Horse shoes and horse shoeing: their origin, history, uses, and abuses/Chapter XII
Towards the termination of the 18th century, a veterinary school, which might be termed private, was commenced in London, and its first teacher, M. St Bel, published a small treatise on shoeing. This, however, appears to be nothing more than a commendation of Bourgelat's method. The shoe advised to be worn, nevertheless, was concave on the ground surface, to correspond to, or resemble, the concavity of the sole, and plane towards the hoof, something like the hunting-shoe of the present time. It was constantly used when the College was first established. More important was the little work by William Moorcroft, assistant professor, and afterwards the daring explorer of Central Asia. After describing, like some of his later predecessors, the anatomy of the foot and the principles which ought to prevail in its defence, and pointing out that in proportion as a greater quantity of crust is brought to bear flat on the shoe the firmer the horse must stand; and the less pressure that takes place between the sole and the shoe, the less chance will there be of his being lamed, he speaks of various shoes. As those intended for the fore-feet have always, and rightly, been looked upon as the most important, considering that they have to bear the principal portion of the weight, and that the fore-feet are by far the most frequently lamed, the defences for this region will only be noticed here. Moorcroft describes the narrow shoe, or plate—a flat shoe, the exact breadth of the crust, and of a moderate thickness: this was only serviceable for racing-horses and hunters, 'A flat shoe, of the exact breadth of the crust, and of a moderate thickness, would defend this part sufficiently as long as it lasted; but as it would wear out in a few days, or even in a few hours, when the friction happened to be violent, and as very frequent shoeing is expensive, as well as hurtful to the hoof itself, this kind of shoe is only fit for racing, or hunting on soft ground.' Then the shoe with a flat upper surface, and broader than the crust, is figured. This he thinks objectionable, as it would press on a portion of the sole and cause lameness; so that, to avoid such a mishap, the sole is required to be pared or hollowed out, which Moor croft thought very injurious. Next, the shoe in common use is noticed. This is the same as that so strongly commented upon by Osmer and Clark, with its upper surface sloping downwards from the outer to the inner edge. Its defects are indicated in a similar manner, and it is shown that a shoe ought to possess the following qualities: it ought to be so strong as to wear a reasonable time; it ought to give to the crust all the support it can receive; it ought not to alter the natural shape of the foot; and it ought not to press at all on the sole, or to injure any of the natural functions of the foot. The shoe best calculated to answer these purposes was that so strongly recommended by Osmer and Clark, and which Mr Moorcroft designated the 'seated shoe;' all the experiments he had instituted for a number of years led him to this conclusion. His directions as to paring the sole and frog are similar to those of Mr Clark; though the nature and functions of the latter appear to have been imperfectly understood by him, as he complains of the frog becoming hard and losing its spongy texture when allowed to remain unpared and in contact with the ground. 'Eight nails for each shoe are found to be enough for saddle and light draught horses; but for such as are employed in heavy draught, ten are required. A smaller number does not hold the shoe sufficiently fast; and a greater number, by acting like so many wedges, weaken the hoof, and rather dispose the crust to break off than give additional security. . . . . It may be laid down as a general rule, that the last nail should not be nearer to the heel than from two inches to an inch and a half.'
This new method of shoeing, so long advocated by Osmer and Clark, had gained but trifling success up to the time when Moorcroft wrote his treatise. That gentleman, full of enthusiasm in the new-born profession, and sanguine as to the benefits to be derived from the seated-shoe, had the aid of machinery invoked to make this kind of armature more rapidly and less expensively than it could be manufactured by hand; and this, together with his deservedly high reputation as a veterinarian, brought it into general use, and so firmly established it in public opinion, that it is still the common shoe. It has also made some progress on the continent, where it is known as the 'English Shoe.'
In the opinion of Mr Moorcroft, this particular kind of defence was better adapted for ordinary wear than the semi-lunar or 'tip' shoe of Lafosse, or even the thin-heeled shoe; though he was a strong advocate for frog and heel pressure on the ground.
About this period Professor Coleman, successor to M. St Bel, published his elaborate work on the horse's foot and shoeing, which was dedicated to His Majesty George III. An analysis of this voluminous monograph cannot be attempted here; suffice it to say that, amid much error as to the physiology of the foot, and consequent incorrect deductions in the application of this to shoeing, there is yet much truth. Every allowance must be made in criticizing many of Coleman's notions with regard to shoeing. Though a most promising surgeon before joining the Veterinary College, his opportunities for studying comparative pathology, and especially the subject now under consideration, must have been rare. Medical men, it must be remembered, unless they study these matters as carefully as they have done those connected with their own profession, are apt to commit very grave mistakes, their special knowledge being, at times, more liable to mislead than to guide them.
Coleman repeats the statement as to the evil influences of paring and bad shoeing; and, owing to his exaggerated notions of the elasticity and expansive properties of the foot, adopted almost entirely Lafosse's ideas as to the manner in which it ought to be shod. These were, as we have noticed, frog and heel pressure. The conclusions at which he arrived were these:—
'1. That the natural form of the fore-feet of horses, before any art has been employed, approaches to a circle.
'2. The internal cavity of the hoof, when circular, is completely filled by the sensible parts of the foot.
'3. The hoof is composed of horny insensible fibres, that take the names of crust, sole, bars, and frog.
'4. The crust is united with the last bone of the foot, by a number of laminated, elastic substances.
'5. The uses of the laminae are, to support the weight of the animal, and, from their elasticity, to prevent concussion.
'6. The horny sole is externally concave, internally convex, and united by its edge with the inferior part of the crust.
'7. The uses of the horny sole are to act as a spring, by descending at the heels; to preserve the sensible sole from pressure, and (with its concavity) to form a convexity towards the earth.
'8. The external bars are nothing more than a continuation of the crust, forming angles at the heels.
'9. The internal bars are a continuation of the laminae of the crust, attached to the horny sole at the heels, within the hoof; and that these insensible laminae are intimately united with sensible laminated bars, connected with the sensible sole.
'10. The use of the external bars is to preserve the heels expanded; and the use of the internal horny bars, to prevent separation and dislocation of the horny sole from the sensible sole.
'11. The external frog is convex, and of an insensible, horny, elastic nature.
'12. The internal sensible frog is of the same form, very highly elastic, and united with two elastic cartilages.
'13. The frogs are not made to protect the tendon.
'14. The use of the frog is to prevent the horse from slipping, by its convexity embracing the ground; and from the elasticity of the sensible and horny frogs, they act as a spring to the animal, and keep expanded the heels.
'15. The common practice of shoeing is, to cut the frog and totally remove the bars.
'16. The removal of the bars and frog deprives these organs of their natural function.
'17. The shoe commonly employed is thicker at the heel than the toe.
'18. This shoe is convex externally, concave internally, and four nails placed in each quarter of the crust.
'19. The shoes, being nailed at the heels, confine the quarters of the crust, and produce contraction.
'20. The frog, being raised from the ground by a thick-heeled shoe, becomes soft, and very susceptible of injury.
