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Blacksmiths



Whilst the jobs of blacksmiths and farriers were at one time synonymous (with the word “farrier” even deriving from the French term “ferrier”, literally translated to mean “blacksmith”), it is important not to confuse the two terms, as it now only the farrier that specialises in equine hoof care. Indeed, it is illegal for anyone – including ordinary blacksmiths – to carry out work to a horse’s foot if he or she is not a registered farrier.  Hence a blacksmith is a person who simply forges iron or steel to create objects by hammering, cutting or bending the metal in question. Blacksmiths produce such objects as agricultural tools, wrought iron gates, furniture and indeed horseshoes, yet a blacksmith may well go throughout his career without ever coming into contact with a horse.

Nevertheless, all registered farriers will have received training in blacksmithing in order to learn how to make a horse shoe, and blacksmiths themselves frequently still make horseshoes whilst leaving the job of fitting them to the registered farrier. Forging is the primary process used by a blacksmith when manufacturing horseshoes, and begins with the shaping of the metal with a hammer. Using shear blades, the blacksmith will then cut the bar to the length required before placing it in either an induction furnace or gas fired forge in which it is heated to a temperature of approximately 1,260 degrees centigrade. The blacksmith will then mould this softened metal into the shape of a horseshoe by wrapping it around a block of steel. Drop forging is the most common method used by a blacksmith whilst making horseshoes, and involves the bent bar being placed into a die, one half of which is attached to an anvil whilst the other half is attached to a hammer. The blacksmith then transfers the shoe to a punch press in order to create the necessary nails holes (usually amounting to eight), before removing any excess materials with a trim press.

The need to protect the horse’s hoof was recognised as far back as the medieval period. It was in 1751 that a treatise entitled, “No Foot, No Horse” was published, and this saying is till common amongst horse people today. Indeed, the blacksmith’s art of making horseshoes can be traced back as far as the thirteenth century – a time in which they were forged in large quantities and were sold readymade. Nevertheless, the crafts of both the blacksmith and the farrier have developed enormously since then, and horseshoes are now available in a wide variety of styles and materials, each of which are chosen to adapt to the conformation of the horse being shod as well as the type of work that they will be required to perform. Specialised shoes seen today can come in the form of magnesium, copper, rubber, titanium and plastic, but thankfully for the blacksmith, steel and aluminium remain the most popular choice. Due to their lightness, aluminium shoes are becoming common in the world of horse racing, and are also found on some dressage horses to encourage lighter movement. Yet it is steel that is preferred for durability, and it is this type of shoe that still dominates the market; horses used for hacking, eventing, polo, cross country, endurance, team chasing, hunting, western riding, trec, show jumping and jumpcross all benefit from the strength of the steel shoe and thus keep the blacksmith hard at work!

 
And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil’s chime;
Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy bloom
In the forge’s dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.
                                                                                                                Henry Wadsworth Longfelllow, Nuremberg
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Strömsholm
Strömsholm
Welcome to the new Strömsholm web site. Strömsholm is now the UK’s leading Farrier Supply Company, a position achieved through giving excellent service together with distributing...
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