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Title: Rational Horse-Shoeing
Author: Russell, John E.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Since the publication of this little volume we have made changes in our
horse shoe with a view to adapt it especially to Army use. Our design
has been to make a shoe that any Army farrier can apply in a cold state
without the use of any other tool than a knife to prepare the hoof, and
a hammer to drive the nails. Our success in this attempt has been so
complete that we are now using the pattern designed especially for Army
use in all our contract work.

The shoe is rolled without a heel calk, so that the frog-pressure may be
readily secured without heating and drawing the iron:--the nail holes
are punched so that the nail furnished by us with the shoe may be
driven, without the use of the pritchel to punch out the holes. The
shoe, being made of the best quality of iron, may be bent cold to adapt
it to the shape of the hoof.

Officers will at once see what a vast saving there is in the
transportation of shoes--requiring no forge with its heavy outfit--and
which are less than half the weight of the clumsy old patterns.





With Illustrations.

New York:
Published by Wynkoop and Hallenbeck,
No. 113 Fulton Street.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
Wynkoop & Hallenbeck,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


In presenting the observations contained in the following pages, we are
aware that we appeal to practical men who judge by results, and have but
slight patience with mere theory. We wish, therefore, to state clearly
at the outset, that the system of horse-shoeing herein advocated, and
the shoe offered by us to accompany it and accomplish its purpose, are
the result of years of patient study of nature, and actual experiment;
and that although we have had to contend with ignorance and interest on
the part of the farriers, and indifference and prejudice on the part of
owners of horses, we have finally succeeded in interesting the most
practical and capable men in America, England, and France in the
matter; and, at the time of this publication, thousands of horses,
engaged in the most arduous labors of equine life--upon railways,
express wagons, transfer companies, and other similar difficult
positions--are traveling upon our shoes, their labors lightened by its
assistance, their feet preserved in a natural, healthy state, and their
lives prolonged to the profit of their owners and the advancement of
that cause--one of the evidences of the progress of our age in true
enlightenment--which has for its beneficent object the prevention of
cruelty to the dumb and helpless companions of our toil.


The first application of the Goodenough shoe is almost invariably to the
feet of horses suffering from some one of the forms of foot disease,
induced by the unnatural method of shoeing. Our system is intended for
sound horses, to supply the necessary protection to the feet, and to
keep them in a healthy condition. Our rules for shoeing, embodied in our
circular of instructions, are applicable to sound horses, and disease
must be provided for as exceptional.

Men are careless and, as a rule, unobservant; they go on in the old way
until the horse flinches in action or stands "pointing" in dumb appeal to
his owner, telling with mute but touching eloquence of his tight-ironed,
feverish foot, the dead frog, and the insidious disease, soon to destroy
the free action characteristic of health. It is when this evidence brings
the truth home to him that the neglectful master, eager to relieve the
animal, tries our system. To such masters we must say, do not expect that
the imprudence and neglect of years can be remedied in an instant. The age
of miracles long ago passed away. We do not propose to cure by formula,
or bell and book. There is no "laying on of hands"--no magical touch of an
enchanter's wand.

Remember always that pain is the warning cry of a faithful sentinel on
the outpost, that disease is at hand. Disease is the punishment
following a violation of the laws of nature, and can only be escaped by
restoring natural conditions.

Remember also, that "Nature," so called by Hippocrates, the earliest
systematic writer upon medicine, never slumbers nor fails in duty, but
strives with unerring, active intelligence to prevent disease, or to
cure it when it can not be prevented.

When the measures and processes of the physician are in harmony with the
natural intention, disease may be cured; when they are adverse in
application, the patient dies, or recovers in spite of art.

A great French philosopher powerfully remarked: "Nature fights with
disease a battle to the death; a blind man armed with a club--that is, a
physician--comes in to make peace between them. Failing in that, he lays
about him with his club. If he happens to hit disease he kills disease;
if he hits nature he kills nature."

We wish to be understood that in all things we would assist and
facilitate the action of nature, under the artificial restraints of the
horse. If we fail in this, or offer obstruction, our occupation is gone.
The world has no time to listen to our theory, no use for our practice.
And we hope that the thoughtful readers of these pages will see in our
intention, an earnest, honest purpose and belief, and that, without
affectation of science or pretense of superior knowledge, we base all
our efforts upon nature and common sense.

