Billed as the
‘Super Clinic’ the Handmade Shoes Spring Clinic did not disappoint. With an impressive
lineup of clinicians choosing a wide variety of topics it was inevitable the
day would be informative, educational and thought provoking. A brief
introduction from Billy, the stop clock was set to the allotted 30 minutes per
clinician and the first presentation was underway…
Cecil Swan – ‘Seeking enlightenment along the way’
Well known to be
a story teller and a ‘character’ of our industry, Cecil Swan, got the day off
to a great start with an insight into his experiences as a farrier; lessons
learned along the way and tips that have made his career as a farrier easier.
As he quite rightly stated “knowledge is like horse muck; it is no use unless
you spread it around”.
manufacturer of a leading range of gas forges Cecil reiterated the uniqueness
of a gas fire compared to coke forges. The amount of steel used in a gas fire is
directly proportionate to the time it takes to heat up. Putting four shoes into
the fire at the same time will take four times as long to heat one and they
will all become hot at the same time. Cecil cited Grant Moon as being the best
that he has seen at “progressive entry”, which is placing one shoe in a gas
fire at a time to reach temperature more quickly and ultimately working more
efficiently. It was also noted that welding in a gas fire is a particular
skill; the first scarf has to weld and you need to wait for the bubbles in the
line between the two pieces.
Moving on to his
experience as a farrier we were provided with a ‘whistle-stop’ insight into a
number of shoeing considerations –
One role of a farrier is to
prevent concussion, trauma and shock. The role of pads being particularly
essential for thin soled horses, preferably with frog support.
Cecil has had a lot of success
with medial lift in lateral fallers
Farriers can create hammer shy
horses. Cecil stated that it is not necessary to keep hammering a nail hard as
you are coming into the shoe; light, rapid blows are more effective. “Nails
hold a shoe in place, they don’t hold shoes on”.
There is no spirit level in farriery;
farriers need to use their own interpretation. Cecil uses the solar aspect of
the foot in evaluation as it is very responsive to the pressures placed upon
Describing the foot as a
“lever”, the farriers’ job is to manipulate it “if it comes out of whack”. A
flare is normally a reaction to “what a horse is going through”.
Over rasping of the foot is
undesirable however, Cecil does state that it is important to communicate the
owner that you have not rasped ‘to perfection’ in order to “not compromise the
Too frequently hind feet are
trimmed to the lateral side (resulting in a flare) as farriers have not viewed
the limb properly. Horses do not stand with their hind toes pointing towards
their ears and therefore they need to be viewed at an angle.
Cecil suggested that toe clips
were important on lighter section shoes – the only way to reduce the chance of
spreading. However he has found that toe clips can deform horses feet and can
encourage the toe to migrate forward.
Promotion of heel growth is a
difficult problem and Cecil has tried a lot including wedge pads. However noting
that he has never seen an upright foot with a collapsed heel he believes too
much length is detrimental to the heels. Getting the “support back”, he believes,
and heels will grow.
Cecil suggested an apparent slow advancement in the shoeing of horses, putting
forward “tradition as an inhibitor”. “Is it because farriers are stupid? No, horses
are resilient.” Bad shoeing may not cause lameness instantly but many years
down the line… “as you get older, you get wiser…”
Derek Gardner – ‘Moving Steel’
Gardner range of tools has undergone some development recently with fullers now
available unshafted. Derek has developed a new strong and robust forge utilizing
his experience of working with and moving steel both at home tool making and
his vast competition experience. His presentation concentrated on how to forge
“with the least amount of effort for maximum effect”.
“It can be so
simple to move steel; it is not all about strength”. Derek stated that using
the right hammer is important; it needs to be comfortable in weight and does
not necessarily need to have a huge face. Most of the mass should be in the
middle of the hammer. It is not just “about the hammer blow to the steel it is
about lifting it back off again” – ultimately saving elbows! You need to find
where you are at your maximum strength when striking and position yourself,
your tools and anvil accordingly.
demonstration concentrated on putting a “bump in the toe”. To cool a piece of
steel you should never hold the piece you want to stay hot, when quenching move
the steel around the cold water in the bucket as the water immediately around
the steel gets warm. Derek prefers
to cool steel at an angle encouraging the formation of an early toe bend.
