Illustration of "Burden Machine" horseshoe manufacturing machine.   Photo: Farm Collector Magazine, FarmCollector.com

How the Horse Shaped Horseshoes

From transportation to the show ring, the changing role of the horse and industry influenced the production of horseshoes


Pictured Above: In 1835, Henry Burden, a Scottish engineer at the Troy Iron & Nail Factory, patented a machine that he would eventually improve upon in the 1840s and 1850s and would have the capability to make one horseshoe per second.  Photo: Farm Collector Magazine, FarmCollector.com

Farrier Takeaways

  • Metal shoes have been nailed on to horses’ feet for approximately 2,000 years, but the modern day “ready-made” horseshoe has only been around for less than 1/10 of that time.
  • Henry Burden, a Scottish engineer at the Troy Iron & Nail Factory in Troy, N.Y., invented the first machine to mass produce horseshoes in 1835.
  • After World War I, cars, trucks and tractors replaced a multitude of horses; but then the “Baby Boom” generation and a prosperous economy created a new, widespread use of horses for recreation.
  • By 2000, there were more than 20 times the number of horseshoe, nail, tool, equipment, and supply companies than were present in 1975.

American Farriers Journal has been a valuable tool to farriers for over 4 decades. In each issue of the magazine this year is featured an article looking back at a moment during that time frame. As we reflect on this history, I find myself thinking about the history of another, essential farrier tool: the horseshoe.

Every day, thousands of horseshoes are nailed or glued on to the hooves of horses around the world. Farriers depend on the availability of the many types and sizes of horseshoes in the 21st century. At times…

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Steve kraus 2

Steve Kraus

Steve Kraus, CJF, is Cornell University’s head of farrier services and senior lecturer for large animal surgery. He has been a farrier for more than 45 years.

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