In following our instructions and attempting to use our method, _have
patience_, and note the result from day to day. The horse will quickly
tell you. His action will expose quackery and unmask pretension. He will
be no party to a fraud, no advocate of an advertisement.


A sound horse is, after man, the paragon of animals. "In form and moving
how express and admirable!" His frame is perfect mechanism, instinct
with glowing life, and guarded by the great conservative and healing
powers of nature from disease and death. His vitality is surpassed by
that of man, because man has the endowment of soul, and in his human
breast hope springs eternal and imagination gives fresh powers of
resistance. Like man, the horse conforms cheerfully to all climates and
to all circumstances. He is equally at home--

    "Whether where equinoctial fervors glow
    Or winter wraps the polar world in snow."

Amid the sands of Arabia his thin hide and fine hair evidence his
breeding; in the frozen north his shaggy covering defends him from the
cold storms and searching winds. The disadvantages under which he will
work are in no way so clearly illustrated as in his efficiency when
exposed to the evils of shoeing. Placed upon heel-calks, to slip about
and catch with wrenching force in the interstices of city pavements, or
loaded with iron-clogs, to give him "knee-action" and to "untie his
shoulders," he bravely faces his discomforts and does to the best of his
ability his master's will.

How quickly his active system responds to intelligent care and shows its
beneficial results! And when relieved from the abuses of ignorance, his
recuperative powers re-establish the springing step of youth.



Every horseman finds his chief difficulty in the fact that he has to
protect the natural foot from the wear incident to the artificial
condition in which the horse is placed in his relation to man. In those
important industries where great numbers of horses are used, and the
profit of the business depends upon the efficiency of the animal, the
question becomes a very serious one, and the life term of the horse, or
the proportion of the number of animals that are kept from their tasks
by inability, make the difference between profit and loss to the great
transportation lines that facilitate the busy current of city life. But
notwithstanding the importance of this subject, upon the score equally
of economy and humanity, the world is, for the most part, just where it
was a thousand years ago, possibly worse off, for the original purpose
of shoeing was only to protect the foot from attrition or chipping, and
but little iron was used, but, as the utility of the operation became
apparent, the smith boldly took the responsibility of altering the form
of the hoof to suit his own unreasoning views, cutting away, as
superfluous, the sole and bars, paring the frog to a shapely smoothness,
and then nailing on a broad, heavy piece of iron, covering not only the
wall but a portion of the sole also, thus putting it out of the power of
the horse to take a natural, elastic step.

In a short time the hoof, unbraced by the sole and bars, begins to
contract, the action of the frog upon the ground, which in the natural
foot is threefold--acting as a cushion to receive the force of the blow
and thus relieve the nerves and joints of the leg from concussion,
opening and expanding the hoof by its upward pressure, quickening the
circulation and thereby stimulating the natural secretions,--this all
important part of the organization, without which there is no foot and
no horse, becomes hard, dry, and useless. Then follows the whole train
of natural consequences. The delicate system of joints inclosed in the
hoof feel the pressure of contraction, the knees bend forward in an
attempt to relieve the contracted heel. In this action the use of the
leg is partially lost. The horse endeavors to secure a new bearing,
interferes in movement, or stands in uneasy torture.

Nature frequently seeks relief by bursting the dry and contracted shell,
in what is known as quarter or toe crack, and the miserable victim
becomes practically useless at an age when his powers should be in their

Every horseman will acknowledge that his experience has a parallel in
the picture here presented. Many men have at various times attempted
reform, but the difficulty heretofore encountered has been that the
mechanical application was in the hands, not of the owners and
reasoners, but in those of a class of men who are, for the most part,
ignorant, prejudiced, and, consequently, apt to oppose any innovation
upon the old abuses in which they have had centuries of vested right;
and it was not until the studies of Mr. R. A. Goodenough that there were
brought to bear veterinary knowledge, mechanical skill, and inventive
faculty, to overcome the stolidity and interest which have been the
lions in the way of true reform.



That portion of the hoof called the "frog," performs the most important
visible function in the economy of the movement of the horse. It is
intensely vital and vigorous. The greater its exposure and the severer
its exertion, the more strenuous is the action of nature to renew it. It
is the spring at the immediate base of the leg, relieving the nervous
system and joints from the shock of the concussion when the Race Horse
thunders over the course, seeming in his powerful stride to shake the
solid earth itself, and it gives the Trotter the elastic motion with
which he sweeps over the ground noiseless upon its yielding spring, but,
if shod with heavy iron, so that the frog does not reach the ground to
perform its function, his hoofs beat the earth with a force like the
hammers of the Cyclops.

