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Wide-webbed or Surface Shoes are used with flatfooted, weak-soled horses : leather being often introduced above them to save the soles from being damaged by extraneous substances on the road. Put on with the ordinary shoe, it is said to lessen the jar of the tread. : High-heeled Shoes, when a horse is laid up, properly managed, prove a most effectual palliation and aid in the cure of “clap of the back sinew” (page 143).
These shoes are made with calkins (joined by a light iron bar), which should not be heavy, not more than an inch deep, and gradually reduced by the smith as the disease abates.
Steeling the Toes is necessary with quick wearers on the road ; but particular cautions should be given to the smith to work the steel well into the iron, for any protrusion of this hard metal above the iron will occasion tripping, and possibly an irrecoverable fall.
Calking the hind shoes moderately on the outside quarter only, is most essential to the hunter to prevent slipping, and to give him confidence in going at his fences, and on landing. Its advantages can be well understood by any sportsman who has experienced the difference between walking himself a day's simple shooting over soft slippery ground, or taking a tenmile walk on a half-wet road, in each case in boots with headed nails, to enable him to have a hold in the ground, and undertaking the same exercises in boots without nails, where one wearies himself with efforts to keep his feet.
I speak as a practical man, having probably come to less grief than most others in hunting, which may be attributed mainly to the particular attention bestowed on the calking of my bearers when I was a hard goer. It seems an unimportant matter, but if looked into will be found to be far otherwise.
Tips, or half-shoes, which cover little more than the toe of a horse, leaving the heels to come in direct contact with the ground, are particularly serviceable in cases where the heels are disposed to contraction, and, from my experience, can be used without injury in any ordinary description of work while the frog is sound.
The quarters of the feet being left by their use without the usual confinement of the shoe, and being pressed to expansion on every movement of the animal, naturally become strong and extended. Tips should become gradually thinner, finishing in a fine edge towards the ends. I have seen ill-made tips calculated to lame any horse, with the ends the thickness of an ordinary shoe (though extending, which is the intention of tips, less than half-way down the foot), as if the smith who made them expected the heels to remain always suspended in mid air.
Slippers.—Regular sportsmen generally carry a spare shoe while hunting; but if a shoe comes off one of the fore feet in the field or on the road, and the rider is not provided with a proper shoe, he should at once dismount and lead his bearer to the nearest forge, where an old shoe most approaching to the size of the foot that can possibly be found should be selected from the heap of cast ones that generally lies by in a forge, and let it be tacked on with three or four nails only, so as to serve the creature to get home, or until the proper shoe can be made.
If a shoe comes off the hind foot, and the distance from home is not above three or four miles, the animal can be led or occasionally ridden that far without in
jury, especially if the softest side of the road be selected for the track, the hind feet being generally much stronger than the fore.
Travelling. The day before a long journey, look to your horse's shoes ; see that the clinches are well laid down and the shoes nailed tightly. As a rule, do not have new shoes put on just before a journey, for the least carelessness in fitting or nailing them may occasion more or less lameness ; should it be severe, disappointment and delay may result ; while if only apparently slight at starting, and the animal endure the pain patiently during its work, the cause being in existence throughout will produce its effects only too palpably when the day's journey is over. If old shoes are nearly worn, but will last the journey, let them by all means remain on; but directly the work is over, send for any proper smith whose forge is nearest, and have them taken off in the stable. Should the forge not be at hand, the old slippers can of course be tacked on when the horse, having had its rest, is taken to be shod. All shoes, for road-work especially, should be made full long to cover the heels. It should be borne in mind that, as the hoof grows naturally, the shoe is brought forward and thereby exposes the heels.
In all cases where active vice, such as rearing, kicking, jibbing, plunging, has to be combated, the work of correction is half done if the horse is well tired in the first instance, or, in vulgar terms, “ the fiery edge taken off him,” by half an hour's rapid loungeing, with his neck well bent, chin into chest, on the softest and most tiring ground that is available. For myself, if I find a horse vicious, I never think of combating him if it can be helped, without having first reduced his vigour a little ; and all horsemen who undertake to conquer any seriously bad habits are recommended to consider and adopt this practice, if indeed such is not already their custom.
Kicking, to the horseman, is a matter of very trifling consideration. He may either amuse himself by letting the ebullition expend itself, or it may be stopped by chucking up the horse's head and increasing the pace.
Kicking in Harness is a different affair, being generally the prelude to disaster, and must be guarded against. - See page 58.
Kicking in the Stable.—Many animals, most gentle in other respects, take inordinate fits of this practice, and generally in the dead of night, as if to make up for their usual quietude on all other occasions ; most frequently they resort to the amusement without any apparent cause of irritation whatever. They will do it when alone or when in company; while, were it not for the capped hock and otherwise disfigured legs, as well as the dilapidated stabling behind them, discovered in the morning, you would think that “butter wouldn't melt in their mouths." In other cases the habit proceeds from obvious bad temper or spite towards a neighbour. There are many cures proposed for kicking in the stable. One frequently successful is a round log of wood, four or five inches long and about two in diameter, with a staple at one end of it, through which a chain two or three inches long is passed and attached to a strap that buckles round the pastern (just above the coronet) of one hind leg, or a log in this way to each hind leg may be used if necessary. Another means is to pad all parts of the stable that can be reached by the hind feet. In many instances where this plan is adopted, the animal, no longer hearing any noise suggesting to his fancy resistance from behind, will cease kicking altogether, from no other explainable cause. For padding use some pads of hay or oaten straw, covered with coarse canvass, and nailed to all places within reach of his heels. Sometimes, where the habit is supposed to arise from spite towards a neighbour, a change of location will answer. In other cases nothing but arming all parts of the stable within reach with furze bushes, or other prickly repellants, will succeed.
It will be well, in treating this vice, to try the remedies here recommended in rotation ; first with the otherwise quiet horse try the log, then the padding, the change of location, and the prickly armour in succession. It is a remarkable fact that horses seldom kick in the stable during daylight; leaving a light in the stable through the night may therefore effect a cure where all else has failed ; but as light interferes with sleep, it should be the very last resource.
Rearing is of little consequence in harness, and seldom attempted to any extent; but to the rider it is, in my opinion, the most dangerous of all bad habits to which a brute may be addicted. As I consider it almost impossible for a horseman to cure a practised rearer, my advice to the owner of such a beast would be, instead of risking his life in the endeavour, to get rid of him to some buyer, who will place him where, in the penal servitude of harness, he may perhaps eke
rearerst impossible to be addicted of all bad"