'21. The shoe being thick at the heel only preserves the frog from pressure in the stable and on smooth surfaces, while sharp and projecting stones are perpetually liable to strike the frog at every step.
'22. The frog being soft becomes inflamed whenever it meets with pressure from hard bodies.
'23. The concavity of the shoe within, tends to prevent the expansion of the quarters, and to bruise the heels of the sole.
'24. The convexity without makes the horse very liable to slip.
'25. Contracted hoofs, corns, and frequently thrushes and canker, are to be attributed to this practice.
'26. The intention of shoeing is to preserve the hoof sound, and of the same form and structure as nature made it; and as the common practice is altering its form, and producing disease, there can be no doubt but that the common practice of shoeing is imperfect, and requires alteration and improvement.
'27. It is very practicable to preserve the hoof circular and free from corns, contraction, thrushes, and canker.
'28. To accomplish this very desirable object, it is necessary, in all cases, first to endeavour to remove a portion of the sole between the whole length of the bars and crust.
'29. The sole should be made concave at the toe, with a drawing-knife, in all cases where the horn is sufficiently thick to admit of such removal.
'30. The internal surface of the shoe may be flat whenever the whole of the sole is concave, and will admit of a picker between a flat shoe and the sole.
'31. When the interior portion of the sole is thin, or fat, or convex, and cannot be made concave, the shoe at this part should be made concave.
'32. As the crust, in flat feet, is always thin, the shoe at the toe should have a very small seat, only equal to the nails.
'33. As the sole at the quarters, even in flat or convex hoofs, will very generally admit of removal, the quarters and heels of the shoes will be flat.
'34. That while the quarters and heels of the shoe, on the upper surface, are flat, the concavity of the shoe at the toe has no kind of influence in contracting the heels.
'35. The external surface of the shoe should be regularly concave, to correspond to the form of the sole and crust, before the horse is shod.
'36. This external concavity of the shoe is well calculated to embrace the ground, and to prevent the horse from slipping.
'37. The relative thickness of the shoe, at the toe and heel, should be particularly attended to.
'38. The wear of the shoe, at the toe of the fore-feet, is generally three times greater than the consumption of iron at the heels.
'39. The heels of the shoe should be about one-third the substance of the toe.
'40. This form of shoe is preferred to a high heel, as it allows the frog to perform its function, by embracing the ground, and acting as a spring.
'41. The weight of the shoe being diminished at the heel, the labour of the muscles that bend and extend the leg is diminished.
'42. Where no part of the crust can be removed from the toe, and the horse has been in the habit of wearing high shoes, the heels should be made only one-tenth of an inch, every time of shoeing, thinner than the shoes removed.
'43. If the frog be callous and sound, and the toe admits of being shortened, the iron may be diminished at the heels, in the same proportion as the toe is shortened.
'44. The muscles and tendons will be exerted beyond their tone if the heels of the shoes are not gradually thinned as the horn grows, or as the toe of the crust can be removed.
'45. Young horses, with perfect feet, should not have thin-heeled shoes at first, unless the crust at the toe can be removed in the same degree as the iron at the toe exceeds the heels.
'46. Where half an inch of horn can be taken from the toe of the crust, a shoe thin at the heel may be at once applied without any injury to the muscles and tendons.
'47. Where the heels exceed two inches in depth, and the frogs are equally prominent, and the ground dry, a short shoe, thin at the heels, may be applied.
'48. The heels of this shoe should not reach the seat of corn, between the bars and crust.
'49. That in warm climates, and in this country in summer, the wear of the horn exposed to the ground will not be greater than the growth from the coronet.
'50. Where the heels are more than two inches high, and the ground wet, it is better to lower the heels by the butteris than to wear them down by friction with the ground.
'51. It is not safe to employ the short shoe on wet ground, except in blood horses with very thick crusts, and then only with great attention to the consumption of horn.
'52. The long thin-heeled shoe should rest on the solid junction of the bars with the crust.
'53. The nails should be carried all round the toe of the crust.
'54. They should be kept as far as possible from the heels, and particularly in the inside quarter.
'55. Where the crust is thin, the nail-holes of the new shoe should not be made opposite, but between the old nail-holes of the crust.
'56. The nail-hole should be made with a punch of a wedge-like form, so as to admit the whole head of the nail into the shoe.
'57. The head of the nail should be conical, to correspond with the nail-hole.
'58. The shoe and nails of a common-sized coach-horse may weigh about eighteen ounces.
'59. The shoe and nails of a saddle-horse may weigh twelve ounces.
'60. The shoe should remain on the hoof about twenty-eight days; but if it wears out before this period, the next shoe should be made thicker.
'61. Horses employed in hunting, in frost, and in the shafts of carriages, require an artificial stop on the hind-foot, and in some situations on the fore-feet.
'62. Whenever this shoe is employed, it should be turned up on the outside heel, and the horn of the same heel should be lowered.
'60. The horn on the inside heel should be preserved, and the heel of the shoe more or less thick, in proportion to the horn removed on the outside heel.
'64. This shoe, when applied, is generally as high on the inside as on the outside heel.
'65. A bar-shoe is very beneficial where the frog is hard and sound, and where the heels have been much removed to bring the frog in contact with pressure.
'66. The upper part of the bar should rest on the frog, and the part opposite the ground turned up in order to act as a stop.
'67. When this shoe is applied the frog receives pressure, the heels will be expanded, and the muscles and tendons not more stretched than before the heels were lowered.
'68. This shoe may be applied for sandcracks, but no part of it should be supported by the crust opposite the crack.
'69. Where, from bad shoeing, the bars are removed, and corns are produced, a bar-shoe may be employed to prevent pressure opposite to the seat of corn.
'70. Where the sole is too thin at the heels to admit of any removal with a drawing-knife, the bar-shoe may be applied with advantage.
'71. In this case the heels of the shoe should be raised from the heels of the crust, and the bar rest on the frog.
'72. The hoof being cut and the shoe applied, as directed, will preserve the hoof in its circular form.'Keeping the sole from pressure, and allowing the frog to bear the greater portion of the horse's weight, was the prevailing idea with Professor Coleman. The foot was distorted and mutilated to attain this object, and the most curious contrivances devised to confine the bearing solely to the toe of the foot and the frog. With regard to these principles of shoeing he was particularly dogmatic. 'There are only two principles to govern the practice of shoeing, which for all horses in all ages and in all countries must be invariably followed. . . . and which are of much greater moment than the shape of the shoe itself. So long as nails and iron are employed to protect the hoof, the crust is the part that should receive the nails and the pressure of the shoe; and the sole of every horse employed for every purpose is a part that should not be in contact with the shoe. All other rules for the practice of shoeing are subordinate and conditional.' Artificial frogs were invented and patented to make due pressure on that part of the foot, and everything was done to cause the expansion of the heels; and yet the sole was recklessly scooped away, while to fasten on a half-shoe, eight nails were employed (fig. 193). Though the method of shoeing with 'tips' and thin-heeled shoes had been recommended by Lafosse and others, these authorities are never once mentioned by Coleman; and at present, with those who have had better selves acquainted with the construction and functions of the foot, it is recognized as a fact, that sole-pressure is almost as necessary to a healthy condition of the hoofs as frog-pressure.
