Page images

Mr. BOWDITCH. It will benefit him, if that method of shoeing is kept up: I know that by experience. I very often · have cripples come to my forge; and, when they get to going well, they go back to their own blacksmith; their owners do not think it worth while to bring them to me. When the little "

corpse” that I drive came to me, her heel was about an inch and three-quarters wide, and her frog was the size of my little finger. Now she has a frog that fills up almost the whole of her foot.

Dr. WAKEFIELD. . This gentleman says that he shoes his cripples." I would like to ask him whether, in his experience in shoeing gentlemen's horses, they travel any better than when they are shod in the ordinary way.

Mr. BowDITCA. I have had some little experience in that, because I started a little forge on my own farm for my own protection. I could not get a blacksmith to do as I wanted him to do. The great trouble is, that men want to get the most for their money; that is, the most weight of iron you can possibly put on for the money. There is hardly a person who owns a driving-horse, who, if you put four inches of iron on the toe, would feel that he could go more than half a mile from home without the horse breaking down. But I do not think I could go quite as far as my friend Mr. Russell. I generally like to have a three-quarter pound shoe for my own horse. But the whole secret is, if you have a horse whose feet have been abused for a series of years, all that is required is a little piece on the toe. I generally leave the heel entirely bare.

Dr. WAKEFIELD. Have you had any experience in shoeing gentlemen's horses, so that you can compare your manner with shoeing with the ordinary way? I am aware that gentlemen like to have a great amount of iron put on, and I am aware that they like to have the blacksmith shoe their horses just as they order, I do myself. But what I want to find out is, what is the best manner of shoeing. Can you show that horses shod in your method will travel well, and that they are not subject to those diseases which come, as many think, from exposure to cold, as has been represented here by Dr. Hunt? We all know that there are diseases of horses' feet; and if we can ascertain the cause, and, knowing the cause, avoid it, and save all this trouble to horses' feet, we shall have gained a great point.

Mr. BowdITCH. All I can say is, that I have been interested in shoeing horses for more than two years; and I have never had any trouble with my own horses' feet, without any special care to speak of, merely from the effect of shoeing. Nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of all the trouble in horses' feet come from shoeing: in fact, practically all. To illustrate: this “corpse " that I speak of, that I drive fast down hill occasionally, belonged to a friend of mine, and was in the knacker's yard to be killed. She was to be killed, because the doctor who had her in charge wanted her legs as specimens of inflammatory rheumatism. I asked my friend, as a favor, if he would let me take her, because I did not think she had inflammatory rheumatism, and I would like to try and cure her; and, if I did not succeed, the legs should go to the veterinary, who wanted them as specimens. I had to bring her sixteen miles; and it took me eight hours, with a man leading her, and a boy behind switching her; and, as they express it in the country, every leg was in front of her. She had a little shrivelled frog. I cut her hoofs very low indeed, until I got a little bit of frogbearing; but it hurt her to put her foot to the ground. The frog had no life in it, no circulation. About two months after I took her, I thought I would try her, and see if it was inflammatory rheumatism. She took her eighteen miles in an hour and a half, although she was a little lame. satisfied she would come out perfectly sound. To-day I am driving that mare. She has never had her frog off of the ground since I had her, winter or summer. Her heel is steadily growing wider, and her frog is growing every day. I have driven her, within the last fortnight, from Boston to my farm, some twenty-three miles. I can do that with this little mare in an hour and forty minutes, and repeat it the same day in an hour and forty-five minutes, and she will not go lame a single step. She will go in the middle of the road, and step on stones without flinching.

QUESTION. How would you shoe heavy draught-horses?

Mr. BowDITCH. Put on as little iron as you can get on; never a heel or toe calk.

Mr. My horses slip when the calks are worn down.

Mr. BowDITCH. As horses are generally shod, the thick. ness of the shoe, without a heel-calk, keeps the frog from touching the ground.

I was

QUESTION. Have you ever tried the experiment with heavy draught-horses?

Mr. Bowditch. I have some heavy horses, and they go with seven or eight ounces on their feet.

Mr. FLINT. I would like to inquire whether there are any patent elastic shoes which Mr. Bowditch has examined, which he has any confidence in.

Mr. BOWDITCH. The shoe that I use is the Goodenough Horse-shoe, which is made on the theory that the proper way to shoe a horse is to put his frog on the ground. The easiest and cheapest way to accomplish this is to use the Goodenough Horse-shoe. The little forge I speak of I run on that principle. I am not liked by a good many who come there, because I' have a rule, and I will not shoe as any one wants me to. Therefore I do not make so much money as I otherwise might; but I think I have fewer lame horses.

QUESTION. Will you draw that shoe for us?

Mr. BOWDITCH. I do not think I can. I would rather try to hammer one out than draw it.

