Learn How to Forge a “Hall of Fame” Heel

California farrier John Williams offers tips and insights for creating the clean and versatile Bob Marshall-style heel check

Forging a heel check for many farriers is old hat. It’s such a part of the routine that sometimes not a lot of thought is invested into it. There’s another style of heel check, though, that Sacramento, Calif., farrier John Williams prefers when forging horseshoes.

“The Bob Marshall style of heel check is a real nice way to make a heel,” Williams says of the technique used by the International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame member from Mission, British Columbia. “It’s such an easy check to do and it works with different stock sizes.

I don’t want to make heels any other way …

“It’s just as easy to make a heel check on 3/8-by-1 or 1/2-by-1. Forging wise, the effort is the same but you can make it on bigger stock. It’s really efficient and it makes a nice check, too.”

Perhaps the biggest difference between a standard heel check and Marshall’s style of check is how it’s forged.

“It’s easier to start your checks at the heel of the anvil, like the standard way that people are taught,” says the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School forging instructor. “Bob Marshall does them over the horn. He starts on the outside check and it’s almost like you do a little hockey stick.

“The cool thing is, when you forge your outside check, you turn the stock up. When you hit the stock, you’re not hitting on a corner. You’re hitting on the flat cut end of the stock with your hammer so…

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Jeff cota 2023

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the Lead Content Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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