What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Shoe Lost While Riding


You are riding and you notice that your horse has lost a shoe. The shoe may have simply fallen off. It is also possible that your horse wrenched the shoe off with another foot. In some cases, this wrenching can cause injury.

Shoes that come off may tear off significant hoof wall as the clinches are ripped through the hoof wall. Horses with soft soles may sustain a sole bruise once the shoe is lost and especially if the horse steps on the shoe or nails. Rarely, the lower limb joints and ligaments are injured.

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your role


What To Do

What you do next depends on the situation, where you are and what tools, equipment and skills you have available.

The moment you notice that your horse has lost a shoe, dismount and assess the foot. If you continue riding you may injure your horse's foot, or they may have already sustained a foot injury that could worsen if you continue riding.

Regardless, try to prevent or minimize further injury. If you can, reset the shoe or put a hoof boot on the foot for the ride home. On the trail, do your best to help your horse navigate around hard uneven surfaces. You may need to walk your horse home if the injury or lameness is severe.

If there is no obvious injury or lameness, evaluate the affected hoof for a few days at home. Monitor the horse for lameness at the walk, and check for digital pulse and heat. In most cases, your vet does not see your horse. However, when in doubt, call your vet or farrier to discuss your findings and concerns.

At minimum, your horse may simply need to be reshod by the farrier. However, lameness that lasts more than a few days may require veterinary examination and treatment.

your vet's role

Your vet is familiar with the common injuries caused by a lost shoe and can help identify and treat them. This starts with a lameness exam and assessment of the affected foot.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you notice lameness?
  • Do you notice a digital pulse or heat in the foot?
  • Why do you think the shoe was lost?
  • Has anything changed with respect to shoeing or trimming?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP