Have you ever heard it said that hot shoeing is unnecessary, useless, and outdated?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 is required. I’m just saying that with hot shoeing, the options are endless. So technically, the people who mocked hot shoeing by saying it was a reason to charge more might have been right after all.
God Bless America