The Space Shuttle and The Farrier

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July 27th, 10:48 PM: Oh, MY! I simply had to add that Farris and I saw the space shuttle Columbia travel across the sky from the Southwest to the East a little after 10 PM tonight as it returned to its landing in Florida. What a spectacular sight! It looked like a huge meteor and its glowing trail extended from horizon to horizon, while its speed dazzled us! I especially appreciated the fact that I was seeing the shuttle commanded by Eileen Collins, the first woman commander of an American shuttle flight. We were touched by the realization that the American crew was in that beautiful fireball hurtling overhead and we will long remember its awesome beauty as it streaked across the night sky. Then we watched the flawless touchdown in Florida in real time on television just a few minutes later. What a thrill to be living in this time! I never dreamed I would see what a neighbor called such a celestial delight!

July 27, 1999: The summer clear-sky-syndrome and scorching heat have arrived this week at The Lair with temperatures ranging from 95 to 105 degrees so far. On days like these I spend more time inside, venturing to the hammock or the porch only in the early mornings or late afternoons. While that results in less reporting on wildlife and the land, I do have something I want to "show and tell" in this, my last update before leaving on my fun trip to San Miguel.

When Bob and Joyce, my cousins from Michigan, came to visit in May, Bob and I usually were the first up in the mornings and we would enjoy watching the land wake up as we rocked in chairs on the porch and enjoyed our morning coffee. During the course of the visit, I talked with him about his work and I found it so interesting, I asked them to send me a summary of what he does. I think you will find this information interesting, especially if like me, you are not around horses very much. Here is their explanation of his work:

"Bob is a Farrier, or one who puts shoes on horses. This is done for the protection of the horses' feet while they work. Many owners and their horses are involved with horse sports and pleasure riding. Most of Bob's customers use their horses for pleasure riding, show jumping and dressage, and combined training, which is jumping, riding cross country and dressage. Dressage is a sophisticated style of English riding on the flat involving special maneuvers at different levels, all the way up to Grand Prix.

Shoes In Forge

Bob shapes the shoe. Note the gas forge in the truck.

Horses require different styles of shoes, depending on their activity, the condition of their feet and other factors. Bob buys ready-made steel shoes from a supplier, but each shoe has to be fit and shaped to each hoof by heating and hammering it.

There are many styles, sizes and weights of shoes. Sometimes clips have to be added and special studs for traction. Sometimes borium is added to the shoes for traction in winter weather and fox hunting (which usually does not involve a fox around here). 

A Farrier also does corrective shoeing for conditions like founder (going lame) and crooked feet. This requires shoes with special adaptations. One of the frequent corrective shoes that Bob makes is the "heart bar shoe" for founder. This puts pressure in a certain area of the hoof to relieve pressure in another part of the hoof until the condition heals.

After shaping the shoe, Bob cools it in a bucket of water. After they are shaped and fitted, the shoes are nailed on, clinched and filed smooth. Sometimes pads and silicone are used for cushioning between the hoof and the shoe.

The nails go into the hoof wall, which is somewhat like grown out fingernails, and the nailing does not hurt. The hooves grow and require trimming and/or shoeing about every six or eight weeks.

Nailing the shoe.

Filing the shoe smooth.

Here is another view of the process showing the toolbox containing nails and various tools and a close-up of nailing on the right:

Sometimes the customers get a bit restless:

Hey! Hurry up, I'm Hungry!

There are other kinds and methods of shoeing especially for gaited horses and race horses."

I hope you have enjoyed this encounter with Bob the Farrier at work. Joyce is responsible for each of the wonderful digital photographs. Until I return from Mexico, (I can't resist) Adios Amigos!

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Last revised: November 26, 2010

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