Cool Shoes For Ice And Snow

These winter shoes from Washington farrier Bill Miller’s historical collection demonstrate several older ways of dealing with snow and ice

When horses were relied on extensively for taking the family to town and transporting goods, shoeing horses for snowy and icy conditions was an absolute necessity.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, numerous shoes were designed to prevent horses from slipping on ice-covered roads in the days before cars and trucks took over most of the nation’s transportation duties.

The early day snow and ice shoes shown here make up part of the historical shoe collection put together by Rochester, Wash., farrier Bill Miller.

Different Shoes, Different Features

In his 128-page American Methods Of Horseshoeing book that was published in 1926, Frank Churchill writes that different winter shoe designs offered specific features. Many of these different styles were adapted for the specific type of horse and nature of the work being performed.

Churchill earned his horseshoeing spurs while serving from 1907 to 1948 as the senior horseshoeing instructor at the U.S. Cavalry School in Fort Riley, Kan. During that time, he trained hundreds of shoers in the finer points of footcare.

He wrote that drive-calk and screw-calk shoes were recommended for use with draft horses in areas where roads were covered with snow and ice for long periods of time. When used properly, these low-cost shoes were able to preserve the strength of the hoof wall even under slippery conditions.

The screw-calked shoes proved popular because the hoof wall could be kept in favorable condition by avoiding the removal of the shoes and renailing, as was needed with calks…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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