Royal coat of armsThe Royal Mews at Buckingham PalaceLondon Grid for Learning

Shoeing, when performed correctly, causes no pain to the animal. Farriers trim the insensitive part of the hoof, which is the same area into which they drive the nails.

Before beginning to fit a new horseshoe a farrier removes the old shoe using pincers and trims the hoof wall to the desired length with nippers, a sharp pliers-like tool, and a hoof knife. The hooves need trimming because the shoes do not allow the hoof to wear down as it naturally would in the wild.

Shoes are then measured to the foot and bent to the correct shape using a hammer and anvil. The farriers at the Royal Mews use a hot shoe, in which they place the metal before bending it. Hot shoeing a horse is time-consuming; however it usually provides a better fit. It also allows the farrier to make changes to the shoe during the fitting. The farrier must take care not to hold the hot shoe against the hoof too long, as the heat can damage the hoof.

Hot shoes are placed in water to cool them off. The farrier then nails the shoes on, by driving the nails into the hoof wall at the white line of the hoof. The nails are shaped in such a way that they bend outward as they are driven in, avoiding the sensitive inner part of the foot. When the nail has been completely driven in, the farrier cuts off the sharp points. This prevents the nail from getting caught on anything, but also helps to hold the nail (and therefore the shoe) in place.