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What to do when your horse loses a shoe or boot while on the trail?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Has your horse ever lost a shoe or boot on the trail? Did you notice immediately or only realize when another rider pointed it out? Regardless of how you find out, any kind of hoof protection malfunction can put an abrupt end to a great trail ride.

Once you notice that there is something amiss, it’s important to get off and evaluate your horse based on the distance, terrain, hoof quality and your own ability to fix things.

What to do when your horse loses a shoe

If your horse loses a shoe, it can be as easy as replacing the shoe with a spare boot until you get back to camp.

However, if your horse has a loose shoe, are you able to fix it temporarily while ensuring that your horse doesn’t step on a loose nail if it gets loose again? Your options can be limited! But what can you do in the middle of nowhere?

  1. Take it off and replace it with a boot (which hopefully you packed if you are heading out for a multi-hour or -day trail ride).
  2. Secure the shoe if you can. This can be by nailing it back with a trusty tool from your saddlebag or using duct tape to secure it to get back to basecamp. You certainly won’t want to continue your trail ride like this!

What to do when your horse loses a hoof boot

What do you do if you lose a boot?

  1. Remove the other boot if your horse can continue barefoot.
  2. Use your spare boot.

This is where I appreciate the flexibility of booting as opposed to shoes. It can be challenging to take the other shoe off with just the tools in your saddlebag instead of taking a boot off, which can be an easy fix. It all depends on your horse and your choice of hoof protection.

What not to do while on trail

The essential idea to retain here is that you cannot do too many kilometres with a horse that is uneven left to right. What you do to the left, you must also do to the right. You can, however, do something to the front and not the back and vice versa.

Arm yourself with knowledge

As you start heading out on the trail for longer distances and time, you will want to invest time and money in learning proper foot care in general so that you can trim your horse in a pinch or replace a shoe as needed. It will also help you be better prepared to identify critical hoof injuries in the case of an emergency.


Whichever hoof protection you use, when your horse loses a shoe or a boot while on the trail it can be a pain. As a trail rider, knowing how to deal with it effectively so that you can return home safely is important.

Curious to see if hoof boots are right for you and your horse? Here’s our Hoof Boot page, or drop me a line.

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