Last year I spent time with a cold shoe farrier and was reminded of the benefits of this method of shoeing horses. Earlier this month I was able to balance the story in my own head a little when I spent some time with Somerset based hot shoe specialist – Kris Parsons.
Kris, a farrier for nearly 20 years, has played a wonderful role on a number of occasions by working with and helping working horses in Africa by providing hoof care and by supporting and educating the owners of these animals through vital workshops. Kris is also the man behind the scenes organising the hugely popular, and crowd pleasing, Farrier contests at Devon County Show. So who better to discuss the benefits of hot shoeing than Kris!
Over the years the vast majority of the farriers I’ve used have preferred the hot shoeing method and I have fantastic memories of my first farrier (Bryan) who had his forge in the middle of a busy market town in Bedfordshire. We used to ride our ponies through the centre of the town to get to his delightful, if somewhat ramshackle old building, to stand and patiently watch Bryan get to work. I still have a water colour of that forge with me as a teenager holding my dun Connemara pony in the barn waiting. He was older than I cared to think about, but he was gentle and clever with the need of the ponies feet as he’d grown up as a lad shoeing true farm workhorses. This is also where I first learnt my love of the smell of burning hoof…
Yes, I know, I did just say that.
I really do love the smell and it’s usually the response I give when someone asks “What’s your favourite smell”.
To be honest though, it’s probably more the memories it evokes really…
Anyway, patiently waiting with Kris was my model, a lovely near black Shire cross gelding, ready for his next set of shoes.
The benefits of hot shoeing are deemed numerous. Naturally the hot metal is much easier to work and manipulate therefore it creates a more accurate fit. There’s also the firm belief that you can achieve a more level foot in this way. There’s far more points to put forward for this style of farriery so I suggest you have a good long chat with a trusted and certified farrier before coming to any conclusions.
However, whether you believe hot shoeing is right for you and your horse what I can confirm is that from a photography aspect there are additional aspects of shoeing in this way that make for really dramatic shots. Yep, fire and smoke… what a wonderful combination, if not some what dangerous at first thought when there’s half a ton of live animal standing close by!
So yes, as if thwacking a hammer into your own thumb/finger/thigh thanks to a horse that pulls away isn’t enough (along side general farrier delights of back/knee/neck/shoulder pain) you now have to deal with a piece of highly heated metal wedged on a metal rod that will singe your nose hair with half a glance or leave you with some fairly interesting bodily scorch marks to discuss with apprentices and Grandchildren for decades to come…
Thankfully the skills of a decent farrier like Kris ensure that the risks are minimal and actually most horses really don’t bother either, so it was just down to me to capture the story of shoeing once more, this time with added fire and smoke….
Enormous thanks to Kris for letting me interrupt his Friday afternoon.
Have a fabulous week ahead!