Then *18 no subject in the whole list of measures that may be taken to prevent disease which merits a more constant and careful attention than that of the preparation of the horse's foot for the shoe; the right form of that piece of iron for the individual foot; and its proper application to the part. The term "taken to prevent," just used, means something, for it is quite within the facts to say that the larger proportion of the lameness, existing in horses that have to work for a living upon the roads and streets, is, directly or indirectly, due to the fact that they must wear these metal fenders upon their feet in order to be able to do the work which man demands of them.
And it is quite as true to say that the evil arising from this necessity
may be very much lessened by the application of a quick intelligence and drilled thought to the best forms of shoes to use for certain sound, as well as for certain unsound feet, under the various circumstances in which the animals are to be worked. Of course it would be absurd to say that such shoes as the draft horse must wear should never be put onto the feet of an animal that is about to run a steeplechase; that is something that everybody realizes; but there are many grades, between this extreme instance of wrong shoeing and proper shoeing, that are not so glaringly wrong as to prevent them from being commonly continued in daily practice, the results of which are scarcely less disastrous, if they are not more so, than they would be in the above mentioned extreme instance.
In the first place the great differences existing in the form, quickness, and method of growth in the various sound feet must be appreciated and accepted, and that, therefore, no one form of shoe, or method of application of it, as to preparation of the hoof, etc., can be devised that will answer equally well or even be at all adequate for all horses. And just herein lie the reasons for the widely separated opinions found existing among so many horsemen regarding the value to be placed upon the so called various "systems" of horseshoeing; one who has had experience with the narrow, high heeled feet, and has applied to them some certain brand of machine made shoes having narrow webs, has had great, and he thinks remarkable, success. He recommends its use to another, who first tries it, as may happen, upon an animal which has' a foot that is wider than it is long; he has with it remarkable unsuccess; the consequence is that the first man praises, the second condemns, the shoe and the method, whereas it really merits one as little as the other; the fact being that thin, narrow webbed shoes are good for some and bad for other feet; the result has been purely the outcome of unrecognized natural existing circumstances luck; this should never be a factor to be trusted to in horseshoeing.
Feet that are naturally weak in certain places, from their conformation, should be shod so that the weakness may be strengthened all possible; those that are naturally strong and overgrown at certain other places should be checked in their growth by proper paring, and covered lightly with iron at the point.
There is no one rule or shoe that will be properly applied to all sound feet; the tendency to overgrowth, in some, must be checked by a proper use of the drawing knife; the weakness of growth, in others, must be constantly stimulated and saved by all means known to the horseshoer. On no account should the drawing knife be used upon them.
Shoes having a wide web at the toe, with a narrow one at the quarters and heel, may be used in the strong, high heeled feet, where it is desirable to give the frog a large share of work. Other feet, those having strong toes, but low, weak heels, the walls of the parts coming very slantingly downward and forward, from the coronets, the frogs being large and spongy, must have a shoe that is both wide in the web and longer and wider than the feet are at the heels. Between these two extremes the shoe should be so fashioned as to meet the individual requirement.
Bar shoes should never be used except upon some unsound feet or in the presence of lameness due to some other causes and then with some caution, as they are capable of producing considerable injury.
All horses' feet will be the better for being kept constantly shod with a tar and oakum dressing and a leather, both summer and winter.
Calks are necessary evils and should not be used unless positively necessary to give the draft animal a good hold upon the ground; to lift the soles of the feet up from the ground, when the roads are full of email stones; or to keep horses from slipping.
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copyright 2005, J. Crow Company, New Ipswich NH 03071