Q. I have a middleweight cob with white feet. My problem is that he hasn’t managed to keep a shoe on for months and it is costing me a fortune to have them put back on all the time. Everytime he pulls a shoe, he takes a bit of hoof with it, so each time a new nail is put in, it just gets weaker. Can you help?

Farrier, Mick O’Dell answers: This is very common for horseowners. All horses’ feet are different and if you are unfortunate enough to have a horse with weak feet you may well come across problems, no matter what colour they are.

There are various supplements on the market to help strengthen feet and encourage hoof growth. Any supplement containing biotin would improve horn quality, but these take at least six to eight months before you see any kind of improvement.

If money is no object, then you could try the new hydrotherapy spa. It is a very new method, not designed specifically for hoof growth, but it can work to speed up growth up by stimulating the blood supply. Improvements in hoof quality are a bonus, but there are currently few spas in this country.

You don’t mention how or where your horse keeps losing his shoes.

  • Environment can play a deciding factor. If your horse’s paddock is particularly muddy, rutted or fenced-off with chicken wire, he could be pulling shoes off by catching them in the field.
  • If he is losing his shoes in an arena, try to avoid riding in deep surfaces, especially when boggy. This puts both strain on the horse’s feet and pressure on the shoes.
  • If the problem is out hacking, try to avoid too much fast work on hard ground. Hard going will not help the durability of the shoes.To protect your horse’s feet, a pair of overreach boots can be worn at all times, taking care that the bulbs of the heels don’t become sore. Applying Vaseline or a similar substance can help prevent this.

    Shoes may be fitted with extra clips to support and strengthen the nails and sharp edges can be smoothed off. Where foot is lacking, many kinds of hoof filler can help strengthen the foot to give the hoof time to recover, or until chosen supplements start to take effect.

    I also advise frequent and regular shoeing before shoes start to become loose. This way you and your farrier can keep on top of the problem.”