With the facility to error characteristic of the unreasoning, it has
been one of the opinions of grooms and farriers that this callous,
india-rubber-like substance would wear away upon exposure to the action
of the road or pavement, and it has been one of their cherished
practices to set the horse up upon iron, so that he could by no
possibility strike the frog upon the ground.

In addition to this violation of nature, they pare away the exfoliating
growth of the organ, and trim it into the shape that suits their fancy.

Without action, muscular life is impossible, the portion of the body
thus situated must die, paralyzed or withered. Motion, use, are the law
of life, and the frog of the horse's hoof with a function as essential
and well-defined as any portion of his body is subject to the general
law. Without use it dries, hardens, and becomes a shelly excrescence
upon a foot, benumbed by the percussion of heavy iron upon hard roads.
This is a loss nature struggles in vain to repair, the horse begins to
fail at once. The elastic step, which in a state of nature spurned the
dull earth, becomes heavy and stiff, and the unhappy brute experiences
the evils partially described in the previous chapter.

To restore the natural action of the foot by putting the bearing on the
frog, is the chief object of the system we advocate, and the Goodenough
shoe is designed especially to provide for that first and last
necessity. If this is accomplished with a sound horse, he will avoid the
thousand ills that arise from the usual method, and, so far as his feet
are concerned, he will remain sound.

If the shoe is adopted as a cure for the unsoundness already manifested
in animals that have been deprived of the proper use of their feet, it
will cure them, not by any virtue in the iron itself, nor by any magic
in its application, but simply by giving beneficent nature an
opportunity to repair the ruin that the ignorance of man has wrought
upon her perfect handiwork.

This part of our subject is so important that we shall return to it
again in subsequent chapters, and enforce it at every point.




From the representation of the shoe in the cut, its peculiar
conformation will be observed, and the reason for these changes from the
common form we shall endeavor to explain as clearly as possible. In the
first place, it is very light, scarcely half the weight of the average
old-fashioned shoe. The foot surface is rolled with a true bevel, making
that portion of the web which receives the bearing of the hoof, the
width of the thickness of the wall or crust. This prevents pressure upon
the sole, and makes the shoe a continuation of the wall of the foot. The
ground surface of the shoe has also a true bevel, following the natural
slope of the sole, and bringing the inner part of the shoe to a thin
edge. The outer portion is thus a thick ridge, dentated, or cut out into
cogs or calks, allowing the nail-heads to be countersunk. This
arrangement gives five calks--a wide toe-calk, the usual heel-calks,
and two calks, one on each side, midway between the toe and heel--thus
putting the bearing equally upon all the parts of the foot.

This calking has a double object. In the common system of shoeing, to
avoid slipping in winter upon the ice, and in the cities upon the wet,
slimy surface of pavement, or to assist draft, it is customary to weld a
calk upon the toe of a shoe, and to turn up the heels to correspond. In
this motion the horse is placed upon a tripod, his weight being entirely
upon three points of his foot, and those not the parts intended to bear
the shock of travel or to sustain his weight. The position of the frog
is of course one of hopeless inaction, and the motion of the unsupported
bones within the hoof produce inflammation at the points of extreme
pressure, so that, in case of all old horses accustomed to go upon
calks, there is ulceration of the heels, in the form of "corns," which
the smith informs the owner is the effect of _hard roads_ bruising the
heel from the outside; he usually "cuts out the corn," and puts on more
iron in the form of a "bar shoe." Or the same action which produces
corns, acting upon the dead, dry, unsupported frog and sole, breaks the
arch of the foot so that a "drop sole" is manifest, or "pumiced foot,"
for both of which a "bar shoe" is the unvarying, pernicious
prescription. In the Goodenough shoe, the calks are supplied, and the
weight so distributed that the objection to the old method does not


This is a point to which we call attention as of great importance. In
shoeing a horse for light or rapid work with a common flat shoe, seven
or eight nail-heads protrude, and take the force of his blow on the
ground. The foot has just been pared, and those nails, driven into the
wall and pressing against the soft inside horn and sensitive laminæ,
vibrate to the quick, and often cause the newly-shod horse to shrink,
and show soreness in traveling for a day or two. No matter how
skillfully shod, the horse will be all the better in escaping this
unnecessary infliction.


