Importance of Details

Back to shoeing business. I have not been writing much about shoeing for a while. This lack of inspiration happens every winter. I don’t feel my job very rewarding this time a year. I feel it’s mostly just nailing on shoes with studs and snowpads. Snow and cold creates so many extra difficulties that there is not really time and energy to think about lots of anything else than getting the shoes on. And the studs and snowpads anyway ruin a lot you try to do for the horse.

But what I have been concentrating on this winter, is trying to be better in details. Just basic details in basic shoeing work. It started already in the August when I returned from my first visit to Norway. After that I started to train my eye and skills in trimming to get the hoof better levelled. Next was shoe fitting and and finishing. Although I have been shoeing horses many years and my customers have been happy (at least no one has complained me a lot.. :)), yet there is sooo much to improve. The biggest mistake one can make is to think that one knows already enough. That’s a certain downhill. Well, you can put the shoes on, take your money and lose your interest, but it’s certain that the quality of your work will decrease over time. Improve your work or let it go worse, but don’t think it will stay the same.

lyhyt

This is nothing fancy, just a usual job. Concentrating on some details. Hoof trimmed flat and level, hoof shaped and flares taken off, shoe fitted cold. 4 studs and snowpads. Here is a sideclipped shoe, but this shoeing could have been done as well with a toeclip. With toeclip I would just make room for the clip on the toe to get the shoe back enough. You see how much the toe comes outside the shoe, so with the toeclip I need to pay attention to make room enough. The sidewall is a bit cracked due to taking the flare off, but when this horse is shod this way couple of times, the wall will grow down straight and strong.

pitka

Those small details matter to the horse. This is the same horse before. This is an old shoeing, so it may have looked quite ok immediately after shoeing, but you can make it so much better just by paying a little bit more attention. The flares have not been taken off, and the shoe fitting has not been very precise, and that makes a proper nailing difficult. Rasp has been only lightly used on the toe to pretend that there is a place for the clip. But the shoe was still 1cm too much forward and the toe axis is badly broken. The joints and tendons don’t like it. Notice also, that the shoe size is same, but see how much more support there is on the heel on the first pic. The shoe is so much more back.

Very often a couple of changes will make the whole work much better. Usually it’s the shaping of the hoof while trimming, fitting the shoe precisely and… fitting the clips in the hoof to get the shoe to the right place.

Although this looks ugly, I don’t consider this very bad for the horse. Anyway there is almost the same problem as in the photos above. The axis after trimming has been ok, but then the shoe was just nailed on without thinking where it should be, and the benefits of the good trimming are lost. Outside branch of the shoe was also shaped too large and there has been problems with nailing on the flared wall.

uus

I reset the same shoes, but shaped them new before nailing them on. Flares off, and again we’ll get the hoof to grow down straight and strong.

My own shoeings are very far from perfect, also on the pics above can be found those important details that could have been done better. For example the fitting on the last pic. The heel should be a bit more in. Usually I also grind the shoes, but this time my excuse is that I reset the old shoes that were not grinded and I didn’t want to go outside to the freezing weather to my car I had to park far away from the stable because of the snowmass outside the stabledoors. I decided that this time the grinding detail wont do lot’s harm in the big picture. One or two compromise won’t ruin the whole shoeing, but at least I have to remind myself all the time not to make too many excuses! There is no perfect shoeing, but when there are too many excuses, the work isn’t anymore good for the horse.

During this winter I have learned again (yes, again, I have always known it, but it’s so easy for me to forget) how important it is to pay attention to those details. When I started to use 5-10 minutes more time per horse to train my skills in trimming, fitting and finishing, there has been a difference. I can see that my shoeings look better, the hoofs are in better condition and now I start to feel that in fact shoeing has become easier. And soon I can keep up this quality without that extra 5-10 minutes. Then it’s possible to start to concentrate on new details and make it better again.

If you don’t see better shoeing than yours, it’s easy to think that this is ok and good enough. I think that’s the reason for bad quality in most of the cases. If you’ve never seen anything better, you naturally can’t even have the idea that something is wrong. You just think, that the horse has so bad hooves or legs or living conditions or whatever. It has nothing to do with your own work…

Next week I’m traveling to Denmark to the Nordic Championships to compete and train myself. There I can see masters at work and the quality they produce. Competitions and clinics are always a motivation boost that makes me realize how much better I could make.

The spring is coming after the long and cold winter and the trip to the warm Denmark is every year a start to that! (In Denmark it is warm from Finnish point of wiew :)) Next time you’ll get a report from Herning!