Coleman was a stout opponent of the seated-shoe, and offered the strongest arguments he could frame to make it unpopular. It may be observed, however, that he afterwards returned to the thick-heeled shoe, but added to it clips at the inner angles of the heels, intended to grasp and pull the bars outwards. This antiquated invention was also patented, and was subsequently re-invented by many anti-contractionists. It had no success with Coleman. One of his pupils, Bracy Clark, to some extent adopted his views, though in other respects he far outstripped him in exaggerating certain functions of the foot, and devising means to aid those functions. Without the slightest compunction, apparently, he claims the merit of having discovered the elastic properties of the foot, and re-discovers various parts. His weakness, or rather his mania, with regard to the horse's foot was lateral expansion, and descent of the sole in progression. This exaggerated idea so influenced his notions of shoeing, that he spent several years endeavouring to prove that shoes were unnecessary, and when at last forced to employ this defence, he invented several to be attached to the hoof without nails. The unyielding iron rim riveted to the lower margin of the foot by rigid nails was to him the only source of disease; the shoe in common use, the unskilful nailing, the destructive paring, were but little to blame; the prevention of that heel movement which resembled the waving of an osier branch in the wind when a horse galloped, and which contributed so much to the rapidity of movement, was the sole cause. The nailless shoe, however, was too complicated, and to remain secure on the hoof had to be as immovably fixed as the nailed one; so a jointed shoe was invented, identical in every respect with that of Cæsar Fiaschi, and so often spoken of by writers subsequent to that maréchal. This shoe was useless, and could no more facilitate the lateral expansion and contraction, even had it existed to the degree Bracy Clark imagined, than the ordinary one. With the joint only at the toe, where there was no motion, and the branches nailed as usual to the sides and heels, where this excessive play was supposed to be going on, it might have been foreseen that no good could result. The thin-heeled shoe, the bar shoe, and indeed every shoe, proved unsatisfactory to him, and the chief value of his experiments and labours rests on the demonstration of the changes brought about in hoofs by a vicious system of paring and shoeing them, which the highly-developed expansion theory caused Bracy Clark entirely to overlook. This author was of opinion that the sole and frog should not come into contact with the ground.
It is scarcely necessary to say that the false doctrine of lateral expansion and sole descent propounded by Bracy Clark and Professor Coleman, has had a most serious and pernicious influence on farriery, not only in this country, but on the continent; and has largely tended to the production and perpetuation of foot diseases that are torturing to the animal, and baffling to the veterinary surgeon.
The theories published by Bracy Clark, with regard to the elasticity of the foot, were certainly ingenious, but not to any degree original; though they were rashly speculative, and must have been based on the most slender instalment of proper experience and observation.
This century has been very prolific in treatises on farriery, inventions, and modifications of horse-shoes and horse-shoeing. In England, among other writers, at its commencement, were White, Blaine, and Peall. These veterinarians appear to have been more or less in favour of Coleman's thin-heeled shoe, and sanctioned the well paring-out method of preparing the hoof.
The best work produced at this period was undoubtedly that of Mr Goodwin, veterinary surgeon to King George IV. It is written in a fair and scientific spirit, and gives an excellent resume of the merits and demerits of the various systems of shoeing then in vogue. With regard to the different kinds of shoes in use, he discovers faults in the seated, jointed, thin-heeled, and common shoe, which forbade his recommending them for general purposes. The French mode of shoeing, which was Bourgelat's, came nearest to his standard of superiority, yet he had two objections to this system in general: 'the convex form of the shoe on the ground side, and the concave form on the foot side. I object to the first, because the horse is by no means so safe or secure on his feet, more particularly when going over stones.' The second objection was that offered by the older writers to the common English bowl, or quoit-shaped, shoe. His new system appears to have been similar to that recommended by Professor St Bel, so far as the ground surface of the shoe was concerned. 'In the shoe I have adopted, I have reversed the form on each side (speaking of the French pattern), making it concave on the ground surface, and convex on the foot surface, with an inclination from the inner to the outer rim (figs. 194, 195). To effect this form on each side, it is necessary that the shoe should be sloped or bevelled on the ground side, from the outward to the inward part all round the shoe, except about an inch and a half at the heels. To accomplish this inclination on the foot side, it is necessary to thicken the inner part at the heels, as far as the flat surface extends.'
|fig. 194||fig. 195|
This inclination was to be moderate at first, though lameness from an extreme degree had not been observed. The shoe was only adapted for hoofs with strong concave soles; yet with all other kinds of feet, if it was clear of the sole, the inclination was a matter of no moment. The curve at the toe, and the manner of punching the nail-holes, resembled the French shoe. This pattern lasted in wear as long as the ordinary armature. It Vwill be seen that this is simply a modification, or rather a combination, of Solleysefs fer à pantoufle, Bourgelat's curved or adjusted shoe, and the concave-surfaced shoe of St Bel. 'The concave ground surface renders the animal more secure on his legs, as he has a greater purchase on the ground, and by this form the weight is thrown on the crust, or wall, which prevents any unnecessary strain on the nails and clinches.' He refers to the resemblance between this and Solleysel's shoe, points out that his is formed with the same intention to prevent contraction and other permanent diseases of the feet, 'because it appeared evident to me, that when the weight of the animal comes on a shoe of this form, it must have a tendency to expand instead of to contract the hoof, and I have found from much experience, that the obstacles opposed to this form existed only in theory, as there are none in practice. It is necessary, however, to remark, that the degree of inclination must be regulated by the previous state of the foot, and its propensity to contraction. . . . When it is recollected that the horny sole, if not diseased, is concave, it will in course admit of a convex surface being applied to it; and when the superfluous parts of the horny sole produced since the last shoeing are removed, and the crust at the quarters is preserved firm and good, there is scarcely an instance where this mode of shoeing cannot be put into practice, and sufficient room be left also to pass a picker between the shoe and the sole to the nails.'
The preparation of the foot, previous to shoeing, consisted in the removal of all the superfluous growth: 'When hoofs are protected by shoes, the consumption of horn by wear and tear is nearly prevented; but as the growth of the hoof is constantly going on, it is evident that all the superfluous parts will require to be removed at every period of shoeing, otherwise it would run into a state of exuberance similar to the human nails if they were not cut. The first part to be reduced is the toe, which should be removed with a knife or rasp on the sole side of the foot, keeping in view the necessary curve: the next parts are the heels, which should, if they descend below the frog, be rasped to bring them on a level with it: having attended to these two points, it will be seen how much it is necessary to remove from the quarters, leaving them full and strong, but in a straight line from the heels to the curve, which allows the foot, when in action, a flat part to land on, and describes a space equal to the landing part of the foot when shod with a parallel shoe. This direction differs a little from the French 'adjusting balance,' inasmuch as they direct four points of adjustment at the toe, and two at the heels, which leaves the quarters rounded, and renders the foot not so secure on the ground. The sole next must have attention; the superfluous parts of which that have appeared since the last shoeing should be removed; this will leave it concave, and the crust or wall below the sole. Mr Moorcroft observes, that paring the soles has a tendency to bring on 'pumiced' feet, but I have not observed any such effect; on the contrary, if the sole is allowed to grow too thick, it loses its elastic property, and the sensible sole suflers in proportion to the degree of thickness and want of elasticity.' The frog, if too large or ragged, was also to be sliced away, and when the shoe was put on, a portion of the crust was to be removed at the heels and quarters. Horses with long pasterns were to have these shoes thicker at the heels, with a view to give support, and to counteract too great a flexure in that part.