Is to keep the shoe a continuation of the crust or wall of the hoof, and
to avoid percussion upon the sole.


Is to follow the natural concavity of the foot and to give it the form
which will have no suction on wet ground, will not pick up mud, or
retain snow-balls.


Have a use fully explained.

When the shoe thus described is set so as to secure _frog-pressure_, as
hereinafter directed, a horse may be shod without violation of nature's
laws; foot disease, under fair conditions, will become almost
impossible, and the useless refuse-stock, broken down by the old method,
may be restored to usefulness.

[Illustration: GOODENOUGH SHOE--BACK.]



If a foot came to the farrier in a perfectly normal condition, never
having been subjected to the destructive process of common shoeing, the
directions for putting on the Goodenough shoe would be simply, to dress
the foot by paring or rasping the wall until a shoe of proper size laid
upon the prepared crust would give an even bearing with the frog all
over the foot; then, as the calk wore away, the pressure would come more
and more upon the frog and the foot would retain its natural state
during the life-time of the horse.

A colt thus shod could not have a corn, for a corn is an ulcer caused by
the wings of the coffin-bone pressing upon a hard, unelastic substance.
When the horse raises his foot the coffin-bone is lifted upward by the
action of the flexor tendon; when his foot touches the earth the weight
of the animal is thrown upon the same bone, and, if unsupported by the
natural cushion of the foot, the action of the bone pressing the
sensitive sole upon iron causes the bruise which, for lack of another
name, is called a corn. The horse thus shod would never have a quarter
crack, for that is the immediate effect of contraction caused by the
absence of the expanding action of the frog and the consequent dead
condition of the hoof from want of circulation and proper secretions.
The horse would be equally free from "drop" and "pumiced" sole, seedy
toe, thrush, and kindred complaints.



It is almost impossible to find a horse perfectly sound in his feet,
unless one looks (strange as it may seem) into the stables of the Third
Avenue Railroad Company, or those of Adams' Express, or Dodd's Transfer
Company, or into some of the other stables where our shoe and system are
in faithful use; we will therefore call attention to such a case as will
be generally presented at the forge: A good young horse, shod for
several years upon the common plan, and in the early stages of
contraction. We find he has on wide-web shoes, weighing about twenty
ounces each; these may be smooth in front and calked behind; they bear
upon the sole and heel. In place of a frog, we discover a point of hard,
shrunken, cracked substance, neither frog nor sole. We cut the clenches
and take off the relic of ignorance and barbarism, throwing it with
hearty good-will into the only place fit to receive it--the pile of
scrap-iron. We examine carefully to see that no stub of nail is left in.
The heels will be found long and hard. Our object being _frog-pressure_,
to get the vivifying action of this tactile organ upon the ground, we
pare down the whole wall; we soon come to signs of a corn--perhaps a
drop of blood starts; but as we do not intend to put the weight upon the
heels, we are not alarmed. Having cut all we can from the heels and
still finding that the frog, when the shoe is laid on, can not touch the
ground, _we knock down the last two calks and draw the heel of the shoe
thin_; this must give us a bearing upon the frog and the sound part of
the foot. We use the lightest shoe, truly fitted with the rasp, not
burned on. The horse should then be worked regularly, and he will
experience at once the benefit of a return to "first principles" and
natural action.




Contraction, in a greater or less degree, is exhibited by all horses, of
every grade, that have been shod in the common way, except in those more
unfortunate cases that have resulted in a breaking of the arch of the
foot, from lack of the natural frog support, when the phenomena of
"dropped sole" are found, and the usual accompaniment of "pumiced feet."

It may seem superfluous to say that the power and action of the horse
are greatly restricted by contraction.

The cartilaginous fibre that forms the bulk of the substance of the foot
behind the great back sinew is squeezed into narrow space, the working
of the joints compressed, and inflammation at the joints, or at the
wings of the coffin-bone, is excited; in worse cases navicular disease
is established, or, from inadequate circulation, thrush holds
possession at the frog, or scratches torment the heels.

