If you?ve ever held a horse while it is being shod, you?ve probably experienced the giant cloud of pungent smoke that develops when a farrier places a hot shoe against the sole of a horse?s hoof. But is this rather uncomfortable looking process necessary for your horse to have a good fit in his shoes?
When a farrier refers to hot or cold shaping, they are meaning the act of actually hammering the shoe into shape to fit on your horse?s hoof. Hot shaping tends to be much easier for the farrier ? you can imagine that shaping cold iron would take quite a bit longer. Hot shoeing, however, refers to using a hot shoe to mark the sole of the hoof and to indicate to the farrier whether the shoe is the right fit. If there are still high points on the hoof to be filed down, these will show once the hot shoe has been placed on the hoof. This helps the farrier make the shoe a better fit for your horse.
Cold shoeing omits this step and instead fits the shoe to your horse, and then works with the hoof and shoe together to bring them into the right balance. This type of shoeing can provide your horse with just as good a fit as hot shoeing, and takes just as much, if not more, farrier skill to do it correctly. A farrier who uses the cold shoeing process should not be discounted. In fact, some horses cannot tolerate hot shoeing, and therefore must rely on the cold shoeing techniques. As with anything, it is the farrier?s skill that determines how well the shoes fit the horse, not the technique used. Some farriers will admit to using the hot shoeing technique because they are lazy and don?t want to pound cold iron for long periods of time, however be wary of any farrier who attempts to put a red hot horseshoe on your horse?s hoof ? this can cause serious damage to the hoof wall and should never be done.