Necessary Items for the Working Farrier’s Truck

by Sammy L. Williams, Mexico, MO

I have shod horses professionally for over 55 years! I am primarily a Saddlebred farrier but have filled in with Morgans, Arabians, and various other breeds and disciplines in order to keep a full work schedule close to home. I have appreciated reading The Natural Angle, which provides good information, techniques, and processes that are important for my profession. However, I do not recall reading the detail of equipment a full-service professional farrier needs to bring to every job he/she does. To be successful it is essential to be well equipped.

First, I use a Ford 250 with a custom camper shell, dedicated only to my business. My own design of shelves and cubbyholes within the camper shell makes it easy for me to reach and use every piece of equipment necessary, without the expense of a trailer or larger/more complex rig. Everything in the truck is fastened down or arranged to prevent movement in transit on sometimes rough roads. The payload of my truck is about 2,000 pounds of supplies and tools.

The reason I carry and have listed certain items is that most barns never have more than a hammer or screw driver around the place. Some may find it unusual that I carry some electrical supplies. I do that in case I have to replace a receptacle to keep my fan(s) going during hot summer months. I also have a light switch for lights in the shoeing area. Wire nuts are sometimes needed to cap off electrical wires until an electrician can fix them properly; this can help prevent barn fires.

I carry and use fly spray in the truck so I do not spread flies from one barn to another. If there are sick horses in a barn, I use disinfectant on my safety shoes, tools, and apron before going to any other barn. I wash my hands and change clothes before even feeding my horses at home. I carry Copper rivets not only to secure pads to horseshoes, but as a handy everyday fix for halters and nameplates as well as other stable leather equipment. I carry an assortment of bolts because I’ve found that a bolt here and there can repair a manure spreader, wheelbarrow, jog cart, tractor, to name a few. Being able to fix some of these things can clear the area for us to get the shoeing done, and is really great Public Relations on a minimal budget!


USEFUL ITEMS FOR YOUR TRUCK


FOR PERSONAL SURVIVAL AND COMFORT

FOR HORSE SAFETY AND HEALTH

TRUCK REQUIREMENTS TO GET TO THE JOB AND GET HOME

  • Change of clothes
  • Wintertime extra clothes including coat, coveralls, sweatshirt
  • Gloves (for warmth and for protection while working)
  • Socks
  • Paper and cloth towels
  • Band aids (cotton cloth)
  • Bulk sterile cotton
  • Vet wrap
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hand soap
  • Benadryl for sudden allergies
  • Aspirin/Tylenol
  • Turpentine
  • Copper sulfate, FootPro CS+
  • Spray disinfectant
  • Canister mosquito and fly spray
  • Soap
  • Truck requirements to get to the job and get home:
  • Mechanic tools with an assortment of bolts and screws
  • Tire chains year-round
  • Log chain
  • Jumper cables
  • 3 to 5 ton hydraulic jack
  • Mechanic tools with an assortment of bolts and screws
  • Tire chains year-round
  • Log chain
  • Jumper cables
  • 3 to 5 ton hydraulic jack

FOR SETUP IN THE STABLES

SUPPLIES FOR ACTUAL SHOEING

  • More assorted bolts and screws
  • Light switch
  • 1 plug-in receptacle
  • Copper rivets and nails
  • Wire nuts
  • Electrical connectors
  • Electric fan
  • 2 extension cords – preferably 12 or 10 gauge
  • 2 drills with assorted drill bits
  • Pine tar
  • Oakum
  • Forshner’s Hoof Packing
  • Equi-Pack Soft – Vettec
  • Reducine
  • Venice turpentine
  • Nails, Sizes 4.5 to 16
  • Various other types of nails
  • All appropriate shoes and sizes for the disciplines you shoe
  • Specialty shoe types to have on hand include Saddlebred, Morgan, Arab, plus random keg shoes in various sizes
  • Leather pads
  • Plastic wedges
  • Frog pressure pads
  • “Pink stuff” latex
  • WD-40 and a light oil
  • 6″ Bellota file (for keeping hoof knife sharp)
  • Shoeing box full of tools
  • Forge
  • Extra/spare/replacement tools
  • Anvil and bench
  • Hoof stands
  • Oxygen and acetylene torch

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 17, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Keep Your Belts Clean For Increased Efficiency and Longer Life

We have all heard the sayings “time is money” and “wasted time is wasted money.” The use of grinders to modify shoes and buffers to dress hooves not only improves time efficiency; it also reduces wear and tear on the body by eliminating the need for additional forging, hot rasping or the use of a finish file. Using grinders and buffers becomes inefficient when one does not care for them properly, causing a premature end to their usefulness.

