Virginia Therapeutic Farriery


A Few Practice Tips

Stephen E. O’Grady, DVM


Recently, I spent a few days working with Joao Paulo Carvalho Cubas in Ocala, FL. Joao is an excellent veterinarian / farrier from Brazil. While working together, I was reminded of a few practice tips that I felt were worth sharing. One practice tip was new, the others I tend to forget about and may be worth describing.

Firstly, many of the barns where farriers work have heavy rubber or synthetic flooring in the aisles and or the wash / grooming stalls where horses are shod. These floors are not compatible with hot shoeing, i.e., if a hot shoe is set on the floor or falls on the floor, it will burn into the surface and leave a defect. A round steel plate (6in in circumference and .5in thick) can be used very effectively here. The round plate is placed on the floor next to the horse and is easily slid over to the foot that is to be hot fitted. With the plate next to the horse…during the process of fitting the shoe, the shoe can be placed on the plate while adjustments are made to the foot (seating clips, rasp uneven areas on the solar surface, etc.). Furthermore, with the firm surface of the plate, an old rasp or hammer can be used to tap the shoe closed which is the usual adjustment needed. This plate will surely save many trips back and forth to the anvil and preserve the floor (Figure 1).

Fig.1 Round steel plate that is used to place the hot shoe on while making changes to the foot and to make minor adjustments to the shoe with a hammer or a rasp.


Secondly, during my career, I have always required a well-lighted area to work. Often, I would turn the horse around facing outside, so I had direct light on the foot. Many of the barns where farriers work is dark, the lighting is not good, and the grooming/wash stalls are dark especially with the black flooring or mats. Veterinarians have used head lamps for years when performing dentistry or suturing a wound, but their use does not appear to be widely used in farriery. The head lamp is easily adjustable to focus on the foot, markedly increases the visuals while trimming the foot and or applying the shoe while leaving the hand free to work (Figure 2).

Fig. 2. Farrier using a head lamp in a dark wash stall. Goforwild® is the brand of headlamp being used here.


Thirdly, years ago I was in Italy getting ready to give a demonstration on applying the wooden shoe. My friend Dr. Hans Castelijns told me I had to wear gloves for the video. I told him I don’t wear gloves and he said, when you are in Europe, you wear gloves…I was hooked! Gloves are professional, they offer protection, and they decrease physical trauma to farriers’ hands. Gloves not only protect the hands from wounds that often occur while performing farriery; they also create an interface (think about putting a pad under a shoe) between the tool being used and the hand which decreases the repetitive impact (trauma) on the farriers’ hands while forging, nailing shoes, etc. Wearing gloves may also give one a sense of professionalism as your hands are always clean. The only thing in farriery I can’t do with gloves is to take the horses’ pulse at the foot (Figure 3).

Fig. 3 There are many brands of gloves but the Uline® pictured here are the ones I prefer


Finally, everyone loves beauty in a picture and it’s even better when a picture reflects and enhances that beauty! This is Sofia Rosales at Caliburn Farm in Ocala, FL