When simple contraction--shown in the narrow heel, dried and shrunken
frog, and "pegging" motion of the horse--is the case, our design is at
once to restore the natural action of the foot. This must be done by
expansion, and that is to be had from frog-pressure, according to the
directions in the preceding chapters. If navicular disease has
commenced, and the animal is decidedly lame, we have a difficult case.
The membrane of this important bone, in some cases of contraction,
becomes ulcerated, and the bone itself may be decayed, or adhesion
between the coffin-bone and the navicular and pastern may take place.
Without expansion there is no possibility of relief; local bleeding,
poulticing, and all the drastic drugs of the veterinary will be invoked
in vain.



This disease, usually attributed to "heat," "dry weather," "weak feet,"
etc., is one of the common symptoms of contraction, and can be
entirely cured with the greatest ease; nor will it ever recur if the
hoof is kept in proper condition.

If the case is recent, shoe as advised in our paragraph upon "Incipient
Unsoundness," being sure to cut the heel well down, putting the bearing
fully upon the frog and three-quarters of the foot. If the hoof is weak
from long contraction and defective circulation, lower the heels and
whole wall, until the frog comes well upon the ground, and shoe with a
"slipper," or "tip," made by cutting off a light shoe just before the
middle calk, drawing it down and lowering the toe-calk partially. This
will seem dangerous to those who have not tried it, but it is not so.
The horse may flinch a little at first, from his unaccustomed condition,
and from the active life that will begin to stir in his dry, hard, and
numb foot, but he will enjoy the change. The healing of the crack will
be from the coronet down, and it is good practice to cut with a sharp
knife just above the split, and to clean all dirt and dead substance out
from the point where you cut, downwards. Soaking the feet in water will
facilitate a cure by quickening the growth of the hoof; or, a
stimulating liniment may be applied to the coronet, to excite more
active growth. Bear in mind that expansion is not from the sole upwards,
but from the coronet downwards.


The cause of this defect is the same as in quarter crack. It appears in
both fore and hind feet. Clean the crack well, cutting with a sharp
knife the dead horn from each side of it; shoe as advised for quarter
crack, or for the purpose of getting expansion and natural action of the
dead, shelly hoof. The dirt and sand may be kept out of the crack by
filling it with balsam of fir, or pine pitch. Keep the horse at regular




This miserable condition of the abused animal is Nature's fiercest
protest against the ignorance and carelessness of man. A horse set upon
heavy shoes, and those armed with calks at toe and heel, such as are
usually inflicted upon large draft-horses, has his whole weight placed
upon the unsupported sole. The frog never comes in contact with the
earth in any way, inflammation of the sensitive frog and sole takes
place, and the arch of the sole bends down under the pressure until the
ground surface of the hoof becomes flat or convex, bulging down even
lower than the cruel iron that clamps its edge. This is the condition of
a drop sole. This degenerate state of the foot has other complications.
Active inflammation is often present and all the wretchedness of a
pumiced foot--the despair of owner and veterinary--is experienced. The
smith, whose clumsy contrivance has been the cause of all the woe, has
abundant reasons to offer for the disease, and his unfailing resort of
the "_Bar Shoe_." This atrocious fetter is supplemented with leather
pads, sometimes daubed with tar, and the horse hobbles to his task. Not
unfrequently the crust at the front of the hoof sinks in, adhering to
the sole; circulation being cut off,


is then manifest.

The only possible relief from these complications is in natural action.
Contraction is not present, but we want circulation, new growth and
absorption; we obtain it by dressing the foot smoothly with the rasp and
putting the bearing evenly upon the frog and a light shoe, which should
be merely a continuation of the wall of the foot. Many very bad cases
shod in this way have been relieved. No grease or tar should ever be


Shoe as previously directed, and rasp or cut the sole and wall at the
toe into a slightly hollow shape, so that you could pass a knife-blade
between the hoof and shoe. The object of this is to relieve the hoof
from pressure at this point. In cases where the toe is thin and weak, or
where there is inflammation extending to the point of the frog, remove
as much of the sole pressing against the frog as seems feasible, and
level the toe-calk, so that the horse will bear upon the frog and

It is often well to free a shrunken frog from the binding growth of sole
that has closed in upon it, and in cases of contraction, where this is
done, a horse will recover the action of the frog with less difficulty
than where that organ is sole-bound.