Using grinders and buffers becomes inefficient when one does not care for them properly.

Improvements in abrasive component technology have greatly enhanced material removal rates and the life of the abrasive. However, without proper care, belts and sleeves can have their lives shortened, even with the new improvements. One of the primary reasons for shortened belt life is loading. Belt loading tends to occur most often when grinding or sanding non-ferrous metals such as aluminum. It can also occur when working with softer materials such as leather and urethane pads or, in the case of buffer sleeves, hoof wall material. In any of the aforementioned cases, the material being ground away becomes trapped in-between the abrasive particles to the point that there is no longer definition between the particles. Cutting performance is greatly reduced when this happens and it is often incorrectly assumed the belt has reached the end of its serviceable life.

Luckily, belt loading is easily remedied in seconds with the use of a rubber belt cleaning stick. With regular cleaning you can expect to see increased belt life and reduced working time. The steps below show the proper use of the rubber belt cleaning stick to save you time and money.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 18, Issue 3. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Shoeing For Deviations of the Fetlock and Pastern of the Hind Equine Limb

by Michael Wildenstein, CJF, FWCF (hons)

“Conformation of an owner’s horse can be a very sensitive subject.” – Ted S. Stashak

In my experience that statement is very true and includes individual horse owners that I felt were open-minded. Study the equine conformation; learn what is normal for a breed, discipline and environment. Use that information to modify shoes to enable the horse to do the best of its ability, in comfort, with the conformation it has. The study of equine conformation and the effect of modifications to the horseshoes on the hoof and limb can be overwhelming, yet interesting.

“Conformation, a major factoring soundness of the limbs, often determines the useful lifetime of a horse.” (Ted S Stashak) It is our responsibility as hoof care providers to take the conformation into consideration when defining shoe type, weight, size and modifications made to the shoes. “Every modification to the shoe has an influence on the biomechanics of the horse.” (Denoix, 1999) Historically, we have guidelines that are used when defining modifications to shoes, such as, “the principle thought should be to set the shoe, which should always be regarded as the base of support of the hoof, farther towards the more strongly worn side.” (Lungwitz, 1884) Another guideline, “if the shoe wears hard on the in or outside of the foot, place the wide branch of the shoe on the side of greatest wear.” (William Russell, 1887) I use historical references, as well as modern studies, to help define the modifications that will be made to a shoe. Knowing the environmental conditions, including the ground conditions are also taken into consideration. Artificial surfaces will require different modifications and shoe types than a natural surface.

Observe the shoe, hoof wear and the conformation of the hoof as this will give indications of deviations or issues above. Observe the horse in movement, standing in flexion and in extension for a complete evaluation of conformation. Radiographs and filming the horse in movement and reducing the speed of the film are useful information. (Photo, above right – Right Hind) This horse travels base narrow, the right hind is fetlock varus, pastern valgus. There is an abaxial rotational deviation at the hock. There is an axial rotational deviation from the Fetlock down. There is exaggerated rotation of the hoof as the hoof begins to break over. The hoof flares laterally.

EXPLANATION OF DESCRIPTION

  • Base Narrow = “The distance between the center lines of the feet at their placement on the ground is less than the distance between the center lines of the limbs at their origin.” – Ted S Stashak
  • Fetlock Varus = The limb deviates in below the fetlock.
  • Pastern Valgus = The limb deviates out below the pastern.
  • Abaxial rotational deviation = Twists out.
  • Axial rotational deviation = Twists in.
  • Rotation of the hind hoof during break over = “The result of a rotational deviation in the hock joint.”
  • Denoix flares laterally = “An outward distortion which may occur on any portion of the hoof wall.” – Millwater’s Farriery

When trimming, I follow the guidelines set forth by Michael Savoldi in trimming to uniform sole thickness. The width of web of the shoe is defined as twice as wide as the wall is thick. To define the wall thickness, measure from the outside of the live sole to the outside of the hoof wall. Traditionally the crease or nail line would be placed in the center of the web of the shoe. This would place the nail line over the white line. Uniform wall thickness on an average saddle horse is 3/8 inch; therefore a ¾ inch width of web shoe would be appropriate. Web width over ¾ would be considered wide web and under ¾ would be narrow web for a horse with a 3/8 inch thick hoof wall. A shoe with wide web would be used for greater protection of the solar surface of the hoof or to reduce traction. When defining thickness of the shoe, consider the weight of the horse, environment, wear, and integrity of the hoof. A thick shoe would be appropriate for a weak hoof, to increase traction for longer wear, or to increase the mechanics of modifications built into the shoe. When defining Shoe type, consider; weight of horse, conformation, condition, environment, rider ability, discipline and management.

