When working around horse owners and/or and their farriers, you may overhear an owner say something like, "Just fit him with keg shoes." That leads us to the question, "Just what is a 'keg shoe?'"
A "keg shoe" is simply a machine-made horseshoe that is available in various sizes. A large number of, if not most, horses wear this type of shoe. A long-heeled keg shoe is often called a "hot shoe" and a short-heeled keg shoe may be called a "cold shoe." Cold shoes are manufactured in a "composite" pattern that can be adapted, or shaped to fit either a front or hind hoof. Cold shoes have cut and rounded heels.
Keg shoes have nail holes in a fixed position and the holes are punched perpendicular to the shoe. Some makes have the nail heads punched close to the outside edge of the shoe. This is called "punched fine." Keg shoes that have the nail holes punched close to the inside edge of the shoe are said to be "punched coarse."
When fitting a keg shoe, the farrier has to consider the nail hole positioning. It can be nearly impossible to place nails in an ideal position on pre-punched machine-made shoes due to variations in the hoof shape and size from one horse to the next. Thus, positioning of the nail holes can be one disadvantage to using a keg shoe.
Also, the farrier must be very careful when fitting the shoe to a horse since the last nail hole on either side of the shoe is usually located behind the widest part of the hoof. Use of this nail hole can prevent normal heel expansion. Therefore, many farriers do not use the last nail hole on a keg shoe when tacking it on the horse.
The white line can also present problems when using machine-made shoes with pre-punched nail holes. Nails must be driven only into the outer border of the white line. If nails are driven inside the white line, they will penetrate the sensitive laminae causing pain. In these cases, the horse is said to be "quicked." If the nails are placed outside the border of the white line, the hoof wall can chip, split, or crack and the horse may "throw," or lose, the shoe. To prevent either of the above scenarios from happening, the farrier must be exacting in the choice of punched fine or punched coarse shoes and carefully work with the shape of the hoof and the location of the pre-punched nail holes in the keg shoe.
Earlier, when describing the types of keg shoe, we used the terms "hot shoe" and "cold shoe." However, one should not confuse a cold keg shoe or a hot keg shoe with what we call "hot shoeing," or "cold shoeing." When hot shoeing, farriers use a forge to heat the horseshoes for ease of shaping, adding toe or side clips, and for "hot fitting." When "hot fit" the shoe burns an imprint of itself onto the bottom of the horse's hoof wall. This lets the farrier see if the shoe fits well, if their trim is even and flat, and may also help to 'seat' the shoe more closely to the horse's hoof. This, in turn, helps to achieve a tight fit between the shoe and the hoof.
In cold shoeing, farriers do not use a forge, but fit the shoe to the horse's foot "cold." Cold shoeing is faster, but requires a great deal of skill from the farrier in order to accomplish a proper job and a good quality fit. Many professional farriers use a combination of both hot and cold shoeing methods. Choice will depend on the requirements of the horse or the preference of the horse owner.
So now you know what is meant when a client says their horse is wearing a "keg shoe." In future articles, we'll discuss such items as toe and side clips as well as "shoe patterns," or styles, which is a feature of the ground contact surface.
© 2001 EquiTouch® Systems, Inc.