Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reader Question on Pulling Shoes in the Backcountry

I received an e-mail from Meghan who asked what would be a good tool to carry in the backcountry, where weight and space is at a premium, that she could use to pull a shoe if she needed to.

With a good knife to use as a clinch cutter, to bend the horseshoe nails straighter, and a fencing tool, I think you could do a decent job albeit not as easy as using a farrier's pull offs.

I carry a Plammer, which is a fencing tool with a hammer head. This comes in handy if I have to cut then repair a fence and pound fencing staples (U shaped nails). I have a smaller version that is 8 inches long and fits in my saddle bags. The jaws open wide enough so I can grab a horseshoe and twist off once I get the nails un-clinched. The idea is to minimize hoof wall damage by straightening the nails first.

I'll place the blade of the knife under the clinched nail then rap sharply with the plammer. Once I get all the nails un-clinched, I'll use the plammer fencing jaws to grab the horseshoe and twist off.

This will be tougher if your shoer gouge the hoof and clinched the nails tightly into the gouge, or if the shoes have been on for awhile and make the nail end hard to get to. My shoer uses toe or bar clips on the shoes which makes it harder to twist off, but the plus side is that I have had only two loose shoes with this shoer and neither were his fault.

By the way, I use Diamond Bar V Horseshoeing out of Silver City, New Mexico. Best shoer I've ever had.

I suggest the next time you have your horses shod, ask your shoer about taking off a loose shoe or even re-nailing when in the back country. I carry a few extra nails for this purpose - never used them - and would think the knurled head of the Plammer may make it difficult to drive a nail straight.

I have also used just my knife and a rock to un-clinch nails then wedge the knife underneath the shoe to lever it off. It was on a buddy of mine's horse and I did not like doing it this way, that's partly why I carry a Plammer now.

Other than that Meghan, the only other solution I can think about it cutting down a long handled pull offs or finding a smaller version. But the Plammer has more uses than just pull offs so I think you'll see the advantage. Safe Journey.

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