Horseshoeing Iron & Forge Work

by Dr. Doug Butler, PhD, CJF, CJF, FWCF
Butler Publishing and Tools
P.O. Box 1390
LaPorte, Colorado 80535 USA
Set of four videos, $140.00 + $12.00 s&h
Reviewed by Rob Edwards
This review was published in the November, 1996 issue of ANVIL Magazine

Horseshoeing Iron & Forge Work is a four-volume series all about, as Dr. Butler states, the "art of horseshoeing." It's actually much more than that, including a series of practical applications that will undoubtedly generate additional revenues for those who put them into practice.

Tape 1 starts out in the very logical area of hammer control. As Dr. Butler points out, tools are an extension of the hand; our work should flow out of us, and often that requires changing ourselves so we can change our work. In a logical manner, he discusses reworking and modifying tools to fit the hand. His suggestion is to look at the sequences on these tapes, go practice them, watch the sequences again, and practice some more. And do that as many times as it takes to get proficient. This work requires repetition to acquire skill.

Dr. Butler discusses the advantages and disadvantages of various vises, portable vs. shop anvils, and farrier vs. blacksmith anvils. He also discusses modification and proper use of forging hammers and tongs. The last part of Tape 1 discusses shoe shaping for each of Scott Simpson's five hoof shapes: Norman, Spike, Stubby, Tag and Ralph. He makes use of x-rays here to show the correlation between third phalanx shape and hoof shape.

Tape 2 starts out with the modification of keg shoes to fit Scott's hoof shapes. He then covers the use of a bob punch to make toe clips, the difference between a rolled toe and a rocker toe, and tips on making handmade shoes. He then goes on to discuss dressing forepunches and pritchels, and how to use them. You can't get much more detailed camera work than is shown in these videotapes. Each hammer blow is shown and described in detail, making them some of the easiest-to-follow videos on the market today.

In Tape 3, Dr. Butler goes into greater detail in horseshoe making, which includes measuring the barstock, how to make a perfect pair of handmade shoes, how to fuller, and fullering tool modification.

Tape 4 covers brazing jar caulks, forging aluminum, welding safety, and borium application with oxyacetylene in the forge. The creation of an egg bar shoe by forge welding is shown in great detail, making what can be a complicated task simple to understand and easy to do.

I personally got a lot out of this video series, not so much in the introduction of something new, but for explanations of why I do it the way I do. I've watched many clinicians do many things and adopted their methods, because they worked for me. But, in many cases, I never knew why they worked. And now Dr. Butler has explained why, covering every detail, taking nothing for granted - the mark of an excellent teacher. As Dr. Butler says, "There is so much to master and so little time." Thanks to Butler Publishing, much time can be saved now in mastering the skills of farriery.

Return to the Book & Video Reviews main listing page.

Return to the November, 1996 ANVIL Online index page.