Cold Shoeing vs. Hot Shoeing

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.


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6 Responses

  1. I agree!

    I believe a skilled farrier should be versatile and know how to hot, and cold shoe. He should also know how to properly do both and for what reasons he is doing it.

  2. jason rach says:

    As a 16 year veteran farrier I use both methods, working and trail riding horses I tend to hot fit their shoes. This method tends to lock the shoe in place, giving a more secure fit and ensuring that your shoes do not come off under intense working conditions.

  3. brian jones says:

    I have been shoeing horses for a living for 12 years seen alot of different situations my opinion is conditions and time of year but superior fit is with a hot shoe especially in wet conditions stabilizes the nails better if you are going to shoe horses carry a forge and know how to use it

  4. Ron Marshall says:

    I rthink our profession has put so much emphasis on contest shoing that young farriers are intimedated and shy away from hot shoeing. All farriers should learn to hand make shoes. As a theapeutic horse shoer, I cannot keep in sock every shoe size and design that is available. I make many of my own shoes from all kinds of materials ( steel, aluminum, wood, etc. ). My work may not be competition quality but is functional. As far as hot fitting , I totally agree with Brian Jones.

    My mentor, Jack Miller told me years ago, when we were taught to make shoes, ” The only reason you make shoes is that there is not a better shoe on the shelf. When the day comes the better shoe is on the shelf, that’s the one to use. ” Jack was a great mentor and a great blacksmith and farrier. Jack is gone and with today’s technology the better shoe is on the shelf. If you can afford to stock every shoe or can afford to walk away from a job until the shoe you ordered comes in, then why do you need to shoe horses for a living ?

  5. Sam Zalesky, CJF says:

    This article is a very poorly made argument. A very basic fundamental of hot shoeing is that no trim nor any shoe are ever perfectly flat. When a foot is hot fitted, at least there is complete contact between the two. As for the statement that hot shoers are lazy and don’t want to pound iron, I couldn’t disagree more. I light my forge for every horse I do and I spend many hours a week in the shop practicing. I feel confident that most any situation I come upon, I can build a shoe from scratch to help that particular horse. In absolutely no way is a superior fit obtained with a cold fit. I believe every farrier should possess at least some very basic skills in the forge.

  6. there all good comment to i been a horsemen for 36 years to . I hot shoe and cold shoe. I star out hot shoeing . to I like hot shoeing better To I work at park raceing as a groom and hot walker to . I work with two good farrier to . hot shoeing give you a better out look on feet to . in all the 36 years i been around horses no foot is the same to . the blacksmith who show me to hot fit his name was chris trasatti he is very good in the fire .he show me a lot and the other farier was jim hall . i my self a blacksmith to i still take test today . hot shoeing teach beginners how to balance feet chris had me in the fire when i was a young man to i still get in the to this day i like working the fire .

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