Glenn

How many nails in a horse shoe?

19 posts in this topic

I have heard 7 nails per shoe, but have read numbers from 4 to 10 nails per shoe. The number may change with the breed of horse, heavies using more nails than a small horse, and the type work the horse is expected to do.

How many nails are used to attach a horse shoe to a hoof? And why.

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as you said it would depend a lot on the size of the horse and size of the shoe and also the condition of the hoof.  There  are different size nails.  So all that said MOST shoes I've used or had attached to many different size horses over 55+ yrs had 7 nails, mostly because I was taught that way and all my Farriers were from the same family,  3 on the inside and 4 on the outside.  Some of our really big draft horses had 7-9 nails.  Oxen 3 usually.  We had some pulling ponies that had 6. 

I watched a farrier a couple yrs. ago at a NE Blacksmith event make a shoe from bar stock and he only put 7 holes in it  and as he mainly makes each shoe he places the holes where the horse needs them instead of where the factory makes them.  Sounded reasonable to me.  Like us going to buy a pair of boots it is best to get the ones that fit instead ones the boots salesperson said should fit. 

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A story. Bob Gerkin, RIP, operated his horseshoeing school in Houston, Texas. He was in the army in WW II, stationed in Southeast Asia and because he was a horseshoer, he and some fellow shoers were assigned to shoe pack string animals for our war effort. They didn't have much material to work with except horse drawn wagons, forges, anvils, and hand tools. According to Gerkin, their horseshoes were made out of "anything we could drag up." So, on the road, they were always looking for scrap iron and steel to forge into horseshoes. Horseshoe nails was another matter. They couldn't order the manufactured nails that they were used to using. The big brand name back in the states was Capewell, and riding horse size was normally a #5. They found a Chinese man who was a professional horseshoe nail maker. It turns out that he was a man without legs. They made a deal with him so that they could haul him by wagon wherever they were going. When they put up camp and went to work, they lifted him out and sat him on the ground with his box bellows/forge and anvil. He would go to work making nails. The horseshoe nail was rectangular shanked, had a tapered head and a slight bevel at the pointed end. The bevel when properly done, would allow the nail to curve slightly and emerge from the side of the hoof wall where it would be nipped and a little projection would be clinched. The nail is made of low carbon steel.

I tell this story because it reveals the resourcefulness that some of our troops had when faced with a situation. I think of the nail maker also. He must have been able to work in a meditative state realizing that this was his life, and he would do what it takes to make that life worthwhile.

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Fabulous story Frank.  People have little knowledge of these things or what made the war arrive at a successful end (for us at least).  I met a man a few yrs. ago who like my father was a Combat Glider Pilot but he flew into and out of Burma being towed on a 300' rope over the hub carrying among other things Army Mules into hand made landing strips then clean out the glider and load wounded back in, he would then stretch his 300'  tow line between to tall poles and a C-47 would fly over with a hook on the tail like the landing hook on Navy planes snatch onto the tow line and yank him into the air and tow him back to India.  These strips were cleared by the local Chinese peasants to help the war effort. If caught by the invading Japanese these peasants were slaughtered  for helping the Allies.  Most of these stories are being lost from neglect of our higher education facilities who can't be bothered with history older than today. 

Thanks for you repeating this Frank.

 

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Notown, Thanks for your story, as well. Who knows? Bob Gerkin might have been shoeing those mules that were flown in.

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Thank you both for the great stories. I agree we (the general public) never hear them or know much about it. It's great to get some insight.

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with keg shoes we generally do 8, unless one needs to be left out for the sake a crack etc. some smaller shoes and mule shoes use 6.

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great stories, frank and notownkid. as tubalcain2 said usually 8 but often times less depending

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I Had breakfast today with my former Farrier, we no longer have horses, I asked him Glenn's question and learned a few new things.  He comes from a long line of Farriers, 3 generations I know of with uncles and now cousins all in the mix.  He said he has started using 6 nails in resent yrs. along with smaller size nails and two of his cousins have found that with side and toe clips they only need 4!  Now these guys do a lot of endurance horses some wear through shoes in 3 weeks!  they also do a lot of 3 day event horses doing  cross country courses that are unbelievable.  They Have had no problems with these. 

Now just to add things to the mix in their Farrier Course I was told Cornell University is teaching their students  Gluing on shoes!  First I've heard of this.  He also says that just because keg shoes come with 8-10 holes doesn't mean  that many nails are needed or desired  just it gives ability to have a good spot to get  nails into a bad foot.  From this I would say there may not be a complete answer to Glenn's question.       

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notownkid, thats one of the newer methods for feet that are a mess and cant get good nailing though i never had to resort to that. heck it wasnt even thought of when i was shoeing. i went to  a seminar last year and the demonstrator did a lot of sanding on the hoof wall to polish it. i made the comment that if i did that i would have been told not to come back. several other older guys agreed with me.

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Seldom    Like about everything else today the horse world has changed unbelievable in the last 20 yrs.  Far too  many people with horses that know nothing about a horse only the recent books and new theories and in a lot of cases more money than knowledge.  This family of farriers are all in their late 30s and up to mid 50s now and good enough so they  pick their customers to keep and have sent the "Polish the hoof" bunch down the road to someone else.       Can't wait to see a glued shoe. 

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yes it certainly has changed. back in the 70's when a horse lived to 20 or so it was real old. just last week we put down one of our family members that was just a few days shy of 34. my farrier tells me he still does horses that are in their 40's/. so like us the care is getting better in some cases. but it is very true that there are more people with horses that have more money than brains. not too many "horsemen" around.

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3 hours ago, seldom (dick renker) said:

not too many "horsemen" around.

Soooooo True. 

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Glue may have a place, although I've not found it yet. IMO it's a solution in search of a problem.

George

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I would  have a hard time using glue myself.  I will be doing some more research on this.  Someone said they heard it was being used on Aluminum race shoes?? 

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Yes, 

It adheres best to aluminum. Is being used in some limited circumstances. I think unnecessarily for the most part but usually with deep pocketed outfits. It can be a money maker if they don't mind taking two days vis a vis a half hour to get the horse shod.

Biggest drawback is if a horse blows one in the paddock the blacksmith cant fix it. Horse is scratched.

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My understanding for this was to be mainly used for horses that had a problem with the hoof wall that made for difficult or impossible nailing. But like most fixes it was discovered to be a real cash cow tho expensive to get the parts. probably took more thought out of the equation as well.

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4 hours ago, seldom (dick renker) said:

My understanding for this was to be mainly used for horses that had a problem with the hoof wall that made for difficult or impossible nailing. But like most fixes it was discovered to be a real cash cow tho expensive to get the parts. probably took more thought out of the equation as well.

True enough, additionally it has the negative drawback of making it possible for horses to be working that ought to be resting, and people to be shoeing who ought to be plying a different trade.

George

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I can see it being used by a certain crowd of horse owners (notice owners not horseman) that firmly believe that nailing a shoe on Hurts the Horse.  Been in on those conversations for 55+ years now.  Can see some farriers cashing in on this.  Also will cut out the need for Hot Shoeing, which many  will  tell you, causes Excruciating Pain to the Horse.   

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