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The Smithy

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Boys and girls, I encourage you to search out country shows and agriculture fairs. Look for exhibitions of the farrier craft which is dying out. Not so many horses need to be shoed any more because so few horses are working on modern roads.

The whole reason for shoeing is that hard roads play havoc with a horses feet and the hoof is rapidly worn away. By shoeing with an iron plate the horse can earn its keep with a cart. However the hoof is a living thing just like finger and toe nails which you trim regularly, and its no different for the horse.

So, every few months the horseshoe needs to be adjusted or replaced. Sometimes the shoe nails wear out or if the animal is young its feet are growing and so the shoe needs to be replaced for a larger one.

Watching a farrier work is a rewarding experience, especially with the big shire horses. They are huge. The farrier needs to remove the shoe by pulling out the steel nails and then he buffs the hoof down flat using a heavy metal file. Then he sizes the shoe which will be the replacement. He might need to take a standard shoe and heat it up in the furnace and then hammer it to be bigger or smaller diameter. When the shoe is the correct size, by checking the cold metal against the hoof, he reheats it again and then touches it on the hoof to burn-in slightly. When this happens there is a lot of smoke from burning hoof and it is a heavy acrid smell as if you have set your hair alight.

Then he quenches the shoe one last time and when cold he places it on the hoof and drives four or five new steel nails into the hoof. He has to be carefull not to place the nail anywhere other than the hoof wall or the nail will enter the lamina and the horse will become lame.  An experienced farrier can change shoes almost a quickly as you get tyres changed in a garage. Click on the pictures here to see more and larger images.

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Read more stories from the Places section
Windsor Cinema (the next story in sucession)
A History of Education
A History of Education in Carluke Parish
Carluke Laundry
Castlehill Colliery
Climpy Wind Farm (video)

Created before 2012