Bryce Kawasaki Forge

Tuesday Jun. 1st, 2010

By Hoof Alone

Horses…They are magical beings many of us admire from afar and some of us are fortunate to have close by. Some of us are even more lucky to have horse partners, either on our property, or tucked away safely at a horse facility. The human race has a long association with the horse. Horses have given humans many things through out history: admiration of their beauty and majesty, awe and fear of their power, survival and livelihood, accompanied them to war, transportation, entertainment, hours of pleasurable activities. A horse will offer you its soul if you know how to ask. They give of themselves freely, and are a reflection of who we are.

Many of us may not spend much time considering the importance of how a horse moves from place to place. The horse must get around on their feet, also known as hooves.  A horse stands on four hooves, which are one of the most important parts of a horse. We’ve all heard the saying, “No foot, no horse.” It is as true today as it was when horses were the main form of transportation through the ages. The horse is a prey animal, so does not have an arsenal of defenses. The main defense mechanism of the horse is its speed, used to run away from a perceived threat. Of course, horses have long, slender legs for running swiftly, and at the end of each leg is a wonderful, complex, beautiful hoof! Thusly, hooves require specialized care, no matter the occupation of the attached horse.

Farriers provide specialized hoof care to horses. However, a farrier who is qualified to provide the best in hoof care has studied and been trained extensively in the hoof’s structures both external and internal, the anatomy of the leg above the hoof, and has knowledge of the entire horse. This farrier also has knowledge of how to best trim and balance each individual hoof to its corresponding leg. Additionally, this farrier has knowledge in the shaping and fitting of many different sorts of horseshoes. This farrier also is knowledgeable in the building (forging) of different kinds and types of horseshoes in a forge. As well, this farrier has mentored with an accomplished farrier to further his/her knowledge and training. And finally, this farrier never quits learning, as he/she continues to attend continuing educational opportunities throughout his/her career to be able to provide the best in hoof care.

Bryce Kawasaki Forge, owned and operated by Bryce Kawasaki, offers high quality hoof care. Bryce’s wife, Jenny, is also a farrier. A local, professional business established in the Gallatin Valley for 16 years the Kawaskis are members of the American Farrier’s Association (AFA) and the Montana Professional Farrier’s Association. Through the AFA they have achieved their Certified Journeyman Farrier status by voluntarily going through its certification process. The certification process consists of both practical and written exams. Additionally, they attend continuing educational events each year.   As professional farriers, we at Bryce Kawasaki Forge are experts in all areas of hoof care, not just in the application of horse shoes.

Bryce Kawasaki Forge uses primarily hand made horse shoes so as to provide the best possible fit and type of shoe for your horse. If your horse does not require shoes, the best in regular barefoot hoof care can be provided for your horse. There is a time and a place to shoe a horse, and if a horse does not require shoes, we see no reason to do so. Some cases may include working with your vet in the event your horse may require specialized hoof care and/or therapeutic shoes, this is always a welcomed situation.

A horse’s hooves require care every six to eight weeks to maintain optimum health. In some special cases, certain horses have need of hoof care every four weeks. A horse who goes barefoot may wear some length off, but will still require hoof care to keep any distortions that may appear in the hoof in check. And why would we not strive to provide this for our horses, as the hoof is quite important to the horse’s well being and movement? Even if your horse hangs out in the pasture and provides you with company as opposed to a riding or performance horse, it will require regular hoof care. Regular hoof care can be trimming, or perhaps horse shoes to help protect the bottom of the hoof. In any case, the key term is REGULAR.

Horse shoes are most commonly made of steel, and are each fitted exactly to the bottom of a properly trimmed and balanced hoof. They are protection against excessive wear to the hoof, can provide additional traction, and also can have therapeutic purposes.  Since the feet of horses come in all shapes and sizes, there are no cookie cutter shapes of feet nor should there be cookie cutter shapes of shoes. The shape of the foot and shoe is sculpted by an experienced farrier.
In the event of a horse wearing shoes, they will need to be re-shod in the same six to eight week time interval. When a shoe is attached to the hoof, it does not allow any hoof to be worn away as it grows, so the shoe needs to be periodically removed, the hoof trimmed and balanced, and the shoe replaced. A horse shoe allows the option of adding varying degrees of traction to provide your horse with the stability it requires to be able to perform its job with minimum risk to horse and rider. For those of us who have horses and are familiar with horseshoes, you may have noticed some horseshoes have a triangular tab of steel sticking up on the perimeter of the shoe. These are called clips. They are a very traditional and functional method your farrier can use to help secure the shoe to the hoof. The function of clips and their use is greatly misunderstood by many horse owners. It is important that clips be hand forged by a knowledgeable and experienced farrier who understands how to fit them to the properly trimmed foot. There are factory made shoes that come with clips, but it is very difficult to fit these clips properly, so it is best to make one’s own!

As horse owners, we humans must provide dedicated care in many areas to our horse partners. One of the areas often overlooked but very important is that of regular hoof care.  Regular hoof care by qualified individuals will help to enhance your horse’s years of use and quality of life. Regular and correct hoof care can also prevent many lameness issues and costly veterinarian visits.

Bryce Kawasaki Forge welcomes new clients and their horses. Bryce and Jenny can be reached at 406-763-5048.