Thinking back to when I began as a farrier over 30 years ago, I can remember making my weekly pilgrimage to the local farriers supply store to purchase the required horseshoe inventory to stock my shoeing truck for the week. I would calculate the number of pairs and the sizes I would need for the coming weeks' work. As my business increased, it became more difficult finding the time to make those weekly trips, and I soon found myself buying inventory for the month.
Establishing a horseshoe inventory was pretty straightforward. I, like most farriers at that time, would buy fullered, punched keg shoes by the case, in the most common sizes 00, 0, 1, 2, 3. The term keg shoe defines the most common of machine made horseshoes. The keg shoe comes in a generic oval shape and was called the "keg shoe" because they were originally shipped in kegs (barrels). This type of shoe almost always needed to be shaped to fit the hind or front foot of the horse. All too often the hurried farrier simply would spread, or close the shoe to fit a foot, and then shape the foot to the shoe., rather than the shoe to the foot.
This practice was likely the first in the beginning of what would become trend, started by the type of shoe that was available from a shoe manufacture. It was the shape of the early manufactured keg shoes where it all began, trend setting.
As new manufacturing techniques developed, manufactures began producing shoes in a variety of new shapes. The first new style shoes to be offered were front and hind pattern shoes which came out of Europe. American farriers who at the time were taking flack for setting the trend of long toe and low heels, this said to help increase stride, were quick to embrace this convenient way of addressing breakover. This was the beginning of a new trend, one that may prove to be just as damaging to today's horse as long toes and under run heels.
It was the hind pattern shoe that really changed things. The hind pattern shoe was the first readily available shoe to be offered with a square toe. Quickly manufacturers introduced hind shoes with ready-made side clips, and front shoes with toe clips. The front shoe pattern was often rounder than the standard keg shoe that many of the farriers were using at the time. This may have been why some farriers began using hind patterns on the fronts of the horse; this proving to be a simple way of providing a square toe to the front foot, making fitting easier.
Twenty years ago, the square toed horseshoe, was more often viewed as a remedial or corrective type horseshoe. It was not often used as a keg shoe. Prior to being able to purchase the square-toed shoe, the square toe needed to be forged.
Over about a ten year period pattern shoes flooded the market.
American based companies began producing front pattern shoes that were not as round as the European type pattern shoes. These new patterns more closely resembled the traditional keg shoe. With increase in production came price reductions, making it more economical to purchase clipped shoes, rather than forging them. In the mid nineties Eventer-type shoes were introduced. These pattern shoes had a rolled cross section, claiming to aid in breakover, they also came in front and hind patterns.
About the mid nineties, we saw increase in the use of the Natural Balance Shoe (NBS), which was fashioned after the footprint of the feral horse. It too had a square toe and came in front and hind patterns. Each time a new shoe was introduced, it was accompanied by claims that the shoe aided breakover, and / or provided needed heel support. This is still true today, of most newly developed horseshoes.
So where is all this going?
To the point, shoe manufacturers have been setting trends that influence the way the farrier addresses the foot.
I have compiled research on a little understood malady that affects many of today's horses, the black hole seedy toe.
The research began in 2001, the early years of the running of our school the Institute of Applied Equine Podiatry, since which time we have examined over 1200 hoof cadaver specimens. We have observed a dramatic increase in the occurrence of black hole-type seedy toe. Investigation has now provided evidence that suggest that various trimming and shoeing trends could be the one cause for the increase in the incidence of this malady. Follow the link provided to read this in depth study of the black hole seedy toe. Link Reference: Lesions associated with atypical black hole seedy toe in the equine foot, 2007
|Typical black hole at toe|
|Close-up of typical black hole lesion|
|(A) shows inclusion in dermis. (B) shows epidermal mass on inner wall|