Mr. RUSSELL. I learned the theory of horse-shoeing which I have practised from the man who promulgated the true theory both in this country and in France, — Mr. Goodenough. Mr. Bowditch has been kind enough to say that he is my pupil, and he has carried it into practice a great deal more than I have. Mr. Goodenough's idea was always to shoe a horse so as to get the frog-pressure, as he called it; that is, so that the frog of the horse invariably came upon the ground. I do not want to advocate the use of any shoe, or any man's patent, before this audience. I only speak of it, because Mr. Bowditch has referred to the Goodenough Horse-shoe as a convenience in that method of horse-shoeing. In France it is carried on under the name of the Charlier system. The Charlier shoe is just a little rim of iron put about the hoof, set in a groove, so that the whole bottom of the horse's foot comes directly upon the ground when he is travelling, - the frog, bar, sole, and the whole of the bottom of the foot, just like a barefooted horse. It is only the rim of the hoof that is protected. That is an expensive way of shoeing, and is only adapted to a country where the mechanics work with great nicety and slowly, as in France, where one man holds the foot, and another places the shoe,

and makes a job of it that we could not afford to do in this country. The reason for using the Goodenough Shoe in Mr. Bowditch's forge was because it kept the principle continually before the man who was shoeing, and enabled him to shoe his horse with frog-pressure. The heel of the Goodenough Shoe is drawn thin. It is a rolled shoe, and it is rolled thin. The shoe is also bevelled on each side. It is bevelled on the foot-surface, the part of the shoe that goes against the foot; so that the bearing of the horse comes upon the outer wall of the hoof entirely. It is bevelled on the inside, which prevents the balling of snow, or suction in mud; which is a very important matter. And then, in rolling up, it is corrugated. There are three depressions in which the nails are counter-sunk, so that the heads of the nails do not strike the ground until the shoe is very well worn down. Mr. Bowditch and myself have found it for our convenience to use that shoe ; and, as I say, it keeps the principle before the horse-shoer: but any man who will take the pains can shoe his horse in the same way without the use of any special shoe for that purpose. Mr. BROOKS of

I have heard a great deal of talk on this subject; and what was said seemed very reasonable, and I did not know enough to contradict it. Last spring I bought a horse that I had always fancied very much,

, with unsound fore-feet. He had been shod in Boston, and brought into the country, because the city smiths said he would do very well on soft roads, but would not do very well on the pavements. I tried to get them to have the horse shod in this way, as a matter of experiment; but they did not dare to. I bought the horse more for the purpose of trying it than any thing else, and took him down to Mr. Bowditch's forge. He took the round shoes off, pared the hoofs down, put him in a box-stall on sawdust during the day, and let him run out on the damp grass at night. I went up

and saw the horse after his shoes had been off two or three days, and he was a perfect cripple. After two or three weeks more, I went up again, and he had some light shoes on, and was jogging about a little. He had a crack in his hoof, which is now nearly gone, and I have driven him around in Boston and Cambridge, and he has not taken & lame step. The heat has entirely disappeared which was in

his feet when the round shoes were on, and I expect he will soon have perfectly sound feet.

Mr. Johnson of Framingham. Some eight or ten years ago I bought a heavy pair of colts over in Newton. I had been troubled with my horses' feet getting out of order; and I had attributed it to the blacksmith in a great degree, for I scarcely found one who was willing to shoe a horse as I wanted to have him. I was in the habit of taking those colts to Waltham ; and Mr. Daniels shod those colts for me for a long time, and he did first-rate with them. Before Mr. Bowditch opened his shop, I had a small horse which was shod at the same shop that Mr Bowditch's horses were shod at; but that man, although he was a good shoer, did not want to shoe my heavy horses. He showed me what Mr. Bowditch calls the “Goodenough Shoe;" and I assure you it is good enough for anybody to use. I went to him to get a set of shoes for my horses. But he had but one shoe, and he said, “ Mr. Bowditch is going to try those shoes : let him try them first: he is able. I don't believe in this nonsense, Johnson." I did not get the shoes until Mr. Bowditch opened his shop, three years ago; and my three horses have been shod there ever since. The two horses I speak of weigh about twenty-seven hundred pounds. One of them particularly is a horse that goes in a carryall a great deal, and travels over our hard, stony roads. The frog of his foot is upon the ground all the time: it is full flush to-day with the shoe. I have him shod with what is called a full shoe, no calk at the toe, and no rise at the heel, of course ; but it comes down gradually. The small horse has a frog in his foot that is as broad as my hand; and you may take a light hammer and thump it, and you will see no shrinking, except from the nervousness of the horse. His feet to-day are all there is of him, you might say, that is valuable ; but they are worth a hundred dollars more than they were when he first went to his shop.

I am fully convinced that the proper method of shoeing a horse is to shoe him so that the frog shall come on the ground. A little too heavy shoe was put on the little horse I have referred to, because the blacksmith was out of light shoes of the right size, and he said he would go as well with those shoes as he would with lighter ones; but, in the course

« PreviousContinue »