Accuracy was highlighted of paramount importance, “save yourself from doing
something twice” – in a competition environment “you need to beat the clock”. Derek’s
hammer blows are not rapid but solid and accurate. The decision of where the
toe bend will be should be evident in the first hammer blow – indeed you should
know at every stage where you are going before you get to it.
Steven Beane – ‘The Beanie Flick’
development “in secret” for a couple of years, Steven Beane has designed the
“Beanie Flick” – a tool he is relieved is now out on the market so that he can
use it in competitions! The groover that comes on the end of a knife was
developed as Steven required a small groove to put clenches in and a number of
horses he was shoeing were not keen on the under clencher and appeared hammer
shy. Conveniently placed at the end of his range of knives the groover is
easily to hand in chap pockets. Made out of S7 every piece is hand finished and
tested by Steven. All knife handles are made from hard wood to add weight to
into practice Steven gave a shoeing demonstration utilizing both the loop and
straight knives with both a hoof pick end and the groover. Stating a preference
to see every foot walk and “not trimming to static balance” level flat foot
fall is essential. At home Steven does not tend to rasp the bottom of the foot.
In a competition
environment Steven will normally “have a couple of heats” after trimming and
then will go back to the foot to look at the trim again with fresh eyes. To
view the trim properly you need to get down low and tilt the foot. However he
did note that the “foot dressing only lasts five minutes before the shoe is
burnt on”! He will only burn on a shoe once he is happy with the shoe and the
back of the shoe is examined to ensure the fit is accurate.
a “nail and finish is worth ten” time should be allowed for the final aspect of
a competition shoeing job and not wasted in stages before. Steven will “fit to
a sharp edge” in a competition in order to show it off. Steven doesn’t do “much
blocking up” when nailing on, believing instead that it isn’t necessary with
good nail holes. Clenches are bent over at 90 degrees. The ‘Beanie Flick’ was
put into practice and Steven stressed the action was essential. Using a two
handed motion with your palm against the hoof the groover is pushed in and a
sharp pull down. The clenches can then be easily knocked down and finished off.
Gregoire Fauquembergue - ' Tips and tricks for
every day remedial'
Experienced in veterinary and remedial shoeing Gregoire Fauquembergue can
be described as an “innovative” farrier known for thinking on his feet to
provide solutions in a number of situations.
Gregoire demonstrated a method of creating wedges suitable for acute
laminitis, broken back axis and contracted fetlocks. Using a barshoe and
wrapping gaffa tape around the heels Vettec Superfast (warmed if it is cold)
can be injected around the heels to provide elevation. This method can be used
before or after shoeing (although cannot hot fit with it on) and the ‘wedge’
can be increased by adding more product and decreased by rasping it off as
necessary. A further method of creating wedges utilizing a block of wood and
Superfast was also shown.
A small elongated ‘tear drop’ of aluminium rolled at the end was demonstrated
as an effective way of creating a toe extension and will also provide support
under the foot.
A further example of improvisation and Gregoire demonstrated using a
section of x-ray film wrapped around a foot in the shape of a lampshade and
injecting Superfast into the ‘cone’ to create a lateral extension. This can
also be moulded and manipulated whilst the Superfast is still warm.
Antoine Corona - 'Use of Alli shoes for Eventing'
The range of Antoine Corona shoes are known to be expensive but have a reputation
for being extremely effective. Antoine gives demonstrations across the world to
provide farriers with an insight into how the shoes are made and how they work
in order to realise their many benefits. There are 22 different kinds of shoe,
8 in particular for sports horses, and the range includes bar shoes. The
smaller shoes have the same proportions as the larger in the range. They come
in two different types of aluminium, the second being even stronger and
The shoes can be drilled and tapped, there is no need for a metal insert,
however, the drill bit should be 8.2mm and not 8.5mm.
