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and soft ground, but must fail when it is rugged, and hard, and stony, or will be oppressed by a vague dread that a horse which has gone well enough without shoes for six months may break down in the seventh. But even those who refuse to give up the practice of shoeing will yet acknowledge its faultiness, and wish that they could give it up without risk. To all such we need only say that if they have any regard for impartiality they are bound to consider the arguments and the facts on which the conclusions of Free Lance' rest; and most assuredly they will find in his pages nothing which they may charge with extravagance, rashness, and intolerance. They will not be told that unless they abandon the system of shoeing altogether they can effect no improvement in the present state of things, or even that they must hasten to change the old system for the new. On the contrary, they will find that they are again and again warned against imprudent haste, and are told that a vast amount of good may be achieved even if they never venture on leaving their horses' feet in a state of nature.
Of these arguments and facts it might be difficult to determine which are the most important and significant. Certain it is that our horses generally are afflicted with a multitude of diseases which seize on their legs and feet, and that lameness is everywhere a cause of constant complaint and of loss of time and money. The author is not speaking from theory or from book, but takes his stand on an experience obtained during a sojourn of many years in foreign countries, especially in America, where in the construction of railways and other public works he had to employ hundreds of horses and mules on tasks which taxed their capabilities to the utmost. In Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and elsewhere he found that unshod horses were daily worked over roads of all kinds, carrying heavy packs from the interior down to the coast, the journey thither and back being often extended to several hundreds of miles, and that they accomplished these journeys without ever wearing out their hoofs; and the roads in these countries, where they exist at all, are neither softer nor smoother than those of England or of Ireland. If horses fell lame, it was from causes incidental to the climate, and for these the system of shoeing would supply no remedy. From other diseases, which from strong and often incontestable reasons may be traced to the use of shoes, they were wholly free. The necessary conclusion was that the system of shoeing could answer no good purpose, while it might be productive of much harm; and in this conclusion he was confirmed by the admissions and protests of the most able and competent veterinary surgeons in this country. These have uniformly raised their voices against the heavy weighting of the horse's foot maintained by the traditional practice. It has been found here that the hoofs of some horses are so weak that they cannot be fully shod; and a writer in the Field,' styling himself Impecuniosus,' cited some ten years ago a remark by Mayhew that some horses will go sound in tips that cannot endure any further protection,' adding the
significant comment that the moral of this is that it is the shoe, not the road, that hurts the horse; for if a weak and tender foot can go sound when all but unshod, 'why should not the strong sound one do the same?' The conclusion, as he insists, should rather be that a horse must have a strong sound foot to stand not our work but our shoe. The same writer, speaking of the cruelties unwittingly perpetrated by grooms and blacksmiths on the horse's foot, says that though lameness usually attends their efforts, they ascribe it to every cause but the right one, and indeed resign themselves complacently to the presence of many diseases confessedly caused by their treatment.' 'Free Lance' has seen, and others also have doubtless seen, light horses, of high breed and value, shod or burdened with a full set of shoes in which eight nails, nearly threesixteenths of an inch in thickness, were driven four in each quarter, and in a space of three inches for each four nails.
well call attention to the immense amount of laceration and compression which the delicate hollow fibres of the crust must have suffered when thus wedged up within a fourth of their natural dimensions. Besides this, he adds, the hoof was, in one instance, carved out on the crust to receive three clips, one on the toe and one on each quarter. A calk, three quarters of an inch high, was put on one heel of each hind shoe, and, on the other heel, a screw cog of equal height. On each front shoe a cog, also three quarters of an inch high, was put upon each heel. This wretched victim to fashion was then regarded with the utmost satisfaction by the farriers and his groom; and all this heathenism was perpetrated in the forge of a veterinary surgeon. But, perhaps, he was shoeing to order.'
