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Farriery: The Art of Shoeing Horses

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Farriery is the art of shoeing horses. Shoeing was originally a part of blacksmithing, and the ailments of horses being seen to by a trained veterinary surgeon. Nowadays a farrier is qualified to shoe and trim horses hooves, and also has some rudimentary knowledge of the horses hoof and foot.

When horses were once an integral part of the army the farrier-sergeant was responsible for shoeing horses in his unit, and he may have also had some veterinary instruction.

Horse-shoes were formerly fabricated by hand. Today machine-made shoes are supplied which can be modified to fit. Shoes are fastened to the hoof by means of nails driven into the dead part of the horn.

Prior to shoeing the hooves must be trimmed. And before beginning the trimming the horse must be observes in a standing position, to see the position of the foot in correspondence to the angle of the leg. Otherwise it's like an athlete with flat feet wearing ill-fitting footwear.

The sole is cleared, and the wall is reduced to its normal length with clinch cutters. The amount of cutting is determined by the upper edge of the trimmed sole.

After this is done the hoof sole is filed level with a hoof rasp. As well as comfort and health it's a lot like the benefit of balancing car tires.

The hoof is now ready for the fitting of the shoe. The shoe should be affixed in such a way that the frog (a callous portion of the middle of the foot) touches the ground and act as a buffer to protect the horse's foot from shock. As the horn of the horse's foot is always growing, shoes should be removed, the horn pared down, and the shoes, if they are worn, replaced.

The nail should be driven just outside the portion of the wall known as the 'white line' (so called because of its well-defined white appearance). Great care is taken to not allow the nails to go inside this line as that is the sensitive part of the foot.

In the wild horses hooves keep to a regular length, because they wear down as fast as they grow. On hard unnatural surfaces the hooves can become torn, split or cracked or utterly and completely worn away if they didn't have shoes put on them.

Metal of course wears down also, but very slowly. But it does not prevent the hoof from growing.

It's important that a horse be shoed correctly or it can cause permanent and irreparable damage to the horse.

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