How Much Does It Cost To Shoe A Horse?


Having horses is a very costly passion. Any horse lover will tell you that while they love caring for their equines, the expenses such as feed, medical care and farrier appointments are not something to be taken lightly. 

One of the most important things you have to keep on top of when taking care of horses is their feet. Horses need regular farrier appointments involving hoof trimming, and shoe fittings.

If you’re thinking about getting a horse, or you are new to the equine world, then you’ll need to know how much it costs to shoe a horse. But first, why do horses need shoes?

Why Do Horses Have Shoes?

The main purpose of shoes is to strengthen and protect the hooves and feet of the horse. Horses are primarily used for riding and working, and so the hooves can be worn down quickly whilst walking over hard, arid terrain. 

Many people worry that horses experience pain whilst having shoes fitted, but this is not the case. Horses’ hooves are made from a protein called keratin. This is the same as the protein in our hair and fingernails, except horses have many, thick layers of keratin which can grow extremely quickly. 

For instance, horses can grow the equivalent of a new hoof about once a year. How fast the hooves grow results in very thick layers and strong hooves. When a farrier fits a horseshoe, the shoe is prepared and customized so that it fits the horse perfectly. 

Then, the shoe is fitted with small nails into the outer part of the hoof. As there are no nerve endings in the outer part of the hoof, it does not hurt. Therefore, the horse feels no pain when having shoes fitted by a professional farrier.

Horses will also have to have farrier appointments, and will need to have new shoes every four to six weeks. The hooves are continuously growing, so they will also need to be trimmed at least every six weeks or every 3-4 weeks for the best results. 

Hooves are essential for working horses, and those who regularly walk on rugged terrain or hard flooring. However, wild horses, and horses who do not work will not always require hooves, but they will need regular hoof care and trimming appointments. 

How Much Does It Cost To Shoe A Horse On Average?

How much it costs to shoe a horse does depend on the location you are in, and the farrier themselves. The cost varies depending on which state you are in, that state of the hooves, how well you know your farrier, and their level of experience.

For instance, you’re looking at paying around $30 to $75 for a hoof trim, and about $90 to $200 for a whole set of shoes.

A 2015 study from the American Farrier Journal showed that the average costs for a full new set of horseshoes is about $140, and a hoof trim is about $43. 

There are different costs to shoe a horse depending on the state and location you are in. For instance, you will find that in Northern Utah, you can expect to pay $55 for a trim and about $140 for four new shoes.

On the other hand, in West Texas, you can pay about $40 for a trim, and about $80 for a set of new shoes. Near Maryland, you will pay around $50 for a trim, and from $120 to $180 for new shoes. 

There can be some additional costs, as some farriers will charge for shoeing sports horses with much more expensive trims, and costs of up to $275 for four new shoes. The cost of shoeing a horse can even be more than $300 for specialty shoes and needs. 

Why Does It Cost So Much To Shoe A Horse?

Shoeing a horse can be very expensive, and the prices can seem extortionate to those of us new to the horse world. However, there is a lot of expertise, work and experience that farriers have to have to be able to do their jobs properly. 

Farriers have to be around horses, which are very large animals and can be dangerous. Some of these horses may not be used to having hoof trimming appointments, and can become restless and nervous around farriers. 

They also require a lot of tools of the trade such as hoof picks, hoof knives, shoe pullers, stands, aprons and much more equipment. Farriers also need propane to run their forges to create and fit the horseshoes, which can be very costly. 

Farriers will often travel to wherever your horse is kept, which means that they need to have a vehicle of their own, or a truck to travel to clients, and transport all of their equipment around with them. Travelling also incurs a lot of expenses, which is why prices may be higher. 

In addition to all of this, a farrier will need to stay physically fit and healthy to be able to do their jobs efficiently. This means that they will not be able to do their jobs into old age, so they have to prepare themselves, putting away money for a living wage and for retirement.

All of these factors combined can contribute to the higher costs of farrier services and appointments. 

How Can I Keep The Costs Down?

Sometimes, you can keep the costs down by planning ahead with other horse owners in your area. Then, when the farrier visits one, they can do your horse’s hooves at the same time, which can lower rates as they do not have to travel back and forth. 

For instance, if you keep your horse at a livery, it may be worth booking a farrier appointment whilst the farrier is already in the area or dealing with other horses in the same stables or barns. This can result in a discounted rate. 

Alternatively, you may opt for a part time farrier to provide services for your horse, as they can often offer cheaper rates. Well established farriers that are known to service competing horses often charge more money to shoe horses and trim hooves.

If your horse is not competing, or at a professional level, then it could be worth hiring a less experienced farrier, as they can cost less. 

Some farriers may keep rates the same if you stick to the same farrier for years, whereas they will up their rates for new, incoming clients. So, if you find a good farrier, then it may be worth staying with them and being a loyal client so that they don’t raise their prices for you. 

However, if your horses are not working, or putting much stress on their hooves, then you may not even need to shoe your horse at all, and they can just have a trim. If your horse does not require hooves, then you could even trim the hooves down yourself. 

Can I Shoe A Horse Myself?

You should not shoe a horse yourself without any experience, and you should hire a farrier instead to provide the service. However, you can start trimming the hooves yourself to keep the hooves straight, and in the best condition. 

To do this, you will need a hoof pick such as Wahl Professional Animal Equine Grooming Horse Hoof Pick and a hoof knife such as Tough 1 German Super Sharp Hoof Knife along with a rasp, and some nippers.

However, properly cared for hooves are essential to the wellbeing of your horse, and so you should learn some of the basics from a trained farrier before you start trimming your horse’s hooves yourself. 

Summary

To summarize, yes farrier services are expensive, but a lot of time, effort and expertise goes into caring for the hooves of your horse.

The average cost is about $140 for a new set of horseshoes in most locations. However, you can cut down costs by trimming your horse’s hooves yourself. Just be sure to have all of the right tools and information from a trained farrier before you do this. 

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