Page:Horse shoes and horse shoeing.djvu/113

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In Eastern countries at the present day, as has been already briefly remarked, the greatest importance is attached to the toughness and durability of the hoofs, even where horses are shod with iron plates. Among the Afghan tribes, for instance, not satisfied with the natural qualities of the horn, even when best developed, the native shoers adopt the following means for increasing its resisting powers. After removing the old shoe, and cutting away enough of the superfluous growth of horn, the lower margin of the wall and the sole are pretty freely charred by a red-hot iron, and while these parts are yet in a state of partial fusion, the whole foot is dipped into a strong solution of alum.

In some of the islands of the Eastern Sea—Java, Manilla, and Singapore—where shoeing is not practised, and the small horses have no defence to their feet, the stable floors are constructed exactly as Xenophon, Varro, Columella, Palladius, or Vegetius recommends, with the object of making the horn hard and keeping it dry.

Travelling to the North Pacific Ocean, there is the remarkable island-empire of Japan, so long isolated from other countries that it is indeed wonderful to find its inhabitants, so far as the arts and sciences are concerned, a highly cultivated and ingenious people. From time immemorial they have been skilful workers in metals; with the properties and many of the uses of iron they have for ages been familiar; and for centuries they have employed horses on a large scale, not only in their traffic, but in their feudal armies, of which a large proportion is cavalry. And yet they are in exactly the same condition as we suppose the Greeks and Romans were as regards