Horseshoeing Part 1A

A Text-Book of


Part 1A

by A. Lungwitz and John W. Adams, copyright 1897

This is the first part in what will be a complete reprint of Lungwitz & Adams’ important ‘Textbook of Horse-Shoeing’ originally written in the 1880’s and containing some remarkably modern information. This volume goes into the greatest detail on the subject and with a intelligent clarity that belies how old it is. Coming as it did at end of the first horse era, and well before anyone might have reasonably predicted the advent of the automobile and tractor, it is apparent how important the equine was to the whole of society. The authors, of Germany and Pennsylvania, compiled what was, at the time, to be the ultimate word on the subject. As with all of the reprints we have offered over forty years time, we trust that readers will be triggered by these words to complete their education with diligence and introspection. Just because something is old doesn’t always make it right, and of course just because something is new doesn’t make it the true culmination. LRM


HORSESHOEING is an industry which requires, in equal degree, knowledge and skill. The word “horseshoeing” embraces various acts, especially preparing the iron sole, the horseshoe; forming it and fitting it to the hoof, whose ground-surface has been previously dressed in accordance with the direction of the limb, and fastening it to the hoof by means of nails.

Owing to the complicated structure of the hoof, success in the practice of horseshoeing requires a knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the horse’s body in general and of the foot in particular.

The object of shoeing is, —

  1. To protect the hoof from excessive wear, and thus render the horse continuously serviceable upon our hard roads.
  2. To prevent slipping and falling during the winter season.
  3. To so far remove the disadvantages of faulty positions of the limbs that horses may render good service, and, in some cases,
  4. To cure or improve diseased or defective hoofs or feet.

Horseshoeing, though apparently simple, involves many difficulties, owing to the fact that the hoof is not an unchanging body, but varies much with respect to form, growth, quality, and elasticity. Furthermore, there are such great differences in the character of ground-surfaces and in the nature of horses’ work that shoeing which is not performed with great ability and care induces disease and makes horses lame.

In view of these facts, a thorough training of the young horseshoer in the principles and practice of his trade is not only greatly to be desired, but is really essential to success; unreasoning work does as much harm in this as in any other vocation. A good common-school education is necessary (more will do no harm). Further requisites are a healthy body, not too tall, liking for the work, aptness, an active, reasoning mind, fearlessness, dexterity, a good eye for proportion, and, finally, careful selection of a master-instructor. Theoretically educated, practically experienced and approved masters, in whose shops all kinds of horses are shod, are to be preferred.

During his term of apprenticeship the young apprentice should learn to make drawings of horseshoes, of tools of the trade, and of hoofs of various forms, and should also make one or more model shoes as an indication of his ability. After completing his time he should seek a position in a first-class shop, either at home or abroad. A visit to foreign lands will widen one’s mental horizon and make him a broader, abler man in every respect. Later, opportunity will be given to some (in Germany) to join the cavalry, and thus acquire a good education in shoeing under the patronage of the government. Finally, a course of instruction in a school of horseshoeing will convert an already practical and intelligent horseshoer into a thoughtful, capable, expert workman.

The scope of horseshoeing is by no means so narrow and insignificant as it may appear, and since a knowledge of anatomy and physiology of the horse’s body in general, and of the foot in particular, is necessary, it is evident that the schools of horseshoeing in which one can get the best instruction are those in which there is not only a regularly graded course of instruction, with demonstrations upon dissected material and upon living horses, but also an abundance of daily work at the forge and on the floor in the shoeing of horses. A course of four to six weeks is not sufficient.

Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that schools of horseshoeing are not for the purpose of instructing young men in all matters which pertain to the trade, but only in the making of shoes, the critical examination and management of hoofs, and the rational and skilful performance of shoeing. For this reason it is not advisable for young men to attend a school of horseshoeing until they have at least completed their apprenticeship.


Horseshoeing Part 1A


The supporting structure of the horse’s body is the bony framework or skeleton (Fig. 1). We distinguish in the skeleton the bones of the head, trunk, and limbs.

The bones of the head are numerous and, excepting the lower jaw, are solidly united with one another. In general, we distinguish in the head only the upper and lower jaws (1 and 1′). Both form various cavities; for example, the cranial cavity, in which the brain lies, the orbital cavities (eye-sockets), the nasal passages, and the mouth. Besides, the teeth are set in the jaws.

The trunk comprises the bones of the spinal column, thorax, and pelvis.

