Technology passed over horseshoes
Published: Friday, September 16th, 2005
Technology is now available to count cattle on a Forest Service permit from outer space, to construct material for space shuttles that can withstand 3,000-degree temperature on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, and to plastic wrap a tool in Ace Hardware that cannot be opened with the Jaws of Life. Farriers are still using the same technology the Romans did when they conquered England in 55 BC. If we can do all these other things, why haven’t we figured out a better way to shoe horses? I’m not sure what it would be: Glue shoes on with epoxy? Inject Jell-O in their veins? A titanium wrap? Impregnate the hoof with diamonds? The two fields most closely related to farriery, weightlifting and carpentry have advanced slightly with the advent of Gatorade and the self-retracting measuring tape, but horse shoeing still remains a primitive technology. Another endeavor that remains much unchanged is the tricky little job of “bean” cleaning in male horses, and its counterpart, the also-ancient veterinary practice of expressing the anal glands in dogs. Both procedures require some skill, some would say even artistry, but in this modern age you would think some new technology would have come along involving suction, or centrifugal force or trained spelunking invertebrates, wouldn’t you? Another field ripe for renovation is fly swatting. I will grant that insecticides do a great job at mass extinction but I’m talking about the one lone Musca domestica that keeps landing in the potato salad at the picnic or buzzes around your room at night after you’ve turned out the lights, or keeps landing on your nose while you’re trying to pass the pipette into a recipient heifer. If NASA can hit a comet moving at the speed of Halley a jillion miles away, surely we could invent a device that could zap a fly on a paper plate at 6 feet — something like a heat-sensitive lock-on-target laser beam disintegrator. It could be incorporated into your cell phone, carving knife, or dentures. Just snap your jaws to fire! You could pick flies off someone you’re talking to, a cow you’re milking, or Aunt Effie’s fried chicken without lifting a finger! But in the meantime, we humans must carry on shoeing our own horses, shearing our own sheep and picking our own noses, until technology catches up. I guess I can wait.
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