A Kerckhaert DF Grand Prix which has a greater width of web laterally was used to allow for the modifications needed. The horse is large and heavy boned, capable of carrying the weight of the shoe The width of web was further increased laterally by extending the crease and setting the lateral heel down toward the inside width of web. The thickest part of the lateral heel of the shoe is under the viable hoof wall. The medial branch width is decreased by grinding. The shoe is perimeter fit to the hoof at uniform wall thickness. Pins are used for traction on the concrete the horse traverses on the way to the arena. It is important to minimize the traction on horses that have rotational deviations within the tarsus – or hock. In attempting to reduce the twisting we would inadvertently create greater stress to the hock. (Photo, above left – Left Hind) The left hind limb is not the same. The abaxial rotational deviation at the hock and the fetlock varus are the same. There is less pastern valgus and no axial rotation from the fetlock down. The medial toe has a tendency to flare. The lateral heel of the hoof is collapsing. Often the lateral heels on horses with this conformation will be painful. This hoof, in extension, travels further under the body and often beyond the midline. The modifications to the shoe on the left hind need to be consistent with the differences in conformation. Because of the differences in hoof conformation we know the stresses to this hoof are not the same as those to the right hind. The medial toe flare is addressed in trimming to uniform wall thickness. Because this hoof extends closer to the midline than the contra lateral limb (right hind) the width of web on the lateral heel needs to be greater than that of the shoe on the right hind. To address the compromised heel, the shoe is set down to the outside of the heel of the shoe. The shoe is fit to the perimeter of the hoof with the thickest part of the lateral heel of the shoe under the viable hoof wall. This lateral heel is fit full. In movement on soft ground the increased width of web will widen the stance. By setting down the outside of the lateral heel we are reducing the impact on the heel during the landing phase. This shoe is historically called a side bone shoe. This conformation increases the chance of formation of side bone. To shoe the horse for the conformation we are being proactive in changing the stresses to the hoof and limb. The medial branch is reduced in width with the grinder. The heel checks are cleaned up by forging and grinder.

The conformation of every limb and every horse must be evaluated before defining the shoes and modifications to be prescribed. I described the guidelines that were used to shoe this individual horse. The variables from one horse to another are great and many factors have to be given consideration. The changes are conservative and adjusted on a regular schedule. I encourage you to closely study the conformation of the horses that you provide hoof care and use the information to help you help the horse.

REFERENCES
Historical references are from The National Museum of Horseshoeing, Sulpher, Oklahoma

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 16, Issue 1. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Dave Farley, APF-I CF Demonstrates Modifications Using the Kerckhaert SX-10

Dave Farley visited the FootPro Shop and did a variety of shoe modifications using the Kerckhaert SX-10 unclipped shoes. The SX-10 is a 3/8” thick shoe that allows you to do various modifications without sacrificing the strength of the shoe. You can find videos of these modifications on the FPD YouTube channel.


HEEL CLEAN OUT MODIFICATION
The heel clean out modification is used to promote the sole to naturally clean out or unload the material that collects or packs into the foot and sometimes snowballs. Open the heels by hammering the inside of each heel, or grinding bevels on each heel. Taper the material from the ground side of the shoe. This shoe modification helps the foot to clean, especially if the horse is working at higher speeds.

ONION MODIFICATION
The onion modification is done by forging and displacing steel, widening the material to cover or protect an area of the sole, especially at the seat of corn at the juncture of the bar and hoof wall. There are many ways to accomplish this modification. This demonstration was done by placing the shoe on the horn and simply hammering the SX10 material inward to cover the area of the corn. This forging exercise can be forged on any area of the shoe where the foot is compromised by a puncture, bruise or being cut too short.

