It’s no secret that horses are incredible yet expensive family members. Not only do you need to buy or rent living space, manage that space, kit them out with riding equipment, and provide for their nutritional needs, but there are also vet and farrier fees to factor in.
Shoeing—a procedure involving the placement and replacement of shoes on a horse’s feet— is a common expense for horse owners, and the cost of this procedure can really add up over time. Let’s explore this further.
The Importance of Shoeing a Horse
Not everyone chooses to have their horse shod—the general consensus is that it depends on what the individual horse needs—but owners who choose to typically do so because horseshoes help protect and fortify the hooves, particularly against rough or hard terrain and wet weather conditions that could weaken and possibly injure the hooves and feet.
Moreover, some owners get their horses shod because it can improve their balance and stability, offer more grip, and provide more comfort and protection for horses that take part in sporting events. In some cases, shoes are necessary due to a medical condition like laminitis.
Whatever the reason for shoeing a horse, one thing’s for sure—horses that are shod need to have their shoes replaced pretty frequently. We’ll explain this further down.
How Much Does Shoeing a Horse Cost?
For those who get their horses shod, there are two expenses to take into account. These are the one-time fee and the long-term costs. It’s important to replace horseshoes frequently whether or not the horse has grown out of them (more on this below), which is why the long-term cost can amount to rather a lot.
To give you an idea of how much shoeing costs, below are the average national farrier charges for keg shoes (horseshoes that are machine-made rather than hand-forged) based on information from the American Farriers Journal’s 2017 report. It’s important to note, however, that the charge really depends on the individual farrier and any additional services or surcharges they may include in their fees.
Fees no doubt also depend on factors like location. If you’re in an area with higher living costs, you can probably expect to pay a higher fee for your farrier’s services. Finally, please note that the below data from the American Farriers Journal is from 2017, so it’s likely that inflation has increased costs since then.
|Service||Full-Time Farrier National Charge||Part-Time Farrier National Charge|
|Trim & nailing (4 keg shoes)||$131.46||$94.49|
|Resetting keg shoes||$125.52||Not mentioned|
Additional Costs to Anticipate
The above prices are based on typical costs for keg shoe (machine-made shoes) placement and resetting. Farriers are skilled craftspeople who can forge handmade shoes tailored to a horse’s individual needs. If you go for 100 percent custom-made shoes, it seems reasonable that you can expect the cost to be greater than it would be for keg shoes.
Furthermore, some farriers may charge extra for traveling, especially if providing the service means the farrier has to travel further than they usually would. In addition to travel fees and craftsmanship, there are more potential extras.
According to the 2020 American Farriers Journal Business Practices survey, farriers charge $5.53 on average on a per-shoe basis for clips, while the average cost for trailers is $4.72. Rockered or square-toe shoes cost approximately $6.23, whereas general forge work costs around $24.37 an hour.
How Often Should I Shoe My Horse?
Horses that wear shoes need to be re-shod approximately every six weeks, though this depends on the individual horse—some horses’ hooves grow at a faster rate than others, and some horseshoes wear down quicker than others. It’s best to check with your farrier and/or vet to determine how often would be best for your horse’s individual needs.
Sometimes, horses need to be re-shod sooner due to issues like overgrowth, a loose or fallen-off shoe, twisted shoes, and problems with the shoe nails (i.e., nails that stick out). Since horses need to be re-shod regularly, this means that many pay hundreds of dollars per year at a minimum for horseshoeing.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Horse Shoeing?
We haven’t come across any sources that suggest that pet insurance plans typically cover shoeing. It’s possible that some policies may cover shoeing if, for example, it’s deemed medically necessary by a veterinarian. But this isn’t guaranteed, so it’s best to ask your insurance provider for more information on what they do and do not cover.
Horse insurance plans typically cover you against various situations like the treatment of medical issues, surgical procedures, accidents, and theft. Every insurance provider has its own policies, which means that they can vary greatly and there are often exclusions. Elective procedures are commonly excluded from coverage, and shoeing might be considered an elective procedure.
What to Do for Your Horse’s Hooves Between Shoeing Procedures
Hoof and foot maintenance is crucial for making sure your horse stays happy, healthy, and active. In addition to making sure your horse gets their shoes replaced on schedule, there are several ways you can keep their hooves and feet in good condition between “shoeings”.
One of the most important factors in hoof and foot care is ensuring your horse’s bedding is always clean and dry, because dirty or wet bedding can cause bacterial infections like thrush. Thrush can cause swelling in the hoof and foot area, pain when pressure is applied, and black discharge to ooze out of the area.
Other ways to keep your horse’s hooves and feet healthy include:
In conclusion, fully shoeing a horse typically costs between $100 and $150, but this figure could increase based on various factors like the individual farrier’s rate, having shoes custom-made, location, travel fees, and any special needs your horse has. You can also expect to pay more for extras like clips and trailers. If you’re concerned about your horse’s shoes, please consult your farrier or a vet for advice.
Featured Image Credit: Anastasija Popova, Shutterstock