Volume 1 Issue 2: How’s The Shoe Punched?

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This is one of the most common questions asked about horseshoes. The target for most manufacturers of riding horse shoes made for the North American market is to crease and punch for a city head nail, normally the 5 City. The head design of the Capewell 5 City, by far the most common nail, is similar to that of the Capewell 5 Slim, 5 Classic and Cooper 5 Lite so the nails are usually interchangeable.

In today’s mass market there are two distinctly different shoe manufacturing processes;

a. “Drop forged” Shoes that are made on forging presses or drop forge hammers, generally starting with low carbon round steel.

b. “Manufactured” Shoes that are made from higher carbon flat bar stock, using presses and hydraulics.
The majority of riding horse shoes are made with a crease. Looking closely at the shoes you’ll see the resulting creases of the two shoe manufacturing processes are noticeably different.

When you look at the drop forged shoe you will see that the crease is generally U shaped, with the bottom of the crease slightly flattened (photo 1). This type of crease is much easier on forging dies than the V type crease you find on the manufactured shoe. While it is an economic advantage to drop forge the shoe with the U shape crease, the punching of the shoe often ends up less than ideal. The minimal countersink for the head often only allows contact with a small portion of the head, usually right at the base of the head. In order to get tight nailing the pritcheling must be very tight, with the base of the nail head forced into the pritchel hole. This tight pritcheling restricts the ability to angle the nail to get the best height and pitch (photo 2). Unless you backpunch, this often leads to low nails and weaker, damaged hoof walls.

In contrast, the V shaped crease of the manufactured shoe allows a countersink which maximizes contact with the nail head (photo 3). If you were to measure the amount of surface area of the nail (head and shank) making good contact with this shoe you would see that more head contact is possible. This proves stronger than having contact only with the base of the head and the top of the nail shank. (You will find that most hand made shoes that are creased or fullered have this V shape)

The V crease with the countersink for the head facilitates nail head contact with the shoe, lessening the dependency on the pritcheling to be so tight. This allows the nail to be angled or pitched to suit the hoof angle (photo 4). The result is a secure shoe with a minimum amount of hoof wall damage. With a V creased shoe you should be able to use slimmer shank nails with good results. There is also much less effort involved in shoe preparation - less backpunching!

Ask a nail manufacturer what design feature they think will do the most to hold a shoe on. They will probably indicate good head fit with a maximum amount of contact with the crease. Look at the shoes you’re using and check the nail head for contact in the crease.

Photos 1-4: As a shoe wears, the V shape crease tends to provide a more stable nail fit. When you look closely at hoof wall angles you will understand the importance of the nail pitch.

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