As a savvy retail therapist I like to think I know a thing or two about shoes. According to my husband I have enough of them. Women wear them to give us height, accentuate our calves and make us feel sexy. There are practical uses like good grip or having shoes contoured specifically for our feet. But did you know that these features also apply to horseshoes?
After catching up with my friends Ray & Amber of McLaughlin Clydesdales today, they took me out to the barns and spoiled me. I don’t get to play with horses as often as I would like so they know it’s a real treat for me. As I supervised their chores (I promised I would put the camera down on my next visit and actually help) I also bonded with some of the boys. And by bonded I mean I was used as their personal scratching post.
Once the stalls were cleaned and horses fed, Luke & Russ were put to work. For the first time since the end of the fall fair season, the boys were hitched. Luke is a seasoned veteran while Russ is still on the green side. And yes, I am regurgitating this information verbatim. Clearly this city-country-girl-at-heart has some learning to do.
After our Sunday drive Ray said something about the frog under Russ’ foot. I stood there with a dazed look on my face and responded with “wha?” And that’s when my shoeing lesson started.
Ray explained that most horses need shoeing, which protects their hooves and toes. The feet of work horses – whether used for farming or exhibiting – tend to wear down faster than they can grow. Some horseshoes are designed to raise a horse’s heel so they will be more animated in their gait; others are layered to make the hoof look bigger when being judged. Shoes also provide traction in different terrains.
After that lesson he showed me the frog. It’s a rubbery triangular shaped structure that always points to the front of the foot. Basically it’s the Dr. Scholl’s for horses, absorbing shock. Then I learned that the frog also breaks away as he peeled pieces off. It was in this moment that I gagged and my shoeing lesson ended.
I took to the interwebs tonight to continue to learn about shoeing. Wikipedia told me: “Shoes are attached on the palmar surface of the hooves, usually nailed through the insensitive hoof wall that is anatomically akin to the human toenail, though much larger and thicker. However, there are many cases where shoes are glued.”
There are 260 days until the World Clydesdale Show this September in London, ON. I’ll be ready for my test by then. Hopefully I’ll have a horseshoe hidden somewhere too. Oh, stop your booing and hissing. The pun was intended.0