Metallurgy: How Much Do You Need to Know?

While not necessary to shoe horses, a working knowledge of how steel is made and reacts to heat and pressure can make a good career great

Pictured Above: Building tools such as fire tongs is a great skill to have to ensure you have the right tools for the job, and better yet, it will save you money, Jim Quick says

If you’re a horseshoer, you work with metal every day. But how much do you have to really know about metallurgy — the science underlying the working of metal — to be successful?

That might depend on how you define success and what kind of farrier you want to be.

First, it’s clear that there are plenty of successful horseshoers out there who make a good living without really understanding the properties of metals, their production and purification, and how they come into play in heating and shaping.

But a pair of veteran farriers with more than a passing knowledge of metallurgy believes there is still an important place for this knowledge in the industry.

Mitch Taylor believes that if you’re serious about being a farrier, knowledge of metallurgy is vital. Iron and steel, he says, are the muscle and bones of the profession.

“Steel is our medium,” says the owner of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School in Richmond, Ky. “It’s what we work in every day.”

Jim Quick, a veteran farrier from Longmont, Colo., with a shoeing book that includes many top show horses, is also known as a top shoeing competitor with a reputation as a handy toolmaker. He believes his knowledge of metallurgy and tool making helps him to do the job better.

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Pat tearney

Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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