Horses come in all shapes and sizes, and as a result so do their feet. When your farrier selects a shoe to fit your horse's foot he or she must determine the proper size shoe for your horse's foot. Once the proper size is selected, the farrier will make additional modifications as needed to properly fit the shoe to your horse before securing the shoe with nails.
Standard Horseshoe Sizes
Horseshoes are typically sized from 0 to 4 for most standard-sized horses. For horses with very small feet, shoe manufacturers make even smaller shoes sized 00 or 000 -- pronounced as double or triple "aught." The more zeros, the smaller the shoe. For very large draft horses, shoes come as large as size 8 or 9. It is important to note that each horseshoe manufacturer tends to use its own sizing specifications when establishing shoe sizes. Your farrier and veterinarian can work together to determine the proper sized shoe for your horse.
Importance of Horseshoe Fit
It is important for your farrier to properly fit your horse's shoes. Shoes that are too large or not well-balanced may be prone to accidentally being pulled off by your horse with one of his other feet. Shoes that are too small will not support the important structures inside the hoof capsule and may cause pressure and lameness. If your horse is shod with improperly fitting shoes over a long period of time, the hoof capsule may distort and change shape resulting in long-term damage. Shoe fit can be evaluated by noting the following parameters:
- The angle of the toe and the heel should be parallel, and appropriate for your horse's conformation.
- There should be slight room for the hoof to expand over the shoe, especially at the heels.
- There should be adequate length of the shoe to support the heels.
- The width of the shoe should match the width of the horse's coronary band.
Radiographs of your horse's feet will assist your veterinarian and farrier to evaluate your horse's hoof balance and angles. Scheduling an appointment with both the veterinarian and farrier at the same time reduces confusion and communication errors and is an excellent way to fine-tune any shoeing concerns for your horse.