DOUBLE LATERAL MODIFICATION
The double lateral heel modification is done similar to a trailer but we take almost an inch or more of material to forge a longer trailer, forging it more outward or more laterally. Then, using the horn, hammer it back into the heel area of the shoe. This provides more lateral support without as much length as a trailer. It can be forged wider by hammering from the hoof side of the shoe outward. This modification is used for horses with run under bilateral heels or contracted run under heels. For example, the type of hoof conformation that loses traction or support on tight fast turns.

ROLLED TOE MODIFICATION
The rolled toe modification is a very simple one. It requires forging the toe of the shoe approximately from the center or middle of the branch from the second nail hole outward to the second nail hole of the opposite branch. This forging of the toe area will widen the width of the branch as it thins the material the direction it’s being hammered. This thinning and widening of the toe encourages the foot to break over easier and sometimes faster. This modification is helpful to take stress off the soft tissues in that limb at the break over of the foot. If you have a horse that naturally breaks over either laterally or medially, you can adjust the roll to allow that breakover in that direction.

LATERAL SUPPORT MODIFICATION
The lateral support modification is made by forging the steel at the heel of the shoe from the hoof side. Placing the ground side of the shoe on the edge of the anvil and holding the hammer at approximately 45 degrees, hammer the material outward. This will widen the branch or heel area. This modification is forged to help support a contracted or run under heel. It is very commonly helpful on hind feet but can also be used for fronts.

TRAILER MODIFICATION
A trailer modification is made by turning the end of the branch of the shoe to line up with the diagonal toe of the shoe. It can be medial or lateral but most often is used laterally. The trailer modification should extend farther back and outward to alter the landing of the foot. This modification, if used laterally, will widen a horse’s landing. Useful for a horse that rope walks.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 18, Issue 2. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Application of Tungsten Pins

THERE ARE ANY NUMBER OF TRACTION DEVICES ON THE MARKET TODAY but a few of the most useful and least likely to create problems with the upper limb are the Tungsten pins, drive-in studs and nails with hard facing. All three are easily applied and provide significant security for horses that have to spend any time on blacktop, concrete or slippery rocks. One word of caution – always wear safety glasses when you are applying traction devices, as there is always a danger of your tool or the material chipping.

The V-Trak nails are simply applied by choosing the position where you wish to establish the traction (very often in the heel nail) and driving as you would any other nails. This is a very useful device when you have already shod a horse and find that it needs something to help give it confidence when loading or unloading in a trailer or on the show grounds where there is concrete or blacktop that has to be crossed. The nails are used extensively in the Standardbred market, particularly in the winter months.

Tungsten carbide pins are also easy to apply. They require a smaller drill bit than drive in studs (the fp brand works with a 4.5mm bit) and the 100% tungsten material provides just as much traction as the drive-in stud.

For either the pins or studs, you should first center punch the spot you plan to drill. This will help keep the bit from sliding out of position.

To avoid reaming the hole or distorting it, use a drill press or place your shoe in a vise to keep it secure. Once you have the hole drilled, place the pin in from the ground surface and tap into the depth you desire. Avoid bottoming out and making contact with the anvil face or flat surface you are using. The pins are tapered so they will tighten as you drive them in. It is also recommended to use a hammer that has a tempered face so that you don’t chip the tool. Another method of driving the pin into place is to flip it over once you have it started, and either on a metal plate or the chisel plate of your anvil, hit the foot surface of the shoe with your hammer until the pin has seated.

The drive-in studs are applied in exactly the same manner as the tungsten pins. Again, use caution when applying and don’t bottom out. The fp brand studs require a 17/64” drill bit.

Typical applications might be a pin or stud in each heel – approximately half way between the end of the shoe and the end of the crease (or last nail hole). This allows the heel landing to still have a slight bit of slide before the traction kicks in. In the toe area it is typical to see the pins or studs placed just in front of the end of the crease. You will have to make your own judgment as to whether you need something in the toe and heel area. Just keep in mind that too much traction may be counterproductive and create soreness or lameness.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 11, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Getting the Sharper Edge

By Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

The following is a method for knife sharpening that I have been using for some years. You may be able to use this method to improve your knife’s cutting ability.

It is important that you maintain a thin blade. The thicker the blade, the larger the bevel at the cutting edge. If the blade is thick, you have to use too much pressure to pull the blade through the cut; the thinner the better. A fine bevel is easier to maintain and offers less resistance, allowing the knife to cut easily. Pay attention to the size of the bevel on a brand new knife and try to maintain that size throughout the life of the knife. As you sharpen and use your knife, the width will decrease and as it decreases the edge will thicken. The blade will need to be thinned.

