Look, Ma! No Hammer!

Shoe-bending machines, careful record keeping and keen observation result in a system that’s a big time and energy saver

Just in case you haven’t noticed, shoeing horses is a lot of hard work. If you let it, the job will break you down and wear you out. Being a practical person, I have — from the beginning of my career — sought ways to preserve my body by making the job as easy as possible.

When I first started shoeing full time in 1969, the choice of shoes and materials was very limited compared to today. If you needed anything more than standard keg shoes, you had to hand-make it or improvise somehow. All that has changed. Suppliers to the farrier industry have developed a plethora of very good shoes and support products. The result has been a drastic reduction of labor necessary to provide solutions to our shoeing challenges.

Two Camps On Progress

These innovations have received mixed reviews. Some farriers have embraced them, while others have scorned them. When it comes to progress, we’ve split into two camps. I’d call one camp the traditionalists. Their motto is “Grandpa did it this way, Daddy did it this way, so I do it this way.” Traditionalists are determined to keep alive the art of shoemaking.

I have no trouble with this point of view, but I have my doubts about the wisdom of incorporating it into a business paradigm. I find the traditionalist approach a more artistic one, which is fine. But for a business and career approach, it is not for me.

I started riding at a young…

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Red_renchin

Red Renchin

Red Renchin was a long-time farrier who called Mequon, Wis., and Wellington, Fla. home. A native of Minnesota and a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame, he served as Technical Editor of American Farriers Journal. Renchin passed away in 2015.

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