Amongst the reformers of these great abuses M. Charlier occupies a prominent place. His shoe in its first shape was not successful. Starting rightly on the assumption that nature intended the horse to walk barefoot, and that the bottom of his foot was in every way fitted to stand all wear and tear, he excepted from these self-sufficing parts the outer rim, that is, the wall or crust. He, therefore,' Free Lance' tells us, ' made a shoe of very narrow iron, less than the width of the wall, which he let in, or imbedded, to the crust, without touching the sole even on the edge; so that, in fact, the horse stood no higher after he was shod than he stood when barefooted. He urged that such a narrow piece of iron would not interfere with the natural expansion and contraction of the foot; and in this he at once went wrong, for malleable iron has no spring in it. Then, in spite of his theory, as he expressed it, he carried his shoe right round the foot into the bars, beyond where the crust ceases to be independent of them. He then got a very narrow, weak shoe, about a foot in circumference (if circumference can be applied to that which is not a complete circle); and, as he ought to have foreseen, the shoe then twisted or broke on violent exertion.' Still, as freeing the horse from a large amount of the weight usually attached to his foot, the change was an important benefit; and the lesson thus taught was not thrown
away. The shoe was reduced by a man at Melton from the full to the three-quarter size, and in this form it weighs five ounces. Seeley's patent horseshoe, adopted by the North Metropolitan Tramways Company, weighs one pound and a quarter, this being a reduction of onehalf on the weight of the ordinary shoe; and we have to remember that each additional ounce on the horse's foot makes a most sensible difference in the amount of work performed by him during the day. Shoeing their horses on the principle of the modified Charlier shoe, Messrs. Smither and Son, of Upper East Smithfield, have found the result marvellously to their advantage, in the measure of comfort and safety with which their animals do their work, whether in the London streets, on pavement, or on country roads. So far as their experience has gone, there are no horses which it does not suit, and it is of special service for young horses running on the London stones, and for horses with tender feet, or corns, and to prevent slipping. In other words, the absence of metal confers benefits which cannot be bestowed by its presence. Facts in America teach the same lesson. At a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture in 1878, Mr. Bowditch, a practical farmer, declared that nine hundred and ninetynine thousandths of all the trouble in horses' feet come from shoeing,' that he was in the habit of driving very hard down hill, that he had galloped on ice on a horse whose feet had merely a small bit of iron four inches long curled round the toe, and that this piece of iron is all that is needed even in the case of an animal whose feet have been abused for a series of years. When nothing is left but this fragment of the traditional shoe, and when even this fragment has, as in Massachusetts and elsewhere, been retained for the fore feet only, it is incredible that men should fail to ask what the use of this relic of the old system may be. Donkeys in Ireland are unshod, and they work on roads at least as rough, hard, slimy and slippery as those of England. Can one really believe,' asks Free Lance,' that the animal which is endowed with the greater speed and power should have worse feet than his inferior in both respects?' To such a question one answer only can be given; and the lesson may be learnt by anyone who will take the trouble to go to the wilds of Exmoor or Dartmoor. There, as in the Orkneys and on the Welsh hills and in many parts of the continent of Europe, horses run unshod over rocks, through ravines, and up or down precipitous ridges. Yet all this,' Mr. Douglas remarks, is done without difficulty, and to the evident advantage of their hoofs, for these animals never suffer from contracted feet, or from corns, sand-cracks, &c., until they become civilised and have been shod.' Mr. Douglas, it is true, holds that civilisation involves the need of a shoe of some sort for horses as for men; Mr. Mayhew advocates the use of the tip, and, as we have said, it is not in human nature to stop short at such a point as this. It is obvious that if the complete abandonment of iron is followed by increased efficiency and power of endurance on the part of the horse, as well as from a number of painful and highly injurious dis
eases, the owner is directly and largely benefited in more ways than one. His horses live in greater comfort and for a longer time; his veterinary surgeon's bill and the outlay for medicine are greatly lessened, and the costs of farriery disappear altogether.