In photo (1) I am thinning the blade. I have taken a belt and cut it about 1/2″ in width. You can do this with any belt. Cut the back with a razor blade about 4″ and carefully tear the rest. With the edge pointing up, so you can see the bevel and not get too thin, grind the knife to the desired thickness. Don’t let the blade get hot. If you see any color you have gone too far, too hot. Keep the blade cool by dipping in water after every couple passes. Use a new belt if possible, 100 or 120 grit. A new belt will cut quickly and the dipping of the knife in water will not allow the blade to heat up.

Photo 1

If your blade’s width gets down to 1/4″ throw it away. When the blade gets that thin it can break easily and that’s when you find it in your leg or wrist.

Now that I’ve thinned down the blade I need to establish the bevel. Photo (2) shows different makes of diamond hones. You want one that fits the hook size of your knife. Work the bevel into the hook (photo 3) and then the blade (photo 4). Some knives are made of a soft enough material that a small rat tail or triangle file can be used. Using files is good for serious roughing in but it produces a serrated edge, which is not desirable. If you start with a diamond hone you may never need a file.

Photo 4

Now that the bevel is established I go to the Scotchbrite wheel. This is a medium grit Scotchbrite. I have found this to be best for cutting quality. In photo (5) I am cutting a groove in the edge of the wheel. I have braced a rat tail file to cut the groove. The groove will allow me to thin and sharpen the hook. Using the Scotchbrite wheel, I can polish the whole blade and the bevel. You want to maintain the angle of the bevel through all the stages so pay particular attention to how you hold the blade to the wheel. Make sure the edge is down, otherwise your knife may become a permanent fixture in your forehead. Start with the hook (photo 6) and sweep through the blade (photo 7), always maintaining the angle of the bevel.

Photo 5

Now for the final polish. I use a medium felt wheel (photo 8) with the same groove cut in its edge as I put in the Scotchbrite. Apply green rouge to the groove edge and face of the wheel (photo 9). Use the same method as on the Scotchbrite so you can maintain the bevel angle and make as many passes as necessary to polish the edge (photos 10, 11).

Once you have achieved sharpness with the felt wheel the edge should last a long time, assuming you are using your knife carefully and cleaning the hoof. When your knife becomes the least bit dull, touch it up on the felt wheel. You should not have to go through all these steps again until the bevel gets too large. When it does just repeat these steps.

Many of the suppliers carry the various wheels, tools and materials you need for sharpening knives. If your supplier doesn’t carry them have them contact Bloom Forge or FPD for info on where to get them.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 5, Issue 4 – written by Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.


Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

PhotoELF Edits: 2013:10:30 --- Saved as: 24-Bit JPEG (EXIF) Format 98 % --- batch crop --- cropRoy Bloom has been shoeing horses since 1973. He has been a member of the American Farrier’s Team on two different occasions and for many years served as the manager of the team. Roy has always been willing to share the extensive knowledge he’s gained over the years with members of the farrier industry. In addition to his farrier background, he developed a strong interest in blacksmithing and tool making and for many years has been manufacturing a broad range of farrier and blacksmith tools. He also has a fully equipped shop and the ability to do a wide variety of ornamental and artistic work. Roy’s work as a clinician has earned him the Educator of the Year Award from the AFA and a position in the Horseshoer’s Hall of Fame.

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Clipping Methods by Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

Volume 3, Issue 1 of The Natural Angle featured a story on clipping shoes using the edge of the anvil. In the step by step discussion in that article we used a clipping hammer, which is similar to a ball pein. In this article, the photos show the clipping process with the clipping, rounding and cross pein hammers as well as a handled bob punch. As you can see from the photos, the three hammers are used in an identical manner. The starting of the bubble using the bob punch is different but the drawing of the clip is the same. The point of this article is to illustrate the fact that the clips you end up with can be very similar- making it a matter of personal preference as to which tool you use to start your clips.

The hammers all require good control to produce a consistent bubble. The bob punch is somewhat easier to control but you have to be cautious not to drive the punch too deep as you may pierce the shoe. The bubble is not always as easy to draw but with practice it can provide a very consistent clip and may help avoid distortion to your crease and nail holes if your hammer control is not just right in the bubble step.

No matter how you start the bubble you need good hammer control when you are drawing the clips. Also keep in mind if you don’t use the edges of your hammer or anvil you will end up with clips that look like toe caps.


