Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mystery Artifact Unscrewed!

Joe is right! These are somewhat like cleats and are meant for use on the bottom of a horseshoe to provide for traction. They do this in much the same way as an athletic cleat provides traction for a human.  The actual name for the screw in cleat-like objects is calks.

Horseshoe calks, or caulks, or caulkins get their name from the Latin word calx, which means foot. (By the way your heel bone is called a calcaneus...where do you think that word comes from?) Calks can be screw in, forged or welded onto the shoe.

Screw-in calks like the ones in our picture can be easily removed and replaced. In the Chesebro blacksmith shop (a replica of which appears in our Blacksmithing on the Prairie Exhibit)calks were installed (literally screwed in) in the late Fall and removed in Spring! In a sense they were like snow tires, providing traction in ice and snow for the work animals of Saunemin in the early 20th century.  

Today calks are used for racing horses, show horses, and polo horses, in a very specialized way, for providing traction. They are still used for safety in work horses as well.   Good guess Joe!

1 comment:

  1. Huh! I was close - I thought they were teeth for some type of agricultural tool, something to tear up the ground. Instead, something for gripping the ground. Ah, well...