Wednesday, September 14, 2011
God's blessing to you dear friends. For those who have not yet met me, I am Nathaniel Griffith from Rhode Island. Ye see this mare I am brushing? She is a fine animal from my uncle’s stock in Wales. There are not many horses in the colonies, so my uncle sent this mare in 1656 as a present to my mother.
In time, I plan to breed her if I find a suitable stallion. See her hooves? They are large and black. I would like to raise a herd of horses with such fine hooves. There are no ridges on the walls now, unlike when she first came to us. Ridges on the walls of a horse’s hooves indicates a change or disruption in feeding. On the trip across the great Atlantic she would not have eaten well. Now however, ye can see her hooves are smooth and strong.
Perhaps if I rode her along the beach each day I would consider shoes for her, but the cost of iron gives me pause. Verily, the blacksmith in Newport is unpracticed with shoeing horses. A poor shoeing can injure the animal. It is not worth the risk.
I do know of a wealthy man in Boston who shoes his horses. He travels a great deal, and I believe the shoes are a source of pride for him as well. A farmer near Providence shoes only the front hooves of his animals. This be wise and economical decision. About two-thirds the weight of the horse is on its front feet, hence they have the greatest wear.
At times, I have wrapped my horses’ hooves with rawhide to protect their feet. ’Tis a simple solution when I travel and come across a rocky path.
Did ye know the bailiffs of Oakham in England levied a toll of a horseshoe from carriages that passed through the market-town in Rutland county? Yea, horseshoes cost some, and ’tis only those that can afford such finery in the colonies that shoe their steeds.
Look at this gelding beside me. I was not wise when I purchased this horse. You see his hooves are white? This indicates they are soft and their soles bruise easily. I suppose there are some white hooves that be not soft, but experience has taught me to steer away from such animals. Now in truth, I must say that my uncle agrees not with my assessment. He calls it a myth. Perhaps he is right. He is a more experienced horseman than I.
The sun is in its midday position, and I must finish preparing these horses for a trip into Newport. A ship has come in, and it is rumored to have more horses from England. I hope to find a heavier breed than these I have. Such animals will work well on the farm. ’Tis prestige I’m after, I’ll grant you, to have horses instead of oxen work my land, but I prefer to work with a horse than a dull ox.
I wish you Godspeed.