Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Saga - part 3

Since Glue-on shoes weren't working out all that well, that left the nail-on version of EasyShoes.

A lot of bare-foot advocates hate horseshoes because of the nails, but this really makes no sense.  It is not the nails that are the problem with steel shoes. The problem is that steel shoes are inflexible and place all of the burden of supporting the horse onto just one part of the hoof while also preventing the rest of the foot from developing and doing its job.

I know that there are horses who have thin, brittle hoof walls that don't hold up to nails well and there are certainly times when nails are not possible or will do more harm than good.  However, thin, weak hoof walls that can't hold a nail are most often a nutritional problem.  Fix the nutrition issues, and the hoof wall will strengthen and maybe won't need shoes anyway. 

There are certainly many therapeutic reasons for using glue-ons over nails (we would've had to use glue on Lakota), but nails have been doing a good job of holding horseshoes on since some time in the 6th or 7th century. I don't believe in doing something just because that is the way it "has always been done", but neither do I believe in throwing out a good idea just because it was thought up a thousand years ago.

The big hurdle in nailing on the Easyshoes was me, the would-be farrier.  I drove a horseshoe nail once about 25 years ago in college.  I know the principles of shoeing, but I had never done it.  The idea of driving nails into a living hoof is a bit terrifying.

This is not something I would have been brave enough to do ten years ago.  However, as an inveterate DIY'er and having now built my own house, barn, shed, windows, etc, I have learned that the hardest part of most jobs is starting the job in the first place.

So, I studied up, practiced driving nails into blocks of firewood, gave myself a stern lecture, took a deep breath, and put a set of shoes on Tessa.  She didn't actually need shoes, but got to be my guinea pig because it is easier to learn on a healthy hoof and because she is my horse.  I would feel awful for laming my own horse, but even more awful for laming my friend's horse, so poor Tess got to be my test dummy.

It didn't hurt her any.  Not the best shoeing job, but not bad for a first time either...

I left parts of the glue tabs on to add more stability to the shoe.  After having used the shoes a lot more, I am not sure that those tabs do any good and I cut them all off the most recent set of shoes I nailed on.

That little bit of green stuff you can see around the edges of those tabs is Keratex hoof putty, which is very sticky, waxy stuff that contains disinfectants....

....I increased the disinfectant capabilities with copper sulfate powder sprinkled over and mixed in it.

I have mentioned how wet and acidic the soil is here - it tends to eat away at the white line and I was concerned about bacteria working its way into the nail holes.  This was what I came up with to prevent that.  It worked very well and there were still traces of Keratex and CS under the shoes when I pulled them off.
Tessa wore these shoes for six weeks and the hardest part of the job proved to be getting them off.  During that six weeks, Tessa never took a lame step and did a lot of riding over some really tough terrain. She is prone to thin soles and weak frogs like all the horses around here.  After six weeks in the Easyshoes, her soles and frogs had improved so much that I was able to ride her barefoot for the rest of that year, even out on the gravel roads.  Her feet were healthier after shoeing than they had been before.  That seldom happens with steel shoes.

This same pair of shoes will show up again in the next post.....

(I promise, we are getting back to Hawkeye soon.  I did warn you that it was a saga.  I hope some of you are finding it interesting:)


  1. Always interesting, love to read your in-depth blogs.

  2. Following with great interest, keep it coming.

  3. You are always interesting. More chapters for your BOOK.

  4. Interesting stuff. We are looking at shoes if Siera's feet don't come along well, but the guy will hand make them specifically so that she will have the support where she needs it and it will promote heel and frog growth. If it comes to that I most certainly will take photos!