This is a filthy, fetid disease of the frog. By many veterinary writers
it is attributed entirely to damp stables, general nasty condition of
stall, yard, etc. Mayhew ingenuously remarks, in addition, that it is
usually found in animals that "step short or go groggily," and that the
hoof is "hot and hard." Youatt comes to the point at once in saying that
it is the effect of contraction, and, when established, is also a cause
of further contraction. It is manifest in a putrid discharge from the
frog. The matter is secreted by the inner or sensible frog, excited to
this morbid condition by pressure of contraction. Its cure is simple and
easy if the cause is removed. A wash of brine, or chloride of zinc,
three grains to the ounce of water, is generally used to correct the



The knee of a horse is a most complicated and beautiful mechanical
arrangement, singularly exempt from strain or disease in any form. Bony
enlargement, inflammation of the ligaments, do not attack it. The ravage
of the shoeing-smith--the horse's direst enemy--seems to be exhausted
upon the feet and the sympathetic pasterns; the concussion of iron and
pavement, uncushioned by the frog, will destroy the lower system of
joints before the knee can be shaken.

Notwithstanding this perfection and strength, many horses bend the knee,
and stand, or travel with it bent, until the flexor muscles shrink from
lack of use. This "over in the knees" condition is invariably caused by
imperfect use of the feet. The effect of heel-calks and their
accompaniment of corns, making a sore in each heel, is often indicated
by the horse to his regardless owner by bending his knee. The owner
asks the smith why he does it, and the smith, who never fails to give a
reason, says he has always noticed that horse had "weak knees." We know
of a shoer in Worcester County, Massachusetts, who has a wide local
reputation for "doctoring" weak knees. He holds that the muscles of the
leg in such cases are _too short_, and have to be lengthened with thick
iron heels and calks. It is a favorite theory of this class of shoers
that they are able to correct the errors of Providence in the horse's
construction, and piece him out with heel-calks and bar-shoes!


If horses were not shod, they would not interfere; it therefore follows
that shoeing is the cause of this defect. A contracted hoof, pain from
corns, or any inflammation causes a horse to seek a new bearing. In
doing this he strikes himself. Blacksmiths make "interfering shoes,"
welding side-pieces and superfluous calks upon their clumsy
contrivances, and sometimes succeed in preventing the symptom, but they
never remove the cause. Few horses with natural feet, good circulation,
and shod with a light shoe, will ever interfere. In all such cases, take
off the heavy shoe, cure the contraction, get an even bearing, and let
nature have at least a momentary chance.


It is a common practice of large proprietors, engaged on railroad or
city work, to buy up horses with unsound feet, unfitted for speed or
gentle service, and use them up, as old clothes are put through a
shoddy-mill for what wool there is left in them. This cruel policy,
under an intelligent system of shoeing, would be impossible, because the
vast aggregate of foot diseases would be so abated that horses, sound in
general health but creeping upon disabled hoofs, could not be found in
droves, as at present, and the speculator in equine misfortune would
better serve his selfishness by buying young horses and keeping them
sound by a natural system of shoeing.


This annoyance is frequently caused by undue use of the toe, when the
heel is lame and sore from contraction and corns. When the horse has the
frog well on the ground and uses his heel without shrinking he is not
apt to stumble.


In dry weather, or when a horse with a hard, lifeless hoof is shod with
the Goodenough shoe, and shrinks from the unaccustomed pressure of the
frog on the ground, nothing is so grateful to his feet as cold water.
The hose turned on them is a delicious bath; or if he can stand for an
hour in a wet place, or in a running brook, he will get infinite comfort
from it. We have sometimes rapidly assisted the cure of contraction, in
the city, by manufacturing a country brook-bottom in this simple way:
Put half a bushel of pebbles into a stout tub, with or without some
sand, let them cover the bottom to the depth of two or three inches,
pour on water and you have a good imitation of a mountain brook. Put
the horse's forefeet into this, and let him bear his weight upon the
frog. The first time he will grow uneasy after a few minutes, but when
his frog becomes natural in its function he will be glad to stand there
all day.

Do not carry this treatment to excess. Moderation is the most
satisfactory course in all things. Abjure utterly all oils and greasy
hoof dressings, they are pernicious recommendations of unreasoning
grooms. They fill the pores of the wall, and injure in every way. Nature
will find oil, if you will allow circulation and secretion, through the
action of the frog.

