Before he retired, Ringwood, Ill., Jim Woods always treated shoes with heat. Although cold shoers were skeptical at first, his forge work left an impression.

“I can remember days when I arrived at a stable at about the same time as one of my competitors, and he or she would see me setting up my fire at my work station and comment about my taking the time to do that. Often, after three or four horses, we would be packing up to leave at about the same time,” he says.

Paul Talbot of Youngstown, Pa., never uses heat. “I have yet to find a hoof I cannot cold shape a keg shoe to, excluding hooves that require welded modifications such as bars," he says. "If that is the case, I cold shape it before adding the bar. And, of course, egg bar shoes often require certain judicious compromises."

When using heat, keg shoes can often be leveled by laying the shoe flat on the anvil and striking one blow on each heel.

Ray Cody of Winslow, Ariz., only uses cold shoeing techniques with keg shoes, mostly in the toe area. “I believe in broadening this area of the shoe because I work on many horses with long toes and low heels. Very seldom do I need to turn in heels or straighten branches or quarters.”

Many farriers we spoke with do both hot and cold shoeing with keg shoes. It depends on the situation.

“I use heat to shape around 70% of the keg shoes, but the rest I shape cold,” says Brian Hull of Grand Valley, Ontario. “When shaping shoes cold, try to hammer them as little as possible. The more you hammer them, the more you could distort the shoe at the sides and nail holes. If nail holes are distorted, the nails likely won’t fit tight, which would mean using the prichel. That’s more time wasted with no guarantee of a proper nail fit.”

Diane Greene of Redding, Calif., uses keg shoes about 90% of the time because it saves her time she’d lose in forging them from scratch.

“I will first cold shape the shoe to fit a hoof and then heat my shoes in the forge to temper the steel,” she explains. “I heat the shoe first to shape it, if the hoof shape requires excessive shape modifications to the shoe. Cold shaping the shoe enables me to get that perfect fit fairly quickly, without having to cool the shoe, check it on the foot and then reheat the shoe to make further modifications. 

 “I will hot shoe horses that have weak shelly walls, thrush in the white line, or if the owner insists on my doing it. I never heat shoes that are going on young horses (the 1st or 2nd shoeing), laminitic horses or horses with arthritic hooves or legs. I want that concussion reduced both during the nailing process, and as the horse stands or moves.”

>>Read more from the Getting A Better Fit series