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Gary Werner/Jesse Werner
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What is a Farrier?

A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of a horse's hoof so as to fit shoes to the horse's foot. A farrier couples a subset of the blacksmith's skills (fabricating, adapting, and adjusting metal shoes) with a subset of veterinary medicine (knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the lower limb) to address the care of the horse's feet.

At one time, farrier and blacksmith were all but synonymous. A farrier's work in colonial America would have included horseshoeing as well as the fabrication and repair of tools, the forging of architectural pieces, etc. Today, farriers usually specialize in horseshoeing, focusing their time and effort on the care of the horse's foot. For this reason farriers and blacksmiths are considered to be in separate, albeit related trades.

A farrier's routine work is primarily hoof trimming and shoeing. In ordinary cases it is important to trim each hoof so that it retains its proper orientation to the ground. If the animal has a heavy work load, works on abrasive footing, needs additional traction, or has pathological changes in the foot, then shoes may be required.

Additional tasks for the farrier include dealing with injured and/or diseased hooves and application of special shoes for racing, training or "cosmetic" purposes. In cases of horses with certain diseases or injuries, special repairative procedures may be needed for the hooves, and then special shoes may need to be constructed and fitted

A horseshoe is a "U"-shaped device made of steel, aluminium, rubber, plastic, rawhide or a laminate of these, nailed or glued like a shoe to the hooves of horses and some other draught animals. They are used to protect the animal's hooves from wear and tear. Some horseshoes have"calkins" or "calks", protrusions at the toe and/or heels of the shoe, to provide additional traction. Kept as a talisman, horseshoes are said to bring luck. Horseshoes are also used for a popular game, horseshoes.

The horseshoe seems to have been introduced to Western culture by the Greeks in the 4th Century. Horseshoes are available in a wide variety of materials and styles, developed for different types of horses and the work they do. Common materials are steel, aluminum and plastic, and specialized shoes may include use of magnesium, titanium or copper.