Farrier’s Tool Roll
by Pete Cecil of Bend, OR
A set of farrier’s tools is a must on almost any farm that employs horses and mules. If you do your own barefoot trims or set your own shoes, you probably keep your tools in a traditional farrier’s box set up for ready use. However, if you’re like me and you hire a farrier every six to ten weeks to work on your equine’s feet, you should still have a basic set of tools on hand to address the occasional emergency, such as a loose shoe or chipped foot. A farrier’s tool roll is a convenient way to store tools that aren’t used every day.
I made my own tool roll out of heavy canvas, but they can easily be found online or at a farrier’s supply store. A quick online search showed they currently retail for somewhere between $25.00 and $75.00. Making your own tool rolls means you can customize the design for your particular needs. I found the sewing to be pretty straightforward for someone like myself with basic sewing skills.
Although I keep a hoof pick, rasp, and set of nippers hanging in a convenient spot on the wall of my barn, unfortunately these tools occasionally get misplaced. I’ve found it useful to keep a full set of tools in a farrier’s tool roll on a shelf in the barn dedicated for that purpose. A set of tools in a second roll is stored in my horse trailer. This means my tools will be available at home or when I’m away on a job site or trail riding.
While I keep my mules barefoot, I still include a few shoeing tools in my kit, such as a shoe puller, a hammer, and an assortment of nails. This has come in handy when friends have been over and needed to reset or pull a loose shoe. This is especially true with the set I keep in my horse trailer.
From my experience a “complete” farrier’s roll would include: nippers, a rasp, a hoof pick, a hoof knife, shoe pullers, a nail clincher, a hammer, a nail set, and an assortment of nails. Be sure to talk with your farrier to determine what other tools you might need for your situation. Your farrier may also help you locate a good set of used tools that would be perfect for occasional use. I keep my farrier’s number in my emergency phone list, I also have it clearly posted in my barn.
The tools that you use and keep on hand will also depend to some extent on your comfort level and experience. If my mule’s feet develop a chip or crack, I’ll often ease the edges to reduce the chance of the damaged area getting bigger until my farrier can deal with it. It’s important to have a conversation with your farrier about what things you should and more importantly should not do before you invite them out.
Cleaning and inspecting your animal’s feet on a regular basis means they will become accustomed to standing still on three feet, and giving up a foot for inspection or treatment. Both your farrier and your animals will appreciate this repetition and training. It will also mean that you’ll be better prepared when you find yourself having to deal with a hoof issue when your farrier is not readily available.
A great shoeing reference is the United States War Department Technical Manual titled The Horseshoer or The Cavalry Horseshoers Technical Manual (TM 2-220, formerly TM 2140-15). This manual was first published for the horse artillery and cavalry prior to World War One, and was updated numerous times through 1941. It is concise and easily understood, and forms the basis of most texts used in farrier schools today. The 128-page manual contains chapters on anatomy, tools, fundamentals of shoeing, care of the foot, field expedients, with practical suggestions and many clear photographs and illustrations. This volume is practical, straightforward, and timeless and should be included in every horseman’s reference library. Reprints are still readily available as a free online download, or from ebay, Amazon, etc.