TREATISE ON HORSESHOEING.
The main object should be to have the shoe so formed as to size, weight, fitting, and fastening, as to combine the most advantages of protection, and preserve the natural tread of the foot the best. In weight, it should be proportioned to the work or employment of the horse. The foot should not be loaded with more iron than is necessary to preserve it. If the work of the horse is principally on the road, at heavy draught, the shoe should be rather heavy, in order that it may not be bent by contact with hard, uneven earth; it should be wide in the web, and of equal thickness and width from the toe to the heel, that it may as much as possible protect the sole,- without altering the natural position of the foot; it should be well drawn in at the heels, that it may rest on the bars, thereby protecting the corn place, or angles between thebar and crust, and should in no part extend beyond the outer edge of the crust.
It is too often the case that the shoe is made according to the smith's notions of what the form of the horse's foot should be, and the foot is pared, burned, and rasped until it fits the shoe. Now, it should always be borne in mind that the shoe is intended for the foot, and not the foot for the shoe, and that it is therefore peculiarly proper to make the shoe fit the natural form of the foot. It is impossible to have the foot of a horse sound and safe, for work and use, after bringing it to an unnatural figure, by the use of the knife and rasp. The foot of the horse being elastic, it expands to the weight of the horse, in precisely the same degree, whether resting upon the most open or the most contracted shoe. Therefore, the shape of the shoe cannot possibly affect the shape of the foot. The form of the foot is determined by the situation of the nails If the nails are placed so that the inside quarters and heels are left free to expand in a natural manner, no shape which we can give to the shoe can of itself change the form of the foot. It must not be inferred, however, from this that the shape of the shoe is of no importance; quite the contrary being the case, as I have already shown. In forming the shoe, we should always adopt that which produces the greatest number of advantages with the fewest disadvantages.
We find that the sole-surface of the foot is by nature concave in form, which seems to offer the greatest fulcrum of resistance to the horse when traveling. It is important to preserve the natural mechanical action of the horn and sole; therefore the ground surface of the foot, that is to say, the ground surface of the shoe, should be leveled cup fashion ; its outer edge being prominent, corresponds to the lower and outer rim of the hoof; while the shoe being hollow, resembles the natural cavity of the sole of the foot. The ground surface of the shoe should always be concave.
The pattern that nature has presented us in making the sole concave, cannot be improved upon by the smith, with all his skill. The expansion of the heels, and growth of the foot, require that the shoe should be long enoughi and wide enough at the heels, to allow for the natural growth of the foot in the time it is calculated the shoe should be on before being reset; for as the foot enlarges, the shoe is brought forward until it loses its original proportion, and becomes too short and narrow. The shoe may be about a quarter of an inch wider and longer than the extreme bearing of the heels; and the nail-holes should be punched coarse and in the center of the web. The manner of fastening the shoe is what really affects the foot, and what requires the most special attention in shoeing; for the foot, being elastic, expands in the same proportion on the rough as on the nicely-fitted shoe. It is the number and position of the nails that really affect the foot. If they are placed well back in the quarters, four on a side, as is common, the crust is held as firmly to this unyielding shoe as if in a vice, which utterly prevents the free action necessary to its health. Inflammation is produced, which causes contraction and the consequent, derangement of the whole foot. If the free natural expansion of the foot, and the spreading of the quarters in proportion to the growth of the hoof is prevented by the nailing of the shoe, irritation of the fleshy substance between the crust and coffin-bone will result, and ultimately create so much diseased action of the parts as to cause contraction and navicular disease. Shoes may be fastened without causing such mischief, if the following method of nailing is observed.
In experimenting, for the purpose of ascertaining how few nails are absolutely necessary, under ordinary circumstances, for retaining the shoe securely in its place as long as it should remain upon the foot, it has been satisfactorily established that five nails are amply sufficient 'for the fore shoes, and seven for the hind ones, three should be placed on the outside of the foot, and two on the inner side, near the toe, thereby leaving the foot free to expand in a
natural manner. The nails should not be driven high up in the crust, but brought out as soon as possible. Another mistake with most smiths is in rasping the clinches away too fine; they should be turned broad and flat. It is also a custom with some to rasp and sand-paper the whole surface of the hoof, for the purpose of making it look nice and smooth. Such a practice should never be tolerated; the covering thus removed is provided by nature to protect the too rapid evaporation of the moisture of the hoof, and when taken away, causes the horn to become dry and brittle. It has so long been customary to use as many nails as could be conveniently driven, in fact, of fastening the shoe as if it were to a lifeless block of wood, that the fear is very commonly entertained that the shoe will not be held in its place with so few nails. Such fears are utterly groundless, as both theory and practice demonstrate. If the presence of a nail in the crust were a matter of no moment, and two or three more than are really necessary were merely useless, no great stances, not as to the shoe, but to paring the hoof. All that can be removed from the inside without putting the hoof out of shape ought to be done. Also pare the hoof at the toe instead of the heel, simply rasping it so as to form a level surface. Prepare the shoe carefully in accordance with the following directions..
Make the inside twice the width and twice the thickness that you do the outside, gradually tapering the width and thickness from the toe- calk. Make the heel-calk on the inside or heavy part of the shoe, about an inch long, and length-, wise from heel to toe, and incline it a little inward to the frog of the foot. Don't allow your shoes to remain on longer than four weeks at most, and use as small nails as possible.