By this method of shoeing, in Mr Goodwin's experience, the proportion of lame horses had been considerably reduced, and defects and deformities removed. The curve or curb at the toe was no disadvantage to draught-horses going up-hill; the ordinary shoe, when in wear for a few days, lost its sharp edge, and was then far more likely to slip than one with the broad surface of the curved toe. 'Those persons who may be averse to the adjusting curve of the French shoe will find that the next best shape is a perfect plane on the foot side, and the same on the ground side, of the width of the nail-holes all round (which should be of the French form), and the remaining part of the web or width of the shoe should be sloped or bevelled from the inside of the nail-heads all round the shoe to the inner rim, with the exception of from one to one inch and a half of flat bearing on the heels, and the shoe should be of an equal thickness from toe to heel.' The bar or circular shoe, when properly constructed, Mr Goodwin considered of the greatest use 'in affording a greater surface of defence than any other shoe, which enables us to determine the weight of the animal more generally on the foot by equalizing the pressure on more bearing points than a plain shoe.' Screw shoes are noticed, as well as their effects on contracted feet. Their use had been recently revived by Mr Jekyl, whose pattern, with a joint at the toe and a screw at the heels, was objectionable. Sir B. Bloomfield had suggested a shoe with two joints—one on each side of the toe: the toe-piece had two nailholes in it, and each branch, furnished with a bar-clip, had three nails; screws acted on the inner side of the branches towards the heel.
Very judicious remarks are made as to nailing shoes to the hoofs, and those on the management of the horse's feet are commendable; but it may be noticed that his curved-toe shoe was supposed to correspond to the natural form of the os pedis, or coffin-bone, and in one of his drawings to illustrate this principle he figures what is certainly a diseased or abnormal specimen of that bone. Perhaps on this diseased specimen he founded his imitation of the French shoe.
The French method was, in his opinion, far superior to the English one, and in lauding its merits he forgot to notice its defects, which at least equal those of the latter.
Mr Youatt, in his in many respects deservedly popular treatise on the horse, refers to shoeing; and as his opinions must have had much influence on the practice of the art in Britain, if we can form any criterion by the large sale of the work, it will be well to give them a brief notice. In the anatomy of the foot, he dwells upon its expansive properties—especially at the quarters, though he does not mention having tested this in any way. Speaking of the bars, or inflections of the wall, he writes: 'The arch which they form on either side, between the frog and the quarters, is admirably contrived, both to admit of, and to limit to its proper extent, the expansion of the foot.' 'When the foot is placed on the ground, and the weight of the animal is thrown on the little leaves (laminæ), we can imagine these arches shortening and widening, in order to admit of the expansion of the quarters; and we can see the bow returning to its natural curve, and powerfully assisting the foot in regaining its usual form.' He protests against removing these bars, and the evil results which follow their destruction. 'Too many smiths cut them perfectly away. They imagine that that gives a more open appearance to the heels of the horse,—a seeming width which may impose on the unwary. Horses shod for the purpose of sale have usually the bars removed with this view, and the smiths in the neighbourhood of the metropolis and large towns, shoeing for dealers, too often habitually pursue, with regard to all their customers, the injurious practice of removing the bars. The horny frog, deprived of its guard, will speedily contract, and become elevated and thrushy; and the whole of the heel, deprived of the power of resilience or re-action, which the curve between the bar and the crust affords, will speedily fall in.'
Then the functions of the frog are enumerated, and their description is strangely compounded of truth and error. 'The foot is seldom put flush and flat upon the ground, but in a direction downwards, yet somewhat forwards; then the frog evidently gives safety to the tread of the animal, for it, in a manner, ploughs itself into the ground, and prevents the horse from slipping. This is of considerable consequence, when we remember some of the paces of the horse, in which his heels evidently come first to the ground, and in which the danger from slipping would be very great. . . . The frog being placed at and filling the hinder part of the foot, discharges a part of the duty sustained by the crust; for it supports the weight of the animal. It assists, likewise, and that to a material degree, in the expansion of the foot. . . . It is also composed of a substance peculiarly flexible and elastic. What can be so well adapted for the expansion of the foot, when a portion of the weight of the body is thrown on it? How easily will these irregular surfaces yield and spread out, and how readily return again to their natural state! In this view, therefore, the horny frog is a powerful agent in opening the foot; and the diminution of the substance of the frog, and its elevation above the ground, are both the cause and the consequence of contraction: the cause, as being able no longer powerfully to act in expanding the heels; and the consequence, as obeying a law of nature, by which that which no longer discharges its natural function is gradually removed. It is, however, the cover and defence of the internal and sensible frog. . . . We have said enough to show the absurdity of the common practice of unsparingly cutting it away. To discharge, in any degree, some of the offices which we have assigned to it, and fully to discharge even one of them, it must come in occasional contact with the ground. In the unshod horse it is constantly so; but the additional support given by the shoes, and more especially the hard roads over which the horse is now compelled to travel, render this complete exposure of the frog to the ground not only unnecessary, but injurious. Being of so much softer consistence than the rest of the foot, it would be speedily worn away: occasional pressure, however, or contact with the ground, it must have. The rough and detached parts should be cut off at each shoeing, and the substance of the frog itself, so as to bring it just above or within the level of the shoe. It will then, in the descent of the sole, when the weight of the horse is thrown upon it in the putting down of the foot, descend likewise, and pressing upon the ground, do its duty; while it will be defended from the wear, and bruise, and injury which it would receive if it came upon the ground with the first and full shock of the weight. A few smiths carry the notion of frog pressure to an absurd extent, and leave the frog beyond the level of the sole,—a practice which is dangerous in the horse of slow draught, and destructive to the hackney or hunter.'
We can see that Mr Youatt differs widely from Lafosse in his opinion of the functions, utility, and management of the frog; and he evidently writes from very superficial observation or hearsay evidence.
