Page:Horse shoes and horse shoeing.djvu/659

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FUTILE ATTEMPTS TO IMPROVE IT.

basin—the inner border only resting on the ground, and the whole strain of the animal's weight and burden, as well as that incurred in violent exertion, was thrown entirely upon the outer margin of the foot. This could have but one result for the poor horse—disease and agony. Routine has accompanied the art from the remotest period; it haunts it now; there are but few workmen who are able or who care to reason as to its application, or its effects on the healthy functions of a most beautiful but a most complicated organ. The art of shoeing is simply traditional; and however able an artisan may prove himself in the beaver or bee-like monotony of practical detail which he has acquired by imitation from others, yet he will never advance a step beyond, unless his intelligence has been quickened by something besides the mere mechanical knowledge he has acquired by laborious but unstudied repetition. He is but a labourer or workman pursuing a useful but unscientific occupation, unless he can combine theory with practice, and extend his knowledge beyond the inert inorganic envelope, to the vital and all-important structures within, and in this way maintain them in a healthy state by his art. It is no doubt owing to this routine manner of treating the horse's foot that no progress has been made in diminishing the natural or acquired defects and diseases of this organ, which are so numerous and prove so destructive.

Previous to the beginning of the last century, it may be said that the art of shoeing was traditional; the shoes were clumsy, and, at a later period, even viciously contrived. No thought appears to have been paid to the injurious influence shoes and paring might have on the