more damage. For this alone, it is totally worth having the kit. Plus, your farrier will appreciate not receiving any more “You have to get here as fast as possible, his shoe is hanging half off” ‘phone calls, too. He’ll probably advise you on the makes to go for, otherwise Midland Farrier Supplies sells online and is a good bet.