For some reason or other, there seem to be more horses in Mallorca than there were, let’s say, twenty years ago. More horses means more horseshoes and that in turn means more ferradors (blacksmiths for horse shoes).
I had a chance to attend some horseshoe fitting the other day and the pleasure of meeting Toni Roig. Toni is one of perhaps twenty ferradors in Mallorca, and he also tends to some horses in Ibiza, once a month. Horseshoes are normally prefabricated, shaped, creased and partly punched. But horses have different anatomical features, and even the same horse may well have different size hooves from one time to the next, depending on the climate, the humidity and the kind of work the animal has been doing. Thus, the prefabricated irons have to be adapted to the toe horn and the shape of the heel calk. For this reason, a mobile blacksmith has to bring his own furnace, his own gas supply, his own drill and his own anvil. Toni had all these tools and apparatuses mounted on his furgoneta and it was a pleasure to watch him go about his profession. It took him well over one hour to have four horseshoes made, smelted and fitted. The charge was 55 €, all included. If you should have a need for the odd horseshoe or two, here is Toni’s telephone number (607.560.465).
The six square things that you see in the photo (top) are the horseshoe nails. They are made of iron. But you’ll see four more round bits. They are rods made of a heavy metal called tantalium, some kind of carbide material. The nails and the irons will be worn down in no time, but the tantalium rods have excellent wear resistance and are extremely hard and thus, last longer and stop the horseshoe from being worn down too quickly. But, even then, the ferrador will be back in about two months time for some more horseshoe fitting, because that is what is needed.
You may be interested to know that there is an annual contest of ferradors, held in Girona. There, the horseshoes have to be smelt by the blacksmiths from scratch to the most exacting conditions. I have not been there yet – I’ve been to Girona, but not to the annual Saló del cavall a Girona and the horseshoeing competition – nor has Toni. But still. If you should want to go, the next Equus Saló will be held September 30th to October 2nd, 2011.
The photos were taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 3rd, 2011. The time was 09:59:19, 09:27:12 and 09:46:16, respectively.