Photo 1. Use the tool that works best for you.


Photo 2. Establish a good balanced position for starting your clips using the various hammers.


Photos 3, 4. With each of the hammers, you want to drive the hammer at a 45 degree angle,
directly at the edge of the anvil.


Photos 5, 6, 7. No matter which hammer you choose,
you have to have good control to establish a good start to the clip.


Photo 8. The bob-punch requires a different starting method. Start first by setting the point of contact.


Photos 9, 10. You then slide to the edge of the hardy hole to finish producing the bubble.
Be careful not to drive the punch too deep as it can easily pierce the shoe and leave a hole.
As you can see the bubble is slightly different from the one produced by the hammers.


Photo 11. This is the bubble produced by the hammers, you should flatten the area behind the clip
with the clip toward you and using the heel area of the hammer.
This makes it much easier to see your work.


Photos 12, 13, 14. I like to draw the clips working from the same end of the anvil.
This gives me clearance for the tongs as I rotate the shoe during the drawing of the clip.
In this case I am using the flat of the hammer and the edge of the anvil to draw the clip.


Photo 15. Use the corners of the hardy hole to set your clip base.


Photos 16, 17, 18, 19. You can see that you can get similar results no matter which tool you choose.
The key to consistency is practice and hammer control. The method I use for the hammers, working from the end of the anvil, gives me a nicely balanced position where I can get good control of my hammer and the tongs.


Photo 20. The goal is consistently strong clips no matter what method you use.


This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 5, Issue 2. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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12 Points of Reference: The Knee

By Dave Farley, CF APF-I and Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

The 12 Points of Reference article previously printed in the Natural Angle Volume 12, Issue 1, combined with the 12 points DVD “is a winning combination.” We both use these steps on every horse we trim. Each of the 12 points can be linked to each other. We have all heard the statement, “Every action has a reaction.” This is a very important statement when compared to the bones and joints in the lower limb of every animal we trim. Each digit of the lower limb could be normal for that particular equine. Likewise, there are several abnormal conformation faults possible for each digit in the lower limb of any horse. The more normal the conformation the easier to trim and shoe, if we pay attention and keep the limb balanced for that animal. The more deviation or abnormal the conformation of each bone and joint in the limb, the more important it is to properly trim and maintain that limb for the longevity of that animal.

PHOTO (RIGHT): Knees are turned out, however the foot is trying to be straight. This has resulted in a twist of the pastern and places the entire leg inside of center.

As you learn each of the 12 points, you will think of a particular animal you work on and start to wonder if you have done the best trim that you can. Proper trimming will improve the health of the limb as well as the health of the horse. If you improve the trim you will also improve the ability of that animal. If you improve the ability you will have a happy horse and a happy owner. Remember, every action has a reaction!

The first point of reference is the knee. We mentioned that the knee dictates the direction of breakover of that limb. As with each of the 12 points, we believe it is important to observe the horse at the walk as well as standing. Watch the limb as the horse walks toward you. Notice the action of the front limbs. Where is the knee in relation to the rest of the limb? Is the knee in the center of the limb (normal); as the horse moves, the knee breaks straight without the limb swinging in or out? Is it base narrow; toed out, as the knee breaks, the limb moves inward toward the center of the body, and the hoof swings toward the opposite leg? Is it base wide; toed in and as the limb breaks over it rotates out and the hoof wings outwards? After the horse is standing, we like to walk around the animal. Is the knee flat (normal) or is it angled out (base narrow) or angled in (base wide)? While this may seem a little confusing at first, a really cool thing will start to happen! After you watch a few horses move, and focus on the knee you will be able to predict the conformation of the rest of the limb before the animal gets closer to you. You will also be able to predict the wear on the hoof or shoe before you pick up a leg!

PHOTOS (ABOVE): Knees are turned out, feet follow knees and are turned out, leg is centered under knee and above foot.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 12, Issue 1. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Getting the Sharper Edge

By Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

The following is a method for knife sharpening that I have been using for some years. You may be able to use this method to improve your knife’s cutting ability.

It is important that you maintain a thin blade. The thicker the blade, the larger the bevel at the cutting edge. If the blade is thick, you have to use too much pressure to pull the blade through the cut; the thinner the better. A fine bevel is easier to maintain and offers less resistance, allowing the knife to cut easily. Pay attention to the size of the bevel on a brand new knife and try to maintain that size throughout the life of the knife. As you sharpen and use your knife, the width will decrease and as it decreases the edge will thicken. The blade will need to be thinned.

