About two years ago I quietly transitioned from using machine-made horseshoes to exclusively using handmade horseshoes. By this I mean each shoe is made from straight barstock for each specific hoof. This gives me several advantages over the mass-produced, machine-made horseshoes.
The most obvious advantage is fit. By starting from scratch, I am able to use the exact amount of steel stock needed to fit the individual foot. This means no adapting a shoe that is the closest I can find to what the hoof requires. Instead the shoe is exactly what I need.
The location of the nails is also more flexible with handmade horseshoes. If there is a weakened area of the hoof, I’m not committed to a nail hole in that location because a manufacturer did not give me any other option. I can place my nails where they will be the most effective in the stronger areas of the foot of that particular horse.
The most technical advantage is section. Section describes the dimensions of the barstock steel. I can choose to apply a wider or narrower shoe depending on the individual needs of your horse’s foot. This makes for stronger feet and sounder horses.
I originally started handmaking my horseshoes to improve my skill for the WCF Associate exam. It rapidly became apparent that my horses preferred truly custom footwear as much as anyone would. After all, who wouldn’t want bespoke shoes?