Yesterday evening at half past eight, Per the farrier came by.  A farrier is someone who shoes horses and trims and takes care of their hooves; whereas a blacksmith is someone who hammers bars of red-hot metal, sometimes into horseshoes and sometimes into wrought-iron candelabra.

Per lives in Sweden, he only comes here to work; he and his family have bought a horse farm.  At the moment they have twelve horses and much free grazing land. He says that it’s no longer economically practical for Swedes to run old family dairy farms with less than 100 head of cattle; all the smaller farmhouses are being sold to Norwegians for second homes and the pastures leased for next-to-nothing to Per.  He says he speaks a new Sworsk dialect.

When he opens the back doors of his van there’s a workshop inside with lighting and all his tools,

including an anvil for hammering the shoes into the correct shape (sorry for the blur):

Now it’s nearly nine p.m. and starting to get dark.  Per wears a little halogen light on his forehead like a late afternoon cross-country skier.

The first thing he does is remove the old shoe and file down the hoof.

A horse’s lower leg has the same structure as a hand.  The horse walks on the equivalent of the fingernails of its index and ring fingers; they and the pad of a very small middle finger are what touch they ground, the little finger and thumb are further up the leg.  The horseshoe is fastened to the hoof (or fingernail) with steel nails.  Because the hoof is growing out all the time, the shoes have to be replaced every six or seven weeks — if you wait longer, they start falling off and then you can’t ride.  Horseshoes can sometimes be reused, but usually they become too worn down in the middle.

He has a little metal stand that the hoof can rest on:

You can see it better here:

After he’d been working for a little while, he brought out more lights from the van.  He took a horseshoe that was the correct size and checked it against the shape of the hoof.  Askur, being an Iceland pony, has small hooves.  Per said that Shire horses require shoes that are huge: roughly six inches (150mm) in diameter.  They cost twice as much as Askur to shoe too, not that he cares — we don’t make him pay.

Then Per hammered it to conform to the shape of the hoof and nailed it through the holes and diagonally into the hoof, bending the nails over where they emerged on the side. I think he used about six nails per hoof.

Betty and Askur don’t seem to mind.  See you again in October, Per…

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