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The Horse Shoe

By Carlis B. Wilson

Some folks think horseshoes are lucky!

The horse and buggy days are pretty much gone, but for a few selected areas here and there. However the horses still needs their shoes if they do much work or traveling.

It was very interesting to see the horses shod. First there must be a pair of shoes, which are four in this case.

Where do we get four shoes for a horse? I suppose some would say go to the local Horse and Western Shop and buy a pair. That may be the case today? But when I was a young boy, we went to the local Blacksmith Shop and had a pair custom made to fit the horse.

Since horses like people have many different size shoes how do you fit the shoe to the hoses? If there were an old horseshoe from the horses foot or maybe one that had never been worn, it would serve for the size of the horses foot. This is very important when shoeing the horse, because the shoes must be the proper fit as to not injure the horse when nailing the shoe on the hoof. If this is not the case, then the horse can be taken to the blacksmith shop so the blacksmith can get some idea as to what size it should be. Once the blacksmith knows the size of the shoes he can begin to customize the shoes to the horse.

Blacksmith operation is interesting

The blacksmith operation is about as interesting as shoeing the horse. First he has the fire going to heat the metal to make the shoes. Once hot enough he takes it from the fire and lays it in the anvil and shapes it with the hammer until it is the size and form fits the horses hoof. Now he will punch the holes in the shoe for the nails and make sure that each hole is countersunk for the nail heads to be recessed as to not wear off to soon when worn by the horse. Once each nail hole is in place, the right amount of the shoe on the open end, is bent down at a right angle, to give the horse security from slipping when worn. The last process is to cool the shoe using water or oil depending on the amount of hardness desired for the life of the shoe.

Now the shoes and nails are ready to be put on the horses feet. First we need the proper tools. Most small farmers did their own shoeing and had the necessary tools. They were quite simple a hammer to drive the nails, a draw knife, rasp, file, snips and block of iron to level and shape the hoof for a proper fit of the shoe.

When all is ready the nails are set to a slight angle to the outer portion of the hoof as to not hit the flesh, when driven into the horses hoof. Once the nails are set the points protruding through are sniped off and then clenched by placing the block of iron under the hoof to hold the nail when clinched by bending it with the hammer.

Most horses were very cooperative when the shoeing is underway. If not it took some persuasive effort to get the horse to cooperate. And there was a chance that the horse might try to kick the person doing the shoeing.

Most farmers had minimum tools and equipment for this operation, it seem that things did not improve much in the duration of my farm days. I understand there were more modern ways of keeping the horses from kicking the person doing the shod job in the livery days. Like using wide belts, with block and tackle to lift the horse off the ground, demobilizing them from kicking the person doing the work.


This story was posted on 2004-12-06 16:25:35
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