So you've gotten yourself a horse and discovered that it is very footsore on the rough. Or they've flung a shoe across the arena and onto the tennis court next door. (True story.) You've put the horse on the softest ground you can find (and now there's hoof prints all over the living room) and you need a farrier and new shoes. Well, I'm here to help you, with my limited experience of two horses and a two day workshop of farrier-ness.
The very first thing you should do is check your bank balance. Horse shoes cost about as much as an average pair of human shoes cost, but they last only two months. This is about 80 AUD and USD, and my research shows that it is about £40. You will be paying this once every two months. Do not looked shocked, you have your cake, now you have to eat it.
Now, you should find a farrier. Maybe search the whatever-pages for one. Or ask a friend! If you have friends who use the farrier, look at their horses' feet and decide if you like it. Don't bother too much about personality. The best farrier I know is also the most crass man I know. He's also not my farrier because you have to know people to get him to look at your horse's feet.
What do you want your horse to be able to do in its shoes? If you currently keep them at grass and they just seem footsore, tell your farrier. Explain in as much detail as you want. Tell them what you want to do with your horse and any history of your horse’s feet that you know. Laminitis, seedy toe and other ailments will affect the type of shoe your farrier places on the hooves.
Also, think about going barefoot. In horse circles, this is spoken of like a cult. This is my very on-the-fence view on going barefoot: If your horse's feet can take it, go for it. It can limit the number of foot diseases your horse gets. However, beware that your horse will be extremely footsore for a very long time on anything harder than grass. If your horse's lifestyle suits barefoot it is a cheap option, for sure. Paddocked horses and arena-ridden horses can cope. You'll still need a farrier for six-twelve week trims.
If your horse has a hoof ailment you may have to let it go barefoot anyway.
The farrier will arrive and request a flat surface. Concrete or shallow dirt is best. Since he doesn't know you or the horse, he will want the horse to be tied up, and for you to stand at the horse's head. This is important: stand on the same side of the horse as the farrier. If you don't, and it gets scared, it will run away from the thing that is scaring it. This will be the farrier and if you're on the wrong side you will get trampled on.
The farrier will look at the horse’s feet on the flat and maybe talk to himself a little bit about what needs to be done. He might say something or shake his head. That doesn't matter, he's here to fix those problems that he sees.
Your farrier will place the shoe on the horse's foot. A good shoeing involves a shoe being made to fit the horse's foot. A perfect shoeing would involve a forge and all that stuff which you see in Black Beauty. Because of this modern time we live in, this doesn't happen often. A farrier will buy a series of shoes of different sizes and when you book your appointment shall probably ask for the size and breed of your horse. Otherwise he could turn up with shoes fit for a Welsh Pony when you have a seventeen hand thoroughbred.
These stereotypical shoes will mean that they are not a perfect fit. A good farrier will spend a while putting them against the sole of the hoof and then banging them against his anvil to fix them. Chances are, the farrier will cut the hoof to fit the shoe.
Even with all of this the ends of the shoe will probably point inwards or outwards. Ideally, the outer edge of the shoe will follow the outer edge of the hoof, all the way to the end. Kudos to your farrier if it does, since its rather difficult without a forge.
A few things on how to check on your farrier:
There's lots of holes in a horse shoe, generally eight with four on each side. Most often only six of these are nailed on, depending on your activities and the hoof shape. If there are going to be seven, it should be the outside of the hoof that has more nails. This is to keep the shoe on the hoof when going around corners.
Only a small amount of the heel should be removed. Mostly it should be toe. Depending on the farrier (and the horse) your horse will receive a French Manicure (square toes) or the other one (rounded toes). Either or, it doesn't matter too much.
The nails should exit the hoof at the base. They should be about one third up between the the top of the hoof and the bottom.
The toe clip (part at the front) should be in the center of the toe.
Unless the hoof was already bad in shape there should be a straight line through the fetlock and pastern down through the hoof.
If any of these things aren't there question your farrier.
Thank your farrier profusely. Your horse has new shoes! (And you are suddenly poor.)
Your horse will probably be footsore for a few days, especially if it hasn't been shod for some time. If pain persists for any longer than several days see your farrier again. The shoes may be on too tight, or too much of the sole may have been cut. If you don't like the farrier, maybe get a different one to come have a look at them, in case they seemed the sort to abuse you rather than accept that they cut too much off the hoof.
A good farrier will take time to find, unless you get lucky. Don't rebook another appointment instantly. Tell them you'd like to see how long the shoes last and ring them later if at all. If the shoes become loose in less than five weeks, if the horse is footsore for a long time or you just didn't like the farrier, find a new one.