His ideas as to the function of the sole are also stamped by inexperience, and the incorrect views of Coleman appear to have tainted his teaching, as they damaged his practice. The reason that the horse's sole was hollow, was because it descended or yielded with the weight of the animal. 'Then if the sole be naturally hollow, and hollow because it must descend, the smith must not interfere with this important action. When the foot will bear it, he must pare out sufficient of the horn to preserve the proper concavity, a small portion at the toe and near the crust, and cutting deeper towards the centre; and he must put on a shoe, which shall not prevent the descent of the sole; which not only shall not press upon it, but shall leave sufficient room between it and the sole to admit of this descent. If the sole is pressed upon by the coffin-bone, by the lengthening of the elastic leaves, and the shoe will not permit its descent, the sensible part between the coffin-bone and the horn will necessarily be bruised, and inflammation and lameness will ensue. It is from this cause that, if a stone insinuates itself between the shoe and the sole, it produces so much lameness.'
The principles of shoeing enunciated by Mr Youatt were entirely founded on the supposed elastic properties of certain parts of the foot—expansion at the quarters, flattening of the frog laterally, and descent of the sole. Grave errors certainly, resulting from imperfect study or mal-appreciation of the anatomy and physiology of the foot; and which were simply destruction to that organ, when these principles were applied to it.
The defence recommended was the 'seated' shoe of Osmer and Moorcroft, which was a vast improvement on that still in use, it appears. 'The ground surface of the common shoe used in the country is somewhat convex, and the inward rim of the shoe comes first on the ground: the consequence of this is, that the weight, instead of being borne fairly on the crust, is supported by the nails and the clenches.' 'Shoeing,' he says, 'has entailed on the animal some evils. It has limited or destroyed the beautiful expansibility of the lower part of the foot; it has led to contraction, although that contraction has not always been accompanied by lameness; in the most careful fixing of the best shoe, and in the careless manufacture and setting on of the bad one, much injury has often been done to the horse.' The web or cover of the seated shoe was to be sufficiently wide to guard the sole from bruises, and as wide at the heel as the frog would permit, in order to cover the seat of corn. The shoe was to be fastened on with nine nails—five on the outside, and four on the inner side; though for small hoofs seven might suffice. The inside part of the foot surface of the shoe was to be levelled off, or made concave, so that it might not press upon the sole. 'Notwithstanding our iron fetter, the sole does, although to a very inconsiderable extent, descend when the foot of the horse is put on the ground. It is unable to bear constant or even occasional pressure, and if it came in contact with the shoe, the sensible sole, between the horny sole and the coffin-bone, would be bruised, and lameness would ensue. Many of our horses, from too early and undue work, have the natural concave sole flattened, and the disposition to descend and the degree of descent are thereby increased.' 'The web of the shoe is likewise of that thickness, that when the foot is properly pared, the prominent part of the frog shall lie just within and above its ground surface, so that in the descent of the sole the frog shall come sufficiently on the ground to enable it to act as a wedge, and to expand the quarters, while it is defended from the wear and injury it would receive if it came to the ground with the first and full shock of the weight.'
With respect to paring the hoof, Youatt commits the most dangerous blunders to be found in his work. Admitting that no specific rules could be laid down, he adds: 'This, however, we can say with confidence, that more injury has been done by the neglect of paring than by carrying it to too great an extent. The act of paring is a work of much more labour than the proprietor of the horse often imagines; the smith, except he be overlooked, will give himself as little trouble about it as he can; and that which, in the unshod foot, would be worn away by contact with the ground, is suffered to accumulate month after month, until the elasticity of the sole is destroyed, and it can no longer descend, and the functions of the foot are impeded, and foundation is laid for corn, and contraction, and navicular disease, and inflammation.
'That portion of horn should be left on the sole, which will defend the internal parts from being bruised, and yet suffer the external sole to descend. How is this to be measured? The strong pressure of the thumb of the smith will be the best guide. The buttress, that most destructive of all instruments, being banished from the respectable forge, the smith sets to work with his drawing-knife, and he removes the growth of horn, until the sole will yield, although in the slightest possible degree, to the very strong pressure of his thumb. The proper thickness of horn will then remain. If the foot has been previously neglected, and the horn is become very hard, the owner must not object if the smith resorts to some means to soften it a little; and if he takes one of his fat irons, and having heated it, draius it over the sole, and keeps it a little while in contact with it. When the sole is thick, this rude and apparently barbarous method can do no harm, but it should never be permitted with the sole that is regularly pared out.
'The quantity of horn to be removed in order to leave the proper degree of thickness will vary with different feet. From the strong foot a great deal must be taken. From the concave foot the horn may be removed until the sole will yield to a moderate pressure. From the flat foot little need be pared; while the pumiced foot will spare nothing but the ragged parts. The paring being nearly completed, the knife and the rasp of the smith must be a little watched, or he will reduce the crust to a level with the sole, and thus endanger the bruising of the sole by its pressure on the edge of the seating. The crust should be reduced to a perfect level all round, but left a little higher than the sole.' The horn between the crust and the bar must be carefully pared out, in order to remedy or to give the animal temporary relief from corns, and the frog was to be diminished to a proper degree. More depended upon the paring out of the foot, according to Mr Youatt, than on the construction of the shoe; that few shoes, except they press upon the sole, or are made outrageously bad, will lame the horse; but that he may be very easily lamed from ignorant and improper paring of the feet.
Nothing could be more erroneous than this author's views with regard to the elasticity of the foot, and nothing could be more destructive to that organ than the adoption of the rules he lays down for its management. To carry them out was simply to produce the diseases he attributes to other causes; and it is difficult to understand how Mr Youatt, who was in many respects an intelligent veterinarian, should so far commit himself to the emission of opinions which a little investigation would have shown to be without the slightest foundation. His directions, appearing as they did in a work of a popular character, and which was to be found on nearly every horse-owner's book-shelf, must have done an incalculable amount of injury, and which could scarcely be compensated for by the correctness of other details he gives on the matter of shoeing.
For more than fifty years, and even up to the present day, the elasticity, or lateral-expansion and sole-descent mania, may be said to have proved the curse of horseflesh, and the bête noire of farriery. The hoof was mutilated in every possible manner to favour this all but undemonstrable idea; and the purblind individuals who resorted to these practices evidently could not see the damage they were inflicting, and which became all the more serious the more exaggerated their expansion theory was developed. Nearly all the ills the horse's foot was liable to, it was believed, were due to the restraint the unyielding shoe imposed upon the lower border of the hoof, as well as the constriction caused by the nails. To remedy these every imaginable device was tried; but nearly all of them were as unreasonable as they were unfruitful. Such had been the wonderful productions of Coleman and Bracy Clark: frog-pressure shoes, shoes with one or more joints, shoes in segments attached to a leather sole, shoes entirely of leather, shoes without nails to fasten on the foot like a sandal, and shoes in halves, as if for the cloven foot of an ox. In fact, the ingenuity of man appears to have been racked to accommodate this alternate opening and closing of the heels, and the ascent and descent of the sole; all the while the lower face of the hoof was robbed of its protection, and consequently made to undergo these very changes attributed to the iron plate and nails. The amount of torture inflicted by these well-meaning, but mistaken men has been immense—the loss inestimable.