Despite being aluminium this range of shoes can be hot fitted. The clips
can be drawn hot or cold and are positioned so that the farrier can choose
his/her clipping preference. The same forging skill is used for the aluminium
shoes as steel shoes and the shoes are easy to refit. Whilst the shoes will
wear with road work, increasing the thickness of the shoe used will help to compensate
for this and will ensure the shoe lasts a 6 week cycle.
In addition to the range of shoes Antoine has a complementary comprehensive
range of pads which are proven to be extremely resistant – one set has been
known to last a season. There are 3
different sized pads in 3 different colours. Equipak can be injected in a
controlled manner through a special hole in the pad. The hole has a valve which
both prevents the Equipak from coming out and can also be used in a reset but
it is recommended it is lubricated first. When using pads it was advisable to
utilise Kevin Bacon’s Hoof Solution around the clefts of the frog as the environment
is becoming enclosed for the shoeing cycle.
Garry Harland and Adam Fox - 'Tool making, have a
Inspired by Tommy Williams, Bruce Wilcox and Richard Ellis to name just a
few, Garry Harland stated the importance of being able to make tools as you
“learn a lot about them”. As an apprentice with Garry you are encouraged to
make all of your tools.
Using steel cut to a rectangle shape Adam Fox demonstrated making a stamp.
Stating a preference for H13 as it “is awesome stuff and takes some beating”
Adam highlighted the need to have the correct tools to make tools so that you
can hold them correctly to “get at them”.
The H13 was formed to a point, continuously turning it, in order to keep
the point in the centre. You should always look down the steel to check it and
work towards a “critical point”. The point was then sledged with a flattener to
create better edges – to make it into a “nail shape”. You should know where the
hole is going to go and create a dot approximately 2/8” back from the forging
line. The hole is made from both sides to prevent drifting and the top head of
the eye is “opened up to give a tighter collar inside the eye”. The stamp is
then cut off following a reheat and is cut all the way round, partly forming
the ‘dome’ head as you go – little rasping is needed. A final warm up and run
around with the flattener is all that is really necessary although it is highly
recommended that any tools are name stamped.
H13 should not be cooled down too quickly and never in water as it “will
burst”. Both Garry and Adam stressed the importance of air cooling. Garry very
rarely uses a linnisher and tends to forge the tools back into shape as and if
Tim Rooney - '15 reasons not to train an
Tim Rooney has trained 15 apprentices, including Billy himself. Billy was
his first apprentice (after being ‘stalked’ by him), and Haydn Price and Andy
Martin are just a few to have qualified following training with Tim.
Unsure of how many more he will train Tim highlighted concerns regarding
the future of farriery training – there are perhaps quite a few reasons why it
is easier not to train in the current climate.
Displaying an obvious sense of pride in the apprentices he has had Tim regaled
humorous stories during both Billy’s and Andy’s apprenticeships in particular
much to the amusement of the clinic audience. Billy falling off team chasing
and building his own American inspired shoeing rig which he failed to ever shoe
out of plus a drunken Andy Martin sleeping through Christmas Day as a result of
a gifted bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream from a livery yard to highlight just
Tim acknowledged it is a difficult thing to take on an apprentice and
assess accurately – it is a large commitment. “What you recruit today is not
what you may have in two years time”. Younger apprentices are not always the
better, Tim’s eldest apprentice Wade Willis began his farriery career at the
age of 38.
