Heel Calks are More Than a Forging Exercise

New Mexico farrier Chris Madrid shows how to forge heel calks

When traveling over uneven or slippery terrain, a horse requires a traction device that allows it to maneuver safely and confidently. Traction options are as diverse as the surfaces and environments that a mount might navigate. While studs, Borium, Drill-Tek and other traction choices are generally more popular applications among farriers in the United States, Chris Madrid finds great utility in an alternative

“Heel calks are pretty handy,” the Stanley, N.M., farrier told attendees during the early summer Wisconsin Farrier’s Association Clinic and Contest in Marshall, Wis. “When my dad goes hunting in the wilderness, he notices the difference when he’s coming off the mountain because his horse isn’t working at all. His horse is calm and cool because it has traction. A lot of the other horses are working and sweating. Of course, you can put on Borium or Drill-Tek. I put on heel calks because it’s not only good forging practice, but they’re also being used.”

Madrid’s practical application of calks is a result of practice and competition.

“Competition is an investment in your skill set, which is directly related to investing in your business,” he says. “Competitions are an opportunity. You either win or you learn.”

A big part of that experience is applying and relying on the building blocks of forging and hoof care. Forging calks is an example of the importance of repetition.

“A lot of it is redundant,” Madrid says. “It’s back-and-forth, back-and-forth. It’s a lot of habits. I try to create fundamentally sound…

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Jeff cota 2023

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the Lead Content Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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