One of the many modes of promoting expansion proposed and practised many years ago, was that of Mr Turner, and which was designated 'unilateral,' because of the nails being limited to the outside and toe of the shoe, leaving the inside to expand and contract ad libitum. It was but the revival of a method practised centuries ago in certain cases, in this country and in France, where it was known as the ferrure à la Turque. For a time this new fashion had a tolerable run, but somehow it soon began to decline, as the maladies it was intended to prevent were as prevalent as ever, the sole and frog-paring being still in a flourishing condition.
It would serve no useful purpose to enumerate all the books that have been written in England in this century on the subject of farriery, or to describe all the different shoes and different methods invented, reinvented, and borrowed without acknowledgment. Machine-made shoes of various patterns have been largely tried, and have invariably failed after a short time. No general form of shoe will suit every horse—no general arrangement of the nail-holes will suffice for every foot; and these quickly and cheaply-made articles, in addition to the many defects which machine-made shoes will always have, possess one which is perhaps the most serious of all—the softness of the iron. This is so great, that the horse must either carry a most clumsy and injurious mass of material of the consistency of lead, or be shod far more frequently than the soundness of his feet will permit. Malleable cast-iron shoes, capable of sustaining a low temperature in order to alter them to suit different feet, have also been patented and tried with no better success than the machine-made shoes. Unlike them, however, they proved too hard; and if they escaped the dangers of a temperature which could scarcely be designated a red-heat, or of a few gentle taps of the hammer, and were nailed to the hoof without flying about in a number of pieces, they either smashed when brought into contact with the pavement, or proved so slippery that many horses were injured by falls with them.
Before concluding our history of the art of shoeing in England, it will, perhaps, be instructive to refer to two works, one of which has had a large sale and has passed through many editions, having been translated into one or two foreign languages; the other being the more valuable of the two, though apparently not so well known.
The first of these, by Mr Miles, is what might be termed a re-introduction of Mr Turner's 'unilateral' shoe, modified by Bourgelat's and Goodwin s bent-up or curved toe. The method of shoeing and the shoe itself is founded entirely, like that of Mr Youatt's, on the theory of the lateral expansion of the foot and the descent of the sole.
The horny crust, according to Mr Miles, is 'elastic throughout its whole extent, and yielding to the weight of the horse, allows the horny sole to descend, whereby much inconvenient concussion to the internal parts of the foot is avoided; but if a large portion of the circumference of the foot be fettered by iron and nails, it is obvious that that portion at least cannot expand as before; and the beautiful and efficient apparatus for effecting this necessary elasticity being no longer allowed to act by reason of these restraints, becomes altered in structure; and the continued operation of the same causes in the end circumscribes the elasticity to those parts alone where no nails have been driven; giving rise to a train of consequences destructive to the soundness of the foot, and fatal to the usefulness of the horse.' Serious anatomical and physiological mistakes occur in this section of this work, and nothing is said as to the function of the frog. The sole is made to ascend and descend as the weight was applied to or removed from it. 'This descending property of the sole calls for our especial consideration in directing the form of the shoe; for if the shoe be so formed that the horny sole rests upon it, it cannot descend lower, and the sensible sole above, becoming squeezed between the edges of the coffin-bone and the horn, causes inflammation, and perhaps abscess. The effect of this squeezing of the sensible sole is most commonly witnessed at the angle of the inner heel, where the descending heel of the coffin-bone, forcibly pressing the vascular sole upon the horny sole, ruptures a small blood-vessel, and produces what is called a corn.' It is, however, in his remarks on paring of the horse's foot that his erroneous views of its physiology are shown, and his directions for the performance of that operation are marked by a singular absence of reasoning, unless it be that which was founded on the descending properties of the sole.
As this work has, perhaps, passed through as many editions as Mr Youatt's, and as it treats entirely of shoeing, claiming for itself the teaching of 'how to keep the foot sound,' we have every inducement to inquire into his practice; influencing, as it must have done, the art of farriery in this country to a very considerable extent. We shall then be able to pronounce how far the usual abuses had been mitigated and the art improved; though it will be apparent that his principles are those laid down by Youatt. 'The operation of paring out the foot is a matter requiring both skill and judgment, and is, moreover, a work of some labour when properly performed. It will be found that the operator errs much oftener by removing too little than too much; at least it is so with parts that ought to be removed, which are sometimes almost as hard and unyielding as a flint-stone, and in their most favourable state require considerable exertion to cut through. The frog, on the other hand, offers so little resistance to the knife, and presents such an even, smooth, clean-looking surface when cut through, that it requires more philosophy than falls to the share of most smiths to resist the temptation to slice it away, despite a knowledge that it would be far wiser to leave it alone. It would be impossible to frame any rule applicable to the paring out of all horses' feet, or indeed to the feet of the same horse at all times. For instance, it is manifestly unwise to pare the sole as thin in a hot dry season, when the roads are broken up and strewed with loose stones, as in a moderately wet one, when they are well bound and even; for, in the former case, the sole is in perpetual danger of being bruised by violent contact with the loose stones, and consequently needs a thick layer of horn for its protection; while the latter case offers the most favourable surface that most of our horses ever have to travel upon, and should be taken advantage of for a thorough paring out of the sole, in order that the internal parts of the foot may derive the full benefit arising from an elastic and descending sole, a state of things very essential to the due performance of their separate functions. Again, horses with upright feet and high heels grow horn very abundantly, especially towards the toe, and are always benefited by having the toe shortened, the heels lowered, and the sole well pared out; while horses with flat feet and low heels grow horn sparingly. . . . . In the first case the thickness of the sole prevents the due descent of the coffin-bone when the horse's weight is thrown upon the foot, and it requires in consequence to be pared down thinner and rendered more yielding; while in the latter case it is already so thin and unresisting, that it can with difficulty support the coffinbone in its proper place, and ofiers at best but a feeble resistance to its downward tendency.'
Here we have this writer recommending that sound beautiful feet should be reduced to the same morbid state as those which had been ruined—though he did not suspect so—by paring, and could 'barely support the coffin-bone in its proper place, and offers at best but a feeble resistance to its downward tendency.' 'Perfect feet, or indeed tolerably well-formed feet, with a fair growth of horn, should have the toe shortened, the heels lowered, and the sole well pared out; that is, all the dead horn removed, and, if need be, some of the living too, until it will yield in some small degree to hard pressure from the thumb. The corners, formed by the junction of the crust and bars, should be well pared out, particularly on the inside, for this is the common seat of corn; and any accumulation of horn in this situation must increase the risk of bruising the sensible sole between the inner point or heel of the coffin-bone and the horny sole' A most extraordinary statement, certainly. We are told that horn protected the feet at one season of the year, but was not needed at another. We are now informed that an accumulation of horn at the corners of the heels would bruise them, and that therefore these corners must be well denuded of their protection.
Beside this damaging treatment of the foot, the bars were to be removed to a level with the sole. The single feature in this portion of his subject that redeemed it from the ordinary barbarous treatment of the farrier, was his earnest desire that the frog might remain untouched; and this is the only good that commends itself in his work, unless it be the diminution of the number of nails required to attach the shoe.
