Q: Why do you “hot shoe”?
A: Hot shoeing is the process of heating horseshoes with a forge in order to change their shape. The alternative method, cold shoeing, greatly limits the ability of the farrier to shape shoes. Using a forge allows Josh to easily alter the shape of the shoe, resulting in a custom fit for every horse. Shoes can also be improved for specific cases by forging Clips, Rocker Toes, and countless other modifications.
Q: Why do you “hot fit” the foot?
A: Hot fitting is the process of fitting a hot shoe to the horse’s foot. There are several reasons for doing so:
- The shoe can be mated to the foot, so there is 100% wall contact
- Clips can be properly seated in the hoof wall to provide maximum strength
- The fit of the shoe can be easily adjusted while the shoe is still warm
- Microorganisms (such as those causing White Line Disease) die when exposed to the heat of the shoe, leaving the foot healthier
- The tubules that comprise the hoof wall are cauterized, preventing microorganisms from entering
- The hoof wall becomes harder after being hot fit, increasing the strength of the foot
Q: Why do you use clips?
A: Clips are triangular projections that extend up from the foot surface of the shoe. They act as a security feature on a shoe by reducing the amount of shearing forces exerted upon the nails. A well-made clip takes the place of 2 nails, allowing the use of fewer and slimmer nails. Clips can be placed anywhere on a shoe, but the most common locations are the Toe Clip and the Quarter Clip (see photo).
Q: Why do you make horseshoes by hand?
A: Handmade horseshoes allow the farrier to custom fit each foot. If you’ve ever had a pair of custom boots made by a skilled cobbler, you know just how great a well-fit shoe feels. Horses’ feet come in a range of sizes and shapes, which are influenced by each horse’s individual conformation. By making shoes, Josh can create shoes specifically for each horse’s needs. There are literally hundreds of different shoes available only by hand forging them, and they can help a lot of horses.
Q: Why do you compete in horseshoeing contests?
A: A horseshoeing competition is judged on a mixture of speed and quality, which farriers call “efficiency”. At the contest, the farrier trims one foot on a horse, makes a shoe, and fits it, all under a strict time limit. After the clock runs out, the best shod foot wins the contest. By honing one’s skills of trimming, making, and fitting shoes under a short time limit, the farrier’s everyday work improves dramatically. The result: well-shod horses and happy clients.
Q: Does it hurt the horse?
A: No. All of the tissue that a farrier works with is insensitive, meaning it has no nerve supply or blood supply. The hoof wall is composed of keratinized epithelial cells, which are similar to those in your fingernails.
Q: What does “CJF” stand for?
A: Certified Journeyman Farrier. This is a level of education tested by the American Farrier’s Association (AFA), which is the largest farrier’s organization in the US. The test requires candidates to pass three separate exams:
- Written Test covering knowledge of Equine Anatomy, Lameness Pathology, and Locomotion
- Forging and forge-welding a Fullered Straight Bar Shoe to fit a foot pattern in 35 minutes.
- Shoeing a horse with handmade, Plain Stamped Shoes which are Toe Clipped for the fronts and Quarter Clipped for the hinds within the 2 hour time limit.
Q: What does “AWCF” stand for?
A: Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. This is an extensive 3 day exam administered by the Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF), which was founded in London, England in 1356. It is one the most thorough and rigorous tests available to the modern day farrier, and it is intended to determine each candidate’s ability to perform and understand Therapeutic and Corrective Farriery. The exam is divided into Practical and Theory modules. The Practical module consists of:
- Exhibition of Shoes
- Live Shoeing and Shoemaking
- Modern Farriery
The Theory module consists of:
- Written Paper covering Anatomy, Physiology and Function, and Farriery Theory
- Live Horse and Radiography Assessment
- Oral Examination
Q: Do you do “barefoot trimming”?
A: Yes. Although there have been several “trims with a name” that have gained popularity in recent years, the fact is that the majority of them use the same protocols and guidelines that so-called “traditional” farriers have been using for many years. I do not, however, support the Four Point Trim protocols, nor those of Dr. Strasser, as they can cause irreversible damage to the horse.