Like many farriers Tim feels there are currently enough farriers in the UK,
if not perhaps too many, and perhaps it is now down to the ATFs whether they
all continue to train – an important consideration for the future of the
Nigel Brown - 'Shoeing P3 '
Nigel Brown has a shoeing round in Monmouthshire, South Wales, and shoes a
wide range of horses ranging from racehorses to Pony Club, shires to eventers. Over
the years he has “jumped on the fashion band wagon” and tried various shoeing
styles and new products but throughout time has learnt from the hooves he has
shod when paying a return visit - “feet will tell you whether you are getting
it wrong or right. To understand feet as a farrier is essential”.
At college and during training key words and phrases such as protection
(against wear, thin soles, bruising and the trim itself), comfort (ensuring the
horse is comfortable), soundness (shoeing to make the horse sound) and the
maintenance of shoes (customers dislike lost shoes, so do farriers and they can
have detrimental effects on the hooves) were common place. Increasingly terms
such as breakover, natural (horses are not in their natural environment and
riding them is not natural therefore why is this a consideration in shoeing?), short
toes (an apparent preference for) and extra length (to provide support, however
length is leverage – is this actually required?) are often heard.
An examination of pedal bones reveals that the front part of the foot
doesn’t really change at all – what we see on the outside of the foot is a reflection
of that. Nigel stressed the importance of shoeing the front part of the foot
and not the soft tissue at the back – “you cannot build a house on quick sand
without having problems”.
Similar to many farriers Nigel began to use quarter clips frequently in his
shoeing. However he noticed in some, not all, that the toe began to become elongated
or were being “pushed forward”. When the heels of a foot are squeezed with the
hand the hoof should flex from feel to toe and back to heel again; quarter
clips alter how the foot flexes and the toe can be pushed out. Shoeing case
studies were shown depicting a preference for smaller clips and the use of a
hammer across toes to “mirror the wear pattern on a previous set of shoes – it
is what a horse wants”. Nigel also shoes many horses with toe clip hinds – “the
clip is where the strength is”. Acknowledging that a huge majority of
racehorses across the UK are shod with toe clipped hinds and in the raceyard he
shod for ten years noted the relatively good quality of the feet behind.
Summarising the importance of going back to training basics, not being
caught up in fashions or trends, and shoeing for the individual by learning
from the horse itself Nigel left the clinic audience with a lingering
“If a horse is ridden for 1 hour a day, 7 days a week that is equivalent to
15 days a year – 4.1% of the year – it will be standing in the stable or
grazing for 23 hours a day, 7 days a week which is equivalent to 350 days a
year – 95.9% of its time. What are we shoeing for?” Whilst the owner, trainer
or vet may place the emphasis on the horse being ridden work should we be
shoeing for this period of time or should we be placing further emphasis on the
rest of the time?
Mark Watson - 'Shoeing asymmetric feet'
The “great educator” Mark Watson provided careful consideration into
‘asymmetric feet’. Despite being common, not much is really known about asymmetry
in feet and it is not an area that is often taught or discussed.
To define asymmetry as a “lack of equivalence or equality between parts” it
can be described in horses feet in a number of different ways such as “odd”,
“boxy” or as having an “upright foot”.
Upon removing shoes it is normal to note that one foot is bigger and
flatter, with a less concave sole, the frog is normally healthier and bigger,
the heels are sometimes low and the distance between the heels is greater. In
comparison the frog will be atrophied in the smaller foot as it is not
functioning properly. X-rays normally look fine, it is not until they are
compared that you realise there is a problem.
Under closer scrutiny of foot flight the upright foot will reach its peak
beyond the mid phase of a stride, the sloping foot will have a steep ascent,
will descend slowly and peak before the mid phase. A recent study (Marc Jerram, Myerscough) has demonstrated a
marked difference in stride length.
Noted causes of asymmetry are hereditary (genetics), overbreeding (breeding
from horses we shouldn’t), injury (uneven weight bearing), a difference in limb
length (compensation for limb differential)
and an unresolved flexural deformity. It is important to reiterate club foot is
different from asymmetry. Asymmetry appears to be more common in front feet,
possibly due to an increased weight bearing in the front of the horse.
