The horse world must be the only industry where despite all of our modern technology, we appear to be going back to the dark ages when it comes to shoeing.
Over the last couple of years I have had the opportunity to look at horses in most areas of this great country, and now I am more concerned than ever that we really have lost the plot!
Breed registration and classification have produced better types of horses with a much greater performance potential. Rider tuition and schooling has never been more readily available for all forms of competition, but so often that beautifully bred and highly trained horse’s natural athletic ability is drastically reduced by having to wear the wrong shoes. The horse didn’t have any choice, but we did.
The golden rule for shoe selection is that a shoe should be as light as possible to allow the horse to perform his … Continue Reading ››
The old-timers go misty eyed when they recall the sight and the smell of the local blacksmith fitting hot shoes to the horses, and I for one still love the aroma and the clouds of smoke from hot shoeing.
The tradition of hot shoeing was born out of necessity. When hand making horse shoes prior to the machine made shoe era, the hand tools were not as refined as they are today. The old style hoof cutters were difficult to use as they only had one cutting edge which was very narrow, the rasps were also narrow so achieving a flat hoof surface was difficult, thus while hand making the shoe, which was still hot from the forge, it was a better option to simply burn it on to get a perfectly married fit to the hoof.
This system today still holds true with regards to shoeing heavy horses, as the shoes are difficult to shape cold due to their weight and size.
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A recent incident resulted in this article. The complaint from the owner was that the horse had become very unstable on its feet, was tripping and stumbling, and very rough to ride but had previously not been like this. On inspecting the horse, I found it was shod totally inappropriately with square toed shoes all round. The danger seems to be that although this is a supposedly new fashioned idea the real answer to the problem is in the balance of the foot. If the hoof is prepared and balanced in the correct fashion, the ground surface of the hoof should be exactly the same shape as the coronary band. However the square toed shoes tend to promote flares either side of the square toed shoe (Pic 1)
If you want an idea of what flares do to these feet, push your own thumb nail down on a hard surface of a table, and you will notice that about half way … Continue Reading ››
As a farrier and also as a teacher of farriery I teach, I preach and I practise shoeing without violence. There is absolutely no need for any ropes, hobbles, straps or restraints of any kind, no matter how difficult that horse may be or has been in the past. I prove time and time again that with kindness and understanding all of these horses will come good, they will allow themselves to be shod in a relaxed manner without using violence. They will first of all start off expecting the worst, but within a very few minutes they will relax, settle down and allow themselves to be shod with no violence whatsoever.
I abhor the use of hobbles, sidelines, collar ropes and they are totally unnecessary. I have actually seen where a young horse was hobbled, then sidelined and then fitted with a big heavy halter and a big heavy lead rope to a heavy post that will not break and then they have the audacity or the stupidity … Continue Reading ››
I had a call from a client tonight. I have only recently taken over her horses, and when I did so she had them in square toed shoes. I told her what I thought of square toed shoes and what I said was the same as I have said in recent articles – I will use square toed shoes when I find a horse with a square coronary band. As I have also said in recent articles, square toed shoes are a very lazy and short cut way of shoeing a horse which has an over-reach problem. All that is required is to balance the hoof correctly. I convinced this new client to let me shoe the horse in the correct fashion and she was dubious at first, but delighted with the improved results.
Tonight’s call from her was to tell me that the horse was forging after being shod only three weeks ago. Forging is caused when the toe grows too long , slowing … Continue Reading ››
When we alter the ground bearing shape of the hoof contrary to the shape of the normal coronary band, for any reason, we change the normal flight of the hoof.
This statement should be common sense to us, it certainly is for the horse, so why do we, who are entrusted with the duty of care to our horses, keep defying what nature is showing us?
There is only one correct way to dress the hoof to suit the horse so that it avoids discomfort and lameness; all you have to do is to see what you are looking at. The coronary band is (in most cases) a nice even shape; when you clean out the old crusty sole to where it meets the hoof wall, you will see that the white line/laminae shape (which is the true road map of the bottom of the hoof) is the same shape as the normal coronary band. (Pic 1) This is a great revelation, and … Continue Reading ››
When I was a small boy, everything was large. Our house was large, my parents were large, especially my father, towering over me sternly as he lectured me yet again. As I grew, it was a bit like Alice in Wonderland – everything shrunk down in size. Visiting our old farmhouse as an adult, it was a small cottage with pocket handkerchief size rooms. I towered over Dad, and realised that Mum had never been tall anyway. But as I grew older, I found everything around me was getting bigger again. Particularly food. At the pictures I would be surrounded by kids with a four litre bucket of popcorn, washed down with two litres of Coke. Going out for a meal I would be served a soup tureen full of pasta that I’m sure 50 years ago would have fed the seven of us plus Mum & Dad. Not that any of us had heard of pasta back then.
I shoe a horse for a lovely lady and every time I go there, she gives me a ‘cookie’ to take home. Now Georgie’s … Continue Reading ››
For the past five years I have been trialling a revolutionary new horseshoe. Testing has been on selected horses in three main areas –
The results have been quite amazing.
Imagine, if you can, finding a shoe almost as light as aluminium but with a wear factor three times as strong as steel.
Made of pure titanium these horseshoes are not for everyone until people realise their relative value to performance is really, in the end run, very cost effective.
The first test was on a racehorse in training, which by the process of elimination could only be kept sound by wearing bar … Continue Reading ››