Tool Tips: Maintaining Your Hammer and Struck Tools

By Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

There are a lot of forging hammers in the market and just as many ideas as to how hard they should be. I have always held that the hammer hardness should not be more than the struck tool. The first reason is related to safety. A hammer that has an extremely hard heat treat level is more likely to chip or cause a problem with the struck tool or anvil if there is any kind of miss or errant blow. Secondly, because of the mass of the hammer in relation to the struck tool, damage to the tool is more likely. You will spend more money and time maintaining your struck tools if the hammer is extremely hard. In the end, this will cost you more than the occasional maintenance of your hammer if it is approximately the same hardness as the struck tools.

A hammer requires regular maintenance. If you don’t dress the face and edges regularly, you can end up with “dings” to the face that will mark the material you are working. Any deformation of the edges of the hammer can develop into a mushrooming area that is at risk of chipping or fracturing- creating a safety issue and also making it more difficult to maintain.

Pay close attention to your hammer faces and edges as well as the struck end of your top tools. If you see any indication of marking, mushrooming or other blemishes developing you can dress these using a grinder with a fine grit belt- something in the neighborhood of 100-120 grit will work well. When dressing the hammer or tools be careful not to create enough heat to bring color to the tool. This can destroy the heat treat of the tool and is very difficult to repair.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 14, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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What Happens When Hoof Care is Neglected

In July of 2020, we had a horse come in the FootPro Shop that proved to be a good example of what can happen when hoof care is not done on a regular schedule.

Dave Farley, CF APF-I came to the shop to talk about the evaluation process he follows before shoeing his horses. It was obvious the feet had not been trimmed for some time, indicating no farrier had been scheduled to keep them in reasonable shape.

JULY 2020
Annabelle before trim.

Beyond the excessive growth, Dave could see immediately she had a problem with her right front that needed to be dealt with. The owner told Dave the horse had just popped an abscess a few days before coming to the shop. In examining the size of the break in the hoof wall, it seemed likely a considerable amount of wall undermined as the abscess worked its way up the wall. There were also indications the sole had been compromised, as well.

Dave was able to get the foot trimmed, treated with FootPro CS+ and a shoe applied, despite the discomfort the abscess caused. He recommended the owners ask their vet how to treat the open wound and to make sure to follow up with a local farrier. The abscess appeared to have been ongoing for some time to cause this amount of wall separation and the poor condition of the hooves indicated she had not had any recent farrier work done either. The question was whether that neglect would change.

JULY 2020

Fast forward to March of 2021. We contacted the owners to see if they would like to bring the horse back to the FootPro Shop to be shod by Hank Chisholm, CJF. We had no idea that she had not been done since July of 2020. You can imagine our surprise- and Hank’s- when she walked into the shop. You can see from the images that the wall had grown considerably in the months since she was in the shop but she had not received any farrier care and a large area of the lateral wall of the right foot was broken off. What was still there was undermined and significantly detached. The sole was also undermined and had cracks and separation that were going to require extra care. Hank wasn’t rattled, he just knew this was going to be a tedious shoeing job that was going to take some time to get things back on track.

We had no idea that she had not been done since July of 2020.

Have a look at the images from 2020 when the abscess first caused damage to the wall and the work Hank went through to get this horse back on a good path.

This may be a good article to share with your clients that don’t stick to a good schedule. Perhaps they’ll understand why it’s important for the health of the horse to work with you to get a reasonable schedule set up.

March 2021
Missing wall and lateral Toe quarter undermined.

We had Bobby Menker, CJF APF-I come to the shop for two follow-up shoeings on this horse after Hank got her on track for recovery. The hoof is almost completely grown back and in a cycle or two, she should be as good as new.

Let’s all hope the owners learned how important it is to keep a regular schedule for her hoof care, whether it’s just to be trimmed or to be shod.

The work that Dave, Hank and Bobby did is documented in video footage that you can see on our YouTube channel.

MARCH 2021

APRIL 2021
Hoof is growing down and a much smaller area requires the Adhere patch.

JUNE 2021
Very little patch needed to fill void in toe quarter.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 18, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Shoeing for Form, Function and No Pressure

by Doug Workman, CJF

This is a show Hunter that has just finished a long show season. He has come into my life for a little light training and to let mind, body and feet have a much needed break. The life of a show horse being what it is, the farriers that work on them during the show season really have their hands full keeping these horses showing and sound. The fact that the horses have limited turnout, two to three baths a day and a variety of footing to deal with makes keeping them sound a tough job. My hat is off to these farriers.

I was very fortunate on this day to have my good friend, Patrick Bone, to help me. Patrick and I have been working together a long time and I consider it a privilege to have him work with me on any horse. Normally we would be in a hurry to get done so we could take the rest of the day to go fishing, but the boat was in the shop for repair. So we pulled out the camera, put on our aprons and dove in.

