Question about horseshoes of the 1800s

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  jdm 4 years, 5 months ago.

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  • jdm Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    Hi everyone. New here,
    I’m hoping to get a farrier’s point of view on this topic. It’s not a typical topic for this forum, so bear with me. I am a writer working on my second western for my publisher. I do copious amounts of research in the course of my writing, but unfortunately as much as I love westerns, I have limited knowledge when it comes to horses. Currently I am working on a section of the novel which deals with a marshal trying to track a cattle rustler. My question is: were the horseshoes of that period sufficiently unmarked up during the fitting process that an outlaw could lose his tracks by mingling them in with hundreds of tracks found on the streets of a town of a couple thousand inhabitants. The action takes place after a few days after a heavy rain so tracks should be plentiful and fair quality. My editor, having watched his grandfather shoe horses as a young man believes a good tracker would be able to identify a specific set of prints among the others due to how the shoe would be marked up during the fitting process. I need for it to be possible to lose the tracks among the others, but more than that, I need it to be accurate to say it could be done.
    A lapse in credibility would ruin the plot. Opinions anyone? This is a major plot point so I need to get this right. As I have no knowledge, I need advice.

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by  jdm.
    stockshowkid’97 stockshowkid'97
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 31

    I’m not really knowledgeable about the horseshoes of way back when. But my guess is, and this is from watching dozens of western movies, that the tracker knew what type of horse hoof print he was looking for, and basically what your editor said about watching his grandfather shoe horses. Another thing I have learned is that how ever much like the rider and horse weigh together it makes for a deeper hoof print. If that makes any since. I’m sure that was nothing, but there’s my 2 cents worth and I hope the book goes well!!

    ~If you come at it having only 15 minuets it will take all day... If you come at it having all day it will take you 15 minuets~

    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 22

    I haven’t done a lot of research on this subject but I’m knowledgeable enough to know that shoeing horses now is not a whole lot different than it was back then. Yes, there are some farriers who cut the horses foot to fit the shoe, but a good farrier shapes the shoe to fit the horse. See where I’m going here? If you have six horses being shod, every horses foot or hoofprint will look different. No two horses are exactly the same. A good tracker will be able to tell which hoof belongs to which horse just by them walking away. There are no ‘factory feet’, so he would be able to tell by the shape and size, and also by how the horse moves. Every horse moves differently. Some move with big, long strides, while others are more choppy. I hope I was able to help. Good luck with the book. 🙂

    jdm Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    Thanks, both of you. My editor went to the trouble of talking with a farrier near where he lives, and the man convinced him he could tell the name of every horse he had ever shod by looking at the shoe print. So much for my plot line. Fortunately my backup plan was the original idea and should work just as well.

    Thanks again.

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