Monday, June 13, 2011

Eagle Eye Horseshoeing...

   Hot shoeing, which is to say the use of a forge, is seen by many to be a distinctive trait of a real farrier versus a mere horseshoer.  This is almost funny, as any hack can stick a shoe in a fire, and many have done so to impress gullible horseowners over the years.

   It is true that working hot has its advantages.  While a skillful farrier with a modern anvil can shape factory shoes to accurately fit hooves cold, it's a little easier on the hammer arm to do it hot.  Plus you can weld and punch new holes.  Hot setting to seat clips and seal the foot also comes in handy...

   But the modern American farrier service is usually a mobile operation.  Traveling with a forge, starting it up, then stowing it away several times each day, is a hassle and a hazard.  The farrier has very little control over the environments in which he'll be working.  Loose dogs, poorly controlled horses, careless passers-through, unsupervised children, and all manner of flammable materials piled all around are danger enough without adding fire and sparks to the mix.  So some farriers like to do as much forge work as possible ahead of time, in the quiet safety of their own smithies.

   The eagle eye method for fitting horseshoes efficiently is also a very useful shorthand which allows a farrier to write down customized shoe-making instructions in a quick note.

   For example:

   NF:      13"                       5"                       Norman/Spike
   OF:      ------                  5 1/8"                    ---------------
   NH:      12 1/2"               4 5/8"                           Tag
   OH:      -------                4 3/4"                      ------------

   Is enough information to allow a farrier to make a full set of shoes that will need only minor adjustment in the field before nail-on.

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