Pulling a shoe is a basic skill that all horse owners should know how to perform, especially in an emergency. It does require a few basic horse shoeing tools including a clinch cutter or rasp, a hammer, and a shoe puller. A crease nail puller is also useful. A leather farrier’s apron is desirable.
Place your horse's foot between your knees. The clinches (the visible bent-over and cut nail tips in the hoof wall that hold the shoe on) can be removed by holding the forefoot between your knees and cutting downward. Place the blade of the clinch cutter against the inside of the clinch. Hit the clinch cutter with the hammer until the clinch is straight or cut. Do this with all of the clinches.
Now close the jaws of the shoe puller under one heel of the shoe, and firmly pry the closed handles toward the toe. Work back and forth between medial and lateral branches of the shoe. Work your way toward the toe, prying it further from the sole until it comes off. If you have any questions, talk to your vet or your farrier, who should be able to give you some practical pointers.
If a shoe is very loose and you have no pullers, steady the hoof on your knee and try to pry the shoe off by grasping it by the heels with your hands and rotating and twisting it around the point of the toe. The clinches may tear out some hoof wall if they are not completely straightened or cut off.
Tips for safety & Success
Lay your tools nearby, but not where your horse will step on them. Halter your horse to begin. An experienced helper is helpful if your horse is moving off.
Caution: Bent clinches are sharp and can cut your legs (hence, the leather apron). Never put your fingers under a partially pulled shoe, because they can get caught if your horse pulls away.
Clinches should be cut, rasped or straightened completely. This will make removal of the shoe easier and reduce damage to the hoof wall. A clinch cutter is faster, but you can also rasp each clinch until it is flush with the hoof wall, taking care not to rasp any deeper. The better fixed the foot is to resist the prying movements, the easier it will be to remove the shoe. Alternatively, you can use a crease nail puller to pull the nails individually.