There is a temptation shoeing to make a ‘pair’ of feet, however it is
perhaps more sensible to treat the feet as individuals with Mark stating a
personal preference for this and “judicial (non committed) trimming”. Over
lowering of heels can cause unnecessary strain and it is advisable to shoe the smaller
foot with width and length. Perhaps a definition of good work is that of “matching
the foot and leg so that the shape and proportion is most suitable for that
Asymmetry is normal and many studies have demonstrated that right sided
hooves are more frequently bigger. It is indeed rare for a horse not to have a
“stiff side” or a “favoured lead”.
Wayne Upton - 'WCF, Farriery - past, present and
Wayne Upton is a member of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF) and has
been involved with them for the last 12 years, the past four as Chairman of the
Craft Committee. He readily admits when he first joined that he was unaware of
the Company’s role and “went for lunch which was a nice affair”.
The WCF is a City based Livery Company, the Farriers Company being founded
in 1356 by two farriers to “sort out the standard of farriers in the City for
the welfare of the horse”. It is one of the few Livery Companies who still do
today what they set out to do. The 1970’s saw a big change in the farriery
industry with the introduction of the Farriers Registration Act whereupon it
became illegal for anyone not qualified to shoe a horse. A ‘sister’
organisation, the Farriers Registration Council (FRC), was set up to control
the profession of farriery and oversee the Act. The FRC employ the NFTA to administer
the training of future farriers. The Farriers Company is an Award Body - it
sets standards for Examiners and Judges.
Approximately a quarter of the Company are farriers and vets, the remaining
membership is made up of “all
walks of life” but those with an interest in horses or heavily involved with
them in some way; essentially those keen to promote good farriery. The diverse
range of people bring a large skills pool and a great “input into the common
sense side of farriery”.
Wayne acknowledged that when the FRC was established the Farriers Company
lost a lot of power in the country. However the Diploma, Associate and
Fellowship examinations are world respected and hopefully will remain so. It is
noted that the FRC do not have to use the Company exam (despite being the gold
standard) which may leave the WCF in a “potentially fragile position”.
The WCF Court is made up of 25 – 30 Liverymen which includes current and
past Master’s, Wardens and Assistants. Quarterly meetings ensure that
“everything to do with farriery is discussed and the Court is aware of all
current issues”. The FRC make a presentation, as do the Examiners and the Craft
Recently the WCF has been instrumental in the introduction of CPD and the
‘Master Farrier’ award. CPD was introduced due to farriers being one of the few
professions not to do some and there was a need for farriers to implement their
own CPD framework before it could be pushed upon them. The ‘Master Farrier’ award was brought
about due to an awareness of farriers using the title indiscriminately and a
keenness to purchase the title and own it so that it could be utilised as an
easily understandable means of addressing those farriers that are more highly qualified.
The Craft Committee specifically has been instrumental in forging and improving
farriers relationships with vets through the Vet Student Award and attendance at
BEVA and to the public through attendance of shows and farriery competitions.
All the work that is done is unpaid and voluntary, Wayne states that “it is
a privilege to work for your profession if you are passionate about it”.
To conclude Wayne addressed current issues and future developments within
the industry including the ‘barefoot’ issue and the current ‘training dilemma’.
Quite expectedly a lively discussion ensued on both Saturday and Sunday of the
clinics with farriers putting forward views and suggestions in both areas.
An amazing amount to digest, the Spring Clinic was inspiring and gave all
400 attendee’s plenty to consider. Billy concluded by thanking each clinician
for giving their time so generously over the weekend and contributing to quite
possibly the best clinic to date.
In addition to each clinician donating their fee to chosen charity Action
Against Cancer (http://www.aacancer.org/),
an auction and collection bucket raised an incredible £3,500.
A personal thank you from both Billy and Lucy to all of the clinicians and
the attendees over the weekend who gave so kindly and a special thank you to
the team at Handmade for all of their hard work in preparation for the clinic.