"Stuffing the feet," is another wretched, groom's device. A horse has a
dry, feverish hoof from contraction, so his hollow sole, denuded of its
frog, is "stuffed" with heating oil-meal, or nasty droppings of cows.
When this sort of thing is proposed, remember _Punch's_ advice to those
about to be married, "Don't do it."



A horse-shoe that the united voices or the shrewdest and ablest managers
in the country commend--inasmuch as it enables cripples to work,
frequently restores them, and maintains soundness where that quality
exists--need not be recommended on the ground of economy. Such a
horse-shoe could not be dear. But it takes all sorts of people to make a
world, and the pressure to the square inch of mean men is not to be
governed by safety-valves or regulated by gauges. There are too many men
who will use the thing that costs the least outlay, even if it tortures
or kills the horse. On the point of first cost we may say that if our
shoe had no advantage over the hand-made shoe in preserving the natural
action and growth of the foot, thereby retaining the powers of the
animal in full vigor, it would still be cheaper than the common shoe. It
is sold slightly higher than the clumsy pieces of bent iron called
horse-shoes by mere courtesy, and its lightness gives one-third more
shoes to the keg, while there is no expense of calking, which, in labor
and material, is equal to three cents per pound. Upon the point of
durability, it is well settled that the heavy shoe will not last so long
as the light one with frog-pressure. A horse set upon heavy shoes grinds
iron every time he moves. The least interposition of the frog will
reduce the wear very materially, and if the frog is well on the ground,
a horse will carry a shoe until he outgrows it.

A horse-railroad superintendent said to the writer, "We don't wear iron
nowadays, we wear _frog_ and _cobble-stones_; nature provides frog and
Boston finds cobble-stones." When the Goodenough shoe is put for the
first time upon a dry, half-dead foot, and the frog brought into lively
action, growth is generally very rapid. We have often been compelled to
reset the shoe, cutting down the wall, in ten days after shoeing. Many
horses that have been used upon pavements and horse-railroads, have
acquired a habit of slipping and sliding along, catching with heel-calks
in the space between the stones; such horses do not at once relinquish
the habit, and wear their first set of our shoes much more rapidly than
the subsequent set, after they have assumed the natural action of their
feet. But, economical as a light shoe that will long outlast a heavy one
may be, the great saving is in the item of horse-flesh.

The value of the horses employed in the actual labor of the country
reaches a startling sum total.

The vast importance of the horse in the movement of business, was never
so fully understood and deeply felt as during the year past, when the
epizoötic swept over the continent, paralyzing all movement and every
form of human industry. Even the ships that whiten the seas would furl
their sails and steamers quench their fires but for the labors of the
horse. During the epidemic the canal-boats waited idly for their patient
tow-horses and railroads carried little freight; the crops of the West
lay in the farmers' granaries and the fabrics of the Eastern loom and
varied products of mechanical industry crowded the warehouses; even the
ragpicker in the streets suspended his humble occupation, for the
merchant, unable to transport rags, refused to buy them of the gatherer.
The investment of national wealth in horses being so enormous, any means
that adds to the efficiency of the horse greatly enhances the general

[Illustration: PERFECT SHOE AND HOOF.]


It is an old English saying, that "a good horse will wear out two sets
of feet." The meaning of this adage is obvious: a good horse's feet are
useless at the time when his other powers are in the prime. Mr. Edward
Cottam, of London, in his "Observations upon the Goodenough System,"
states that London omnibus-owners use up a young horse in four years;
that is, a horse of seven years of age goes to the knackers at eleven,
_pabulum Acherontis_; and the only noticeable cause of their failure is
from diseases of the feet. A horse properly shod and cared for should
endure five times as long. In this country horses fail in the feet, and
are called old at an age when they should be in the fullest activity.
This is a double loss, for every horseman of experience knows that if an
old horse is sound and vigorous he has some great advantages over a
young one. He is safer in every respect, "way-wise," seasoned, steady,
and reliable. He and his owner are old friends and companions and can
not part but with a pang of regret. A good horse, well cared for, should
work cheerfully until he is thirty years of age; yet how few are able to
perform genteel service after fifteen! It is a sad sight that of the
high-mettled, noble animal, once the petted darling of wealth, caressed
by ladies and children, and guarded so that even the winds of heaven
might not visit him too roughly, fallen through the successive grades of
equine degradation, until at last he hobbles before a clam-wagon or a
swill-cart--a sorry relic of better days.

