Handmade Shoes (UK) Ltd Clinic
The second of two clinics this year, the Handmade Shoes (UK) Ltd autumn clinic was held at a new venue at the Handmade Shoes premises at Pitstone Green Business Park, Leighton Buzzard. Welcomed by their hosts, Billy and Lucy Crothers, 180 farriers and apprentices were introduced to their guest clinicians for the day – David Wilson Snr and Jim Ferrie.
David Wilson, FWCF – ‘A Life of Horseshoeing’
At 71 years of age and still shoeing horses David Wilson is enjoying a long and distinguished career with an enviable number of accolades to his cv. Highly regarded throughout the farriery world, David has judged the prestigious World Championships at Calgary Stampede no less than four times, himself becoming the World Champion in 1985. In 1983 he was presented with the British Empire Medal for services to farriery and in 1995 he was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in Kentucky.
Starting out as an agricultural engineer provided an essential grounding and as a blacksmith learnt to make everything from scratch with maximum efficiency and minimum waste. In a time when pleasure horses were few and far between demand dictated that blacksmithing abilities were of paramount importance. Describing making horseshoes as ‘just something I loved doing’ David took part in his first farrier competition in 1956.
The early part of David’s lecture witnessed him shoeing a 5 year old eventer. Citing ‘keeping it simple’ as his main shoeing philosophy, David endorses shoeing ‘safely’. Not a believer in taking away good sole, the foot is trimmed and measured straight from heel to toe with the aim of shoeing for six weeks with ‘a bit of length and a bit of width’. Demonstrating an adaptable stance around the anvil and a rhythmic, efficient hammer action it is apparent that David’s forging ability is extremely natural.
With a preference for coke or coal fires, David stresses the importance of moving steel at the correct heat. Not one for ‘fancy contraptions’, if there was one thing that is available now that he would have liked to have had when he began his career it would have been “ready made shoes, although I think they are called handmade now...!” Any craftsman is well aware of the importance of looking after his tools and David’s are a fine example of just that - his hammer, purchased in 1962, is still going strong.
Renowned for his draft shoemaking ability the second part of David’s demonstration included the making of two draft shoes. Assisted by a striker – his grandson Josh, the 8th generation of Wilson farriers – the shoes were completed to an exceptional standard with remarkable ease. With draft shoemaking a specialism is it hardly surprising that David has won no less than 13 gold medals at the Royal Highland Show!
Jim Ferrie, FWCF – ‘Shoeing around the coffin joint’ and ‘Hindlimb Lameness’
With 39 years in the farriery business, Jim Ferrie presents a wealth of experience resulting in shoeing theories based upon sound scientific knowledge. Inducted into the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame in 2003 in recognition of Distinguished Accomplishments, Achievements and Contribution in advancing the Farrier Industry, Jim is a Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers and an appointed Examiner and Approved Judge of the Company.
Jim is a highly regarded clinician regularly lecturing and giving forging demonstrations worldwide. In the first of a two-part lecture Jim provided an informative insight into the mechanics of the coffin joint and the pressures placed upon it.
The coffin or ‘distal joint’ is a buzzword amongst farriers, veterinarians and horse owners - 60% of the horses weight falls on the front limbs and it is therefore hardly surprising that it is a common area of problems for the horse. Jim stresses that it is fundamental to keep the hoof balanced around the coffin joint and to create a circle around the joint – trim to it and shoe to it.
Jim describes the horse’s leg as a pendulum – the need to think about what is happening from above to understand changes from ‘natural’ movement seen in the foot fall below. Stating watching every horse when it moves and trimming to what you have seen each foot do when it hits the ground as essential, Jim also noted that horses generally spend very little time on a flat surface when you consider time in the stable, field and arena.
The second half of the lecture examined the complexities of hind limb lameness. When viewed from behind a horse’s foot will naturally point slightly outwards – if they didn’t they would strike into the front feet in movement (therefore lateral shoe wear on the hind shoe is deemed natural). Jim emphasises the importance of picking up the hind limb and allowing it to hang freely when evaluating its needs for trimming. Looking twice or three times will ensure the eye has correctly understood the limb.
A closer examination of the problems associated with the hind limb followed - Jim’s lecture depicted an amazing selection of shoes made by him utilised in an array of case studies designed to promote and assist foot flight and break-over. The various merits of each were discussed and evaluated and the audience gained an insight into the shoeing theories endorsed by Jim.
In addition to the lecture and demonstration provided by Jim and David, attendees also had the opportunity to watch a knife sharpening demonstration by Huw Dyer AWCF, speak to Andrew Poynton FWCF regarding the range of Imprint Shoes and watch a demonstration film from the soon to be launched KnowFootKnowHorse.com courtesy of Brian Saunders AWCF and Darren Bazin AWCF.
To complete an impressive showcase of products distributed by Handmade Shoes and a chance to exchange views and socialise with colleagues. This clinic provided an informative and well-balanced day to all who attended.