Thursday, January 15, 2009

The World Is Flat? The Hoof Is Round? Horseshoe Designs Cover Both Extremes

I call this the "banana moon" shoe. Another great photo by Loic Entwistle from Germany.

Or is it that the world is round and the hoof is flat? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

Here in America, we have banana shoes and Dr. Ric Redden's rock-and-roll shoes, but here's a really rocking, all-belly laminitis shoe borrowed from the archive of German farrier Loic Entwistle, whose collection of photos never fails to fascinate me.

I don't know anything about this case and there is no photo of the bottom of the foot. But it started me thinking.

In my part of the world, we have special shoes called "bog shoes", or "marsh shoes". Not so long ago, horses had to be able to travel over the salt marshes, because that's where the hay was. In the early colonial times around here, the only open fields were the marshes. So the horses were fitted with big flat platform shoes so they wouldn't sink.

This old illustration is actually from Holland, where they probably perfected the bog shoe centuries before the Pilgrims made it to Plymouth. This image bothers me because I am so distracted by the horses' shoes that I don't question the rest of the scene. Can someone tell me why the wheels of the wagon wouldn't just sink up to the hubs?

These days, great minds in farriery tinker with the bottom of a horse's foot like it's meant to be a radius; Loic's shoe doesn't have a belly point like a Danny Dunson banana shoe--it's all belly.

Some days you want the world to be flat, some days you want it to be round.

An antique store near the Hoofcare & Lameness office has a collection of bog shoes; no two are alike and there must be 100 of them hanging from the rafters. It is appropriately called Salt Marsh Antiques. And they're not for sale, although I did borrow the collection once for an exhibit. The proprietor even has a salesman's catalog for readymade bog shoes like this very heavy steel plate. Most are wooden and look like thrifty yankee farmers made them out of barn boards. They resemble the Dutch shoes in this old print. I think this one is from Michael Wildenstein's collection. Most people who go to see the antique store's shoe collection leave with a new table or some old tools. Note: the toe is at the bottom of this photo, I think.

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