A couple of days ago, Buffy twisted a shoe. I may have panicked just a little. Ok, not really panicked, because Buffy is eminently sensible and was tiptoeing around. I was still worried she would step on it and rip her foot off, or worse slice a tendon.
It’s been at least a decade since I’ve pulled a shoe. I’d briefly considered getting a farrier toolkit on Back Friday, but of course didn’t. The farm has several perfectly good farriers!
But I wasn’t willing to risk waiting. Especially as we waited to see if Buffy’s farrier was available same day. So I put Buffy on the wash rack (which doubles as a fabulous farrier bay, being covered in nice rubber mats), and when in search of tools. The first thing I found was a rusty old set of nippers.
In a clinch (pun intended, I guess?), nippers are all you need to get a shoe pulled…in theory. They can cut clinches (don’t do this with nice nippers if you have a choice, you will need to send them for professional sharpening after), and be used as shoe pulled.
I said “in theory,” right? Right.
Here’s the thing. Those clinches were tight. The shoes were two days old, and Buffy’s farrier is good: she doesn’t over nail, but the nails she uses have no wiggle and the clinches are seated, nearly level with the hoof wall.
And those nippers? Not a great tool for cutting in a tight space. Even nice, new, quality nippers aren’t the right tool. I mentioned how flat those clinches were. Luckily, I was offered some non-standard tools and given leave to abuse them (have I mentioned how much I love Moon Dance Ranch?) So, with a small screwdriver and a carpentry hammer, I proceeded to pop the clinches.
Every horseperson should learn how to pull a shoe, and how to evaluate farriery. But I am so very glad it is not my day job. Buffy was a SAINT. She even let me use a mounting block as a shoeing stand. It is still hard work. And pulling a shoe can be done piecemeal, and isn’t really a precision job. Putting one on? Requires a precise eye, nimble fingers, and often creativity as well as being an intense workout.
Once I got the first clinch popped, though, I knew we were out of the emergency call zone. It took me a while, but I pulled all but the most twisted nail, and the rusty nippers stood in for pullers and off the shoe came. Her farrier did manage to get out later that day, so she wasn’t three shoed for long.