CUSTOM HAND-FORGED HORSE SHOES: WHAT BEST BENEFITS THE HORSE
When I started Mikey D Farrier Service, I made the decision that it was more important to me to focus on quality rather than quantity. So I never use factory-made “keg” shoes — I custom hand-forge every horseshoe I set. What’s the difference between manufactured keg shoes and handmade horseshoes? It’s all about what best benefits the horse. I can best accommodate each individual animal when I hand craft horseshoes. For example, keg shoes, even as they go up into larger sizes, are all the same thickness; hand crafting allows me to make whatever thickness is best for the horse, taking into account size, condition, discipline and workload.
While custom hand-forging takes more time and effort than simply selecting keg shoes from inventory, I try to manage costs for my clients by recycling, re-purposing and re-using the stock from old shoes, whenever possible. And I regularly refurbish and re-set the shoes I’ve previously made for a horse.
I use a lot of European steel, and concave stock that comes from Wales. Much like athletic shoes for humans, concave stock — which few farriers know how to work with — provides more traction and rebound, which is especially helpful to high-performance sport horses and active equine athletes. It’s not the right choice for all horses — some do better with horseshoes made from traditional flat stock.
Throughout history, farriers who handcraft horseshoes have documented over 3,000 different styles, ranging from discipline-specific choices for hunters, jumpers, ropers, reiners, barrel racers, endurance riders and others, to a vast catalogue of therapeutic variations with rocker toes, rolled toes, toe clips and more. The most commonly called for orthopedic horseshoes, bar shoes, heart bar shoes, egg bar shoes, navicular shoes and wedged heel shoes. Special shoes may be prescribed by a veterinarian to treat such conditions as founder, laminitis or a broken coffin bone.
I’ve probably made at least 50 different types of horseshoes. If a vet prescribes a type of shoe with which I am unfamiliar, I can always get assistance from older farriers who are more knowledgeable than myself to build what’s needed.
Take a look at some of the interesting cases I’ve handled...
Learn about hot shoeing...