Achieving a good toe bend is crucial to forging a successful shoe. But how can you improve your chances of forging an accurate toe bend?

Many highly successful farriers, including International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame member Billy Crothers, recommend using a contour gauge.

“It’s a really good way of learning about shapes of horses’ feet,” says the founder of Handmade Shoes in Pitstone, England. “You can do it with a pipe cleaner or a bit of wire, as well. Just go around the hoof wall and that’s the shape of your toe bend, isn’t it? If your toe bend follows that, you’re in business.”

When the shape of a horse’s foot isn’t readily available or your making shoes for stock, imagine an ellipse or an oval.

“I’m thinking of an ellipse, not a circle, not a square,” Crothers says. “I want a nice, even elliptical shape. That’s a shape you can alter easily to any foot.”

Read more tips from Crothers by reading, “The Man With A Plan” in the April 2018 issue of American Farriers Journal.