The question is so plain that we hesitate to argue with intelligent
people to prove that, if the old system of shoeing destroys the value of
a horse in middle life, half his money value is sacrificed to
ignorance--a waste that might be saved were nature's laws regarded. That
part of the argument which demands that the faithful, devoted servant
merits humane treatment and the best intelligence of the master in
securing his health and comfort can not be forgotten and need not be
urged upon the attention of the true horseman.


To be _rational_ in any course of action is, primarily, to follow the
leading of reason, and by that guidance to arrive at correct

It is the opposite to the method which is _irrational_--regardless of
reason, and therefore leading to conclusions erroneous and absurd.
Rationalism is opposed to ultraism, to vehement, officious and extreme
measures--while it would seek more excellent ways, it holds fast to that
which is good.

Rationalism in medicine is the method which recognises nature as the
great agent in the cure of disease, and employs art as an auxiliary to
be resorted to when useful or necessary, and avoided when prejudicial.

In our treatment of the hoof, we would seek to know the cause of the
horse's troubles, firmly believing that he is endowed by nature with
strength to perform the service man demands of him, and that he is not
necessarily a helpless prey to torturing diseases of the minor organs;
and, indeed, subject only to that final, unavoidable sentence, which in
some form nature holds suspended over all animate existence.

Having by the aid of reason ascertained the cause of defects, we would
assist nature to relieve them; we have therefore called this little
hand-book of suggestions from our experience, RATIONAL HORSE-SHOEING.


Having taken upon ourselves to reform evils, rooted deep in old customs,
and to abolish abuses older than our civilization, we have to meet with
discouragement and opposition in various forms.

Even the enlightened and well-intentioned hold back incredulous. This
form of opposition finally examines, being led thereto from motives of
economy and the promptings of humanity; it usually approves and
assists, but is often carried back by indolence, when it discovers that
it must join us in the loud battle we are forced to wage all along the
line against fierce interests and bitter prejudices.

We attack with slender array, but unflinching purpose, the gloomy powers
of ignorance that are allied to doubt and indifference. These contend
under the prestige of a thousand years of possession.

Ignorance and Prejudice are twin giants that renew their life upon each
other; they are as old as chaos, and are invulnerable to the weapons of
ordinary warfare. Like the fallen angels, they are--

          "Vital in every part,
    And can but by annihilation die."

One of the Greek fables, typifying the struggle of man against
circumstances, was a story of the battle between Hercules and Antæus,
son of the Earth. The fight was long and doubtful, for whenever the
mortal was felled to the ground by the power of the vigorous god, his
force was renewed by contact with the breast of his mother Earth, and
he sprang to his feet and recommenced the never-ending strife.

This contest between the god, and the mortal born of earth and sea, is
the poetical type of the unceasing toil of man in the Valley of the
Nile, against the sandy waves of the Lybian desert, always encroaching
upon the cultivated soil, and demanding year by year new exertions to
repress their advance.

So, in our attempt to establish a better system of utilizing the powers
of the horse in the service of man, we have each day to meet the same
enemy, renewed by contact with the sources that foster and reinforce
ignorance. But as persistent labor conducted the beneficent waters of
the Nile in irrigating channels through the arid plain of the desert,
until upon the inhospitable edge gardens bloomed, fields of grain waved
in the breeze, and the date-palm cast its grateful shade upon the
husbandman--so we make healthful progress, and enjoy a widely increasing
triple reward--first, in the thankful esteem of our fellow men;
secondly, in the relief we afford to a noble animal; and last, in the
substantial return which the highest authority has adjudged to honest


We wish all readers of this book to understand that the directions
herein given for shoeing apply to horses whose owners expect them to
work regularly after shoeing--from the very hour in which the shoes are

We do not propose to "lay up" horses, or to put them to rest in "loose
boxes," nor yet to "turn them out to grass." One of the chief
difficulties we have had with wealthy owners has been from the tendency
to keep the horse _out of work_ when we have got him into a condition
where we want exercise to stimulate the alterative process we propose.

A cure of any foot disease we have described, will be much more rapidly
effected if the horse has his regular work upon the roads or pavements
to which he is accustomed, no matter how hard they are.

We hope that it has also been noticed, that we do not propose to cure
spavins, splints, navicular disease, or to restore the natural action
of a horse where ossification of cartilage is well established.

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