Japanese farriers trim hoof wall, sole and frog with this miniature sickle

Japanese farriers demonstrating in the hotel parking lot at the 1984 American Farrier’s Association convention impressed observers with their skill in using Kamagata Teito, the sickle-shaped Japanese hoof knife.

Kamagata Teito is used to trim the hoof wall as well as sole and frog. An illustration from the Japanese horseshoeing textbook shows the order and direction of cuts for trimming the hoof.

First the sole is cupped starting from the left side of the hoof and continuing on around to the right heel. The inner edge of hoof wall and white line are trimmed with these cuts. Next the wall is leveled, starting in front of the left heel and working around the toe to the right heel. The left heel is then leveled. Some Japanese farriers trim the toe, then work back from toe to heel on each side. Finally, the frog is trimmed.

The razor-sharp blade is kept in a leather sheath when not in use. This protects the farrier as well as the blade. The Japan Farriers Association Convention provided an opportunity for the author to see this fascinating tool used in its native land and to observe one being forged by master craftsman Yuji Suzaki, executive director of the Japan Farriers Association.

The blade of Kamagata Teito, like a Japanese sword, is a little thicker than our Western hoof knives and it is not meant to be flexible. The blades of both Japanese swords and hoof knives are made by forge welding a fairly high carbon steel cutting edge to a mild steel blade and handle tang. The cutting edge is hardened but not tempered like Western knives. This produces a very hard cutting edge that would be brittle without the protection of the softer, tough companion metal.