The 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment, based in Fort Hood, near Austin, Texas, is a United States Army regiment that has been keeping the traditions, tactics, and horsemanship from the 1800s alive, reports the Fort Hood Sentinel.

There are over 30 troopers who have a variety of jobs throughout the detachment Some of those troopers are farriers, working on shoeing the horses of the detachment.

The farriers are an important part of the detachment as they play a vital role in keeping the horses healthy and fit for duty.

“Well, it’s a lot of pressure, because without their feet, we really can’t do our job out here. All the parades and walking on concrete, it’s a lot,” says Spc. Christian Giraldo, from Houston, Texas. “If there’s no foot, there’s no horse.”

The unit’s history includes patrolling the United States/ Mexico border, along with serving in other parts of the world, such as Japan and Bosnia. The unit has served in deserts and jungles, so having a properly fitting shoe is vital to the horse’s survival. Giraldo says an improper fit cab negatively affect the horse’s health.

“We’ll shape that shoe exactly to the feet of every single horse,” Giraldo says. “Each horse has a different shape, ... that’s a very important part ... because you can’t just throw any random shoe on a horse, or mess with their feet, and they’ll start going wrong because they all have their own natural growth.”

Besides shoeing the horses, the farriers are also responsible for making shoes for the four mules in the detachment, which require special horseshoes due to their larger hoof size. To make the mule shoes, the farrier has to attach an additional piece of metal to extend the normal shoes to a longer U-shape.

Giraldo says being a farrier certainly isn’t a job for everyone. It takes a lot of care, a lot of maintenance and a lot of attention to detail. If done correctly, however, the payoff is worth the pain.

“It’s a very rewarding job because you get to see the great work that you did after and you get to see them running around,” he says. “Just being in parades, and you get to see it, like wow, their feet look great. You know, you say to yourself, ‘you did that.’”

Learn More

  • Texas Farrier Joins U.S. Army Horse Cavalry Detachment: About a year ago, Spc. Taylor McDade discovered the Horse Cavalry Detachment of the U.S. Army, and he’s never looked back since. His lifelong dream of working with animals became a reality when he was officially assigned to work with the equines used in the Army, according to Fort Hood Sentinel.
  • How Horseshoers Helped Win the Civil War: While Scotsman Henry Burden was a prolific inventor and industrialist who played a major role in the Civil War, his vital contributions are generally unknown. Many of his inventions helped the North, but the design and perfection of a horseshoe-making machine was his most important one. As a result, his company was the primary provider for the enormous number of horses and mules supporting the Yankee armies.