In shoeing horses with a view to improving their action, the shoes for the fore feet are made especially heavy, and the toes are rounded off from the under side with the intention of enabling the horse to lift his feet as quickly and as easily as possible. When a horse thus shod feels the additional weight on his foot, he makes an increased effort to raise it and, not taking into account the greater ease with which the toe leaves the ground, he elevates the knee higher than he has been accustomed to do. Most horses are greatly benefited in height of knee action by heavy shoes with smooth, round toes. This plan works very well with some horses, possibly the majority, but with others it causes them to forge or overreach; because, as the toe begins to leave the ground, the toe of the smooth, rounded shoe slips backward and the horse forges, - not as in the case above referred to, where the hind foot strikes the iron of the front foot before the latter can get out of the way, but because the fore foot slips backward and in reality forges with the iron of the hind foot as it is going to its place.
Hock action in some horses is benefited by similar treatment, and, again, by the very opposite. Some horses, while they are improved in the mere act of raising or lifting the knees, are thrown out of balance by the fore legs moving too fast at the beginning of the stride; in which case they either shorten their gait or "point" or "dwell" with the action of the foot just before it reaches the ground. So much depends upon the perfect balancing of the animal, which may be slightly out of balance naturally to begin with, that the question of shoeing for the improvement of action must be largely one of cut and try, and adaptation to the individual horse. Horses that "paddle" or "dish" the fore feet are animals that either toe in or do not stand properly on their legs, or whose legs are not straight. This winding motion is quite as objectionable as pointing or dwelling. It is also prevalent in broad-chested horses that usually have a rolling action of the body, and, again, in horses that for the same reason have the elbow-joint crammed at the beginning of the stride and suddenly liberated after the foot is well under way. Shoeing such horses, heavy on the inside of the foot and especially toward the heel, is in some cases very beneficial; in others, the additional weight seems to aggravate the cause. As a rule, it may be said that action follows weight; that is to say, if a horse follows too closely behind, so that he interferes, the weight on the outside of the shoe will make him step wider apart. If he travels too wide, weighted shoes on the inside would make him travel closer. This is the principle, but, like many other principles, it has many exceptions. Sometimes a hind shoe particularly long on the outside answers the purpose, but even then it may be owing more to the additional weight of the shoe than to the additional length. This subject has been treated somewhat in detail, with a view of calling attention to these matters and to enable the novice to solve the puzzling problem by his own study and observations. It may be said that nearly all the rules for shoeing, with the view of correcting faults of conformation and of improving action, are consistent only in their unreliability. This is because horses dish, point, interfere and forge from many different causes; hence there are many men of many minds. When an artist of the anvil succeeds in making a horse stop interfering or forging, he thinks he has discovered the secret and will forever after shoe every horse identically the same for the same defect. The trouble is in the want of ability to discern the true causes which produce the defect.
Gypsy Queen, a good saddler.