Choosing the Best Fit is Your Best Option
The Natural Angle has covered a lot of basic, everyday issues throughout the history of the publication. Perhaps no topic affects you more on a day-to-day basis than the choice of nails and shoes for your work. This article will be a reminder of some of the “best recommendations” brought forward by your peers in the industry; farriers that have risen to the top because they made excellence an everyday goal.
How’s the Shoe Punched, from Volume 1 issue 2, talked about shoes with a V- crease and the advantage design can give you in nail fit. This may be one of the most basic concepts in making a shoe choice; giving you the best results, day in and day out.
The Kerckhaert Horseshoe Company pioneered mass production of shoes that are creased and punched with many of the same results you would get with hand-made shoes. They understand the V-crease will facilitate optimal nail fit; giving you the flexibility to use a range of nail sizes that provides the best choice for the foot you are working on. The American series shoes, such as the Standard, Standard Rim and SX Series, are good examples.
A Standard Rim shoe may be going on a horse that is in conditions that don’t require a 5 City shank (a show ring or loamy soil for example). It may also be going on a foot that is small enough that you don’t feel a 5 City shank is appropriate. The Standard Rim can take a 5 City or 5 Slim head, with a small portion of the head remaining above the ground surface. Yet, in the same shoe, you can choose a 5 Race and end up with a very secure fit, with a smaller shank and a flush fit of the head and ground surface. This choice is only possible with a properly designed V-crease. Otherwise, you depend on the shank to bear all the stress of securing the shoe while reducing your nail choices. You may have a shank size that is larger than the foot requires, or can handle, without hoof wall damage.
The V-crease also offers a significant advantage in how much choice you have in the driving angle of the nail. A U shaped crease has a thicker pritcheled section and restricts the amount of pitch you can get with the nail. The deeper V- crease, with a shorter pritcheled section, allows you to angle the nail significantly in the toe area. You need the angle to correspond with the hoof wall angle. This can be a huge help in getting a secure nail height without damage to the wall. If the hoof were straight up and down from toe to heel, this wouldn’t be an issue; however, we all know that’s not what you are likely to see when you show up at a barn. If you are having difficulty getting a consistent nail line and the shoe is fit properly, think about how the crease and nail holes of your shoes impact your effort. This is one more good reason to choose the products that make your life easier and your work more correct.
There is no doubt nail choice is also a factor in fit. Kerckhaert has introduced a nail program that provides a choice for even better nail fit. The Liberty line is proving itself in the market by providing a consistency and precision that goes hand in hand (nail in shoe) with the idea of optimal nail and shoe fit. You may have had to make do with inconsistent head and shank size, “flash” and other quality issues that prevented you from reaching that level of excellence you strive for. Case after case, box after box, nail after nail, the Liberty nails are showing that it is possible to produce a product that meets the demands you have in order to do your best work. The shoe can have a perfectly designed crease and nail hole, but not be secure simply because the nail quality did not measure up. The next time you pull a nail out of your box, examine the head area and the “neck” or area where the shank meets the head. If you are seeing “flash” or other irregularities in this area, compare with a Liberty nail and you'll see a noticable difference. While the irregularities may not stop you from getting “tight” nailing, they will keep you from having the optimal fit that is your goal.
The farrier market is a limited market. You have probably noticed this fact even more with the recent economic downturn. The things that set you apart from the competition are your abilities to understand good fundamentals of hoof prep, appropriate fit of shoes and solid business practices. The farrier trade is no different from any other in that your choice of products can help set you apart and elevate your reputation in the market. Choose for quality, precision and performance. Your skills and your careful choice of appropriate products will keep you working even during the toughest times. Keep in mind value does not come solely from the price you pay for a product or service, for you or for your customer.