Farm Blacksmithing

by J.M.Drew St. Paul Publishing Company 1918

Shoeing Horses Part 2

Many farm horses that are not used to any extent on the road would be much better off without shoes for the greater part of the year. If their hoofs are kept properly trimmed the average farm horses will need no shoeing excepting when working on icy roads in winter. By proper trimming of the feet is meant keeping them level so that the feet will not grow one-sided, and keeping the edges slightly rounded off so as to lessen the danger of their splitting or breaking away. When it becomes necessary to shoe a horse to prevent his hoofs from wearing away too fast, it is often better to use a tip than a full shoe. This will prevent undue wear of the toe, and at the same time will allow the frog to rest on the "ground where it properly belongs.

Horse Hoofs

The accompanying illustration shows two views of a style of tip which is in favor among many drivers of road horses. On stony roads or hard pavements, the rubber heeled shoes, or tips with rubber heels, are now being largely used, and promise to take the place of the ordinary shoe. The only serious objection to them is their high price. On icy roads, or where heavy loads must be hauled, it is necessary that horses should be "sharp shod." For this the ordinary shoe answers the purpose fairly well, but is open to several objections. In the first place the long calks lift the foot up so that there is no chance for the frog to touch the ground, hence there is no pressure to prevent the foot from contracting; this trouble may be obviated somewhat by the use of a bar shoe, or what is better, a half-bar shoe, which allows of some expansion. The long calks furnish an unnatural leverage which causes severe straining of the tendons. For these two reasons we should make the calks as short as possible and still have them prevent slipping.

When heavy hauling has to be done on frozen gravel roads the calks must be sharpened so often that in case ordinary shoes are used, the horses' feet are badly damaged by the frequent re-setting of the shoes. In such cases the patent removable calks serve a good purpose. The greatest objection to these patent calks, aside from their cost, is the fact that when worn down level with the shoe, as they are apt to be if neglected, it is impossible to remove them without removing the shoe from the foot.

When ordinary winter shoes are used the life of the calks may be lengthened by welding centers of steel in them. This is done by splitting the calk with a sharp chisel and inserting a thin bit of steel, a piece of mower section is as good as anything, and welding. This center will wear away much slower than the surrounding iron and thus the calk will be kept sharp until worn out. Another way to prevent the calks wearing too fast is to case-harden them with cast iron. To do this heat the sharpened calk nearly to a welding heat and at the same time heat the end of a piece of cast iron till it begins to melt, then rub the melting cast iron over the end of the calk. If it is at the proper heat it will flow over the calk and cover it with a coating of cast iron. Now take from the fire and plunge into cold water. This will harden the coating of cast metal so that no file will touch it. The writer has seen a set of shoes treated in this way used all winter on a snow road without re-sharpening.

A very common mistake of horse owners is to allow the shoes to remain on too long without re-setting. No horse should be compelled to go more than four weeks without having his shoes re-set; and in the case of young horses, whose feet grow much faster than old ones, a shorter time would be better. Corns are almost always the result of leaving the shoe on too long and allowing the heels to grow too long.

To sum the matter up let us follow these rules:

  1. 1. Do not have your horses shod at all unless it is absolutely necessary.
  2. 2. If shoeing becomes necessary, use as light a shoe fastened with as few and as small nails as possible. If the conditions will allow, use tips instead of shoes.
  3. 3. Allow neither frog nor sole to be touched by the knife.
  4. 4. Do all the trimming with the rasp from the bottom of the foot.
  5. 5. See that the shoe fits the foot; and do not allow it to be touched to the foot while hot.
  6. 6. Do not allow shoes to remain on longer than a month without re-setting.
  7. 7. When necessary to use calks have them as short as possible so that the frog may touch the ground.