We have seen that he deprives the sole of its natural protection in the most unreasonable manner, merely because he imagined that it descended towards the shoe to a serious degree. The weight of the shoe was of little importance. 'The inconvenience to a horse of an ounce or so of increased weight in each shoe is not worth a moment's consideration, compared with the discomfort to him of travelling upon a hard road with a bent shoe on his foot, straining the nails, and making unequal and painful pressure; the other evil arising out of light shoes is a deficiency of width in the web, which robs the foot of much valuable protection, and leaves the sole and frog exposed to numberless injuries, that a under web would effectually prevent.' For his own horses, he took special care that the same width of web is continued throughout the whole shoe back to the heels, giving increased covering and protection to the sole of the foot.' He points out readily enough, the great danger there is in a horse injuring his foot and dropping suddenly lame on putting it upon a stone, and speaks of it as unphilosophical in not covering nearly the whole of that surface with a very wide-webbed shoe.
After this mutilation of the sole, it is asserted that the situation of the nails determines the form of the foot. The shoe was the ordinary seated one of Osmer and Moorcroft, bent up at the toe in the form of a worn shoe, or on Goodwin's principle; it was to be of the same thickness from one extremity to the other, and to have a good flat even space all round for the crust to bear upon, 'for it must be remembered the crust sustains the whole weight of the horse.' The ground surface was to be fullered for the reception of the nails, which were to be as few as possible—five or six: three or four on the outside, and two or three on the inside; the latter near the toe, according to Mr Turner's method.
Indeed, for many years this gentleman's own horses were only shod with three nails in each fore-shoe (of which alone I am now speaking). This was certainly a great improvement on the absurd fashion of studding the shoes all round with nails; and so long as the armature could be retained with safety, there was no reason why more than three, four, or five should be used. If Mr Miles could retain a heavy shoe with a wide cover, unsupported by the sole, which we have seen was removed altogether from it by paring, in addition to the bevelling of the iron, surely a light shoe resting on an unpared sole, in addition to the crust, would be still easier retained! The great secret of this retention of the shoe in Mr Miles's application of the one-sided nailing, lay in the excellent and careful method he adopted of fitting it accurately to the foot. The iron had a perfectly level and solid bearing on the crust, and this was accomplished without much trouble. Another curious circumstance to be remarked in his teaching is, that though he believed in the expansion of the heels to a very exaggerated degree, the shoe when fitted was to follow as closely as possible, and not project in the slightest degree beyond, the crust in this region. Consequently, it must have happened, that when the foot was put on the ground, and the asserted expansion took place, the hoof must have hung over the shoe to the amount of that dilatation, without receiving any support from it!
It was always a favourite theme with people who did not understand much about shoeing, or the nature of the horse's foot, to dwell upon the injury done to the hoof by fitting a hot shoe to it, in order to adapt the armature more accurately to the surface on which it was afterwards to be nailed; and some of these people would nevertheless injure the hoof in a very serious manner in other respects, to suit their own particular crotchets, which were probably as meaningless as they were injurious. For a great number of years, this declamation had been stoutly maintained by sundry individuals, some of whom perhaps had good reason to do so, seeing the injurious manner in which the feet were pared, and the likelihood that a careless workman would reach the sensitive parts through the thin pellicle of horn remaining with his hot shoe; but these accidents must have been very rare, and were no doubt least to be dreaded of any incidental to shoeing as it was usually practised. Mr Miles notices this fear of hot fitting: 'The danger apprehended from the shoe being applied to the foot so hot as to burn the crust and cause it to smoke, is utterly groundless. I would not have it made to burn itself into its place upon the foot without the assistance of rasp or drawing-knife, but I would have it tried to the foot sufficiently hot to scorch every part that bears unevenly upon it, because the advantage of detecting such projecting portions is very great, and this mode of accomplishing it is positively harmless; indeed it is the only one by which the even bearing necessary to a perfect fitting of the shoe can be insured.'
Some amusing stories are told of nervous old gentlemen, who were not only not satisfied with having their horses shod in their stables, but actually had the shoes immersed for a certain period in the coldest water procurable, in order to dispel the latent heat. So it had become somewhat fashionable to shoe horses in stables, and Mr Miles says of it: 'The practice of shoeing horses in the stable, away from the forge, where there is no possibility of correcting any defect in the fitting of the shoe, is so utterly opposed to reason and common sense, that I should only have adverted to it as a custom of by-gone days, exploded with the use of the buttress and the notion of chest founder, if I had not actually witnessed its perpetration within the last year, and that, too, in the stables of gentlemen by no means addicted, upon other matters, to yield their judgment a ready captive to other men's prejudices. Now if either of these gentlemen had happened to ask the smith what he was doing, the answer would, in all probability, have awakened him to a sudden conviction that he was giving his countenance to a most unphilosophical proceeding; for the smith would have told him that he was fitting a shoe to the horse shoe, which the gentleman would at once perceive to be impossible, inasmuch as he had no means at hand whereby to effect the smallest change in the form of the shoe, however much it might require it; and the truth would instantly force itself upon him, that the man was fitting the foot to the shoe, and not, as he supposed, the shoe to the foot. To fit the shoe to the foot without the aid of anvil and forge is impossible; and any one acquainted with the exactness and precision necessary to a perfect fitting would not hesitate to declare the attempt to be as absurd as it is mischievous.' Some excellent examples are given of the injury and inconvenience likely to arise from this stupid fashion.
In this accuracy of fitting the shoe by burning it to the hoof, lay the secret of dispensing with so many nails; and this was a veritable progress in the art of farriery, for which Mr Miles deserves every credit. His great error lay, as we have seen, in cutting away the sole, through a false idea that it descended, and in applying heavy, clumsy shoes. The improvement could not make amends for the mistakes.
The hind-shoes had no calkins, properly so called, but only long thick projections from the ground surface — a mere elongated form of calkin. They were not side-clipped at the toe for hunting; rather, a mistake, as a hind-shoe secured in this way is much safer for horse and rider than one with a single clip at the middle of the toe. They had usually two or three nails more than the fore-shoe.
Through a defective knowledge of the anatomy of the hind-foot, the shoe was nailed on in the same manner as in the fore one—the inside nails being all clustered together near the toe on the unilateral system, to allow the hoof to expand. This was undoubtedly a mistake, as every farrier knows that the hind-hoof differs from the fore one in being thickest towards the heels of the crust, and thinnest anteriorly, and that the least injurious and most secure nailing is always found at the former part. This mistake may have caused the failure of his method of shoeing in Algeria.
The composite method of shoeing devised, or rather made somewhat popular, by Mr Miles, was chiefly, as may be perceived, founded on the fantastic lateral-expansion theory of Bracy Clark, whose ideas of the functions of the horse's foot became at last so exaggerated, that he could not devise any mode of shoeing that would not inflict injury on that organ. The treatise we have just noticed cannot, therefore, be said to afford us any signs of improvement in the art of shoeing, except in the matter of reducing the number of nails; and is chiefly composed of materials derived from various sources, some of them not very reliable.