Farriers will, of course, complain that their occupation is gone, and that they are ruined men; but little heed was paid to like pleas when they were urged for the drivers and attendants of coaches and coach horses when the first railways were constructed. Matters will adjust themselves in this case as they did in the other. But that the change cannot be effected in a day or a week, no one will venture to deny. The feet of horses are ordinarily treated, not wantonly but through ignorance, with a cruelty which is simply shocking. With vast numbers of animals which are not kept for purposes of drudgery, and in whose appearance their owners feel a pride, the hoof is a mere wreck, and the sight of the mangled and split hoof may well excite not merely pity but wonder that any can passively allow such evils to go on. A few, however, will always be found with resolution enough to shake off the fetters of traditionalism; and some of these have already expressed their opinion with sufficient emphasis. One of these, writing in November 1878, says :
The argument against horseshoes seemed to me so strong, and the convenience of doing without them so great, that I resolved to try the experiment. Accordingly, when my pony's shoes were worn out, I had them removed, and gave him a month's rest at grass, with an occasional drive of a mile or two on the high road while his hoofs were hardening. The result at first seemed doubtful. The hoof was a thin shell, and kept chipping away, until it had worn down below the holes of the nails by which the shoes had been fastened. After this the hoof grew thick and hard, quite unlike what it had been before. I now put the pony to full work, and he stands it well. He is more sure-footed, his tread is almost noiseless, and his hoofs know no danger from the rough hands of the farrier, and the change altogether has been a clear gain, without anything to set off against it. The pony was between four and five years old, and had been regularly shod up to the present year. He now goes better without shoes than he ever did with them.
A well-known Cumberland farmer, writing about the same time, speaks of a farm-horse in his possession, which, having been lamed by a nail driven into its foot, had been for many months in the hands of the farrier. Tired out with this annoyance, the owner had his shoes taken off and turned him out to pasture. While still rather lame, the horse was set to work on the land; and he is now, we are told, 'doing all sorts of farm work, and dragging his load as well as any shod horse even over hard pavement.' If judgment based on knowledge is to carry weight, the question would soon be settled. have already seen the opinions expressed by the most able writers on the horse, and especially on the structure and treatment of his feet, as well as by the best veterinary surgeons. The verdict of the 'Lancet' is almost more emphatic. As a matter of physiological
fitness,' it says, 'nothing more indefensible than the use of shoes can be imagined. Not only is the mode of attaching them by nails injurious to the hoof, it is the probable, if not evident, cause of many affections of the foot and leg, which impair the usefulness and must affect the comfort of the animal.' If we add that the hunter is benefited almost more than other horses by being allowed to use his feet as nature made them, the admission is made in the interests of the horse and not as an expression of opinion on the controversy respecting the right or the wrong of foxhunting. It is enough to say that for horses which have to move rapidly, and to come down with a sudden shock on sticky and slippery ground, the natural course of the process of expansion and contraction is of the first importance. For those who may care nothing for the gratification of hunting men, it may be amusing or provoking to learn that in times of hard frost hunters have been enabled to chase the prey by the aid of guttapercha soles fastened to the feet; but all who are anxious only for the welfare of the horse will see in this fact strong evidence of the uselessness of the iron shoe. The plain truth is that differences in the quality of soil, be it hard or soft, stony or sandy, smooth and slippery, are of comparatively little importance to the horse whose feet are as nature made them. In the words of Free Lance,'' the unshod horse can successfully deal with all roads;' and assuredly no one will dream of asserting that shod horses can do this, for on the setting in of frost, for instance, they cannot be worked until certain ceremonies have been gone through at the blacksmith's forge. The unshod horse can tread firmly on the slime of wood pavement when shod horses are slipping and struggling in agony around them; he can gallop on ice, and trot for miles together on the hardest and roughest flint roads, with far more ease and comfort than horses whose feet are shod with iron, or even with gutta-percha. Free Lance' rightly remarks that if they could not there would be an end of the thing, for evidently the horse should be able to go anywhere and everywhere, and at a moment's notice.' It seems hard to produce the conviction that the natural sole of the horse's foot is almost impenetrable, that it is so hard, and strong as to protect the sensible sole from all harm, and that all feet exposed to hard objects are made harder by the contact, provided only that the sole is never pared. This adequacy of the horse's foot to all demands that may be made upon it is forcibly illustrated by Mr. Bracy Clark, who, like Mr. Douglas and Mr. Mayhew, contented himself with striving to produce a perfect shoe, although he acknowledged that if we wish to appreciate the full beauty of its structure, we must dismiss from our views the miserable, coerced, shod foot entirely and consider the animal in a pure state of nature using his foot without any defence.' Probably Mr. Clark thought that, though we may consider it in its natural state, few can ever so behold it, as all horses in civilised countries are in greater or less degree brought under artificial conditions. The plea is fallacious. The horse is clearly intended by nature to serve as a