The spinal or vertebral column (2 to 6), which bears the head at its anterior end, is the chief support of the entire skeleton. It consists of from fifty-two to fifty-four single and irregular bones called vertebrae, placed in the upper part of the median vertical plane of the body. Each vertebra, which the exception of those of the tail (coccygeal or caudal vertebrae), is traversed by a large opening called the vertebral foramen. The vertebrae are placed end to end in a row, and through them runs a continuous large canal called the vertebral or spinal canal, in which lies the spinal cord. The horse has seven cervical, eighteen dorsal, six lumbar, five sacral, and sixteen to eighteen caudal vertebrae. The sacral vertebrae are grown together to form one piece called the sacrum.

The thorax is formed by the ribs and the breast-bone or sternum. The horse has eighteen ribs on each side (7), and all articulate with the dorsal vertebrae. The first eight pairs unite by their lower ends directly to the sternum or breast-bone, and are therefore called true ribs, while the last ten pairs are only indirectly attached to the sternum, and are consequently called false ribs. The sternum (8) lies between the forelegs, and helps to form the floor of the chest cavity. The space enclosed by the bones of the thorax is called the thoracic, pulmonary, or chest cavity, and contains the heart and lungs. The bones of the pelvis form a complete circle or girdle. The upper part, called the ilium (9′), articulates on its inner side with the sacrum (5), while its outer is prolonged to form a prominent angle, which is the support of the hip, and is called the “point of the hip.” The posterior part of the pelvis is called the ischium (9”), and that part lying between the ilium and the ischium and forming part of the floor of the pelvis is called the pubis.

The space between the thorax and the pelvis, bounded above by the lumbar vertebrae and shut in below and on the sides by the skin and muscular walls of the belly (abdomen), is called the abdominal cavity. This cavity opens directly into the pelvic cavity, and contains the stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and a part of the generative organs. The thoracic and abdominal cavities are separated by a muscular partition, the diaphragm.

The bones of the limbs may be likened to columns, upon which the body rests; they articulate with one another at various angles, are tubular in structure, and strong.

The bones of the fore-limbs do not articulate directly with the bones of the trunk, but are attached to the body by means of the skin and muscles. From above to below we distinguish the following bones:

  1. The scapula, or shoulder-blade (10), a flat, triangular bone, prolonged at its upper border by a flat, very elastic cartilage, called the scapular cartilage. At its lower end the scapula articulates with —
  2. The upper end of the humerus (11), forming the shoulder-joint (scapulo-humeral articulation). The humerus articulates at its lower end with —
  3. The radius (12) and the ulna (13), to form the elbow-joint. These two bones are the basis of the forearm. The ulna, smaller and weaker than the radius, lies behind and projects above it to form the point of the elbow. The lower end of the radius articulates with —
  4. The carpus, or knee (14), which comprises seven small, cubical bones disposed in two horizontal rows, one above the other. The upper row comprises four bones and the lower row three. The lower row rests upon —
  5. The large metacarpal or cannon bone, and the two rudimentary metacarpal or splint-bones. The lower end of the radius, the upper ends of the metacarpal bones, and the small carpal bones together form the carpal or the knee-joint (wrist of man). Of the metacarpals, the middle one is the largest, longest, strongest, and most important, and is called the large metacarpal, cannon, or shin-bone (15). It articulates at its lower end with the os suffraginis, or long pastern (17), and with the two small sesamoid bones (20). On each side of the upper part of its posterior surface like the two long, slender split-bones (16). The inner splint-bone is sometimes affected with bony thickenings (exostoses) called “splints.”
  6. The bones of the phalanges (all bones below the cannon) will be fully described in another place.

The bones of the hind limbs articulate directly with the pelvis at the hip-joint. They are stronger than the bones of the anterior limbs. We distinguish the following bones in the hind legs:

  1. The highest bone in the hind limb is the femur (21). It is the strongest bone in the entire body. It lies in an oblique direction downward and forward, and at is lower end articulates with —
  2. The patella (22), the tibia (23), and the fibula (24), to form the stifle-joint (knee of man). The patella plays over the anterior surface of the lower end of the femur. The fibula is small, and lies against the upper and outer side of the tibia. The latter at its lower end articulates with —
  3. The bones of the tarsus, or hock (25), which are six small, irregular bones disposed in three rows, one above another. The os calcis, or heel-bone, and the astragalus are in the upper-most row, and are the most important. The former projects above the true hock-joint from behind, to form a long lever, the upper end of which is called the “point of the hock,” and the latter articulates with the tibia. The tarsal (hock) bones articulate below with-
  4. The metatarsal bones (26 and 27), which are longer, and the cannon narrower from side to side, than the corresponding metacarpal bones, but are otherwise similar.
  5. The phalanges of a hind limb (28 to 31) are also narrower than those of a forelimb, but are nearly alike in other respects.

