Hundreds of farriers attended the February 2009 American Farrier’s Association (AFA) Convention in Chattanooga, Tenn., for all kinds of reasons. Many came to check out the new products fresh on the market.

I belong to this group. For me, vendor trade shows take me back to the Christmases of my childhood because it was all about getting new toys. I think this old saying holds true: “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” I can sense a keen excitement and energy whenever I get near new hoof-care products

While strolling around this year’s Marketplace looking for the better mousetrap, here are some of the standouts that I found.

Baggett Custom Hoof Knives, Bishop, Ga. I don’t think Neal Baggett is a household name yet, but it soon may be to those into fine custom hoof knives.

They were doing a brisk business with his custom-designed knives that he had in stock. I liked his popular short blade knife with a longer depth hook. If you prefer something of your own design, Baggett is only limited by your imagination.

Blackwater Forge, Inc., Dolomite, Ala. I met and chatted with Russell Colvin and his lovely wife, Leigh Ann, at their booth. A couple of products grabbed my attention.

The first was their steel tripod anvil stand. This is a stout rascal built to withstand Paul Bunyan hammering on it. It has a clever hold-down system that is spring loaded so it is always tight and the legs are adjustable to suit any reasonable height. I wouldn’t want to lift this stand in or out of a truck, but for a shop, it is a dandy.

They also make the Red Mountain-brand brazing and welding fluxes. Both of these products are shake-and-bake friendly with high-quality ingredients. The brazing flux is unique in that it has copper particles added in it, so no copper wire is necessary. I thought this was a terrific idea.

Castle Plastics, Leominster, Mass. Joe Serafini and the Castle Plastics team have always been open to new additions to their popular pad line. Serafini displayed a new double nail pad with a leather pad bonded on one side. For comfort and slippage on your long-footed horses, this will make an excellent part of a shoeing package.

D. L. Schwartz Co., Berne, Ind. Marvin Schwartz always comes with his lovely family and good quality products. This year, he brought the Noavel Headstall training halters from the foal size up to a head so big you couldn’t fit it in a tack trunk. These halters really work well. (See Page 64 for a review of this product by Chris Gregory).

He also displayed a Hypona forge with such an interesting design that it looks like someone familiar with outer space designed it.

They also provided a public service by sharpening every dull knife in the hall with the Armstrong Sharpener. The Armstrong Sharpener is a 3/16-inch-by-4-inch solid-carbide rod with 5/8-inch long half sections at each end. This little tool can hone hard knife steel quickly. It is like having a little grinder in your pocket.

Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center, Forest Lake, Minn. In 2005, Delta Mustad had Meike van Heel, DVM, of the Netherlands conduct scientific research of hoof balance and function. The veterinarian’s findings resulted in the Equi-Librium horseshoe. The prominent feature of this shoe is broad rolled toe that continues to the mid-point of the shoe. The nail holes are nicely punched and placed to the front part of the shoe. It is seated out well and has a beveled inner edge. I think this shoe has a lot of potential.

Double “S” Farrier Products, Aubrey, Texas. Marco and Leonardo Schelfi come all the way from Italy with their knives and high quality sliding plates. One knife design caught my eye because I had never seen anything like it before. It is designed to trim the frog with no restrictions because it doesn’t have a hook on the end.

EZ Hoof Nipper, St. Francis, Minn. This hydraulic hoof nipper is for the farrier who has ultra hard, big feet in his client list. The brochure says it supplies more than 2,000 lbs. of pressure and cuts hooves like a hot knife through butter. What will they think of next?

Farrier Product Distribution, Inc., Shelbyville, Ky. Dan Burke and the Kerckhaert Horseshoe Company have introduced a new line of aluminum shoes suited for the heavier warmblood hunters. It is different from the popular Triumph line in that it is thicker and wider and the heels are broader for more support. For the stouter hunter, this is a very useful shoe.

Hoof Watch, Denton, Texas. Hoof Watch is an online and DVD source for farrier-related videos. Hoof Watch offers a subscription service and retail outlet to access many popular farriers doing demonstrations. Stay tuned.

Harry Patton Horseshoeing Supplies, Monrovia, Calif. Ada Gates Patton was pumped to show me their latest product called the Patton Hoof Ruler. It is a measuring system that finds symmetry between the front and back half of the foot to be used as a guide for trimming.

G.E. Forge and Tool, Inc., Grover Beach, Calif. changing the reins on its nippers. The new design is more rounded so it is more comfortable to use. (We are becoming such princesses.)

Jackson Farrier Supplies, Inc., Indianapolis, Ind. Dale and Jared Jackson own and operate this farrier supply shop. In addition to a very complete inventory, they have pride themselves on being “the men” when it come to abrasives for farriers. They carry a huge line of everything you need for your rasp. Give them a call and check them out.

MFC Horseshoeing Tools, Purcell, Okla. Jack Roth has good tools. I noticed a new line of his tools with rubber handles. He has found the right combination between hard and soft with a nice texture for a nice feel and grip. Give them a squeeze.

Nature Farms, Norman, Okla. Sherrill Spears is widely known for his Cobra shoeing boxes. This year, he came with a telescoping hoof cradle with a cylinder inside for moment up and down. He also has a very nice stall jack with a larger than average face and angled shaping slots for bending.

Georgia Farrier Supply, Jasper, Ga. Tired of reaching in your truck for shoes in the center of your shoe rack that is fit across the front of your truck? Georgia Farrier Supply has designed a pull-out rack that will slide to either side of your truck to give you access easily. Say goodbye to the farrier equivalent of dumpster diving.

Ontrack Equine, Lake Elmo, Minn. Scott Lampert’s Ontrack Software is a digital information system that is nothing short of amazing, but it is pricey. For the consumer who doesn’t want or need all the bells and whistles, Ontrack has introduced the Lite version. This version lets you learn to navigate through the program without being thrown into the deep end of the pool if you are a better farrier than computer geek.

Hopefully this list will be of benefit to those who have to buy you gifts some time in the coming year. Enjoy your toys. You can’t beat fun.