In the photo to the right, I am thinning the blade. I have taken a belt and cut it about 1/2″ in width. You can do this with any belt. Cut the back with a razor blade about 4″ and carefully

tear the rest. With the edge pointing up, so you can see the bevel and not get too thin, grind the knife to the desired thickness. Don’t let the blade get hot. If you see any color you have gone too far, too hot. Keep the blade cool by dipping in water after every couple passes. Use a new belt if possible, 100 or 120 grit. A new belt will cut quickly and the dipping of the knife in water will not allow the blade to heat up.

If your blade’s width gets down to 1/4″ throw it away. When the blade gets that thin it can break easily and that’s when you find it in your leg or wrist.

Now that I’ve thinned down the blade I need to establish the bevel. Photo (2) shows different makes of diamond hones. You want one that fits the hook size of your knife. Work the bevel into the hook (photo 3) and then the blade (photo 4). Some knives are made of a soft enough material that a small rat tail or triangle file can be used. Using files is good for serious roughing in but it produces a serrated edge, which is not desirable. If you start with a diamond hone you may never need a file.

Now that the bevel is established I go to the Scotchbrite wheel. This is a medium grit Scotchbrite. I have found this to be best for cutting quality. In photo (5) I am cutting a groove in the edge of the wheel. I have braced a rat tail file to cut the groove. The groove will allow me to thin and sharpen the hook. Using the Scotchbrite wheel, I can polish the whole blade and the bevel. You want to maintain the angle of the bevel through all the stages so pay particular attention to how you hold the blade to the wheel. Make sure the edge is down, otherwise your knife may become a permanent fixture in your forehead. Start with the hook (photo 6) and sweep through the blade (photo 7), always maintaining the angle of the bevel.

Now for the final polish. I use a medium felt wheel (photo 8) with the same groove cut in its edge as I put in the Scotchbrite. Apply green rouge to the groove edge and face of the wheel (photo 9). Use the same method as on the Scotchbrite so you can maintain the bevel angle and make as many passes as necessary to polish the edge (photos 10, 11).

Once you have achieved sharpness with the felt wheel the edge should last a long time, assuming you are using your knife carefully and cleaning the hoof. When your knife becomes the least bit dull, touch it up on the felt wheel. You should not have to go through all these steps again until the bevel gets too large. When it does just repeat these steps.

Many of the suppliers carry the various wheels, tools and materials you need for sharpening knives. If your supplier doesn’t carry them have them contact Bloom Forge or FPD for info on where to get them.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 5, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Sheared Heels or Heel Shear?

By Dave Farley, CF APF-I

In this article, I will show you how I shoe a horse with a mild heel shear. In future articles, we will deal with the two severe stages that I call sheared heels. I will not attempt to diagnose the cause of this condition, which is explained in several great textbooks. Instead, I will shoe the horse just as I do in my everyday practice.

Most textbooks describe this condition as one heel being higher than the other, when viewed from the back of the foot. If you are a farrier, you see this condition often and each of us have our own way of dealing with sheared heals. In my business, I try to deal with the heel shear before it becomes a sheared heel. I personally believe that there are three stages of this condition. I approach each stage of this foot fault a little differently.

This case is what I call a mild heel shear. Notice that the inside heel is higher than the outside (see photo above). I consider this mild because the frog is still attached. If you hold the foot with both hands the heels will not separate and move independently. Also, notice that the bulb has little deformity when the foot is bearing weight and viewed from the rear. Most feet with this mild condition will not show any lameness or gait fault. I believe that feet should be as close as possible to the center of the limb above it. Notice that the wall of the high heel is straighter and does not have a normal angle. I take this into consideration when I fit the shoe.

I trim to the highest, widest part of the frog. I use a #2 Kerckhaert Grand Prix shoe. This shoe has a wide outside branch that helps horses with stiff and/or rotating hocks that need more lateral support. Using this shoe, I hammer and/or grind the inside branch. This takes away more medial ground surface of the shoe allowing the affected heel to sink more than the outside or lateral heel.

Notice the inside (medial) fit of the shoe. If you have a horse with this mild condition, and your approach is similar, this heel shear probably will never become a sheared heel. This horse is sound, happy and a ten mover.


This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 11, Issue 3 . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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