Roland’s nags and nails: appropriate attire and blaming your tools

  • This blog is sponsored by the PRO FEET range of hoof care products from NAF

    My, it’s been hot weather for farriery this week, but I’m resisting the singlet t-shirt — you know the one that shows off your guns and shoulders. It’s very tempting but I’ve decided it’s a young man’s item — I’m far too old for such skimpy attire, so I’ll stick to the more befitting polo-shirt. How long I can resist for I don’t know but, if the weather gets any hotter, then I might have to succumb.

    The photo shows some of my labours this week. I’m finally beginning to appreciate the intricate art of shoe-making. I’m now producing as many shoes that can be nailed on, as shoes that cannot, which must be some kind of progress!

    On the face of it, a horseshoe looks a fairly straight forward item but it’s actually very involved, with minute attention to detail required to produce all the right qualities. Forging the heels of the shoe seems to rob steel from another part of the shoe which, if you don’t rectify, leaves a hollow in the bearing surface. Maintaining the thickness of the steel as the shape is formed is another very tricky aspect and not being absolutely level is criminal.

    The number of times I’ve admired my latest creation, only to find the nails don’t fit or they are sloping at the wrong angle, or the inside branch of the shoe is not properly chamfered etc ,etc. There are so many aspects to producing a quality shoe that even really good farriers will always say that they never stop trying to master it.

    Furthermore, the tools used for making nail holes (a stamp and pritchel) seem to always need repairing as I bludgeon them against the anvil. I then need to spend an inordinate amount of time repairing them, which involves heating them up and forging them back into shape. And they never seem to return to their proper dimensions. I’m sure a bad workman blames his tools, but I do blame my tools. Don’t they know I’m new to all this and why can’t they withstand my amateur use? In my opinion, a trainee workman has every right to blame his tools!

    Finally, all this hammering is improving my fitness and strength and I’m even prepared to say that I might have a bicep developing as well. And just in case I do end up wearing a singlet (and you can never say never) I will, at least, have one gun to show off. That perhaps means I should start working on the other arm. Well, I wouldn’t want to look lopsided in my singlet, would I?

    Until next week



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