Skijoring

Yesterday I tried a new wintersport to me. This sport has fascinated me since childhood and when I got an opportunity to try skijoring on the legendary Finnish event rider Cajus Aminoff’s stable, I was immediately in! The day was exactly as fun as I supposed. What surprised me was how physically demanding it was to be pulled on skis by a horse. A couple of rounds in full gallop and I was thinking already that I will fall down soon, because I simply have no more strength in my legs to keep the balance. And I’m a farrier and should have far stronger legs than an average person.

harjaus

Photo: Miikka Männistö

Strange looking riding boots and helmet :)

When the horses see the harness used in skijoring, they get at least as much excited as the riders and skiers. They know already what is going to happen and they love the sport, too! 

nauru

Photo: Miikka Männistö


First we took a bit easier on trot. The beautiful Finnhorse stallion was pulling me energetic. When I looked the photos it was funny to notice almost only smiling and laughing faces. It was all joy and excitement!

laukka

Photo: Miikka Männistö

Here we come! 

satu

All the six of us were first-timers on skijoring and some of the horses were too, so we had no take-off ramps or that sort of extreme thingies, and there definitely was no need for them this time. A skier has enough to do in curves on an uneven track. Still it was surprisingly easy even for a beginner to follow the horse on skis. This was so much fun for everyone involved, that I can warmly recommend! I at least want to try again. Next time with some jumps or ramps, perhaps?

Aksel Vibe in Finland

I’m happy! We got good news in November. Aksel Vibe was willing to come to Finland give a clinic. Last two days all the action took place and I am more than satisfied of the event. We planned the program the way that it would benefit as many farriers as possible. This was not a specialized clinic for competing farriers only. I was so happy to see many “new faces” to show up. The clinic was full booked in two weeks. We had 14 farriers attending the work, and it was a huge success to see twice as much of other people, farriers and students, to come to follow the clinic.

In two days Aksel could go through amazingly lot of subjects. He gave demonstrations and lectures on shoeing, working efficient, practicing, forging and was advicing people personally on their shoeing and forging. Everyone got for sure something out of it. All the attendees were amazing as well and a big thanks belongs to them. Everyone were concentrating on their work and tried their best. It’s beautiful to see that we had even some attendees quite in the beginning of their career but they weren’t afraid of coming to work under an eye of a crowd of people. That’s the attitude that gives a possibility to go forward. Go and get yourself teaching and advice on regular basis!

Big thanks also to Equine College Ypäjä. Equine College has great facilities to arrange such an event and the personnel was extremly adaptive in arranging horses in shoeing on Thursday when the original schedule started to fail (as it usually always happens in these kind of events :D). The event was made possible also by sponsors: Mustad, Horze and Hevari Oy. Thank you all!

luento

Lecture about the qualities a farrier needs to go forward on career and actually to be a Farrier.

tytto

A demonstration what men should learn from women of efficiency at work. Women are not that strong and so it’s natural for them to handle horses a way that makes horses more willing to cooperate and stay still during the work.

varpaanleikkaus

Explanation why the first cut on the toe with the nippers is important and you should pay attention to it. You have to know already how much you’re going to cut on each side to cut the toe right.

kaviopiirros

Explaining one guideline to know how much to cut the heels.

ykkosnaulat

In nailing the important guideline is to look at the first nails. They should come out symmetrical in every direction compared to the toeclip.

Shoeing going on.

taka2

Because this is my blog, I’ll publish the photo of my own shoeing :D I was happy to receive critics and advice of my work efficiency because now I have again an idea what to practice and think of next. Aksel was very pleased of the shoeings made on Thursday and some of them were really, really good.

kenkakasa

In the evening we got a fun demonstration that gives a lot to think about the importance of forging skills. We were asked to name different conformation- movement- and hoof problems farriers run into all the time. In no time we had named already twelve different problems. Aksel was supposed to modify factory shoes into special shoes that help in each of the problem. The estimated time was one hour for twelve shoes. That means 5 minutes per shoe.

Soon there was going on a lively show of making of clips, extensions, nailholes, rollers, cutting the steel etc. Every shoe was shaped and grinded, so they were in no time ready to be nailed on. Finally Aksel was ready with those twelve shoes already in 45 minutes, so we put some more pressure on him and suggested him a couple of quite crazy ones more :) And he passed! :D

Demonstration showed that if you have been developing your forging skills you can make during your normal work easily in no time lots of therapeutic shoeing and help horses. The importance is to realize that we run into those problems all the time, so we should also be able to handle them.

kenkapiirros

On Friday we continued with forging. Drawing of the symmetrics and important lines of a horseshoe.

alapajanvaki

Making and examining a basic plain stamped shoe.

alapaja

We were 14 farriers forging. Quite a crowd forging in the same room. It was wonderful! Room full of forges, sweating farriers and hot steel!

hitsaus2

Thank You for the wonderful clinic!