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February 28, 2009


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Very interesting... as I was reading I kept thinking "I know they're regulated and it's quite stringent"
I'm very surprised there is still such poor work. I suppose everyone has an off day, but if you don't want to do your best, then quit already.
Great pic!


thanks for doing some documentary photo work in your barn - i wish i could do the same but the other horses are away at "endurance training camp" so there's no one to capture on film.

"dumped toe"?? i've never seen anything like that. what is the story behind that?

in the future, i will try to get pics of "the best feet in my barn" when i visit a stable. this could be a real learning experience as i explore "the best": ) good idea, and also, quite unoffensive - you haven't offended anyone by asking for the best.


White Horse Pilgrim

Mikey: It is good to hear from you, and I am glad that you can see that I am not just "getting at farriers" - not my intention! Over here the trade is strictly regulated, but only regarding who does the work. Typically a 16-yo boy (I doubt whether even 1% of British farriers are women) undertakes an apprenticeship. Only a small part of this is college study, and most of that concerns metalwork - the proportion devoted to studying anatomy and how to trim and place shoes is minimal. This system goes back to the days when the apprentice was needed to make the shoes for the farrier, which was the case until about 25 years ago. I am sure that both the teachers and the students regard these ill-shaped feet as normal. Owners certainly think that this is normal. Few British farriers ride (indeed I have never met one who does), and the trade is treated as a pure craft skill, like plumbing or carpentry. The "system" produces too few farriers for the number of horses, so prices remain high and market forces are unable to weed out the poor practitioners. What other way could a non-academic 18-yo earn $500 a day cash, and take home half of this even if he was honest and paid all the taxes?

It is a sorry tale, and one nowadays devoted (so it seems) simply to protecting the jobs of a privileged minority. Nothing ever seems to be done about poor work. I did once have cause to report a farrier for misconduct (he was making false statements to an equine welfare organisation in order to persecute someone who decided no longer to employ him) and of course nothing was done because he was friendly with one of the ruling council of the brotherhood.

I am quite sure that whoever shod the horse in the picture considers that he has done a technically competent job. It's not that the fellow was lazy or didn't care (and that particular horse is quiet to work with), that is what he thinks ought to be done. Most of his colleagues would do likewise, though some might just round off the toe rather than rasping quite so much material away. (I have been told that one can "rasp the toe down to the white line" with no ill effects. Others were warier about compromisig hoof capsule strength.)

Lytha: dumping the toe with a rasp is the usual dodge to make a standard shoe "fit" a foot with a long toe. The factory-made shoes are all shaped to an "ideal" foot, and of course most of the real feet with long toes and collapsed heels are a different shape. So either the toe is dumped or the branches of the shoe don't reach the heels. I have seen horses shod in both of these ways!


Check out Irish Master farriers website - be interested to see what you think


holy crap really? geez, even my old farrier in america would always tell me "shape the shoe to fit the foot, not vice versa!"


White Horse Pilgrim

Lytha: that's the essential bankruptcy of British farriery - these feet are so far from the ideal that either a standard shoe needs major alteration (in which case imagine the leverage of that toe on the tendons!) or the foot has to be butchered to fit the shoe.

Mrs Mom

Whoa... I hate to say it Mikey and Julian, but dude. We see WAY WAY Worse than that from the iron hangers in this tiny portion of the Southland. WAY WAY WORSE.

We call it "dubbing" the toe here, instead of dumping. But the purpose is still all the same... *sigh*

The regs in England are stringent, but... they seem like they are too busy protecting their backsides from trimmers to seek out better/ higher education on hooves. I don't care if you are still going to shoe it, but please! TRIM it right in the first place!!!


That foot looks exactly like 99% of the TWH feet down here, except that we don't trim the toe. How sad. :(

My field just got two new TWHs in - if I remember, I'll take pics of their feet tomorrow.

White Horse Pilgrim

MM: it is disturbing that you see worse feet. We do see some bad ones too - I'll try to snap a few photos when the owners aren't looking!

The trouble with the regulations here is that now their purpose is just to say "only group X can shoe horses". The problem is that, whilst that group's training might have been adequate by the standards of some decades ago, understanding has moved on. I cannot imagine the farriers owning up to the fact that what they have been telling us for years actually isn't really quite right. Meanwhile their skill set just gets further behind.

Isn't it remarkable that horses do, for the most part, stay sound. They are indeed adaptable and robust.

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