The safest guide to the proper amount of seating is to apply the shoe to the foot, and observe whether there is room for a picker to pass freely between the shoe and the sole ; if there should not be sufficient space for a free passage all around the shoe, the seating must be increased; and if there should be more than is necessary, it must be diminished. The smith, having carefully prepared the foot, and selected a shoe with a proper amount of seating for it, has next to cut off the heels, and fit the shoe. tv the foot ; and he must always bear in mind that fitting the shoe to the foot does not mean fitting the foot to the shoe —an error that smiths are prone to fall into. Having cut off the heels and opened the nail-holes, the next thing to be done is to turn up a clip at the toe, preparatory to fitting the shoe to the foot, which latter operation should always be commenced at the front of the foot, and be gradually and carefully carried back to the quarters and heels. Every shoe should have a clip at the toe, to prevent the shoe being driven back on the foot, and bending the nails in the cru"t. But I strongly object to the clip which I often see tnrned up on the outside of a shoe, which is not only useless, but destroys more horn than two or three nails would do. Fitting the heels will call for a little extra care at first, as it involves the abandonment of some deep-rooted prejudices and groundless fears. First, the prejudice in favor of square heels projecting beyond the hoof, both behind and at the sides, must be yielded; and the fear lest the smallest portion of the shoe should happen to touch the frog must be given up, before anything like accurate fitting can be obtained. The edge of the shoe must be made to correspond with the edge of the hoof all around, from heel to heel, and to do this effectually, and keep the web of the shoe as wide at the heels as it is at the toe, the heels must be brought in until they very nearly touch the frog. I would not have them bear on the frog, but I would rather see them touch' it than be able to lay my finger between the frog and the, shoe. There are many advantages attending the bringing in of the heels, and not one single disadvantage to set against them. In the first place, it removes all the points and projections by which stiff ground is enabled to pull off the shoe ; in the next place, it affords a good, firm, flat surface for the heels of the hoof to rest upon, and, by bringing the sides of the shoe nearer together, the navicular joint, which lies in the hoof above the frog, and about an inch from its point, is saved from many an unlucky jar from a stone in the road, by the shoe receiving it instead of the frog. The inner quarter is not only straighter and more upright than the outer quarter, but the crust is thinner and more elastic, and consequently expands in a greater degree to the horse's weight. But when we talk of the hoof being elastic and the foot expanding, we would by no means have it inferred that they bear any relation to the elasticity or expansion of india rubber ; if they did, the bones of the foot would be thrust through the hoof during violent action, or in a down leap. The elasticity and expansion nre small in degree, scarcely exceeding the eighth of an inch in the feet of most horses, that have been several times shod, but they are most important in their consequences, by affording exactly the amount of enlargement of the cavity necessary for the descent of the bones of the foot, without squeezing the sensitive parts which line the hoof. A large number of flat-footed horses cannot go safely at any time without some protection over the sole, and all horses would be benefited by it when the roads are strewed with loose stones; but it is a mistake to suppose that leather, or any substitute for it, insertefl between the shoe and foot, calls for a greater amount of fastening than five nails; they will retain a shoe, with leather under it, as firmly as if the leather were not there. All that is required is, to make the leather fit the shoe as accurately as I desire the shoe to fit the foot, and that no projecting portions be left either behind or at the sides of the heels; and instead of the leather being cut square at the heels, I would have it slightly arched inwards from heel to heel. It is necessary, however, to prepare the foot before the leather is put on, and the best way of doing it is to smear the whole lower snrface of the foot and frogwith common tar; gas-tar must be especially avoided, as it dries and hardens the horJ;; instead of keeping it moist and pro-mting its growth, as common tar does; then the hollow on each side, between the frog ar.l the crust, from the point of the frog back to the heels, should be filled with oakum dipped in tar, and pressed down until the mass rises somewhat above the level of the frog on each side, and gives it the appearance of being sunk in a hollow. A small portion of oakum may be spread over the sole in front of the frog, but none must be put on the frog itself, excepting the bit in the cleft, which is necessary to prevent dirt working in from behind. The best way of dealing with this bit is to pull some oakum out straight, twist it once or twice, fold it in the center, then dip it in tar and pres it into the cleft, and carry the straggling epds across the frog, to mix with the mass on the side of it. Oakum is a much better material for stopping the feet than tow. The hind foot is differently formed from the fore foot, and requires to be differently shod ; nevertheless, the same principle of fitting the shoe to the foot, whatever its shape may be, bringing in the heels close to the frog, and placing the nail holes so as to permit the inner quarter and heel to expand, applies with equal force to the hind as it does to the fO,re shoes.
This article was originally published with the title "Horseshoeing" in Scientific American 13, 44, 349-350 (July 1858)