All the horse’s bones present small, but more or less distinct openings (nutrient foramina) for the passage of blood-vessels and nerves. Many bones possess roughened elevations and depressions, to which ligaments, tendons, or muscles are attached. With the exception of the os pedis, all bones are enveloped in a sort of “bone-skin” called periosteum. The bones unite among themselves to form either movable or immovable unions. A movable union between two or more bones is termed a “joint,” or articulation. The articulating ends of the bones, presenting on one side a convex surface (head or condyle) and on the other a corresponding concave surface (glenoid or cotyloid cavity) are covered with elastic articular cartilage. The bones are bound together by means of ligaments, which are tough, fibrous, cord-like, or sheet-like structures. Ligaments are either (1) capsular or (2) funicular (cord-like). Every articulation in the limbs possesses a capsular ligament, and all, except the shoulder-joint, have several funicular (cord-like) ligaments. The capsular ligaments are lined upon their inner face with a delicate membrane (synovial membrane) which secretes the synovia, or “joint water,” whose function is to lubricate the joint and prevent friction; they enclose the joint in a sort of air-tight cuff or sack. The funicular ligaments are very strong and often large, and are the chief means of union of the bones. The immovable articulations are termed sutures; they are found principally in the head. The mixed joints are found between the bodies of the vertebrae, each two of which are united by an elastic fibro-cartilage which, in the form of a pad, lies between them, and by its elasticity allows of very slight movement, though the spinal column as a whole can execute manifold and wide movements, as shown by the neck and tail.

Joints which permit motion in all directions are known as free joints; such are the shoulder- and hip-joints (ball-and-socket joints). Those which admit of motion in but two directions (flexion and extension), and often to a very limited extent, are called hinge-jointse.g., the elbow, hock, and fetlock. The joints between the long and short pasterns and between the letter and the pedal bone are imperfect hinge-joints, because they allow of some other movements besides flexion and extension. The articulation between the first and second cervical vertebrae (atlas and axis) is called a pivot-joint.

The skeleton represents a framework, which closely approaches the external form of the body, and by reason if its harness and stiffness furnishes a firm foundation for all other parts of the body. By reason of the great variety of position and direction of the bones, and of the fact that changes of position of each single part of this complicated system of levers may result in the greatest variety of bodily movements, we can easily understand how the horse is enabled to move from place to place. Of course, the bones have no power of themselves to move, but this power is possessed by other organs that are attached to the bones. These organs are the muscles, and, owing to their ability to contract and shorten themselves, and afterwards to relax and allow themselves to be stretched out, they furnish the motive power that is communicated to and moves the bones.

Horseshoeing Part 1A

The muscles of the body massed together are the red flesh which we observe in every slaughtered animal. They are not, however, so shapeless as they appear while in this condition; on the contrary, they present well-arranged muscular layers of variable size, thickness, length, and position. (See Fig. 2.) The muscles clothe the skeleton externally, give the body its peculiar form, and, by their special power of contraction, change the relative positions of the bones and thus make it possible for the animal to move. For this reason, the muscles are called the active, and the bones the passive, organs of motion. By carefully examining a muscle it will be found to consist of actual, minute, reddish, muscular fibres. As a rule, muscles terminate in more or less strong, glistening, fibrous cords called tendons, or fibrous sheets termed aponeuroses, by which they are attached to the bones. In the limbs are muscles terminating in very long tendons, which act as draw-lines upon the distant bones of the foot (long and short pasterns and pedal bone) and set them in motion. Such long tendons are enclosed in sheaths of thin, membranous tissue, known as tendon sheaths. The inner surface of such a sheath is in direct contact with the surface of the tendon, and secretes a thin slippery fluid (synovia) which lubricates the tendon and facilitates its gliding within the sheath.

As long as the bones, articulations, muscles, and tendons of the limbs remain healthy, just so long will the legs maintain their natural direction and position. Frequently, however, this normal condition of the limbs is gradually altered by disease of the bones, joints, and tendons, and defects in the form and action of the lower parts of the limbs arise that often require attention in shoeing.