It is a pleasure in turning to the next work, written by Colonel Fitzwygram, to find a more rational and common-sense method of managing the foot and shoeing it. This treatise, founded as it is on the long experience and enlightened observation of Army Veterinary Surgeon Hallen, is perhaps the best on shoeing which this century has produced. It reminds one very much of Lafosse's master-piece, and indeed it only repeats the truths that able veterinarian first promulgated with regard to the propriety and method of maintaining the horse's foot in a sound condition. The leading principle is the entire conservation of sole and frog, which are not to be foolishly tampered with, and the maintenance of the wall or crust in all its integrity. The shoe recommended is that proposed by Mr Goodwin, with the single exception, perhaps, that instead of the upper surface following the concavity of the sole, it was to be flat. The ground surface, with the bentup toe, was the same. This treatise, which, so far as the management of the foot is concerned, is calculated to do much good, is yet somewhat marred by an error that, though apparently unimportant, yet in reality is not so. Speaking of the admirable arrangement of the crust-fibres for sustaining the weight by their almost perpendicular direction, he adds: 'In the sole, on the other hand, all these conditions favourable for sustaining weight are wanting. The fibres are much less substantial than those of the crust, they are not so closely connected together, and, lastly, they are placed in layers in a horizontal position. The sole, therefore, from its construction, is unable to sustain weight or pressure. . . . . Whilst the structure of the crust is in fibres, standing with their ends on the ground, the structure of the sole consists of fibres placed in layers horizontally. The difference in power of sustaining weight, which arises from this difference in the position of the fibres, will be easily seen. Anything standing perpendicularly will sustain a much greater weight without yielding, than it will if placed horizontally. . . Whilst, then, from its construction it is evident that the insensitive sole is not intended to bear weight, it is also most important, on account of its position, that no undue weight should be put upon it. . . . The fibres of the insensitive sole may be compared to layers of fibres of hay, placed horizontally. These will necessarily crush in under a comparatively light weight, for neither by their position nor by substance are they calculated to sustain weight or pressure.'
This is quite a mistake; and is founded on a misconception of the anatomical structure of this part, which was first promulgated by Girard. The horn-fibres of the sole are secreted, and grow in exactly the same direction as those of the crust, and are capable of sustaining a considerable share of the animal's weight, as well as contact with the ground. This is a fact worthy of bearing in mind; as with a mode of shoeing I have adopted, as well as in the French method of Lafosse, and a modification of it which will be noticed presently, the sole does support more or less of the strain and wear, and not only with impunity, but to the advantage of foot and limb. The horse's sole, in common with that of every quadruped, was destined by nature to sustain more or less weight and wear, and if it is not cruelly deprived of what nature has wisely given it for that purpose, it will do so perfectly.
Colonel Fitzwygram's method of shoeing does not appear to have gained much ground. The difficulties in rounding or curving-up the toe of the shoe to a proper degree, and the objection of farriers and grooms to allow the foot to remain in a healthy unmutilated state, will, it is to be feared, operate, more or less, against its adoption.
The treatise, however, should be in the hands of every horseman, not only because of the excellent advice it contains relative to the preservation and defence of the foot, but also for the clear and philosophical discussion of the various predisposing causes of disease in that organ. Miles's method of nailing, and Colonel Fitzwygram's directions for maintaining the sole and frog intact, mark, perhaps, the greatest improvements in shoeing in England during this century.
In 1862, Mr Mavor, a veterinary surgeon in London, patented a form of shoe and method of shoeing intended to serve several useful and important purposes. The shoe was made of iron rolled by machinery into a particular shape; so that when formed it appeared as a narrow, though somewhat thick rim of metal, slightly concave towards the ground, the lower margin being thin; while the foot-surface was flat, and the holes were made in the middle line of the shoe. According to Mr Mavor, the advantages of his mode of shoeing were cheapness, lightness, and simplicity of manufacture. As a proof that it was superior to every other mode, this inventor asserted that it did not in any way injure the horse's foot, but, on the contrary, allowed its natural freedom of action; promoted the growth of horn; prevented disease and concussion to the limbs; gave the horse a firm foot-hold on the most slippery pavement; was particularly adapted to strengthen flat, weak feet; and enabled the horse to travel over loose gravel without injury to, or the collection of dirt and stones in, his feet. The hind-shoes were of such a form that, though light, they were more durable than the old flat shoes; and it was impossible for the horse to cut his legs, over-reach, or click with them.
In preparing the shoe, little hammering was required; the nail-holes were punched in the centre, and inclining inwards; the iron being only the width of the crust of the foot, there was no danger of these apertures proving too coarse for nailing. In applying the shoe, the crust and bars were to be lowered and levelled from the ground-surface only, as rasping the outside of the crust and cutting away the sides of the frog weakened the foot and destroyed its naturally circular form. The sole was not to be cut, and care was to be taken to fit the shoe accurately to the outer line of the hoof, so that it might rest only upon the crust, and not upon the sole.
This method of shoeing was carried on for a short time, and fell into disuse, chiefly, perhaps, through the prejudice of the grooms and farriers in London.
- Cursory Account of the Various Methods of Shoeing Horses. London, 1800.
- Op. cit., p. 6.
- Observations on the Structure, Economy, and Diseases of the Foot of the Horse, and On the Principles and Practice of Shoeing, London, 1798, 1803.
- The italics are my own, and are merely intended to indicate in what respects Coleman probably or assuredly erred.
- This was the same kind of shoe as that proposed by Carlo Ruini, of Bologna, in 1598, for the same condition of the hoofs. After dilating the heels and strengthening the feet by allowing the horse to roam at large in a meadow, or unsoling the hoofs, that writer adds: 'Se gli mettera un ferro debole sottile, e stretto di verga; il quale si a tanto largo nelle calcagna, che il corno, o guscio del piede vi posi sopra; e habbi nella parte di dentro due oruchie eguali, ma d'ogni lato acconcie talmente, che pigliano nella parte di dentro del corno, e guscio del piede, senza poza potere in modo alcuno offendere, e danneggiare il vivo, e l'osso del piede. Dipoi essendo per buon spatio di tempo stato a molle il piede nell'acqua calda, e mollificato, si pigliera con le tenaglie il ferro nel calcagno e tirandolo per forza verso fuori, s'allarghera a bastanza insieme con li quarli e con le calgagno del piede.'—Anatomia et Infirmita del Cavallo, p. 653. The same description of shoe, and one opening with a screw, is noticed by J. Bridges.
- A Series of Original Experiments on the Foot of the Living Horse. London, 1809. 2nd Edit., 1829.
- A New System of Shoeing Horses. London, 1820.
- The Horse, London, 1846.
- The Horse's Foot, and How to Keep it Sound. Eighth edition. London, 1856. Also, A Plain Treatise on Horse-shoeing. 3rd edition. 1860.
- Merche. Mémuire sur les Principaux Systèmes de Ferrure. Paris, 1862.
- Notes on Shoeing Horses. 2nd edition, 1863.