The first thing we looked at is the overall conformation of the horse and how he is shod. He is not the straightest legged horse we had ever seen, but we both have seen worse. You can also see where he has been nerved in the past. He was shod just as you would expect, a little extra foot and a hunter fit (spot on). Since we had the luxury of a break from show biz we could think in terms of more support and gathering up the feet. We just want to make sure that we put the foot in the center of the leg and the foot and leg in the center of the shoe.


The front feet were shod in aluminum as all hunters are and fit spot on. A very safe job. After removing the shoes and removing the dead sole we trim the frog removing any dirt traps and finding the true apex of the frog (where the frog meets the live sole). We now use the trimmed frog as the foundation to start our trim. My goal is to have the widest part of the foot parallel with each other approximately 1/2” to 3/8” behind the true apex of the frog after the trim. Also, I want to be as equal as possible medially and laterally across this same point (widest part of the foot). The heels should be equal length and back as close to the highest and widest part of the frog as I can get. The main thing that I keep in mind is that these are goals and I do not want to over prep the feet to achieve them.



After I have trimmed the feet as close to this protocol as I can, I will use the shoe choice and placement to compensate for any deviations that I come across. For this horse we decided to go to steel to give a more stable base of support since we are fitting with a little more length and width. To compensate for having more foot medially or laterally, I fit the shoe as if both halves are equal and box and safe the shoe on the narrow side. This is not always possible due to environment or job, but you can generally give a little help. To address anterior/posterior deviations I start at the widest part of the foot again. I want to have equal amount of foot in front of and behind this point. I’m not a big proponent of totally unloading the toe wall of the foot. I generally set my shoes back a little, but I want the toe wall bearing and supporting weight. As you can see on these feet the white line appears stretched or stressed. By using the widest part of a properly trimmed foot as a landmark, I do not have to guess where to put my toe, it gives me a destination.



Once again these are goals that I’m trying to achieve, not hard and fast rules. By having a set foundation to work from, I’m better able to see the successes or failures of my work.

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

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Venous Plexus Engagement with Frog Support Illustrated with CAD

By Austin Edens, CJF

Shoeing with frog support has gained traction in the past few years with its primary benefit for caudal support of the hoof capsule. We have many tools at our disposal to combat caudal failure in the hoof capsule, such as heart bars, frog-support pads, DIM, pour-ins, etc. Anecdotally, I often observe an extra amount of hoof growth after applying these measures. This accelerated growth can be explained by the additional frog support increasing engagement of the venous plexus in the caudal region of the hoof.

Horses evolved with the frog as a weight-bearing structure. On a barefoot hoof, the frog synchronously engages the ground with the heels during the loading phase of the stride. One negative effect of shoeing horses with a regular shoe is that the frog of a shod hoof bears less weight and has less ground contact than its barefoot counterpart. For the vast majority of horses, this slight decrease in frog function has a negligible effect on the health of the foot. However, there is a substantial portion of the sport horse population that experience caudal collapse of the structures that are vital for nurturing blood flow in the venous plexus. These compromised feet can benefit from the additional frog and caudal support by increasing blood flow via the venous plexus and its supporting structures of the hoof capsule.

PHOTO 1 – UNSHOD HOOF: The load of the bony column (red arrows) colliding with the ground reaction forces (green arrows), and creating outward pressure on the heels (yellow arrows) due to the increased hydraulic pressure of the caudal region. On a barefoot hoof, compression of the frog and digital cushion initiate simultaneously with the heels when contacting the ground, thus maximizing the hemodynamic function of the venous plexus.

PHOTO 2 – SHOD HOOF WITH A REGULAR SHOE: The load of the bony column (red arrows) shearing against the ground reaction forces (green arrows), and creating inward and forward pressure on the heels (yellow arrows) due to the higher GRF on the heels. There is a delayed and reduced GRF on the frog and digital cushion.

PHOTO 3 – SHOD HOOF WITH A WELD-IN FROG PLATE: A weld-in frog plate on a Kerckhaert DF with FootPro™ DIM 20 is one of my go-tos for increasing caudal support and optimizing venous plexus function.

PHOTO 4 – SHOD HOOF WITH FROG SUPPORT (HEART BAR): This is the best of both worlds. The foot has the protection and support of a shod foot and the hemodynamic function of the venous plexus of a barefoot hoof.

PHOTO 5 – CAUDAL CROSS-SECTION: Caudal cross-section view with digital cushion and collateral cartilages.

PHOTO 6 – LOADING FORCES ON AN UNSHOD FOOT: Caudal cross-section view of loading forces on an unshod foot. Compression of the frog and digital cushion push against the collateral cartilages to pump blood up through the venous plexus.

PHOTO 7 – LOADING FORCES ON FOOT WITH A REGULAR SHOE: Caudal cross-section view of loading forces of a foot with a regular shoe. Some frog and digital cushion compression is lost due to less GRF on its palmar structures.

PHOTO 8 – LOADING FORCES ON A FOOT WITH A HEART BAR SHOE: Caudal cross-section view of loading forces of a foot with a heart bar shoe. Frog and digital cushion compression is restored on a shod foot with the addition of frog support (heart bar).

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 19, Issue 2. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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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!





  • 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



  • 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.


  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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