Have you ever heard it said that hot shoeing is unnecessary, useless, and outdated? Some have asked, “Why make or modify a shoe when you can buy anything you need?” I grew up ranching in South Dakota, and I was taught that hot shoeing is totally unnecessary and only a reason to charge more money. I agree 100% that you can do a good job cold shoeing a horse. With that said, there are a lot more benefits to working with a forge. Hot steel is simply easier to manipulate when it’s hot than when it’s cold. It’s also easier for your farrier to do a good job. It’s possible for a talented blacksmith to make just about anything in a forge, with the right tools. Many shoe modifications can be done quickly and efficiently, including clips, rocker toes, extended heels, trailers, medial or lateral support, bar shoes, etc. When horseshoes are hot fit, they make a perfect fit between hoof and a shoe. No matter how good you have it cold, it can always be better. Hot fitting will sear the foot, sealing any moisture and killing bacteria. On the flip side, you can’t do those modifications with cold shoeing. You can, however, buy them premade. The amount of inventory needed to have everything you need would be enormous, not to mention the unnecessary money and space. I started off shoeing cold, and for several years, if a horse really needed something special I would order it. 99% of the time, a horse could have benefited from a modification he didn’t get, due to the inconvenience of ordering it and then going back to the horse to apply it. I also bought a forge and didn’t use it for at least a year. My only reason for buying it was just to say I had a forge, because people would ask if I had one. Add that to the list of things I’ve said that I’d like to have back. Throughout the process of becoming a Certified Journeyman Farrier in the AFA, I’ve learned that nothing could be further from the truth of using a forge to trick people into charging them more. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the very best farriers in the world. The common denominator is that every outstanding farrier that I have met, known, or heard of uses a forge. An exception should be made for racetrack farriers, due to the use of mainly aluminum shoes. I’m not saying you can’t do a good job shoeing a horse cold, as I still use that method when only minor shaping [...]
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By Lee Olsen Who’s got a miniature pony? Everybody needs at least one. They can be a lot of fun to have around for young kids, serve as a companion pony, or even as a cute pasture ornament. As much fun as ponies can be, they require a certain amount of special care. As you might have guessed, hoof care tops the list. Where problems can arise is when you look at their feet and decide that they don’t look that long. It's easy to do when you’re used to looking at full-grown horse. You have to keep in mind that the full-grown horse is 5-6 times bigger, and likewise, the pony’s feet are going to be 5-6 times smaller. They still have all the things going on in their feet as the big horses do, so regular maintenance will be required. When you do have someone trim your pony, please do not ask if they are cheaper to trim. They are cute and cuddly, but most of the time it's hard to work on their feet. Due to their size, it usually involves crawling around on the ground. They’re typically not great to do, and if they pull their feet you can easily shave off a knuckle with your rasp. Another problem is that they don’t require as much feed as a standard-sized horse. Overeating is very common in ponies, which will cause them to founder, otherwise known as a Laminitic episode. It causes the laminae in the hoof to weaken, allowing the coffin bone to sink and/or rotate. Once a Laminitic episode happens, the condition is degenerative, meaning you will always have an issue with lameness. Practically speaking, they’ll start growing feet that look more like elf shoes than hooves, or they may even start to curl up in extreme situations. It's best not to ever get into that position at all. Be careful of feeding them like a normal horse; they only require a fraction of the normal ration. So, if you have a lush, beautiful pasture you keep them turned out on, there is a very high chance that during the time of the year when the grass is most potent, they will be lame. That will be because they’re having a Laminitic episode. Also if you’re keeping the pony with other horses that get grain and alfalfa, you can bet those ponies are sneaky enough to eat all they want. For all those with ponies, I encourage you to keep its diet regulated and trim its feet often. God Bless America Lee Olsen This article was first published in the Dally Times- The Magazine for Team [...]
Over the week of June 18, 2018, two Olsen Equine clinics were held in Dupree, SD. Eighteen participants from as far away as Hardin, MT and Hazen, ND, and from nearby Dupree and Eagle Butte, SD. Throughout the clinics, participants learned about and practiced trimming, shoeing and blacksmithing. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation offered scholarships for several of the students to attend. This marks the third year that Lee Olsen offered his clinic in Dupree, where he grew up. Lee Olsen, American Farrier Association Certified Journeyman Farrier, says he enjoys getting to share his what he’s learned to help others. The West River Eagle, Dupree’s local newspaper, remarked, “The reason Olsen comes back to Dupree is to share his craft with other people who want to invest in a career that can show a quicker return on the investment than a college degree for anyone who is willing to approach the craft with the idea that there is always something new to learn.” Lee hopes to continue the annual shoeing clinic in Dupree, and possibly even adding another clinic later this summer. If you’d like to hear more about upcoming clinics, please contact Lee. “This is one of the best experienced I had. I would like to comb back again and would recommend to anyone who wanted to learn to be a farrier.” “Great clinic. I feel when I leave here I will able to comfortably trim my own horses, which was my goal coming in.” “Thank you for being so helpful when a guy struggles. Showing me what I’m doing wrong and letting me fix it.” Got questions about equine hoof care? Join Lee's Facebook group, "Ask the Farrier," and be part of the iron-sharpening discussions. Upcoming Hoof Care Clinic
By Lee Olsen Have you ever noticed all the problems and issues that today’s horses seem to have with lower leg injuries? I’ve seen a growing number of horses experience these types of injuries. I’ll admit that we do ask a lot of our horses, and that accidents and bad shoeing incidents do happen. But it might be worth considering the possibility that we’re breeding them that way.Have you ever seen a wild mustang’s feet before? They’re typically not just good, they are great! Why is that? They haven’t received any hoof care other than wearing their own feet off. My theory is that’s because every single mustang that had bad feet died. There’s likely not a single one left in the gene pool with bad feet or lameness tendencies.Seems to be pretty much the opposite now. What’s the first thing someone does when they have a nice mare that can’t compete anymore? Of course, they’re going to breed her. I don’t blame anyone at all; I would, too, as that’s a big perk of owning a mare. Taking a chance that whatever crippled your mare won’t happen to baby, versus getting a replica of your pride and joy seems worth the risk. With that said, I believe it affects the entire industry as whole.What about if it was an injury that took your mare out of competition. Could it be that her conformation had something to do with it? Ruptured deep flexor tendon maybe? Did she have long pasterns? Long toes and under run feet often go with long pasterns, which put more stress on the deep flexor tendon. What about a hock problem? Did she have straight hind legs, or was she sickle hocked or cow hocked? Those will put more stress on the hocks. Veterinarians and farriers have both made lots of advances that allow us to keep horses competing at high levels, while earlier in history they may have been side lined or retired. I can’t help but think about all the horses that came along 20-30 years ago that could have been world class athletes, but just never got their shot due to unsustainable injuries. Here’s another thought. I know several people that talk about great horses from back then; NFR type horses that never once had a joint injection, specialty shoeing, dental work, etc. I wonder if back then we knowingly or unknowingly bred for great conformation and soundness. Or did we breed for toughness? Food for thought. God Bless America This article was first published in the Dally Times- The Magazine for Team Ropers. Got questions about equine hoof care? Join Lee's [...]