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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/488

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

one method be likely to supersede the rest, the victory will probably be for the asphalt; but horses are found to slip seriously upon it, and the falls so caused are, we are told, of a graver kind than those on pavements of other sorts. All the proprietors of cabs, omnibuses, and railway-vans have, it is said, protested in a body against its use, but scarcely, it would seem, to good purpose. Fresh contracts have been signed for pavements of asphalt, and others will probably follow. In the mean while horses have to pass, perhaps in a single morning, from macadamized roads to roads paved with asphalt, wood, or stone in other words, over roads made of widely differing materials, which call in each case for a different action of the foot. On the other hand, the hoof is supposed to be protected by shoes, the varieties of which are legion; and thus the controversy has been brought to a singular issue. On one side it is urged that there should be a uniform system of paving enforced on all towns, so that horses should no longer pass from a less slippery road to one that is more slippery; on the other the contention is that the true remedy lies not in uniformity of paving, but in the discovery of a shoe which shall effectually prevent the horse from slipping anywhere. The former alternative is visionary; the latter has been, and perhaps it may be said still is, the object aimed at by some who have a thorough acquaintance with the structure of the horse, and the most disinterested wash to promote his welfare. We may therefore safely pay no heed to the lamentations of those who believe that “the difficulty in riding or driving through the London streets arises from the variety of the pavements in use,” and that, if we had a uniform kind of pavement, a shoe for universal use would be quickly invented.” We may please ourselves with fancying that “the ingenuity of man would devise horseshoes to travel over glass, were glass the only pavement in use.” The main question is, whether mankind after all has not been forestalled in this invention; and it is absolutely certain that those who have labored most conscientiously to improve the shoeing of horses have striven especially to secure for them the power of moving safely over materials of many kinds. These men have been convinced that the traditional methods overload the foot of the horse with iron, and that the modes of fastening on this iron interfere with, if not altogether obstruct, the processes of nature. The efforts of all have been directed toward diminishing the weight of iron, and this has led them to the conclusion that the less the natural foot is interfered with the better. M. la Fosse thus inferred that one half of the ordinary shoe was unnecessary, and that nothing more was needed than a tip on the front half of the foot. Unfortunately, he directed that the heel should be pared, thus making it weaker, and he fastened on his tip, which had about six inches of iron in its entire length, with eight nails. He was thus “inserting wdges, amounting in the aggregate to from one to one and a half inch in thickness, in six inches of horn, thus squeezing it into the space of five or even four